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Clara Schumann to Brahms, 22 Dec 1866

September 27, 2010

CLARA to Brahms

COBLENZ, Dec. 22. [1866]

In order that you may not be without a Christmas greeting from me, dear Johannes, I am writing to-day, although I have very little leisure, for every minute of my time has been occupied for weeks…If only the critics in Leipsic were not more stupid than the public, and malicious into the bargain!  Now I know who the donkey was who told Härtels that your second Sextet was too mad for him, upon which they returned it to you.  They must already be savage about it, and he must feel ashamed.  There is no need for me to tell you his name.  I feel less angry over the stupidity of such people than over their infamy in thus passing sentence of death upon a work on which a composer has spent all the strength of his soul.  But unfortunately it not succeeded and the tide is now turning.

Yesterday your letter came with its beautiful promise for Christmas which I am very much looking forward to.  But I wish you had left out the bitter pill which you added to it in the form of a few remarks.  Is it kind, for instance, to say, as you did, that a fortnight ago the idea of giving me the pleasure of having your Requiem seemed quite right and natural to you, but now it strikes you as unnecessary?  Why spoil my joy in this way?  But I will try to imagine that your really did not mean what you have written and shall once more revel in your Requiem.  You wrote the other day that you liked it more when you played it to Joachim in Switzerland for the second time.  Why?  I hope I shall find it to-morrow in Düsseldorf.

I have been wondering for weeks how I should be able to give you a little treat and my attention was called to the recently published translation of Byron by Gildenmeister, which is said to be wonderful and has delighted all who know it.  I hope nobody will steal a march on me by giving it to you.  Unfortunately I could not get it bound before Christmas and could not make up my mind to send it to you unbound.  So you must be satisfied with this simple greeting for Christmas, which, however, from the point of view of heartiness is substantial enough.

I had a great joy in Cologne.  Rudolf had been studying the Manfred, and produced it very beautifully in a small hall before an invited audience.  Dr. Bernays of Bonn recited much of it wonderfully well, and from the musical point of view everything was perfect.  Wendelstadt had offered to defray all expenses.  Farewell dear Johannes.  Your Viennese friends will see to it that you have a merry Christmas.  Please tell me about it soon and remember


Litzmann, Berthold, Ed., Letters of Clara Schumann and Johannes Brahms 1853-1896, Vol. I, Edward Arnold & Co. 1927, pp. 202-203.


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