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Brahms to Clara Schumann, 10 Dec, 1855

March 24, 2012



Hamburg, Monday, Dec.10


This letter is to wish you a very good morning.  I should have liked it better if it could have wished you good-night after the very bad journey.  You will not be out of my mind for a moment today.  You are always before my eyes; I can still see you sitting at the window of the railway-carriage looking sadly out at us.  I hope you will not cry too much to-day.  You ought to have seen me yesterday.  I was so angry and ultimately so desperate.  We played trios at Otten’s, first Jaell played Rubenstein’s G minor, which is no better or worse than his other things- now insignificant, then atrocious, and anon having a touch of profundity.  Then I played your husband’s number 3, which aroused the wildest enthusiasm such as was certainly not vouchsafed to Rubenstein, in spite of Jaëll’s brilliant playing and pyrotechnic skill.  Then J. played Chopin’s C minor Scherzo, and I the F by Bach.  J and I thereupon had dinner at Grädener’s and I got more and more to dislike this wine merchant’s traveller.  Then on Gr’s small piano he tinkled out some of his own and Liszt’s pieces until our hair stood on end.  It appears that artists and members of the public have already told him many unpleasant things about Rubenstein, but for the moment he let fly about L.  My head was absolutely swimming and I sat quite solemnly at the piano and played away in B and B Flat at the same time.  We were all quite dizzy, Jaëll alone excepted.   The whole day I longed just for one hour at home.  How wearing it was, but how blissful I felt when a little before ten o clock I was sitting at home and abandoned myself to silent bliss!  I have told them all that I am leaving tomorrow.  But don’t you believe it.  I must be quiet for one whole day and leave Jaëll to go to Hanover.  At the concert on Saturday he played very well.  He plays with skill and bravura, but such trash.  During his solo piece and the Tannhäuser I left the hall, but came back again just as he was playing again by request some execrable variations on an Italian melody.  I may be wrong to talk to you about such rubbish, but I do it with the blessed feeling of having survived it.  Please write here.  With a thousand hearty greetings, my Clara,  Your JOHANNES

Litzmann, Berthold, Ed., Letters of Clara Schumann and Johannes Brahms 1853-1896, Vol. I, Edward Arnold & Co. 1927, pp. 59-60.

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