Personal Recollections of Johannes Brahms (1907) by George Henschel. Some Letters from Johannes Brahms to George Henschel (Vienna, 1883 & 1887)


(To Boston)

Vienna, 1883.

Dear H.:

You see, (Henschel’s footnote. Enclosed was a letter from Brahms from Theodore Thomas, then conductor of the Philharmonic Society of New York, asking him to let him have, if possible, the score of the Third Symphony in F (then still unfinished) for performance at the Cincinnati Music Festival.) even in America you are not the first; nor will you be the last.

Theodore Thomas, 1835-1905.

Now think of everything else that reaches me in that way and tell me frankly if it is possible to keep expressing one’s thanks for such an abundance of kindly interest; or if one can do anything at all?

I should like very much to answer the letter; in the mean time, however, I greet you heartily.



The photo of Theodore Thomas is not in Henschel’s book.



(To London)

Vienna, 1887.


I thank you for your kind invitation, (Henschel’s footnote. I had offered Brahms 10,000 marks (£500) for coming over to England and conducting a series of concerts with my (the London Symphony) orchestra.) but am somewhat vexed at having to hear from you, too, that common rumor of my dislike of the English, etc. …

You really ought to know, having heard it from me often enough, that solely love of comfort, laziness if you like, and aversion to concerts prevent my going to England, but equally so to St. Petersburg or Paris.

That my persistent refusal could be open to misinterpretation I am well aware of. It would, however, be hopeless to explain this all, and to tell the people how it has absolutely nothing to do with music if on the one hand we here have a Bohemian Cabinet or you over there a splendid opium-war, etc. etc.

It’s all vanity anyhow!

Again thanks.




In 1887 £500 was worth the equivalent of approximately £70,000 in 2022.

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