From a letter by Rosamond Ley
Read by her neice, the actress, Phillada Sewell
“And now I am going to tell you why (Egon) Petri’s playing is one of the most important things in life for me… It is rather like a confession of faith because the reason lies in something that has been and is, and always will be, the greatest illumination in my life. That illumination is the realm of music in which (Ferruccio) Busoni lived and to which he was able to take others through the medium of pianoforte playing.
It was a realm which, of course, has been reached by the greatest composers, and possibly through the medium of the pianoforte by one or two people – perhaps Listz – but nobody I have ever heard, play, or conduct, or sing, has ever lived in that realm and shown the wonders and beauties of it through a whole concert, as Busoni did. There have been moments when the door has opened for others, but nobody I have ever heard has lived there all the time. There is only one Busoni and only someone with a spirit and genius like his could do this again. I feel and believe that Busoni has done something infinitely bigger and more wonderful for the world than to open the realm only to the people who have heard him play. He has also opened the door for all those coming after him.
This is very difficult to explain. I can only try to explain through my own experience. When I was eighteen, knowing nothing of him, I heard Busoni play. I knew that, for me, where he had taken me was a realm into which no music had taken me before. For me, that realm was music. I knew nothing of him in those days, I simply continued hearing him whenever he came to London. When I got the chance of being introduced to him I was afraid to accept, because I was afraid something very perfect would be destroyed. Instead of this, the illumination of a music increased and became more and more satisfying.
I can only say that the outlook on music is different from other peoples’ outlooks. It seems to me that music is made use of in different ways: some people say it is a language of which they know every letter and those people are, as far as I have experienced, are generally the people who are very gifted musically, ie. for sound,
And these gifts pour through their nature with quite beautiful results; but they are results limited to the size of the owner’s nature. That seems to me to be using sound to express your nature.
To me, Busoni’s outlook was quite different to this. There seemed to be a realm in which sound lived quite definitely – a life of its own – with definite aim and shape and beauties, and he reached it quite consciously knowing and realising every step of the way, and all his knowledge of what is in that realm was quite conscious too. This is where the difference lies in what he has given the world, and what people give who only reach that world in moments. These people are unconscious of how they reach it. Sometimes it is because the composer has found such beauties in the realm that the performer has a sudden flight and reaches them, but it would be a very rare thing if a performer could tell you step by step how he or she had achieved this moment. The generally accepted idea is that tou ought not to know that such moments are inspired and that you have no emotion if you do know.
Busoni was conscious that he had constructed a technique to fulfill the demands of what he found in that realm of music. He did not play by just letting the sound pour through his nature, but he consciously went into a realm of music. And he showed (Egon) Petri how to go there too. Petri has not got Busoni’s spirit, and has no charms and magnetisms, but if you had heard Busoni play a lot I know you would realise it.
The realm of music Busoni showed has not got to do with the player’s personality. It is a realm with a life of its own…and can you see a little now what I mean when I say that Petri’s playing is one of the most important things in life for me. I can understand when people don’t appreciate Petri’s playing because it must be rather like being shown a very wide open country when you are expecting a small stretch of cultivated land.
So outlook and technique are one thing. Most techniques are constructed from the opposite end. People build up a technique then find out what to do with it. As outlook and technique were one, the more one of his pupils realised and saw his outlook, the more of Busoni’s technique he acquired too. Petri is the pupil who saw and realised Busoni’s outlook the most. That is not my opinion: I have heard Busoni say so many times. In fact, he is the only pupil who could follow him actively in that wonderful realm.
In the year 1910 Busoni was asked by the Conservatoire in Basel if he would give a masterclass in the summer, and he agreed to do so. I was studying with Egon Petri in Manchester at the time and had the good fortune to hear about the forthcoming masterclass from him. He advised quite a number of us to go to it. You could join as a performer or listener. Petri pupils were all performers of course.
When we all arrived in Basel we found difficulty in getting suitable rooms, but we eventually found a place called Botlingen [?] – a very short distance by train from the town – where there was a schloss - a castle with a moat, which had been turned into a hotel with an annexe. Quite a number of us from England found accommodation at the hotel [which meant] the problem of piano practising was solved. When we were all settled in Schloss Botlingen we were very excited to hear that the Busonis - Mr and Mrs Busoni and their two sons - had taken a suite of rooms at the schloss.
There was some lovely summer weather. The Busonis had a balcony where they had breakfast and they often passed through the long room in which we had meals. One morning we found Guten appetit written on the tablecloth in Busoni’s handwriting. All being under one roof we met pretty frequently. Lello, Busoni’s younger son, used to amuse himself in a canoe on the moat and one day he persuaded his father to get into the canoe [with him], which must have been seen by a student who took a snapshot without delay. I have a copy.
We all worked pretty hard for there were two lessons a week in the Conservatoire hall and Busoni gave a recital at the end of each week in it. There must have been about a hundred listeners and nobody was able to play more than twice because there were so many entries. In the evening the Busonis always had supper in the town and some of the students were generally asked to join them.
We had an excitement at the Schloss: one Sunday several of us went out for the day and when we came back we found the annexe was on fire. People had kindly thrown all the belongings out of the windows and we went around picking up our various things. The fire was just out but the roof ws all-in so we couldn’t sleep in the annexe and had to be housed in the castle. And life went on as before except that Egon Petri and wife joined the party as he was to play the Busoni concerto at the end of the course in the concert hall.
I remember Busoni stopping as he passed through our dining room to ask us if we had been to the picture gallery and he talked about the Holbein and other pictures there. I cannot imagine anything more vital and helpful for life than the gift we all received through the enchantment of Busoni.
The Busoni – Ley Letters: (1910 -)
1 To Rosamond Ley 1910
October 17th 1910
Dear Miss Ley,
I want to thank you for the fine picture you have sent to me. I should have done it long before , but I ignored your address. I could not bear the thought that I should leave for America, without to say you good-bye. Mr Petri gave me at last the address and I am now able to greet you most heartly [sic]. I hope that resting will be kind and make me meet you again.
2 To Rosamond Ley
Undated: probably October 1910]
My dear Miss Ley,
It was good of you to write and it did me good, so I have to thank you.
Everything in your letter sounds like coming from a beautiful heart. It gave me much pain to hear that you have felt unhappy in Berlin and don’t you think that you have misunderstood a good deal yourself? Did you not imagine that all my little sarcasms, my allusions, they were only the wrong form of expression for my longing. The longing for seeing you become human, warm and womanly; when you only were friendly, artistic and unopen. Now I see how much you give me in your way, although you refused all I was willing to give to you, the best part of myself and perhaps the last and most refined [?] feeling which I have to offer…this is a chapter which you do not care to read, but it has to be brought to and [sic] end.
What you say about instincts, as not belonging to a nation, does not convince. It is ascertained that different nations have different instincts, or the same in different measures.
When you have not been hurt by many things on my part it is because your instinct guided you rightly; that behind, as I told you, my bad countenance there was my suffering and that my suffering was nothing but the kindest feeling towards you.
But in the same measure as you gave me no chance to become aware of your suffering, you – on your part – were not willing to take any notice of mine.
Thus you are quite right to speak of the “seas of misunderstanding” while it is the greatest victory of your instinct to recognise that “something” which stands above them.
It was to me of a great comfort to receive your letter before I left you for a long time: it was to me of an important necessity and I have been waiting for it.
I thank you again and again. Shall I mention that my affection remains unaltered?
It will always be there for you, my dearest friend.
I see you again before leaving.
3 To Rosamond Ley
Berlin W.57, Bulow-Strasse 19 [Undated: probably December 1910]
My dear Miss Ley,
I have been quite unhappy not to be able to see you tonight, and I regretted to have told you not to wait any longer after a certain hour. Although I expected you to have done so, I arrived late, very late, and still with a glimming hope [sic]. But I saw you not.
So I have to apologise and to tell you that I consider it a loss to have missed this last chance here, this time. – But I trust that your precious friendship remains, that it is a thing for life. This is the way I feel.
I have to thank you that you give me a second youth.
I am ashamed to say, but I lost your english address. Please bring it to the station, written down. I hope to receive several letters from you in America – they would be welcome every where, but in the situation which expects me for the next four months they will be beneficial.
What you proposed to me at the door, when you left my home on Friday, will you allow me to return it to you?
I am, my dearest friend,
4 To Rosamond Ley at Uhlandstrasse 30, Pension III Etage, Berlin
December 29th 1910
Dear Miss Ley,
These lines will, as I hope, reach you still in Berlin.
On the journey, which has been a favourable one, my thoughts went back to you and to the last days, when we came so much nearer to each other.
They were fortunate for me and again I have to thank you for them.
I am already looking forward to my return – although I often scarcely dare to do so, fearing almost that destiny may not consider me enough meritorious to deserve the serene existence which I expect to enjoy then. – Life is nothing else than working in expectation of coming results. Happily there is friendship and love to help one forward. –
Little could be done on the ship. I began to read the “ordeal of R. Feucral” [?] and was again stricken by the impression of broadness and smallness alternating in style and thoughts. –
May the new year be a happy one for you; I wish it with all my loving heart.
Please write to me.
5 To Rosamond Ley
am 27 Januar 1911
Dear Miss Ley,
There are five weeks since I left you at the Berlin Station and nothing I have heard of you yet – for six weeks – nearly!
I do not know exactly how long you were to stay in B[erlin] and whether you are still there. It would be of a dear interest to me to learn from you how you spent the first month of the new year and a relief to hear that you were able to enjoy the time and the place with better spirits. –
I have done with America. It does not awake in me any new interest – and the former has cooled down in an alarming degree.
It is a curio[u]s department of the world, just as in London are peculiar quarters – necessary parts – where to you never happen to go, and where & when you should visit them you would feel strange and out of place.
My aim is to put some finishing touches on a ripe culture (as far as I am capable) and not to be a missionary to beginning education. –
They have here a malady for superlatives in proportions – (the highest, the longest, the largest, the greatest) – and no knowledge of the way which leads to them.
Really, I suffer, and lose time and strengths, which are very valuable to me in this moment of my life.
I trust that the beginning of April will put an end to all this and that I will see you in England towards the middle of that month.
Meanwhile I hope heartily to hear from you.
Your affectionate friend
5 To Rosamond Ley
[Undated: probably January 1911]
Dear Rosamonde [sic]
Allow me to omit the “Miss” as I could be (although with some difficulty) your father, at least your father’s brother!
I send you the letter for Mr Wood (“Sir”) and I am very happy anytime I can be of any help to you, so that you can do me no greater favor than to ask me. –
I addressed one letter to England, as I didn’t know how long you would remain in Berlin; meanwhile I had the pleasure of receiving two letters from you.
They are indeed interesting and bear the mark of a thinking mind. But they are so abstract, so impersonal, that they could just as well enrich the pages of a literary magazine, or simply be written down in your diary. Your lines are not directed to him, to whom they are addressed; there was not a word or thought in them which I could consider as belonging to me, personally, and directly.
You write about the influence of the “elements” on the character. How, then, about the London fog?
Please understand a joke. –
Your affectionate friend
6 To Rosamond Ley at Uhlandstr. 30 (Pension) Berlin
Jan[uary] 18th 1911
Many good greetings and wishes from F. Busoni and Gerda B.
7 To Rosamond Ley at 6 Oakhill Road, Surbiton
February 13th 1911
I am nominally in England, so I send you my most hearty greetings from your own country. If you have any magazine-article refused by the Editor, let me have the manuscript!
8 To Rosamond Ley at 6 Oakhill Road, Surbiton, England
Kansas City, Mo
March 9th 1911
My Dear Rosamonde
Many thanks for your charming and hearty letter, which brought consolation to a sick man. I am regaining health and strength and hope California will cure me. I am going thereto on the 11th. I may see you a month late.
9 To Rosamond Ley
Kansas City, Mo
March 9th 1911
Today I sent you a postcard. If I write again it is for the reason of asking you a favor. Would you have the kindness and try to find out the book on Gozzi, which is extensively mentioned in the Boston Symphony Program – book (I hope you received it) by commenting my Turandot Music? I liked to have it as it appears to be far more interesting than any other book on the Venetian poet. If you can find it, you may let it keep reserved for me, so that I take it with me from England.
You will pardon we that I disturb you, but I know you will have pleasure in helping me. Turandot is going to be given on the stage and the book may contain some important hints. I expect it to be expensive; the price will not hinder.
With heartiest thanks in advance. I am always most affectionately yours
I suggest you to read Mr G.H. Wells [sic] new book “the new Machiavelli”; it is important.
10 To Rosamond Ley at 20 Fitzroy Square, London W.
Los Angeles, Cal
March 9th 1911
At the pacific coast.
In “Los Angeles”, March 14th 1911.
Here and everywhere I remember you with love.
The San Francisco Examiner
21st March 1911
Pianist Busoni Stirs Up the Musicians
Antagonizes Friends; Divides Families
Busoni and Critics Who Laud Or Berate Him
Authorities Either Loud in Their Praise or Fiery in Denunciation
Of Playing by Magician of the Keyboard
By Thomas Nunan
There was only one topic of musical discussion in San Francisco yesterday. That was the piano playing of Ferruccio Busoni. Friends were in antagonism about the strange magician of keyboard; families were divided. Never before had there been such a division of sentiment among the ordinarily harmonious musicians of the most musical city in America.
Yesterday morning I went on record as an ardent believer in Busoni as a piano technician, interpreter, teacher, authority – everything that a master musician should be. During the day I found that some of my musical friends looked on me as curiously as Mark Twain’s friends regarded him when he was editing an agricultural paper, while others hailed me with unconcealed delight and appreciation. The whole town, I found, was divided in regard to the merits of Busoni.
[See article for examples of reaction to Busoni]
And so the battle is raging. The musicians are excited, and they seem to have no middle ground of opinion, being heartily for or decidedly against Busoni
To Rosamond Ley
[No address: undated.]
A dear friend of ours [is] coming to England, Miss Irma Bekky will bring you our love.
11 To Rosamond Ley
An Bord des Dampfers America
12th Apr[il] 1911
I have decided not to stop in England and so I am going straight homewards.
Several disappointments combined with moral depression and a fatigued body contributed to a certain extent to my decision.
Although I am pretty sure that you would be glad to see me, when I were there, and admit that you simply forgot to encourage me to come, I fear, nevertheless, that you will not miss me sensibly.
Forgive me to remark that your emotions (although not entirely passive) are not a bit active.
If you had the kindness of looking for the book on Gozzi and if you have succeeded in finding it, please give order to the bookseller to deliver it to Berlin, possibly without delay.
Thanking you for this trouble and for your kind, dear letter.
I am always loving,
Yours Ferruccio Busoni
Vielen und warmsten Dank an Miss Bruce für den famosen Geburtstagsbrief! -
11 To Rosamond Ley
An Bord des Dampfers [America]
Apr[il] 14th 19
Once on a post-card I suggested to you to read G.H. Wells [sic] new book “the new Machiavelli” which left me a deep impression. It is indeed a most excellent book. To-day, on the boat, I am reading an old french novel by the brothers Goncourt, written in 1850, or so. And I am astonished at the difference of the two books, of the two nations. In the french novel an [sic] young artist is represented, which – although an average type – has far more advanced ideas, more common sense, spirit, wit and individuality than the whole writing by Wells, which, with a great effort and courage is trying to put forward some reformatory opinions; while the French of 70 years ago says and thinks more daring things in a natural and most common-place way.
London is and remains an extraordinary organisation; but the Paris of 1830 to 60 was perhaps the highest ex[h]ibition of human mind since the italian “rinascimento”. Prejudices were lost and new ideas appeared in perfect forms.
So when you read Wells, and you think him brilliant, do not forget that on the continent and half a century or more ago, he was already superated. [?]
Please tell me what you are going to do, how Wood has received my letter and whether it is true that he is going to America. I can not believe it. O, this America!
I am anxious to know.
Your most affectionate
11a To Rosamond Ley
[A note, or part of a letter, received during the period April-August 1911, when Busoni and Ley appear to have been in conflict. Perhaps handed to Rosamond Ley by Busoni at a later date when reconciliation had taken place. See following letter.]
How you treat me! I do not see how I can get along like this. A little kindness on your part – to One who has entertained nothing but kind feelings towards you – it would not be wasted.
When this is the way of “living your own life” – I assure you – the way is mistaken in its point of departure.
There is no mood, to live one’s own life, without the assistance of many others.
The book you read –
the music you play for enjoy[ment] when plaid [sic] by others
even the bread you eat -
they are all parts of another life, which you take.
In answer to these helping forces, you have to offer a compensation. This – I think – is everybody’s duty.
And to the man, who gives to you the utterest of all imaginable giving, you had – at least – to be kind.
“You are sorry”. “You are loving”. You can – reasonably – not be both simultaneously.
As to myself, I am not more a beginner in life and have reached the moment of existence when sentiment and even time become precious.
You – passively – are at work to destroy those precious and matured elements; to destroy something good and important in me and – perhaps inconsciously [sic] - also in yourself.
Forgive my frankness and do not give yourself any trouble with answering it.
I remain always your friend, your best friend, as I believe.
12 To Rosamond Ley
August 17th 1911
My dear Rosamond,
Ich vergass das Bisschen Englisch das ich vor einem halben Jahr noch “acceptably” konnte; und schreibe lieber Deutsch.
Vier Monate habe ich Nicht von Ihnen gehört! – (weil ich auf Ihren guten langen Brief vom Frühling nicht antwortete,) und dabei denken Sie noch immer “that you do the right thing”.
Von Ihrem Besuch in Bowdon schrieb mir Egon [Petri]. Vom Strikes sind die Zeitungen voll. Auch hörte ich, dass Sie hier ein Recital geben (so that there is no question that you will come) und von der “???” [Head] wissen wir Alle in Europa.
Is that all you have to tell me after four months of silence?
Anyway, your letter gave me the warmest pleasure and I have to thank you for having made the first step towards reconciliation. Which is not the right word as there was nothing, on my side, to reconciliate. [sic]
You probably have misconcepted [sic] my silence. My intention, however, (and constantly) was to write; but, as I always did imagine a very ample epistolery [sic] deed, and my thoughts involuntarily turned eternally to my score, so the latter was not written, yours laying on my table before me (to remind) and my conscience getting worse every day.
I am sorry that the Sir – Henry - Wood – affaire was not a success: unfortunately I have a band hand in such things as I often have “noticed”. I wonder how people marry a second time. The first can be excused.
Mr Dent wrote about your and Miss Newton’s Recital in Cambridge. He says: [‘]When your Berceuse sounds strange to me, who knows you intimately, you may imagine what a disastrous impression the piece did on an audience which heard you for the very first time.[‘] (He writes beautifully Italian).
So I hope to see you again and to hear of you before this.
I play in England in February. –
All my love to you as ever before.
Schone grüsse an Miss Bruce und Ursula!
13 To Rosamond Ley
[Undated: probably August/September 1911, from Berlin]
My dear Rosamond,
You are constantly mis-interpreting my meaning and so you did again. It was my aim to make you understand how I have been longing for a good word from you after such a long time, and how - in comparison to this missing word – your topics of the day were comparatively indifferent to me. If you had any little feeling or comprehension in regard to me, these explanations would be superfluous.
I have tried every system with you, but each single one has been a failure and besides my little piano-playing and a bit of composing you do not see anything in me.
Already once in Basel I wrote you, and took pain to make you palpable, that you are indebted to the whole world for everything you have every day, and how you don’t return the smallest thing to the smallest being around you. I know this characteristic side of the english Nation [sic], which has made it so strong. –
But you are almost a greater royalist than the King himself, as the Frenchmen say. When I say something, your first impulse is to contradict; it is your conception of independence of mind.
So again about marriage. This is, to me, the wrongest institution of our time. And I meant to say: I think a man, who has gone through the absurdities of marriage once, must be more absurd than marriage itself, to try the thing again.
A wife – a woman – can be all right, but never can be marriage so. The hope that the second time will be a better success is destroyed by the impossible conditions of marriage; even when the woman for the man is the most worthy creature on earth.
- My opera is nearly finished, but not quite. Anyhow, I feel exhausted and am obliged to take a holy day (sic), without completing my work. This is very sad after such a strong effort, but if I insisted, I would spoil the score.
I should be very unhappy if you could not come to hear it; but I am almost sure to see you present at the Premiére.
I go for a fortnight southward, to the Italian vine yards.
I give you my heartiest love and – please write again and try to understand your truly devoted FB.
I always [sic] missed to thank you for your exquisite kindness of seeking & finding and sending the beautiful book on Gozzi. I thank you now most deeply.
Will you tell me occasionally [sic] what you have spent for me?
14 To Rosamond Ley at 20 Fitzroy Square, London W[est]
Heartiest greetings and love from
To dear R.
Sept[ember] 5th 1911
15 To Rosamond Ley
[Berlin, September 16th 1911]
My dear Rosamond,
This last letter (which I read yesterday at my arrival from Italy) was the most charming you ever have written to me.
I really have no time to write myself eduquately, but I want to thank you for what you have given to me and for all that you continually are giving.
Certainly you are worth to be loved.
I accept most heartily and thankfully the book, if you will write your name on it, when you come to Berlin. I am quite sure you will come.
Forgive the shortness.
With all my love,
Berlin, September 16th 1911
16 To Rosamond Ley
Dom – Hotel
Theodor Metz Erben Köln Domplatz, Dec[ember] 19th 1911
I, too, hate saying good-by[e] and I left “our” little symphony unfinished. For my conception the “finale” is wanting and I do not know whether I ever will build it up. (The last movement was a sort of tragic scherzo: it followed the fragment of a “romance”.)
When you say that “of your affection I have no use for”, it sounds as if you would prevent me from writing the same words to you! These words spoiled your beautiful letter, for which I am grateful and which I will keep as a precious document of a pure and “abstract” soul.
At the deepest and highest moment of my feeling, you told me that this feeling was “untrue”. I will never get over it, although I remain your friend and beg you to consider me as a friend in any situation of your life.
I hope - I am sure – to see you again at the opera.
With heartiest affection
17 To Rosamond Ley
12. Boulevard des Capucines
Paris Le Aug[ust] 15th 1912
My dear Rosamond,
There is a proverb, which – translated into a bad English – could sound:
A man projects
The Lord directs
Which sometimes is very disappointing for the man.
A business of some importance called me to Paris and now the time of which I can allow myself for holy days has lapsed. Your good letter encouraged me very much and enforced my wish of seeing you; - now I feel ashamed to have made the proposition.
Please keep your kind sentiments towards me and let me think of the coming October.
It was my intention to choose Bath for my short residence in England – before you told me of the probability of your going there. I hope sincerely, Miss Bruce (I love her now) will find some comfort to her pains there.
The book – (extremely kind of you it was to send it) - I received with gratitude and pleasure, but found not yet the opportunity of reading it. –
I thank you with all my heart for everything.
Please write to Berlin.
Miss Bekk and Miss Braungart are both in England, presently.
18 To Rosamond Ley
[London, October 15th 1912]
My dearest Rosamond,
This night and this morning I recollected in my mind everything of my last two years, as far as it relates to you: they have been, to me, a series of happy moments, of torture and repeated humiliation.
So strong your belief and your confidence in me may be, you never accepted from me a truth; - on the other hand I had continually to submit myself to your convictions and opinions, (so child-like as they were) and particularly to wait for the next progress in your mind and feeling. – I did so because I knew that only the time and the sight of my persistent attachment could convince you, although I am not, any more, in the age of long waiting.
But the conclusions you drew last night have shocked me by the monstrousness of their arguments. I regret to use this expression; more I regret that the expression is required. – Your deepest error is to divide into parts (independent from each other) a thing, which can only be one. As long as you do not feel it as an unity, it is not the true thing.
I could add an extensive psychological commentary on the subject and on yourself, but as this letter is dictated by feeling and not by reason I abstain from doing so.
In your soul there is something hidden, which you, yourself, have not yet discovered. You do not allow others to help you to find it. Perhaps once you will and – when it happens – you will find me ready.
I am, indeed, always,
- London October 15th - 1912
19 To Rosamond Ley
[Undated: probably late October 1912] [Moscow]
My most dear Rosamond,
Since I left London, my thoughts have been with you every day and this is to be interpreted in the strict sense of the saying.
I have received your letter and though it said nothing unexpected to me, it was very dear to me, filled me with deep gratitude and made me joyfully conscious of the wonderful sickness which a benevolent destiny has added to my life.
Therefore I am not in the mood of discussing or objecting to what may become clearer with time. It is not reasonable for an intelligent mind, like yours is, to presume that you will always see things as you see them now, and not to deduce from the changings which you already have undergone, that other changings may follow; - finally, that two persons that surely have so important feelings in common, can differ in one mutually not less different point.
For the moment I am – it must be repeated – infinitely thankful, almost happy and “ergriffen” by so much beauty, which has come into my existence
Though I have been received here with the greatest cordiality, I cannot forget the atmosphere of the last London weeks. It attracts me irresistibly and to the point as to wish to belong definitely to it. I do not feel “strange” in London any more, as I do here; though I have spent a short, but significant part of my life in this country, where I meet some sincerely affectionate friends.
Russia is certainly of some interest and it is to regret that I come here as a musician in view of the fact that the characteristics of the nation lay in quite different matters. So, for instance, the evolution of Siberia is most remarkable and it opens unsuspected possibilities for the cultural and commercial situation of the continents.
I imagine Moscow, which is now the eastern end of Europe, to become in the future the central point between Europe and Asia, San Francisco taking the superiority over the eastern America and transmitting the traffic from Asia to New York and to England.
In proportion to these vast conjectures my activity here (and otherwhere) [sic]
Appears sometimes very insignificant; it is almost to me as if everything around me should begin and only I was ending. At other times I console myself with thinking that my conjectures are bigger than the reality of them; and that my brain, perhaps, is still working with ideas beyond the real circumstances.
(I am afraid my English is a torture for your cultivated ear, but – singularly enough – I cannot decide myself to write to you in German, although I could make myself better understood and a little more interesting.)
If you may, write to me again and address to Moscow, Hotel Metropole, where I will be in a week from now.
With the finest love, I am (verbally) yours, Ferruccio Busoni
20 To Rosamond Ley
Grand Hôtel d’Europe
6/19th November 1912
My very dear Rosamond,
Your beautiful letter filled me with deepest joy.
The circumstances of my present day are most unfavourable to writing; I had last night a very strengthening Liszt-Abend in Moscow, followed by an immediate night travelling and, this evening, the same programme in Petersburg.
If this letter reaches you in time, I should suggest to do a little changing in the Bach – Fantasy, as I did here myself. Beginning from the little passage at the head of the last page (if I remember right) I play now as follows:
SIX BARS OF HAND-WRITTEN MUSIC
After a long interval I am reading Dickens again – what a charming master!
If you see [Egon] Petri show to him the new version – it belongs to you. –
With truest love
Your Ferruccio Busoni
21 To Rosamond Ley at 40 Clanricarde Gardens, Bayswater, London W[est]
P[eters]burg Nov[ember] 6th 1912
MdR, I hope my letter reached you 2 days ago. Afterwards I have the feeling that it contains nothing, although I meant much.
I had here – last night – a quite memorable evening, they received me like a Messiah, I am thankful for it, but not able to enjoy it. I feel depressed. Write.
22 To Rosamond Ley at 40 Clanricarde Gardens, London W[est] Bayswater
[Riga, Latvia, November 7th 1912]
MdR, a very cordial greeting from the East Sea, - have you ever got Edgar Allen [Poe?] ?
Yours most affly
Riga, Nobr. 7th 1912
23 To Rosamond Ley
Parkhotel Mannheim [Germany]
4th December 1912
My very dear Rosamond,
Last night we had a very beautiful performance of my Concerto, with the same orchestra and the same conductor, which will bring out my opera in March and in a sumptuous hall of a dignified architectural style.
Mr van Dieren and young Kindler were present – heartily wished to have had you with us. The day before the Turandot music was given in Heidelberg – the pleasure resulting was exquisite, but my strength is almost exhausted, as I spent again four trying days with no interval after the extremely tiring Russian tour. So, I am not able to write you more in extension, as I feel inclined to do; but I was anxious to send you a few good words of gentle greeting.
I will be in Berlin for one week, where I would be happy to receive a few good words in return.
I give you my entire love.
Your Ferruccio B.
24 To Rosamond Ley
Hotel Bristol, Wien [Austria]
Vienna, Dec[ember] 30th 1912
Since the days of Mannheim I felt sick with exhaustion and recovered very slowly.
Today a concert here in Vienna will be my first deed after one month of passivity.
For this reason I have not written.
But which is the source of your silence?
Christmas passed away without a sign of your remembrance and I missed it painfully.
I fear this is your way of feeling: it exhausts itself with the conscience of its existence; leaves no room for desire and does not care to reflect upon the object which has created it.
I understand: the absences are too long and too many – I had thought to take my residence in London or to visit it more frequently. But I feel with increasing certainty that even such an important changing in my whole life will not help to alter anything in you.
This time I had to renounce to come in January before the 30th as it was planned. So it will be again a month before I will see you.
I wish you a happy beginning of the new Year; I wish you everything that is good and beautiful.
With deep love,
Yours Ferruccio Busoni
25 To Rosamond Ley
3 June 1913
Of the second performance, which was calmly successful, the Koelnische Zeit[un]g brought an interesting criticism. So your good wishes have helped.
I am happy that you have received a deeply satisfactory impression through my work and I assure you that your presence in M. filled me with joy.
[Sections of this letter appear to be missing]
I know that London is beautiful. It attracts me always again. O, to be able to embrace everything!
With my purest love and with deep affection,
26 To Rosamond Ley
12 Boulevard des Capucines
26th June 1913
My dear Rosamond,
I have here your good letter, with me, as a dear document of a dear person; it is, like ourselves, three weeks older, since it was written. They have not been a good time for me, full of indecision and of painful doubts. Finally I gave myself the impulse which brought me to Paris, to meet a certain man of great fame, and to discuss and settle with him a certain question of artistic importance.
If I remain silent about the very argument of this business it is only on account of a kind of superstitious feeling which forbids me to relate fully things before they are accomplished.
Here I am not happy among so many heterogeneous elements as Paris contains. It is old without dignity, and old-fashioed without being romantic; interested in everything and indifferent to anything of interest. It is perhaps too much for one single brain and the acquaintance with Paris entered too late into my life.
I hope to be at home soon again, but which is my home? –
Sincerely, Rosamond?! –
Perhaps Bologna will be, but my hope ist [sic] little.
Often I am longing for London, where many things and a small group of persons are corresponding to my “gemüth”.¹ Your letter awaked once again this longing and brought to me a healthy breeze of honesty, which is characteristic for your country and for yourself.
But it brought also much warmth and – to an extent – some clearness. Thank you, most deeply.
Basel is “abgesagt”², when shall I see you then? Will you ever try it again and feel joyfully welcome? I am sure you will.
With the most loving affection,
2 Cancelled – but in this sense, it probably means ‘excused for not coming’.
27 To Rosamond Ley
Comune di Bologna
Oct[ober] 1st 1913
My dear Rosamond,
Your last letter was full of beauty and I brought it with me to Italy. After Munich I have felt so unexpectedly exhausted in body an[d] mind, that it took me fully two months to recover.
Only on the end of July I began again to feel like myself and indeed I reached my normal point of strength. But the time had become short and on the 1st of August I saw only six poor weeks before me, to regain the lost working. So the six weeks were abundantly filled and even overcharged with business, both artistic and practical.
Thet passed away like nothing, so that at the end I had the impression that nothing, also, had been done. Happily I could look down and back to a certain result , a good portion of manuscript, being accumulated, a good hundred of letters written and many business settled.
This latter part of activity was relatively important, preceding my departing from Berlin.
I always waited for a calm and more intimely [intimately?] – concentrated mood and moment – to write to you. I never esteemed it favourable to the kind of correspondence as I imagined to correspond to yourself.
I am afraid this moment has not yet arrived; among the trouble of installing myself in a strange atmosphere, I am not able to find myself. But I will not wait any more to send you my thanks, my unchanging love; to let you know that you are present to my mind and heart and that you will give me the greatest comfort in writing to me soon and often.
I kiss you.
Italy – Bologna, Liceo Musicale
October 1st 1913
28 To Rosamond Ley
Comune di Bologna
Mein lieber Mädchen Rosamond Ley,
Auf Deutsch muss ich wohl Du schreiben; höre es so gern, als ich es Schreibe.
Ich komme nach England für ein Concert in Liverpool am 10. – 11 November, u[nd] werde wahrscheinlich am 9. in London u[nd] am 12. (zu Egon’s) in Cambridge sein.
Am 17. muss ich aber in Berlin sein. Ich schreibe es Dir rechtzeitig, damit Du es so einrichtest, dass ich Dich gehen kann, “as you go out of London three days a week”, (was nicht sehr comfortable sein muss, denn du schreibst: “…oh well, everything is interesting.”) –
Ich habe nie wieder von Maud Allen gehört u[nd] da ich infolgedessen vermuthe, dass Sie in Patagonien oder auf dem Mars ist, so werde ich wohl zu meinem “disgusting” “Waldorf” oder, lieber, zu Mrs Madesdorf [?] zichen von der ich auch nicht Die Addresse weiss. –
Dort vergisst man mich u[nd] hier kennt man mich noch nicht. Es ist für einen lebendigen Menschen nicht erquicklich, in der Situation von Mahomet’s Grab zu sein.
Und so dankbaren bin ich Dir für deine Freue Art und freue mich innig, Dich zu sehen und nahe zuhaben.
Mit allen guten wünschen, grüssen, gefühlen
Uber Beethoven und Bologna wollen wir sprechen.
29 To Rosamond Ley
Polonia Palace Hotel
Dec[ember] 15th 1913
I have to thank you for your good letter; it brought really back my health and to-day although still a convalescent, I am almost myself again.
The three weeks spent in Russia – besides the illness – were filled with deep emotions, two among them had their source in death. One heavy cloud can make everything look dark.
Presently, new hopes have aroused and I am on the way home.
My concerto met in Moscow with great favour and from Hamburg news have reached me telling that my violin sonata has been recognized as a masterpiece. This is a comfort, which I need from time to time.
My compositions Abend will be postponed to the middle of March; I have not been able of completing my new piece for Piano with Orchestra though the outlines of the work stand already clear before my mind. When a thing lays finished before you, you wonder that it was not so from the beginning; but while you are proceeding you do not see the end of it and aften fall indespair.
I kiss you and thank you again.
A happy Christmas to you and Miss Bruce
and all my love from F.
30 To Rosamond Ley
Grand Hotel Baglioni
16th June 1914
It was a great Consolation to me to receive your letter, now, when I am quite alone and unwell. The indisposition is not alarming, but disturbing enough; and I consider it of proceeding from a moral source, as I have reached the point, to find here everything and everyone unbearable and unsympathetic.
Your intuition is quite right, when you suppose that the Neopolitan impressions of last year marked the climate of my emotions in Italy. As to Bologna, it is a dead point in the world and it depresses me to know that life and progress are going on elsewhere, and that I am not attending to them.
But all that horror ends in five days, and a new period will begin. (I am still ready to begin again something….)
I am glad to read that you have enjoyed Poe’s writing. They leave you cold because it is like chess-playing.
The sense of proportion combined with a “certain abandon” is the eternal ideal, after which we are chasing. It is that highest possibility in art. But it is a possibility? I try the thing again and again – have you ever noticed any good result? I almost hope; but it happened seldom.
Poe himself was sure about “the raven “ [?] and what do you think of the “Fall of the house of Usher” - ?
Generally, Poe’s tales are solutions of problems and they are abstract, combined and not “erlebt”. – And, yes, perfection in art can move me to tears, more easily than emotional facts. Perhaps I am myself a little like him…
I thought Maudi would stay longer, as the winter begins now in Australia.
Good God, she will be a good deal older when we see her again. (This is brutal, but I could not keep it back.)
Your idea of going “over the water” (like St Francis) ist [sic] glo-ri–ou-s…. Absolutely exquisite. I believe in it and in meeting you soon dearest Rosamond; which will be a happy event too
Your loving F
31 To Rosamond Ley [at 19 Guildford Street, London WC]
February 27th 
My dear R. I have received your exquisite letter in this very moment, I am going to write to you more amply after a few days.
For this instant let me thank [you] for the real joy your words have given me.
We are quite well.
Most affectionately F.
[Copy of concert programme shows Busoni playing at the Carnegie Hall on Saturday, March 6th 1915. The programme includes music by Bach/Busoni, Beethoven, Schumann and Liszt. A Chickering piano is used.]
32 To Rosamond Ley
214 Riverside Drive
June 28th 1915
My dearest Rosamond,
Your telegram (April 1st) and the letter of March 31st have reached me. At the beginning of my exile much comfort came from the hope to see you here. Indeed, the wire sent by dear Miss Bruce gave to my journey almost a different significance. Since, many hopes have fallen and much resignation had to be adopted. – Italy’s action has placed me in to the impossibility of returning to my Home. – But this situation is so hardly bearable, that – sooner or later – a resolution has to be taken. It will probably result in a voyage to Switzerland, at the end of August; provided that nothing extraordinary – good or evil – happens between. – Meanwhile I have been working diligently. I wrote something about to Sybil [sic] and (to avoid repetitions) I refer to the letter, which is sent by the same mail.
The second part of the welldampered Clavichord has been completed here, and I remain here to supervise the printing.
You ask for news of [Egon] Petri. The only letter he sent was written in an indifferent mood, and even not very kind. He is well and enjoys the beautiful season, as he writes. – He has not sufficient imagination to picture himself my intense suffering.
Benni had letters from Bekky. Their content remains a mystery, as Benni is the angel of silence and the spirit of discretion.
Irene has departed and went home. A day after her sailing Miss Bruce’s exquisite letter to her was opened by Grünberg and read to us. This is not an indiscretion; as we are all hungry for good words from dear friends, the reading proved a blessing to the listener. – Maudy wrote some short lines from California. She was decided to reach England, and that was a day or two before the Lusitania Episode. Since, I have never heard anything again.
We are well, the season is radiant, we ought to be thankful; but my heart is heavy. I love you and your words bring consolation. Do write again.
33 To Rosamond Ley [from Gerda Busoni]
214 Riverside Drive
28th June 1915
In Genoa [?] when we came to the Steamer and got the tel[egram] from Miss Bruce with the lovely outlook to see you here, we felt so happy. How good it would have been to see you here – Such a comfort – quite an other life. To come here for a couple of months can be quite interesting, but to stay here, and as it is our case now, to be forced to stay here is very hard.
I think we would have gone to Europe long ago – if not the print of the 2nd Part of the “Wohl Temp. Clav” was going on here – and it would be foolish to leave the half work.
If Ferruccio would not suffer so much it would be easier to start – he really hates this country and can’t find anything for his soul. We can only hope that this terrible thing will soon have an end.
Please kiss Miss Bruceli and Ursula from us. I hope that we will soon have a lovely time together . Life is too short to have such long interruption.
Much, much love to you,
34 To Rosamond Ley
July 28th 1915]
Your letter – as you say – was not a “proper letter”, nor even a poem: it is a written soul. It brought me so much (and more than any of your letters before) that it raised again many hopes, which threatened to vanish completely.
I am longing to see you and to have you near to me, and – if I can, find the resolution of leaving this inexpressible country. I will sail about 1st September to Europe, enter Switzerland, begin a new life and a new work and perhaps meet the few dearest people, which I know.
This seems to me to be imperious and important, and to this end I will try to concentrate the strength of my decision.
To thank you for this renewal of feelings would be alike to thank nature for Spring.
As soon as things are certain (they do not depend on myself entirely) I send you a notice.
To Miss Bruce all my love, and to you possibly more.
New York, July 28th 1915
Miss Creighton wrote me a letter full of the most intelligent friendship: I replied immediately; tell her so, in case she had not received my answer.
35 To Rosamond Ley
December 27th 1915]
My dearest Rosamond,
Longing, longing – for friends – atmosphere – peace – and the right employment of the flying life! – this is at present the keynote of existence. You may imagine how your letter was welcomed! But I always hoped that destiny and good will may bring yourself. And, really, my coming to Switzerland included partly this bold calculation. – Thank you for the beautiful expressions in your writing! I did not find the courage of writing to you after our loss! It is growing in my imagination and feeling, and it appears to me more improbable now than at first.
My “calculation” was built on her good intentions. I always expected to see her, before every one else.
It has been offered to me to conduct four of the Zurich Symphony Concerts, during the absence of their regular conductor. He is an officer in that Switzer army (every citizen a soldier) and the times require a great strength at the frontier.
I have accepted the offer and my first concert will be on the 22 of February. Besides I have to play a series of Recitals in Basle, to be repeated in Zurich. Between I will go twice to Italy. On the 22 of Fbr. Petri is coming as a soloist.
Thus, my activity is planned and not without interest. Happily I am able to write (as I did in New York too) and am busily engaged with my composition of the one one-act comedy.
Let me know whether there is any chance of seeing you: - the question is quite important to me and we have to try to solve it. My feelings are entirely corresponding to the ones which you expressed; for these I thank you again and bless you.
With most affectionate love,
Zürich, Scheuchzerstr. 36, December 27th 1915.
36 To Rosamond Ley
June 1st 1916
S. Remigio Pallanza
My very dear Rosamond, I received news from Sybil M. and heard of Maudi having returned to London.
A very hearty, most brilliant offer was made to me by a London Concert Agency for the next autumn. All this combined gave me an increasing feeling of home-sickness towards a world to which I remember to have belonged and to which – in some more serene moments – I still illude [sic] to belong.
I left good, hospital, regular Zurich for a fortnight, [?] to follow an invitation of a friend & Italian nobleman here on the “major lake”. The mansion and the park are both masterpieces of the art of building and gardening in the old ital[ian] style. The lady is originally Irish, and a most distinguished, noble-hearted, clear-thinking one. The terraces dominate the Lake, just as it should naturally belong to the castle. Notwithstanding there are things beautiful to look at, and others sympathetic to live in.
I dislike solitary places where I am not able to work; while my little imagination is only working by external stimulation and the outlook of possible distraction.
I do not know what shall and may happen next. Things begin to work rather on my nerves. Meanwhile I am so far advanced with my new One-Act-Play that I shall surely hope to have it ready with Summer’s End.
I send you kisses and love and my unchanging affection; wishes, blessing, thoughts.
37 To Rosamond Ley
June 1st 1916
S. Remigio Pallanza
I receive your letter and it makes me happy. I am here with the unique purpose of meeting Boccioni who is working at my picture. Boccioni, you remember, is the same of whom – with the help of poor Miss Bruce – I bought the “rising city” in London.
He is “rising” himself splendidly, not so much in public estimation, but in his own views and deeds. Now he is 33 [years] of age and decidedly the most gifted and advanced painter in Italy.
I hope much from his present work, otherwise I would not waste several weeks to contribute to its creation. Still he is struggling with problems, and his way is that of suffering. So we all are, and I consider it quite superfluoos when to the battles of mind the battles of nations are added; when to make our secret bleeding more painful, we are forced to be witnesses to the whole world’s bleeding. This is the moral part of the conflict; but the practical side of life is not less paralysed.
Therefore I do not yet know whether my coming to England will become a fact. It depends on circumstances, which is not in my power to direct. Anyway I am compelled to formulate a decision of some kind, and I have to resolve the question during this summer.
I am so thankful to you for your wonderful friendship and I send you much affection in return.
38 To Rosamond Ley
From Signor F. Busoni, Zurich 6.
[October 9th 1916]
It was a consolation to see your handwriting –
I am sorry to say that my coming to England is out of the question for this season.All plans are disturbed and my writing-table is the only firm point, centre and base of my existence. Around it the mad world is whirling, is shaking at its boards – and only when working is prosperous, I am able not to see and not to hear the storming dance.
Yes, I have finished the opera (8th of August) and done numerous things afterwards (a piece for 2 Pianos) – but the portrait has been a success, but the painter is no more. They have killed him – the portrait remains his last monumental work!
Among many terrible things, that one has been almost too much; the sacrifice was superfluous and deprived of sense….
This, combined with another fatal political event of my country, gave me a tremendous depression.
It seems again long ago; so over-orchestrated is the dance music that the single instruments disappear into the hellish noise.
Persons, like one yourself, stand out shining above this inferno.
(The comparison was inspired by some Dante-Illustrations of your Flaxman, which I found and bought here. What a delicate and thinking soul he was!)
I thank you for your love.
I kiss you and so does Gerda.
Z[urich] Oct[ober] 9th 1916
39 To Rosamond Ley
Apr[il] 6th 1917
My very dear Rosamond,
Your good letter reaches me today between my real birthday and my favourite birthday, which is Easter Sunday: the very day on which I came into this wonderful world.
I regret the harmless irony of these last words, when proceeding again through the lecture of your writing, I become aware of the true warmth which is escalating [?] from your humanity.
I thank you. I am now past 51 of age, and next to the h[e]ights of art, kindness of heart is what I most appreciated.
This you possess in abundance and generously beneficiate [?] me with it.
The same mail brings me a most hearty letter by Mr Creighton, who is sending me his novel. I am glad to have a new opportunity of reading English, which – as I fear – I am systematically forgetting. (Not that I knew it decently before!)
But I have done good work in a different line. Two new operas are ready to be performed, and they will be given at the end of this month, (or beginning of May,) at the opera house of this city. Is there no imaginable possibility of your coming?
Dear angelic Miss Bruce! She would had [sic] tried everything in this circumstance, I know.
I am happy about the news concerning Van Dierens. Egon [Petri] is playing in the “new provinces”. Becky is in Munich.
I will write soon again.
I kiss you. Gerda sends all her love.
Always most affectionately, Yours
40 To Rosamond Ley
16th July 1917
Your letter was a consolation. The news from Switzerland are not very interesting. We had too much of German “bands”, once the Parisian Orchestre du Conservatoire, and a few weeks of Italian opera season. Among the many interesting strangers of all nations, there is here a certain James Joyce; an Irishman, who writes English books, and whom I met personally.
My opera had a decided success. Arlecchino, which is a gracefully satyrical play, was much discussed. The Turandot I tried to condensate [sic]¹ the five-act Tragi-Comedy into two acts, and to make it unreal and jokous [?]. The music is in part taken from the older score.
Benni is in a very difficult and peculiar situation, which makes me unhappy and nervous.
Egon writes very seldom, and mostly in good humor: he is going to settle down in the “new East”² , where he has been very well received.
The difficulty of travelling has increased to a point that made me resolve to keep entirely quiet as long as things do not change their aspect.
Meanwhile I will try to find refuge in a big new work,³ which I am just starting: work and hope!
I am afraid I will not see you before all is over. I have learned to be patient and to renounce. (It is not easy.)
Remind me to Mrs Ursula [Creighton], Van Dierens, Mr [Edward]Dent. Please pay once a little visit to Mrs Clarita, 6 Culford Gardens, Sloane Square. The poor lady is not happy, Sybil in America.
All my love to you, dearest girl, and also from Gerda.
16. July 1917.
2 Zakopane, Poland
3 Dr Faust
41 To Rosamond Ley
November 15th 1918
(Time ago I sent you letter to Guildford Street)
Thank you for your good letter. We are well, but there were not very good news from Benni: still, so I hope, the worst is over for him and for everybody!
Repeatedly I received very kind and urgent invitations from Mssrs Curtis and Powell (44 Regent Street in Piccadilly Circus) to come to England. To do this is my intention, and to see London again my continuous longing. But circumstances have been against my desire. At present things begin to change favourably. I think the time comes nearer which will find me able to answer asservingly [?] to Mrs Powell. Wouls you have the great kindness and bring these words to Mesrs Curtis and Powell? It will make a better impression than any letter could!
Time seemed slow, and yet an enormous and irreparable amount of it has elapsed – decidedly, I am not longer young; and I had still so many things to accomplish!
For the moment I am working at my fourth opera, which will be an independent version of the Faust-Problem. It differs entirely from Marlowe’s and Goethe’s. The libretto (rather a Poem) is already published; the music is approaching:- almost the half of it, I may say, is done.
Besides I have written a series of smaller works:- I was not idle.
But for the last month my energy has sunk; no wonder, considered that for all this time I had to stand alone continually confined to my own resources.
Dear Rosamond, how I rejoice when I think to see you again! We all love you and most of all
Your Ferruccio (Busoni)
Nov. 15th 1918
42 To Rosamond Ley
September 15th 1919
I will be in London on Septbr. 23rd – do not know yet where in London, but I shall telegraph you the time of my arrival.
I am happy where I think of seeing you again.
43 To Rosamond Ley
Regent’s Park. N.W.
[November 3rd 1919]
I came home, 2 nights ago, only a few minutes after you had left. I am unhappy to know of your illness, which – as I heartly hope – will prove inoffensive, short, and painless. Your letter gave me to think, but I could not come to a conclusion. The case appears to me almost hopeless….
As you know, I am writing a “Faust” which is supposed to be my masterpiece, when it will be completed. (I still remember having promised you the reading of its book.) A scene in the drama requires 3 bells; this unpractical item will prove a serious impediment to any stage-manager, in account of the difficulty to get bells in general, and the heavy expenses which would result when they chanced to get some bells at all. Therefore I provided in advance, and met a most favourable opportunity in Switzerland which enabled me to purchase the 3 bells, so that I may have the instruments at my free disposal, any time that they should be wanted. The bells – a bargain! – will cost about 300 pounds, the necessary installment comprised.
I underwent the obligation to pay at Christmas, and although I am prepared to fulfill the engagement, it would be of a strong help to me if I could get the money from outside.
You will hear a specimin of the Faust Music at the Queen’s Hall Concert (the programme has been corrected) and so may do your friends, who – afterwards – may also consider the matter which I propose to them.
Gerda was so pleased with your letter!
I hope to see you tomorrow (Tuesday).
Yours most affectionately,
London. Nov. 3rd 1919
44 To Rosamond Ley
London Nov[ember] 11th 19]
Before I see you again tomorrow I must tell you what a joyous moment I lived when I received the parcels which contained the books. I thank you again and again.
The Dickens-volume is glorious; the copy of Carlyle’s is on the whole a good one and quite acceptable. It would be difficult to find a better one in a short time.
I am looking forward with the most pleasant expectation….
45 To Rosamond Ley
London 28th Nov[ember] 1919
I feel it:- You work to[o] much and you must try to get a good rest. People who do nothing are always somewhere “to recover”, but you need the thing really. I hope you will be reasonable and listen to me this time; I never allowed myself before to instruct in your “private.”
I had quite an adventure in account of the fog, the night I left your most charmingly hospitable room (where I have enjoyed the “Pie”): the chauffeur “stopped dead” just before the Academy of Music (which must exercise a wonderful paralyzing power) and he refused to move further. I had to find my way home through a white blindness….
Bernard Shaw wrote me a very good letter after the Symphony Concert, which he had attended. I will show it to you.
I will be happy to see you in Manchester.
46 To Rosamond Ley
Z[urich] D[ecember] 22[n]d 19
After a very trying journey I arrived at last, and safe, but not without being nearly exhausted. I feel that I have experienced some pleasant and happy moments – in London – but that I spoiled time in England – and the fact that I have to do the same again in the next future and perhaps for the rest of my life is not encouraging. Maybe that this is only my momentary mood, from which I will recover and so be able to look at things again with more composure.
You gave me very much by your kindness of heart and your understanding, and therefore I thank you.
I found my family in a satisfactory condition. Although there is much to bring in harmony between my son and me. The time was too long, the distance too far and the events – on both sides – to many fold, which have separated the two generations.
The problem of my situation in life is still unresolved, and the latter is advancing fast.
And I have so many things left to do and to finish….
At present I am earnestly considering the idea of a second part to Arlecchino. The words are written alread; it is more philosophy in them and much of individual points: and because I never thought of the stage and not at all of ther Music when I wrote down the three scenes, the work may prove surprising when performed and adapted to Music.
The continuation of A[rlecchino] makes it necessary to give a new companion to Turandot, which cannot remain single.
And there is Dr Faust.
Plenty of projects and enough of ideas – give me only time, strength and peace.
I could not say good-by to Ursula, not to Sybil. The latter disappeared at the last moment, but she must have received my letter.
Paris, after three months, had obviously improved: I enjoyed to witness it. I Heartly hope to meet you there in March, where you should try to stay for the whole time.
Let me hear from you soon.
A most happy New Year to you.
From your loving friend
47 To Rosamond Ley
Zurich, Ja[nuary] 13th 1920
I promised the Paris dates, but really, I have so much to do, that I do almost nothing. Today I made a sketch of the programmes:
March 5 First Recital }
12 Second Recital } at Salle Erard
14 Conservatoire Orchestra (Beethoven & Saint Säens)
18 Orchestral of own compositions
21 Conservatoire Orchestra (Mozart E flat, & Judian Fantasy)
22 A Liszt Recital (Charity Concert)
If you could be present from the 14th to the 23rd you caught [sic] the more interesting part of the series. I heartily hope you may be able to do it. In fact, the 18th and the 21st are to me the most important.
Can you imagine that Maudi has never written to me? (She thinks and provides for her older days practically all right; but she forgets that – in this way – she will remain terribly alone!) Anyway, I do not understand. I was quite successful in paris for her sake, and had a right and interest to hear the ultimate news.
The books have not yet arrived. Will you be kind and inquire at the foreign bookshop at Langham Place? I hope the bookseller put an assurance on the box. Everything is still uncertain. I have no time to work for myself. So I am not very happy.
To thank you for your beautiful letter? Of course, and with all my heart. But I find it quite natural and organic the way you write and feel, because I feel the same way for you.
48 To Rosamond Ley
[January 17th 1920]
The dates of Paris, March, have been altered.
The first concert is on the
4th and a Charity-Concert (Liszt)
7th I. Conservatoire Orchestra
12th I Recital
14th II Conserv. Orch.
19th II Recital
23rd Orchestral (Composition)
I hope my former letter is in your good hands.
With all my love,
Jan. 17th 1920
49 To Rosamond Ley
Feb[ruar]y 14th 1920
Please show this Cut[ting?] to [Edward] Dent and possibly send it back again. It is No. 100 of Frankfurter Zeitung.
My dearest Rosamond,
I have been in Italy and am back again, and it was a great disappointment: I fell sick, went from bed to the Concert Hall, and from the Concert to bed; twice this story I did, and the people were not even grateful, scarcely polite – and that is the end of my patriotic dreams and of my biting conscience – in this direction I am at rest at last: a negative result is a result of some kind too!
If Powell refuses – now for the third time – to enter in connection with you about my London Concerts (I thought to simplify things for all of us in using your kindness and your interests!) I will be obliged to leave him altogether. You can repeat him these words of mine, because I mean them strictly.
Now I am awfully busy with Paris, as this must be done as well as possible: it is a little much . The dates are now fixed; they are all in March, and thus:
4th Liszt recital
12th Erard Recital I
14th Society of Conservatoire I
19th Erard Recital II
21st Society of Conservatoire II
24th Orchestral Concert of my works
I hope to see you there, possibly twice! Gerda will come with me, she would be heartily happy to meet you.
The books have not arrived.
I am sorry to hear about your life’s difficulties, painfully sorry indeed: everything is so unjust; that it is so for almost everybody does not explain nor excuse the facts.
But I still hope and hope, and do not remain idle, while I am hoping: but it is sometimes a hard exercise of patience.
I am afraid I have been too little with you in London – there are so many contradictions in one’s mind! – I really love you and I thank you for your love to me.
50 To Lionel Powell, Musical Agent, 44 Regent Street, London W1
[Dictated by Busoni to his wife Gerda, and hand-written by her]
Mai 16th 1920
My dear Mr Powell,
I am receiving and reading your letters of May 10th and 11th for which I have to thank you.
I am arranging for an orchestral Concert, this is true, but it is less correct when you say that I am doing so much without communicating with you. Repeatedly I have tried to induce you to listen to Miss Ley, who was charged with the mission of “communicating with you” on the subject. But you would not do it. –
If I were less of a philosopher, as I esteem myself to be, I ought to consider your attitude as a pretty insult to Miss Ley and to me. But nothing of that Chevaleresque kind!
The orchestral Concert is supported by Lovers of Music unknown to me, but well acquainted with the lady; so I had to let to her the question to others how to manage that Concert. Subsequently the idea of combining a couple of Recitals aroused [?] naturally, and I addressed myself directly to Mr Pearson, the Manager of Wigmore Hall, who will be kind enough to charge himself with the trouble of the arrangements.
This is plainly the situation. If there is – in your opinion – somebody to blame, please decide who is to be accused.
[Unsigned – probably sent as a hand-written copy to Rosamond Ley]
51 To Ferruccio Busoni, from Lionel Powell, Musical Agent.
44 Regent Street,
(in Piccadilly Circus)
May 18th 1920
My dear Signor Busoni,
Very many thanks for your letter of the 16th and I felt sure when I heard that you were arranging for an “Orchestral Concert” there was something wrong.
However, I think I can enlighten you and put everything alright.
During February, Miss Ley and myself exchanged correspondence on several occasions. Unfortunately, in the first case I was away on Tour, and Mr Williams wrote and informed Miss Ley I was returning shortly and would communicate with her. Upon my return, I wrote to Miss Ley asking her to make an appointment convenient to herself. Miss Ley telephoned through saying that as she was in the Country she could not get up to town to keep the appointment suggested by me. Since then, I have been waiting for Miss Ley to communicate with me, as my last communication was asking for another appointment convenient to herself.
It is a thousand pities, and nobody regrets the situation more than I do. To put the matter in a “nutshell”, Miss Ley asked for an appointment when I was away, and upon my return I asked for an appointment and Miss Ley was away.
Anyhow, as I have said before, I am delighted to hear from you, and nothing in the world must sever our connection.
I dare say on one or two occasions I have been misunderstood, but I assure you I have been thinking of the financial side, which is entirely in your interests, and it has always been my efforts to obtain the very best results – and I know you will believe me when I say I have spared no trouble in this direction.
Anyhow, if arrangements have been made for the “ORCHESTRAL CONCERT”, alright, but let me carry out the “RECITALS” for you, and as to the future, if you will only let me know how you are placed, I am most anxious for you to visit England and we need not discuss the financial part now as that is assured.
With reference to the “DUO ART” the details of this can be arranged when you are here.
With kindest thoughts,
Very sincerely yours,
52 To Rosamond Ley
May 26th 1920
You could not imagine how difficult it proved to me to give a programme which, in one single evening, should resume my modest personality as composer, pianist and conductor. I went around, half-sick, for two weeks.
Last night I dreamt of you. You appeared to me with an enamelled sky-blue mask on your face, which shew perfectly your features; you had big red hair and a large, very red mouth. You looked strange and beautiful. But I felt uneasy because you came to ask for programmes. Now you can value what a nightmare these programmes have been to me. Any how, this race of Concert-managers are always too anxious about them: afraid of risking a farthing, and depending shamelessly on the public. But the dream gave me a rude start. For a week I had been composing again, and I was intoxicated witht the possibility of doing it. A short Concerto for Flute and orchestra was the result, which is destined to Mr Gaubert in Paris, the conductor; who, originally, is a celbrated flute-blower.
Now, about details.
First of all: you have three weeks before you have to arrange and to advertise: that will be plenty of time.
2. The orchestra for the Suite is the richest, and requires the following list of instruments:
3 Flutes – 2 oboe and English Horn
2 Clarinets – and Bass-Clarinet
3 Bassoons – 4 horns – 3 Trumpets
3 Trombones and Tuba – and Strings
3. The words in Leichtentritt’s Book, Page 61, 62; and 75-78, ought to be translated and printed in the programme. (I send the book by the same mail, and think of [Edward] Dent as translator.)
4. For the Faust Symphony. If we could get a men’s choir and a Tenor voice:- wonderful! If not, because of expenses, time and trouble, I will give the version without chorus. The Chorus should be taught by somebody else, and ready for my rehearsals.
5. Of those rehearsals three would be desirable and almost indispensible.
6. You give the Recital programmes to Pearson.
7. Let me know whether Steinway’s have a new, new, new – Instrument, and what Pearson means with his Chappell suggestion; and what he thinks about the use of Erard.
8. Who will conduct the Indian Fantasy?
I know your time is scarce; mine also. To write to every single one, when you can do the thing in one grasp, (so to speak), would be for me a superfluous work, and a delay. Wire, telegraph, use electricity, spend money - .
I send you my letter to Powell, and his answer. Please keep them.
Love and thank[s].
53 To Rosamond Ley
June 10th 1920
I seriously hope you recovered at last from this fatal illness – I am sure you have been exhausted and your body could not resist the attack.
That infection in the throat is probably something like that, which Sybil had when I was in London. The infection concentrated itself on one particular organ, after the general invasion of the body: it seems to be the rule. That must be cast out energetically and definitively. I am deeply sorry for you – and for me.
Thanks for all the trouble: it was hard to be active in such a state! Now I begin to see a little clear: only yesterday I had the band parts completed. For a few weeks I was nervous; did not know where and how to start. It is always so with me when I am put before a fresh problem. Before the first page of a new score I feel quite helpless. Afterwards everything looks simple.
With all my best wishes, most affectionately,
54 To Rosamond Ley
June 11th 1920
I received the telegramme. I am proud to have so many conductors for one piece. Of course Mr Harrison is welcome and obliging. If there should be space and time (Kant says: there are none) I would suggest to add to the programme the remark that in the Bride=Suite, Number 1 – 2 and 4 – 5, follow each other closely.
What about the Singing Men? Miss Maudi’s House is a sacred temple this time. You are not allowed to walk in. It is discouraging.
On Sunday next (which will be past when you read this) I drive to paris, with the design – you know – of reaching London; not after the 17th.
With love and affectionately
I can never make out whether you are in Bushey Heath or in London. It is a little too much of a problem.
Beethoven – Sonata op111
Chopin – 24 Préludes
Paganini – Liszt 6 Etudes
1 Tremolo 2 Andantino capriccioso
3 La Campanella 4 Arpeggio
5 La Chasse 6 Theme and Variations
1 The Bridal Guest; five pieces from the opera of the same name
1 Ghostly 3 Mystic 5 Joyous
2 Lyric 4 Hebrew
2 Judian Fantasy, Piano and orchestra
(played by the Composer)
3 Faust, a symphony in three Character-pictures
1 Faust 2 Margaret 3 Mephistofeles
Bach Chromat. Fant & Fugue
Chopin Sonata B Flat minor
Busoni Three Sonatinas
1 in usum infantis
2 in Diem Nativitatis Christi
3 Super “Carmen”
Brahms Paganini Variations
55 To Rosamond Ley
July 27th 1920]
My dearest Rosamond,
I do not know myself how it came that I have not yet written. There are ten days since I arrived in Z[urich]. I found many important letters which required to be answered quickly. I finished my third book of exercises, which is entirely devoted to staccato playing. I had to resume my work. I was tired, needed a holy day; but instead of finding tranquility I met with a number of exciting things, was faced with the event of the “great moving”, now not any more distant, but real: Working thus becoming almost out of question, concentration being a matter of impossibility.
Three days ago I began a letter to you, but was unable to put the right words on the paper. It commenced alright: my dearest Rosamond”, but the continuation had no inspiration. I fear it is the same with the present letter, although there is no want of feeling or of arguments.
I received yours some days ago, which I consider beautiful and a rare document of loving friendship. I found you have changed; you became more human than you used to be; or perhaps you merely have learnt how to express and utter your humanity, which – of course – was always existing in you. You are more womanly – or your hidden womanhood became more apparent.
I am astonished at the fact that you are able to accomplish an amazing number of small and unpleasant practical things, and that it took such a great portion of your life to recognize the agreeable and important practical things of existence. But the construction of one’s own life is the most difficult work of art. There are few men in history who succeeded in this task. In fact “Life’s Artist” is just so scarce a thing, as Genius.
There is a fine German Sonnett by Count Platen:
Wer wusste das Leben recht zu fassen?
Wer hat die Hälfte nicht davon verloren?
Im Traum, im Fieber, in Gespräch mit Thoren
in Liebesqual, in leerem Zeit-verprassen?
Ja der sogar, der – ruhig und gelassen –
Mit dem Bewusstsein was er soll geboren –
Fruhzeitig einen Lebensgang erfloren,
Muss vor des Lebens Widerspruch erblassen.
It is that: the contradiction of Life in itself.
I did not better, in proportion to that what I ought to have done, what I could have done! But I tried hard, and there was nobody who told me!
You have been too little with me, and at the beginning I had bad manners:- which you may call “continental”. That made you shy. Of course, now that I am myself a little better, I could convince you more easily. I am happy that it is so, although it came late! – Dearest Rosamond, I thank you. –
The London weeks were most enjoyable and they gave me many satisfactions. I have the impression that my situation has changed altogether, there and in Paris. There is much talk and writing about me in Germany, for and against. The newesy is that Italy also begins to take me into consideration. The present Prémier-Minister is the old “Pacifist” Giolitti, and now the men known as “pacifists” are rising. It seems I am among them. – Foolish world!
- How did the little Pacifist Ficciati?
- And Mr Dent and the Appassionata?
Please write about that and everything which concerns yourself, in facts and in opinions.
Ursula [Creighton] sent a dear letter and the copies of the Daily Telegraph. I have to thank her, but I cannot do it today, nor for several days. Please tell her.
I kiss you and bless you.
Your deeply affectionately
Zurich, July 27th 1920
The book your friends presented to me (which I b[r]ought here) is a very fine one. I am pleased and grateful.
56 To Rosamond Ley
December 19th 1920]
My dearest Rosamond,
Do not be astonished that you receive nothing from me for such a long while, and to-day only a card. Life is really difficult and quite an art. I will never learn it. Thank God my coming to England is decided.
But you should be here in January, and we could sail back together. I will have three Composition Concerts with orchestra on the 7th, 13th and 27th. The last number of the Athenaeum contains a good appreciation of my Faustbook. Please try and send me some copies of the paper.
What about our orchestral evening in London? I am afraid we have to miss it this time. I am working intensively. Say Tillett I will write to him in the next few days.
I give you all my love, which you already possess.
De[cem]b[e]r. 19th 1920
57 To Rosamond Ley at 59 Great Ormond Street, London W.C.
March 9th 1921
I found this Howard, to whom a poem of Goethe is dedicated. He has a monument in St. Paul’s Cathedral and was chiefly active for the improvement of prisoners’ existence and prison life. There are also a good painter and a meteorologist of the same name, but to these the poem can not have any reference.
I thank you for your loving friendship which gave me much beauty.
- Operas at beginning of May.
58 To Rosamond Ley at 59 Great Ormond Street, London W.C.
May 14th 21
My dearest Rosamond,
Really, is a bad destiny!
Superfluous would it be to repeat to you how I saw that prostration, which was sure to reach you. But you never would listen to me. Now this is for me a double suffering, not to leave you here, and to know that you are ill! I hope and wish with all my loving heart that everything will solve itself in a most satisfactory manner.
I only regret to be helpless and of no use to your recovering.
Next Fall we may meet again when I will be fairly well advanced through my work, and you entirely through your illness.
I kiss you.
59 To Rosamond Ley at 59 Great Ormond Street, London W.C.
July 30th 1921
I am writing soon and feel quite ashamed not to have done it yet. But you see my working has been v. important during June and July. There is a new piece for piano and orchestra and the contrapuntic Fantasia for 2 Pianos, and quite a good deal of Doctor F[aust]. By the 2 Pianos I think of poor Mrs Ursula [Creighton] who never received a line from me. And I feel so thankful to her for letters and ?? and for her prodigious friendship.
I have a letter by Ibbs and Tillett which is a good one. But Gerda absent, I have to await her return to ask her advice.
I wish you every good thing.
60 To Rosamond Ley
Feb[ruary] 6th 1922
Dear Rosamond, although I do not feel at all like it (the newspapers have been mostly unkind to me) I had to accept the Recital for Saturday next. As I have only Thursday and Friday at my disposal to prepare the programme I was obliged to take old pieces, which I approximately know.
Nocturne D flat
Carmen [?] Fantasy
Liszt Waltz (Faust)
Will you be so very kind and lay out what you have of them?
I thank you for your dear letter.
61 To Rosamond Ley
F[ebruary] 20th 1922
I missed you last night badly, and I beg you to try to be with me as often as you can during the few days which will see me still in London.
On Wednesday I have to leave for Manchester, Friday is Bradford, and I hope to be back for Egon’s Recital, and to stay over Sunday.
The press has been so very unkind to me as a Composer, that I really consider it undignified to force myself further upon their opinion. (The way they express it is is so obviously against any conception of the english “gentleman”.)
I am still ill and not very happy.
I kiss you.
62 To Rosamond Ley
March 2nd 1922
The crossing was not pleasant, but on the following day the storm was here quite frightening; so that I thank God to be already in Paris. I am very busy and almost taken by surprise, inasmuch as the two Concerts which I supposed to take place on the consecutive Sundays, will be already on Saturday and Sunday next, with almost no time for preparation.
They play my Rondo Arlecchinesco wonderfully, and the new piece for Piano and orchestra sounds very well. – It is Spring-Time –
To day I receive the “Truth” and your good words. I thank you.
I hope to hear more of you very soon, when I will write myself more extensively. I kiss you.
63 To Rosamond Ley
[Paris , March 9th 1922]
One day – last Monday – was to me a holyday: Paris radiant in anticipation of the quickly advancing Spring. – But that was all of my freedom! – They did extremely well the Rondo arlecchinesco at Colonne Concerts. Last night we had
( Petri & I ) our 2 Piano Recital. On the previous Monday (the holyday) Petri had a full success at his own Recital. On Wednesday next I will have done with the series in Paris, and turn towards home, where I shall await you. This is only a little sign of my remembrance and love.
(9 Mars 1922 Paris)
(A little heap of new books is raising.)
64 To Rosamond Ley
Paris , March 16th 1922
Finally, last night was the last Concert of that Paris series, which proved a great success with the audience, and nearly a failure for my strength - afterwards -
We had: Saturday 4th Colonne
(C min[or] Mozart – my own new piece)
Sunday 5th Colonne
(C major Mozart-Liszt A major)
Wednesday 8th with Egon
on the two pianos
Sunday 12th Conservatoire
(G major Mozart – Saint Saens V)
Wednesday 15th Recital
Between: Rehearsals (public rehearsal on Saturday 11th)
- Six Concerts in 12 days. -
About 500 people had to be sent away last night for want of seats. – But this morning I feel exhausted.
On the 6th Egon gave his own Recital with great result. Blondel (the owner of Erard) was so pleased that he took all the expenses on his own account.
My “holiday” I had to pay dearly, inasmuch as I had not known of the public Rehearsal on the 11th, and thus had one day less at my free disposal…..
….. No[t]withstanding, I regret that all this is past; I feel the course of my life as in a hurry, like a landscape seen through the window of a train at speed. I wished to hold some of the glimpses, but the train is rolling forth mercilessly.
Forgive the stiff English of this letter. Since 2 weeks I am talking and writing French exclusively (I do it quite decently) but is carry’s me away from your language.
I am sorry to say that the heap of books has increased. The Paris-heap counts 30-40 volumes in quantity: in quality it contains two “standard” works, viz: The translation of 1001 Nights by Mardrus (16 vols), and Littre’s [?] Dicctionary of the French Language (4 vols Folio).
The London-heap stands already in my Library, but still un packed. I hope I will enjoy my little book-shop. And Spring will be coming in, and perhaps Rosamond…….
I kiss you, dear girl and friend.
Yours most affectionately,
I did not even thank you for your fine letter! (But my heart is better than my head.)
65 To Rosamond Ley
A[ugu]st 29th 1922
My dearest Rosamond,
I have not quite a “bad conscience”, but it does not feel very comfortable, anyhow, with regard of my long silence towards you. I cannot understand it.
If I tell you that I have been ill, busy, and that we had to suffer from a Summer which – as Heine says – was merely a winter painted green, this all would not be sufficient to explain, to justify, my unkindness. Since three days only we see the sun: Sunday (before yesterday) was the first beautiful Sunday since months.
The depression in Berlin is rapidly increasing, owing to the humiliation and economic catastrophy. If I see a book which tempts me and come the next day again to buy it, it costs already twice as much as it did the day before!
Often I was longing to spend a week at the “Langham”, but one pound meant 5000 Marks and more. Today such a little trip would represent a million or so.
- Men are merciless and shortsighted, life is too short for such little fun.
Of the three volumes which will constitute the score of Dr Faust, two are finished and bound. The third volume ought to follow soon….we will hope the utmost!
I have put the word “End” to my series of piano Exercises in five books (200 pages). I am working at the big C major Concerto by Mozart (which is not known, or almost so) and have provided the necessary Cadenza.
We had many visitors from everywhere. My composition Class is proceeding satisfactorily with its seven young men on every Thursday afternoon.
Your last letter has been a blessing to me.
Write again. I love you.
66 To Rosamond Ley
Jan[uar]y 2nd 1923
My very dear Rosamond,
To-day, already the second day of the new year; I have the fatal feeling, that Christmas is approaching again. I am jealous of the time, and very unhappy not to be able to behave avaricious with it.
Four months of my late life went entirely fruitless; not enough with that: they went destroying; and it will require a good deal of Time to build up again what has been lost of strength and labour.
Therefore, I am afraid, I will not be able to play in London. My doctor will give me his opinion tomorrow; whereafter it will be transmitted to Mr Tillett.
Thankful I received the two Detective Stories: the one by A. Freeman was welcome and entertaining, and cleverly constructed; although very dry and systematic. The other was indeed of American birth, and so very deficiently written that I could make no sense out of it and had to give up the reading. But I thank you for your kind thought of selecting, buying and forwarding the book.
- Dear Sybil sent me Collin’s Complete Works, which I loved to have; but they never arrived: it is about three months since Wilkie Collins is at present quite popular in Germany: I think his “Second Youth” is coming, and he deserves it. – I was indeed sad and angry about the lost parcel.
My health is improving, but – oh! – so slowly. I should say: every 24 hours it is one minute better. But it is ascending…on Christmas-day I could play again for one hour, without interruption. And yesterday I did the same thing satisfactorily. I was already quite restored when I had to go to Dresden to attend a rehearsal of Arlecchino. This was too much for a new beginning, and it brought me back for the worse. Life, thy name is fragility!
For two months or more I have not written any letters. So you will understand that none of my news have reached you during that period. My affection is rather increasing and I wish for you the happiest events; most of all: to see you again, with our little chats and meals.
My best love to Mrs Ursula [Creighton].
67 To Rosamond Ley
Jan[uar]y 24th 1923
My dearest friend,
I took the liberty of dedicating the Mozart Fantasy for two Pianos to you and Mrs Ursula. I hope you will heartily accept it, as it is offered.
Had you my letter? I am longing to read your writing.
Jany 24. 1923
68 To Rosamond Ley
April 9th 1923]
My dear Rosamond,
I have tried to send you – through the kindness of a gentleman connected with Steinway – two copies of the Mozart piece for two pianos; one to you, one to Mrs Ursula. They will be deposited at Ibbs and Tillett where you should find them, so I hope.
Your birthday-letter has been a consolation to me, and the day was an enjoyable one, with sunshine, guests, and gifts, some of them beautiful. (Not the guests).
The doctor was not inclined to allow me a journey, so distant as London, with regard to the uncertain weather: so I had again to disappoint Mr Newman, to my sincere regret. Also to my relief, in so far as I was happy enough to be able of reassuming my working at the writing-table, and fell jealous to interrupt it at its very start. [sic]
I am improving slowly (I think it should be time to improve anyhow) and hope that the season, which has been prematurely warm, and turned to winter again, will condescend to declare itself an accomplished Springtime, in short.
Today a letter from Chatto & Windus has arrived, which does not touch the more interesting point of the completing of my Collins Collection, but merely the translation of my writings by Mr Dent. This is quite interesting too, and I feel proud, proud! to be published in England, and by a most respectable house!
There are many things going on again; my style of composition has changed and seems to be fresher than before. Five dull months of unvoluntary [sic] rest have helped, perhaps!, to a better state of mind. I say: perhaps, because I do not feel sure of anything, and have become timid in my calculations and hopes, almost superstitions…..
When may we meet another [sic] again? Could you afford to come? If everything goes right, I should be able to be in England February next. Not before, and it seems a very long time to reach.
I kiss you, my very good friend, as your most affectionate
April 9th 1923
69 To Rosamond Ley from Gerda Busoni
Berlin, 26 June 1923
I wanted always to write – but day after day passes and my time goes to all small things: everything is so much harder here now. This winter was terrible and we are longing for the sun now since a year. I hope we can go away from Berlin for a while – until now it was not possible for F[erruccio] to travel, because it was too cold. He is better – but still not quite well – I believe that sun and airchange would do him good.
Dearest Rosamond, how lovely if you could come, if we should not be here in August or September. When you are coming you must come where we are. Bus perhaps we are back again then. I am longing for England more than I can say – it is really a necessity for my life. I hope that you can stay a little longer this time – last time it was ridiculous.
F[erruccio] try [sic]to work – but with Faust he makes a pause again. In April and May he worked very well.
Life here is now very bad. People starving, complaining, everyone sad, very little joy – ich sage immer “wir sind unterenährt an Freude” [I continually say, ‘we are undernourished with happiness’].
Hope the Zauberflöten overture” will be ready printed when you come over and that you can have it with you back to England. I am sure you will enjoy it immensely playing it with Ursula.
“Faust” is not yet ready and there are already six critics that wants [sic] to have the Unaufführung. [? Synopsis]
I am looking forward with so much joy that you are coming & will write to you soon.
Love, love – kisses
I got a lovely letter from Ursula – I am so thankful .
70 To Rosamond Ley
October 28th 1923]
Since you have been here, every day was an improvement in my health: I could feel it, and people could see it. But a week ago a well-meant, but devilish idea of my friends sent me to a couple of doctors for a definite statement of my physical condition.
One of the two, who seems to love more the maladies, than him who is inflicted by them, chased me through a series of experiments and illustrated them by a continuous cantusfirmus of the most discouraging predictions for the rest of my life. Whereafter I went through the worst night of my existence, discussing with myself certainties and probabilities with a heaviest heart and with the result of a serious relapse, which I slowly begin to overcome.
This was a break in the monotony of my Parisian life, and maybe a clearing of some problematic points; although not their last solution. In Berlin, whereto I count to return in a week or so, I hope to recentre my normal state of living.
My longing for London was intense; the heavy storms meant to me almost a consolation; on their account I interpreted the impossibility of a crossing as a reasonable thing.
It was perfectly right (of you) to say what you have said to Mr Tillett. Not only I have not accepted the “two” engagements, but I suspended the acceptance by asking for a greater number of invitations. So the incident is not entirely correct on the other part of the channel.
Your presence here was too short; I still hope that you will risk a visit to Germany, where – of course – we will be able to offer you very little comfort; not without some interesting details and certainly with the warmest-heart and purest joy.
I kiss you.
Paris 28th October 1923