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Tovey, Sir Donald Francis (1875-1940) knight, music scholar and composer
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Letter from Donald Tovey to R. C. Trevelyan

Northlands, Englefield Green, Surrey. - Has '[o]ne more carp' with Trevelyan's draft libretto [for "The Bride of Dionysus"]: is 'full of themes and possibilities' but has trouble with the very first line. If it could be altered, he could 'get an idea of the first notes (& hence of the overture...)'; has 'frivolous... fears' that at the moment it sounds 'partly like an address from the stage to the conductor & partly like a catch-word for critics'. The rest is 'perfectly setable [sic]' and he does not want to change a word. Wishes to begin with 'Dark ship' rather than 'slow', to 'hit the aural eye... with a colour at once'. Recognises that this complicates Trevelyan's rhythm, though with music that would not be noticeable. Reassures Trevelyan that he will not be 'like this about every line'. Trevelyan must not gather from what Tovey said to Mrs Trevelyan [see 7/153] that he objects to setting passages Trevelyan has adopted from earlier works.

Letter from Sophie Weisse to Elizabeth Trevelyan

Northlands, Englefield Green, Surrey. - Though Donald [Tovey] is meant to be staying at Northlands all July, so far he has managed only about two nights a week; next week seems clearer; invites the Trevelyans to come and stay the night on July 27th, or another day next week. Donald hopes Bessie will play some sonatas with him. Percy Such and [Charles?] Jacoby [or Georg Jacobi?] are coming that night to play Donald's new arrangement of his Trio for Clarinet and Horn, for Violin and Cello.

Letter from Marie Busch to R. C. Trevelyan

Hindhead. - Mrs Sickert and Oswald think she might be able to do the German translation of Trevelyan's play ["The Bride of Dionysus"] which [Donald] Tovey has set to music; she is doubtful, since the work would need to be done by someone who was an experienced writer as well as musician. Would be able to judge better if she could read the play. Mrs Sickert suggests they should meet at Pembroke Lodge; she could make next Tuesday, Thursday or Friday.

Letter from Pau Casals to Elizabeth Trevelyan

Prades. - He understands the joy she takes in her nephew's company: Joachim is 'un garcon et un artiste de premiere ordre', and strongly resembles his father. His feeling for the [Prades] Festival, and his collaboration, are very important to Casals. Is happy about the arrangement for Robert Trevelyan's library [at Birkbeck College, London], it is just the right tribute to his memory. His compatriot Corredor is preparing a book of conversations with him: Röntgen, Tovey and Moór will figure as both great musicians and friends. Thinks Corredor will strike the right note. He is in the middle of preparations for the festival; many of the musicians have already arrives. Knows she would enjoy the music and the atmosphere.

Letter from Sophie Weisse to Elizabeth Trevelyan

c/o the Lord Monteagle, Mount Trenchard, Foynes, Co. Limerick. - Hopes Donald [Tovey] will come to the Trevelyans on Saturday; asks Bessie to write to him suggesting a train c/o the Hon. Mrs Wilbraham Cooper, where he must call on his way to the Trevelyans. Her own plans are upset by the need to go to see her 'Geschwister' [siblings] in Scotland, but would like to come on either Wednesday or Thursday.

Letter from Marie Busch to R. C. Trevelyan

33 Ossington Street, Bayswater. - Sends the score and manuscript [her German translation of Trevelyan and Tovey's 'The Bride of Dionysus'] and asks Trevelyan to confirm receipt. Very good of Trevelyan to invite her to the Shiffolds again; would like to come, but finds it hard to make plans and fears she would not be able to help with recasting the poem. Would like to do some practical work, and has offered her help to one of the societies which tries to help 'foreign girls and women stranded here without friends owing to the war'; currently they have enough volunteers but may want more soon as 'the pressure of work is very heavy'. Would be a relief to do something. Feels that 'Germany has acted criminally and that she will have to suffer unspeakably for it'. Miss Weisse's conduct is 'extraordinary': for someone with heart disease to go into the 'middle of all the upset' sounds 'almost suicidal'. Asks to be remembered to Mr Tovey; is sorry that his plans for going abroad are now upset; he must be glad to have his Edinburgh work to look forward to. Sends love to Mrs Trevelyan and Julian.

Sheet of notes by Marie Busch on her translation of "The Bride of Dionysus".

Letter from Donald Tovey to R. C. Trevelyan

Northlands, Englefield Green, Surrey. - Is delighted that Trevelyan agrees to with his suggested alterations to the third act [of "The Bride of Dionysus"] as he suggested, and with the improvements to them; feels the new Dionysus speech still needs a little work and makes some suggestions; is also not sure what Trevelyan has left of the passage about Phaedra in his type-copy and discusses this section. Would like to take the themes from the overture from this section. Asks for a list of points which defining the time in the prison-scene. More suggestions about Ariadne's third act speech. The pine tree will offer opportunities for the scene painter.

Notebook with extended prose narrative and loose poems, most from "The Bride of Dionysus"

Notes on the Wars of the Roses, including a family tree [from Trevelyan's school days?].
Opening [?] of prose narrative set in the British Museum Reading Room.
Extensive extract from prose narrative [Trevelyan's never completed novel?], describing the view from Meliance's window, his waking from a dream (with brief verse), seeing Helen/Orgeluse picking flowers and going downstairs intending to speak to her. Written on recto only, with additions and corrections on facing pages.

Loose inserts: 1 bifolium with "Modern Greek ballad", "Dirge", "From Theognis", "Dirge"; 1 sheet, "Before, I tire of loving thee, my love..."; 1 bifolium with translation of Catullus 81, "A lament", "Song", "Italian folk songs"; 1 bifolium, "The Mountain-brook", "Song", "The Thrush's Song"; 1 sheet, "There was a little monkey from monkey-land"; 1 foolscap bifolium with translation of Catullus 63 ("Attis"); 1 foolscap sheet, "Wishes", "Greek folk-song", "Satyr's Song (from Ariadne [i.e. "The Bride of Dionysus"])"; endpaper and back cover of a French Garnier Classics book, with verse in pencil on endpaper, "Sidelong/Downward a little leaning/bending thy dear head...".

Several blank pages in notebook, then more inserts: bifolium headed letter paper from The Green Farm, Timworth, Bury St. Edmunds [country home of Desmond and Molly MacCarthy] with draft verse in pencil; 1 sheet, ["Italian Folk Songs"]; 1 large sheet, "The Mulberry Tree Speaks"; 1 sheet, "What wert thou, happy dream?" [from Meliance narrative, see above]; 1 foolscap sheet, "Now now needs must I sing".

Several further blank pages, then more inserts: 1 sheet, "My love among all lovely things..", with musical notation on the back [since the poem is published in "The Bride of Dionysus... and other poems", perhaps the music is by Donald Tovey]; 1 bifolium, "Methought I had been wandering alone..."; 1 sheet, "When the children come at eve...", title, "The Mulberry Tree", added later in pencil; 1 sheet, "To yon thicket hind and hart go rarely.." ["The Thrush's Song"]; 1 sheet, "No now fain would I sing"; "Thou gaunt grey-bearded boatman" ["Charon"]; 1 sheet, "When dreaming of thy beauty by the sea..."; 1 sheet, "I ; thought that Love..."; 1 sheet, "What wert thou, happy dream". Further blank pages.

Card from Sophie Weisse to Elizabeth Trevelyan

Northlands, Englefield Green, Surrey. - Asks if Bessie and Bobbie could not come for a night: has 'so much' to tell them and is 'aching to add even a feather's weight to the influences for peace'; she saw Bessie's sister [Abrahamina Röntgen] a few days ago; is also 'stricken with dismay to find Donald [Tovey]' so ill and to 'hear him raving all these utterances of the English press'.

Letter from R. C. Trevelyan to Julian Trevelyan

The Park, Prestwich, Manchester. - Sorry to miss seeing Julian and Ursula; hopes they will have a good time at [?] Grunnock. He and Bessie had a good time at Wallington. Has not yet 'carried off the Botticelli Dante drawings' [see 12/28], though spoke to Charles; he was 'quite nice about it' though Bob thinks he rather likes the book being there. Has taken measurements to see if it will fit on the shelves at the Shiffolds, which he doubts; doesn't want to put it out on a table, and wonders whether Julian would like to have it in London. It had better stay at Wallington for the moment. Bessie comes home tomorrow, but will probably go to Wallington again in September. Wonders whether Julian has seen [Maria] Germanova again, and if he has found out if she is having difficulties with her rent. [Hasan Shahid] Suhrawardy has written him a 'disconsolate letter'; seemed to think it was unlikely he could come to Europe this year. Hopes to see Julian when he comes South. He and Bessie are probably visiting the [Donald] Toveys at Hedenham around the 25th. Thinks Bessie is 'very well'; she takes her breakfast in bed at half eight; Julian will have to have the '8 o clock breakfast at Wallington' if he goes there.

Postcard from Donald Tovey to R. C. Trevelyan

Postmarked Englefield Green. - Thanks Trevelyan for Acts 4 and 5 [of "The Bride of Dionysus"]. Asks if he has told Trevelyan that he is 'telescoping' some lines in the 'Earth, Earth' chorus of Act II; also asks for 'a Minoian [sic] executioner's hymn' to be sung by the soldiers either with or instead of the 'O tomb of death' chorus, as he wants men's voices there.

Card from Sophie Weisse to Elizabeth Trevelyan

Northlands, Englefield Green, Surrey. - Does not know where Mrs Fry can be. Donald [Tovey] has 'counted on her', taken on an small furnished flat in Edinburgh, and is here to fetch her; he now proposes to go back and make do with a charwoman. Would be very grateful if Bessie could 'catch her and send her here'. Donald's 'latest proposition' is to go without any lunch.

Postcard from Donald Tovey to R. C. Trevelyan

Postmarked Mainz. - Has just played through some of Act I and Act II [of "The Bride of Dionysus"] for Herr Geheimrat [Strecker], who 'has none of the doubts he had a year ago' and thinks that they should risk five acts due to the contrast in atmosphere between the prison and Labyrinth scenes. Is feeling 'more encouraged' than he has for some time, and feels that if he can get the instrumentation of the duet right he will be 'out of the wood'. Asks for permission for an omission and an insertion. Has recently realised the necessity of making an emotional point of the words 'Against my bridal day'.

Card from Sophie Weisse to Elizabeth Trevelyan

Northlands, Englefield Green, Surrey. - Thanks Bessie heartily; got Mrs Fry here yesterday [see 8/101], and feels she can like and trust her; sorted out plate and linen with her and she goes to 'take possession' [of Donald Tovey] on Thursday. Bessie is almost the only person she can 'bear to hear mention the war'; comments about the 'Slav war'.

Letter from Sophie Weisse to Elizabeth Trevelyan

Northlands, Englefield Green, Surrey. - Is still 'very vague and confused about Dutch money'; asks Bessie if she has calculated Augustin's bill correctly; it is 'a rather disappointingly large amount' but the success of the concerts 'helps to keep the artist in Donald [Tovey] alive. Wishes she could hear of Fritz Busch's safety: would be best if he could be '"safely wounded" as the mothers say'. Donald is at Dyffryn Rectory [to see his aunt, Anna Walter Thomas?] and returns to Edinburgh on Saturday. Asks Bessie to ask Donald to let her have any notices of his concerts which might have been contained in the letters she forwarded to him today; was very grateful for the one Bessie sent her which seems 'quite remarkably good and comprehending'. Donald is playing very well, but was 'extremely nervous' for the Chopin recital, partly as the piano was so bad. She was away for Christmas with her 'very depressed brother [Henry] and his wife' and is now trying to deal with work.

Postcards from Donald Tovey to R. C. Trevelyan

Postmarked Mainz. - Asks Trevelyan to expand the hint about Naxos in 'Act III (new style' [of "The Bride of Dionysus"]. Increasingly grateful to Trevelyan 'for having managed without narrative': in spite of Wagner 'living on narrative', Tovey feels that 'it combines all the musical uselessness of dramatic plot-machinery with the dramatic uselessness of lyric music". Thoughts on the music for A[riadne]'s despair. Has heard many operas in Germany: in the 'provincial towns' of Darmstadt, Mainz, Wiesbaden and Frankfurt there is 'a much-better-than-Beecham opera every day' and only pay five marks for the best seats. The singers are variable, but the orchestra, 'conducted by nobody in particular, is most respectable'. This does not make a profit, but is 'considered as much a necessity as the electric light, the churches & the tramcars'. Imagines Salisbury and Winchester having such institutions. Still struggling with the Theseus and Phaedra duet, but has fixed the shape.

Letter from Sophie Weisse to Elizabeth Trevelyan

Northlands, Englefield Green, Surrey. - Asks Bessie if she can send back an enclosure; despairs as to how they can get D.F.T. [Donald Tovey] to get the symphony ready in time [for its British premiere]. Is now going to Edinburgh for a week, after an attack of influenza; Kate [Friskin] is playing the Schumann allegro and Beethoven G major concerto, with Donald conducting, on the 20th. The critic at the Hague is 'delightful'; is astonished any newspaperman could understand Donald so well; asks Bessie to translate it exactly for her. Her 'world is full of Belgians - two more, convalescent officers, arrived today'. Madame de Beughen will be in charge of them till she returns.

Letter from Sophie Weisse to Elizabeth Trevelyan

c/o D.F. Tovey Esq, 28 Rutland St, Edinburgh. - If Bessie could put an enclosure into 'decent English' it would 'be doing Donald [Tovey] a kindness'; she herself and Madame de Beughem have tried, but she gave up at the 'charming description of the Azzopardi Studies'. Asks Bessie to publicise the Beethoven recitals. It is 'cold and wet and inexpressibly dirty' here but painfully familiar; she seems to see her 'parents and their children treading the well known streets again'. Very pleased with Donald's 'surroundings' and confident that Mrs Fry is looking after him; his music room, office and classrooms at the university are 'most dignified and beautiful'. Feels 'it is a Godsend' he came here 'just at this fearful time'; she constantly thinks about Fritz Busch and is sure Donald does even more so. Wishes Donald had showed her Grete [Busch]'s letter but 'nothing past can alter the present anxiety - and that must just be borne'.

Postcards from Donald Tovey to R. C. Trevelyan

Postmarked Englefield Green. - Extended discussion of the last act [of "The Bride of Dionysus"] and Ariadne's turn to Dionysus. Thinks the solution must involve 'the Dionysus-as-missionary-among -the-Maenads-&-unrecognised-by them notion' and care taken by Tovey to show in Ariadne's despair that she is 'always and already immeasurably greater than her own love affair'. Does not want Love to be 'explained away' but 'unmistakeably identified with Dionysus and his particular brand of immortality'. Dionysus should not be 'a case of appendicitis', nor a 'revival' of Theseus. Sunday at 'Ampsteadam' was 'glorious' and [Elgar's?] 'new symphony is a splendid work'.

A second postcard, postmarked with the same date and time and headed 'II', reprises Tovey's thoughts about Ariadne and Dionysus: one reason that he thinks Trevelyan's latest idea is right that it returns to his original, 'most impulsively & naturally conceived' notions. Feels it is necessary to include certain things: 'Dionysus as his own prophet incognito among the maenads'; 'the chorus's fear of suicide'; 'Dionysus's capacity to rehabilitate love in asserting divinity'; the 'suddenness of A[riadne]'s conversion'. Will write about some details in Acts II and III; does not want to shorten for its own sake.

Card from Sophie Weisse to Elizabeth Trevelyan

Northlands, Englefield Green, Surrey. - Thanks Bessie for her note; is glad she feels [Donald Tovey's] symphony is 'a great work and solid as the classical works all are'; this is the only thing that matters, though Donald is 'more in a rage with the press than he need be'. Hopes he will now finish the opera ["The Bride of Dionysus"]. Remembers Fritz Busch saying there were four symphonies buried in Donald's piece (quotes the German). Was not the orchestra's fault last Monday: Donald was 'copying and patching parts' very late. Fears he is 'greatly exhausted'; he returned to Edinburgh on Thursday.

Postcard from Donald Tovey to R. C. Trevelyan

Postmarked Englefield Green. - Asks if he may shorten Theseus's speech on his re-entry in Act I [of "The Bride of Dionysus"]. The 'Alas for thee' chorus is going quite well. Will give an extra line to Minos in his cross-examination of the captives. The Cretans need not mention the 'strife between P. & Z.' [Poseidon and Zeus?]

Postcard from Sophie Weisse to Elizabeth Trevelyan

Northlands, Englefield Green, Surrey; sent to Bessie at 45 Egerton Crescent, London S.W. - Thanks Bessie for sending the 'nice cutting', which was very welcome since she has had nothing from D.F.T. [Donald Tovey] except for a postcard on his arrival [in the Netherlands for his concert tour] on the 9th. Asks if 45 Egerton Crescent has a telephone so Donald could communicate as he passes through London. A 'great blessing' that Julian has recovered well from his operation.

Postcard from Donald Tovey to R. C. Trevelyan

Postmarked Englefield Green. - The rest of the first act [of "The Bride of Dionysus"] will 'go like billy-oh' up to the 'Beereids' [Nereids] at least. Trevelyan's arrangement of Minos and Phaedra's remarks is 'quite perfect'; will base the 'Alas for thee' chorus on two other themes 'instead of on unrecognisable monotones'. In a 'PPS', he says he has found a theme for another chorus to echo.

Letter from Sophie Weisse to Elizabeth Trevelyan

Northlands, Englefield Green, Surrey. - Glad of a communication from Bessie, as she has long been fond of her and her children; asks if she has been 'decently fair' towards her; Bessie has allowed Donald, whom no-one else apart from Miss Weisse's 'best friend... a dying man' knows as well and to whom she has been 'far more than a mother', to abuse her and has criticised her to him behind her back. Says it does not matter for her sake as her life is 'drawing to its close', but it does that her influence with Donald is therefore 'undermined'; Bessie has 'increased the danger in which he lives as no one else has'. Best to be frank: she is 'German all over in that'. Asks when Bessie expects Donald and his wife [Grettie] and for how long. Wishes them to go and stay with the Trevelyans very much; would be a 'service' to her to keep them as long as they can. Has only really seen Donald's wife once, and 'noticed her so little that [she] would not recognise her in the street'. Has not been in Edinburgh since Donald went to Holland [in January]. The engagement was very short.

Letter from Caroline Trevelyan to Elizabeth Trevelyan

Wallington, Cambo, Morpeth. - Glad that Elizabeth has heard of some nurses who may suit her, but sorry that she has this trouble. Good that Julian is so well; she and Sir George hope to visit in October and see him. Thinks [E. M.] Forster must be interesting, since his novels are 'so clever & original', though she does not think he manages plot well. Has been reading [Myra Kelly's] "Little Aliens", about 'the little Jew children in America', which is 'pretty & funny; but quite slight'. Sorry Mr [Donald] Tovey is not progressing quickly, but it must require much work to write the music for an opera ["The Bride of Dionysus"]; probably best that it will not be put on next summer, as 'the world will be simply mad over the Coronation'. George's children are 'much improved': Mary has shown no signs of temper; Theo is 'passionate occasionally' but still young, and a 'very nice boy'; [Humphry] seems quite strong now.

Letter from Sophie Weisse to Elizabeth Trevelyan

Northlands, Englefield Green, Surrey. - Agrees that they will do their best together to help when they can; she is now 'less stunned' [by Donald Tovey's marriage] and knows Bessie loves Donald. They must talk sometime, but thinks this would be best after Bessie has got to know Donald's wife [Grettie] well; hopes they will go to stay with the Trevelyans; they return to Edinburgh for a short time this week. Encourages Bessie to write to Grettie and invite them again. Asks why she always sees dangers so far in advance ; is 'not noble like Cassandra [in Aeschylus' Agamemnon]' but thinks she has a 'bit of her spirit' in her; quotes in Greek from the play [lines 1302-1303]. Wishes she might be 'both patient and brave-spirited'. The wedding was 'very large with pictures in the Daily Mail', but the only invitation she received was the one two days before; Donald had 'really disinvited [her] on the plea that it was to be so very quiet'; she was 'absolutely powerless from the first'. Is most grieved that he has not done any good work for at least two and a half years; asks if Bessie knows whether he has written anything. Regrets the last eleven years, his talent and imagination 'all wasting away'; would not care 'if he had a dozen wives' as long as his work went well.

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