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Debussy, Achille-Claude (1862-1918) composer
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Letter from Caroline Trevelyan to Elizabeth Trevelyan

Chillingham Castle, Belford, Northumberland. - Has come here for a night's stay; arrived in time for a 'beautiful walk' yesterday. Wonders whether the Grandmonts are with Elizabeth and hopes they are having this good weather if so; sends regards, and hopes they like the [new] house. Thinks she must come to London at the end of October; asks if she can come to visit on 31 October or 1 November; discusses travel arrangements. Audrey Trevelyan has been to stay; she played 'some queer music by a man called Debussy which she said was very much thought of in Paris'. Agrees with Elizabeth that music here is not very good, but thought Audrey played well. Everyone envies Elizabeth and Robert having [Donald] Tovey to stay with them.

Letter from Donald Tovey to R. C. Trevelyan

S.Y. Zingara, 'floating in the neighbourhood of Skye, where it rains angoras and terriers'. - Hopes that Trevelyan and 'Mrs. Poet' are well, and that [their son] Paul is recovering. Has almost finished a 'declamatory sketch' of the first act [of "The Bride of Dionysus"]. Sets out the plan describing musical themes in some detail. Mentions some alterations he would like made at various points throughout the opera. Thinks the length is 'practical but formidable' but that it would be a 'great mistake' to cut it.

His theories about 'the possibilities of musical form in modern opera are vastly enlarged and changed': believes that much 'Wagnerism', such as 'the abnormal exaggeration of every pause in Wagner's sentences' will one day seem archaic. Wagner's 'business-technique' no longer impresses Tovey and he now feels, 'candidly' that he can do 'far better himself', in part because he has much better material. However, Tovey is 'driven to despair' by much of Wagner's music - he lists numerous examples - which can make him feel that the only point for him to write music is to amuse himself. Yet he thinks 'the musical patchiness of Wagner is an archaism' and 'the [Richard] Straussian development of the unmusical side of Wagner's technique is... the vilest humbug ever foisted on ignorant journalists by a cad'. Refuses to have anything more to do with 'modern tendencies' in musical drama; ready to learn many things from Debussy about timbre but cares nothing for the 'new doctrines & practices' from any other point of view.

Is visiting the Speyers around the 6 September and asks if they could meet there, or whether he could visit the Shiffolds after that or they could meet at the Dakyns' house over the Haslemere concert. Wants to run through what he's done on the piano, and would be very glad if Elizabeth Trevelyan could hear it.

Letter from Félix Gicquel to R. C. Trevelyan

Was very sorry that Trevelyan did not come to Versailles on Sunday: the front, all gilded, was 'splendid to see under the autumn sun'. Thinks that Trevelyan will have enjoyed his afternoon at the concert, however; asks whether the programme was good. It has been agreed that they will go to hear their friend [Magdeleine Greslé] sing Debussy on 10 November; if Geoffrey [Hardern] has returned his presence would add to the charm of the occasion. Has had no news from him, though he promised to write. Has a little flu at the moment, so is 'in fashion'. Asks if they can put off their next meeting until next week: they could go to hear Esape [?] at the Comédie-Française, so asks him to save that trip for him, and not to be enticed by de Banville.

Letter from Marguerite Gicquel to R. C. Trevelyan

1 Rue Royale, St. Cloud (S[eine] et O[ise]. - Their friend Magdeleine Greslé has asked her to write to Trevelyan to ask if he could put her in touch with a British impresario, as she has a strong desire to sing in London, but Trevelyan is the only British person she knows. Will tell Trevelyan what Magdeleine has already done in her career in case he knows an impresario who could engage her for a series of concerts, or a few connoisseurs in London who could at least make her known there. Trevelyan knows how hard life is here, and that it is not possible to earn a living singing in Paris except in the theatre, which Magdeleine does not want to do; she takes a lively interest in the British musical scene, but unfortunately does not speak English; however, Trevelyan knows she could increase his compatriots' knowledge of the French, Italian, and Spanish musical scenes, also that of the Russians before Bolshevism. Magdeleine has sung here with the Colonne, Chevillard and Pasdeloup [orchestras] and various musical societies; she has also sung in Spain and will return there, and in Portugal; she only started her career two years ago. She is considered the best performer of Debussy. Is repeating what Trevelyan knows as well as she does, but he will excuse this 'panégyrique sincère' from a friend. The request is an 'hommage' to the memory which he has left with them. Hopes Trevelyan and his family are well. Her parents send their regards.

Letter from Marguerite Gicquel to R. C. Trevelyan

1 Rue Royale, St. Cloud. - She and her friend [Magdeleine Greslé] thank Trevelyan for the information he has given them [on musical contacts in Britain, see 22/26], which her friend will put to use when she returns from Spain. Thinks Magdeleine's agent here, [Arthur] Dandelot, will happily get in contact with the person Trevelyan names, and Florent Schmitt or Ravel can write what they think of her. They leave on 10 January for Barcelona, then Bilbao, and she thinks Madrid at the end of the month, where Madame Greslé is giving one or two concerts; they will continue to Malaga where she is giving two concerts, and another in Madrid on the way back; is unsure of exact dates except from the concert at Barcelona, on 13 January. Knows Madame Greslé is singing Debussy's "La Damoiselle Elue", with [Fernandez] Arbos, but does not know where since the Spanish impresario is a fool, and 'one learns the news when one arrives in the cities [where the concerts are due to be]'. They received Trevelyan's letter of introduction to his friends 'with joy', but do not know if they will be able to profit from it. Thanks him for everything.

Letter from R. C. Trevelyan to Caroline Trevelyan

The Shiffolds. - Is alone here until Wednesday, since Bessie is in Cambridge; she hopes to see Caroline in London during her return, and seems well, apart from a cold. The weather is 'beautiful again today, and the woods are full of bluebells'; this is the best time of the year here, before the trees are fully in leaf.

They are currently 'very anxious about H[enry] Fletcher's wife', whom they hear from Mary Fletcher to be dangerously ill: if she can 'get through this crisis' she may 'get fairly well again'. Sturge Moore, the poet, and his wife are coming to the Shiffolds for two days on Wednesday; then Moore's brother [George], the philosopher, comes till Monday. On Saturday night, Denman is bringing Tovey over in his motor-car, and Arthur Dakyns will also be here. So on Sunday they will be 'quite filled up', with four guests, but he thinks they can manage.

Expects to be in town one day next week. Will try to see Pelléas et Mélisande if they perform it a second time. Hopes his father is well. Wonders how she thinks Henry James was looking when he came to lunch: does 'not think he looked at all well at Eastbourne'.