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Speyer, Edward Anton (1839-1934) banker, musical collector and patron
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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 R. C. Trevelyan to Caroline Trevelyan

The Shiffolds. - Has been away, or would have answered her note with his father's questions earlier. Cannot find a reference to 'levying an indemnity' in Murray or elsewhere; '"requisitio"' is used as a substantive in that sense, but may be general a word', as is probably the case also for 'fine' and 'tribute'; both 'ne'er do weel' and 'ne'er do well' seem to be 'used as nouns by quite good writers, such as Dickens'.

Paul 'seems quite well again now', though last week he was not so well; Bessie also seems well: she went with Robert to the Speyers' last Sunday, where Hausmann, Frau Soldat, and and Leonard Borwick were staying 'so there was a lot of music' and several pieces were rehearsed for next Wednesday's London concert.

Is glad Phil [Morgan Philips Price] is now recovering; Bessie has had 'a nice letter from Aunt Meg'. Has not had much news about the Frys recently, as Roger has been in Italy for the last three weeks; expects he will soon return. Imagines Helen 'is much the same, perhaps rather better in some ways', though 'doubt[s] whether there is any real improvement'. Robert's play [Sisyphus: An Operatic Fable] should be out this week, though he has not yet heard anything about it.

Letter from Grettie Tovey to Elizabeth Trevelyan

30 Norland Square, Holland Park, London. W. - Bessie's letter arrived yesterday, with one from Miss [Margaret Warre?] Cornish who was distressed at the delay. Would have been good to see the Trevelyans on the 17th at Northlands. The Toveys have been here since the 6th, so Donald could play at the Northlands concert though Grettie could not go due to a 'terrible time' at the dentists; they have been to Northlands twice since then, and things seemed 'decidedly less strained' [with Miss Weisse]. There is another concert on the 27th, and they go to stay on 3 August for Donald to carry on teaching Victor. Now the 'business negotiations' are almost completed, through a lawyer, they hope that a 'new happy relationship' may emerge gradually. The sympathy of friends has greatly helped. Thinks it cannot be a good thing for Miss Weisse to have, as she announced at dinner, 'enough aspirin to last until the end of the War'. They have had many invitations, and it has done Donald good to see his friends: the Speyers wanted them to spend a weekend but she felt they should not spend more a day at Ridgehurst until they honoured their first invitations to Woldhurst and the Shiffolds. They should probably stay at Northlands before they go anywhere else. Donald has got in a 'lovely piano', and the Trevelyans are very welcome to visit if they come to town.

Letter from Grettie Tovey to Elizabeth Trevelyan

47 Lauriston Place, Edinburgh. - Is very sorry to think of 'Poor' Miss [Constance] Whishaw's orphanage [Sunnybank, Arnside] 'degenerating in that fashion'; it was at Christmas 1897 that she met her and Miss Cark [sic: Minna Karch?] at a hotel in Cap d'Antibes but she never saw them again; her aunt Jane [Anderson] is also upset at the news. Don is playing from an old edition of Cramer's studies. He has just been reading the full score of "Ariadne auf Naxos" by George [sic] Benda in an 'ancient book' he found in the class room library today; she is to tell Trevelyan that 'Benda's librettist's Ariadne is a very ordinary minx!'. The [Reid?] Orchestra has not started yet. Don has been busy writing his programme notes for his series of Beethoven recitals. Grettie kept him in bed and away from the class room on Monday and Tuesday because of a cold, but he is better now. The Reception at the Union went well: Sir Alfred and Lady Ewing are 'particularly unostentatious little people' and 'gave a homely air to the proceedings'; Professor Barlka sang to Don's accompaniment and 'tried hard' to follow his suggestions for improvement. She has indeed seen Don conduct, in the Mozart concerts: he 'looked perfectly splendid, and so purposelike'. Hopes Bessie's 'invalids' have recovered: colds are going around, Mrs [Christina] Niecks has been ill, and Grettie's sister Isabel is currently in bed ill. Bessie should tell Julian he needs to come and inspect 'the Waverley' himself, as she only saw half of it. Mr [Edward] Speyer has sent the Toveys 'the most beautiful little work of an Old Master' which they are charmed with.

Letter from Donald Tovey to R. C. Trevelyan

Postmarked Egham S. - Wishes to keep 'scenic possibilities' [for "The Bride of Dionysus"] in mind so that the eventual performance is not 'limited by timidity'; is ready to think up a kinds of 'wild-cat scenes' but will not build the music around them. Will have to make Dionysus visible before the climax of the opera; jokingly suggests that his re-appearance might resemble that of the Cheshire Cat in "Alice in Wonderland". Asks Trevelyan to shorten 'Athens shall rue this outrage'. Believes they are to meet at Ridgehurst [the Speyers' house] on Saturday. Postscript notes that he has got a new theme for the Satyr's song, for which he gives the musical notation. Another postscript says the list [originally] enclosed with the letter was found in the package of the Vth act. The back of the envelope has a note by Tovey in response to a letter just received from Trevelyan.

Letter from Antonia Speyer to Elizabeth Trevelyan

Ridgehurst, Shenley, Herts. - Has just heard that the Adolf Busch Quartet will come to play for her husband in the afternoon of 30 October; wonders if the Trevelyans would like to come to hear them. If Mr Trevelyan is away and Elizabeth is staying in town with Miss [Marie?] Busch; afraid she cannot offer a bed for the night as her husband 'gets so very tired nowadays', but there will be tea after the music, before the quartet return to London.

Letter from Edward Speyer to Elizabeth Trevelyan

Ridgehurst, Shenley, Herts. - Mr [William] Hadow of Oxford, and their 'very musical friends' Mr and Mrs Napier Miles of Kings Weston are visiting for the weekend of 14-16 August, when Donald [Tovey] is staying with the Trevelyans; Donald has encouraged him to invite them to join the party. Knows she will be pleased that he has arranged for Madame Noordevier to sing at the concert on 24 November. His wife may possible have to 'prolong her stay over there [at Bad Schlangen for a cure, see 18/27] beyond the middle of August' and would be sorry to miss Mrs Trevelyan if so.

Letter from Edward Speyer to Elizabeth Trevelyan

Ridgehurst, Shenley, Herts. - Has a 'great favour to ask': as Donald [Tovey] knows, Beethoven's arrangement of a string quartet from his C minor Piano Trio is to be performed in a forthcoming concert. Would like to include a 'most amusing and interesting story' relating to the piece, which can be found in Thayer's "[Life of] Beethoven" and of which he encloses a typed copy [now no longer present]. As explained to Donald, would like to include a 'translation or adaptation' of this anecdote in a leaflet for the performance, and asks whether she, Bob and Donald could 'get the whole thing into shipshape' for him; another enclosure [also no longer present] is a 'rough translation' by him of Beethoven's 'amusing inscription on the title page' which might be a guide, though it needs improvement. Needs the translation before Donald goes abroad, as it must be printed in September. Love to all from Tonia and himself.

Letter from Sophie Weisse to Elizabeth Trevelyan

White House, North Queen's Ferry, Fife. - Is very grateful for Bessie's letter, which was most reassuring; it 'darkens life' when Donald [Tovey] is 'filled with anger and grievances against anybody or anything' and she feels it is dangerous to his health. So glad he is well again and 'going through operas'; thinks Bessie is fortunate as she hears 'so little music' that interests her at the moment. The situation with the Classical Concert Committee seems 'purely absurd, and full of peril'; Mr [Edward] Speyer is not well enough, and has been 'the most true and disinterested lover of music all along'; has seen nothing of the Speyers for a long time. Finds her sister well and 'much interested in her work' and is about to return south; will telegraph her next address and hopes to hear Donald is well; asks Bessie to thank him for sending the letters. Hopes Julian will get stronger each week. A postscript notes that she will probably have to go to Folkestone 'to keep the Mumps off my little nephew [Archie?]'.

Letter from Sophie Weisse to Elizabeth Trevelyan

Kirsch's Hotel, Bad Nauheim. - Has not heard from Donald [Tovey] for a while but hopes he is all right. Hears Mrs Speyer saw him recently; they have been very worried about Eddie [Speyer], hopes he is out of danger now. Has to go to Berlin to see her godmother's old sister from the 10th, and gives the address; will leave on Wednesday or Thursday to spend a night at Elberfeld with an old pupil engaged at the opera there, and perhaps will stop at Malines [Mechelen] to hear M. [Jef] Denyn play the carillon on her way home. Thanks Bessie for her kindness in looking after Donald and keeping in touch. Hopes Julian is well.

Letter from Sophie Weisse to Elizabeth Trevelyan

Hôtel Prince of Wales, Bad Nauheim, Germany. - The Kurhaus [sanatorium] orchestra is playing "Wien Neerlands Bloed", and recently played 'Wilhelmus von Nassauen" [two national anthems of the Netherlands], but these are 'rare excellencies'. Hopes they will have many much better tunes from Bessie's 'Dutch book' when she visits again. Fears D.F.T. [Donald Tovey] may have made a mistake with his dates, and asks if the Trevelyans can keep him after the 14th, as he has some work to do at the Speyers. Would be very glad if so, as she feels he is 'so safe' with them and with Mrs Joachim. Has heard that Donald will play his concerto again at the Gürzenich in Cologne this winter, and that he is also wanted at Mayence [Mainz]; is very pleased, since 'English Concert Authorities won't have him'. Looks forward to seeing the Trevelyans when she returns to England.

Letter from Sophie Weisse to Elizabeth Trevelyan

Northlands, Englefield Green. - Donald [Tovey] has gone to visit the Speyers, tired and 'in a rather anxious state of irritation with the Classical Concert Societry again'; Willy Speyer [perhaps an error for Strecker?] spent the afternoon with them and thinks he is coming to the Trevelyans on the 3rd. Donald is giving the first lecture in a series on German music at Oxford on August 4th; very disappointed not to be going to hear him as planned; asks Bessie to get Donald to read it out as it must not exceed fifty-five minutes and to check about providing a piano. Hopes it will be as good as he can make it, as his 'chances of a future Professorship depend on such things'.

Letter from Sophie Weisse to R. C. Trevelyan

Northlands, Englefield Green, Surrey. - Sent on Trevelyan's letter to Donald [Tovey] in Budapest, where he went to play a recital with [Pablo] Casals which was so successful that he was asked to stay and play in an orchestral concert on 2nd March; thinks he has been paid well, and he is seeing people and shedding 'some of the parochial worries of London'. It is 'too bad of the Pecksniffian creatures' to criticise Donald for ingratitude to 'that poor old weathercock Mr Speyer'; she feels it is Speyer who shows 'inhumanity' to Donald. Hopes that Bessie is better and would have visited if that had been allowed. Asks if Trevelyan will come to see Donald if he is back next week, The new house is getting on; it 'rather terrifies' her sometimes, but it will be comfortable and pleasant for them all.

Letter from George Macaulay Trevelyan to R. C. Trevelyan

Welcombe, Stratford on Avon. - Very grateful to Bob for the trouble he has taken 'about the Hugh Price Hughes letters', as well as to Mr Maxwell; George will 'try [his] luck in the matter' when they get back to London on 1 Feb. The family are all 'flourishing'; glad that Bessie and Paul are too. Met Bob's friend [Edward Anton?] Speyer in the Lakes at Christmas.

Letter from Sophie Weisse to Elizabeth Trevelyan

Northlands, Englefield Green, Surrey. - Thanks Bessie for all her 'kind words'; thinks she had better read the enclosure, which is 'practically' what she has written to Donald [Tovey] then burn it. Donald must be 'very hardworking and very humble and courteous' if she is to continue 'making a home for him'. This business [the quarrel with Pablo Casals] shows him to have been 'a self righteous arrogant goose' and 'that young woman' [Guilhermina Suggia] has 'sized him up'. Donald writes 'gaily' that she should write and ask Enesco to find another cellist. Wishes 'he had run away with Guilhermina - she might have prevented such follies and made him work'. Intends to ignore the existence of the concerts, though has already given fifty pounds towards them. Is sorry for Willy Strecker. Thinks Donald's letter to Casals 'odious'; told her brother he should never have let Donald send it; he agrees and was amazed at 'the moderation and dignity of Casals' reply'. Donald should have left the 'London gossip' alone, which would have denied Guilhermina the opportunity of 'poring out all her amusing venom'. Casals denied to her that he had accused Donald of anything other of being 'too assiduous in his attentions'; she is very sorry for him. Wrote and telegraphed Donald warning against his friendship with Guilhermina and urging him to come home to see his sick father. Told Henry [her brother] that he was 'the fourth Oxford man to have been a fool about this business'. Is very worried about Donald as these 'bouts of loss of self control' are becoming more frequent and more violent; the 'Speyer business' was bad enough. He needs to work hard, and 'earn his Vienna ticket now by two articles in the Times'. Thanks Bessie about Christmas; Donald says he ought to go and see his aunt in Wales. In a postscript written after she has read Bessie's letter again tells her not to say 'how well in health and sane' Donald is since the 'only excuse for his behaviour is that he is ill, which makes him 'just like his father'. Has just received 'another horrible letter from Donald', enclosing Hugh Godley's letter. Godley 'wished Donald to break with Casals' and wishes him to break with her. Is telling everyone who asks that Donald's health alarms her. Her brother agrees it was very wrong of him to go to Vendrell after 'the Vienna episode', which she herself had not known of.

Letter from Sophie Weisse to Elizabeth Trevelyan

Northlands, Englefield Green, Surrey. - Apologies for late response: Donald [Tovey] is 'slaving at the Encyclopædia [Britannica]' and she herself has something wrong with her hands which means she can only write in pencil. Asks Bessie to 'entreat Mr & Mrs Fry' to stay for supper and meet Mr and Mrs Edward Speyer, who will be staying; offers to write to Mrs Fry if Bessie gives her the address. Asks if Donald can come to the Trevelyans in September after all, since he is taking her to Nauheim and may stay in Germany all August; Mrs [Ellen] Joachim wishes to have him for the third week of that month.

Letter from Donald Tovey to R. C. Trevelyan

Ridgehurst, Shenley, Herts. - He 'and various musical people here' [the Speyers' house] agree that no singer could sustain Ariadne's scene in the third act as currently written; suggests a means in which a rest from her singing and maintaining the audience's interest could be introduced by getting her off-stage and bringing on the Satyrs again. If Trevelyan cannot write this to his own satisfaction, the opera will have to differ from the play here, as if the singer is not allowed 'time for an egg in a glass of port' Tovey says he will be 'jailed for manslaughter'. Sets out scenario for the way he now sees this act; includes a suggestion of Miss Weisse for a 'great laurel-tree' to be involved in a lighting effect. Even after rewriting, Ariadne's part will be larger than Tristan's in the third act of [Wagner's] "Tristan & Isolde', but Tovey thinks he can do it. A postscript notes that he has returned to Northlands.

Letter from Sophie Weisse to Elizabeth Trevelyan

Northlands, Englefield Green, Surrey. - The music [see 8/85] was played at short notice on Friday 'as Strecker père went off to Germany yesterday' and was lovely; is increasingly convinced that Donald [Tovey]'s best chance of becoming well-known is through the Streckers; is always 'joyfully surprised' by 'their real "Bildung [culture]"' and 'weighty commonsense and understanding of Donald' both as genius and man. The Rummels [Walter Morse Rummel and Thérèse Chaigneau] here in the morning, very nice and both 'very excellent musicians'. Since this is Ascot week, they are 'imprisoned here' with nothing going on but work. Donald went to the New Forest on Saturday and will return on Wednesday; he is also soon going to the Speyers twice. Encourages Bessie to come over any day next week; asks when the Röntgens are coming and would like to see them.

Postcard from Donald Tovey to R. C. Trevelyan

Oban. - Hopes his own letter will reassure Trevelyan on most of the points in his [about "The Bride of Dionysus"] and that his idea of a Dionysus and Ariadne duet will preserve the 'matter of the big speech'. Trevelyan's treatment of the Minos and Phaedra incident seems excellent; perhaps Phaedra is a little too dislikeable for this stage. Is working on the Minotaur-Labyrinth material now. Cannot help but find Trevelyan's favourite line 'Beautiful in pied fawn-skin' comic. Expects he will be at the Speyers' house by Sunday; will see them on the 8th as they go abroad next day, then 'hover about Worpledon' unless it suits Trevelyan to put him up 'and have Ariadne thumped on the clavichord all day'.

Letter from Sophie Weisse to Elizabeth Trevelyan

Northlands, Englefield Green, Surrey. - Very kind of Bessie to write to her about Donald [Tovey]'s quartet; did not hear anything else about except for 'a very nice note from [Karl?] Klingler'. Donald 'has practically vanished into space since Friday before last', sending only a 'beguilingly optimistic telegram about the superiority of German copyists' so she knows nothing about the chamber concerts except for what she heard him telling Mr [Edward] Speyer (believes he is playing in Cologne tonight) nor if the symphony is finished. Must accept this, since it is the way 'poor old Donald's friends' have convinced him things should be, but if she had 'programmes and notices etc... Willy Strecker could have made a little réclame [publicity] with them in England'. Originally enclosing something she found when 'turning out a drawer' recently which made her smile, remembering a conversation with Bessie; [Leonard?] Borwick has increasingly 'become a "pianist"' which she has always warned her pupils such as Donald, Mary Beasley, and Kate [Friskin?] 'is a disgrace for a talented creature to be'. Never occurs to her to compare Borwick to Donald as a player; has compared Kate with him, 'latterly greatly to her advantage'; he was better when he 'tried to keep in Joachim's wake'. Asks Bessie to send back a particular 'astonishing notice from the Times'; Donald's Chopin was 'most rich and lovely' that evening; they called him 'Rodin' long time afterwards when 'his appearance was even less polished than usual'. Encourages Bessie to visit and bring the umbrella back.

Postcard from Donald Tovey to R. C. Trevelyan

Postmarked Oban. Tovey, crossing out the 'Northlands' address printed on the card, writes 'Among strong-winged foam-wanderers all over the place. - Quotes some lines in Act I [of "The Bride of Dionysus"] which he wishes to cut, explaining his reasons. Will be at the Speyers from about the 5th to the 8th; would be very good if the Trevelyans could host him around the 9th. Explains what he wants Minos's new line to convey. Prefers Trevelyan's original, longer, version of Minos's prayer, as it is easier to set.