Item 35 - Letter from Donald Tovey to R. C. Trevelyan

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Letter from Donald Tovey to R. C. Trevelyan


  • [late August 1914?] (Creation)

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Elton Hall, Peterborough. - Trevelyan could re-direct Tovey's postcard [to Julius Röntgen, see 7/36?] to Denmark, or it would be forwarded from Holland and 'all the less dangerous for the circumbendibus'; if Trevelyan thinks it better not to send it that is all right. The 20th suits him well. His position is 'entirely saved by the Edinburgh job': the postponement of his European concerts (though he still hopes the Dutch ones may take place) is a different matter when due to European war than as 'the result of any other fault or misfortune'; his income will now be 'indisputably the result of his own exertions' and his artistic career will gain through having to wait, as he will 'have hoarded up a stronger reserve of technique' than ever before by the time peace returns. Will not play in England except where invited 'with the most unmistakeable sincerity'. Will be 'implacable' towards those 'whose policy has been animated by jealousy of Miss Weisse'. His friends, including [F.S] Kelly and [Hugh] Godley have all known how much he longed for 'real independence'. 'Utopian' of him 'to leave the Classical Concert Society in the hands of a couple of Eton-boys who haven't outgrown the politics of prefects', but they must revive the Chelsea Concerts if they want to hear him play again.

Believes that the first thing to emerge from 'the shock to civilisation' will be 'a rather sentimental taste for humanity and sentimentality in art' - cites the success of [Beethoven's] "Fidelio" and [Cherubini's] "Les Deux Journées" after the French Revolution - and since he himself is 'built that way', he thinks that their "Bride of Dionysus" will do well. Can do without success, though, and will make it clear that 'irritation with Miss Weisse' was no excuse for 'wet-blanketing' Tovey', and that whatever his feelings at being dependent on her for so long, and whatever allowance he makes for some of the quarrels she got into, he will only have contempt for the way in which his 'concert-wire-pulling-friends' tried to get him out of his position without an idea of how he should earn a living instead. The economic problem of English music is 'grossly mis-handled by that class of art-patron'. Will be trouble in Edinburgh about the establishment of a conservatoire there; he will emphasise that the problem of British musical education is nothing compared with what to do with musicians once they are 'turned loose'.

Will only play where he has been hitherto paid properly: Edinburgh, Englefield Green, Liverpool and Oxford. After the war he will exert himself abroad and hopes the 'dear Busches' [Adolf and Fritz] will be there to help him; otherwise he 'must work for their memory'.

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Pencil annotation reads 'Not to be printed'.

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