This page is also available in French
This page gives an alphabetical listing of Berlioz’s most important friends, acquaintances and colleagues in London, together with a documented outline of their known relations with Berlioz, with particular reference to his visits to London. It is intended to serve as a companion page to the main Berlioz in London page as well as to those dealing with particular venues of relevance in London. While many of the acquaintances mentioned here resided in London more or less permanently, others were only temporary visitors (such as Maretzek and Stephen Heller). Many were not actually from the British Isles, but had come from continental Europe: for example Benedict, Ernst, Ganz, and Hallé were of German origin, Duchène de Vère, Sainton and Tolbecque were French, Costa Italian, and Silas Dutch. A few of these immigrants became naturalised in time (Benedict, Ganz, Hallé, Costa). The evidence used is primarily that of Berlioz’s own writings: his correspondence (or rather, what has survived of it), his critical writings, Memoirs and other works, though in some cases additional material is contributed by the reminiscences published later by some of these figures (Davison, W. Ganz and Hallé), the titles of which are listed below.
CG = Correspondance
Générale, 8 volumes (1972-2003)
CM = Critique Musicale, 8 volumes to date (1996-2016)
Davison (1912) = J. W. Davison, From Mendelssohn to Wagner, compiled by Henry Davison (London, 1912); excerpts from this book are to be found on a separate page
Ganz (1913) = Wilhelm Ganz, Memories of a Musician. Reminiscences of Seventy Years of Musical Life (London, 1913); excerpts from this book are to be found on a separate page
Ganz (1950) = A. W. Ganz, Berlioz in London (London, 1950)
Hallé (1896) = Charles Hallé, Life and Letters of Sir Charles Hallé, edited by C. E. and M. Hallé (London, 1896); excerpts from this book are to be found on a separate page
Rose (2001) = Michael Rose, Berlioz Remembered (London, 2001)
Copyright notice: The texts, photos, images and musical scores on all pages of this site are covered by UK Law and International Law. All rights of publication or reproduction of this material in any form, including Web page use, are reserved. Their use without our explicit permission is illegal.
Balfe, Michael William (1808-1870; portrait), Irish composer and conductor. Berlioz probably met him in Paris long before his first trip to London (CG no. 841) but evidently did not rate him highly as composer (CG no. 993). His closest dealings with Balfe came as a result of his appointment as conductor at Drury Lane Theatre for the 1847-8 season, for which Balfe’s opera The Maid of Honour had been commissioned by Jullien (Memoirs chapter 57, the only mention of Balfe in the Memoirs). Berlioz’s letters make only brief reference to the work (CG nos. 1146, 1154, 1162), though he clearly thought little of it (CG no. 1170). The reminiscences of Max Maretzek give more detail about the relations of Berlioz with Balfe at this time (Rose  pp. 160-2, 166-8), but despite Berlioz’s critical opinion of Balfe as a composer the two men got on well: ‘Balfe on the other hand [sc. compared to Costa] is a good friend and I have nothing but praise for him; we see each other very often and have very friendly relations’ (CG no. 1185). Evidently Balfe was sufficiently good-natured not to take offence at the comment in Berlioz’s feuilleton on London opera houses in the Journal des Débats of 1 July 1851 (p. 2): ‘M. Costa has long felt it appropriate to give [composers such as Mozart, Beethoven, Weber and Rossini] lessons in orchestration, and I regret to say that Balfe has followed his example’. There is a dearth of references to Balfe in Berlioz’s correspondence after the 1847-8 visit to London (CG no. 1345), but as late as 1865 Berlioz was very pleasantly surprised to meet him again in Paris (CG no. 3025). There is no surviving correspondence between them.
Barnett, Morris (1800-1856), writer and music critic with the Morning Post and Era; he left London in 1854 for the United States. Although only two letters of Berlioz to him have survived (CG nos. 1260 and 1405), the two men developed a close friendship during Berlioz’s first stay in London. Barnett wrote a favourable review of Berlioz’s first concert on 7 February 1848 in the Morning Post as Berlioz mentioned in the P.S. to his letter to Auguste Morel: ‘Here is the article of the Morning Post which has been sent to me; you can extract the details and the opinions of the reviewer […]. It is by Morris Barnett, who attended the rehearsal’ (CG no. 1173). The following year (28 April 1849) Berlioz wrote to Barnett a warm letter, partly to exchange news, and partly to recommend to him his friend the violinist Ernst (CG no. 1260):
[…] I have for you sincere and warm feelings; we cannot stay like this without exchanging greetings from time to time, so I begin by saying to you: Hello! I think often, very often, of our long conversations in Southampton Street smoking cigars and drinking excellent wines, and many are the occasions when, forgetting the countless petty threads that tie me down in Paris, I have taken a sudden resolution, picked up a little money and my hat, and said: So, I am off to see Barnett! Then I reach the end of the street and come back feeling very silly and very humiliated at my lack of freedom. […]
I gather Ernst is in London, do you know him? If you see him give him my warmest greetings. He is one of the musicians I am most fond of and whose talent I find most congenial.
By the way, my dear Barnett, I would ask you to be of help to him whenever possible and to support him with that warmth of spirit which comes naturally to you with people whose merits have attracted your attention, whatever they may be. […]
A week later (8 May) Berlioz wrote to Ernst himself: ‘I wrote to Morris Barnett last week about you; do you know him? He is the editor of the Morning Post and an excellent man. How is Hallé? and Davison? and the crazy Vivier…’ (CG no. 1263). In December Berlioz wrote again to Ernst and passed on greetings to his various London friends: ‘A thousand insults to Barnett who is a good and worthy friend and who never answers letters. But that does not matter, I love him silent as he is, since he has this peculiarity of saying nothing’ (CG no. 1284). In 1851 it seems that Barnett assisted Berlioz in the preparations for a projected concert at the Great Exhibition, though the plan did not come off (CG no. 1395bis, in vol. VIII). The last preserved letter of Berlioz to Barnett comes shortly before his departure for London in 1851; he asks Barnett to welcome the instrument-maker Adolphe Sax who was going to London to present his instruments at the Great Exhibition: ‘Be kind for him as you are, and any thing more, for every one; as you are for me’ [Berlioz’s own words] (CG no. 1405, 25 April). The same day he sent a similar letter to Charles Gruneisen (CG no. 1404).
Beale, Thomas Frederick (?-1863), publisher, impresario, and from 1848 onwards the most single-minded and active supporter of Berlioz in London; Berlioz owed to him no small part of his success there. In 1852 Berlioz described him as ‘this king of English publishers, this intelligent and generous friend of artists’ (Journal des Débats 31 October 1852, p. 2, reproduced the same year in the Soirées de l’orchestre, Second Epilogue), and in chapter 59 of the Memoirs he refers to him as ‘nowadays one of my best friends’ (the chapter bears the date 18 October 1854). Beale’s correspondence with Berlioz must have been very active at times: in March 1853, at the time of the preparations for the staging of Benvenuto Cellini in London, Berlioz said he was exchanging letters with Beale every other day (CG no. 1572). On the other hand Beale as a correspondent seems to have been, like Gye, businesslike and to the point, which Berlioz sometimes regretted (CG no. 2204). But of all this correspondence hardly anything has survived: part of a letter informing Beale of the success of Benvenuto Cellini in Weimar in November 1852 (CG no. 1535bis [in vol. VIII]) and an unpublished letter of congratulations from Beale for Berlioz’s election to the Institut in June 1856 (CG V p. 322 n. 1). Most of the information about his relations with Berlioz comes from indirect allusions to him in other letters, and as a result it is difficult to sense the personality of one of his most reliable and enlightened supporters.
Berlioz’s first contacts with Beale went back to 1842-1843 at a time when Berlioz was hoping to publish an English edition of his Treatise on Orchestration, in a translation that was prepared by George Osborne. Several letters of the time refer to this project (CG nos. 772ter and 777bis [both in vol. VIII], 841), but it does not seem to have been published. When Berlioz came to London in late 1847 the two men met at some point, and after Berlioz’s first concert on 7 February 1848 Beale was won over: he resolved to support Berlioz in every way he could. ‘Beale is making me offers to publish piano arrangements of Faust […] Beale is offering to undertake at his own risk a huge concert in Exeter Hall, and this will happen’, writes Berlioz to his publisher Brandus in Paris on 24 February (CG no. 1179). The piano arrangement of the Hungarian March, by Julius Benedict, became a great success in London when it appeared (CG nos. 1184, 1185, 1191, 1197, 1200). The projected concert did not materialise, though Beale and others lobbied actively the [Royal] Philharmonic Society to get them to approach Berlioz (CG no. 1191).
Despite the failures of 1848 Beale had further ambitions for Berlioz: in 1850 he approached him in Paris via his son Willert, who often acted as his agent (cf. CG nos. 1942, 1981), with a proposal for participation in a series of concerts in Hanover Square Rooms (i.e. by the Philharmonic Society) in May 1851 (CG no. 1345, 30 September). There appears to be no record of what happened to this, and there is no record either of any contact between Berlioz and Beale during his stay in 1851, though it is likely the two did meet. At any rate early in 1852 arrangements for the forthcoming season were progressing fast. ‘I am in the process of concluding a major engagement for London with Beale’ (CG no. 1444; to Liszt, 24 January). ‘I have concluded with Beale’ (CG no. 1445; also to Liszt, 4 February). ‘Beale, the impresario, is very keen on realising his project’ (CG no. 1448; to Adolphe Duchène de Vère, 10 February). A letter to Auguste Morel on the same day helps to clarify what Beale had in mind: the invitation of Berlioz was linked to the creation of the New Philharmonic Society, which was intended in the first instance to provide Berlioz with a platform in London both as composer and conductor, something which the older [Royal] Philharmonic Society could not or would not provide (CG no. 1449; cf. 1456):
[…] Beale has engaged me to come to London to organise and conduct six large concerts in Exeter Hall (in my opinion the hall is too large). He is providing considerable forces (300 performers for all the concerts and the extras I will need for some works). In the first we will give five movements from the Requiem [in the event these were not included]. There is talk also of Beethoven’s Choral Symphony which Costa massacred once and which has not been heard in London since. So there will be a great deal of work. I regret that you will not be by my side in this battle, because that is what it will be. Beale, who had this idea, is strongly supported by the whole of the younger generation of English artists and by some very wealthy music-lovers who are tired of hearing always the same repertoire at the concerts of Hanover Square. I hope. […]
Even before he went to London in March Berlioz was impressed by Beale’s excellent reputation (CG nos. 1451, 1458). In the event Beale proved to be as good as his word. Unlike Jullien, but like Bénazet later, Beale was in every respect the model impresario, and Berlioz’s letters are full of praise for his enterprise (CG no. 1461). Beale took a personal interest in the preparations for the concerts, giving Berlioz all the rehearsal time he needed (cf. also CG nos. 1486, 1488), even making sure that special instrumental requirements were catered for (CG no. 1474, a tam-tam), and paying Berlioz punctiliously his agreed fee (CG no. 1500). But from the start Beale was also looking beyond the 1852 season. Early in the year he expressed interest in the revival of Benvenuto Cellini in Weimar. ‘If I have good news from Weimar, Beale wants to be informed so as to make use of it in London’ wrote Berlioz to Liszt on 2 March (CG no. 1456). A few weeks later he responded to Liszt’s report on the first performance: ‘I sent to the Times a brief excerpt from your letter, merely citing a few passages that can be quoted. Although the English press is very well disposed towards me, and indeed for that reason, that is all I dare to do. But I believe Beale will be able to do variations on the theme you have provided me’ (CG no. 1462, 29 March). The one (partially) preserved letter of Berlioz to Beale is a report on the success of Benvenuto Cellini in Weimar (CG no. 1535bis [in vol. VIII], late November).
Beale’s plans seemed to be going as well as he hoped, and Berlioz could have looked forward to a second comparable season in 1853. Yet suddenly all was thrown into question because of the categorical opposition of Henry Wylde, and Beale resigned in disgust from the committee of the New Philharmonic (CG no. 1542). This was a serious setback for Berlioz, but no less for Beale himself who had been the moving spirit behind the new venture and had been overjoyed at its success (CG no. 1461). But he persevered all the same in his interest for Benvenuto Cellini, enquiring about the progress with the Italian translation of the opera that would be required for London (CG no. 1549, 29 December). For the next few weeks he remained silent, though this did not worry Berlioz: ‘I am not getting any more news from Beale, and consequently I know nothing of what is being prepared for the concert season. But I am not too worried, assured as I am of Beale’s good intentions. If anything can be done, without any doubt he will do it’ (CG no. 1563; 8 February 1853, to Gruneisen). Within less than a month confirmation came: Beale had secured the acceptance of Benvenuto Cellini at Covent Garden (CG no. 1572; 4 March, to Liszt). The failure of the opera through the organised hostility which greeted the opening performance was thus another setback for Beale, as it was for Berlioz himself. His response and that of like-minded admirers is described by Berlioz (Memoirs chapter 59, dated 18 October 1854; cf. CG nos. 1612, 1613, 1615, 1616, 1617, 1619):
The London artists, incensed at this vile act, wanted to express their sympathy by organising a subscription for a Testimonial concert at Exeter Hall, which they invited me to give with their participation free of charge. The publisher Beale, who nowadays is one of my best friends, also brought to me a present of 200 guineas offered by a group of enthusiasts, at the head of which was the firm of Broadwood, the celebrated piano manufacturers. I did not feel that I should accept this gift which is so alien to our French ways of thinking, but which nevertheless had been prompted by genuine kindness and generosity. Not everyone is Paganini.
Berlioz does not mention in the Memoirs that the subscription was diverted to a different purpose, as he stated in several private letters (CG nos. 1617, 1619) and also in an open letter on 7 July to the editor of the Musical World: ‘The gentlemen of the committee that was created for the organisation [of the concert which did not take place] had the delicate, charming and generous idea of devoting the sum gathered through the open subscription to the purchase of my score of Faust, for publication with an English text under the supervision of Beale and other members of the committee’ (CG no. 1616). Letters of 1854 imply the project was in progress at the time (CG nos. 1726, 1735; 4 and 14 April), but in the event it was not carried out in Berlioz’s lifetime.
It is not known whether Beale had any involvement in the proposal for giving concerts in London that Berlioz alludes to cryptically in letters in the autumn of 1853 and the following winter but which in the end came to nothing. And there is nothing in Berlioz’s correspondence that links the name of Beale with either of the offers which Berlioz received in December 1854 from the two rival Philharmonic societies (CG nos. 1851, 1859, 1867). But a letter to Liszt earlier in 1854 (14 April), brings up the name of Beale in connection with another project. Discussing the plan for a German translation by Peter Cornelius of L’Arrivée à Saïs which he had recently added to the original La Fuite en Égypte, Berlioz writes (CG no. 1738, cf. 1735):
[…] It is three times longer than La Fuite en Égypte and more difficult to adjust to the music. Beale will probably publish this in English, but only when I have written a third part to this little Biblical trilogy. He came to Paris to ask me for it, and it would in fact be Part I of the trilogy, and its subject would be the Massacre of the Innocents. […] I am beginning to sense the plan of the massacre, for which Chorley also gave me a few ideas. […]
This suggests that Beale (and also Chorley) had a part in persuading Berlioz to enlarge his original work and turn it into a trilogy. The third (first) part was composed in June and July 1854 and finally given the title Le Songe d’Hérode – Herod’s Dream – and the complete Enfance du Christ received its first performance in Paris (Salle Herz) later that year on 10 December. It was an instant success, which was soon repeated abroad as well, in Weimar, Brussels and Gotha. Visitors came from London for the Paris première, among them Henry Chorley who was to undertake the English translation of the work (Beale’s name is not mentioned at this stage). There was immediately talk of playing the work in London, and approaches were made to Berlioz. But during his visit to London in June and July 1855 Berlioz was unwilling to let the work be performed prematurely: the translation had yet to be completed and suitable singers were not available (CG nos. 1851, 1874, 1928, 1966, 1980). During his visit he saw Beale again (CG no. 1991).
By the autumn the English translation of l’Enfance du Christ was complete and Berlioz asked Silas in London to enquire about Beale’s plans for its publication (CG no. 2024, 20 September). In November and December Berlioz was planning two concerts at St Martin’s Hall with the support of Beale: both the Te Deum and l’Enfance du Christ were to receive their first London performances (CG nos. 2055, 2074). But early in January 1856 Beale informed him that the plan had to be cancelled because of the ‘Lind fever’: the celebrated singer’s visit to London effectively wiped out the concert season (CG nos. 2075, 2076, 2081). In the meantime the publication of the English edition of l’Enfance du Christ was proceeding (CG no. 2086 mentions proofs Berlioz sent to Beale in January) and the score eventually appeared in October with Chorley’s translation (CG no. 2181). Appropriately for the London edition changes were made to two of the dedicatees of the French and German editions: Part I was dedicated to Edward Holmes (not to Berlioz’s nieces), and Part III to Beale himself (not to the Leipzig choral society); the dedicatee of Part II was John Ella, as in the French and German editions. Beale, disappointed in his plans for 1856, had in the meantime conceived a new project: a new concert hall (St James’ Hall) was being built and for the inauguration in 1857 Berlioz would come to London to conduct l’Enfance du Christ. The project for the new concert hall was described by John Ella in a letter to Berlioz in June 1856, in which he mentions that Beale, as well as Broadwood and Ella himself, were shareholders in the undertaking (CG no. 2142). Ella does not mention whether Beale had at this stage any plans for the inauguration of the hall, though by August such plans had been formulated and Beale communicated them to Berlioz. On 11 August Berlioz wrote to Ferdinand Praeger with a pointed reference to his experiences in 1855 (CG no. 2162):
[…] Beale wrote to me not long ago about l’Enfance du Christ. He has plans for next season.
But he is not talking about a 3rd Philharmonic Society; two is enough, especially if, as is likely, it is always the one and same orchestra that has to serve for all the musical churches.
At any rate if his project materialises we will try to do better than last time at Exeter Hall.
It will be a joy to see you again on this occasion. […]
By the winter the visit to London was a certainty, as Berlioz wrote to his brother-in-law Camille Pal (CG no. 2188, 5 December):
[…] So as not to be distracted [from the composition of Les Troyens] I will not give any concerts this winter in Paris, I will not go to Germany, and I will restrict myself to a trip to London in May. I have promised to go and inaugurate a new concert hall by giving the first performance (in England) of my oratorio l’Enfance du Christ.
And yet I would give much to excuse myself from this trip. […]
By late January 1857 Berlioz was getting worried about the lack of news from Beale, as he wrote to Ernst in London (CG no. 2204):
[…] As for l’Enfance du Christ, I know that Beale has had it announced in London, together with my arrival, for the beginning of May.
Be kind enough, my dear Ernst, to see Beale on this matter as soon as you are able to and have a serious talk with him. Ask him to write to me something specific about the date of the first concert in the new hall, about the singers he has in mind, about the steps he proposes to take to guarantee a faithful performance.
I shudder at the thought of the English way of rehearsing…
Try then to find out what he really thinks. He never sends me anything but notes of ten lines which have not enlightened me on the question. […]
Within a month Berlioz heard that the project had been called off: ‘I will not be going to London this year; the hall that I was due to inaugurate will not be completed. I am very relieved, my work will not be interrupted. I will not be giving any concert here either’ he writes to his sister Adèle on 25 February (CG no. 2211). For Berlioz the cancellation was at the time no great loss: l’Enfance du Christ was now an established and successful work, and besides the concerns mentioned in the two previous letters cited Berlioz was not happy with Chorley’s translation and its possible reception in London (CG no. 2181). But it deprived London of the chance of hearing one of Berlioz’s major works, a work which would probably have been as successful in London as it had been elsewhere. For Beale it must have been yet another disappointment. After this time there is no mention of any further initiative on his part to promote Berlioz in London, nor any indication of any subsequent correspondence between them, though Berlioz continued to regard him as one of his supporters on the spot (CG no. 2357). When Beale died in 1863 the direction of the publishing house Cramer & Beale passed not to his son Willert but to George Wood and became the firm of Cramer, Beale & Wood.
Benedict, Julius (1804-1885; portrait), German pianist, conductor and composer, who settled in London in 1835, became naturalised and, like Charles Hallé, was eventually knighted (in 1871). Benedict was a pupil of Weber from 1821 to 1824, a fact that evidently impressed Berlioz and which he frequently emphasised (CM I pp. 87, 391; II p. 445; III p. 486; IV p. 202). He then became conductor of the San Carlo and Fondo theatres in Naples from 1825 to 1834 (CM I p. 391). In a letter dated 1 August 1833 Berlioz mentions that he already knew Benedict well (CG no. 341). The likelihood is that it was in Italy, and perhaps in Naples, that the two first met during Berlioz’s stay as winner of the Prix de Rome competition. In the chapter in his Memoirs which tells of his visit to Naples in October 1831 (chapter 41) Berlioz comments on the unexpected quality of the orchestra at the San Carlo theatre by comparison with other Italian theatres, and also quotes the testimony of ‘a composer who has written’ operas for this theatre: this is almost certainly Benedict, though he is not named. From the start the two men became friends and remained so for many years; they are last known to have met at Baden-Baden in August-September 1858 (CG no. 2307quarter [in vol. VIII]).
After his time in Naples Benedict came for a while to Paris in 1834, but moved to London the following year (he lived at no. 2 Manchester Square, according to Ganz , p. 56). He continued to make visits to Paris and elsewhere, and remained in touch with Berlioz. In March 1836 he gave a piano recital in Paris on which Berlioz reported favourably (CM II pp. 222-5). The following May Berlioz mentioned in a letter to the publisher Hoffmeister in Leipzig that Benedict was one of several pianists who had advised him with the piano reduction of the Francs-Juges overture (CG no. 472). In subsequent years he reported in the Paris press on Benedict’s musical activities in London: the success of his opera The Gipsy’s Warning at Drury Lane in 1838 where Benedict had been appointed conductor (CM III p. 386), the translation of this work in French for which Benedict made a trip to Paris in 1839 (CM IV pp. 202, 227), and his work on a new opera The Brides of Venice on which Berlioz also reported favourably (CM IV p. 132, August 1839 [= CG no. 606]; V pp. 490-1, May 1844). In London Benedict was for his part helpful to Berlioz on a number of occasions. In 1842 and 1843 he acted as intermediary in negotiations Berlioz was conducting over a projected English edition of his Treatise on Orchestration (CG nos. 772ter, 777bis [both in vol. VIII], 841). When Berlioz went to London in 1847-8 Benedict assisted him by making an arrangement for piano for 4 hands of the three orchestral pieces from the Damnation of Faust, though in the event only the Hungarian March was published (CG nos. 1185 and 1191). In 1853 Benedict was on the committee which sought to organise a concert for Berlioz after the failure of Benvenuto Cellini at Covent Garden. References to Benedict in Berlioz’s surviving correspondence are few, though a letter of June 1854 mentions him in the same breath as Ella and Davison as regular friends in London (CG no. 1770). During his visit in 1855 Berlioz accepted a social invitation from him, no doubt just one of many such invitations he will have received during his stays in London (CG no. 1989, but the dating to 28 June is conjectural). At his concert in Exeter Hall on 4 July 1855 Berlioz included in the programme a cavatina from Benedict’s The Brides of Venice. Throughout his career Benedict was generally a successful composer: a letter of Berlioz in December 1856 reports that Benedict had paid 200,000 francs to the Opéra Comique in the hope of securing a performance of one of his works… (CG no. 2196). The last known mention of Benedict is in a letter of February 1859 in which Berlioz was trying to prevent his Symphonie Fantastique being performed in London without adequate rehearsal; he expresses the hope that Benedict among others would be of help in this aim (CG no. 2357).
Chorley, Henry Fothergill (1808-1872), writer and music critic who for many years wrote for The Athenæum. He met Berlioz at least as far back as September 1842 (CG no. 772ter [in vol. VIII]), and Chorley was one of a group of Londoners who were present at the Bonn celebrations in honour of Beethoven in August 1845. When the surviving correspondence between the two men begins in November 1847, shortly after Berlioz’s first arrival in London (CG no. 1139), they were clearly already acquainted, but it was Berlioz’s successive visits to London that brought them into closer relations.
Those relations, though always courteous, turned out to be often ambivalent in character. The two men shared common ground, for example in their admiration for Gluck (CG nos. 2467, 2492) and Mendelssohn (CG no. 1139), with whom Chorley had been friendly, and they respected each other. At a social level their relations were generally good, whether Berlioz was in London (CG nos. 1484, 1981) or Chorley in Paris (CG no. 1932), and Berlioz was prepared to recommend deserving musicians to him (CG no. 1735). Chorley took Berlioz seriously as a composer and was actively interested in his artistic career. Letters of Berlioz imply that Chorley was always curious to hear about the success of his music abroad (CG nos. 1544 and 1562, from Paris; 1735 from Dresden; 1928, from Brussels). But in artistic matters they often found it difficult to see eye to eye, and the outward cordiality of their relations sometimes concealed tensions revealed by some of Berlioz’s letters to his friends.
Chorley mattered to Berlioz in two ways, as an eminent and influential critic on the London scene, and as a translator of Berlioz’s own works. London followed the convention accepted throughout musical Europe at the time that, except for religious works in liturgical Latin and operas in Italian, vocal works were normally sung in the language of the country where they were being performed. Benvenuto Cellini was translated into Italian for the Covent Garden performance of 1853, since Italian was mandatory in that opera house, but the excerpts from the Damnation of Faust in 1847-8 and later l’Enfance du Christ had to be sung in English, and in both cases the task of translating fell to Chorley. Over the period of Berlioz’s active involvement on the London scene, from 1847 to 1855 and beyond, there was occasional friction between him and Chorley, both the critic and the translator.
Berlioz’s very first concert in London, on 7 February 1848, brought up both issues, though as far as translation was concerned, there was at this stage no difficulty. On 10 February Berlioz wrote to Alfred to Vigny (CG no. 1172):
[…] You talk of the good fortune of composers who do not need translations! On the contrary, we need them: I have been translated into German for Romeo and for Faust. Chorley has just translated into English the first two acts of Faust which I gave at my concert at Drury Lane, and fortunately I hear that it is good. […]
Berlioz at this stage assumed that Chorley was friendly to him, and it was therefore a shock when Chorley’s two articles on the concert turned out to be, in Berlioz’s words, ‘queer, colourless and cold’ (CG no. 1179). Not for the last time Berlioz was baffled, at times exasperated, by Chorley’s apparent inability to understand much of his music, particularly when otherwise most of the London press was sympathetic. He was even more disappointed with Chorley’s critical reaction to his concerts in 1852, and took particular exception to Chorley’s criticism of the orchestral accompaniment he had provided to Camille Moke’s playing of Weber’s Konzertstück (CG nos. 1477, 1484). Believing that Chorley was now openly hostile, Berlioz was therefore taken aback when in Weimar in November 1852 Chorley made the trip from London to hear Benvenuto Cellini, and what is more, professed to like the work! (CG no. 1542; cf. 1538bis [in vol. VIII]). Chorley wrote to him on the subject, as can be inferred from Berlioz’s reply on Christmas day, though unfortunately the letter is only known in a catalogue excerpt (CG no. 1544):
[…] I have no doubt about your eagerness in seeking information about Benvenuto […] In the meantime I am revising my score, of which Liszt has only sent me two acts though I shall be receiving the third soon. I am making corrections of detail which will probably be an improvement and I have added a scene to the ending which, I think, makes it clearer and more dramatic […]
On 15 January 1853 Chorley inserted a note in the Athenaeum announcing a possible performance of Cellini at Her Majesty’s Theatre, which prompted Berlioz to write to him at length on 8 February (CG no. 1562, cf. 1563):
I have read the few lines which you were kind enough to insert in the Athenaeum. The news you give is probably no more than an invitation (as they say in the Boston card game), but it is a sign of good intentions on your part, and for this I thank you. At any rate I am still preparing myself and correcting patiently or impatiently the work of the translator of my libretto of Benvenuto. What a misfortune to be translated! I would rather be brought before a court-martial… [there is an untranslatable pun on the double meaning of the French traduire, which means both ‘translate’ and ‘bring to court’].
The thaw in their relations is indicated by the detailed news Berlioz goes on to give about his activities in Paris at the time. After the failure of the opening night of Cellini at Covent Garden Chorley was one of the members of the committee set up to organise a concert for Berlioz. But for all Chorley’s goodwill, Berlioz still thought he was out of his depth, as he noted at the end of a long letter to Liszt in which he reported on the fate of the opera in London: ‘Chorley has written a strange article in the Athenaeum; he is full of good-will but does not understand anything’ (CG no. 1617, 10 July; cf. CG IV p. 244 n. 3).
One positive outcome of Berlioz’s 1853 visit was to encourage him to develop the original La Fuite en Égypte into a much more extended work. It transpires from allusions in his correspondence in 1854 that not only did he keep his London friends informed of the progress of the new work, but two of them, Beale and Chorley actively encouraged him to add a third part and made concrete suggestions about its possible scope. In a letter to Chorley from Germany, before giving detailed news of his concerts in Dresden and Hanover, Berlioz writes (CG no. 1735, 14 April 1854; cf. 1738 for Beale’s role):
[…] What is happening to our Faust? I sent Beale a complete piano score, and I imagine you will have had it for a few weeks. It still contains a rather large number of errors, and I earnestly request you to have the final proof of the English edition sent to me before it is printed.
I have completed the oratorio L’arrivée à Saïs except for a short piece which I have not yet composed. I am now looking for a way to realise your idea for the first part of the Trilogy, and I think I will bring it off. I find the idea very attractive; I will start writing during the train journey on the way back to Paris. […]
Chorley was doing the translation for the projected English edition of the Damnation of Faust (CG no. 1619), but it was never published. On the other hand Chorley became closely involved with l’Enfance du Christ, both the plan for an English edition of the work and its performance in London. After its successful première in Paris Berlioz wrote to Chorley and invited his advice, suggesting that he might do the translation (CG no. 1851). Chorley accepted, and several letters allude to the progress of this project (CG nos. 1928, 1932, 2024). The English edition eventually appeared in the autumn of 1856, but it came as a shock to Berlioz, as he wrote to his sister Adèle (CG no. 2181, 26 October):
[…] And then I have to suffer a quantity of little pin-pricks which hurt me like a nail in a shoe… My London publisher sends me the score of l’Enfance du Christ, and I find in it passages which fill me with dismay. For example:
Original « Jésus! quel nom charmant! »
Translation « Jesus! the name is good! »
It’s enough to make you throw yourself in a well. (The name is good!…) and in London people will believe that I am the author of this inept reply, not to mention many others which I will not cite to you. That is what translators are. And he is the most famous one in England, he is the great critic of the Athenaeum who is also assumed to know music, M. Chorley. I suppose I have to look very pleased… […]
The performance of l’Enfance du Christ planned for May 1857 did not take place, to the relief of Berlioz (CG no. 2211). No direct contact between him and Chorley is attested after this time, though it is possible that they met in Paris in November 1859 when Chorley came from London to hear the revival of Gluck’s Orphée with Pauline Viardot, on which he wrote an article in the Athenæum of 26 November (cf. CG no. 2467). Not long after Chorley wrote a translation of Gluck’s Iphigenia in Tauris for a concert performance by his friend Charles Hallé in Manchester, as related by Hallé in his reminiscences. Hallé then wrote to Berlioz about the event and in reply Berlioz expressed his joy and gratitude to both Hallé and Chorley for what they had done (CG no. 2492).
Costa, Michael (1808-1884; portrait), Italian conductor and composer, born in Naples. He settled in London in 1829 where he spent the rest of his career and became naturalised, anglicising his first names Michele Andrea Agniello to Michael Andrew Agnus; he was knighted in 1869. He worked at first at Her Majesty’s Theatre, then in 1846 moved with a large number of musicians to Covent Garden where he directed the new Royal Italian Opera until 1868, and in the same year was appointed conductor of the (Royal) Philharmonic Society until his unexpected resignation late in 1854. Berlioz’s relations with him were ambivalent from the start. While generally appreciative of Costa’s abilities as a conductor (Berlioz might have approved of his reputation as a disciplinarian; though cf. CG no. 1449), he was openly critical of Costa’s practice of tampering with the orchestration of works he performed. As regards his own position in London Berlioz regarded Costa as a hostile influence behind the scenes, jealous of Berlioz’s eminence as a conductor (CG no. 1619), though Costa knew how to cover his tracks and it was hard to point to specific acts of hostility. On the other hand Costa’s powerful position in London meant that outwardly Berlioz felt obliged to maintain courteous relations with him, and on his side Costa did the same. This ambivalence is reflected in the references to Costa in the composer’s writings over a period of years – his correspondence, the feuilletons he wrote for the Journal des Débats in 1851, the two editions of the Soirées de l’orchestre of 1852 and 1854, and the posthumous Memoirs where Berlioz felt at liberty to express himself freely on the subject.
A letter to Joseph d’Ortigue dated 15 March 1848 sets the tone; Berlioz is referring here to a plan to give a performance of works of his inspired by Shakespeare at Covent Garden (CG no. 1185; cf. also under Holmes):
[…] The day before yesterday we had a conference on this subject [with the directors of Covent Garden] and I told them that under no circumstances would I agree to this performance unless they guaranteed me two weeks of study for the voices and four rehearsals for the orchestra. They are now discussing this with Costa, but I am sure he will declare this to be impossible. My stay here is making him curiously uncomfortable. Balfe on the other hand is a good friend and I have nothing but praise for him; we see each other very often and have very friendly relations. The Philharmonic Society, which is conducted by Costa, started its sessions the day before yesterday. They played a symphony by Hesse (the organist in Breslau) which is quite well constructed, quite cold, and quite useless, then another one in A by Mendelssohn, a wonderful and magnificent work, far superior in my view to the other one in A which is performed in Paris. Except for a few wind instruments the orchestra is very good, beyond reproach, and Costa conducts it superbly. That evening nobody was prepared to believe that so far the society has not asked me for anything for its concerts, though that is the truth. They say they will be forced to do it by the papers and by their committee. But I will only entrust myself with the greatest care to the velvet paws of Costa, Anderson and all the pig-headed old men who run the institution. It is like the Conservatoire in Paris all over again. I would have too much to tell you about the petty conceit of all these fevered and gout-afflicted individuals, and you can easily guess. […]
A letter to Auguste Morel continues the same theme (CG no. 1191, 24 April):
[…] The newspapers here still talk a lot about me, but the resistance of the committee of the Philharmonic Society is something curious; they are all English composers and Costa is at their head. They are inviting M. Molique, they play new symphonies by Hesse and others, but it would seem that I am for them an object of unbelievable terror. Beale, Davison, Rosenberg and a few others have got into their head to compel them to invite me. I am letting them act, and we shall see. It is an old wall that I have to topple, behind which I find everyone is on my side, both the public and the press. […]
A letter to Louis-Joseph Duc introduces a further point (CG no. 1200, 26 May):
[…] But the same is done with music [sc. as for literary works]: Costa has orchestrated and corrected for Covent Garden Rossini’s Barber of Seville, and Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Figaro. The bass drum is now to be heard there in abundance… let us ascend the Capitol and render thanks to the gods. […]
A year later, the prospect of a performance of his Te Deum by the Philharmonic Society filled Berlioz with apprehension, as he writes to his sister Adèle (CG no. 1280, 24 September 1849; cf. 1281): ‘To perform it for the first time!… without me!… that would be odd. Besides there is in this society a conductor I have good reason to be wary of [i.e. Costa]. On the other hand I cannot go to London at this time. Better therefore to abstain’.
Berlioz’s correspondence makes no mention of Costa during his second visit in 1851, but in his feuilleton of 1 July in the Journal des Débats (pp. 1-2) he launched into a fierce critique of the practices of London opera houses, stigmatising in particular the habit of Costa of modifying the orchestration of works he performed: ‘No matter that these composers are great masters, armed with immense authority, that they are called Mozart, Beethoven, Weber or Rossini. M. Costa has long felt it appropriate to give them lessons in orchestration, and I regret to say that Balfe has followed his example. In the two orchestras they conduct there are three trombones, one ophicleid, one piccolo, one bass drum and a pair of cymbals; in their view they are meant to be used’. The passage was not included in the Soirées de l’orchestre when the book first appeared in 1852, though Berlioz added a few lines on the same subject to part of another feuilleton that were not in the original (of 12 August 1851, p. 2), prefaced with the comment: ‘This is the practice in England, wherever the traditions of M. Costa are held in honour’. The sentence was omitted by Berlioz in the second edition of the Soirées in 1854.
When it came to his 1852 series of concerts with the New Philharmonic, Berlioz anticipated opposition from Costa and his followers (CG no. 1456, to Liszt, 2 March; cf. 1453): ‘The Paris papers must have already given you details about the New Philharmonic Society. It is causing a tremendous stir in London, and on arrival I will have to face the whole of Old England which is at the height of its fury. All the Andersons, Costas and others are the most incensed. If Beale makes it possible for me to have the necessary rehearsals I don’t care about their opposition’. The success of the series he thought they would find particularly irksome (CG no. 1461). In the event the opposition that mattered came not from Costa and the (old) Philharmonic Society but from within the New Philharmonic itself, when at the end of the year Henry Wylde successfully opposed the re-appointment of Berlioz for the following season, which provoked the resignation of Beale from the committee (CG no. 1542).
The following year Berlioz (1853) was outwardly on his best behaviour towards Costa. The (old) Philharmonic approached Berlioz with the intention of performing some of his works at a concert, and in a letter to its secretary George Hogarth Berlioz expressed full confidence in the ability of Costa (CG no. 1567; 23 February). When it came to the negotiations with the director Gye over the staging of Benvenuto Cellini at Covent Garden Berlioz was again a model of tact (CG no. 1585, 15 April; cf. 1581): ‘Do you think it would be appropriate for me to write to M. Costa? Is there something you want to tell me about him? Has there been talk in front of him of my opera and of his conducting it? You know that I must follow your advice blindly in this matter’. A few days later Berlioz wrote a very tactful letter to Costa (CG no. 1588; 20 April), and soon reported positively to Gye: Costa had responded ‘in a most gracious and even cordial manner’ and had offered to let him conduct the first performances (CG no. 1590; 28 April). Before leaving for Paris after the failure of the opera Berlioz wrote to Costa to thank him for all the help he had given (CG no. 1612, 7 July; cf. 1613 the same day): nothing transpires from the correspondence of Berlioz for this year that Costa might have had anything to do with the hostile reception Benvenuto Cellini received at its sole performance on 25 June. The next and last mention of Costa in Berlioz’s letters is in December 1854 when Berlioz heard the surprising news that Costa had resigned from the (old) Philharmonic Society (CG no. 1859). Costa’s resignation opened the way to Berlioz’s appointment as conductor for the entire 1855 season, but ironically that possibility had been pre-empted by Berlioz’s acceptance two weeks earlier of a much less attractive offer from Henry Wylde to conduct the New Philharmonic, and Berlioz was unable to get his acceptance reversed.
When it came to writing his Memoirs Berlioz now felt able to say openly precisely what he thought about Costa: he took him to task once more for tampering with the scores of established masters (chapter 16), gave credence for the first time to the suggestion that Costa had been behind the cabal against Benvenuto Cellini at Covent Garden in 1853 (chapter 59), and presented him as an enemy who was jealous of his talent as a conductor: ‘It is the same story in London [as in Paris] where M. Costa wages a silent war against me wherever he has a foothold’ (Post Scriptum of 1856).
Davison, James William (1813-1885; portrait), music critic, who for many years wrote for The Times and The Musical World and was to become one of Berlioz’s closest friends in London. More letters of Berlioz to him survive than for any other of Berlioz’s contacts in London (22 are known, from the years 1848 to 1864), though this in itself raises questions. Unlike many of his contemporaries, such as Hallé and Ganz (not to mention Berlioz himself), Davison did not unfortunately write his own Memoirs. But he left a large number of papers and letters, and after his death his son Henry compiled an account of his father’s career based on those papers, which he eventually published many years later under the title From Mendelssohn to Wagner (London, 1912). With one exception (CG no. 1468) all the known letters of Berlioz to Davison come from this book, and the whereabouts of the originals appears to be unknown (all these letters are reproduced on a separate page on this site). But for this publication Berlioz’s correspondence with Davison would therefore be almost completely lost. There are further uncertainties: it is not clear how systematically Davison preserved the letters he received from Berlioz, nor how systematically his son published their correspondence. Two of the letters from Berlioz are cited only in an excerpt (CG nos. 1212, 1730). Of the letters written by Davison to Berlioz only one is reproduced in part (CG no. 1855), though a significant number of letters of his to other correspondents is reproduced in the volume. The record of the correspondence between Berlioz and Davison is thus almost certainly incomplete. It should be added that Henry Davison’s interpretation of the material he uses and presents is questionable at times.
Alone among Berlioz’s correspondents in London Davison was on intimate ‘tu’ terms with Berlioz from 1852 onwards, which places him in a select group of close friends (such as Liszt and Joseph d’Ortigue), and Berlioz evidently became very fond of him. ‘I have a great need for displays of friendship from some of my friends, and that is why you would be performing a good deed by writing to me’ he says in one of his last letters to Davison (CG no. 2695, 5 February 1863), and continues:
[…] I would love to see you and talk with an open heart. It took me a long time to get to know you, and now I understand you. I love so much your excellent nature as artist and man! I have been accused so much of being intolerant and passionate that I am full of indulgence for passion and intolerance. The people who inspire in me an invincible dislike are those with cold thinking heads, who have neither heart nor guts, and the madmen who are equally devoid of these and in addition have no brain. […]
None of this warmth could have been forecast at the start of their relations. It is probable that the two men first met in Bonn in August 1845 on the occasion of the Beethoven festival: Berlioz mentions Davison’s name in his report, together with those of Chorley, Gruneisen and Hogarth. In December 1846 Davison was in Paris for the first performance of the Damnation of Faust, and dismissed the work in two rather ill-considered reviews (The Times, 23 December; The Musical World, 26 December) of the kind he was liable to fire off against composers whose novelty provoked his suspicion. Among his many victims are to be reckoned Chopin, Schumann, Liszt, Verdi and Wagner, and only Mendelssohn found favour in his eyes. It is not clear whether Berlioz saw Davison on this occasion or ever heard of these reviews; he later sent him the full score of the work (CG nos. 1780, 1788, in 1854), though this did not prevent Davison from making another disparaging reference to Faust years later (The Musical World, 20 June 1863). The two men met again in September 1847 when Davison came to Paris (Davison , p. 87), and were thus well-acquainted even before Berlioz set out for London in November (CG no. 1185). In December Davison accompanied Marie Recio on the journey from Paris to London to join Berlioz briefly and attend the opening night at Drury Lane (Davison , p. 88). The evidence of Berlioz’s correspondence for his first stay in London suggests that his relations with Davison at the time were cordial but still tentative. The two men were not yet on intimate ‘tu’ terms. Berlioz seems to have regarded Davison as an important and influential critic whose support was worth cultivating. ‘Be of assistance to me, and transfer to me a little of the interest which you used to show for Mendelssohn’ he writes to him in his first preserved letter, during the preparations for his first concert in London (CG no. 1166, 21 January 1848). But as he confided to his friend Auguste Morel ‘I am not sure what Davison thinks deep down; with opinions like his you can expect anything’ (CG no. 1173, 12 February). Hence Berlioz’s relief when Davison published on the same day an article in The Musical World praising his conducting and manner with the orchestra: ‘[Your article] is couched in terms that are most helpful for me, and to me this indicates friendly dispositions on your part for which I am very touched and grateful’ he wrote to him (CG no. 1175; for the review cf. Rose , pp. 169-70). Short of money because of the collapse of his hopes for Paris he was encouraged to approach Davison with a request for the publication of articles of his in The Times, in an English translation by Davison himself, and in his P.S. he appealed once again to Davison’s admiration for Mendelssohn (CG no. 1187, 17 March). Davison did not apparently take up the suggestion, though the following month Berlioz mentions him joining Beale and the critic Charles Rosenberg in an attempt to press the Philharmonic Society to invite Berlioz (CG no. 1191, 24 April). Nothing came of this and the next attested contacts between Berlioz and Davison were in July, after Berlioz’s return to Paris. A short excerpt from a letter tells of the deplorable state of music he found there on his return (CG no. 1212). Then on 26 July he published in the Journal des Débats (p. 1; CM VI p. 356) an open letter addressed to Davison in his capacity as editor of The Musical World, sending him an article on the reopening of the Opéra, with an invitation: ‘Translate it and insert in your paper, if you find it worthwhile’. The article ended with a favourable comment on Covent Garden’s production of Meyerbeer’s Les Huguenots: ‘Meyerbeer’s admirers were very pleased to learn that his masterpiece, performed in such mediocre fashion at the Paris Opéra for several years, has been able, thanks to Mme Viardot-Garcia, to Mario, and to the magnificent orchestra and chorus of Covent Garden, to rise again younger and more brilliant than ever, and stir enthusiasm such as is no longer known on the continent’. Berlioz was evidently eyeing a prospective return to London, but Davison does not seem to have taken up the suggestion (there is nothing about this episode in Davison ). Over the next two years there are several mentions of Davison in Berlioz’s letters to other correspondents; the references imply he did not hear from Davison himself in this period (CG nos. 1263, 1284, 1294). The relationship they had established in 1848 seemed not to be blossoming.
There appears to be no record of any contact between Berlioz and Davison during his stay in 1851 and there are no letters for this year, nor did Berlioz mention Davison in any of the five feuilletons about London he wrote for the Journal des Débats (whereas Ella, for example, is mentioned). It seems of course very unlikely that they did not meet at this time. With 1852 the evidence begins again and shows a striking change in their relationship: from this year on the two men are on intimate ‘tu’ terms. This is certainly the case in a letter of 11 September in which he tells Davison that he has dedicated to him his overture Le Corsaire, just published, and is sending him a copy (CG no. 1514; cf. 1730, 2177); it may have been so already earlier in the year (CG no. 1468; 1475, written in English, is inconclusive). It is not known what led to this new warmth in their relations; it may be noted that Davison’s name is not mentioned in Berlioz’s correspondence in connection with the invitation to conduct the New Philharmonic Society, where Beale appears to have been the moving spirit. Davison wrote appreciative reviews of Berlioz’s concerts in The Times and The Musical World, notably the opening concert on 24 March, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony on 12 May, and the performance of Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphony and violin concerto on 28 May, but then the London press had been almost universal in its praise. The following year Davison was again very supportive at the concert on 30 May (CG no. 1601) which he reviewed very favourably in The Musical World on 4 June (Rose , p. 181) and in The Times: ‘This prepares the ground wonderfully for the big event at Covent Garden’ Berlioz wrote to him (CG no. 1602; Davison had earlier advertised in The Musical World the success of Benvenuto Cellini in Weimar). It is reported that after the disastrous opening night at Covent Garden Davison was the only guest to turn up to keep Berlioz company at the celebratory dinner that had been planned in advance (Rose , p. 185). Together with many other London critics and musicians he was on the committee that tried to organise a concert for Berlioz after the failure of the opera (cf. CG no. 1616, 7 July, addressed to the editor of The Musical World). Back in Paris Berlioz made a point of mentioning favourably the pianist Miss [Annabella] Godard, a pupil of Davison, among the musicians in London who were busy with the concert season (Journal des Débats 26 July, p. 2, reproduced in the Grotesques de la musique in 1859). She was to marry Davison in 1859.
The correspondence for 1854 shows Berlioz feeling ever closer to Davison. In August he suggested to Davison that he support his candidacy for the Institut by writing to Auber, though Davison declined and Berlioz was not elected in any case (CG nos. 1780, 1788). In December he was anxious to inform Davison of the success of l’Enfance du Christ: ‘I must tell you that last Sunday l’Enfance du Christ scored an extraordinary success (especially for Paris). I am writing this to you not for you to tell others, but only so that you should know, and because I am certain you will be pleased to hear the news. I missed you in the emotion of the hall…’ (CG no. 1844, 15 December). Within a few days he found himself embroiled unexpectedly in an argument with Davison over a review he had written in the Journal des Débats (25 November, p. 2) in which, despite Davison’s recommendation, he criticised ironically his protégée Mlle Cruvelli. Davison took offence, Berlioz pleaded a misunderstanding, and after some argument the matter was eventually laid to rest. What is striking in the exchange is Berlioz’s genuine shock at having offended Davison and his readiness to do anything, including lying, to placate his friend (CG nos. 1852, 1855, 1859). But Davison on his side had not travelled to Paris to hear l’Enfance du Christ. No such misunderstanding arose during Berlioz’s 1855 visit, where he once again saw Davison on several occasions (CG nos. 1977, 1981, 1991), and Davison displayed his enthusiasm for Berlioz’s concerts (CG no. 1980; cf. also 1988). Back in Paris later in the year Berlioz contacted Davison over the organisation of two projected concerts at St Martin’s Hall – apparently the first definite instance of Davison’s personal involvement in the preparation of Berlioz concerts in London (CG no. 2055, 30 November). The plan came to nothing.
There is then a gap of several years in their relations. It may be noted that when in June 1856 Berlioz was finally elected to the Institut, there is no evidence for any letter of congratulation from Davison such as Berlioz received from many other friends (including Beale, Ella and Adolphe Samuel). The next contact came in 1859, when Davison visited Paris on at least one occasion and saw Berlioz (CG nos. 2341bis [in vol. VIII], 2432), possibly the last time they met. It seems that with the passage of time Berlioz became increasingly fond of Davison (cf. Rose , p. 239), though Davison does not seem to have reciprocated to the same extent. This was a time when Berlioz’s circle of friends was contracting with the reduction in his travels abroad. There was also his growing estrangement with Liszt, with the contentious issue of Wagner driving a wedge between them. With Davison at least, a declared opponent of Wagner, there was no such problem (cf. CG no. 1991 and the material on Davison and Wagner in Davison ). But contacts after 1859 were few and far between. Extant is a recommendation by Berlioz for his young protégé Théodore Ritter (CG no. 2499, 20 April 1860). In early 1863 Berlioz sent Davison the score of Béatrice et Bénédict (‘I would be very happy if it pleased you’) with news of his activities and a plea for contact with Davison whom he missed (CG no. 2695, 5 February). Davison, it appears, did not respond: a letter of 10 June scolds him for his ‘laziness, breaking his word, lack of friendship and lack of everything’, and ‘punishes’ Davison by recommending to him yet another pianist who was on his way to London… (CG no. 2736). In a brief note dated 29 October Berlioz suggested that Davison come to the first night of Les Troyens in Paris (CG no. 2775). Nothing proves that Davison did make the journey. The last known letter is yet another recommendation, for a cellist who had been engaged by Ella, together with news and an invitation: ‘Will you not come to spend a few days in Paris this summer? We would go for walks in the countryside with the less silly of our friends, and even without friends. But, poor wretch, you will not have time, because for you above all The Times is money’ (CG no. 2854, 22 April 1864). No such meeting is known to have taken place. When Berlioz died in 1869 Davison published a short obituary in The Musical World (13 March), in which he praised Berlioz warmly as a man but conspicuously refused to pronounce on Berlioz the musician and composer. After more than twenty years of acquaintance it seems he had not been able to convince himself of his musical greatness.
* Note: the letter is misdated to March in Davison (1912), p. 87 where the editor postulates a short visit by Berlioz to Paris that month, but that rests on a misinterpretation of CG no. 1187; letters immediately before and after this one make it clear that Berlioz was in London all the time. From its contents CG no. 1212 clearly belongs to July, after the return to Paris. In CG VIII p. 284 another excerpt is added to the text of CG no. 1212, but this evidently comes from the open letter to Davison that prefaces the article in the Journal des Débats of 26 July 1848 (p. 1) which is mentioned in a letter to Liszt of 23 July (CG no. 1216). Now the text of CG no. 1212 reproduced in Davison (1912) is not found in that article, and the two texts cited in CG VIII p. 284 must therefore come from two different documents.
Duchène de Vère, Adolphe (1809-?), a little-known figure, was a friend and active supporter of Berlioz over a period stretching from at least 1849 (CG no. 1281) to 1855 (CG no. 2036) and probably much longer (see below on a letter of Marie Recio dating from 1858). It is not known when and in what circumstances he and Berlioz became friendly, what his profession was, and when he died. Duchène owned property in Boulogne (CG V pp. 123-4 n. 1 and p. 715) and had a flat in London at 27 Queen Ann Street (CG no. 1411). He resided often in London (CG nos. 1281, 1448, 2036) but was a frequent visitor to Paris, though in the cases where his Paris address is given it is always Hôtel Lafitte (CG nos. 1410, 1653, 1689, 1697), which suggests that he did not have a permanent residence there. Duchène was not only interested in Berlioz’s news (CG nos. 1448, 1653) but very helpful to him on a number of occasions. In 1851 Berlioz stayed at 27 Queen Anne Street, Duchène’s address (CG no. 1411; cf. 1415, 1417, 1419, 1421, 1422) and the following year he asked Duchène to help him find accommodation in London (CG no. 1448). In September 1855 Berlioz was in detailed correspondence with Duchène in London over the possibility of organising a concert at Sydenham (CG no. 2036). Duchène seems to have had a particular interest in the Te Deum. In late 1849 he was actively trying to bring about a performance of the new work in London (CG no. 1281). In November 1853 Berlioz wrote to him from Bremen and enquired in his letter about the chances of a performance of the Te Deum in Paris (CG no. 1653). When the work was eventually performed for the first time on 30 April 1855 Duchène and the organ-builder Ducroquet provided a contractual guarantee of respectively 2,000 and 1,000 francs for the performance (the contract is reproduced in CG V pp. 715-16). Duchène helped Berlioz on other occasions as well (see CG nos. 668, 1892bis and ter [both in vol. VIII], 1907). One further bond between the two men was that Duchène’s wife, who was English (Isabelle Ann Hood), evidently had a close friendship with Marie Recio (CG nos. 1448, 1653). A letter from Marie Recio to Mme Duchène is extant, dated 2 July 1855 during Berlioz’s last stay in London, which gives detailed news of their time there; the letter is reproduced in full in CG V pp. 123-4 n. 1. Another letter from Marie Recio, this time to Adolphe Duchène, dates from 1858; it is kept at the Bibliothèque nationale de France and is reproduced on this site.
Ella, John (1802-1888; portrait), violinist and music critic who wrote for the Morning Post, The Athenæum and The Musical World. He was an early supporter of Berlioz: in 1838 he published in the Musical World an article drawing attention to him. Berlioz does not seem to have met him till his first visit to London in 1848, but they then became lifelong friends. Their preserved correspondence is limited and does not give an adequate idea of the closeness of their friendship. A partial explanation for this may be that Ella was not in a position to promote Berlioz in London as much as others: he was not a publisher or impresario (unlike Beale), nor one of the most influential critics on the London scene (unlike Chorley or Davison), nor the director of an opera (unlike Gye or Lumley), nor at the head of one of the Philharmonic societies (unlike Hogarth or Wylde). Ella is chiefly known and remembered as the founder and director of The Musical Union, a society dedicated to the performance of chamber and instrumental music, a field for which Berlioz did not compose. But Berlioz had long appreciated chamber music and wrote warmly of Ella and the Musical Union in his first report on the musical institutions of London in the Journal des Débats (31 May 1851; the passage concerning Ella was one of those reproduced the following year in the Soirées de l’orchestre). Two of Berlioz’s extant letters to Ella concern in fact recommendations for continental musicians who wanted to perform in the concerts of the Musical Union (CG nos. 2119, 2730) and allusions in other letters, the last as late as 1864, imply that Berlioz must have written many such recommendations to Ella (CG nos. 2142, 2854). To quote one example, concerning the Dutch pianist Heinrich Lübeck (CG no. 2119; 16 April 1856):
[…] His talent is quite extraordinary, not only for his prodigious technical mastery but for an excellent and faultless musical style. He has verve combined with reason, strength combined with suppleness, his style is brilliant, penetrating and flexible like the blade of a sword.
M. Lubeck would like to appear in your matinées at Willis’s Rooms and I believe your regular audience will thank you for giving him the opportunity. […]
The first preserved letter of Berlioz to Ella (only an excerpt) dates from 1851 and relates Berlioz’s impression of the Charity concert in St Paul’s which moved him so much (CG no. 1416, 9 June):
[…] I read several years ago what M. Fétis wrote on this ceremony, and I was therefore expecting something remarkable, but the reality exceeded by far what my imagination had promised. It is the most extraordinary event I have seen and heard since I exist […]
Berlioz’s visit to London in 1852 was the occasion for him to pay a graceful compliment to Ella: he published in that year La Fuite en Egypte (later to become part II of l’Enfance du Christ) and the French edition was dedicated to Ella (as it was again when published in 1856 in London in the English translation of Chorley). He also published in London an open letter to Ella explaining the mischievous deception he had indulged in by pretending to the Paris public that the central chorus (The Shepherds’ farewell to the Holy Family) was the work of an imaginary old master, Pierre Ducré. The letter was originally published in the bulletin of the Musical Union on 18 May, then two days later in the Musical World, and eventually in Paris at the end of the month; later, in 1859, Berlioz reproduced the letter in the Grotesques de la musique.
As could have been expected, Ella was one of the members of the committee set up in late June 1853 to organise a concert for Berlioz after the failure of Benvenuto Cellini at Covent Garden. The same year, Berlioz listed Ella among a series of musicians who were perpetually busy with concerts in London (Journal des Débats, 26 July 1853, p. 2; reproduced in the Grotesques de la musique in 1859). A letter of 1854 mentions Ella, together with Davison and Benedict, as close friends of Berlioz in London (CG no. 1770, 22 June). Another letter of 1854 (dated 3 November), this time from Ella himself to Hallé, mentions a visit he had recently made to Paris (cited by Hallé , pp. 249-50):
[…] I saw both Chorley and Davison at Paris, and had a long discussion with them separately. I was one of the four témoins [witnesses] at the wedding of Berlioz, and I am happy to say that he is in better spirits, with only one wife to provide for. […]
The reference is to Berlioz’s marriage with Marie Recio on 19 October, over seven months after the death of Harriet Smithson. Visits to Paris by Ella to see Berlioz are attested on other occasions also, the last as late as September 1863 (CG nos. 2006bis [in vol. VIII], 2768). Another letter of Berlioz mentions a visit to Ella during his stay in London in 1855, at which Ella presented to Berlioz something that would have been dear to his heart: a copy of the works of Shakespeare (CG no. 1991). Perhaps the most eloquent testimony to their friendship is the letter of congratulations Ella wrote to Berlioz in June 1856 on the occasion of Berlioz’s election – after many attempts – to the Institut (CG no. 2142; the original was in English but only the French translation is available, and the following is translated back from the French):
My dear, good Berlioz,
This day will, I think, be the most brilliant of my life, the great hall of Willis’s Rooms will be packed with music-lovers, and if anything could fill my heart even further with joy on this memorable occasion, it is the happiness of congratulating you for the justice that France has given, on its own soil, to one of the men I love most!
Mad. Viardot lent me yesterday the Gazette Musicale, and I ran to the printers to insert the announcement in my summary. I sent the same text to the Globe, and the Post, and in these two papers the « honour » is credited to France.
My season is the best I have ever had. My subscription is £100 above last year. In March I had not heard of any celebrity coming to London, so I engaged Hallé for four matinées, and after the brilliant début by Mad. Schumann, I engaged her for the rest of the season. Hardly had I concluded my engagements that an army of pianists arrived in London… all too late, and inferior to Hallé and Schumann. […]
Ernst, Heinrich (1814-1865; portrait), German virtuoso violinist and composer, who was inspired by the example of Paganini. He met Berlioz in Paris in the mid 1830s and the two were to become lifelong friends: ‘He is one of musicians I am most fond of and whose talent I find most congenial’ wrote Berlioz to Morris Barnett in April 1849 (CG no. 1260).
Ernst first came to Paris briefly in 1831, at a time when Berlioz was away in Italy. After a further period of study he returned to Paris late in 1834 to start a career as a violinist. From the start he attracted the attention of Berlioz who mentioned him frequently in his feuilletons from that time onwards, whether concerning his concerts in Paris or his tours abroad. Berlioz was impressed by his talent, and to judge from his comments Ernst quickly grew in maturity and stature as a player, to become in the view of Berlioz and many others one of the leading violinists of his time (CM I p. 480; II pp. 2-3 and 443-4; III pp. 342, 362; IV pp. 156, 252, 424, 431, 478, 506, 531, 601; V pp. 223-4, 234; for later references see Journal des Débats 27 January and 22 July 1852; 7 January, 9 February and 17 March 1853; 3 March 1863). In 1843 Berlioz addressed the fifth of his ten letters relating his first trip to Germany to Ernst (Journal des Débats, 12 September 1843; later reproduced in the Memoirs). The letter starts with a mention of the advice Ernst had given Berlioz about how to organise his travels in Germany. Ernst was himself a great traveller: ‘Liszt, Ernst and I are, I believe, among musicians the three greatest wanderers to have been impelled by the desire to see and a restless spirit to leave their own countries’ wrote Berlioz in one of letters concerning his second round of travels in Germany; he was referring here to his encounter with Ernst in Vienna in 1846 (Journal des Débats, 5 September 1847; later reproduced in his Memoirs). In a later passage of his Memoirs (chapter 59) Berlioz relates meeting Ernst again in 1847 (cf. CG no. 1095):
Ernst had indeed arrived in St Petersburg on the same day. We met by chance in Russia, just as we had previously found ourselves together in Brussels [in autumn 1842], Vienna and Paris, and just as we have since met in many other places in Europe where the various incidents or accidents of our musical careers seem to have strengthened the bonds which sympathy had already created between us. I have for him the keenest and most affectionate admiration. He is such a warm-hearted man, such a worthy friend, and such a great artist!
Though only few of the letters of Berlioz to Ernst have survived (there are none from Ernst to Berlioz), they are noticeable for their warm and relaxed tone (CG nos. 1095, 1263, 1284, 1291, 1294, 1582, 2204). The praise that Berlioz gave to Ernst in the passages of the Memoirs cited above was whole-hearted. It was to the end an unclouded friendship without any negative undertones, unlike that between Berlioz and Ernst’s counterpart Liszt.
Ernst had been a visitor to London since 1843 and frequently returned there. He came again early in 1847, and Berlioz writing to Morris Barnett took the opportunity to recommend Ernst to him (CG no. 1260, 28 April). The following month Berlioz responded to a letter of Ernst in London with news of his own, and added ‘I wrote to Morris Barnett last week about you. Do you know him? He is editor of the Morning Post and is an excellent man. How is Hallé? and Davison? and the crazy Vivier?…’ (CG no. 1263, 8 May). The letter gives Ernst’s address as 38 Great Malborough Street, while the next letter gives the address as 12 Margaret Street, Cavendish Square (CG no. 1284, 3 December 1849), an address that Ernst still had in June of the following year (CG no. 1333, to Stephen Heller). The letter of December 1849 is in fact not one but several letters in one, humorous in tone, addressed to Ernst, Hallé and Heller, with greetings to other common friends in London (Davison, Barnett). Ernst had intended to return to Paris but was detained in London (CG nos. 1291, 1294) where he was still in June 1850 (CG no. 1333). Ernst was again in London in 1851, since Berlioz mentions him as the leader of the quartet organised by the Beethoven Quartet Society (Journal des Débats 31 May 1851, p. 1; reproduced in the Soirées de l’orchestre chapter 21). Ernst had in fact played with that group already in May 1850. He was in London again during Berlioz’s last visit in 1855, when Berlioz and Marie Recio visited him at his London home (CG no. 1991). This was shortly before Ernst’s appearance playing the viola part in Harold in Italy at Berlioz’s concert on 4 July (CG no. 1999), a part he had already taken on at least three previous occasions, in Brussels (26 September 1842), St Petersburg (5 May 1847) and Frankfurt (20 August 1853; in 1853 he also appeared in Berlioz’s first concert in Baden-Baden). Berlioz’s last surviving letter to Ernst was addressed to him in London. In response to a letter from Ernst, Berlioz enquired about the London performance of l’Enfance du Christ which was planned for May 1857, and asked Ernst to find out from Beale what arrangements were in hand (CG no. 2204, late January 1857; in the event the performance did not take place). This is the last known contact between the two men. Within a few years Ernst was forced through illness to cease appearing in public and retired to Nice. In December 1864 Mme Ernst invited Berlioz to come and visit them there, but Berlioz was unable to accept, though it stirred his own memories of his visits to Nice (CG no. 2945). The following year she wrote again, but now with the news of Ernst’s death on 8 October, to which Berlioz responded (CG no. 3056, 22 October 1865):
[…] Heller conveyed to me the grievous news and you can imagine how we have shared in your grief.
As you know, I loved Ernst, and I loved him even before you knew him. Proof of this I have left in a volume of Memoirs which I have just had printed and where there is a letter addressed to him and an appreciation of his talent. This book will not be published and sold to the public until after my death, but what I thought of Ernst twenty years ago will become apparent.
That will be the stone I will contribute to his monument. As for the other monument you refer to, I am unable to help in any way to its erection. A rich man like M. Figdor, for example, might do so by subscribing himself, but partial subscriptions never succeed in Paris. I have discussed this with Brandus and Dufour and they fully agree with my view.
For my part there is nothing I can do; I have neither good health nor money. Nor can Heller.
I have asked d’Ortigue to write something in his next feuilleton. We too have just lost an artist who was a friend, poor Wallace, and his widow is in the same position as you are. […]
Ganz: the Ganz family, of German origin, had connections with Berlioz that stretched over a period of three generations. Berlioz met the two brothers Leopold Ganz (1810-1869; portrait) and Moritz Ganz (1806-1868; portrait) in Berlin in 1843 (cf. CG no. 829) and mentioned them in the account of his German travels which he first published in that year and later incorporated in the Memoirs: ‘The string players [in the Berlin orchestra] are almost all excellent; among them should be mentioned the Ganz brothers, players of great merit who lead the violin and cello sections’. Leopold played the viola part in Harold in Italy at the concert on 8 April. Two years later, in August 1845, Moritz Ganz was present at the Beethoven Festival in Bonn where he led the cello section in the orchestra. Berlioz saw the brothers again on his second visit to Berlin in 1847 and before leaving wrote a letter of thanks to Leopold which is extant (CG no. 1116). A third brother, the eldest Adolph Ganz (1796-1870; portrait) was also a string player (violin and viola) and conductor; he visited London in 1848 at the time of Berlioz’s first trip and played in his concert on 29 June 1848 at Hanover Square Rooms (CG no. 1206 is a letter of invitation to the rehearsal two days before, addressed by Berlioz to the performers, extant in two copies both addressed to Ganz, presumably Adolph and his son Wilhelm). He settled permanently in London in 1850, and worked for some time at Her Majesty’s Theatre. His son Wilhelm Ganz (1833-1914; portrait), came with him to London in 1848, then settled there permanently in 1850; like his father and two uncles he pursued a musical career as violinist, organist and conductor, and became naturalised. He kept a diary which went as far back as the time of his arrival in London in 1848, and utilising this and his own recollections he published late in life his own Memories of a Musician: Reminiscences of Seventy Years of Musical Life (London, 1913). The book includes citations from his diary and reminiscences of his experiences of Berlioz from 1848 to 1855 (all the material of relevance to Berlioz is reproduced on a separate page on this site). In 1873 Wilhelm Ganz became joint conductor of the New Philharmonic Concerts together with Henry Wylde, then took over full control in 1879. Inspired by his memories of playing under Berlioz he was now able to perform some of his works himself. He relates conducting Harold in Italy at his first concert on 26 May 1879, which he repeated the following year. On 30 April 1881 he gave the first complete London performance of the Symphonie Fantastique with an augmented orchestra, and on 28 May of the same year Roméo et Juliette. In the third generation one of Wilhelm’s three sons A. W. Ganz (Alfred Ganz), though not a professional musician (he was a barrister), inherited his father’s enthusiasm for Berlioz and attended his concerts. Inspired by his father’s recollections he set out to reconstruct more fully the story of Berlioz’s visits to London, and late in life he published the results of his researches in a book entitled Berlioz in London (London, 1950). The book is valuable for presenting this material; it includes for example the full programmes of most of Berlioz’s London concerts (pp. 39-40, 68-9, 126, 130, 135, 142, 145-6, 147, 187, 206-7). But one important drawback of the book is that the author has deliberately avoided providing annotation (p. 10) and the reader is not in a position to verify the sources for particular statements. Most surprisingly, Alfred Ganz fails even to mention the existence of his father’s 1913 book which provided him with his starting point. He repeatedly cites from it and quotes his father’s diary as though this was unpublished material, yet most of these citations are already to be found in the earlier book.
Glover, William Howard (1819-1875), Irish composer, conductor and tenor, and music critic of the Morning Post from 1850 to 1865; he left England for America in 1868 where he died. Little trace of his correspondence with Berlioz has survived, though the two men clearly appreciated each other and their friendship might have blossomed had Berlioz returned to London after 1855. The earliest evidence for their relations comes from an enthusiastic review by Glover of the performance of Beethoven’s 9th symphony which Berlioz conducted at Exeter Hall on 12 May 1852; Glover described it as ‘the best orchestral performance ever heard in this country’ (cited by Ganz , p. 143). It is not known whether they met at the time or only during Berlioz’s next visit to London in 1853. At any rate they were evidently on friendly terms by the time of the first performances of l’Enfance du Christ in Paris in December 1854. Glover made the journey to Paris and wrote to Berlioz (in tentative French) a warmly appreciative letter about the new work, with at the end a request for the score to assist in the writing of a review (CG no. 1838, 12 December). Berlioz was very touched: writing to Davison on 15 December he commented ‘Glover who heard the general rehearsal and the performance wrote to me yesterday a gracious and delightful letter and asked for the score, which at this moment is in his hands’ (CG no. 1844). The next day, commenting on forthcoming reviews of the work, he wrote to Liszt: ‘But the most studied will be that of Glover in the Morning Post, because Glover is a distinguished musician and will have written with the score before his eyes’ (CG no. 1848). When Berlioz returned to London in June 1855 Glover was very appreciative of Berlioz’s first concert (CG nos. 1980, 1981). This time there is also detailed evidence of Berlioz’s social contacts with Glover in London, and Berlioz included in his second concert a cantata by Glover (CG no. 1991). The two men kept in touch after Berlioz’s return to Paris, and a brief letter of Berlioz to Glover in November 1855 shows that the two did meet in Paris then (CG no. 2050). But at this point the thread of their relations is lost, and Berlioz never returned to London subsequently.
Gruneisen, Charles Lewis (1806-1879), writer and critic, born in London from a German father, but naturalised English; he wrote in numerous London papers including the Illustrated London News. He evidently met Berlioz in Paris years before Berlioz went to London, and was familiar with his music which he admired (this is shown by the review of Berlioz’s first concert in London which he published on 12 February 1848 – see below). He was one of several London critics and musicians present at the Bonn celebrations for Beethoven in August 1845. He travelled with Berlioz to London in November 1847 (CG no. 1134). A handful of Berlioz’s letters to him survive dating from the years 1848 (CG nos. 1159, 1167, 1176 [in vol. VIII]), 1851 (CG nos. 1404, 1413) and 1853 (CG no. 1563; see below). He is also mentioned a number of times in other letters of the composer for this period.
Berlioz found Gruneisen one of his most dependable supporters, not just in press but on the London musical scene generally. In January 1848 Berlioz asked Gruneisen to assist in the publicity for his first concert in London (CG no. 1167), and after the concert he thanked Gruneisen warmly for his review: ‘Long live English critics! Here are people who listen and do not quibble with words as do so many of my dear colleagues in Paris. The disaster at Drury Lane has been the cause of cruel losses which in my position are really dreadful, but my joy at having been able to present myself adequately to the English public erases everything. You are the only one to have said that my solo singers did not know their parts, and unfortunately that is the truth; they barely deigned to have one look at them with piano accompaniment before rehearsing with the orchestra’ (CG no. 1176, 14 February; cf. 1185: ‘Thank God the entire English press has expressed itself with extraordinary warmth, though apart from Davison and Gruneisen I did not know any of the editors’). The wording of the review in the Illustrated London News (12 February) matches the description in Berlioz’s letter, and this shows that it must be by Gruneisen. Before his trip to London in 1851 Berlioz wrote to Gruneisen to recommend him the instrument-maker Adolphe Sax who was going to be showing his work at the Exhibition (CG no. 1404, cf. 1405, a similar letter to Barnett). The longest preserved letter, dated 8 February 1853, shows the trust Berlioz placed in Gruneisen (CG no. 1563): he thanks him for his support in the matter of the New Philharmonic, gives his frank opinion of Henry Wylde, mentions his hopes to have Benvenuto Cellini performed in London, gives general news about the musical scene in Paris, and mentions his trip of November 1852 to Weimar. Gruneisen was present at the sole performance of Benvenuto Cellini at Covent Garden in June 1853 (cf. CG no. 1606), though it is not certain whether the (unsigned) review of the work which appeared in the Illustrated London News of 2 July is by him. Gruneisen was also on the committee which attempted to organise a concert for Berlioz after the failure of the opera. Thereafter the evidence for his continued relations with Berlioz ceases, even though he continued to reside in London for years to come.
Gye, Frederick (1809-1878; portrait), manager of the Drury Lane theatre in 1847-8 during Berlioz’s first visit to London (Memoirs ch. 57, the only mention of Gye in Berlioz’s literary writings), then manager of Covent Garden from 1849 to 1877 (cf. CG no. 1245). On 13 February 1850 he paid a visit to Berlioz in Paris to negotiate the use of Berlioz’s recitatives for Weber’s Der Freischütz in a production in London (this is known from an entry in Gye’s diary: see CG vol. VIII p. 301 n. 1). The preserved letters of Berlioz to him relate exclusively to the staging of Benvenuto Cellini at Covent Garden in 1853, and the last letter, dated 26 June, requests Gye to withdraw the work after its hostile reception the previous day (CG nos. 1581, 1583, 1585, 1590, 1597, 1606, 1607). There are no surviving letters of Gye to Berlioz. Berlioz found Gye too uncommunicative for his taste, as he writes to Émile Prudent on 9 April 1853: ‘As for Mr Gye, he has the reticence of a businessman, and his letters tell me nothing’ (CG no. 1584). References to Gye elsewhere in Berlioz’s correspondence bear this out: they are usually neutral in tone and factual in content (cf. e.g. CG nos. 1245, 1572, 1589), though in two letters after the failure of Cellini Berlioz attributes to Gye part of responsibility for the failure by having provoked the demise of Her Majesty’s Theatre (CG nos. 1608, 1609). Gye evidently kept his cards very close to his chest. On 10 July 1853, now back in Paris, Berlioz wrote to Liszt: ‘Gye, the director of Covent Garden, wanted all the same to keep a copy of this damned opera. Does he have something in mind for later on?… I don’t know. On taking leave of me he urged me to write for him a new score on a libretto more dramatic and less absurd than that of Cellini… But it would require naivety of a Biblical kind to accept this proposal in the present state of affairs and given the Italian influences that exist at Covent Garden’ (CG no. 1617). The following year, on 16 May, Berlioz wrote again to Liszt: ‘I hear that Gye has included this opera [Benvenuto Cellini] among those scheduled for performance in London this year. I do not know whether he really has this intention. I have not been told anything about this’ (CG no. 1762). This is the last mention of Gye in Berlioz’s correspondence, and Benvenuto Cellini had to wait many years before being staged again at Covent Garden.
Hallé, Charles (1819-1895; portrait), pianist and conductor, was born in Germany at Hagen (Westphalia). Later in life he compiled an autobiography, published posthumously by his children, which includes his memories of Berlioz from the time when he first knew him in Paris and supplements what was known from other sources (Life and Letters of Sir Charles Hallé, London, 1896). All the passages of relevance to Berlioz are reproduced on a separate page on this site.
Hallé came to Paris in 1836 where he adapted his name from the German Karl Halle to the French Charles Hallé and soon made the acquaintance of Berlioz who became a lifelong friend. His performances of chamber and instrumental music in Paris attracted favourable comment from Berlioz from 1839 onwards, and he frequently mentions Hallé in his reviews (CM IV pp. 132 [= CG no. 606], 454, 476, 495; V pp. 93, 315-6, 401, 471, 568; VI pp. 44, 278, 283). To quote from a review of a performance in 1842 (CM V p. 93):
Hallé, one of the leading pianists in an age when everyone plays the piano, was heard in M. Érard’s salon. With Alard (violin) and the excellent cellist Franco-Mendès [also known as Franchomme], he first performed a trio by Mendelssohn, of which the andante and scherzo in particular seemed to me admirable. Hallé plays this kind of music with all the technical precision and versatility that can be demanded from a pianist, together with a feeling for the individual style of each composer, allied to an understanding of the relative importance of passage-work, melodic phrases and different chords, which composers rarely find in their interpreters.
Occasional references in Berlioz’s correspondence in the 1840s show Hallé to have been part of the composer’s circle of friends in Paris (CG nos. 900, 1038), and he performed a Beethoven piano concerto at a concert conducted by Berlioz on 19 January 1845 (CG no. 937). In August of 1845 he accompanied Berlioz to the Beethoven celebrations at Bonn, according to his own account (Hallé , pp. 85-7). Hallé’s long-term intention was probably to make his career in Paris (as did Chopin, his friend Heller and other pianists), but the outbreak of the revolution in 1848 forced him move to England in search of a new career; he arrived there in March during Berlioz’s first visit to London and saw him there (CG no. 1188). Instead of settling in London as many musicians from the continent did he moved to Manchester and became closely associated with the musical life of the city, founding the orchestra that still bears his name. During his visit to London in 1851 Berlioz took the opportunity to report on the musical institutions of England in his feuilletons, in which he mentioned the work of Hallé in Manchester (Journal des Débats, 31 May 1851, p. 1; reproduced a year later in the 21st evening of the Soirées de l’orchestre):
[The Musical Society] of Manchester, which at the moment is conducted by Charles Hallé, that model pianist, that fearless and irreproachable musician, may be even superior to the London societies, if impartial judges are to be believed. The beauty of their voices at least is quite remarkable, they have a very keen feeling for music, and the orchestra is large and well trained. Such is the enthusiasm of music-lovers that four hundred extra listeners pay half a guinea each to have the right to buy tickets for concerts, for the very rare cases when some of the accredited members of the society are absent or unwell and they get the opportunity to obtain tickets.
Passing references in Berlioz’s correspondence show that the two men kept in touch intermittently over the years (CG nos. 1263, 1284, 2142). A letter of Berlioz to Hallé in 1857 (?) comments on a violinist who was offering his services as leader of the orchestra in Manchester (CG no. 2205, cf. 2204). On 25 January 1860 Hallé gave a successful concert performance in Manchester of Gluck’s Iphigenia in Tauris in an English translation by his friend Chorley, and then wrote to Berlioz about obtaining parts for Armide which he was hoping to do next (the story is told in Hallé , pp. 135-40). This prompted a warm reply from Berlioz (CG no. 2492, 4 April 1860):
I congratulate us on the outstanding success of your attempt to reveal Gluck to the English. So it is true that sooner or later the fire will shine, however thick the layer of rubbish under which it is believed to have been stifled. This success is prodigious, if one thinks how difficult it is to appreciate Iphigenia in a concert performance, and how in general Gluck’s work belongs to the stage. All the lovers of what is eternally beautiful owe you and Chorley a debt of gratitude. […] Please give my regards to Madame Hallé and convey my greetings to Chorley when you see him.
Berlioz and Hallé saw each other again at Baden-Baden in August 1860, where they talked about the two Gluck operas (this is related by Hallé , pp. 257-9 who cites two letters of his to his wife, in French, from Baden-Baden and Paris). There is no record of direct contacts between them after this date, though Hallé was kept informed: he cites a letter of Heller of August 1866 mentioning Berlioz’s poor health at the time (Hallé [1896, pp. 292-3). After Berlioz’s death Hallé continued to champion and perform his music, with performances of the Damnation of Faust in Manchester and London in 1880 and 1882 which he repeated subsequently (16 times in all, including one in London in 1892), l’Enfance du Christ (3 times), 3 of the symphonies, and 5 of the overtures (Hallé , pp. 167-70, 407-14).
Heller, Stephen (1814-1888; portrait), pianist, composer and music critic, was born in Pesth and settled in Paris in 1838 where he spent the rest of his career. He soon met Berlioz after writing an enthusiastic article on the Symphonie Fantastique in the Revue et gazette musicale de Paris (2 December 1838), followed by a review in the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik. Thereafter Berlioz frequently mentioned him as pianist and composer in his articles, always with warm praise (CM IV pp. 132, 179, 323-4, 403, 596; V pp. 32-33, 93, 224, 244, 492; VI pp. 13, 57, 281, 476-7; Journal des Débats 9 February 1853; 3 January 1861; 26 January 1863). The two men remained close friends till Berlioz’s death in March 1869. Berlioz mentions him several times in his writings: the fourth letter of his Travels to Germany I is addressed to him, he praises his friend’s talent at the end of chapter 26 of À Travers Chants, and mentions him also at the beginning of the final chapter of the Memoirs. Heller made a piano transcription of the final orchestrated version of the song La Captive, and also a piano reduction of Berlioz’s cantata Le Chant des chemins de fer which had been performed in Lille in 1846; Heller’s transcription was published in 1850. Ten years after Berlioz’s death he wrote an open letter about Berlioz to the critic Eduard Hanslick who had met the composer in Prague in 1846; the letter was published in Vienna in the Neue freie Presse (12 February 1879), and in French in the Revue et gazette musicale de Paris (2 and 9 March 1879, pp. 65-6 and 73-4). The French text is reproduced elsewhere on this site.
Although Heller spent most of his career in Paris he was in London for part of 1849 and 1850, and Berlioz was in touch with him at the time (CG nos. 1333, 1284, 1294). Heller was also a close friend of Ernst and Hallé, whose autobiography includes a number of letters exchanged with Heller (in French and German).
Hogarth, George (1783-1870; portrait), musicologist and critic of the Daily News from 1846 to 1866, and secretary of the (Royal) Philharmonic Society from 1850 to 1864. Most of Berlioz’s correspondence and dealings with Hogarth were in his capacity as secretary of that society. Hogarth was Berlioz’s senior by two decades, and Berlioz tended to regard him as a representative of an older generation that was instinctively suspicious of the novelty he represented (CG nos. 1477, 1484).
It is possible that the two met for the first time in Bonn in August 1845 during the celebrations in honour of Beethoven: his name is listed in Berlioz’s report among the contingent of visitors from London, together with Davison, Chorley and Gruneisen. When Berlioz first came to London in 1847-8 the start of their relations was auspicious. Berlioz was gratified by Hogarth’s excited response to his first concert on 7 February 1848 (CG no. 1173). There is no record of any contact between them during Berlioz’s 1851 visit, but then Berlioz was disappointed with Hogarth’s apparent change of tone when it came to the series of concerts he gave in 1852 with the rival New Philharmonic Society (CG nos. 1477, 1484).
In 1848 the attitude of the Royal Philharmonic Society had seemed to Berlioz initially one of coolness, not least because of the presumed hostility of Costa their conductor (CG no. 1185), and the success of the New Philharmonic under Berlioz’s direction in 1852 appeared to deepen that suspicion. Yet from this time onwards the Royal Philharmonic started to open up to Berlioz, and it is not easy to discern the motives or personalities that lay behind this gradual change. Early in 1853 Berlioz received an approach from Hogarth for the loan of music for the Roman Carnival overture. In response Berlioz pretended that the music was with Liszt, and added ‘It is a real joy for me to know that this overture is in the hands of M. Costa who is the most qualified person in the world to convey its character and impart to it the fuoco transteverino [Roman fire] without which it does not produce a quarter of its effect’ (CG no. 1567, 23 February). The same day Berlioz confided the truth to Liszt: ‘The Philharmonic Society of London wrote to me yesterday to ask for a loan of the parts and full score of the Roman Carnival overture. I have just replied that this bundle is in your hands in Germany. Forgive me this lie. I do not see why I should deprive Brandus of the 50 francs. that this would cost, and the old Philharmonic Society is rich enough to afford £2’ (CG no. 1568). A week later Hogarth had evidently accepted Berlioz’s excuse and Berlioz promised him that the music was on its way (CG no. 1571, 3 March). As yet there was no question of inviting Berlioz himself to conduct.
By early May the Philharmonic Society had shifted its ground and now offered Berlioz to take charge of the first half of a concert in which he would conduct his own music (the second half was conducted by Costa). In reply Berlioz suggested the Symphonie Fantastique, which had not yet been heard in London, and Le Repos de la Sainte famille, as yet unperformed, but added ‘I cannot promise to perform this symphony with only one rehearsal; two at least are needed with the full orchestra, and they have to be intensive. See whether you are able to let me have these […] As for the tenor he must obviously be the best available, but I think it would be advantageous for him to sing in English, since the piece will be much more effective if the words are sung intelligently and with good diction’ (CG no. 1596, 4 May). A week later Berlioz accepted Hogarth’s suggestions: ‘I will fall in with the practices of the Philharmonic Society, if the works chosen are Harold in Italy and the Roman Carnival. With such a wonderful orchestra it should I hope be possible to perform these two works well with only one rehearsal, as they are already known to the musicians’ (CG no. 1598, 10 May). The concert eventually took place on 30 May, before the opening night of Benvenuto Cellini and not after, as Berlioz had requested (CG no. 1596). After the concert Hogarth offered Berlioz in appreciation of his work a gratuity of £10… (CG IV p. 323 n. 1).
It seems that as a result of the concert in 1853 the Philharmonic Society was encouraged to make further offers to Berlioz, whose correspondence during the autumn and winter alludes to ‘a proposal so attractive that I cannot believe it’ (CG no. 1631; cf. 1633, 1646, 1669, 1683), but whether this proposal emanated from the Royal Philharmonic Society is unclear. But by the end of the year the society had decided to offer Berlioz a contract for all eight concerts of their 1855 season, an offer Berlioz first heard of from Sainton on 21 December (CG no. 1859). This was then quickly followed by a formal approach from Hogarth dated 24 December which he repeated insistently on 1 January. But Berlioz had already accepted a prior offer from Henry Wylde and the New Philharmonic (CG no. 1851), and had to excuse himself to Hogarth for being unable to withdraw from that engagement (CG no. 1873, cf. 1867). The background to these two mutually exclusive offers is very unclear, but they give an indication of the tensions between the two rival societies.
Once in London in 1855 Berlioz put all this behind. A letter to Belloni, Liszt’s agent, gives a glimpse of his dealings with Hogarth (and others) at the personal level. Berlioz was responding to the news of the success in Paris of Verdi’s Sicilian Vespers (CG no. 1981, 6 June):
I thank you for the splendid news you give me of the first performance of the Vespers, though I am very sad not to have been able to witness a success so cruelly achieved by the author, at the cost of so much trouble, worry, and struggles unworthy of him against miserabilities (as the English say). So at last Verdi is out of the wasp’s nest, at least for the time being. I showed your letter to Willert Beale who immediately asked me to pass on the detailed contents to his father, which I did. I have also just shown it to M. Hogarth, who, I believe, was busy writing his feuilleton for the Daily News when I came in. He seemed very pleased to be the first to know these details. Tomorrow I am dining with Chorley, and will do the same with him. I have a meeting with Davison on Monday, and will pass on the same information to him. But M. Hogarth gave me to understand that there is in the English press a kind of invincible prejudice against Verdi.
I do not know when I shall be able to see Glover, whom I will try to coax away from his. […]
Another letter two weeks later gives a further glimpse of Berlioz and Hogarth meeting in a social context (CG no. 1991).
After the visit of 1855 the known contacts between Berlioz and Hogarth are very few: the offer of 1854 was not repeated. In 1859 the Royal Philharmonic Society conferred honorary membership on Berlioz, belatedly, which Berlioz accepted in a formal letter which was presumably addressed to George Hogarth as secretary of the society, though he is not actually named (CG no. 2397, 9 September). Years later, in 1864, the Society had once more the occasion to show its parsimonious face to Berlioz: Hogarth requested that Berlioz lend the music of Roméo et Juliette for performance in London. Berlioz responded politely: ‘I regret that I am unable to send you the music which you kindly ask me. Together with all my other compositions, it is the property of the Société des Concerts du Conservatoire to which I gave everything last year’ (CG no. 2848, 28 March; cf. 2702). Writing the next day to his son Berlioz was far less polite in his comments (CG no. 2849). The society did not perform any part of Roméo et Juliette in Berlioz’s lifetime.
Holmes, Edward (1797-1859), music critic; he wrote for the journal Atlas and published a biography of Mozart in 1845. He was present at Berlioz’s first London concert on 7 February 1848, and his review in the Atlas immediately brought him to Berlioz’s notice. On 24 February Berlioz wrote to his publisher Brandus in Paris (CG no. 1179):
I have just read the Gazette Musicale and I thank you for the article on my concert. I am having fun collecting every day the English papers, whose numbers and warmth are on the increase. There are just two articles in the Athenæum, written precisely by Chorley, one of my friends who has done the English translation of Faust, that are queer, colourless and cold. It is often so. If you were able to include the article from the Atlas which I sent to Mme Recio, this would have a great impact. I enquired about the name of the author: he is M. Holmes, one of the leading music critics in London whom I had so far never seen. I was told he had come full of the most hostile ideas. I have had to write an incredible number of letters to the newspaper editors to ask them to thank on my behalf their contributors, who never sign their articles. […]
And a few weeks later to d’Ortigue (CG no. 1185, 15 March):
[…] You are reasonably well acquainted with the sudden and violent success of my concert at Drury Lane. In a matter of hours it confounded all the forecasts, favourable or hostile, and toppled the edifice of theories that had been constructed here around my music on the strength of idiotic critics from the continent. Thank God the entire English press has spoken with extraordinary warmth, and apart from Davison and Gruneisen I did not know any of the editors. It is different now, the principal ones have come to see me and written to me, and we have together frequent and very cordial relations. It is a long time since I felt as keen a pleasure as when reading the article of the Atlas which I sent to Brandus and which he did not get translated. It is by M. Holmes, the author of a life of Mozart which is greatly admired here. M. Holmes had come with the conviction that what he was about to hear was harsh, mad, devoid of sense, etc. […]
In the autumn of 1848 a long and perceptive article on Berlioz appeared in Fraser’s Magazine, which though unsigned may be by Holmes; a large part of it is reproduced in Ganz (1950), pp. 74-81. It is not known whether Berlioz read it, though he evidently remained in contact with Holmes after his return to Paris. A letter of 30 September 1849 shows that he was in correspondence with Holmes who had expressed an interest in the as yet unperformed Te Deum (CG no. 1281). There is no record of the two men meeting during Berlioz’s visit in 1851, but in a letter to Holmes during his stay in 1852 Berlioz playfully rebukes Holmes for his reviews (CG no. 1600, 30 May):
[…] You must surely have evil intentions against me… you want to make me feel conceited by writing such fine things about me. But I forgive you… admire my magnanimity! […]
Another letter at the time shows that Holmes was keen to study the score of Harold in Italy (CG no. 1604, 11 June). Later the same month, after the failure of Benvenuto Cellini at Covent Garden on 25 June, Holmes was a member of the committee which sought to organise a concert for Berlioz. They presumably will have seen each other during Berlioz’s visit in 1855. After Berlioz’s return from London Holmes was in Paris at some time during the summer or autumn, and Berlioz invited him to dinner, describing him to his correspondent as ‘one of my London friends, a learned music-lover’ (CG no. 1994). They evidently intended to keep in touch. Writing to the publisher Novello in September 1855 Berlioz asked him to convey his greetings to Holmes (CG no. 2016), and early in January 1857 Berlioz mentions to his correspondent that he has just received ‘a charming note from Ed. Holmes in London; that is what I needed to lift my spirits’ (CG no. 2200). A few months earlier (October 1856) the English edition of l’Enfance du Christ had appeared in London in the translation of Chorley, published by Cramer & Beale: part I was dedicated to Holmes, and it is likely that his letter to Berlioz will have touched on this. At this point the thread of their relations breaks, and Berlioz’s planned visit to London in May of that year, to which Holmes must have been looking forward, did not took place. Holmes died two years later.
Jarrett, Henry (?-1886), a noted horn-player, was a member of the orchestra of Her Majesty’s Theatre in 1852 and was entrusted by its director Lumley with the management and recruitment of the orchestra (CG no. 1457bis, in vol. VIII). All the surviving letters of Berlioz to him relate to Berlioz’s 1852 season with the New Philharmonic Society and concern questions of instrumental players and rehearsals (CG nos. 1466, 1474, 1486, 1487, 1490 [in vol. VIII]). He may also be mentioned in CG nos. 1514 and 1788, though in both cases the reading of his name is uncertain (he is not mentioned in Berlioz’s other writings). He appears on an 1853 lithograph depicting musicians who attended meetings of the Musical Union.
Lumley, Benjamin (1811-1875), manager of Her Majesty’s Theatre from 1841 to 1852 and again from 1856 to 1858. Before he went on his first trip to London in 1847 Berlioz seems to have placed high hopes in him, but in the event was disappointed and a relationship that Berlioz had cultivated turned sour, with potentially damaging results for his fortunes in London. No correspondence between Berlioz and him has survived, but a convenient starting point for examining their ambiguous relations is a letter written by Berlioz to the critic Morris Barnett dated 28 April 1849, the year after his first visit to London (CG no. 1260):
[…] Some time ago M. Lumley sent me an excerpt from the English papers which take note of the great success scored by Mlle Prodi [a singer who had just made her début in London]. M. Lumley is too kind. After the feuilleton I did for him in the Journal des Débats and which cost me so much trouble to get published I should have been able to count on some goodwill on the part of this sublime impresario. When I went to London, he would send me every evening a ticket for the Queen’s Theatre, when it was empty. At the time I was useful to fill up the hall, and as soon as Mlle Lind started her performances it was no longer possible for me to gain admission. Without you, Barnett, who gave me a seat in your box, I would not have been able to hear Mlle Lind. If Lumley believes that this kind of behaviour, and other actions which I do not want to tell you about, are acceptable in his dealings with me, he is strangely mistaken.
I am prepared on occasion to be good natured with those who manipulate money, people who speculate on the talent of musicians, but I do not want them ever to forget that on their own they are nothing, that musicians are and will always and everywhere be superior to them, and that they must not treat in a cavalier manner writers, particularly those they admit they need, because those writers will be perfectly capable of putting them back in their place sooner or later. […]
The occasion was the visit to London by the celebrated Swedish singer Jenny Lind in 1848 (cf. also CG nos. 1192, 1200). Berlioz had first heard her in August 1845 in Bonn, but at a concert and not in the opera house. It transpires from this letter that Berlioz had been deliberately cultivating Lumley months before he first went to London, at a time when he already thinking of going there (CG nos. 1092, 1093). The article referred to appeared in the Journal des Débats of 5 February 1847 (CM VI, pp. 284-5): in it he commented favourably on the programme published by Lumley for the following season in London, which announced an appearance by Jenny Lind, Meyerbeer in person conducting his opera le Camp de Silésie, a new opera by Mendelssohn, and a host of famous singers and ballet dancers. Not long before (24 January) Berlioz had already made a flattering reference in the Journal des Débats to Lumley in connection with the departure of Heinrich Panofka to work at Her Majesty’s Theatre. Once Berlioz was in London a number of allusions in his correspondence show that he believed Lumley to be well disposed to him (CG nos. 1162, 1163), though as the letter quoted above indicates the truth was otherwise.
During his second visit to London in 1851 one of the operas he saw at Her Majesty’s Theatre was Florinda, ou les Mores en Espagne, the first opera of the celebrated pianist Sigismond Thalberg (1812-1871), a one-time rival of Liszt, who also happened to be one of Berlioz’s fellow-jurors on the panel which adjudicated musical instruments. He reviewed the work at length in the Journal des Débats (29 July 1851, pp. 1-2). While cautiously appreciative of the work itself, he was scathing about the extraordinary chaos which presided over the performance, and ended his review with a barb at Lumley himself (p. 2):
Come, this is frankly unworthy of a Queen’s Theatre, and M. Lumley ought to understand that it is in his interest and matters for his good reputation that the state of affairs which can bring about results such as these must cease as soon as possible. In my view an opera house is dedicated to the staging of works where music plays at least an important role. Now if there is no time to attend to the preparations that music demands absolutely if it is to be of good standard, nor even to those needed for the staging and sets if they are to enhance the overall result instead of throwing it into confusion, what is the purpose of spending time, money and intelligence?… In this case it would be better never to announce anything except general rehearsals, since there is no chance of ensuring genuine performances. Or at least the public should be told in all humility that the Queen’s Theatre (or the Covent Garden theatre, to which all this could just as well be applied) will try to perform, etc. It remains to be seen whether the public, however good-natured it may be, will be prepared to put up with these alleged impossibilities, and will continue to frequent hosts who do not have the time to put their house in order to welcome them properly.
Whatever Lumley’s attitude to Berlioz, a letter of Berlioz to Liszt dated 23 February 1853 brings striking news (CG no. 1568, cf. 1562): ‘there is serious talk of putting on Benvenuto at Her Majesty’s Theatre, though for this to happen Lumley really has to be expelled by his creditors, and this difficult operation is not yet completed’. The idea that Her Majesty’s Theatre might stage Benvenuto Cellini is surprising in the light of Berlioz’s relations with Lumley, and in any case it quickly lapsed. Through mismanagement of the theatre Lumley had run deeply into debt, the theatre’s library and stock of costumes were auctioned off, and the theatre itself closed down. Frederick Gye, the manager of Covent Garden, was directly involved in this. The production of Benvenuto Cellini was taken over by Covent Garden, but the opening night on 25 June 1853 was met by organised hostility, which caused Berlioz to withdraw the work immediately. Not for the last time Berlioz found himself caught in the personal animosities that divided the London musical scene. In his feuilleton of 1 July 1851 in the Journal des Débats Berlioz had written at length about the bitter rivalry between the two theatres and their directors. His words turned out to be prophetic: part of the opposition to Benvenuto Cellini in 1853 was fomented, according to Berlioz, by the supporters of Lumley, furious at Gye and Covent Garden for the demise of their own theatre (CG nos. 1608, 1609, 1610). After 1853 there is no further mention of Lumley in Berlioz’s correspondence or other writings.
Maretzek, Max (1821-1897), of Czech origin, was chorus master at Drury Lane Theatre during Berlioz’s engagement there in 1847-8. Berlioz mentions him briefly in his account of his stay in London (Memoirs, chapter 57), where he calls him Marezzeck. Only a handful of letters of Berlioz to him has survived (CG nos. 1192, 1201, 1202, 1205). Maretzek became subsequently a successful impresario in the United States. Late in his life (1890) he published a volume of reminiscences of his career; it includes detailed evidence about his time at Drury Lane under Berlioz, with whom he enjoyed excellent relations. See Rose (2001), pp. 160-9.
Osborne, George (1806-1893), Irish pianist and composer; he studied in Paris where he lived until 1843 before moving to London. He met Berlioz at some time in the 1830s and became friendly with him (CG no. SD 103), though to judge from the scarcity of references to Osborne in Berlioz’s surviving correspondence he never belonged to the circle of Berlioz’s most intimate friends. He is one of the pianists whom Berlioz mentions as having given advice for the piano reduction of the Francs-Juges overture (CG no. 472, 8 August 1836). From 1836 onwards Berlioz frequently mentioned in his feuilletons Osborne’s concerts in Paris and his compositions, always briefly but almost invariably favourably (Journal des Débats 22 March 1839; 26 April 1840; 23 April 1841; 3 April 1844; 1 April 1845; 24 January 1847; CM II pp. 443-5, IV pp. 57, 285, 315-16, 452, 495; V pp. 470, 501; VI pp. 28, 273). Berlioz addressed the tenth and last of his letters on his first trip to Germany to him; it was first published in the Journal des Débats on 9 January 1844 (pp. 1-3) and subsequently included in the Memoirs. In 1843 Osborne moved to London, where he continued his career as pianist and teacher. In 1842 and 1843 he was involved in a projected English translation of Berlioz’s Treatise on Orchestration on which he had apparently started working while still in Paris, but the project does not seem to have materialised (CG nos. 777bis [in vol. VIII], 841). There is little record of the two men’s relations after the move to London, though Berlioz mentioned favourably a concert by Osborne he heard in London in the Journal des Débats in 1851 (29 July, p. 2), and in a later feuilleton in the Journal des Débats (26 July 1853, p. 2) he listed Osborne among a series of other musicians who were perpetually busy with concerts there (this was reproduced in the Grotesques de la musique in 1859). Osborne was on the committee which sought to organise a concert for Berlioz after the failure of Benvenuto Cellini at Covent Garden in June 1853. The only preserved letter of Berlioz to Osborne comes years later, in 1859, when Osborne was now a member of the newly formed Musical Society of London, and Berlioz wanted to dissuade them from performing his Symphonie Fantastique without adequate rehearsal (CG no. 2357). There is no further record of their relations after this time.
Panofka, Heinrich (1807-1877), violinist and composer, was born in Breslau (Wroclaw). He settled in Paris in 1834, where he met Berlioz and became friendly with him (CG nos. 444, 484bis, 485bis [both in vol. VIII]). Berlioz reviewed his concerts and his music and commented favourably on them (Journal des Débats 10 December 1837; CM I pp. 479-80; II p. 604; III pp. 49-50, 355; IV p. 11). Panofka moved to London in 1847 where he became chorus master of Her Majesty’s Theatre. This was reported by Berlioz at the end of his feuilleton in the Journal des Débats of 24 January 1847 (p. 2; CM VI, p. 273), at a time when he was preparing the ground for a future visit to London and courting Lumley:
We have lost M. Panofka, the excellent virtuoso composer. He has been taken away from us by M. Lumley, this great seducer of the highest musical talents of Europe, and has been entrusted with the direction of the concerts of Her Majesty’s Theatre. M. Lumley’s company is now complete, and when we will be allowed to publish the names of the artists which compose it, it will be seen that it is almost impossible to cite a collection richer than his in talents of every kind, and that the rivals of this talented and enterprising director will have great difficulty in competing with him.
Panofka later turned to the teaching of singing in London. He was in touch with Berlioz, as shown by a letter of 7 February 1849 where Berlioz asked him to deal with matters left outstanding after his first visit (CG no. 1245):
[…] About my dealings with Jullien this is what you can do. As his bankruptcy was pronounced in order, there is nothing that I can legally claim from him. But since he has indicated his intention of treating me differently, and promised when I left last year to send me at least part of what I have lost with him, you might remind him of this, and mention that my circumstances are very tight and that he should not wait any longer, or rather that he should not make me wait longer.
In this connection would you be so kind as to deal with another matter in which Jullien has caused me embarrassment. The problem is this.
While I was conductor at Drury Lane, Jullien asked me to write to Théophile Gautier to ask him for a 2 act ballet [Wilhelm Meister]; the agreed fee was 1,000 francs for each act. Gautier faithfully sent the manuscript at the agreed time, but was not paid and his ballet has not been returned. Before leaving I asked for it in vain, but it had been mislaid; I was promised that it would be returned, but this did not happen. M. Gautier is now asking me for his ballet and he is entirely within his rights. So please go and see M. Gye (pronounced Djaie), the former manager of Drury Lane who is now in charge of Covent Garden (Beale will tell you where to find him), and ask him on my behalf for the manuscript which I gave him at the time I mentioned, and which he must have found by now.
You will greatly oblige me. You can see the good order and care that presided over the management of Drury Lane…
But it is not right that in return for my help I should be compromised with Gautier who is a very good friend of mine, and I very much regret having persuaded him to write this work. […]
Gautier’s ballet was eventually returned, but Berlioz never received his due from Jullien. Panofka returned to Paris in 1852; his book, L’Art de chanter, was favourably reviewed by Berlioz in the Journal des Débats of 19 December 1856 (p. 1). He died in Florence in 1877.
Praeger, Ferdinand (1815-1891), German pianist and critic, settled in London in 1834 and was correspondent there for Schumann’s Neue Zeitschrift für Musik. Only three letters of Berlioz to him are extant (CG nos. 2162, 3295 and the undated letter SD108 [in vol. VIII]), but they imply that they were friends over a period of years; they must have met in London during one of Berlioz’s visits, but it is not known when. Praeger was an early supporter of Wagner, but this does not seem to have affected their friendship. Both the dated letters of Berlioz are in response to friendly letters of Praeger to him. In the first case Praeger had congratulated Berlioz on his election to the Institut in June 1856, and Berlioz responded gratefully. In the second letter (dated 23 October 1867) Berlioz thanked Praeger for sending him detailed information about a performance of his music at a festival in Meiningen, and also told Praeger of his forthcoming trip to Russia. The undated letter is a note inviting Praeger to pay him a visit at his flat in Paris the next day.
Sainton, Prosper (1813-1890; portrait), French violinist from Toulouse, who settled in London in 1845, and became leader of the Covent Garden orchestra, the orchestra of the Royal Philharmonic Society, and the court concerts. Berlioz will have met him in Paris some time before 1845, and formed a personal and professional liking for Sainton which was evidently reciprocated. He was therefore pleased to find Sainton playing in the orchestra at Drury Lane in 1847 (CG no. 1146). The following year Sainton volunteered to lead the orchestra which played at Berlioz’s concert on 29 June (CG nos. 1203, 1203bis, 1207) and his name is mentioned, with that of other musicians, in the review of the concert which appeared in the Illustrated London News of 8 July. After his first visit to London Berlioz remained in touch with Sainton as shown by a letter to him of September 1850 (CG no. 1345). After his successful concert with the Royal Philharmonic Society on 30 May 1853 Berlioz specifically asked his publisher Brandus in Paris to mention in a review Sainton’s excellent playing of the solo viola part in Harold in Italy (CG no. 1601). Before his return for Paris on 9 July Berlioz excused himself to Sainton for not being able to accept an invitation, though he thanked him and others for the generous support they had given him after the failure of Benvenuto Cellini at Covent Garden (CG no. 1613). Sainton is mentioned as one of the many musicians active in London in a feuilleton of 1853 (Journal des Débats, 26 July, p. 2; reproduced in 1859 in the Grotesques de la musique). In December 1854 it was Sainton who informed Berlioz of the invitation of the Royal Philharmonic Society to take charge of all 8 concerts in the 1855 season, an invitation which Berlioz, to his great regret, was unable to accept (CG no. 1859). During his visit in 1855 Berlioz dined at Sainton’s flat in Hinde Street in June where he had a long conversation with Wagner (this detail is known not from Berlioz himself but from Wagner’s correspondence). When in October of the same year Berlioz proposed organising a large-scale concert at Crystal Palace at Sydenham, Sainton was one of the musicians whose name came to his mind as one of those able to help in recruiting an orchestra (CG no. 2036). Two letters of Berlioz to Sainton in January 1856 show Sainton trying to organise a concert in Paris at Salle Herz in March involving the contralto Charlotte Dolby, whom Sainton was to marry in 1860. Berlioz responded with detailed practical suggestions, though he did not expect to be in Paris at the time: ‘I have received many tokens of friendship and solidarity on the part of English musicians and would have been only too happy to be of assistance (with no strings attached) to someone as distinguished in every respect as Miss Dolby’ (CG nos. 2081, 2082). The last known letter of Berlioz to Sainton is a brief note announcing the publication of a review of a performance by Sainton of Mendelssohn’s violin concerto in Paris (CG no. 2335bis, in vol. VIII), which appeared the day before in the Journal des Débats of 18 February 1859 (p. 3). The relevant passage reads as follows:
[…] In this session, distinguished by the performance of Beethoven’s wonderful idyll [the Pastoral Symphony], we also heard a fine overture by M. Fétis, and the violin concerto by Mendelssohn, performed by M. Sainton. This French virtuoso (M. Sainton comes from Toulouse) has been established in England for a long time. His position is an object of great envy, but it was acquired in the most honourable way. He is leader of the Covent Garden orchestra, of the old Philharmonic Society of Hanover Square [the Royal Philharmonic], and of the court concerts. His name is popular, in the best sense of the word, among amateur and professional musicians in England. M. Sainton belongs to the small number of violinists whose superiority manifests itself in every musical genre and he is equally valued in an orchestra, a quartet, or in solo performance. His playing has strength, clarity and precision, as well as brilliance, vitality and colour. His bowing technique is firm as steel and his left hand has incomparable agility. He never produces any questionable sounds, nor even sounds that are imperfectly or poorly formed; his staccato has incomparable sureness and evenness; he never misses a harmonic. The success of this great virtuoso in Paris, where he was hardly known to the public, has been at once dazzling and immediate.
A few days after the matinée concert of the Jeunes Artistes, M. Sainton gave a concert, and the welcome he received from his audience seemed to us even warmer than what greeted his first appearance; he was, without exaggeration, crushed under the applause. […]
Silas, Eduard (1827-1909; portrait), Dutch pianist, organist and composer, who studied at the Conservatoire in Paris and settled in London in 1850 where he had a career as organist and teacher. Berlioz’s preserved correspondence with him begins only in 1855 and continues till 1864, rather later than many of Berlioz’s other contacts in London. It is not known when the two men first met, though they were acquainted by the time of Berlioz’s 1852 visit to London. The first recorded evidence of their acquaintance happens to be an autograph entry in Silas’ personal album, dated March 1852, in which Berlioz wrote a short passage of music:
Silas’ name then appears in two letters of Berlioz relating to instrumental requirements for the rehearsals for the concerts of that season (CG nos. 1474 and 1486, April and May). Berlioz had in fact asked Silas to play the antique cymbals in the Queen Mab scherzo of Roméo et Juliette in the opening concert on 24 March, as is known from the reminiscences of Wilhelm Ganz (Ganz , p. 61). In the same concert Silas also played the piano part in Beethoven’s Triple Concerto, and in the concert on 28 May he played his own piano concerto in D minor.
The following year Silas was present at the opening night of Benvenuto Cellini at Covent Garden on 25 June 1853 (Ganz , p. 166). There is no record of any meeting between him and Berlioz during that season, though they met again during Berlioz’s 1855 visit, when he assisted Berlioz in the proof-reading of the score of l’Enfance du Christ (CG no. 1978, 13 June; cf. 1979). A letter of Berlioz to Princess Sayn-Wittgenstein two years later relates an anecdote about a performance of a Beethoven sonata given at the Dutch royal court by Silas himself, whom Berlioz refers to as ‘a young Dutch pianist’; the anecdote will probably have been told by Silas to Berlioz during his 1855 trip (CG no. 2206 [see vol. VIII], 1 February 1857). On his last day in London Berlioz apologised to Silas for not having had time to see him before his departure, but made arrangements to return to Silas all the newspapers he had borrowed from him – a sidelight on his interest in the London press (CG no. 1992, 7 July 1855). Later in the year he wrote to Silas sending him the money which Silas had won at a lottery in Paris, with an apt quotation from the poet La Fontaine and humorous advice on how to spend the money. More practically he asked Silas to drop in at Beale’s office in Regent Street to enquire about the progress of the English edition of l’Enfance du Christ (CG no. 2024, 20 September), for the proof-reading of which Silas appears to have provided further help (CG no. 2086). Three years passed without any recorded contact till 1859 when Silas thoughtfully informed Berlioz of the performance of his King Lear overture at a concert of the Musical Society for which Berlioz had strongly argued against the inclusion of the Symphonie Fantastique without adequate rehearsal (CG no. 2362, 16 March; cf. CG no. 2357). The following year Silas approached Berlioz with the suggestion of dedicating to him his oratorio Joash, which elicited a response from Berlioz that illustrated the difference in their religious outlook (CG no. 2485, 3 March):
I am very flattered by your intention of dedicating your oratorio to me and I gratefully accept the honour you are doing to me. But your offspring must not have a distant godfather, that would be an illusion. And then I neither believe nor profess the Catholic faith, I even protest that I do not believe in it, hence from this point of view I am a protestant. In reality I am a Nothingist, like a lot of worthy Americans. The problem is my Nothingism is not a religion. […]
When Les Troyens was eventually performed in Paris Berlioz promised to send him the score (CG no. 2809, 13 December 1863), though in the event he was unable to fulfill that promise, as he mentioned in his last preserved letter to Silas a few weeks later. The occasion was the visit to Paris of a Belgian cellist with whom Berlioz talked at length about Silas and his oratorio Joash, when Berlioz did his best to praise the work of which he was the dedicatee. But he would not conceal the fact that he did not find the subject congenial, and he was also very critical of the print quality: ‘You cannot imagine the effort it cost me to read a score printed in this hideous English musical font which makes all music look shapeless and heavy…’ (CG no. 2819, 6 January 1864). Two years later the name of Silas came up once more, on the occasion of a choral competition in Louvain judged by an international panel of which Berlioz was a member. As he relates to Estelle Fornier, ‘I was pleased to learn that the successful candidate was one of my young Dutch friends, who lives in London and is very poor [Silas]. He will therefore have been overjoyed with this prize of 1000 francs’ (CG no. 3149, 25 July 1866). The wording of Berlioz’s letter implies that Silas was not present in Louvain to hear the result, and their meeting in London in July 1855 was therefore probably the last time they met.
Tolbecque, Jean-Baptiste-Joseph (1801-1869), a French violinist whom Berlioz had known in Paris for many years (CG no. 94; CM III p. 176). He was leader of the Drury Lane orchestra at the time of Berlioz’s stay in 1847-8, one of a number of French and German musicians known to Berlioz and devoted to him (CG no. 1146). In January 1848 Berlioz was unwell and asked Tolbecque to take over his baton for one of the performances of Balfe’s Maid of Honour (CG nos. 1159bis [in vol. VIII] and 1169, dated respectively 2 January and 28 January, but the two letters are clearly identical and the discrepancy is not elucidated in CG). In June, while preparing for his concert on the 29th at Hanover Square Rooms, Berlioz wrote to Tolbecque an embarrassed and rather long-winded letter apologising for the fact that the violinist Sainton had already volunteered to lead the orchestra (CG no. 1203), but another letter shortly after (CG no. 1203bis, in vol. VIII) shows that Tolbecque graciously accepted to play all the same (cf. also CG no. 1207). His name is mentioned among those of other instrumentalists who performed for Berlioz on that occasion in a review of the concert in the Illustrated London News of 8 July 1848. CG no. 2036 implies he was still playing in London in 1855.
Wallace, Vincent (1814-1865; portrait), violinist, pianist and composer of Irish origin, had two operas staged in London in 1845 and 1847. Berlioz met him during his first stay there and was attracted by Wallace’s eccentricity and tales of his far-flung travels in the British empire. He devoted an entire feuilleton to him (Journal des Débats 31 October 1852, pp. 1-2) which he reproduced the same year at the end of the Soirées de l’orchestre (2nd Epilogue). He describes Wallace as ‘phlegmatic on the surface, as are some Englishmen, but deep down temperamental and violent like an American’, and proceeds to relate the story of his adventures in New Zealand which Wallace had told him at one of their many conversations in London. At the end of his narrative Berlioz then mentions Wallace’s visit to Paris in 1849, when he was taken ill with an eye infection and consequently unable to complete an opera that Beale had commissioned from him. Berlioz’s correspondence alludes to this visit and includes a letter to Wallace’s sister informing her of her brother’s illness and passing on a message from Wallace to Beale (CG nos. 1247, 1248). Wallace, according to Berlioz, returned to London and then went to New York where he stayed ‘under the pretext that he was earning thousands of dollars thanks to his salon pieces which the Americans are mad about. He forgets his friends and his lady friends, and is resigned to living a humdrum life amidst people deeply immersed in civilisation’. Berlioz was to see Wallace again many years later in Paris on the occasion of a visit in 1863; this prompted Berlioz to devote a section of one of his last feuilletons to him, in which he expressed the hope that Wallace’s operas might be staged in Paris (Journal des Débats, 20 March 1863, p. 2). But the next time Wallace’s name appears in Berlioz’s writings the news was sad: in January 1865 Wallace was reported to be terminally ill (CG no. 2973) and by October he was dead (CG no. 3056).
Wylde, Henry (1822-1890), composer and conductor, and one of the founders in 1852 of the New Philharmonic Society. He was on the jury entrusted with judging musical instruments at the Great Exhibition in 1851, as may be seen from the report that Berlioz wrote later. During the 1852 season of the New Philharmonic Berlioz came again into contact with Wylde: he was assistant conductor, and a piano concerto by him was played at the 2nd concert at Exeter Hall on 14 April 1852, with Alexandre Billet as soloist. No comment by Berlioz survives of that performance, but he evidently formed a low opinion of Wylde’s musical abilities: ‘Since it is imperative that Dr W… should be proclaimed a composer and conductor of the first rank, it is clear that I am in no way able to help him achieve this aim’ (CG no. 1563, to Gruneisen, 8 February 1853; cf. CG no. 1987). After the first season in 1852 Wylde opposed the re-engagement of Berlioz for the following year, which led to the resignation from the committee of Beale, as Berlioz heard in December (CG no. 1542). Wylde’s opposition is also mentioned in other letters of Berlioz at this time: ‘I do not know whether it will be possible to circumvent certain obstacles which have just appeared because of a Dr Wylde, who is professor at the Academy, friend of a millionaire and imitator of Handel; I will let you know the outcome of this little plot worthy of Paris’ (CG no. 1545, to J.-E. Duchesne, 27 December); ‘There is a great deal of fuss around me in London at the moment. Last year I upset someone in an official position, and the person who holds it would like to prevent me from returning; but I have friends who are stirring things up with delightful fury. I am almost happy at this unexpected obstacle because of the proof it gives of the warm support I enjoy from my English public’ (CG no. 1546, to his sister Adèle, a day later; CG no. 1563 above). In April 1853 Berlioz commented gleefully on the current problems of the New Philharmonic Society: ‘The New Philharmonic Society is scoring a superb fiasco in the hands of Lindpaintner and Dr Wylde who was absolutely opposed to the renewal of my contract for this year. Because of this Beale has withdrawn’ (CG no. 1582, to Ernst).
The antipathy which Berlioz and Wylde shared for each other makes the sequel all the more surprising. It seems that in winter 1853-1854 Wylde approached Berlioz with an offer to conduct concerts in London in 1854, though nothing came of this. Then in early December Wylde made another offer to Berlioz for a mere two concerts in 1855, which excluded Berlioz from participating in any other musical performances in London during the season; Berlioz accepted, only to receive shortly after a much more attractive offer from the Royal Philharmonic Society (CG nos. 1851, 1859). Berlioz wrote to Wylde asking to be released from the contract (CG no. 1864, the only preserved letter of Berlioz to Wylde), but his request was refused (CG no.1867), and Berlioz was obliged to honour his word. In March 1855 Wylde offered to Berlioz to have l’Enfance du Christ performed at both of his concerts, but Berlioz refused pointedly (CG no. 1928, to Henry Chorley):
[…] Wylde wrote to me yesterday that if I wished, my oratorio L’Enfance du Christ would be performed at both concerts of the New Philharmonic which I am conducting. But I do not wish. I only agreed to add, if he wished, the excerpt from La Fuite en Egypte to the symphonies he had originally requested. […]
In the event even that excerpt was not included; Berlioz was no doubt mindful of the performing problems involved (CG nos. 1980, 1981, 1987). His experiences with the 1855 concerts suggest that Wylde was deliberately seeking to damage Berlioz’s chances in London, but if so it is strange that Berlioz fell into the trap. No further contacts are attested after the visit of 1855.
The Hector Berlioz website was created by Monir Tayeb and Michel Austin on 18 July 1997; this page created on 1 January 2009, updated 1 March 2009.
© Michel Austin and Monir Tayeb for all the information on this page.
Back to Berlioz in London main page
Back to Home Page