An autograph Letter of Berlioz

Introduction

    Berlioz was on one of his visits to Germany from 13 October to 12 December 1853. During this visit he went to Leipzig to give two concerts of his works on 1 and 10 December. On 3 December Berlioz wrote a letter to a friend and admirer of his in Brunswick, Robert Griepenkerl. We have reproduced here a scanned image of this letter and an English translation.

    The original copy of this autograph belongs to Mr Enrique Sánchez who kindly informed us of its provenance and sent us the scanned image. He also gave us permission to publish it on this site. We are most grateful to Mr Sánchez.

    The text of this letter has been published in Julien Tiersot, Au milieu du chemin 1852-1855, Paris: Rue Auber, 1930, pp. 138-139 and in Correspondance Générale, vol. IV (no. 1659), pp. 411-412 (see also footnote). 

Berlioz’s autograph letter

Front page

Inside pages

English translation

Saturday, 3 December [1853]

My dear Griepenkerl:

I couldn’t write to you earlier because it was only today that the date of my concert was fixed. It will be next Saturday, 10 December. Liszt has asked me to implore you to let him know which day you will be in Gotha. If you come to Leipzig he will find you there and in that case it isn’t necessary to write to him. Otherwise do not fail to send him the information he requests. The Gewant-haus concert was very brilliant and very spirited for Leipzig. Everybody says that I scored a great success; one must believe this, despite the coldness of the public which I cannot help comparing with the ardour of the public at Brunswick, Hanover and Bremen. What succeeded most with this unusual audience was the little oratorio La fuite en Egypte performed in its entirety for the first time. There are now fierce arguments between my supporters and the others. This morning’s Tageblatt contains a very fine article by M. Gleich, very warm and very intelligent.

The artists and amateurs of the Académie de chant are entirely on my side; as for David, who played the viola part in Harold superbly, he is admirable, cordial, active, friendly, in a word, perfect.

At my concert we will give the first 4 movements of Romeo with the chorus, prologue, etc. Once again la Fuite en Egypte and the first two acts of Faust.

Farewell very dear, very admirable friend. Whether or not you are able to come, I know that your soul, your heart, your thoughts will be with us next Saturday. I embrace you most warmly, and beg you to remember me to our excellent friends in Brunswick.

All yours,

                Hector Berlioz

_______________

Note: In the autograph, Berlioz informs his friend that at his second concert the "first four movements" of his symphony Roméo et Juliette will be performed. In Tiersot, this has erroneously become "les premières premières parties" [the first first movements]. In CG 1659 this is corrected to "les deux premières parties" [the first two movements], wrongly, as the autograph now shows. 

The Hector Berlioz Website was created by Monir Tayeb and Michel Austin on 18 July 1997; this page created on 4 February 2006.

© Enrique Sánchez (for the autograph) and Monir Tayeb and Michel Austin (for the English translation). All rights of reproduction reserved.

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