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ALS to a Close Friend of Clara Schumann Outlining a Concert Program

Item: 22348
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MENDELSSOHN-BARTHOLDY, FELIX. (1809-1847). German composer and one of the most gifted musicians of the 19th century. ALS. (“Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy”). 2/3p. 8vo. Leipzig, November 1, 1840. To German soprano ELISE LIST (later VON PACHER, 1822-1893), a close friend of Clara Schumann. In German with translation.

“The finale by Beethoven will not be performed in the next concert. On the other hand, I want the duet from Semiramis to form the conclusion of the whole program. So, I ask you to inform me, if possible, through this messenger, about the aria you want to sing in the first part. When I ask you to send me the piano excerpt from the latter within an hour for the sake of the text, I am with the utmost respect yours devotedly…”


Felix Mendelssohn

In 1835, “Mendelssohn was named the fifth conductor of the Leipzig Gewandhaus orchestra… His activities as conductor in Leipzig developed into what must have been regarded overwhelmingly as the most far reaching achievement of his life, sustained by his determination to secure a continuing improvement in the standards of orchestral performance, to advance the social position of its members, to plan programmes consisting of items of special historical interest as well as contemporary music, and to invite leading soloists to perform with the orchestra,” (The New Grove Dictionary). In undertaking all these projects, Mendelssohn succeeded in making Leipzig the epicenter of Germany’s musical world.

The mythological Assyrian Queen Semiramis inspired numerous plays including Voltaire’s tragedy Semiramis and an opera by Gioachino Rossini (Semiramide, 1823). Our letter discusses Mendelssohn’s plan to feature a duet from Rossini’s opera (which he had conducted at a concert on January 16), but not a “finale” by German composer Ludwig Van Beethoven (1770-1827), likely the conclusion to Fidelio.

List was the daughter of prominent German economist Friedrich List and, with her sister Emilie, a close friend of Clara Schumann. She received her musical training in Paris and counted Franz Liszt among her admirers. Both Robert Schumann and Mendelssohn advised her on her musical training and career. In autumn 1840, List gave four performances at the Gewandhaus to limited success (the last on November 5) after which, her father took her to Milan. She abandoned her ambitions soon after due to her inability to overcome stage fright. In addition to her voice, List was known for her great beauty and Joseph Karl Stieler painted her portrait in 1843 for inclusion in Bavarian King Ludwig I’s “Gallery of Beauties” at Munich’s Nymphenburg Palace.

On a folded sheet with the address panel written in Mendelssohn’s hand irregularly age toned. In fine condition.

ALS to a Close Friend of Clara Schumann Outlining a Concert Program

$4000 • item #22348

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