Friday, August 3, 2012

Thoughts for a hot night

Who can sleep on these still and torpid nights? Here is something to divert you.

Go and get a big wine or water goblet.

Fill it with ice cubes.

Then pour in white wine to cover. You will probably need about five tablespoons of white wine.

Next, sit down and click here.

It appears to be the complete correspondence between Johannes Brahms, pictured above, and his friend Elisabeth von Herzogenberg ...

.... and her husband, the composer Heinrich von Herzogenberg. It is luxuriantly long and you may enjoy browsing it as you sip your chilled and watery white wine.

Elisabeth von Herzogenberg was a close friend of Brahms when he was older, which is why we used a picture up above of the old and bearded Brahms rather than the Clint Eastwood Brahms pictures ...

... we usually like printing.

I remember reading in Jan Swafford's book about Brahms, which I allude to quite a bit, that she was effervescent and charming and she had a slight stoop which somehow rendered her even more charming. I hope I remember the part right about the stoop. I have two copies of that book and I cannot find either one, can you believe that?

The more you love a book the more likely you are to lose it or ruin it.

Another thing about Elisabeth von Herzogenberg: She kept a sharp and protective eye on Brahms' compositions and he took her opinion seriously. Which, I question why he did that. Elisabeth loved and championed the music of Heinrich von Herzogenberg, her husband ...

and, I mean, it is better than anything I have written, that is for sure, but much as I respect Heinrich von Herzogenberg (and love his look) his music is nothing next to Johannes Brahms. That makes me question her judgment.

One other thing about Elisabeth. I seem to remember although now I cannot check the book to make sure (But I think I remember it right):

I seem to recall that she got Brahms to destroy a song or two because she judged to be inferior the poets who had written the words.


As if every song Schubert wrote were written to a great poem. He wrote some of his best songs to very pedestrian poetry. So what?

So now we are missing these Brahms songs because their words were inferior.

Thanks a heap, Elisabeth von Herzogenberg!

Oh well.

Maybe I need another five tablespoons of white wine.

Who cares about the Brahms/Herzogenberg correspondence, anyway?

We are better off on a hot night just listening to this.

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