Clara Schumann gave her first Pest concerts in February 1856. A survey of the enthusiastic reviews reveals that she was received as the foremost representative of “classic art,” whose performances gave the Hungarian public—until then mostly admiring exhibitionist virtuosos—an entirely new idea about what music was capable of. The moral superiority of Clara seemed also confirmed by her generous donation to the future National Conservatory, which was initially commented on in the most flattering terms in the press. In early March, however, the Pester Lloyd aired that the generous donation may not have been absolutely voluntary, an anonymous go-between having forcefully talked the pianist into financially supporting the institution. Induced by the recent discovery of Clara Schumann’s original deed of foundation (acquired in July 2011 by the Music Collection of the National Széchényi Library) this article seeks to reconstruct the story in some detail by rehearsing the press debate surrounding the donation, exploring the financial situation of the Music Society of Pest-Buda in the 1850s, scrutinizing the minutes of its board meetings, as well as comparing Clara Schumann’s contribution with those given by other traveling musicians.
This documentary contains 16 Liszt-letters preserved at the Goethe-Schiller- Archiv (GSA) in Weimar and further 14 items from the Sächsische Landesbibliothek – Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek (SLUB) in Dresden. The Weimar letters include those in which Liszt addressed (in French) Ignaz Moscheles and Julius Benedict, both German musicians living in London, about his 1840 concert tour in England. Also, he wrote in French to singer Pauline Viardot-Garcìa, Madame Érard, and his Neapolitan pupil Luisa Cognetti. His letters in German to Hermann Levi deal with Richard Wagner. In another letter Liszt is asking the Vienna Home Secretary Baron Alexander von Bach, to have his Gran Mass published at the state administration’s expense. His letters to Count Sándor Teleki and Ede Reményi concern Hungarian musical life. Liszt is giving instructions for the publishing of his work Hymne de l’enfant à son réveil to his Hungarian publisher Nándor Táborszky and writing a dry refusal to his former Hungarian pupil Sándor Bertha. The envelope of a letter to Madame Munkácsy has a mistake in the orthography of the family name. The documents from Dresden include an Albumblatt Liszt wrote for Clara Schumann, a recommendation for Heinrich Ehrlich, the composer of the first Lento-theme of Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody no 2. Further letters were written to Laura Kahrer (one of them having been published in a slightly altered manner by La Mara) and a series of eight letters to Liszt’s Swiss disciple Bertrand Roth.