Autograph letter signed "Humperdinck" to Rainer Simons. Engelbert HUMPERDINCK.

Autograph letter signed "Humperdinck" to Rainer Simons

4 pp. of a bifolium. Octavo. Dated Venice, June 10, 1905. In black ink. On stationery of the "Hôtel Restaurant Cavalletto Venise Serantoni Barbieri Propriétaires," with imprint in dark blue and with vignettes illustrating the hotel in dark olive green ink. In German (with translation).

Humperdinck responds to a letter from Simons, author of the libretto for the opera Das Wunder von Köln (The miracle of Cologne). Humperdinck had begun setting the libretto, but newspapers then leaked a rumor of the opera, prompting Humperdinck to stop work on the project; Simons's letter has rekindled Humperdinck’s interest, and the composer agrees to meet Simons on his way back to Berlin.

"...Your original proposal appealed to me from the beginning... especially because... [it] allows me to disregard all business obligations and to devote myself to purely artistic, creative work, heedless of baggage, just as it was the case twelve years ago with my Hänsel und Gretel. Back then I did not know yet what agents, publishers, and theater directors were like, let alone the public, which then did not even exist for me, the naïve homo novus. Happy times! In this joyful mood I already had begun to work in spring, when that stupid newspaper note appeared declaring that I composed Das Wunder von Köln... I was showered with inquiries and the like, and the pleasant incognito work I had been looking forward to so much was over... And... in early May... Fräulein Ebeling, the author of my Dornröschen [The sleeping beauty], suddenly died, whereby I... acquired full ownership of the piece, which I had wanted to rework into an opera earlier already... I have to confess that this plan... had kept going through my mind repeatedly during our trip... but equally happily I confess that your letter has changed my mind again... Meanwhile, I want to ask you kindly to think a bit about a new title because the old one, thanks to the newspapers, has become almost loathsome to me. ...The title you have chosen... also... evokes associations with ideas that have nothing to do with the piece, with legendary ideas such as the Three Kings [Magi] or Saint Ursula and her 11,000 virgins... Whether we will come [to you]... by way of Achen Lake or by way of Rosenheim will only depend on whether we will make a detour to the Salzkammergut beforehand..."

Slightly worn; partially split at folds, with one small repair; small circular file hole to upper blank margin.

A highly interesting letter relative to the composer's unrealized opera Das Wunder von Köln (The miracle of Cologne) to a libretto by his former student Rainer Simons (1869-1934), founder and first director of the Vienna Volksoper (since 1903). Humperdinck never completed either Das Wunder von Köln or any other opera to a libretto by Simons; it remains unknown how and when the project failed (see the anonymous satire in the semimonthly magazine Der Kunstwart, November 1905, p. 227).

The reference to the Three Kings is actually to their shrine at Cologne Cathedral. Saint Ursula is supposed to have suffered her martyrdom in Cologne.

Item #23682

Price: $1,200.00  other currencies

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