Dec. 6, 1885
My dear friend,
There was once a musician and composer, who, after working long with no encouragement but his own enthusiasm, became famous. In the course of his travels he came to Birmingham, to conduct one of the last and greatest of the children of his genius, and then he won the hearts of all who had to help in his beautiful work. Particularly was this the case with the ladies who sang in the chorus. Now this composer had a friend in Birmingham - a very obscure kind of an individual; but one who loved Art and Artists. Many ladies asked this friend to obtain the signature of the great composer in their albums, as a souvenir of a notable musical Festival. But many more were disappointed, but the composer promised to write his name a great many times on a sheet of paper, and send it to his friend, who would then give to the ladies what they so coveted. Once more was “The Spectre’s Bride” performed in Birmingham, and the ladies said to this friend; “Have you got the autograph for me - and me?” And the friend had to answer, “No, not yet.”
Once the composer wrote to his friend to ask if he could obtain him some information. This friend could not, but Mr. Prager could - and did. Prager writes to this friend and says: “Our composer does not say whether he got my letter, or whether the information I sent him was to his satisfaction.”
Now this friend had to say to the ladies in Birmingham, and Prager in London: “My friends! We must not be too anxious to hear from the composer. He is not like us, but is now in some heavenly vision, seeing and feeling things of beauty which he will put down on paper to our everlasting delight. When the great work he is now engaged upon is finished, he will have a little time to spare. He will then think of you, and do all you ask and wish.”
Do you think that is a good and true story?
The same night of the Birmingham performance, “The Spectre’s Bride” was given at Manchester, under the direction of Charles Halle. It is said to have been a magnificent performance. The soloists were Madame Albani, Mr Edward Lloyd, and Mr. Santley. A Manchester critic says: “I think in this work, Madame Albani surpasses anything she ever did previously.”
“Ah, Dvořák, you are happy!”
How is the Holy Ludmilla getting on?
Think sometimes of your friend; and - if you can find time, write a little to him. Send him a Prague Zeitschrift! By the help of his grammar and dictionary, he will try to translate it.
“Lebewohl! Auf Wiedersehen!”
With kindest regards always faithfully yours
Stephen S. Stratton