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The Latest from Paris

Franz Liszt
Composer Franz Liszt (ca 1837)

At the beginning of November 1853, Franz Liszt wrote from Weimar to violinist Joseph Joachim in Hanover about musical discoveries he had made during a recent visit to Paris:

As for news from Paris, I have none except for the vigorous rehearsing of Meyerbeer’s new opera L’Étoile du Nord at the Opéra Comique, for which he tells me he has re-used only four or five pieces from his Feldlager in Schliesen, all the rest of the three acts being entirely new.

Then there’s the complete success of the instrument that I’ve often mentioned to you, which they insist upon naming Piano-Liszt. It has three keyboards–plus a keyboard of two staves with attached pedal–and without being too loud or complicated, it produces a harmonious and well-proportioned combination of piano and organ. Berlioz heard it and liked it, and in a month the instrument will be here at Weimar, where I’ll stay put for the whole winter.

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We also heard in Paris, Wagner and I, two of Beethoven’s last quartets, the E-flat and C-sharp minor, played by Mr. Maurin, Mr. Chevillard and company. These gentlemen earned a special reputation last winter with their performance of B.’s last quartets, which seems well deserved to me.

The next day [Charles Joseph] Sax produced for our benefit his large family of Saxophones, Sax horns, Sax Tubas, etc., etc. Several of them, especially the Tenor Saxophone and the Alto Saxophone, will be extremely useful, even in our ordinary orchestras, and the ensemble has a truly magnificent effect….

Remény has your room at Altenburg and had a very successful debut in the Weimar orchestra as the leader of the first violins the day before yesterday at the performance of the Flying Dutchman, which I conducted. The hall was packed, the performance better than the previous ones, and the audience more sympathetic.

In ten days I’ll return to my desk to conduct William Tell and then Tannhäuser….

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