Liszt in the Lap of Luxury


In 1876 Franz Liszt was on his way from Hanover to Weimar, but he was making the trip in a leisurely, glamorous way. He stopped over at Loo Castle near Utrecht in Holland.

On May 18th he wrote to a friend in Weimar:

I already asked you from Hanover to keep your quartet together on Friday, May 26th. I’ll arrive by the night train about 10 hours before the first stroke of the bow; and the day after that we’ll go to Altenburg. Please find out if some new railroad might make it possible for us to avoid going through Leipzig.

Loo Castle provides just as many pleasures as it did last year. The king is really very charmingly gracious when it comes to famous artists, painters, and musicians whom he has chosen to gather here. We’re also expecting Thomas and Saint-Saens.

No awkward moments in conversation. Always good form with great animation. Gerome, Cabanel, and Gevaert tell very witty stories. Everyone is driven by a strong desire to please the king, and he maintains his way of doing things without letting it become oppressive.

Twice a day between 15 and 20 members of the ugly sex appear at the table — at noon for lunch, at 5 o’clock for dinner. The menus and the wine are bountiful and excellent. At meals the fair sex is conspicuous by its absence, and only appears in the form of a few selected examples in the evening at the theater. There the same 15 or 20 guests gather to attend the daily auditions by His Majesty’s pensioners.

The large medal that the king ordered to be struck as an award for one of his female pensioners has an intrinsic gold value of 800 florins. There are four or five young ladies who have the task of performing a few scenes from comedies, tragedies or operas every evening. Their costumes are magnificent and artistically designed.

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