L.A.S. " F. Liszt ", Avignon 6 May 1845, to Joseph AUTRAN; 4 pages in-4 (crease slits repaired with scotch tape).
Important letter regarding his project for an oratorio after Dante's Inferno on a poem by Autran.
[Eight days later, Liszt will send the poet an annotated copy of The Divine Comedy.]
The letter begins with two lines of dots showing a "host of unspeakable thanks... Already last year I was all yours; but today it seems to me that there is something even more serious and tender in the friendship that I will always keep with you. But to follow the new precept of the Marquis de Forbin-Janson, which is to keep fair terms in all things, let us pass (not over or above) but to the point, and this fact leads us straight to Hell. I have just reread the DANTE, and I am entirely of your opinion regarding the impersonal account. But on the other hand I believe that it will be necessary to make at least several categories of the damned speak personally (in chorus and also in shorter solos)...
He quotes a verse from Autran: "We are the fl ots and the waves", with, in echo : "We are the heresians", and proposes, "to vary, perhaps it would be good that in a circle or two the invisible spirits charged with tormenting these poor souls should take it upon themselves to explain to the public the crimes of the reprobate; - some literary and musical bridge nine in this genre "Woe to you, who spent your nights in feasts and orgies (follows the indication of the torment as a contrast); curse on you"; etc. etc. "... He develops this idea of rehearsal by recalling an example in Victor HUGO's opera Lucrezia Borgia: " "I am Maff ei Orsini, whom you murdered... (I no longer know which relative and to what degree)...". I am such and such". This has provided the material for an excellent ending to DONIZETTI, and in our work this form will be all natural and more striking than any other. So read the ending of the first act of Lucrez