Liszt and His World: Proceedings of the International Liszt Conference Held at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 20-23 May 1993

By Michael Saffle | Go to book overview

James Deaville


A “DAILY DIARY OF THE WEIMAR DREAM”
Joachim Raffs Unpublished Letters
to Doris Genast, 1852-1856

For scholars working in Liszt studies, the name of Joseph Joachim Raff (1822-1882) is well known, especially in his capacities as amanuensis, orchestrator, and polemicist for Liszt.1 Most recently, Raff has been invoked—by Leon Botstein, in a review published in the Journal of the American Musicological Society—as an example of a non-canonic nineteenth-century composer whose music is worthy of study and performance.2 My purpose here is to establish another role for Raff—that of chronicler for Liszt's Weimar—based on the discovery of a large cache of unknown, unpublished documents that significantly contribute to our understanding of Liszt and his circle between 1852 and 1856.

Smaller bodies of Raff correspondence have already served to illuminate specific aspects of Liszt's life and work. Raff's letters to Kunigunde Heinrich, dating primarily from 1849 to 1851, are well known due to Helene Raff's extensive quotation from them.3 These

1 See, among others, “The Raff Case,” in WFL II, pp. 199-208. Alan Walker outlines
and analyzes Raffs relationship with Liszt on the basis of published sources—
above all, Helene Raff's biography of her father, which has become the standard
source. See Joachim Raff. Ein Lebensbild “Deutsche Musikbücherei, 42” (Regensburg
1925). Hereafter “Lebensbild.” Walker downplays any creative role for Raff in Liszt's
compositions, an assessment shared by Humphrey Searle (“The Orchestral Works,” in
Franz Liszt: The Man and His Music, ed. Walker “London 1970”, p. 280); and by
Derek Watson (Liszt “New York 1989”, pp. 98-99). Other recent studies of Raff
attempt to establish him as a composer and musical figure of importance in his own
right, independent of Liszt; these include Josef Kälin and Anton Marty, Leben und
Werk des vor 150 Jahren geborenen Komponisten Joachim Raff (L&ohm 1972); and
Markus Römer, Joseph Joachim Raff (1822-1882) (Wiesbaden 1982).

2 See the review of Disciplining Musicology and Its Canons, ed. Katherine Bergeron
and Philip V. Bohlmann (Chicago 1992), in the Journal of the American
Musicological Society 47 (1994), pp. 340-347. Botstein (p. 343) places Raff on the
same plane as Louis Spohr, John Knowles Paine, and Vitĕzlav Novák.

3Lebensbild, esp. pp. 76-81, 92-93, and 112-113. Helene Raff (Lebensbild, pp. 60-61)
portrays Heinrich as a mother figure for Joachim during his residence in Stuttgart of
early 1848. She remained an important influence into the early 1850s, as evidenced
by his letters to Heinrich, which could be called “the most spontaneous he ever

-181-

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