Isaac Albeniz: Portrait of a Romantic

By Walter Aaron Clark | Go to book overview

6
The Imperfect Wagnerite (1898-1904)

THE next product of Albéniz's professional association with Coutts was an operatic project on a truly grand scale, one that held tremendous importance for Coutts, if not as much for Albéniz. This was a trilogy of operas based on the Arthurian romance Le Morte d'Arthur by the fifteenth-century English author Sir Thomas Malory. The constituent parts of the King Arthur trilogy were to be Merlin, Launcelot, and Guenevere. The urgency Coutts felt about this project is already apparent in a letter of 4 January 1895 (previously quoted in connection with his quest for a suitable title for Henry Clifford), in which he relates the following:

I am feeling very much upset by the coming production of a drama at the Lyceum taken from the King Arthur legend. 10 years ago I projected writing 3 operas on that theme, and have amassed a large quantity of material. I could finish all 3 in a year, whenever opportunity offered. But now this wretch, this author, has got my precise idea! Instead of using Tennyson, he has gone back to the original legend as told in the book called "Morte d'Arthur". He has taken Morgan Le Fay as one of the principal characters (which Tennyson never did) and in fact, seems to me to have sucked my brains, probably through the perfidy of some kind friend to whom I may have talked of the scheme! I have always done myself an infinity of harm by speaking of my projects to others. I get carried away by my subject & forget that theatrical authors, critics, & managers are thieves and vagabonds! But it is very hard and makes me feel very depressed.

His devotion to King Arthur did not wane with the passage of time. On 23 May 1903,1 Coutts wrote to Rosina in response to her concerns about the financial arrangements between him and her husband. She felt that Albéniz was not producing a quantity of music commensurate with the generous stipend he was affording them. To this he responded:

____________________
1
Letter in the Mm, car. 2.

-178-

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Isaac Albeniz: Portrait of a Romantic
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgements vi
  • Contents ix
  • List of Plates x
  • List of Tables xii
  • Abbreviations xiii
  • List of Musical Examples xiv
  • Introduction - Step by Step 1
  • 1 - The Phenomenon 1860-1875) 16
  • 2 - With Distinction (1876-1888) 34
  • 3 - Veni, Vidi, Vici (1889-1893) 73
  • 4 - Prophet Without Honour (1894-1895) 109
  • 5 - A Man of Some Importance (1896-1897) 136
  • 6 - The Imperfect Wagnerite (1898-1904) 178
  • 7 - Iberia (1905-1909) 220
  • 8 - The Legacy of Albéniz 268
  • Appendix I 292
  • Appendix II - List of Works 295
  • Bibliography 301
  • Index of Works 311
  • General Index 314
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