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قراءة كتاب The Love Affairs of Great Musicians, Volume 2

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The Love Affairs of Great Musicians, Volume 2

The Love Affairs of Great Musicians, Volume 2

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
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sight. There were many meetings. The concert affected the princess deeply (when she died she bequeathed that programme to her daughter). The day after the concert, she heard a Pater Noster of his sung in the church. Liszt talked of his plans for compositions. He said he wished to express in music his impressions of Dante's "Divina Commedia," with a diorama of scenic effects. To fit out the diorama, it needed about $15,000.

The princess, carried away with the idea, offered him the money from her own purse. The diorama was never built, but it required a great many conferences, and it seemed appropriate that Liszt should visit her at her estate, Woronince. He arrived on the tenth birthday of her little daughter, Marie. This was in February, the same month of their first meeting. But he could not stay many days, as his concert tour took him to Constantinople and elsewhere. But in the summer and again in the autumn they met, and they celebrated together his birthday and her saint's day.

She there and then resolved to give up her life to him, and to marry him as soon as might be. She believed in the autocracy of genius, and felt that she recognised her mission in the world—to follow and aid this maker of music. Separation from her husband was tame, but this was a horrifying breach of conventionality, such another as the Comtesse d'Agoult had smitten Paris with thirteen years before. But none the less, in April, 1848, she took her daughter and left Russia, after she had provided herself, by the sale of a portion of her dowry, with a sum, as La Mara says, of a million roubles—equal to about $750,000—a tidy little parcel for an eloping couple.

For her husband and mother-in-law she left letters—it would seem that there must have been little else to leave—explaining that she would never return. At the same time she instituted divorce proceedings, and announced that she was asking the Church to grant her freedom. Being a Catholic, it was necessary for her to persuade the Pope himself to permit her to wed Liszt. In the meanwhile, her husband went to the Czar and loudly bewailed the loss of his daughter and all his money. The old story—"My daughter! Oh, my ducats! Oh, my daughter! Oh, my Christian ducats! Justice! the law! My ducats and my daughter!"

The princess fled across the Russian border, just at the time of the Revolution of 1848. At the Austrian boundary Liszt's faithful valet met her; in Ratibor she found Liszt's friend, the Prince Lichnovski, who some months after fell a martyr to the revolution. He conducted her to Liszt. A few days later they visited the prince for two weeks at one of his castles. The troubles of the revolution and the barricaded streets drove them from the country to Weimar, where Liszt had been given the post of Kapellmeister.

It was this third-rate town that became the birthplace of a new school of German opera, for years the hub of the musical universe. Here in Weimar the princess lived thirteen years. She placed herself under the protection of the Grand Duchess of Weimar, Maria Polovna, the sister of the Czar and a friend of her childhood. She chose the Altenburg château for her home. A year later, Liszt, who had found a neighbouring hotel too remote, took up his home in one of the wings of the château. Here he spent the most profitable years of his artistic life. His twelve Symphonic Poems, his Faust and Dante Symphonies, his Hungarian Rhapsodies, and many other important works, including also literary compositions, he achieved here. The irritation he had felt at the superficial meddling, and domineering criticism of his would-be Muse, the Comtesse d'Agoult, was changed to such a communion as the old Roman king Numa enjoyed with his inspiring nymph, Egeria.

During the princess' stay in Weimar, constant pressure was brought upon her to return to Russia to arrange a settlement of affairs. She feared returning to that great prison-land, which cannot be easily entered or left, lest they should forbid her return to Liszt. Even threats to declare her an exile and confiscate her goods, would not move her. Eventually the property she had inherited from her father was put in her daughter's name, by the Czar's order—an arrangement Liszt had long pleaded for in vain. The husband's feelings were mollified by the appropriation to him of the seventh part of her property, and the arrangement of a guardianship for the daughter.

The prince, being a Protestant, now proceeded to get a divorce, which he obtained without difficulty. He speedily married a governess in the household of Prince Souvaroff. None the less, the struggles went on for the freedom of Princess Carolyne. In 1859 her daughter, Marie, was married to Prince Constantin zu Hohenlohe-Schillingsfürst, aid-de-camp and later grand steward of the Austrian emperor. Now that the daughter was safely disposed of, the princess took active steps for her own freedom. She chose, as a pretext for the dissolution of her marriage, the statement that she had entered into it unwillingly at her father's behest. Her Polish relatives were shocked at the idea of divorce, and brought witnesses to prove that the first years of her marriage were peaceful and content. But in spite of this the divorce was granted in Russia, and the Pope gave it his sanction.

The princess, however, was not satisfied with a merely technical success. She would consummate her marriage with Liszt in a blaze of glory and with all the blessings of religion upon it. In the spring of 1860, she had gone to Rome to further her divorce proceedings. Liszt was to arrive and be married on his fiftieth birthday, the princess then being forty-two. All went merrily as a marriage bell. It is generally believed that Liszt's "Festklänge" was written for this occasion as a splendid orchestral wedding festival of triumph.

Accordingly, at the proper time, Liszt went to Rome—as he thought. Really, he was going to Canossa. The priest was bespoken, and the altar of the church of San Carlo al Corso decorated. On the very eve of the wedding, when Liszt was with the princess, they were startled to receive a messenger from the Pope, demanding a postponement of the marriage, and the delivery for review of the documents upon which the divorce had been granted. The papers were surrendered, and the disconsolate princess gave way to a superstitious resignation to fate.

It seems that the amiable relatives of the princess, chancing to be in Rome and hearing of the wedding, determined to prevent it at all cost. Before the Pope they charged her with securing the divorce by perjury. The princess had friends at court, who could have procured the satisfactory conclusion of the matter. The Cardinal Hohenlohe offered his own chapel for the marriage. But the princess was as immovable in her new determination as she had been in her old.

She had resisted for thirteen years the efforts of the Russian court to decoy her back to Russia. For the next fifteen years she resisted Liszt's ardent wooing to marriage. Even when, on the 10th of March, 1864, her former husband died and gave her that divorce which even Rome considers sufficient, she would not wed. Her stay of one year in the Holy City had brought her into the whirlpool of Church society and Church politics. She turned her voracious intellect toward theology; and the interests of the Church, as La Mara says, grew in her eyes far more important than the petty ambitions of art.

The woman with a mission had changed her mission. Knowing how powerful was her influence over Liszt, she thought to begin her new work at home, and it was on Liszt that she practised her first churchly seductions.

In his youth it had taken all the power of his father and mother to keep him out of the Church; small wonder, then, that when, in the evening fatigue of his life, the woman of his heart beckoned him to the candle-lighted peace of vespers, he should yield.

Religion had always been as much an art to him, as art had been a religion. By papal dispensation Liszt was admitted into Holy Orders on the 25th of April,

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