ALS in German, signed “Richard W.,” three pages on two adjoining sheets, 5.5 x 8.75, April 26, 1851. Letter to "F. Heine" in Berlin, containing a great deal of personal details, mentioning musical compositions (his opera Lohengrin and Beethoven's symphonies) and other compositions (his book Opera and Drama, and his pamphlet 'A Theater in Zürich'), giving financial results, and referring to his plans for the future. In part (translated): "For me, things are good and bad; it’s just a matter of the state of mind I find myself in, which in my case naturally varies dramatically—like the ebb and flow of the tides. I never entirely lose all heart; I’m clear enough about myself and the world’s phenomena that I can explain to myself why everything is the way it is, and since it never occurs to me to want to overturn the nature of things, I correspondingly wait things out where I recognize that my activity will not be able to accomplish anything—but where I see that my activity can have some kind of success, I go at it with all my strength and am satisfied with the least success. In this way, I am conscious of doing what I can and, on the other hand, peacefully giving up what I must. In this way, also, I live in a more healthy manner now than I still did, for example, a year ago. That I nonetheless often go through bad times goes without saying, but I’m limitlessly candid with all comers. I lament when I have something to lament, and I rejoice when I have reason to rejoice. Our dear little Papo died this winter. I made no effort to restrain myself in my most heartfelt, most bitter mourning for the piteous loss of our little whistling and joking spirit of the house, who clung precisely to me with such infinite love.—With this openness of heart I’ve also at least gained this: I’m no longer amazed by any external misfortune. A little irony also helps me get over it—since I know that there’s no alternative.
Where money is concerned, what happens with me is that always, when I’m flat broke and Minna is already starting to give me black looks, that’s exactly when something comes in again. This is the reason: I have few friends, but those few love me. Whoever from among them simply can help me always does. The most active in this is Mrs. Ritter in Dresden; Liszt also does his part now and then. I live in complete communism, that is, however, only with those who know me completely and are sincerely devoted to me. I would never take a penny from anyone else; Brockhaus money, for example, I once sent right back. So—understand me well—only someone who esteems and loves me is allowed to support me. Now and then I also have a bit of income. This winter I wrote a quite thick book, 'Opera and Drama.' J. J. Weber wanted to pay 100 thalers; Avenarius offered 75 thalers more after the sale of 400 copies.—It will come out shortly with the latter. About Lohengrin you’ve probably heard and, namely, read something again recently?—Breitfkopf and Härtel are engraving the piano version now, then maybe even the full score as well. It doesn’t require money, just getting rid of a damned old debt to this firm. So you see—I’m even paying debts: what more do you want?—Over the winter here I tutored a mixed amateur and professional orchestra in a few Beethoven symphonies; that has made a stir; now people are talking about engaging a good standing orchestra for my benefit.—I couldn’t get involved with the theater, but a pamphlet of mine is coming out here soon with the title 'A Theater in Zürich'—in which I open people’s eyes a bit and show them what they should do if they want to have something proper. You should get the pamphlet soon.—In May now I’m going to turn to composing my Siegfried. For a change of pace, I’ll go up into the Alps once.—Ah, if only no one ever again wanted to feel sorry for me about the loss of my position in Dresden! How little they know me who see this loss as a misfortune for me! If I were granted amnesty today—even if I were to become senior court music director [Oberhofkapellmeister] in Dresden again—you should see with what calmness of spirit I would stay sitting in my Switzerland and maybe even scarcely set foot on the German empire’s blessed soil!—See, this is how things are with me! Minna sometimes puts on quite a long face, but she also likes being here very much, and in truth, I don’t see why she shouldn’t like it. If she would yield to me more, it would in any case be even better for her.—So I’m giving you good news about me; it’s all the more easy for me to pass over my gloomy days in silence with you, since they mostly just come about as the consequence of overwork and nervous exhaustion, when I then see the wretchedness of our circumstances, at any rate in the light of hopelessness. But isn’t someone happy enough if he overcomes this state of mind now and then?—So now make an effort on your part also to write me something good about yourself, and may your Wilhelm serve you as a topic, your living, vigorous work, who is truly better than my paper works!" In fine condition. Accompanied by a complete translation.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.