223

Details & Cataloguing

Music, Continental and Russian Books and Manuscripts

|
London

Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Felix
AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED ("FELIX MENDELSSOHN BARTHOLDY"), IN FRENCH, TO ISAMBARD KINGDOM BRUNEL, APPARENTLY UNRECORDED AND UNPUBLISHED
in his letter, added below an invitation to Brunel in the hand of his friend Adolphe d'Eichthal, Mendelssohn invites Brunel in his own name to a soirée the following Friday, informing him that there will be a little music, noting that the gathering will be an intimate one and that he is relying on the air which he has promised to play, and expressing the hope that he will keep his promise ("...Nous serons tout à fait entre nous & ferons un peu de musique; j'ai beaucoup compté sur l'air, que vous avez promis de me jouer..."); in his invitation, written in English, d'Eichthal requests the honour of Brunel's company "on thursday next the 16th inst at 6 O'clock", giving his address as 5 Hunter Street, Brunswick Square, adding that he "as secretary to the Right honorable F. Mendelssohn Bartholdi desires & summons the said I. Brunel Esq. to appear on friday evening at half past eight o'clock in presence of the same in his hotel to fulfill his engagement with the aforesaid right honourable gentleman to play an air on the piano", and appending Mendelssohn's address ("103 G.t Portland S.t")   

2 pages, 4to (22.6 x 18.5cm), the letter dated, apparently in a third hand ("July 10 - 1829"), and annotated, also on the first page, possibly in a fourth hand ("M. d'Eichthal and F. Mendelssohn to Isambard Brunel - Junr - "), a later manuscript entry in pencil at the head of the first page ("This letter belongs to S.F.W.") partially erased, integral autograph address panel, postmark to integral, [London], Vendredi [Friday] [10 J[ul]y 1829], seal tears on integral repaired, address panel discoloured
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Literature

R. Larry Todd, Mendelssohn: A Life in Music (Oxford, 2003), pp.203 and 209

Catalogue Note

An extraordinary, hitherto unknown and unpublished letter from Mendelssohn to one of the great personalities of nineteenth-century Britain, the great engineer and future builder of the Great Western Railway Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806-1859), then only nineteen years old.

One of the most remarkable excursions made by Mendelssohn during his first London sojourn (April-November 1829) was a tour on 13 June, in the company of Brunel, of the excavations of the Rotherhithe-to-Wapping tunnel under the river Thames (the first such tunnel under a navigable river), which had been begun in 1824 by the famous engineer's father Marc Isambard Brunel. The present letter, written from Mendelssohn's hotel  at 103 Gt. Portland Street (well situated for easy access to the London concert rooms) offers a delightful insight into the composer's leisure hours towards the end of the busy London concert season, one which would see a second performance of his overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream just three days later on 13 July. Mendelssohn's partner in this light-hearted invitation letter is his friend, and sometime composer, Adolphe d'Eichthal (1805-1895), the son of a wealthy Parisian banker.

Music, Continental and Russian Books and Manuscripts

|
London