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Richard Wagner (1813–83) grew up in Dresden and served as Kapellmeister to King Frederick Augustus II of Saxony there from 1843 until he was forced to flee the country after the 1849 uprising. His operas Rienzi and Der fliegende Holländer received their first performances at the Dresden Court Theatre. During his time in the city, Wagner became firm friends with the composer and violinist Theodor Uhlig, the stage manager and chorus master Wilhelm Fischer, and the comedian and costume designer Ferdinand Heine. This collection of letters from the composer to his three great friends covers the period 1841–68. First published in 1888, the letters are reissued here in the 1890 English translation by the pianist and Beethoven scholar John South Shedlock (1843–1919). They offer an intimate and compelling insight into Wagner's personal and professional life and his forthright views on many contemporary musicians and public figures.
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827) was a prolific letter writer. Often written in great haste - he regularly signed off 'in der Eile' - his correspondence allows us to follow his anxieties and preoccupations. From his first letter, written at the age of thirteen, wherein he declared his lifelong commitment to the craft of music, through the poignant 'Heiligenstadt Testament', up to the final codicil to his will, these documents reveal the human figure behind some of the greatest music ever written. In this two-volume English translation of 1909, John South Shedlock (1843–1919) retains as far as possible the idiosyncratic and error-ridden texts as written by the great composer. Volume 1 covers the years to 1816, and includes the heartbreaking unsent 1802 letter to his brothers in which Beethoven reveals his misery over his increasing deafness and his determination to overcome his physical and emotional weaknesses.