Ney, Elly. (1882-1968)

Autograph Document with Autograph Musical Fragments

Autograph document in the hand of the important German pianist, giving her thoughts on Mozart as inspired by the ideas of Goethe and musicologist Romain Rolland. Together with five autograph musical fragments of piano music in Ney's hand: a sketched-out copy of the accompaniment to Schubert's Ave Maria, simple harmonizations of the songs Am Brunnen vor dem Tore (from Winterreise), O du fröhliche (on the verso) and Maria Maienkönigin, and a small study for the left hand. While the musical fragments appear to be remnants from a lifetime of pianistic activity, the autograph text is an interesting window into Ney's highly Romantic views on genius and divine inspiration. Inspired by Goethe, she writes that Mozart was a genius sent to earth to bring people joy: "The one who creates becomes a mouthpiece and tool of the Divine, an instrument of the eternal spirit of the world." (Full translation from the German below.) Autograph text 3 pp. on 2 sheets; n.p, n.d.; hole-punched; one small tear, but overall in very fine condition. 7.25 x 9 inches (18.5 x 22.5 cm). Musical fragments each 1 p., ranging in size from 4 x 6 inches to 10.5 x 14 inches, in very good to very fine condition. Together with a modern birthday card from Ney's granddaughter, gifting the items to a Herr Schneider.

Translated from the German: "Mozart -- inspired by Goethe and Romain Rolland. Goethe: Mozart came to Earth as a miracle to give people joy; his music delights because it awakens in us what is good and noble, because, innocent and pure, it flows in true cheer from a good heart. R. R. [Romain Rolland]: M. is a believer (a childish believer), his faith is steadfastly peaceful, it does not torment him, he does not speak of it, but in every note one feels the soul touched from above, the kind heart. In words, he speaks of the fleeting, pleasant world which he loves and by which he wants to be loved. However, when he is gripped by the premonition of his death, oppressed by suffering and fear, turning to God in urgent prayer, then it forms itself into notes, sounds; tender remorse -- painful fears, touching melancholy -- and the pain transforms into childlike thanks; the purest goodness and cheer flow from him, Christian belief -- the revelation of God, prayer, worship. Goethe in a discussion about composition: It is improper to speak of composition. Every creative work is a product of nature. Hölderlin writes in his Friedensfeier: "I ask only that you kindly read this page; nature, from whence it came, will reclaim it." Goethe: I may be able to put together the individual parts of a clock, a machine that is made in parts, and speak of this as composition, but not when I mean the individual living parts of an organic whole, permeated by one soul. How can one say that Mozart "composed" a work such as Zauberflöte or Don Giovanni, as if it were a piece of cake, that one mixes together out of flour, eggs, and sugar? It is a spiritual creation: the individual and the whole from one spirit, animated by the breath of life, by no means arbitrarily pieced together. Rather, the one who creates is possessed by the spirit of genius, and he must carry out what it commands. A secret -- which we in our understanding cannot comprehend and will never be able to decipher. The one who creates becomes a mouthpiece and tool of the Divine, an instrument of the eternal spirit of the world, which since the beginning of time has let life and death occur: creation and destruction."

Elly Ney was one of the 20th century's outstanding pianists. Of her great performing, Willhelm Kempff wrote: "My ears still hear her melodious voice, with its unmistakable hint of her Rhineland origins, which had the gift of establishing immediate contact with everyone she spoke to. This happened even more intensely when she stepped onto the concert platform. Just one mysterious chord (Beethoven's D minor sonata, for instance), and the listener was drawn into her magnetic field. What then ensued cannot and should not be described in words, nor should it be scientifically dissected. Those who had ears, heard for themselves. But that was by no means the end of the matter. A realisation continued to resonate in her listeners' hearts, as it had begun to resonate from the moment this greatest of performers stepped onto the platform - the realisation that artistry of this quality draws its strength from roots that have their being in the unfathomable depths of the human soul." (14163)

Autograph Document
Manuscript Music
Classical Music