When writing HWE, I was unable to discover anything much about Ernst’s friend Dr Roth – the dedicatee of the Pensées fugitives, his co-conspirator in a practical joke against Anton Schindler, and the librettist of one of Ernst’s songs – beyond the fact he was a homeopathic doctor. I’ve now discovered that he was David-Didier Roth (1810-85), a man from a Jewish background very similar to Ernst’s and Heller’s own. Born in Cassovia in the Austrian Empire, he studied medicine in Vienna, but found Paris more welcoming to both Jews and homeopaths. He eventually numbered Chopin and Baron Rothschild amongst his clients, and established a European reputation with a string of well-received medical textbooks, including a nine-volume work on homeopathy. But medicine was only one of his accomplishments. He was deeply interested in music; invented a sequence of ingenious calculating machines; and built up an important collection of engravings, particularly by Dürer, which are now in the Louvre and the Bibliothèque Nationale.
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