Dr Roth

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.

Ernst’s context: two important new books

Two books have recently appeared from the same enterprising publisher which will be of interest to all Ernstians. The first is Hugh Macdonald’s Music in 1853: The Biography of a Year (Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, 2012) where Ernst, almost for the first time, takes his proper place amongst his contemporaries.

The second is Mai Kawabata’s Paganini: The ‘Demonic’ Virtuoso (Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, 2013) a penetrating study of the mythology surrounding the man and the cultural forces which shaped it.


Ernst’s violin case

Paganini had a red leather violin case with his name in gold letters on the lid. Ernst had a similar case – although this time in green leather – made for his Stradivarius. Madam Ernst refers to this case in her poem ‘Ernst’s Violin’ – ‘You who were his living lyre, / Now you are here mute, / Shut up in your green case, / […] / Be mine at least undivided. / Only my hand will awaken you, / […] / Smash yourself in any other hand.’ [HWE:272] This case is now owned by the Californian violinist and Sarasate expert, Joe Gold. (See under People).

Madam Beaumarié’s autograph album

The Heine Institute in Dusseldorf recently acquired an amazingly rich C19th autograph book. This belonged to a ‘Madam C.Beaumarié’ and contains sometimes lengthy m/s’s by Paganini, Berlioz, Liszt, Ernst and many others. Ernst’s contribution is a complete copy of the Elegy in his own hand – it may well be the original manuscript.

There has naturally been much discussion about who Madam Beaumarié was, but an article in last year’s Heine Jahrbuch now seems to have resolved the matter:

Francis Maillard: ‘Madame C. Beaumarié: das Album, das Reisetagebuch und der Zufall’, Heine-Jahruch 51 (2012), pp. 86-98.

The author, whose family is related to Madame Beaumarié’s, is in possession of two travelogues by (and for) her, and argues convincingly that she is Victoire Clara Chevallier (1811-1880), married to Alcide-Georges Beaumarié (1799-1870), both from Orleáns.

A booklet about Madam Beaumarié’s album can be bought here:


Did Ernst perform Harold in August 1853?

The Dutch musicologist Pepijn van Doesburg has found some public announcements of Berlioz’s two concerts in Frankfurt on 24 and 29  August 1853 which reveal that the soloist in Berlioz’s Harold in Italy was not  Ernst, as all the records have previously suggested, but a fellow named Posch, possibly a local viola player of surpassing obscurity. Ernst was often ill at this period and this is probably the reason why he did not play. [I owe this information to Hugh Macdonald.]