Below, I reproduce some primary sources of information I’ve discovered since the completion of Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst: Virtuoso Violinist (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2008) (hereafter HWE) in 2007. The extracts follow roughly the chronological order of Ernst’s life (rather than the order of their publication date); where longer extracts range over the violinist’s whole career, I have placed them nearest to the period on which they shed most new light. Information for this section – where appropriate with English translation and elucidatory material – should be sent to the editor at

Fashionable arrivals in Brighton

The Sussex Advertiser and Surrey Gazette for 25th November 1856 (p.5, col.5) contains a section on fashionable arrivals in Brighton. This lists, amongst a party of musicians, Mr and Madame Ernst as staying at the Pier Hotel, and Madame Sophie [von] Todesco and Madame de Wertheimstein (the two Gomperz sisters) as staying at the Royal… Read more »

Upper class indifference to Ernst

Even Ernst was not immune to English upper-class indifference, but the following story shows the most mannerly and tactful way of dealing with it: Herr Ernst, when at the residence of a very exulted personage, finding that no one was paying attention to his performance, quietly put up his violin, left the room, and the… Read more »

Did Ernst compose an opera for Baden?

The story about Ernst composing an opera for the Baden Opera in 1862 strayed beyond the specialist music press and into English provincial newspapers: Herr Ernst, whose health continues to be in a melancholy state, has composed a small opera to be produced next season at Baden. Newcastle Journal, 6/11/1861, p.4 Given Ernst’s state of… Read more »

Polyphonic studies No. 2 fragment

The m/s of the 6 Polyphonic Studies was left to Madame Ernst when her husband died and has since been lost. There is a fragment of an early version of No.2 in a museum in Frankfurt (see the Links section of this website) and the following snatch of what would become No.5 in Eb can… Read more »

A note on Ernst composing the Studies

There is very little information about Ernst’s composition of the Studies, but the following note suggests the period when he was hard at work on them. I suspect ‘short studies’ is just journalistic inaccuracy: since they were published in April 1864, the composition of these long and complex works must already have been well advanced… Read more »

Comptesse de Breville on Ernst’s last years

A little more from Anna, Comptesse de Bréville, on Ernst’s later days. She’s wrong to say that the first signs of illness were first noticed in 1857, but this is the year they became serious enough to force his retirement. And although ‘the violinist being told he must part from his beloved friend’ is something… Read more »

Kuhe on Ernst

The pianist and composer Wilhelm Kuhe (1823-1912) has some thoughtful reflections about Ernst in his memoirs. The final anecdote shows that the violinist, as well as being tactful himself, could benefit from the tact of others: I should here allude to Ernst. I first heard him in Prague in 1839. His playing struck me as… Read more »

A letter from Lytton to Hankey

This note about the Ernsts  – from Bulwer Lytton to Thomson Hankey – is in my collection. Most of the explanatory notes were supplied by the autograph dealer Personalia in Newport on the Isle of Wight: LYTTON, Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer first Baron Lytton (1803–1873), writer and politician. Autograph letter signed to [Thomson] Hankey,… Read more »

Lytton’s tribute to Ernst

Here’s a great find: a short tribute written by Bulwer Lytton and published four years after Ernst’s death: Heinrich Ernst, Composer and Violinist By the author of “Richelieu,” “The Lady of Lyons,” etc I leave it to others to speak of Heinrich Ernst as an Artist. Of the merit of his musical compositions I do… Read more »

A glimpse of Ernst a year before his death

Here is a melancholy glimpse of Ernst, a year before his death, and about to visit Paris for the last time: Herr Ernst, the celebrated violinist, has gone to Paris for the winter. A correspondent of the Orchestra who met him at Boulogne rather sadly says: ‘It was melancholy to see, in the feeble frame… Read more »