The only thing that Meser was absolutely opposed to was the title of my new opera, which I had just named Der Venusberg; he maintained that, as I did not mix with the public, I had no idea what horrible jokes were made about this title.
My agent, the purely nominal publisher of my three operas Rienzi, the Fliegender Hollander, and Tannhauser the eccentric court music publisher, C. F. Meser, invited me one day to the cafe known as the 'Verderber' to discuss our money affairs. With great qualms we talked over the possible results of the Annual Easter Fair, and wondered whether they would be tolerably good or altogether bad.
'Heavens! cried Meser, 'nothing could be worse! 'True enough, I answered, 'no doubt there is much that will turn to vinegar for us. My good-humour revealed to me in a flash that I must try some other way of saving myself than by means of the Easter Fair.
While Meser assured me that no inquiry whatever had been received for the numbers of Tannhauser already published, it was strange that my most energetic antagonist should be the only person who had actually bought and paid for a copy.
First, then, it was of moment thoroughly to efface our tracks, leaving no sign that might guide Meser Ramiro to repair the error into which I had tricked him. Slowly, says the proverb, one journeys far and safely. Slowly, then, did I consider!
Tannhauser und der Sangerkrieg auf Wartburg should henceforth be its title, and to give the work a mediaeval appearance I had the words specially printed in Gothic characters upon the piano arrangement, and in this way introduced the work to the public. The extra expenses this involved were very heavy; but I went to great pains to impress Meser with my belief in the success of my work.
Tell me whether Meser has still the copyright of the melodies of "Tannhauser", and whether I must ask his permission to publish this piece, together with the other from "Lohengrin", with Hartel.
While, owing to this, I had little opportunity of improving my prospects for the future, I had at least the satisfaction of seeing the score of Tannhauser engraved at last. As the stock of my earlier autograph copies had come to an end, chiefly through the wasteful management of Meser, I had already persuaded Hartel when I was in Venice to have the score engraved.
If you will propose to Meser to have it engraved, or if you will allow me to dispose of it for the benefit of H. or Sch., I should like to have it published soon. Perhaps, if you have no objection, I should dispose of it in favour of an album for which my assistance has been asked for the last two months the album published by the "Ladies' Society for the German Fleet."
Pray do not be angry with me. I have ventured to send you through Meser the scores of my "Rienzi" and "Tannhauser," and wish and hope that the latter will please you better than the former. Let me thank you sincerely for the great kindnesses you have shown me. May your sentiments remain always the same towards Your faithfully devoted DRESDEN, March 22nd, 1846