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Letter from Gertrude Bell to her father, Sir Hugh Bell

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Bell, Sir Thomas Hugh Lowthian
Bell, Gertrude Margaret Lowthian
Person(s) mentioned
Chirol, Valentine
Creation Date
Extent and medium
1 letter, paper

49.9456399, 11.5713346

Luitpold Platz 2. Monday 14. Dearest Father. Hugo has written to Mother so I am going to write to you and will you please send my letter on to her. We think our family has rather scrimped us in the matter of letters! Well, we arrived here from Nuremburg [Nürnberg] on Friday about 1 and after establishing ourselves in our lodgings, which are most luxurious, kept by very nice people and situated in the big square just before you turn up the little street leading to the Richard Wagner Strasse on the way from the station, we went out to get some lunch. This was not a great success. We were late, every place crowded and for a time we thought we should go lunchless. However Mr Chirol and I foraged about and got plates of cold beef and relays of cheese so that finally we were able to satisfy the cravings of hunger, which were severe! We then came in and dressed and drove up to the opera. The first person we met was Leo Schuster who was established in a Restaurant near by receiving the newcomers with an air of proprietorship not a little comic. I asked him where was the best place to dine, but he replied that he knew Bayreuth really so very well that he couldn't tell me - he dined by instinct! We thought we had better not trust to our instincts, so we ordered a table at the big restaurant on the right hand side going up to the theatre and there we dined most comfortably after the 2nd act. Hugo and I had very good seats, Dr Lloyd's, away from the others, which was rather nice. Just behind us were Mr Schuster, Mr Claud Phillips and Mr Charley Wortley with whom we talked between the acts. I also met Fred Benson walking about. We were awfully excited when the first long Graal motif began on the orchestra. As a mere matter of stage arrangement I think I never saw anything more splendid than the first act. Everything was perfect and when we came to the last scene and the knights of the Grail trooped in to the Liebesmahl followed by bands of little children crossing the stage and going up to the dome, do you remember, one felt inclined to spend tears of emotion. The Liebesmahl scene is incredibly impressive. The second act I didn't care for so much and Hugo not at all. Ternina made a superb Kundry, we had also an excellent Gurnemanz and a very good Amfortas, but our Parsifal (Gerhäuser) was not satisfactory. I'm not sure that I don't think the first half of the 3rd act as fine as anything, the Good Friday music is so heavenly. The feet washing scene ought to have been better than it was, but the Parsifal was very sticky and it wasn't altogether very well staged - he was left with his feet in the water all the time Gurnemanz was blessing them both, which made one feel quite uncomfortable. But Kundry was splendid all through that silent scene. Not even a sticky Parsifal can spoil the end of the act and even the dove did not seem to us comic, so we must have been very tief gerührt. We walked home and went to bed early. Saturday was a free day for us. After walking about the town for a little, we took a carriage and drove out about an hour and a half to a delicious little place called Berneck in Fichtelgebirge [Fichtelberg] where we lunched. It was a cold grey day, but the afternoon became brighter after a heavy shower, and we walked up the banks of a stream through pine woods to a little castle perched on a rock where Mr Chirol made a sketch. We came back by another road past more castles, had coffee and drove home, getting back about 7. It was cold so we decided not to dine in the open. We went to the Post, opposite the station, came home and played patiences till bed time. We have a piano in our sitting room so that Florence and Hugo are able to run through a good deal of Wagner in the intervals. Yesterday we again had a day off. We went by train to Ruprechtstegen of hallowed memories (I have taken a photograph of it for Mother) and walked up the valley to the next little place, Velden. It was most delicious, a hot bright day, the little trout stream a constant joy to His Ex who walked along it looking at the fish and you remember how lovely the woods and fantastic rocks are. We left the high road once and clambered up a footpath from the top of which we had a splendid view across upland meadows and pine woods, but the path presently disappeared (you know that sort of path, we always walk on them!) and we had rather a scramble back to the road. It was a little comic to see His Ex and Mr Chirol climbing down precipices. When we got to Velden we found that it was so primitive that we should have great difficulty in lunching there. However we finally persuaded the people at a tiny inn to give us eggs and sausage and cheese and with lots of very good bread and butter we did very well. His Ex is such a darling! he takes everything quite contentedly and is the most charming fellow traveller. He has a nice little series of jokes about beer drinking and bill paying which serve as the basis of conversation which, for the rest, never flags. Mr Chirol arranges and conducts the expeditions, most successfully and we are all extremely cheerful. We dined last night at the Burg above the theatre, and were joined by the Moberly Bells - it was an off night for everyone. We had a bad, but a cheerful dinner. Miss Weisse and Tovey were also there - Florence, Hugo and I are going to drink coffee with them before the opera this afternoon. We left our letter on Frau Cosima and she has asked us all to a party on Friday evening. Great larks!
Goodbye, we long to hear of your doings. Much love to Elsa and Moll. Ever your affectionate daughter Gertrude.

I was so glad to have Mother's letter, please tell her we wish her great good luck on her tour. How glad you must be that Miss F. is gone!

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