Days Like These

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The Independent Culture
26 September 1773

JAMES BOSWELL,

touring the Highlands with Dr Johnson, records in his journal:

"I awaked at noon with a severe headache. I was much vexed that I should have been guilty of such a riot, and afraid of a reproof from Dr Johnson. About one he came into my room, and accosted me, `What, drunk yet?' His tone of voice was not that of severe upbraiding; so I was relieved a little. `Sir,' I said, `they kept me up.' He answered, `No, you kept them up, you drunken dog.' This he said with good-humoured English pleasantry. Soon afterwards, Coirechatachan, Coll and other friends assembled round my bed. Corry had a brandy bottle and glass with him, and insisted I should take a dram. `Ay,' said Dr Johnson, `fill him up drunk again. Do it in the morning, that we may laugh at him all day. It is a poor thing for a fellow to get drunk at night, and skulk to bed, and let his friends have no sport.' Finding him thus jocular, I became easy; and when I offered to get up, he good-naturedly said, `You need be in no such hurry now.' I took his advice and drank some brandy, which I found an effectual cure for my headache."

30 September 1853

CLARA SCHUMANN,

pianist, records in her diary her

first meeting with Johannes Brahms, who had turned up on their

Dusseldorf doorstep, an

unknown 20-year-old:

"Here again is one who comes as if sent from God! He played us sonatas and scherzos of his own, all of them rich in fantasy, depth of feeling and mastery of form. Robert could see no reason to suggest any changes. It is truly moving to behold him at the piano, his interesting young face transfigured by the music, his fine hands which easily overcame the greatest difficulties (his things are very difficult), and above all his marvellous works ... A great future lies before him, for when he comes to the point of writing for the orchestra, then he will have found the true medium for his imagination."

30 September 1853

ROBERT SCHUMANN,

composer, husband of Clara,

notes in his diary:

"Visit from Brahms (a genius)."

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