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LETTERS: Musical accolade

Sir: Writing about Seamus Heaney ("The delicate density of a genius," 6 October), John Walsh has got his composers slightly in a twist. It was not Brahms who said "Hats off gentlemen, a genius", and the remark did not refer to Liszt. In any case, by the time Brahms was born in 1833, Liszt (born 1811) was already an acclaimed international virtuoso.

The accolade was written, not spoken, by Schumann about Chopin's variations for piano and orchestra on Mozart's La ci darem la mano, Op2. Henry Pleasants, in his selection of Schumann's writings, says that the article marked Schumann's debut as a writer, and appeared in the Leipzig Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung on 3 December, 1831.

Yours sincerely,

Keith Spence

Tunbridge Wells, Kent