Quarto, one and a half pages (on one leaf), 7 November 1882. Light horizontal and vertical creases where folded for posting; small piece of clear tape to a short split to one end of the crease across the middle (on the blank bottom half of the second page, well clear of any text); an appealing item in excellent condition.
The catalyst for the discord appears to have been Hippeau's biting lampoon of Gounod in the issue of 29 October 1882. Saint-Saëns had hitherto been listed prominently on the covers as an official collaborator of the magazine; his name is absent from the issue of 13 November. His relationship with Hippeau, however amicable, was already strained. 'The clearly pro-Wagner inclination of the editor quickly created a violent polemic between Hippeau and Saint-Saëns, founder of the Société nationale de musique. Saint-Saëns harshly criticized Hippeau's Wagnerian opinions, considering them a danger for the future of French music' (Doris Pyee: 'La Renaissance musicale, 1881-1883', Baltimore, 2007). The lengthy letter pulls no punches. After some initial expressions of friendship, Saint-Saëns leaves us in no doubt about the strength of his attitude and sentiments. A broad translation of the second part follows: 'Standing back to avoid being hurt is not in my character. I must be forthright, and no finessing of details can save my name, at the head of a journal like a banner, from being associated with it in the eyes of the public. The stance of the journal not being in accordance with my ideas, I cannot allow my name to remain attached to it. My decision, I have told you and I repeat it again, is irrevocable. I do not know what obligations you are under, and I am not anxious to know. I only regret, in every respect, that you have failed to understand the advantage you might have gained in publishing a paper that is truly French, as well as truly modern. Now it is too late; you have equivocated too long, and if, against all probability, you wished to take this path, it could be only with a new journal and a new organisation.... I do not know if you know me well enough to understand what it has cost me to act in this way. I hope you do, however, and will not cease to count on your friendship, and assure you that you may always count on mine in everything that does not do damage to my artistic conscience. Affectionately yours, C. Saint-Saëns'.