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Rubinstein never set The Maid of Pskov (it was Rimsky-Korsakov who would

set the subject of Meys drama some eight years later). He had also hoped to
write an opera called Figlia del Tintoretto, but the libretto had turned out to be
so vile that it was completely unusable. He turned to writing piano pieces, a task
for which he felt no particular enthusiasm, while continuing his search for a
libretto. He told Kaleriya Khristoforovna that Turgenev had made a start on
turning his own novel Rudin into an opera libretto for him, but the task proved
too great, and on 28 June 1864 Turgenev wrote to Moritz Hartmann, encourag-
ing him to provide Rubinstein with a libretto.83 The Austrian writer and jour-
nalist Hartmann had translated several of Turgenevs works into German and
had known many of the radical Russian exiles (Herzen, Bakunin, and others).
Four years later, in 1868, he became chief editor of the Viennese newspaper
Neue Freie Presse. The result of the collaboration between Hartmann and Ru-
binstein was Rosvita, an opera in three acts for which the composer paid three
thousand francs. Rubinstein began work but demanded changes; Hartmann re-
fused, and Rubinstein abandoned the opera altogether. In his search to nd an
appropriate subject for an opera Rubinstein had even discussed his plans with
Edith von Raden,84 for she had suggested the novella Veronica Cybo by Francesco
Guerrazzi. Her choice of Guerrazzi seems strange, as his historical novels, al-
though very popular in their time, were considered extremely radical, republi-
can, even revolutionary. The relentless search for a suitable operatic subject that
summer suggests that Rubinstein was brimming with new creative ideas, but
none of the proposals put forward seems to have sufciently captured his imagi-
nation. If he had been denied an opera, he said, he would compose a symphony,
but this plan did not materialize either; his Symphony No. 4 in D minor was not
written until 1874. Instead, he wrote two concertos that may be counted among
the most successful of his works: the Cello Concerto No. 1 in A minor, Op. 65,
and the Piano Concerto No. 4 in D minor, Op. 70.
The idea of writing a cello concerto had been in Rubinsteins mind since
1857 when he completed his Violin Concerto in G. The inuences on the earlier
work were clearly Beethoven (the concerto and violin romances), Mendelssohn,
Vieuxtemps, and especially Wieniawski, but the concerto is quite faceless, and
not even the considerable demands made on the soloist in terms of technique
and delicacy of shading can redeem the work from mediocrity. The Cello Con-
certo, on the other hand, is in all respects a much ner piece. In the rst place,
the thematic material is altogether richer and more varied, the overall structure
is tauter, and the very tonal qualities of the cello seemed to draw from the com-
poser a power of expression that is wholly lacking in the Violin Concerto. This
becomes immediately apparent from the soloists rst entry in the Moderato con
moto and the second subject group, where subtle touches of humor provide an
effective contrast to the more dramatic moments. Rubinstein was quite adept
at writing slow movements full of dreamy sentimentality, and the Adagio of this
concerto is one of his nest. Many of the same good qualities are to be found
in the Piano Concerto No. 4, the only one of Rubinsteins ve published piano
concertos to have retained a tenuous hold on the repertory. This is understand-

108 Anton Rubinstein