Code for a musical alphabet
Ink on paper; 1 leaf; 12 x 21- 15.5 x 24 cm; autograph manuscript
The code for a "musical alphabet", designed by Itzik (Isac) Offenbach as a secret family code, and a message written according to this code by I. Offenbach to his daughter Isabella. There's no clef, but if there were a treble clef, the note E would be the letter A, E# would be B, Fb would be C, F would be D, and so forth up the chromatic scale and through the German alphabet. For letters with umlauts, he used two notes. Capital letters were written with half notes and lower-case letters with quarter notes.Verso, staves 1-2: the code of the "musical alphabet." Staves 3-5: the coded message, written in musical notes, reads: "Wo Du meine liebe Tochte[r] Isabell[a] bist Vert[r]au auf Gott Dr [should read: Er?] wird Dich schützen Dein Vater Offenbach Cöln 16 Merz 1844" ("If you, my darling daughter Isabella, will be true to God, then He will protect you. Your father, Offenbach, Cologne, March 16, 1844." At the foot of the page: "Dieses musikalisches Alpha beth, welches ausser mir und meinen beiden Töch[te]rn niemand kennt, gebe ich dir meine Tochter mit der Bemerkung dass ich wünsche solches bleibe ausser unserer Familie für Jedem ein Geheimniss und stets unser alleiniges Eigenthum; daher gebe es keinen Fremden. Cöln 26 t[er] iii 1844 Isac Offenbach." ("This musical alphabet, which aside from me and my two daughters nobody knows, I give to you, my daughter, with the catch that it should remain a secret from anyone outside our family and that it should always remain in our possession. Therefore, don't give it to strangers. Cologne, March 26th, 1844. Isac Offenbach."