Wagner, (Wilhelm) Richard
Wagner, (Wilhelm) Richard
Wagner, (Wilhelm) Richard, great German composer whose operas, written to his own librettos, have radically transformed the concept of stage music, postulating the inherent equality of dramatic and symphonic writing and establishing the uninterrupted continuity of the action; b. Leipzig, May 22,1813; d. Venice, Feb. 13,1883. The antecedents of his family, and his own origin, are open to controversy. His father was a police registrar in Leipzig who died when Wagner was only 6 months old. His mother, Johanna (Rosine), née Pätz, was the daughter of a baker in Weissenfels; it is possible also that she was an illegitimate offspring of Prince Friedrich Ferdinand Constantin of Weimar. Eight months after her husband’s death, Johanna Wagner married the actor Ludwig Geyer on Aug. 28, 1814. This hasty marriage generated speculation that Geyer may have been Wagner’s real father; Wagner himself entertained this possibility, pointing out the similarity of his and Geyer’s prominent noses; in the end he abandoned this surmise. The problem of Wagner’s origin arose with renewed force after the triumph of the Nazi party in Germany, as Hitler’s adoration of Wagner was put in jeopardy by suspicions that Geyer might have been Jewish; if Wagner was indeed his natural son, then he himself was tainted by Semitic blood. The phantom of Wagner’s possible contamination with Jewish hemoglobin struck horror into the hearts of good Nazi biologists and archivists; they delved anxiously into Geyer’s own and, much to the relief of Goebbels and other Nazi intellectuals, it was found that Geyer, like Wagner’s nominal father, was the purest of Aryans; Wagner’s possible illegitimate birth was of no concern to the racial tenets of the Nazi Weltanschauung.
Geyer was a member of the Court Theater in Dresden, and the family moved there in 1814. Geyer died on Sept. 30, 1821; in 1822 Wagner entered the Dresden Kreuzschule, where he remained a pupil until 1827. Carl Maria von Weber often visited the Geyer home; these visits exercised a beneficial influence on Wagner in his formative years. In 1825 he began to take piano lessons from a local musician named Humann and also studied violin with Robert Sipp. Wagner showed strong literary inclinations and, under the spell of Shakespeare, wrote a tragedy, Leubald. In 1827 he moved with his mother back to Leipzig, where his uncle Adolf Wagner gave him guidance in his classical reading. In 1828 he was enrolled in the Nikolaischule; while in school, he had lessons in harmony with Christian Gottlieb Müller, a violinist in the theater orch. In June 1830 Wagner entered the Thomasschule, where he began to compose; he wrote a String Quartet and some piano music. His Overturein B-flat major was performed at the Leipzig Theater on Dec. 24,1830, under the direction of Heinrich Dorn. Now determined to dedicate himself entirely to music, he became a student of Theodor Weinlig, cantor of the Thomaskirche, from whom he received a thorough training in counterpoint and composition. His first publ. work was a Piano Sonata in B-flat major, to which he assigned the opus number 1; it was brought out by the prestigious publishing house of Breitkopf & Härtel in 1832. He then wrote an overture to König Enzio,which was performed at the Leipzig Theater on Feb. 17, 1832; it was followed by an Overture in C major, which was presented at a Gewandhaus concert on April 30, 1832. Wagner’s first major orch. work, a Sym. in C major, was performed at a Prague Cons, concert in Nov. 1832; on Jan. 10,1833, it was played by the Gewandhaus Orch. in Leipzig. He was 19 years old at the time. In 1832 he wrote an opera, Die Hochzeit,after J. G. Büsching’s Ritterzeit und Ritterwesen;an introduction, a septet, and a chorus from this work are extant. Early in 1833 he began work on Die Feen,to a libretto after Carlo Gozzi’s La Donna serpente. Upon completion of Die Feenin Jan. 1834, he offered the score to the Leipzig Theater, but it was rejected. In June 1834 he began to sketch out a new opera, Das Liebesverbot,after Shakespeare’s play Measure for Measure. In July 1834 he obtained the position of music director of Heinrich Bethmann’s theater company, based in Magdeburg; he made his debut in Bad Lauschstadt, conducting Mozart’s Don Giovanni. On March 29,1836, in Magdeburg he led the premiere of his opera Das Liebesverbot,presented under the title Die Novize von Palermo. Bethmann’s company soon went out of business; Wagner, who was by that time deeply involved with Christine Wilhelmine (“Minna”) Planer, an actress with the company, followed her to Königsberg, where they were married on Nov. 24, 1836. In Königsberg he composed the overture Rule Britannia;on April 1, 1837, he was appointed music director of the Königsberg town theater. His marital affairs suffered a setback when Minna left him for a rich businessman by the name of Dietrich. In Aug. 1837 he went to Riga as music director of the theater there; coincidentally, Minna’s sister was engaged as a singer at the same theater; Minna soon joined her, and became reconciled with Wagner. In Riga Wagner worked on his new opera, Rienzi, der letzte der Tribunen,after a popular novel by Bulwer-Lytton.
In March 1839 he lost his position in Riga, and he and Minna, burdened by debts, left town to seek their fortune elsewhere. In their passage by sea from Pillau they encountered a fierce storm, and the ship was forced to drop anchor in the Norwegian fjord of Sandwike. They made their way to London, and then set out for Boulogne; there Wagner met Meyerbeer, who gave him a letter of recommendation to the director of the Paris Opéra. He arrived in Paris with Minna in Sept. 1839, and remained there until 1842. He was forced to eke out a meager subsistence by making piano arrangements of operas and writing occasional articles for the Gazette Musicale. In Jan. 1840 he completed his Overture to Faust (later rev. as Eine Faust-Ouvertüre). Soon he found himself in dire financial straits; he owed money that he could not repay, and on Oct. 28, 1840, he was confined in debtors’ prison; he was released on Nov. 17,1840. The conditions of his containment were light, and he was able to leave prison on certain days. In the meantime he had completed the libretto for Der fliegende Holländer;he submitted it to the director of the Paris Opéra, but the director had already asked Paul Foucher to prepare a libretto on the same subject. The director was willing, however, to buy Wagner’s scenario for 500 French francs. Wagner accepted the offer (July 2, 1841). Louis Dietsch brought out his treatment of the subject in his opera Le Vaisseau fantôme (Paris Opéra, Nov. 9, 1842).
In 1842 Wagner received the welcome news from Dresden that his opera Rienzihad been accepted for production; it was staged there on Oct. 20, 1842, with considerable success. Der fliegende Holländerwas also accepted by Dresden, and Wagner conducted its first performance there on Jan. 2,1843. On Feb. 2 of that year, he was named 2ndHofkapellmeister in Dresden, where he conducted a large repertoire of Classical operas, among them Don Giovanni, Le nozze di Figaro, Die Zauberflöte, Fidelio,and Der Freischütz. In 1846 he conducted a memorable performance in Dresden of Beethoven’s 9thSym. In Dresden he led the prestigious choral society Liedertafel, for which he wrote several works, including the “biblical scene” Das Liebesmahl der Apostel. He was also preoccupied during those years in working on the score and music for Tannhäuser,completing it on April 13, 1845. He conducted its first performance in Dresden on Oct. 19, 1845. He subsequently revised the score, which was staged to better advantage there on Aug. 1,1847. Concurrently, he began work on Lohengrin,which he completed on April 28, 1848. Wagner’s efforts to have his works publ. failed, leaving him again in debt. Without waiting for further performances of his operas that had already been presented to the public, he drew up the first prose outline of Der Nibelungen-Mythus als Entwurf zu einem Drama,the prototype of the epic Ringcycle; in Nov. 1848 he began work on the poem for Siegfrieds Tod. At that time he joined the revolutionary Vaterlandsverein, and was drawn into active participation in the movement, culminating in an open uprising in May 1849. An order was issued for his arrest, and he had to leave Dresden; he made his way to Weimar, where he found a cordial reception from Liszt; he then proceeded to Vienna, where a Prof. Widmann lent him his own passport so that Wagner could cross the border of Saxony on his way to Zürich. There, he made his home in July 1849; Minna joined him there a few months later. Shortly before leaving Dresden he had sketched 2 dramas, Jesus von Nazarethand Achilleus;both remained unfinished. In Zürich he wrote a number of essays expounding his philosophy of art: Die Kunst und die Revolution (1849), Das Kunstwerk der Zukunft (1849), Kunst und Klima (18503), Oper und Drama (1851; rev. 1868), and Eine Mitteilung an meine Freunde (1851). The ideas expressed in Das Kunstwerk der Zukunftgave rise to the description of Wagner’s operas as “music of the future” by his opponents; they were also described as Gesamtkunstwerk, “total artwork,” by his admirers. He rejected both descriptions as distortions of his real views. He was equally opposed to the term “music drama,” which nevertheless became an accepted definition for all of his operas.
In Feb. 1850 Wagner was again in Paris; there he fell in love with Jessie Laussot, the wife of a wine merchant; however, she eventually left Wagner, and he returned to Minna in Zürich. On Aug. 28,1850, Liszt conducted the successful premiere of Lohengrinin Weimar. In 1851 he wrote the verse text of Der junge Siegfried,and prose sketches for Das Rheingoldand Die Walküre. In June 1852 he finished the text of Die Walküreand of Das Rheingold;he completed the entire libretto of Der Ring des Nibelungenon Dec. 15, 1852, and it was privately printed in 1853. In Nov. 1853 he began composition of the music for Das Rheingold,completing the full score on Sept. 26, 1854. In June 1854 he commenced work on the music of Die Walküre,which he finished on March 20, 1856. In 1854 he became friendly with a wealthy Zürich merchant, Otto Wesendonck, and his wife, Mathilde. We-sendonck was willing to give Wagner a substantial loan, to be repaid out of his performance rights. The situation became complicated when Wagner developed an affection for Mathilde, which in all probability remained platonic. However, he set to music 5 lyric poems written by Mathilde herself; the album was publ. as the Wesendonk-Liederin 1857. In 1855 he conducted a series of 8 concerts with the Phil. Soc. of London (March 12-June 25). His performances were greatly praised by English musicians, and he had the honor of meeting Queen Victoria, who invited him to her loge at the intermission of his seventh concert. In June 1856 he made substantial revisions in the last dramas of Der Ring des Nibelungen,changing their titles to Siegfriedand Götterdämmerung. Throughout these years he was preoccupied with writing a new opera, Tristan und Isolde,permeated with the dual feelings of love and death. In April 1857 he prepared the first sketch of Parzival (later titled Parsifal). In 1858 he moved to Venice, where he completed the full score of the second act of Tristan und Isolde. The Dresden authorities, acting through their Austrian confederates and still determined to bring Wagner to trial as a revolutionary, pressured Venice to expel him from its territory. Once more Wagner took refuge in Switzerland. He decided to stay in Lucerne; while there he completed the score of Tristan und Isolde,on Aug. 6, 1859.
In Sept. 1859 he moved to Paris, where Minna joined him. In 1860 he conducted 3 concerts of his music at the Théâtre-Italien. Napoleon III became interested in his work, and in March 1860 ordered the director of the Paris Opera to produce Wagner’s opera Tannhäuser;after considerable work, revisions, and a tr. into French, it was given at the Opéra on March 13,1861. It proved to be a fiasco, and Wagner withdrew the opera after 3 performances. For some reason the Jockey Club of Paris led a vehement protest against him; the critics also joined in this opposition, mainly because the French audiences were not accustomed to the mystically romantic, heavily Germanic operatic music. Invectives hurled against him by the Paris press make extraordinary reading; the comparison of Wagner’s music with the sound produced by a domestic cat walking down the keyboard of the piano was one of the favorite critical devices. The French caricaturists exercised their wit by picturing him in the act of hammering a poor listener’s ear. A Wagner “Schimpflexikon” was compiled by Wilhelm Tappert and publ. in 1877 in the hope of putting Wagner’s detractors to shame, but they would not be pacified; the amount of black bile poured on him even after he had attained the stature of celebrity is incredible for its grossness and vulgarity. Hanslick used his great literary gift and a flair for a striking simile to damn him as a purveyor of cacophony. Oscar Wilde added his measure of wit. “I like Wagner’s music better than anybody’s,” he remarked in The Picture of Dorian Gray.“It is so loud that one can talk the whole time without people hearing what one says.” In an amazing turnabout, Nietzsche, a worshipful admirer of Wagner, publ. a venomous denunciation of his erstwhile idol in Der Fall Wagner,in which he vesuviated in a sulfuric eruption of righteous wrath; Wagner made music itself sick, he proclaimed; but at the time Nietzsche himself was already on the borderline of madness.
Politically, Wagner’s prospects began to improve; on July 22, 1860, he was informed of a partial amnesty by the Saxon authorities. In Aug. 1860 he visited Baden-Baden, in his first visit to Germany in 11 years. Finally, on March 18, 1862, he was granted a total amnesty, which allowed him access to Saxony. In Nov. 1861 Wesendonck had invited Wagner to Venice; free from political persecution, he could now go there without fear. While in Venice he returned to a scenario he had prepared in Marienbad in 1845 for a comic opera, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. In Feb. 1862 he moved to Biebrich, where he began composing the score for Die Meistersinger. After a brief period of reconciliation with Wagner, Minna left him, settling in Dresden, where she died in 1866. In order to repair his financial situation, he accepted a number of concert appearances, traveling as an orch. conductor to Vienna, Prague, St. Petersburg, Moscow, and other cities (1862-63). In 1862 he gave a private reading of Die Meistersingerin Vienna. It is said that Hanslick was angered when he found out that Wagner had caricatured him in the part of Beckmesser in Die Meistersinger (the original name of the character was Hans Lick), and he let out his discomfiture in further attacks on Wagner.
Wagner’s fortunes changed spectacularly in 1864 when young King Ludwig II of Bavaria ascended the throne and invited him to Munich with the promise of unlimited help in carrying out his various projects. In return, Wagner composed the Huldigungsmarsch,which he dedicated to his royal patron. The publ. correspondence between Wagner and the King is extraordinary in its display of mutual admiration, gratitude, and affection; still, difficulties soon developed when the Bavarian Cabinet told Ludwig that his lavish support of Wagner’s projects threatened the Bavarian economy. Ludwig was forced to advise him to leave Munich. Wagner took this advice as an order, and late in 1865 he went to Switzerland. A very serious difficulty also arose in Wagner’s emotional life, when he became intimately involved with Liszt’s daughter Cosima, wife of Hans von Bülow, the famous conductor and an impassioned proponent of Wagner’s music. On April 10,1865, Cosima Bülow gave birth to Wagner’s daughter, whom he named Isolde after the heroine of his opera that Bülow was preparing for performance in Munich. Its premiere took place with great acclaim on June 10, 1865, 2 months after the birth of Isolde, with Bülow conducting. During the summer of 1865 he prepared the prose sketch of Parzival,and began to dictate his autobiography, Mein Leben,to Cosima. In Jan. 1866 he resumed the composition of Die Meistersinger,he settled in a villa in Tribschen, on Lake Lucerne, where Cosima joined him permanently in Nov. 1868. He completed the full score of Die Meistersingeron Oct. 24, 1867. On June 21, 1868, Bülow conducted its premiere in Munich in the presence of King Ludwig, who sat in the royal box with Wagner. A son, significantly named Siegfried, was born to Cosima and Wagner on June 6,1869. On Sept. 22,1869, Das Rheingoldwas produced in Munich. On June 26,1870, Die Walkürewas staged there. On July 18,1870, Cosima and Bülow were divorced, and on Aug. 25, 1870, Wagner and Cosima were married in Lucerne. In Dec. 1870 Wagner wrote the Siegfried Idyll,based on the themes from his opera; it was performed in their villa in Bayreuth on Christmas morning, the day after Cosima’s birthday, as a surprise for her. In 1871 he wrote the Kaisermarschto mark the victorious conclusion of the Franco-German War; he conducted it in the presence of Kaiser Wilhelm I at a concert in the Royal Opera House in Berlin on May 5, 1871.
On May 12 of that year, while in Leipzig, Wagner made public his plans for realizing his cherished dream of building his own theater in Bayreuth for the production of the entire cycle of Der Ring des Nibelungen. In Dec. 1871 the Bayreuth town council offered him a site for a proposed Festspielhaus; on May 22, 1872, the cornerstone was laid; Wagner commemorated the event by conducting a performance of Beethoven’s 9thSym. (this was his 59thbirthday). In 1873 Wagner began to build his own home in Bayreuth, which he called “Wahnfried” i.e., ’Tree from Delusion/’ In order to complete the building of the Festspielhaus, he appealed to King Ludwig for additional funds. Ludwig gave him 100,000 talers for this purpose. Now the dream of Wagner’s life was realized. Between June and Aug. 1876 Der Ring des Nibelungenwent through 3 rehearsals; King Ludwig attended the final dress rehearsals; the official premiere of the cycle took place on Aug. 13,14,16, and 17, 1876, under the direction of Hans Richter. Kaiser Wilhelm I made a special journey from Berlin to attend the performances of Das Rheingoldand Die Walküre. In all, 3 complete productions of the Ringcycle were given between Aug. 13 and Aug. 30, 1876. Ludwig was faithful to the end to Wagner, whom he called “my divine friend.” In his castle Neuschwanstein he installed architectural representations of scenes from Wagner’s operas. Soon Ludwig’s mental deterioration became obvious to everyone, and he was committed to an asylum. There, on June 13,1883, he overpowered the psychiatrist escorting him on a walk and dragged him to his death in the Starnberg Lake, drowning himself as well. Ludwig survived Wagner by 4 months.
The spectacles in Bayreuth attracted music-lovers and notables from all over the world. Even those who were not partial to Wagner’s ideas or appreciative of his music went to Bayreuth out of curiosity. Tchaikovsky was one such skeptical visitor. Despite world success and fame, Wagner still labored under financial difficulties. He even addressed a letter to an American dentist practicing in Dresden (who also treated Wagner’s teeth) in which he tried to interest him in arranging Wagner’s permanent transfer to the U.S. He voiced disillusionment in his future prospects in Germany, and said he would be willing to settle in America provided a sum of $1 million would be guaranteed to him by American bankers, and a comfortable estate for him and his family could be found in a climatically clement part of the country. Nothing came of this particular proposal. He did establish an American connection when he wrote, for a fee of $5,000, a Grosser Festmarschfor the observance of the U.S. centennial in 1876, dedicated to the “beautiful young ladies of America.” In the middle of all this, Wagner became infatuated with Judith Gautier; their affair lasted for about 2 years (1876-78). He completed the full score of Parsifal (as it was now called) on Jan. 13, 1882, in Palermo. It was performed for the first time at the Bayreuth Festival on July 26,1882, followed by 15 subsequent performances. At the final performance, on Aug. 29,1882, Wagner stepped to the podium in the last act and conducted the work to its close; this was his last appearance as a conductor. He went to Venice in Sept. 1882 for a period of rest (he had angina pectoris). Early in the afternoon of Feb. 13, 1883, he suffered a massive heart attack, and died in Cosima’s presence. His body was interred in a vault in the garden of his Wahnfried villa in Bayreuth.
Wagner’s role in music history is immense. Not only did he create works of great beauty and tremendous brilliance, but he generated an entirely new concept of the art of music, exercising an influence on generations of composers all over the globe. Richard Strauss extended Wagner’s grandiose vision to symphonic music, fashioning the form of a tone poem that uses leading motifs and vivid programmatic description of the scenes portrayed in his music. Even Rimsky-Korsakov, far as he stood from Wagner’s ideas of musical composition, reflected the spirit of Parsifalin his own religious opera, The Legend of the City ofKitezh. Schoenberg’s first significant work, Verklärte Nacht,is Wagnerian in its color. Lesser composers, unable to escape Wagner’s magic domination, attempted to follow him literally by writing trilogies and tetralogies on a parallel plan with his Ring;a pathetic example is the career of August Bungert, who wrote 2 operatic cycles using Homer’s epics as the source of his libretti. Wagner’s reform of opera was incomparably more far-reaching in aim, import, and effect than that of Gluck, whose main purpose was to counteract the arbitrary predominance of the singers; this goal Wagner accomplished through insistence upon the dramatic truth of his music. When he rejected traditional opera, he did so in the conviction that such an artificial form could not serve as a basis for true dramatic expression. In its place he gave the world a new form and new techniques. So revolutionary was Wagner’s art that conductors and singers had to undergo special training in the new style of interpretation in order to perform his works. Thus he became the founder of interpretative conducting and of a new school of dramatic singing, so that such terms as “Wagnerian tenor” and “Wagnerian soprano” became a part of the musical vocabulary.
In his many essays and declarations Wagner condemns the illogical plan of Italian opera and French grand opera. To quote his own words, “The mistake in the art-form of the opera consists in this, that a means of expression (music) was made the end, and the end to be expressed (the drama) was made a means.” The choice of subjects assumes utmost importance in Wagner’s aesthetics. He wrote: “The subject treated by the word-tone poet [Worttondichter]is entirely human, freed from all convention and from everything historically formal.” The new artwork creates its own artistic form; continuous thematic development of basic motifs becomes a fundamental procedure for the logical cohesion of the drama; these highly individualized generating motifs, appearing singly, in bold relief, or subtly varied and intertwined with other motifs, present the ever-changing soul states of the characters of the drama, and form the connecting links for the dramatic situations of the total artwork, in a form of musical declamation that Wagner described as “Sprechsingen.” Characters in Wagner’s stage works themselves become symbols of such soul states, so that even mythical gods, magic-workers, heroic horses, and speaking birds become expressions of eternal verities, illuminating the human behavior. It is for this reason that in most of his operas Wagner selected figures that reflect philosophical ideas. Yet, this very solemnity of Wagner’s great images on the stage bore the seeds of their own destruction in a world governed by different aesthetic principles. Thus it came to pass that the Wagnerian domination of the musical stage suddenly lost its power with changes in human society and aesthetic codes. Spectators and listeners were no longer interested in solving artistic puzzles on the stage. A demand for human simplicity arose against Wagnerian heroic complexity. The public at large found greater enjoyment in the realistic drama of Verdi’s romantic operas than in the unreality of symbolic truth in Wagner’s operas. By the second quarter of the 20thcentury, few if any composers tried to imitate Wagner; all at once his grandeur and animation became an unnatural and asphyxiating constraint.
In the domain of melody, harmony, and orchestration, Wagner’s art was as revolutionary as was his total artwork on the stage. He introduced the idea of an endless melody, a continuous flow of diatonic and chromatic tones; the tonality became fluid and uncertain, producing an impression of unattainability, so that the listener accustomed to Classical modulatory schemes could not easily feel the direction toward the tonic; the Preludeto Tristan und Isoldeis a classic example of such fluidity of harmonic elements. The use of long unresolved dominant-ninth-chords and the dramatic tremolos of diminished-seventh-chords contributed to this state of musical uncertainty, which disturbed the critics and the audiences alike. Wagnerian harmony also became the foundation of the new method of composition that adopted a free flow of modulatory progressions. Without Wagner the chromatic idioms of the 20thcentury could not exist. In orchestration, too, Wagner introduced great innovations; he created new instruments, such as the so-called “Wagner tuba,” and he increased his demands on the virtuosity of individual orch. players. The vertiginous flight of the bassoon to the high E in the Overtureto Tannhäusercould not have been attempted before the advent of Wagner.
Wagner became the target of political contention during World War I when audiences in the Allied countries associated his sonorous works with German imperialism. An even greater obstacle to further performances of Wagner’s music arose with the rise of Hitler. Hitler ordered the slaughter of millions of Jews; he was an enthusiastic admirer of Wagner, who himself entertained anti- Semitic notions; ergo, Wagner was guilty by association of mass murder. Can art be separated from politics, particularly when politics become murderous? Jewish musicians in Tel Aviv refused to play the Preludeto Tristan und Isoldewhen it was put on the program of a sym. concert under Zubin Mehta, and booed him for his intention to inflict Wagner on Wagner’s philosophical victims.
Several periodicals dealing with Wagner were publ. in Germany and elsewhere; Wagner himself began issuing Bayreuther Blätterin 1878 as an aid to understanding his operas; this journal continued publication until 1938. Remarkably enough, a French periodical, Revue Wagnérienne,began appearing in 1885, at a time when French composers realized the tremendous power of Wagnerian aesthetics; it was publ. sporadically for a number of years. From 1888 to 1895, a Wagner Soc. in London publ. a quarterly journal entitled, significantly, The Meister.
dramatic: Opera and Music Drama Die Hochzeit (1832-33; partly destroyed; introduction, septet, and chorus perf. at the Neues Theater, Leipzig, Feb. 13, 1938); Die Feen,romantische Oper (1833-34; Königliches Hof- und Nationaltheater, Munich, June 29, 1888, Fischer conducting); Das Liebesverbot, oder Die Novize von Palermo,grosse komische Oper (1834-35; Magdeburg, March 29, 1836, composer conducting); Rienzi, der Letzte der Tribunen,grosse tragische Oper (1837-40; Königliches Hof theater, Dresden, Oct. 20, 1842, Reissiger conducting; rev. 1843); Der fliegende Holländer,romantische Oper (1841; Königliches Hoftheater, Dresden, Jan. 2,1843, composer conducting; reorchestrated in 1846, then rev. in 1852 and 1860); Tannhäuser und der Sängerkrieg auf Wartburg,grosse romantische Oper (first titled Der Venusberg;“Dresden” version, 1842-45; Königliches Hof theater, Dresden, Oct. 19, 1845, composer conducting; rev. 1845-7; “Paris” version, a rev. version with additions and a French tr., 1860-61; Opéra, Paris, March 13,1861, Dietsch conducting; final version, with a German tr. of the French revision and additions, 1865; Königliches Hof- und Nationaltheater, Munich, March 5,1865); Lohengrin,romantische Oper (1845-8; Hof theater, Weimar, Aug. 28, 1850, Liszt conducting); Tristan und Isolde (1856-59; Königliches Hof- und Nationaltheater, Munich, June 10, 1865, Bülow conducting); Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (1stsketch, 1845; 1861-67; Königliches Hof- und Nationaltheater, Munich, June 21, 1868, Bülow conducting); Der Ring des Nibelungen,Bühnenfestspiel für drei Tage und einen Vorabend (Istprose outline as Der Nibelungen- Mythus als Entwurf zu einem Drama,1848; Vorabend: Das Rheingold,1851-54; Königliches Hof- und Nationaltheater, Munich, Sept. 22, 1869, Wüllner conducting; erster Tag: Die Walküre,1851-56; Königliches Hof- und Nationaltheater, Munich, June 26, 1870, Wüllner conducting; zweiter Tag: Siegfried,first titled Der junge Siegfried;1851-52, 1857, 1864-65, and 1869; Festspielhaus, Bayreuth, Aug. 16, 1876, Richter conducting; dritter Tag: Götterdämmerung,first titled Siegfrieds Tod;1848-52 and 1869-74; Festspielhaus, Bayreuth, Aug. 17,1876, Richter conducting; 1stcomplete perf. of the Ringcycle, Festspielhaus, Bayreuth, Aug. 13, 14, 16, and 17, 1876, Richter conducting); Parsifal,Bühnenweihfestspiel (first titled Parzival;first sketch, 1857; 1865 and 1877-82; Festspielhaus, Bayreuth, July 26, 1882, Levi conducting). ORCH.: Overture in B-flat major, the Paukenschlag-Ouverture (Leipzig, Dec. 24, 1830; not extant); Overture to Schiller’s Die Braut von Messina (1830; not extant); Overture in C major (1830; not extant); Overture in D minor (Leipzig, Dec. 25,1831); Overture in E-flat major (1831; not extant); Overture to Raupach’s König Enzio,in E minor (Leipzig, Feb. 17,1832); Overture in C major (Leipzig, April 30,1832); Sym. in C major (Prague, Nov. 1832); Sym. in E major (1834; fragment); Overture to Apel’s Columbus,in E-flat major (Magdeburg, Feb. 16,1835); Overture Polonia,in C major (begun 1832, finished 1836); Overture Rule Britannia,in D major (1837); music for Singer’s Die letzte Heidenverschwörung in Preussen (1837; fragment); Overture to Goethe’s Faust (1840; reorchestrated 1843-44; Dresden, July 22, 1844; rev. and reorchestrated as Eine Faust-Ouvertüre,1855; Zürich, Jan. 23, 1855); Trauermusikfor Wind Instruments, after motifs from Weber’s Euryanthe (Dresden, Dec. 14,1844, for the reburial ceremony of Weber’s remains); Träumefor Violin and Small Orch. (Zürich, Dec. 23,1857); Huldigungsmarsch (1stversion, for Military Band, Munich, Oct. 5,1864; 2ndversion, for Large Orch., completed by Raff); Siegfried Idyllfor Small Orch. (Tribschen, Dec. 25, 1870); Kaisermarsch (Berlin, May 5, 1871); Grosser Festmarsch zur Eröffnung der hundertjährigen Gedenkfeier der Unabhängigkeitserklärung der vereinigten Staaten von Nord-Amerika (also known as The American Centennial March’,Philadelphia, May 10, 1876). Also a projected orch. work in E minor (1830?; fragment); a scene for a pastoral play after Goethe’s Laune der Verliebten (1830?); Entre-acte tragique No. 1,in D major (1832?; fragment) and No. 2, in C minor (1832?; sketch). Piano: Sonata in D minor (1829; not extant); Sonata in F minor (1829; not extant); Doppelfuge (1831?; 103 bars, with corrections in Weinlig’s hand); Sonata in B-flat major, for 4-Hands (1831; not extant); Sonata in B-flat major, op.l (1831); Fantasiein F-sharp minor, op.3 (1831); Polonaisein D major (1831-32); Polonaisein D major, for 4- Hands, op.2 (1832?); Sonata in A major, op.4 (1832); Albumblatt (Lied ohne Worte) in E major (1840); Polka in G major (1853); Eine Sonate für das Album von FrauM[athilde].W[esendonck]. in A-flat major (1853); Züricher Vielliebschen: Walzer, Polka oder sonst wasin E-flat major (1854); Albumblatt, In das Album der FürstinM[etternich]. in C major (1861); Ankunft bei den schwarzen Schwänen (Albumblatt for Countess Pourtalès) in A-flat major (1861); Albumblatt für Frau Betty Schottin E-flat major (1875). VOCAL: Choral: Neujahrs-Kantatefor Chorus and Orch. (Magdeburg, Dec. 31, 1834; arranged with a new text by Peter Cornelius as Künstlerweihe,and perf. at Bayreuth on Wagner’s 60thbirthday, May 22, 1873); Nicolai Volkshymnefor Tenor or Soprano, Chorus, and Orch. (Riga, Nov. 21, 1837); Descendons, descendonsfor Chorus, for La Descente de la courtille (1840); Weihegruss zur feierlichen Enthüllung des Denkmals Königs Friedrich August I (“des Gerechten”) von Sachsen (Der Tag erscheint) for Men’s Chorus (1843; as Gesang zur Enthüllung des Denkmals Sr. Mag. des hochseligen Königs Friedrich August des Gerechten am7. Juni 1843for Men’s Chorus and Brass; for the unveiling of the statue of King Friedrich August of Saxony, Dresden, June 7, 1843); Das Liebes-mahl der Apostel,biblical scene for Men’s Chorus and Orch. (Dresden, July 6, 1843); Gruss seiner Treuen an Friedrich August den Geliebten (Im treuen Sachsenland) for Men’s Chorus (Dresden, Aug. 12, 1843; for the return from England of King Friedrich August of Saxony); Hebt an den Sang (An Webers Grabe) for Men’s Chorus (Dresden, Dec. 15, 1844; for the reburial ceremony of Weber’s remains); Wahlspruch für die deutsche Feuerwehr (Treue sei unsre Zier)(1869); Kinderkatechismus zu Koseis Geburtstagfor 4 High Voices (1873; orchestrated 1874). Also a scene and aria for Soprano and Orch. (1832; not extant); “Doch jetzt wohin ich blicke,” aria for Tenor and Orch. for Marschner’s opera Der Vampyr (1833); aria for Bass and Orch. for Weigl’s opera Die Schweizerfamilie (1837; not extant); “Sanfte Wehmut will sich regen,” aria for Bass and Orch. for Blum’s Singspiel Marie, Max und Michel (Riga, Sept. 1, 1837); “Norma il prédesse,” aria for Bass, Men’s Chorus, and Orch. for Bellini’s opera Norma (1839). Songs: Sieben Kompositionen zu Goethes Faust,op.5: 1, Lied der Soldaten (Burgen mit hohen Mauern); 2, Bauern unter der Linde (Der Schäfter putzte sich zum Tanz)’,3, Branders Lied (Es war eine Ratt im Kellernest);4, Lied des Mephis-topheles (Es war einmal ein König); 5, Lied des Mephistopheles (Was machst du mir vor Liebchens Tür);6, Gretchen am Spinnrade (Meine Ruh ist hin); 7, Melodram Gretchens (Ach neige, du Schmerzenreiche)(1831; rev. 1832); Glockentöne (1832; not extant); Carnevalslied from Das Liebesverbot (1835-36); Der Tannenbaum (1838); Tout n’est qu’images fugitives (1839); 3 mélodies:1, Dors, mon enfant; 2, Mignonne;3, L’Attente (1839); Adieux de Marie Stuart (1840); Les Deux Grenadiers,to the poem by Heine (1840); Gruss seiner Treuen an Friedrich August den Geliebten (Im treuen Sachsenland)(a version for Baritone; 1844); 5 Gedichte für eine
Frauenstimme (Wesendonk-Lieder): 1, Der Engel (1857); 2, Stehe still (1858); 3, Im Treibhaus (1858); 4, Schmerzen (1857); 5, Träume (1857); Scherzlied für Louis Kraft (1871); also Extase (1839; fragment) and La Tombe dit à la rose (1839; fragment). ARRANGEMENTS AND EDITIONS: Piano score of Beethoven’s 9thSym. (1830; unpubl.); Piano score of J. Haydn’s Sym. No. 103, in E-flat major (1831-32; not extant); Aria from Bellini’s II Pirata,as orchestrated from the piano score for use in La Straniera (1833); arrangement of vocal score for Donizetti’s La Favorite (1840) and L’elisir d’amore (1840); arrangement of vocal score for Halévy’s La Reine de Chypre (1841) and Le Guitarrero (1841); new tr. and new close to the overture of Gluck’s Iphigénie en Aulide (1846-47; Dresden, Feb. 22,1847); Palestrina’s Stabat Mater,with indications for performance (Dresden, March 8,1848); Mozart’s Don Giovanni,version of dialogues and recitatives and, in parts, new tr. (Zürich, Nov. 8, 1850; not extant).
Wagner devoted a large amount of his enormous productive activity to writing. Besides the dramatic works he set to music, he also wrote the following: Leubald. Ein Trauerspiel (1826-28); Die hohe Braut, oder Bianca und Giuseppe,4-act tragic opera (prose scenario, 1836 and 1842; music composed by Johann Kittl and perf. as Bianca und Giuseppe, oder Die Franzosen vor Nizzain Prague, 1848); Männerlist grosser als Frauenlist, oder Die glückliche Bärenfamilie,2-act comic opera (libretto, 1837; some music completed); Eine Pilgerfahrt zu Beethoven,novella (1840); Ein Ende in Paris,novella (1841); Ein glücklicher Abend,novella (1841); Die Sarazenin,3-act opera (prose scenario, 1841-42; verse text, 1843); Die Bergwerke zu Falun,3-act opera (prose scenario for an unwritten libretto, 1841-42); Friedrich L,play (prose scenario, 1846 and 1848); Alexander der Grosse,sketch for a play (184?; not extant); Jesus von Nazareth,play (prose scenario, 1849); Achilleus,sketch for a play (1849-50; fragments only); Wieland der Schmied,3-act opera (prose scenario, 1850); Die Sieger,opera (prose sketch, 1856); Lutheror Luthers Hochzeit,sketch for a play (1868); Lustspiel in 1 Akt (draft, 1868); Eine Kapitulation: Lustspiel in antiker Manier,poem (1870). Wagner expounded his theories on music, politics, philosophy, religion, etc., in numerous essays; among the most important are Über deutsches Musikwesen (1840); Die Kunst und die Revolution (1849); Das Kunstwerk der Zukunft (1849); Kunst und Klima (1850); Oper und Drama (1851; rev. 1868); Eine Mitteilung an meine Freunde (1851); Über Staat und Religion (1864); Über das Dirigieren (1869); Beethoven (1870); Über die Anwendung der Musik auf das Drama (1879); and Religion und Kunst (1880). The first ed. of his collected writings, R. Wagner: Gesammelte Schriften und Dichtungen (9 vols., Leipzig, 1871-73; vol. 10, 1883), was prepared by Wagner himself; W.A. Ellis ed. and tr. it into Eng. as Richard Wagner’s Prose Works (8 vols., London, 1892-99). H. von Wolzogen and R. Sternfeld ed. the 5thed. of the German original as Samtliche Schriften und Dichtungen,adding Vols. XI and XII (Leipzig, 1911); they also prepared the 6thed., adding Vols. XIII-XVI (Leipzig, 1914). Wagner’s important autobiography, Mein Leben,in 4 parts, was privately publ.; parts 1-3, bringing the narrative down to Aug. 1861, were publ. between 1870 and 1875; part 4, covering the years from 1861 to 1864, was publ. in 1881; these were limited eds., being distributed only among his friends; the entire work was finally publ. in an abridged ed. in Munich in 1911 (Eng. tr. as My Life,London and N.Y., 1911); the suppressed passages were first publ. in Die Musik,XXII (1929-30), and then were tr. into Eng. in E. Newman’s Fact and Fiction about Wagner (London, 1931); a definitive ed., based on the original MS, was publ. in Munich in 1963, ed. by M. Gregor-Dellin. Another important source is Wagner’s diary-notebook, the so-called Brown Book,in which he made entries between 1865 and 1882; it was ed. by J. Bergfeld as Richard Wagner: Das Braune Buch: Tagebuchaufzeichnungen, 1865-1882 (Zürich, 1975; Eng. tr. by G. Bird as The Diary of Richard Wagner, 1865-1882; The Brown Book,London, 1980). See also the diaries of Cosima Wagner; they have been ed. by M. Gregor-Dellin and D. Mack as Cosima Wagner: Die Tagebücher, 1869-1877 (2 vols., Munich, 1976-77; Eng. tr. by G. Skelton as Cosima Wagner’s Diaries, 2vols., N.Y., 1977, 1980).
COLLECTED EDITIONS, SOURCE MATERIAL: The first collected ed. of his works, R. W.s Werke,was ed. by M. Balling (10 vols., Leipzig, 1912-29); the Bayerische Akademie der Schönen Künste of Munich is publ. a new critical ed., the Gesamtausgabe der Werke R. W.s,under the editorship of C. Dahlhaus et al. (Mainz, 1970 et seq.). E. Kastner prepared a W.-Catalog: Chronologisches Verzeichniss der von und über R. W. erschienenen Schriften, Musikwerke (Offenbach, 1878). J. Death-ridge, M. Geck, and E. Voss ed. an exhaustive Verzeichnis der musikalischen Werke R. W.s und ihrer Quellen (Mainz, 1983). Other sources include: N. Oesterlein, Katalog einer R. W.-Bibliothek: Nach den vorliegenden Originalien zu einem authentischen Nachschlagebuch durch die gesammte insbesondere deutsche W.-Litteratur bearbeitet und veröffentlicht (4 vols., Leipzig, 1882, 1886, 1891, 1895); C. Glasenapp and H. von Stein, W.- Lexikon: Hauptbegriffe der Kunst und Weltanschauung W.s in wörtlichen Ausführungen aus seinen Schriften zusammengestellt (Stuttgart, 1883); C. Glasenapp, W.-Enzyklopädie: Haupterscheinungen der Kunst- und Kulturgeschichte im Lichte der Anschauung W.s in wörtlichen Ausführungen aus seinen Schriften dargestellt (2 vols., Leipzig, 1891); E. Kastner, Verzeichnis der ersten Aufführungen von R. W.s dramatischen Werken (Vienna, 1896; 2nded., Leipzig, 1899); H. Silège, Bibliographie w.ienne française (Paris, 1902); R Pabst, Verzeichnis von R. W.s Werken, Schriften und Dichtungen, deren hauptsächlichsten Bearbeitungen, sowie von besonders interessanter Litteratur, Abbildungen, Büsten und Kunstblättern, den Meister und seine Schöpfungen betreffend (Leipzig, 1905); M. Burrell, Catalogue of the Burrell Collection of W. Documents, Letters and Other Biographical Material (London, 1929); O. Strobel, Genie am Werk: R. W.s Schaffen und Wirken im Spiegel eigenhandschriftlicher Urkunden: Führer durch die einmalige Ausstellung einer umfassenden Auswahl von Schätzen aus dem Archiv des Hauses Wahnfried (Bayreuth, 1933; rev. ed., 1934); E. Terry, A R. W. Dictionary (N.Y., 1939); C. von Western-hagen, R. W.s Dresdener Bibliothek, 1842-1849: Neue Dokumente zur Geschichte seines Schaffens (Wiesbaden, 1966); H. Kirchmeyer, Das zeitgenössische W.-Bild (3 vols., Regensburg; Vol. I, W. in Dresden,publ. 1972; Vol. II, Dokumente, 1842-45,publ. 1967; Vol. III, Dokumente, 1846-50,publ. 1968); H.-M. Plesske, R. W. in der Dichtung: Bibliographie deutschsprachiger Veröffentlichungen (Bayreuth, 1971); W Schuler, Der Bayreuther Kreis von seiner Entstehung bis zum Ausgang der wilhelminischen Ära: W.kult und Kulturreform im Geiste völkischer Weltanschauung (Münster, 1971); H. Klein, Erst- und Frühdrucke der Textbücher von R. W.: Bibliographie (Tutzing, 1979); H. Klein, Erstdrucke der musikalischen Werke von R. W.(Tutzing, 1983); U. Müller, ed., R.-W.-Handbuch (Stuttgart, 1986; Eng. tr. as W. Handbook,Cambridge, 1992); H.-J. Bauer, R. W. Lexikon (Bergisch Gladbach, 1988); B. Millington, ed., The W. Compendium: A Guide to W/s Life and Music (N.Y., 1992); W. Brieg, M. Dürrer, and A. Mielke, W.- Briefe-Verzeichnis: Chronologisches Verzeichnis der Briefe von R. W.(Wiesbaden, 1998). YEARBOOKS AND OTHER PUBLICATIONS: Bayreuther Blätter (founded by Wagner; Chemnitz, later Bayreuth, 1878-1938); La Revue Wagnérienne (Paris, 1885-88); R.-W.-Jahrbuch (Stuttgart, 1886); The Meister (quarterly journal of the British Wagner Soc, London, 1888-95); Bayreuth: Handbuch für Festspielbesucher (Bayreuth, 1894-1930); Bayreuther Festspielführer (also issued under other titles; Bayreuth, 1901-39); L. Frankenstein, ed., R.-W.-Jahrbuch (5 vols., Berlin, 1906, 1907, 1908, 1912, 1913); O. Strobel, ed., Neue W.-Forschungen: Veröffentlichungen der R.-W.-Forschungsstatte Bayreuth (Karlsruhe, 1943); Das Bayreuther Festspielbuch (Bayreuth, 1950-51); “Bayreuth”-Jahreshefte (Bayreuth, 1954 et seq.); Tribschener Blätter (publ, by the Zeitschrift der Schweizerischen Richard-Wagner-Gesellschaft of Lucerne, 1956 et seq.); W.(publ, by the Wagner Soc. of London, 1971 et seq.). CORRESPONDENCE: Almost all of the collections of his letters to 1912 were republ. by Breitkopf & Härtel as R. W.s Briefe in Originalausgaben (17 vols., Leipzig, 1912); a number of the letters appear in mutilated form (portions expressing political and religious views being suppressed); an early attempt to bring out an unmutilated ed. was begun by J. Kapp and E. Kastner, R. W.s Gesammelte Briefe (1830-50) (2 vols., Leipzig, 1914); however, this ed. was never completed; see also the following: E. Kloss, Briefe an Hans von Bülow (Jena, 1916); S. von Hausegger, ed., JR. W.s Briefe an Frau Julie Ritter (Munich, 1920); L. Karpath, ed., R. W.: Briefe an Hans Richter (Berlin, 1924); W Altmann, R. W.s Briefe, ausgewählt und erläutert (2 vols., Leipzig, 1925; Eng. tr., London, 1927); W Lippert, R. W.s Verbannung und Rückkehr, 1849-62 (Dresden, 1927; Eng. tr. as W. in Exile,London, 1930); R. Sternfeld, R. W. Aufsätze und Briefe des Meisters aus Paris (Grossenwörden, 1927); H. Scholz, ed., R. W. an Mathilde Maier (1862-1878)(Leipzig, 1930); E. Lenrow, ed. and tr., The Letters of R. W. to Anton Pusinelli (N.Y, 1932); J. Tiersot, Lettres françaises de R. W.(Paris, 1935); W Schuh, ed. and tr., Die Briefe R. W.s an Judith Gautier (Zürich, 1936; enl. ed., with French original, as R. et Cosima W.: Lettres à Judith Gautier,ed. by L. Guichard, 1964); O. Strobel, ed., König Ludwig II. und R. W.: Briefwechsel, mit vielen anderen Urkunden (5 vols., Karlsruhe, 1936-39); J. Burk, ed., Letters ofR. W. The Burrell Collection (N.Y., 1950; Ger. ed., Frankfurt am Main, 1953); G. Strobel and W. Wolf, eds., R. W.: Sämtliche Briefe (Leipzig, 1967 et seq.); S. Spencer and B. Millington, trs. and eds., Selected Letters of R. W.(London, 1987). BIOGRAPHICAL: C Cabrol, R. W.(Paris, 1861); A. de Gasperini, La Nouvelle Allemagne musicale: R. W.(Paris, 1866); F. Hueffer, R. W.(London, 1872; 3rded., 1912); F. Filippi, R. W.(Leipzig, 1876); C. Glasenapp, R. W.s Leben und Wirken (2 vols., Leipzig, 1876-77; 3rded., rev. and enl., as Das Leben R. W.s,6 vols., Leipzig, 1894-1911; Eng. tr. by W Ellis as Life ofR. W.,6 vols., London, 1900-08; Vols. I-III based on Glasenapp; reprinted N.Y., 1977, with new introduction by G. Buelow; 5thGer. ed., rev., 1910-23); P. Lindau, R. W.(Paris, 1885); A. Jullien, R. W.: Sa vie et ses oeuvres (Paris, 1886; Eng. tr., Boston, 1892); G. Kobbé, W.’s Life and Works (2 vols., N.Y, 1890); H. Finck, W. and His Works (2 vols., N.Y, 1893; 5thed., 1898); H. Chamberlain, R. W.(Munich, 1896; Eng. tr., London, 1897; 9thGer. ed., 1936); M. Burrell, compiler, R. W.: Life and Works from 1813 to 1834 (London, 1898); WJ. Henderson, R. W., His Life and His Dramas (N.Y, 1901; rev. ed., 1923); R. Bürkner, R. W.: Sein Leben und seine Werke (Jena, 1906; 6thed., 1911); M. Koch, R. W.(3 vols., Berlin, 1907, 1913, and 1918); J. Kapp, R. W. (Berlin, 1910); F. Pfohl, R. W.: Sein Leben und Schaffen (Berlin, 1911; 4thed., Bielefeld, 1924); E. Newman, W. as Man and Artist (London, 1914; 2nded., rev., 1924); L. Barthou, La Vie amoureuse de R. W.(Paris, 1925; Eng. tr. as The Prodigious Lover,N.Y, 1927); H. Lichtenberger, W.(Paris, 1925); W. Wallace, W. as He Lived (London, 1925; new ed., 1933); V. d’Indy, R. W. et son influence sur l’art musical français (Paris, 1930); M. Morold (pen name of Max von Millenkovitch), W.s Kampfund Sieg, dargestellt in seinen Beziehungen zu Wien (Zürich, 1930; 2nded., 1950); H. Reisiger, Unruhiges Gestirn: Die Jugend R. W.s (Leipzig, 1930; in Eng. as Restless Star,N.Y, 1932); G. de Pourtalès, W.: Histoire d’un artiste (Paris, 1932; Eng. tr., N.Y.,1932; 2ndFrench ed., enl., 1942); P. Lalo, R. W. (Paris, 1933); E.Newman, The Life ofR. W. (4 vols., N.Y., 1933,1937,1941,1946);A. Spring, R. W.s Weg und Wirken (Stuttgart, 1933); W. Turner,1934, 1953); W. Hadow, R. W. (London, 1934); R. Jacobs, W.(London, 1935; 3rded., 1947); H. Malherbe, R. W. Révolutionnaire (Paris, 1938); E. Kretzschmar, R. W.: Sein Leben in Selbstzeugnissen, Briefen und Berichten (Berlin, 1939); O. Strobel, Neue Urkunden zur Lebensgeschichte R. W.s, 1864-1882 (a suppl. to his ed. of König Ludwig II. und R. W.: Briefiuechsel;Karlsruhe, 1939); M. von Millenkovitch,Dreigestirn: W., Liszt, Bulow (Leipzig,1941); W. Reich,R. W.: Leben, Fühlen, Schaffen (Olten, 1948); K.Ipser,R. W. in Italien (Salzburg, 1951); L. Strecker R. W. als Verlagsgefährte: Eine Darstellung mit Briefen und Dokumenten (Mainz, 1951); T, Adorno,Versuch überW.(Berlin, 1952); P. Loos,R. W., Vollendung und Tragik der deutschen Romantik (Munich,1952); O. Strobel,R. W.: Leben und Schaffen: Eine Zeittafel (Bayreuth, 1952); Z. vonKraft, R. W.: Bin dmmatisches Leben (Munich, 1953); R. Dumesnil, R. W. (Paris, 1954); H. Mayer, R.W.s geistige Entwicklung (Diisseldorf and Hamburg, 1954); C. von Westernhagen,R. W.: Sein Werk, sein Wesen, seine Welt (Zürich, 1956); H. Mayer,R. W. in Selbstzeugnissen und Bilddokumenten (Reinbek bei Hamburg, 1959; Eng. tr., 1972); R.Gutman, R. W.: The Man, His Mind and His Music (London,1968); C. von Westernhagen, W. (2 vols., Zürich, 1968; 2nded.,rev. and enl., 1978; Eng. tr., Cambridge, 1978); M. Gregor-Martin, W.-Chronik: Daten zu Leben (Munich, 1972; 2ndrev. ed.,1983); H. Barth, D. Mack, and E. Voss, eds., W.: Sein Leben und seine Welt in zeitgenössischen Bildern und Texten (Vienna, 1975;Eng. tr. as W.: A Documentary Study,London, 1975); R. Taylor, R.W.: His Life, Art and Thought (London, 1979); D. Watson, R. W.:A Biography (N.Y. and London, 1979); M. Gregor-Dellin, R. W.:Sein Leben, sein Werk, sein Jahrhundert (Munich, 1980; Eng. tr. as R. W.: His Life, His Work, His Century,London, 1983); D. Watson, R. W. (N.Y., 1981);G. Skelton, R. and Cosima W.: A Biography ofa Marriage (London, 1982); M. van Amerongen, W.: A Case History (London, 1983); M. Kahane and N. Wild, W. et la France (Paris, 1983); E. Voss, ed., R. W.: Dokumentarbiographie (Munich and Mainz, 1983); B. Millington, W. (London, 1984; rev. ed.,1992); J. Katz, The Darker Side of Genius: R. W.’s Anti-Semitism (Hanover, N.H. and London, 1986); R. Sabor, The Real W.(London, 1987); W. Beck, R. W.: Neue Dokumente zur Biographie:Die Spiritualität im Drama seines Lebens (Tutzing, 1988); A. Aberbach, R. W.: A Mystic in the Making (Wakefield, N.H., 1991);H.-J. Bauer, R. W.: Sein Leben und Wirken oder die Gefuhlwerdung der Vernunft (Berlin, 1995); M. Schneider, W. (Paris, 1995); W.Tanner, W. (Princeton, 1996); H. Mayer, R. W. (Frankfurt am Main, 1998). PERSONAL REMINISCENCES: H. von Wolzogen, Erinnerungen an R. W. (Leipzig, 1883; Eng. tr.,Bayreuth, 1894); A. Schilling, Aus R. W.s Jugendzeit (Berlin, 1898;reminiscences of Wagner’s stepsister Cäcilie Avenarius); E.Schuré, Souvenirs sur R. W. (Paris, 1900; Ger. tr., Leipzig, 1900);E. von Possart, Die Separat-Vorstellungen vor König Ludwig II.Erinnerungen (Munich, 1901); L. Schemann, Meine Erinnerungen an R. W. (Stuttgart, 1902); G. Kietz, R. W. in den Jahren 1842-49 und 1873-75 (Dresden, 1905); A. Kohut, Der Meister von Bayreuth (Berlin, 1905); E. Michotte, Souvenirs: La Visite de R. W. a Rossini (Paris, 1860): Détails inédites et commentaires (Paris, 1906; Eng. tr.by H. Weinstock, Chicago, 1968); A. Gobineau, Ein Erinnerungsbild aus Wahnfried (Stuttgart, 1907); A. Neumann, Erinnerungen an R. W. (Leipzig, 1907; Eng. tr., N.Y, 1908); H. Schmidt and U. Hartmann, R. W. in Bayreuth. Erinnerungen (Leipzig, 1910); S. Wagner, Erinnerungen (Stuttgart, 1923; extended ed., privately printed, 1935); J. Gautier, Auprès de R. W.: Souvenirs (1861-1883) (Paris, 1943). RELATIONS WITH CONTEMPORARIES: J. Craemer, König Ludwig II. und R. W. (Munich, 1901); F. Gerard, Romance of King Ludwig II of Bavaria: His Relation with R. W. (London, 1901); S. Röckel, Ludwig II. und R. W. in den Jahren 1864-65 (Munich, 1903; 2nded., 1913); J. Kapp, R. W. und Franz Liszt: Eine Freundschaft (Berlin, 1908); H. Belart, Friedrich Nietzsches Freundschaftstragödie mit R. W. (Dresden, 1912) and R. W.s Liebestragödie mit Mathilde Wesendonck (Dresden, 1912); J. Kapp, R. W. und die Frauen (Berlin, 1912; new rev. ed., 1951; Eng. tr., 1931, as The Women in W.’s Life); E. Forster-Nietzsche, W. und Nietzsche zur Zeit ihrer Freundschaft (Munich, 1915; Eng. tr., 1921, as The Nietzsche-W. Correspondence); C. Sarti, W. and Nietzsche (N.Y, 1915); E. Schure, Femmes inspiratrices (Paris, 1930); M. Herwegh, Au banquet des dieux: F. Liszt, R. W. et ses amis (Paris, 1931) P.G. Dippel, Nietzsche und W. (Berne, 1934); D. Fischer-Dieskau, W. und Nietzsche (Stuttgart, 1974; Eng. tr., 1976); C. and P. Jost, R. W. und sein Verleger Ernst Wilhelm Fritzsch (Tutzing, 1997). CRITICAL, ANALYTICAL: Liszt’s essays on Tannhauser (1849), Lohengrin (1850), Der fliegende Holländer (1854), and Das Rheingold (1855) are in Vol. III, 2, of his Gesammelte Schriften (Leipzig, 1899); F. Hinrichs, R. W. und die neuere Musik: Eine kritische Skizze (Halle, 1854); F. Muller, R. W. und das Musik-Drama (Leipzig, 1861); L. Nohl, Gluck und W. öber die Entwicklung des Musikdramas (Munich, 1870); F. Nietzsche, Die Geburt der Tragödie aus dem Geiste der Musik (Leipzig, 1872; Eng. tr. by W. Kaufmann as The Birth of Tragedy out of the Spirit of Music in The Basic Writings of Nietzsche, N.Y, 1968); E. Dannreuther, R. W.: His Tendencies and Theories (London, 1873); F. Hueffer, R. W. and the Music of the Future (London, 1874); E. Schuré, Le Drame musical: I. La Musicjue et la poesie dans leur developpement historique, II. W. Son oeuvre et son idée (Paris, 1875; 3rded., aug., 1894); G. Kobbé, R. W.s “Tristan und Isolde” (N.Y, 1886); W. Ellis, R. W. as Poet, Musician and Mystic (London, 1887); F. Nietzsche, Der Fall W. (Leipzig, 1888; Eng. tr. by W. Kaufmann as The Case of W. in The Basic Writings of Nietzsche,N.Y, 1968); idem, Nietzsche contra W. (Leipzig, 1888; Eng. tr. by W. Kaufmann in The Portable Nietzsche, N.Y, 1954); H. von Wolzogen, W.iana: Gesammelte Aufsätze uber R. W.s Werke vom Ring bis zum Gral (Bayreuth, 1888); M. Kufferath, Parsifal de R. W.: Legende, drame, partition (Paris, 1890; Eng. tr., 1904); L. Torchi, Riccardo W.: Studio critico (Bologna, 1890); H. Krehbiel, Studies in the W.ian Drama (N.Y, 1891); M. Kufferath, Le Théâtre de W. de Tannhäuser à Parsifal: Essais de critique littéraire, esthétique et musicale (6 vols., Paris, 1891-98); A. Smolian, The Themes of “Tannhauser” (London, 1891); H. Chamberlain, Das Drama R.W.s: Eine Anregung (Leipzig, 1892; 5thed., 1913; Eng. tr., London, 1915); M. Kufferath, Guide thématique et analyse de Tristan et Iseult (Paris, 1894); A. Lavignac, Le Voyage artistique à Bayreuth (Paris, 1897; Eng. tr. as The Music-Dramas of R. W., N.Y, 1898; new ed., 1932); G. Servieres, R. W. jugé en France (Paris, 1897); G.B. Shaw, The Perfect W.ite (London, 1898; 4thed., 1923; also in Vol. 17 of the complete works, 1932); J. Tiersot, Études sur les Maitres-Chanteurs de Nuremberg, de R. W. (Paris, 1899); A. Smolian, R. W.’s Bühnenfestspiel Der Ring des Nibelungen: Ein Vademecum (Berlin, 1901); A. Seidl, W.iana (2 vols., Berlin, 1901, 1902); G. Kobbé, W.’s Music Dramas Analyzed (N.Y, 1904); W. Dry, Erlauterungen zur R. W.s Tondramen (2 vols., Leipzig, 1906, 1907); W. Golther, Tristan und Isolde in den Dichtungen des Mittelalters und der neuen Zeit (Leipzig, 1907); S. Hamer, The Story of “The Ring” (N.Y, 1907); M. Burckhardt, Führer durch R. W.s Musikdramen (Berlin, 1909); E. Istel, Das Kunstwerk R. W.s (Leipzig, 1910; 2nd ed., 1919); E. Kloss, R. W. über die “Meistersinger von Niirnberg”: Ausspruche des Meisters uber sein Werk (Leipzig, 1910); W. Krienetz, R. W.s “Feen” (Munich, 1910); E. Lindner, R. W. über “Parsifal”: Ausspriiche des Meisters uber sein Werk (Leipzig, 1913); idem., R. W. über “Tannhauser”: Aussprüche des Meisters uber sein Werk (Leipzig, 1914); A. Seidl, Neue W.iana: Gesammelte Aufsatze und Studien (Regensburg, 1914); H. von Wolzogen, R. W. über den “Fliegenden Hollander”: Die Entstehung, Gestaltung und Darstellung des Werkes aus den Schriften und Briefen des Meisters zusammengestellt (Leipzig, 1914); E. Kurth, Romantische Harmonik und ihre Krise in W.s “Tristan” (Berlin, 1920; 2nded., 1923); F. Zademack, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: R. W.s Dichtung und ihre Quellen (Berlin, 1921); W. Wilmshurst, Parsifal (London, 1922); P. Bekker, R. W.: Das Leben im Werke (Stuttgart, 1924; Eng. tr., London, 1931); A. Coeuroy, La Walkyrie de R. W. (Paris, 1924); O. Strobel, R. W. über sein Schaffen: Bin Beitrag zur “Kunstlerasthetik” (Munich, 1924); H. Wiessner, Der Stabreimvers in R. W.s “Ring des Nibelungen” (Berlin, 1924); A. Himonet, Lohengrin de R. W. (Paris, 1925); L. Leroy, W.’s Music Drama of the Ring (London, 1925); C. Winn, The Mastersingers of W. (London, 1925); A. Dickinson, The Musical Design of “The Ring” (London, 1926); W. Hapke, Die musikalische Darstellung der Gebarde in R. W.s Ring des Nibelungen (Leipzig, 1927); A. Buesst, R. W.: The Nibelung’s Ring (London, 1932; 2nded., 1952); W. Engelsmann, W.s klingendes Universum (Potsdam, 1933); J. Kapp, Das Liebesverbot, Entstehung und Schicksale des Werkes von R. W. (Berlin, 1933); idem, W. und die Berliner Oper (Berlin, 1933); R. Grisson, Beitrage zur Auslegung von R. W.’s “Ring des Nibelungen” (Leipzig, 1934); H. Nathan, Das Rezitativ der Friihopern R. W.s: Ein Beitrag zur Stilistik des Opernrezitativs in der ersten Halfte des 19. Jahrhunderts (diss., Univ. of Berlin, 1934); A. Bahr-Mildenburg, Tristan und Isolde: Darstellung der Werke R. W.s aus dem Geiste der Dichtung und Musik: Vollstandige Regiebearbeitung samtlicher Partien mit Notenbeispielen (Leipzig, 1936); L. Oilman, W.’s Operas (N.Y., 1937); V. d’Indy, Introduction à I’etude de Parsifal de W. (Paris, 1937); R. Schuster, R. W. und die Welt der Oper (Munich, 1937); E. Borrelli, Estetica w.iana (Florence, 1940); E. Hutcheson, A Musical Guide to the R. W. Ring of the Nibelung (N.Y., 1940); J. Barzun, Darwin, Marx, W.: Critique of a Heritage (Boston, 1941; rev. ed., 1958); S. Luciani, II Tristano e Isolda di R. W. (Florence, 1942); G. Gavazzeni, II Siegfried di R. W. (Florence, 1944); M. Doisy, L’CEuvre de R. W. du Vaisseaufantome a Parsifal (Brussels, 1945); M. Beaufils, W. et le w.isme (Paris, 1947); K. Overhoff, R. W.s Tristan Partitur: Eine musikalisch-philosophische Deutung (Bayreuth, 1948); E. Newman, W. Nights (London, 1949; American ed. as The W. Operas, N.Y., 1949); K. Overhoff, R. W.s Parsifal (Lindau im Bodensee, 1951); T. Adorno, Versuch über W. (Berlin and Frankfurt am Main, 1952); P. Jacob, Taten der Musik: R. W. und sein Werk (Regensburg, 1952); P. Loos, R. W: Vollendung und Tragikder deutschen Romantik (Bern and Munich, 1952); V. Levi, Tristano e Isotta di Riccardo W. (Venice, 1958); J. Stein, R. W and the Synthesis of the Arts (Detroit, 1960); H. von Stein, Dichtung und Musik im Werk R. W.s (Berlin, 1962); M. Vogel, Der Tristan-Akkord und die Krise der modernen Harmonie-Lehre (Düsseldorf, 1962); C.von Westernhagen, Vom Hollander zum Parsifal: NeueW. Studien (Freiburg im Breisgau, 1962); J. Bergfeld, W.s Werk und unsere Zeit (Berlin and Wunsiedel, 1963); R. Donington, W.s “Ring” and Its Symbols: The Music and the Myth (London, 1963; 3rded., rev.and enl., 1974); H. Gál, R. W,: Versuch einer Würdigung (Frank-furt am Main, 1963; Eng. tr., 1976); H. Scharschuch, Gesamtanalyse der Harmonik von R. W.s Musikdrama “Tristan und Isolde”:Unter spezifischer Berücksichtigung der Secjuenztechnik des Tristanstiles (Regensburg, 1963); E. Zuckerman, The First Hundred Years of W.’s “Tristan” (N.Y. and London, 1964); H. Mayer, Anmerkungenzu W. (Frankfurt am Main, 1966); W. White, An Introduction to the Life and Works of R. W. (Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1967); K.Overhoff, Die Musikdramen R. W.s: Eine thematisch-musikalische Interpretation (Salzburg, 1968); R. Raphael, R. W. (N.Y, 1969); C.Dahlhaus, ed., Das Drama R. W.s als musikalisches Kunstwerk (Regensburg, 1970); idem, Die Bedeutung des Gestischen in W.s Musikdramen (Munich, 1970); E. Voss, Studien zur Instrumentation R. W.s (Regensburg, 1970); C. Dahlhaus, Die Musikdramen R.W.s (Velber, 1971; Eng. tr. as R. W’s Music Dramas,Cambridge,1979); idem, W.s Konzeption des musikalischen Dramas (Regensburg,1971); A. Sommer, Die Komplikationen des musikalischen Rhythmus in den Biihnenwerken R. W.s (Giebing, 1971); C. von Westernhagen, Die Entstehung des “Ring,” dargestellt an den Kompositionsskizzen R. W.s (Zürich, 1973; Eng. tr. as The Forging of the “Ring,”Cambridge, 1976); K. Kropfinger, W. und Beethoven: Untersuchungen zur Beethoven-Rezeption R. W.s (Regensburg,1975); J. Culshaw, Reflections on W’s Ring (N.Y, 1976);H.-J. Bauer, W.s Parsifal: Kriterien der Kompositionstechnik (Munich, 1977); J. Deathridge, W.’s Rienzi: A Reappraisal Based on a Study of the Sketches and Drafts (Oxford, 1977); J. Di Gaetani, Penetrating W.’s Ring: An Anthology (Cranbury, N.J., 1978); F. Oberkogler, R. W.; Vom Ring zum Gral: Wiedergewinnung seines Werkes aus Musik und Mythos (Stuttgart, 1978); P. Wapnewski, Der traurige Gott: R. W. in seinen Helden (Munich, 1978); P. Burbridge and R. Sutton, eds., The W. Companion (N.Y., 1979); D. Cooke, I Saw the World End: A Study of W.’s Ring (London, 1979); L. Rather, The Dream of Self-Destruction:W.’s Ring and the Modern World (Baton Rouge, La., 1979); A. Blyth, W.’s Ring: An Introduction (London, 1980); L. Beckett, R. W.: Parsifal (Cambridge, 1981); D. Borchmeyer, Das Theater R. W.s (Stuttgart, 1982; Eng. tr. as R. W.: Theory and Theatre,Oxford, 1991); M. Ewans, W. and Aeschylus: The Ring and the Oresteia (London, 1982); N. Ben-venga, Kingdom on the Rhine: History, Myth and Legend onW.’s Ring (Harwich, 1983); A. Aberbach, The Ideas of R. W. (Lanham, 1984); S. Fay and R. Wood, The Ring: An Anatomy of an Opera (London, 1984); A. Ingenhoff, Drama oder Epos?: R. W.s Gattung-stheorie des musikalischen Dramas (Tubingen, 1987); H.-M. Palm, R. W.s ’Lohengrin’: Studien zur Sprachbehandlung (Munich, 1987); L. Shaw, N. Cirillo, and M. Miller, eds., W. in Retrospect: A Centennial Reappraisal (Amsterdam, 1987); D. White, The Turning Wheel: A Study of Contracts and Oaths in W.’s ‘Ring’ (Selinsgrove, N.Y., 1988); W. Cord, The Teutonic Mythology of R. W.’s “The Ring of the Nibelung” (3 vols., Lewiston, N.Y., 1989-91); P. Buck, R. W.s Meistersinger: Eine Fiihrung durch das Werk (Frankfurt am Main, 1990); E. Magee, R. W. and the Nibelungs (Oxford, 1990); A. Mork, R.W. als politischer Schriftsteller: Weltanschauung und Wirkungsgeschichte (Frankfurt am Main, 1990); J. Nattiez, W. androgyne: Essai sur I’interprétation (Paris, 1990); C. Osborne, The Complete Operas of R. W. (London, 1990); P. Peil, Die Krise des neuzeitlichen Menschen im Werk R. W.s (Cologne, 1990); H. Brown, Leitmotiv and Drama: W., Brecht, and the Limits of “Epic” Theatre (Oxford, 1991); H. Kesting, Das schlechte Gewissen an der Musik: Aufsätze zu R. W. (Stuttgart, 1991); H. Richardson, ed., New Studies in R. W.s The Ring of the Nibelung (Lewiston, N.Y., 1991); P. Urban, Liebesdämmerung: Ein psychoanalytischer Versuch über R. W.s “Tristan und Isolde” (Eschborn, 1991); M. Cicora, From History to Myth: W.’s Tannhäuser and Its Literary Sources (Bern and N.Y., 1992); B. Millington and S. Spencer, eds., W. in Performance (New Haven, 1992); P. Rose, W.: Race and Revolution (New Haven, 1992); G. Skelton, W. in Thought and Practice (Portland, Ore., 1992); W. Darcy, W.’s Das Rheingold (Oxford, 1993); H. Hubert, Götternot: R. W.s grose Dichtungen (Asendorf, 1993); K. Richter, R. W.: Visionen (Vilsbiburg, 1993); B. Benz, Zeitstrukturen in R. W.s ‘Ring’- Tetralogie (Frankfurt am Main, 1994); B. Heldt, R. W.: Tristan und Isolde: Das Werk und seineInszenierung (Laaber, 1994); J. Warrack, R. W.: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (Cambridge, 1994); C. Weismüller, Das Drama der Notation: Ein philosophischer Versuch zu R.W.s Ring des Nibelun-gen (Vienna, 1994); T. Grey, W.’s Musical Prose: Texts and Contexts (Cambridge, 1995); E. Roch, Psychodrama: R. W. im Symbol: Mit 34 Abbildungen (Stuttgart, 1995); M. Weiner, R. W. and the Anti-Semitic Imagination (Lincoln, Nebr., 1995); P.-H. Wilberg, R. W.s mythische Welt: Versuche wider den Historismus (Freiburg im Breisgau, 1996); M. Bless, R. W.s Opera “Tannhäuser” im Spiegel seiner geistigen Entwicklung (Eisenbach, 1997); D. Schneller, R. W.s “Parsifal” und die Erneuerung des Mysteriendramas in Bayreuth: Die Vision des Gesamtkunstwerks als Universalkultur der Zukunft (Bern, 1997); D. Scholz, Ein deutsches Missverständnis: R.W. zwischen Barrikade und Walhalla (Berlin, 1997); M. Cicora, Mythology as Metaphor: Romantic Irony, Critical Theory, andW.’s Ring (Westport, Conn., 1998); J. McGlathery, W.’s Operas and Desire (N.Y., 1998); M. Cicora, W.’s Ring and German Drama: Comparative Studies in Mythology and History in Drama (West-port, Conn., 1999). WAGNER’S ART IN RELATION TO AESTHETICS, PHILOSOPHY, AND RELIGION: F. von Hausegger, R.W. und Schopenhauer (Leipzig, 1878; 2nded., 1897); J. Freson, Essais de philosophie et de I’art: L’Esthétique de R.W. (2 vols., Paris, 1893); M. Hébert, Le Sentiment religieux dans V’oeuvre de R. W. (Paris, 1894); R. Louis, Die Weltanschauung R. W.s (Leipzig, 1898); D. Irvine, Parsifal andW.’s Christianity (London, 1899); M. Kufferath, Musiciens et philosophes: Tolstoy, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, W. (Paris, 1899); P. Moos, R. W. als Ästhetiker (Berlin, 1906); R. Richter, Kunst und Philosophie bei R. W. (Leipzig, 1906); H. Bélart, F. Nietzsche und R.W.: Ihre persönlichen Beziehungen, Kunst- und Weltanschauungen (Berlin, 1907); G. Robert, Philosophie et drame: Essai d’une explication des drames wagnériens (Paris, 1907); O. Schmiedel, R. W.s religiose Weltan schauung (Tubingen, 1907); W. Vollert, R. W.s Stellung zur christlichen Religion (Wismar, 1907); L. Dauriac, Le Musicien-poète R. W.: étude de psychologie musicale (Paris, 1908); G. Braschow-anoff, Von Olympia nach Bayreuth (2 vols., Leipzig, 1911-12); F. Gross, Die Wiedergeburt des Sehers (Zurich, 1927); A. Drews, Ideengehalt von W.s dramatischen Dichtungen (Leipzig, 1931); G. Wooley, R. W. et le symbolisme françfais (Paris, 1931); F. Gross, Der Mythos W.s (Vienna, 1932); G. Frommel, Der Geist der Antike bei R. W. (Berlin, 1933); I. Wyzewska, La Revue Wagnérienne: Essai sur I’interprétation esthétique de W. en France (Paris, 1934); K. Karzer, R. W. der Revolutionär gegen das 19. Jahrhundert (1934); W. Engelsmann, Erlösung dem Erlöser: R. W.s religiöse Weltgestalt (Leipzig, 1936); M. Boucher, Les Idées politiques de R. W. (Paris, 1948; Eng. tr., N.Y., 1950); K. Overhoff, R. W.s germanisch-christlicher Mythos (Dinkelsbühl, 1955); B. Magee, Aspects of W. (London, 1968; rev. ed., 1972); M. Gregor-Dellin, R. W.: Die Revolution als Oper (Munich, 1973); R. Hollinrake, Nietzsche, W. and the Philosophy of Pessimism (London, 1982); A. Aberbach, R. W.’s Religious Ideas: A Spiritual Journey (Lewiston, N.Y., 1996); S. Friedrich, Das auratische Kunstwerg: Zur ésthetik von R.W.s Musiktheater-Utopie (Tubingen, 1996). WAGNER AND BAYREUTH: F. Nietzsche, W. in Bayreuth (Chemnitz, 1876; in Vol. I of Nietzsches Werke,Leipzig, 1895; new ed., 1931; Eng. tr. in complete works, Edinburgh, 1910-14); H. von Wolzogen, Grundlage und Aufgabe des Allgem. Patronalvereins zur Pflege und Erhaltung der Bühnenfestspiele in Bayreuth (Chemnitz, 1877); K. Heckel, Die Bühnenfestspiele in Bayreuth (Leipzig, 1891); H. Porges, Die Bühnenproben zu den Festspielen des Jahren 1876 (Leipzig, 1896); F. Weingartner, Bayreuth, 1876-96 (Berlin, 1896; 2nded., 1904); H. Chamberlain, Die ersten 20 Jahre der Bayreuther Bühnenfestspiele (Bayreuth, 1896); E. Kloss, Zivanzig Jahre Bayreuth (Berlin, 1896; Eng. tr., London, 1896); A. Prüfer, Die Bühnenfestspiele in Bayreuth (Leipzig, 1899; 2nded., 1909, as Das Werk von Bayreuth;new ed., 1930, as Tannhauser und der Sängerkrieg auf der Wartburg);F. Hermann, Bayreuth und seine Kunstdenkmale (Munich, 1902); W. Golther, Bayreuth (Berlin, 1904); R. Sternfeld, R. W. und die Bayreuth Bühnenfestspiele (2 vols., Berlin, 1906; new ed., 1927); M. Conrad, W.s Geist und Kunst in Bayreuth (Munich, 1906); K. Glazenapp, Bayreuther Briefe von R. W. (Berlin, 1907; abr. Eng. tr. as The Story of Bayreuth as Told in the Bayreuth Letters of R. W.,Boston, 1912); A. Prüfer, R. W. in Bayreuth (Leipzig, 1910); H. von Wolzogen, Heinrich von Steins Briefwechsel mil H. von Wolzogen: Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte des Bayreuther Gedankens (Leipzig, 1910); H. Bahr and A. Bahr-Mildenburg, Bayreuth und das W.-Theater (Leipzig, 1910; 2nded., 1912; Eng. tr., London, 1921); R. Du Moulin-Eckart, Wahnfried (Leipzig, 1925); P. Bülow, R. W. und sein Werk von Bayreuth (Frankfurt am Main, 1927); F. Klose, Bayreuth: Eindrücke und Erlebnisse (Regensburg, 1929); O. Bie, R. W. und Bayreuth (Leipzig, 1931); J. Kneise, Der Kampf zweier Welten um das Bayreuther Erbe (Kassel, 1931); L. Reichwein, Bayreuth (Bielefeld and Leipzig, 1934); H. Brand, Aus R. W.s Leben in Bayreuth (Munich, 1935); S. Rützow, R. W. und Bayreuth (Munich, 1943; 2nded., 1953); J. Bertram, Der Seher von Bayreuth (Berlin, 1943); E. Ebermayer, Magisches Bayreuth, Legende und Wirklichkeit (Stuttgart, 1951); W. Wagner, ed., R. W. und das neue Bayreuth (Munich, 1962); G. Skelton, W. at Bayreuth: Experiment and Tradition (London, 1965; rev. ed., 1976); P. Turing, New Bayreuth (London, 1969; rev. ed., 1971); H. Barth, ed., Der Festspielhügel: 100 Jahre Bayreuther Festspiele in einer repräsentativen Dokumenta-tion (Bayreuth, 1973; 2nded., 1976); L. Lucas, Die Festspiel-Idee R. W.s (Regensburg, 1973); M. Karbaum, Studien zur Geschichte der Bayreuther Festspiele: 1876-1976 (Regensburg, 1976); R. Hartford, ed., Bayreuth: The Early Years (London, 1980); B. Wessling, ed., Bayreuth im Dritten Reich: R. W.s politische Erben: Eine Dokumen-tation (Weinheim, 1983); F. Spotts, A History of the W, Festival (New Haven, 1994). WAGNER AS WRITER: H. von Wolzogen, Die Sprache in R. W.s Dichtungen (Leipzig, 1878); J. Gautier, R. W. et son oéuvre poétique (Paris, 1882); B. Vogel, W. als Dichter: Ein Überblick seines poetischen Schaffens (Leipzig, 1889); A. Ernst, L’Art de W.: L’OEuvre poétique (Paris, 1893); H. Lichtenberger, R. W, poète et penseur (Paris, 1898; new ed., 1931; Ger. tr., Dresden, 1899 [aug. ed., 1913]); O. Lüning, R. W. als Dichter und Denker (Zurich, 1900); W. Golther, R. W. als Dichter (Berlin, 1904; Eng. tr., London, 1905); R. Weltrich, R. W.s “Tristan und Isolde” als Dichtung: Nebst einigen allgemeinen Bemerkungen überW.s Kunst (Berlin, 1904); E. Meinck, Fr. Hebbels und R.W.s Nibelungen-Trilogien (Leipzig, 1905); J. Schuler, The Language of R. W.’s “Ring des Nibelungen” (Lancaster, Pa., 1910); K. Reichelt, R. W. und die englische Literatur (Leipzig, 1912); E. von Schrenck, R. W. als Dichter (Munich, 1913); P. Bülow, Die Jugendschriften R. W.s (Leipzig, 1917); W. Ramann, Der dichterische Stil R. W.s (Leipzig, 1929); O. Strobel, Skizzen und Entwürfe zur Ring-Dichtung (Munich, 1930); H. Galli, W. und die deutsche Klassik (Berne, 1936); H. Garten, W. the Dramatist (London, 1977) ICONOGRAPHY: J. Grand-Carteret, R. W. en caricatures (Paris, 1892); E. Fuchs and E. Kreowski, R. W. in der Karikatur (Berlin, 1907; 6thed., 1913); A. Vanselow, R. W.s photographische Bildnisse (Munich, 1908); E. Engel, R. W.s Leben und Werke im Bilde (2 vols., Vienna, 1913; new ed., Leipzig, 1922); J. Kapp, R. W. Sein Leben, sein Werk, seine Welt in 260 Bildern (Berlin, 1933); P. Bülow, R. W.: Sein Leben in Bildern (Leipzig, 1936); R. Bory, R. W.: Sein Leben und sein Werk in Bildern (Leipzig, 1938); M. Geek, Die Bildnisse R. W.s (Munich, 1970); W.-S. Wagner, Die Geschichte unserer Familie in Bildern (Munich, 1976; Eng. tr. as The W. FamilyAlbums, London, 1976); S. Weber, Das Bild R. W.s: Ikonographische Bestandsaufnahme eines Künstlerkults (Mainz, 1993). MISCELLANEOUS: C. Baudelaire, R. W. et Tannhäuser à Paris (Paris, 1861); W. Tappert, W.- Lexikon: Wörterbuch der Unhöflichkeit (Leipzig, 1877; new aug. ed. as R. W. im Spiegel der Kritik,1903); Über Schicksale und Bestimmung des W.-Museums (Leipzig, 1892); E. Kloss, Das W.-Museum in Eisenach, in Ein W.-Lesebuch (Leipzig, 1904); K. Grunsky, R. W. und die Juden (Munich, 1921); W Lange, R. W. und seine Vaterstadt, Leipzig (Leipzig, 1921); J. Marnold, Le Cas W.: La Musique pendant la guerre (Paris, 1920); P. Stefan, Die Feindschaft gegenW. (Regensburg, 1918); E. Newman, Fact and Fiction about W.(N.Y., 1931); E. Stemplinger, W. in Munich (Munich, 1933); W. Golther, R. W.: Leben und Werke in urkundlichen Zeugnissen, Briefen, Schriften, Berichten (Ebenhausen, near Munich, 1936); W. Lange, R. W.s Sippe (Leipzig, 1938); L. Weinhold, Handschriften von R. W. in Leipzig (Leipzig, 1938); O. Daube, Humor bei R. W.(Gütersloh, 1944); L. Stein, The Racial Thinking of R. W.(N.Y., 1950); L. Strecker, R. W. als Verlagsgefährte (Mainz, 1951); R. Holloway, Debussy and W.(London, 1979); F. Glass, The Fertilizing Seed: W.’s Concept of the Poetic Intent (Ann Arbor, 1983); P. Hodson, Who’s Who in W.: An A-to-Z Look at his Life and Work (N.Y., 1984); D. Large and W. Weber, eds., W.ism in European Culture and Politics (N.Y., 1984); D. Scholz, R. W.s Antisemitismus (Würzburg, 1993); E. Voss, W. und sein Ende: Betrachtungen und Studien (Zürich, 1996); F. Gabriel, R. W.: Le chant de l’inconscient (Paris, 1998).
—Niolas Slonimky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntre
Wagner, (Wilhelm) Richard
Wagner's mus., richly expressive, intensely illustrative, and on the grandest scale, dominated the 19th cent. and split the mus. world into opposing factions. His influence, good and bad, on countless other composers is still a prime factor a century after his death. He wrote the texts of all his operas, reading copiously in the sources of the legends he selected as subjects and writing a prose sketch, then the poem (lib.) before he comp. any of the mus., though it is clear that certain ideas came to him ready-clothed in mus. He was inspired by the Ger. Romantic spirit of Weber's operas, and to some extent by the grandiose operatic aims of Meyerbeer, whom he despised. In Liszt he found a fellow-spirit from whom he learned much, as he did from Berlioz. But he surpassed them all in the single-mindedness with which he pursued his dream of an art form in which mus. and drama should be one and indivisible, his Zukunftsmusik (mus. of the future). With the chromaticism of Tristan he took tonality to its limits and beyond, and opened the way for the Schoenbergian revolution. Philosophical and psychological undertones contribute immensely to the spell of the Tristan mus. Wagner brought to a fine art the use of Leitmotiv to depict not only characters but their emotions, and wove them into an orch. texture of such richness that the orch. assumed an extra dimension in operatic terms. His operas also required a new technique of singing and a new breed of singers with the intelligence to convey the subtleties of his art. The idea that ‘bawling’ was all that Wagner needed has long been disproved by generations of singers by whom his music has been shown to be as singable as bel canto. In a sense Wagner was a dead-end, since he was a unique genius. The sheer mastery of The Ring, the sustaining of such an imposing achievement at a white-heat of inspiration for something like 15 hours of mus., is among the most amazing artistic achievements of the human spirit. But opera could never be the same after him: he made it the vehicle for the expression of the most complex emotional and psychological issues, but, being first and foremost a musician, these are still secondary to the hypnotic power of the mus., at least for those (and they number millions) who fall under its sway. Prin. works:OPERAS AND MUSIC DRAMAS: Die Feen (The Fairies) (1833–4); Das Liebesverbot (Forbidden Love) (1835–6); Rienzi (1838–40); Der fliegende Holländer (The Flying Dutchman) (1840–1, various rev.); Tannhäuser (1843–5, rev. 1847–51, 1861–75); Lohengrin (1846–8); Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Nibelung's Ring): Das Rheingold (The Rhine Gold) (1853–4), Die Walküre (The Valkyrie) (1854–6), Siegfried (1856–7 and 1864–71), Götterdämmerung (Twilight of the Gods) (1869–74, some ideas composed as Siegfrieds Tod many years earlier); Tristan und Isolde (1857–9); Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (The Mastersingers of Nuremberg) (1862–7); Parsifal (1877–82).ORCH.: Concert Ov. in D minor (1831), in C (1832); Ov. in E minor (to E. Raupach's play König Enzio) (1831–2); sym. in C (1832); Christopher Columbus, ov. (1834–5); Polonia, ov. (1836); Rule, Britannia, ov. (1837); Faust, ov. (1839–40, rev. 1843–4, 1855); Trauermusik (after motifs from Weber's Euryanthe), wind instr. (1844); Träume, vn., small orch. (1857); Huldigungsmarsch, military band (1864; orch. vers. 1865, completed by Raff, 1871); Siegfried Idyll (1870); Kaisermarsch (1871); Centennial March (1876).CHORAL: Weihegruss (1843); Das Liebesmahl der Apostel (The Love Feast of the Apostles), orch. with male ch. (1843); An Webers Grabe (1844); Kinder-Katechismus, children's vv., pf (1873), rev. with orch. (1874).PIANO: sonata in B♭ (1831); Lied ohne Worte (1840); Album Sonata in A♭ (1853); Albumblätter in A♭ and C (1861).SONGS: 7 Songs from Goethe's Faust (1832); Der Tannenbaum (1838); Les deux grenadiers (1839–40); Les adieux de Marie Stuart (1840); 5 Gedichte von Mathilde Wesendonck (5 Wesendonck Songs), v. and pf. (1857–8; orch. Mottl; arr. Henze for high v. and chamber orch., 1979).WRITINGS: My Life (1865–80); German Opera (1851); Art and Revolution (1849); Judaism in Music (1850); Opera and Drama (1850–1); The Music of the Future (1860); Religion and Art (1880); On Conducting (1869).
The German operatic composer Richard Wagner (1813-1883) was undoubtedly the most important seminal figure in 19th-century music, Beethoven notwithstanding. Wagner was also a crucial figure in 19th-century cultural history for both his criticism and polemical writing.
Richard Wagner was born on May 22, 1813, in Leipzig into an unassuming family. His father died shortly after Richard's birth, and within the year his mother married Ludwig Geyer. There is still some controversy as to whether or not Geyer, an itinerant actor, was Wagner's real father. Wagner's musical training was largely left to chance until he was 18, when he studied with Theodor Weinlig in Leipzig for a year. He began his career in 1833 as choral director in Würzburg and composed his early works in imitation of German romantic compositions. Beethoven was his major idol at this time.
Wagner wrote his first opera, Die Feen (The Fairies), in 1833, but it was not produced until after the composer's death. He was music director of the theater in Magdeburg from 1834 to 1836, where his next work, Das Liebesverbot (Forbidden Love), loosely based on Shakespeare's Measure for Measure was performed in 1836. That year he married Minna Planner, a singer-actress active in provincial theatrical life.
In 1837 Wagner became the first music director of the theater in Riga, where he remained until 1839. He then set out for Paris, where he hoped to make his fortune. While in Paris, he developed an intense hatred for French musical culture that lasted the remainder of his life, regardless of how often he attempted to have a Parisian success. It was at this time that Wagner, in financial desperation, sold the scenario for Der fliegende Holländer (The Flying Dutchman) to the Paris Opéra for use by another composer. Wagner later set another version of this tale.
Disillusioned by his lack of success, Wagner returned to Germany, settling in Dresden in 1842, where he was in charge of the music for the court chapel. Rienzi, a grand opera in imitation of the French style, enjoyed a modest success; the Overture is still popular. In 1845 Tannhäuser was premiered in Dresden; this proved the first undoubted success of Wagner's career. In November of the same year he finished the poem for Lohengrin and began composition early in 1846. While at work on Lohengrin he also made plans for his tetralogy, Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelungen), being captivated by Norse sagas. In 1845 he prepared the scenario for the first drama of the tetralogy to be written, Siegfried's Tod (Siegfried's Death), which later became Die Götterdämmerung (The Twilight of the Gods).
Years of Exile
Wagner had to flee Dresden in 1849 in the aftermath of the Revolution of 1848. He settled in Switzerland, first in Zurich and then near Lucerne. He remained in Switzerland for the most part for the next 15 years without steady employment, banished from Germany and forbidden access to German theatrical life. During this time he worked on the Ring, which dominated his creative life over the next 2 decades.
The first production of Lohengrin took place in Weimar under Franz Liszt's direction in 1850 (Wagner was not to see Lohengrin until 1861). By this time Wagner was moderately notorious as a polemicist, and his most fundamental work of theory, Opera and Drama, dates from 1850-1851. In it he discusses the significance of legend for the theater and how to write singable poetry, and he presents his ideas with regard to the realization of the "total work of art" which would effectively change the course of theatrical life in Germany if not the world.
The year 1850 also saw publication of one of Wagner's most scurrilous tracts, The Jew in Music, in which he viciously attacked the very existence of the Jewish composer and musician, particularly in German society. Anti-Semitism remained a hallmark of Wagner's philosophy the rest of his life.
Between 1850 and 1865 Wagner fashioned most of the material to which he owes his reputation. He purposefully turned aside from actual composition to plan an epic cycle of such grandeur and proportion as had never been created before. In 1851 he wrote the poem for Der junge Siegfried (Young Siegfried), the work now known as Siegfried, to prepare the way for Götterdämmerung. He realized he would need not only this drama to clarify his other work but two additional dramas as well, and he sketched the remaining poems for the Ring by the end of 1851. He completed Das Rheingold (The Rhinegold) in 1852 after he had revised the poem for Die Walküre (The Valkyrie).
In 1853 Wagner formally commenced composition on the Rheingold; he completed the scoring the following year and then began serious work on the Walküre, which was finished in 1856. At this time he was toying with the notion of writing the drama Tristan and Isolde. In 1857 he finished the composition of Act II of Siegfried and gave himself over entirely to Tristan. This work was completed in 1859, but it was mounted in Munich only in 1865.
In 1860 Wagner received permission to reenter Germany except for Saxony. He was granted full amnesty in 1862. That year he began the music for Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (The Mastersingers of Nuremburg), which he had first thought of in 1845. He resumed composition on Siegfried in 1865 and began sketching what would eventually become Parsifal, also a vague possibility since the mid-1840s. He began Parsifal at the urging of the Bavarian monarch, Ludwig II, then Wagner's patron. The Meistersinger was completed in 1867; the first performance took place in Munich the following year. Only then did he pick up the threads of the Ring and resume work on Act III of Siegfried, which was finished in September 1869, a month that also saw the first performance of the Rheingold. He wrote the music for Götterdämmerung from 1869 to 1874.
The first entire Ring cycle (Rheingold, Walküre, Siegfried, and Götterdämmerung) was given at the Festspielhaus, the shrine Wagner built for himself at Bayreuth, in 1876, over 30 years after the idea for it had first come to mind. He finished Parsifal, his final drama, in 1882. Wagner died on Feb. 13, 1883, in Venice and was buried at Bayreuth.
Philosophy of the Ring
The Ring is central to Wagner's career. Here he wished to present new ideas of morality and human activity that would completely alter the course of history. He envisioned a world made entirely free from subservience to supernatural bondage, which he believed had adversely affected Western civilization from ancient Greece to the present. Wagner also held that at the source of all human activity was fear, which must be purged so that man can live the perfect life. In the Ring he attempted to set forth the standards for superior humans, those beings who would dominate individuals less fortunate; in turn, such lesser mortals would recognize their own inferior status and yield to the radiance offered by the perfect hero. The implications inherent in a quest for moral and racial purity are vital to Wagner's intentions in the Ring.
It is interesting to note that Wagner believed it was only by submitting completely to the sensuous experience that man could be liberated from the restraints imposed by rationality. However valuable the intellect might be, the rational life was regarded as a hindrance to achieving the fullest development of human awareness. Only when perfect man and perfect woman came together could a transcendental heroic image be created. Siegfried and Brünnhilde together are invincible after each has submitted to the other; apart they are imperfect.
There is no charity or idealism present in the Wagnerian myth world. The perfect ones exult only in each other. All men must recognize the superiority of certain creatures and then bow to their will. Man may quest for his destiny, but he must submit to the will of the superior one if the two come into conflict. In the Ring Wagner wanted to turn his back upon the civility inherent in the Hellenic-Judeo-Christian world. He preferred a realm dominated by the strength and savagery exemplified in the Norse sagas. The implications for the future of Germany were immense.
Philosophy of Other Operas
In Tristan Wagner rejected the affirmative way he developed in the Ring. Instead, he explored the dark side of love in order to plunge to the depths of negative experience. Tristan and Isolde, liberated and not doomed by a love potion they drink, willingly destroy a kingdom in order to love and to live; the sensual power of love is seen here as a destructive force, and the musical style of devious chromaticism and overwhelming orchestral pulsation is perfect for the messages of the drama.
Wagner's egomania, never tolerable to anyone save those who could blind themselves totally to his flaws, came to the fore in the Meistersinger. The tale of the young hero-singer who conquers the old order and forces a new, sensually more exciting style upon the tradition-bound Nuremburg society is the tale of the Ring in a slightly different guise. (Wagner openly claimed Tristan to be the Ring in microcosm.) It is obvious in the Meistersinger that Wagner identifies himself with the messianic figure of a young German poet and singer who wins the prize and is finally accepted as the leader of a new society.
In Parsifal Wagner identified himself even more intensely with the hero as the savior, the world's redeemer. The mysteries celebrated in Parsifal are those prepared for the glory of Wagner himself and not for any god.
The scope of Wagner's vision is as breathtaking as his ideas and metaphysics are repugnant. Without the music his dramas would still be milestones in the history of Western thought. With the music, however, Wagner's importance is greatly magnified. He conceived a musical language that would most effectively present his philosophies. He intended to batter down the resistant forces of reason by means of the music. Ideally, there would be an unending melody in which the voice and text are but part of the fabric, united with a magnificent orchestral web which becomes the action at a distinctly musical pace. The verbal language, often very obscure and tortured in syntax, is acceptable only through the music.
For Wagner, music was in no sense additive, tacked onto the dramas after completion, anymore than it was an exercise in formal rhetoric, mere "art for art's sake." Music could bind all life, art, reality, and illusion together into one symbiotic union that would then work its own unique magic upon an audience. It is no accident that Wagner's musical language is intended to dethrone reason and to ask for unquestioning acceptance of the composer's beliefs. In Wagner's reading of Schopenhauer, the musical ideal in his dramas would be not a reflection of the world but would be that very world itself.
Such a summary of Wagner's creative life hardly hints at the extraordinary complications of his personal life which, in turn, affected his dramas. Wagner was that rare individual—a truly charismatic figure who overcame all adversities. During the years in Switzerland he managed to live for the most part on charity by means of the most amazing conniving and manipulation of people conceivable. The Wesendonck family in particular contributed to his well-being, and Mathilde Wesendonck, one of Wagner's many mistresses, was credited with partially inspiring Tristan.
Wagner's life after leaving Saxony was a constant series of intrigues, harangues, and struggles to overcome the indifference of the world, to find the ideal woman worthy of his love, and to be the worthy recipient of the benefits offered by the perfect patron. Cosima Liszt von Bülow was the answer to his quest for the ideal female, subservient and fanatically devoted to his well-being. Although Wagner and Minna had lived apart for some time, Wagner did not marry Cosima until 1870, almost a decade after Minna's death. Over 30 years her husband's junior, Cosima was to be the dominating, guiding spirit in the Wagnerian shrine at Bayreuth until her death in 1930.
The perfect patron proved to be Ludwig II, who literally rescued Wagner from debtors' prison and brought the composer to Munich with a near carte blanche for life and creativity. Once salvaged, however, Wagner was so offensive to all save the blindly adoring young monarch that he was forced to flee within 2 years. Ludwig, despite eventually disillusionment, remained a loyal supporter of Wagner. It was his generosity that made possible the first festival performances of the Ring in Bayreuth in 1876.
Never one of amenable disposition, Wagner held convictions of his own superiority that developed monomaniacal proportions as he grew older. He was intolerant of any questioning, of any failure to accept him and his creation. His household revolved completely in his orbit, and his demands upon wives, mistresses, friends, musicians, and benefactors were legion. Those who ran afoul of him were pilloried unmercifully, often unscrupulously, such as Eduard Hanslick, the distinguished Viennese music critic who became the model for Beckmesser in the Meistersinger.
When the young philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche first met Wagner, he thought he had found his way into the presence of a god, so radiant and powerful did Wagner seem to him. Later Nietzsche realized that the composer was something less than the perfection of the superman incarnate he had imagined him to be and turned away in disgust. Wagner never forgave Nietzsche for his desertion.
Place in History
In retrospect, Wagner's accomplishments outweigh both his personal behavior and his legacy for the 20th century. He has even managed to survive the predictable rejection by later generations of composers. Wagner created such an effective, unique musical language, especially in Tristan and Parsifal, that the beginnings of modern music are often dated from these scores.
Wagner demonstrated that music was not restricted to being pure formalism and abstract theoretical exploration but was a living, vibrant force capable of changing men's lives. He also proved that the music theater is a proper forum for ideas as opposed to being an arena for only escape and entertainment. And he demonstrated that a composer could rightfully take his place among the great revolutionary thinkers of Western civilization, questioning and attacking what seemed intolerable in traditional modes of behavior, experience, learning, and creation. Together with Karl Marx and Charles Darwin, Wagner must be given his rightful due as one of the greatest forces in 19th-century cultural history.
A representative sampling of Wagner's important prose writings is in Wagner on Music and Drama, edited by Albert Goldman and Evert Sprinchorn (1964). The standard biography in English is that of the great English Wagnerian, Ernest Newman, The Life of Wagner (4 vols., 1933-1946). See also Newman's other important studies, The Wagner Operas (1959) and Wagner as Man and Artist (1960). Recommended to bring Newman's work up to date are Robert Gutman, Richard Wagner: The Man, His Mind, and His Music (1968), and Chappel White, An Introduction to the Life and Works of Richard Wagner (1970). Also valuable are the specific studies, such as Jack Stein, Richard Wagner and the Synthesis of the Arts (1960); Robert Donington, Wagner's Ring and Its Symbols: The Music and the Myth (1963); and Elliot Zuckerman, Tristan: The First Hundred Years (1964). □
The German operatic composer Richard Wagner was one of the most important figures of nineteenth-century music. Wagner was also a crucial figure in nineteenth-century cultural history for both his criticism and polemical writing, or writing that attacks established beliefs.
Wilhelm Richard Wagner was born on May 22, 1813, in Leipzig, Germany, into a middle-class family. Raised along with eight siblings, his father, Friedrich, died shortly after Richard's birth, and within the year his mother, Johanna, married Ludwig Geyer. There is still some controversy as to whether or not Geyer, a traveling actor, was Wagner's real father. As a child, Wagner showed little talent or interest in anything except for writing poetry.
Wagner's musical training was largely left to chance until he was eighteen, when he studied with Theodor Weinlig in Leipzig, Germany, for a year. He began his career in 1833 as choral director in Würzburg and composed his early works in imitation of German romantic compositions. Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827) was his major idol at this time.
Wagner wrote his first opera, Die Feen (The Fairies), in 1833, but it was not produced until after the composer's death. He was music director of the theater in Magdeburg from 1834 to 1836, where his next work, Das Liebesverbot (Forbidden Love), loosely based on William Shakespeare's (1564–1616) Measure for Measure was performed in 1836. That year he married Minna Planner, a singer-actress active in local theatrical life.
In 1837 Wagner became the first music director of the theater in Riga, Russia (now the capital of Latvia), where he remained until 1839. He then set out for Paris, France, where he hoped to make his fortune. While in Paris, he developed an intense hatred for French musical culture that lasted the remainder of his life, regardless of how often he attempted to have a Parisian success. It was at this time that Wagner, in financial desperation, sold the scenario for Der fliegende Holländer (The Flying Dutchman) to the Paris Opéra for use by another composer. Wagner later set to music another version of this tale.
Wagner returned to Germany, settling in Dresden in 1842, where he was in charge of the music for the court chapel. Rienzi, a grand opera in imitation of the French style, enjoyed a modest success. In 1845 Tannhäuser premiered in Dresden and proved the first undoubted success of Wagner's career. In November of the same year he finished the poem for Lohengrin and began composition early in 1846. While at work on Lohengrin he also made plans for his tetralogy (a series of four dramas), Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelungen), being captivated by Norse sagas. In 1845 he prepared the scenario for the first drama of the tetralogy to be written, Siegfried's Tod (Siegfried's Death), which later became Die Götterdämmerung (The Twilight of the Gods).
Years of exile
Wagner had to flee Dresden in 1849 in the aftermath of the Revolution of 1848, which resulted in an unsuccessful uprising against the German monarchy or king. He settled in Switzerland, first in Zurich and then near Lucerne. He remained in Switzerland for the most part for the next fifteen years without steady employment, banished from Germany and forbidden access to German theatrical life. During this time he worked on the Ring —this dominated his creative life over the next two decades.
The first production of Lohengrin took place in Weimar under Franz Liszt's (1881–1886) direction in 1850 (Wagner was not to see Lohengrin until 1861). The year 1850 also saw publication of one of Wagner's most vulgar tracts, The Jew in Music, in which he viciously attacked the very existence of Jewish composers and musicians, particularly in German society.
In 1853 Wagner formally began composition on the Rheingold; he completed the scoring the following year and then began serious work on the Walküre, which was finished in 1856. At this time he was toying with the notion of writing the drama Tristan and Isolde. In 1857 he finished the composition of Act II of Siegfried and gave himself over entirely to Tristan. This work was completed in 1859, but it was mounted in Munich only in 1865.
In 1860 Wagner received permission to reenter Germany except for Saxony, an area in eastern Germany. He was granted full amnesty (political freedom) in 1862. That year he began the music for Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (The Mastersingers of Nuremburg), which he had first thought of in 1845. The Meistersinger was completed in 1867; the first performance took place in Munich the following year. Only then did he pick up the threads of the Ring and resume work on Act III of Siegfried, which was finished in September 1869, a month that also saw the first performance of the Rheingold. He wrote the music for Götterdämmerung from 1869 to 1874.
The first entire Ring cycle (Rheingold, Walküre, Siegfried, and Götterdämmerung ) was given at the Festspielhaus, the shrine Wagner built for himself at Bayreuth, in 1876, over thirty years after the idea for it had first come to mind. He finished Parsifal, his final drama, in 1882. Wagner died on February 13, 1883, in Venice, Italy, and was buried at Bayreuth.
For More Information
Lee, M. Owen. Wagner: The Terrible Man and His Truthful Art. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1999.
Magee, Bryan. The Tristan Chord: Wagner and Philosophy. New York: Metropolitan Books, 2001.
Newman, Ernest. Wagner as Man and Artist. New York: Vintage Books, 1960.