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Smi;«» Id Miuic ud Ho* U O Won. Ci 

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191 1 


Tbk Skcohd BArasviH ISS 

Bebbibul* Am FiBvOBMAwnB IM 

Story oc the Dbaha.. U8 

A FocM FOB Pom 14S 

A ScoBB poB Hmoun US 

MSLODT TBBina TuHK . . . IM 


Gbkb op TniuTAN Chiticisu ITO 


Bahubed Aoaix 174 

Ah Ideal Swiss Homb 181 

RoTAL AXD Othbb VuRinB 188 

LoTE or Luxmr 191 

LOTB OF Ahihals 197 

Platti:lm;,hb and Hdkob 906 



SroBT oy TUE Mahtkhsingehs 217 

The Poem ahd thb Musia 221 

Thb Chobos tH Waoneb's Opbbas 231 

Beckmesser Criticisks 230 

Jgn3G!j, Dhesden akdVihtiia 238 


HiiEi>icoT.i> AND Walkubk ih Muhich 242 

Second Mahriai;!-: aed SiBOfBtBD Idtl 245 




Tausio's HapI'V Thodoht 258 

N^Wht Baybei:iii? 262 

Latino the CoRNEn-StOHB 264 

la IT National? 270 


NnBLDHO Theatbb and Ihtisiblb Obchbstba 281 

NiBBLDBO AKV Othbk Rbbeaxuui 267 

The First Batbbuth Festival 296 / 

A ScAKDiLOUH Spbecu 307 ^ 


Dab RtiBtNOOLD 818 

DiB WalkUre 326 

SwmiBD, TUB FOBBHT Dbama 340 

Du GOttbruXmnebuho 356 




Thb LoHDon Festival 378 

Plans fob thb Fdtcbb 882 


VlVlSKCTIOM AMD Veoetabiahibb 887 

The Tbatelliho Waomeb Thbatbe 3S9 

Thb "Cieclh HOlbbh"aoain 8M 

CoKPOBITIOlt OF Pabsifal 396 

First Fabbifal Festival 401 

Stobt of Parsifal 404 

Poetic, Pictorial, and Musical Fbatubbs 412 

Pauifal Cbitics 429 

Thb First Pbbfobnakce 438 


In the Vendrabin Palace 488 

A Jdvbmilb Work Rbtivbd 444 

Illness and Death 447 



Pbbmical Tbaits 466 

Pobtio Fbcdliarities 467 i 

Mtth and Music 474 

Vocal Sttlb 477 

Iaadiho Motives 492 - 

In America 603 

INDEX 617 



Punch, after all, was right in referring to the " musio 
of the future " as " promissory notes. " These notes were 
not to be redeemable in gold till many years later, and 
Wagner, realizing this, left London precipitately the very 
next momiDg after his last concert. From Paris he wrote 
to Praeger, expressing his delight on having got back to 
the Continent, and his hope of being able soon to resume 
composition, " the only enjoyment in life still left to me." 
He had not forgotten his wife, but succeeded in smuggling 
some fine laces for her through the Paris custom-house. 
A week later he writes from Zdrich, chiding Praeger in 
his playful way for not giving him the important London 
news; to wit: — 

" Yon might at least bare writtaa to say you were glad to haro 
got rid of me, how slBtar Uonle fares, and how Henry Is, whether 
Oyp"? [Praeger'B dog] has made bis appearance in society, whether 
the cat has still its Imd cougb. Heaven! hom many things there 
are of which I ought to 'he informed in order to be at esM I As 
for me, I am still idle. My wife has made me a new dressing- 
gown, and what is more, wonderfully fine silk trouserB for borne 
wear, bo that all the work I do is to loll about in this costume, first 
OD one sofa and then on another." 

His wife was delighted to see, on unpacking his trunk, 
how well " sister L6onie " (Praeger's wife) had taken care 



of hia Wiwlijylw; and to her not long afterwardB Waguer 
wrote ^'loiig "letter in French which those who have curi- 
osity r^g'wding hia proliciency in that language may read 
in.J'i-atifcer's book (277-280). 
■ J^e also remembere-d hia other intimate London friends, 
■■^ainton and LGders, with greetings and letters. Twenty 
._ .years later, when the preparations for the first Bayreiitli 
' Festival were in progress, CoQcert-raaater Sainton wrote 
to liim in order to fiud out if he still held him in reinetu- 
branee. In his reply Wagner gives us a glimpse of the 
warm gratitude he always felt towards ti'ue friends, and 
also adds a must important bit of information. Here is 
a translation of the letter ; — 

" You had no need o( recallinp to my mind the rerncmbronce of 
you. I have dictated to m; wUe in; whole itte ; she wished lo 
kQow everytbing about It. This U all written, and will be left 
to my aon, to be published after my death. And you ? You figun 
to yourself thai you will not figure in thi* biography ? The devil I 
No. 8 Hind Street. And LUdera ? The whole history of you two 
Is deposed in this manuscript, from Uelsingfors to Toulouse (pac- 
ing Hamburg), And London ? Charlemagne ? Where are yoor 
wiia, my dear fellow ? " ' 


On his return to Switzerland he made preparations to 

complete the compositioa of the second drama of the 

Nibelung Tetralogy, It has already been stated that he 

I began the musical execution of this drama in the summer 

I of 1854 (June). He went at it with the characteristic 

I 1 From this letter (the French orl^nal of which la printed In Hnet- 
' fsr's ffa^a Century of Mutlcin Enyland) we may hope for lotne mora 
Interesting details regarding the London episode when tbe Autobio- 
graphy !■ pubUshad. 


buoyancy and enthusiasm that made him look on all hie 
previous achievements as comparatively inaignificant. 
" Now for the composition of DU WaSciire, which deli- 
cioualy pervades all my limbs," he writes to Liszt; and 
again, on July 3d: "The WalkUre is begun: this is the 
real beginning, after all I " (Jetzt geht es doch erst los). 
In about half a year he had completed the sketch of this 
gigantic score, and in January, 1855, he was already hard . 
at work on the instrumentation of the first act. "When 
he packed his trunk for London, he enclosed his sketches, 
hoping to complete the scoring of the whole drama in 
England} but in this he was disappointed; the London 
climate did not a^ree with him, and failed to furnish the 
necessary stimulus to his creative power, while the wor- 
ries over his conductorship, and the failure of his operatic 
hopes, consumed whatever nervous energy and desire to 
work was left in him. In April he laments that London 
has put him dreadfully back in his work; that he has 
only just finished the first act. 

■' Everytbing seems to cling like lead to my mind and body : 
I have already renounced my dearest hope for Ibis year, — tbat ol 
being able to commence my Young Sieg/Hed immediately on 
leturnlngto theSeellaberg; tor I shall bardly get beyond tbe second 
act [of tbe WatkSre] in tbla city. Constituted aa I am, I need a 
very soft, sympathetic element U I am to work joyfully ; this 
constant necessity for drawing myself together in self-defence only 
inspirea me wilb defiance and disgust, not with love tor eqianslon, 
for production," 

The London climate even made him lose what little 
voice for singing he had, which he regretted because it 
deprived him of the pleasure of going over the first 
act of tbe Walkiire with Klindwoith, who had already 


arranged that act for pianoforte, and " played it splen- 
didly," It was Klindworth who arran^d tlie whole of 
the Nibetung's Ring for the pianoforte, an instrument 
which he, as a. spe(.^ial student of Chopin, understood 
thoroughly. It may be added here, in parentliesia, that 
Wagner was generally lucky iu regard to the pianoforte 
arrangements of Ma operas, Uhlig having done Lohen- 
grin, Klindworth the Nfbelang'a Ring, Haas von Bfllow 
Tristan, and Tausig the MeisUrsinger. Josef Rubin- 
stein's PdTsiful is somewhat less satisfactory than these; 
bnt his TujiJihfiuser, baaed on the later Paris version, is 
of course preferable to the older edition. 

On his return to Ziirich Wagner was delighted with the 
change of »ir, and once more felt inspired to take up Die 
Walkilre, wliich he had in the latter part of Ma London 
sojourn abandoned entirely. Bnt he did not remain lung 
in Zflrich, for the neigliborinj; Seelisberg tempted him 
with its ozone and its extensive Alpine panorama. On 
this mountain, to wliieh he constantly refers in his letters 
as his ideal place for work ("the most delightful discov- 
ery I have made in Switzerland," lie writes; "up there it 
is so beautiful, so ravishing, that I am full of desire to 
return — there to die"), he had hoped to begin his beloved 
Siegfried this summer; but now the Watkiire was to 
receive the benefit of its stimulating atmosphere. His 
habitual ill-luck, however, followed him even to this 
mountain top. The demon of sickness came to lodge in 
his bouse. "My wife, [Kirticularly, causes me great 
anxiety," he writes to Praeger. "Her ever- increasing 
ill-health helps to render me very sad. Worried and 
troubled, I resume work. I stmggle at it, as work ia 
the only power that brings to me oblivion and makes me 


free." Soon he too was prostrated by illness and con- 
fined to his bed for several weeks. On Not. 3 he was 
still on the Seelisberg, whence be wrote to Praeger that 
he dragged himself throi^h life as a burden, his only 
delight being work; his greatest sorrow the loss of deaire 
to work; his greatest misfortune the terrible mutilations 
to which his works were subjected and which would 
increase should be die in exile. "This touches me to 
the heart, to the very core. It is when under such feel- 
ings that I occasionally lose completely — yes, even for a 
long time — the desire to work. These periods are ter- 
rible, for then nothing remains, nothing to comfort me." 
During the last few months, he adds, be had regained a 
little of his old enthusiasm, when his illness again 
thwarted his plans. A passage in an undated* letter to 
Liszt (So. 196) paints his mood in still more sombre 
colors : — 

"Hy nttw deapondency la Indeaorfbable ; wmetimeB I aUre at 
my paper lor daya togetber, without remembrance or thought, or 
liking for my work. Wbeie ahoold I get the iDjspiratioQ for it ? 
. . . When I began, and quickly flnkbed, the Shtlngold, I waa 
still feaaUng ou the reminlBoenoe of the intercoorae with you and 
yoota [Liszt had paid him a viait, which will be presently dwelt 
on]. For the last two yeara all aronnd me baa grown silent, and 
my occasional contact with the outer world la intiarmonioua and 
dlaplriling. Believe me, this cannot go on much longer. If my 
external fate does not soon take a different turn, if I find no posal- 
hllity of seeing yon more frequently, and of hearing and producing 
some of my works now and then, my fountain will dry up and the 
end be near. It is Impoeslble for me to go on aa now. . . . The 
Walkiirt I have now with difficulty completed to the middle, Inolud- 


ing a clear copy. Now I bitve been kept from work far eight dftjTB 
b; lllDeBB: il this thing conlinues, I ahall soon despair of ever 
elaborating my skeidtes and completing the score." 

Nothing, surely, is more astouiiding in the history of 
the human mind than the artistic, heroism shown by 
Wagner in undertaking and continuing his gigantic Tetral- 
ogy, when he sincerely believed that he would not survive 
its performance. Remember tliat at this date, fifteen 
years after his Rienzi had been produced in Dresden, no 
other country but Germany had heard any of his operas; 
that the amazingly protracted negotiations regarding the 
first perfoniiiinoe of the ten-year-old Tannhduser in Ber- 
lin were not yet at an end; that Vienna, Munich, and 
Stuttgart had ap to that date not produced a single one 
of bis operas ; that if these comparatively easy and pop- 
ular operas could not be properly done, and failed to 
support him, it was supreme folly to hope anything from 
such mammoth works as he was then engaged on, — bear 
these things in mind, and who can fail to pay his tribute 
of admiration to Wagner's artistic character, his moral 
courage, his devotion to an ideal? But the despairing 
words just quoted show tliat although he was capable of 
such a sacrifice, it often entailed a deep struggle and the 
keenest mental anguish. 

We are now in a position to imderstand why the scor- 
ing of the Walkiire progressed bo slowly that the end of 
the drama was not reached till April, 185C. On Oct. 3, 
1855, the composer sent the completed first two acts to 
Liszt, with most interesting critical comments, followed 
by this pathetic utterance : — 

"But should you like nothing 
leaat once more be pleased with my 

all i: 

this score, you will at 
t handwriting, and will 


think the precantion of red llnea Ingenioos. Thli repmentatlon 
on p^WT nil! probably be the only one whicb I shall ever schtere 
with this work ; for which reason 1 linger over the copying with 

ntdafaction. ^ ^ 

In the tragedy of Wagner's life there is one sonrce of 
consolation vhich never failed, and that Bource was the 
gteat, warm heart of Franz Liazt — the noblest heart that 
ever beat within an artist's breast. So eager was the 
poor exiled composer — who could neither produce his 
own scores nor even play them on the piano — to have a 
word of encouragement and sympathy from one who could 
thus hear them, that he would not wait to complete the 
new score, but sent what there was of it to Liszt. And 
how did Liszt respond to this appeal? 

"Tour Walktire has arrived— and gladly would 1 sing to yon 
with a thousand voicea your LoKengrin chomH, 'A wonder — a 
wcmder I * Dearest Bidiard, jou are truly a divine man I and my 
]oy consists In following you and feeling with you. When we meet, 
more about youi magnificent, mairellous work wlilch ... I am 
reading through 'in great inner eicitement.' " 

The Princess von Wittgenstein added her tribute : " I 
wept bitter tears over the scene between Siegmund and 
Sieglinde! — That is beautiful, like eternity, like earth 
and heaven." What a privilege was that which this 
woman enjoyedl To hear the greatest pianist the world 
had ever seen, play over, for her and himself alone, the 
scores of the greatest of all dramatic composers almost 
before the ink had had time to dry I 

When the last act also had been completed (in April), 
it was at once sent to Liszt with this message : — 

" I am extremely eager to know how the last act will affect you; 
for l)eside yon I Ikave no one to whom it would be worth while to 


.tLiru'd by a visit from Lisz 
tluit you must yet stay awa^ 
Can't you come and make me 


As Wagner could not visit hi 
out risking imprisonment for his 
the only way for the two to meet 
Zdrich. This he did thrice dur 
and the two friends also met on 
Paris. On July 11, 1853, Wagi 
just had " a wild week's revel wit 
visit to Zdrich was made in Octobei 
this occasion accompanied by Eicl 
how Wagner read to them his newl 
poems, while Liszt retaliated by pi 
thoven's last sonatas. Frau Wille 
friends embraced each other on Li 
an interesting anecdote. Her husl 
pianist if there was no possibility ( 
for Wagner to return to Germany ; 
that he knew of no stage that coulc 
Wagner's works — that he neede 
orchestra, in short, everything, ace 
tentions. Whereupon Wille ''- 
probably cost a 



icallj, — in FreDoh, u was his oustom when he wu 
excited, — " llVoMral- LemiBion m trouverat" 

These visits from Liazt were to Wagner what the pres* 
enoe of Freia is to the gods in Bheingald, — a source of 
health, oheerfnlnesB, and rejoTeoation. "After we had 
seen you carried away from as," he wrote to Liszt (July 

■■ I did not apMk saothar word to Ownge ; In ■Ueoee I ntnriMd 
to mjr bonw, •Ummw pnntUad ovorywben. Thna wu ooi patting 
calebntod— yon dear man: all brl^tnaaa had gone from ni i^ O, 
oome again soon f">Ut7 with n« vei7 long I ^ If jon only know what 
bmoM of dlTinity yon bave left beUnd I Everytblng has beoome 
nobler and gentler ; magnanimity pemdea all minds — andnieUn- 
oholy brooda over eTerrthlng." 

Was there ever soch a friendship as that between these 
twomnsiciana? The active part^ of necessify, was entirely 
on Liszt's side, for Wagner was not in positioD to do 
anything for his friend, wheress Liszt had Uie power and 
opportunity to do very much for him. Kor was he ever 
chary in those words of encouragement which were even 
more as halm to Wagner's wooded soul than his actions 
in behalf of his operas and domestic comfort. " You are 
already, and are becoming more and more, the focus of all 
noble aspirations, exalted sentiments, and honest efforts 
in art," he writes in 1863. "This is my sincere con- 
viction, without pedantry or charlatanism, both of which 
are a horror to me." And this feeling was but strength- 
ened as time rolled on. "Hy passion for yonr tone- 
and-word-poems is the only thing that prevents me from 
resigning my post as Kapellmeister. " He even elaborated 
a project for a Ooethe-stipend at Weimar, with annual 
prizes for important new art works: in doin|[ which 



he had in mind especially the forthcoming Nibelung 
dmnas. Did Liszt ever become weary of his friend's 
incessant demands on hia sympathy, time, and resources? 
Bead his letters and be convinced of the contrary. He 
constantly urges him, in fact, to let him know what he 
eu) do for him. It Is pathetic to see how, whenever he is 
unable to meet Wagner's wishes, he apologizes, regrets, 
and explains just why he cannot do so, offering hia cordial 
sympathy as a possible substitute : " for truly I do not 
believe there are many men on this globe who have 
inspired so deep and constant a feeling of sympathy with 
any one as you have in me." This was in 1856; and in 
1869 (Aog. 22) he writes that Wagner'a bust always adorns 
his Triting~desk — "of course without the company of 
other celebrities — no Mozart, no Beethoven, no Goethe, 
and vhaterer the names may be of those who are not 
admitted into this room, the heart of my house." 

Never, on the other side, were favors received with 
more profuse gratitude than that which W^ner felt 
towards Liszt, and expressed in many of his letters: — 

^ " Yon wen tbe first and only one who made me feel tite ecstMT 
of being completely nndentood." ^'Tour friendahip ia the moM 
Important md etgnificant event In my life." ■' Without the en- 
couragement of yonr Bympathy my poor mosical capacities matt 
•oon loee their cnnning." " I have a claim on yoa, as on my 
creator; pou are the creator of what I now am : I live only 
tlirongh iioti — thla is no exaggeration." "It would have been 
Impoadble to do as mncti for myielt in Germany as you have done 
for me." And once more.- " Where lias there ever been an artist, 
a fairad, ^to did for another what yon have done for me 1 1 
SfTmly, U 1 shoold despair of llie whole world, a glance at yoa 
raises me np again high, filled with faith and hope. I cannot 
ooDoelve what would have become of me these four years wlthoot 


yoM : uid whftt bBve yon made of me I It ia really enchuitlag to 
observe youi actions during thU time from my point of view ! I 
Here Uie conception and Uw word 'gntitiide' ceaae to bkve a 

This outburst of pent-up gratitude is, as usual, followed 
by an appeal for a visit from his friend and bene&ctor. 

Friendship like this ia such a very rare pheDomenon in 
modem life — where it seems to have been displaced by 
romantic love — that I may be pardoned for quoting two 
more short passages, the firat by Wagner, the other by 
Liszt: — 

N " If I conld only describe Uie lore J feel for yon I Then ia no 
pang, no ecstasy, which does not vibrate in this love t To-day I am 
toitored bj }ealonay, fear of what is foreign to me In your unique 
character 1 apprehension, care — even doubt — ensue, and then 
again it flames up in me like a forest Are, which only a shower of 
the most voluptuons tears can at last extinguish.V You aie a won- 
derful man, and wonderful U our love t Without loving ourselves 
as we do we could have only hated one another ferociously." 

And Liszt, in his last will and testament, pays this 
final tribute to his friend : — 

" His genius has been a beacon light to me ; I followed it, and 
my friendship for Wagner always bore the character of a noble 
passion. At a certain period I had dreamed of a new art-period 
for Weimar, similar to that of Carl August, in which Wagner and 
I would have been the leaders, as formerly were Qoethe and 
BcbiUer — but untoward drconistances ended this dream," > 

After the completion of the WaikUre, W^ner became 
more and more urgent in his invitations and entreaties 
for another visit from Liszt. Besides the craving for 
'4 der 2bmHU, VSO, 



personal iiitiro nurse, there was now a new motive in hifl|| 
Ijuiuiug dfsiri' to hear how his JJibelung Boores — so 
aa rompletod — would sound, at least on the piano. Ha J 
could not iiby his own scores on the piano; orchestral'l 
f pi'rfonnitncus he could not pay for; and hia political posi- 
tion did out pi.Tiait him to go where it would have been 
possible to produce them. Hence the prophet had to 
come to tiie nuiuutain : Liszt must come to Ziirich and play 
the ffibelung scores. Nor was Liszt at all unwilling. 
But as lie had agreed to compose his Graner Messe and 
conduct it in Hungary, he could not repeat his visit until 
(Ictoher (isnii). In the meantime he was enjoying the 
scores of Rheingold and Walkiire, which, he wrote, had 
for bim 

" the fabulous attractive power of the magnetle mountain, which 
Irresistibly ln-hls fast ahips nnri mariners, II. h.lR been liotB 
a few dayx, and 1 cnuld not nithhold from him the pleasure of 
beholdiiij; your Walliiilla; su lie bangs and rattles the orchestra 
on the piano, while I howl, moan, and roar the vocal parts. This 
byway of prelude to (inrBrand pfrformance in your Ziirich palace, 
to which I am looking forward with eager pleasure," 

Not so eagerly as Wagner, however: this poor man, 
'now in his forty-third year, batl not yet found the means 
to provide himself with a good piano, and an indifferent 
one had had to do such .strvice as was called for during 
the composition of Rheuiifokl and Walkiire. As Liszt's 
visit drew near, he realiziui that he could not pliice such 
an instrument before the world's greatest pianist. So^le■ 
thing must be done to receive him more wortliily. A 
first-class Erard — and — of course — happy tJiought! 
Liszt himself must jirovide it! Not as a present, neces- 
BaiUy, — although there would be no reasonable objectiooa 


to that; but Liszt might Trite to the widow Erard and 
beg her to send him a piano, to be paid for at yard-long 
intervals — say at the rate of 9100 a year. 

"Tell her that yon visit me three timet (1) every year and 
must therefore abaolutely have someOiiag better than my crippled 
inatniment. Tell her a hundred thoosand flhs ; make her believe 
It is a point of honor that an Erard should stand in my boose. In 
short, do not reflect — but go to work with inspired impudence 1 
/must have an Erardt" 

Liszt was not the man to say nay to such a request: 
"Whether Madame Erard is willing to place one of her 
grands in the advantageous way you indicate, is a ques- 
tionable question, concerning which I shall take occasion 
to consult her," Doubtless he did so; but whether the 
result was favorable, history sayeth not. Inasmuch as 
Madame Erard had, on a previous occasion (in London), 
placed a piano at Wagner's disposal, in answer to a re- 
quest by Liszt, let us assume, to the widow's credit, that 
she did contribute her mite to making the meeting of 
these two great men, and the first trial of the £rst half of 
the Nibelung Tetralogy, worthy of the occasion.* 

The moral which we may draw from his inability to 
play his own full scores on the piano, is that even a great 
orchestral composer should not despise that compendium 
of musical instruments. Wagner tells ua, with a certain 
pride, in the first paragraph of his Autobiographic Sketch, 
that he never learned to play the piano. In bis Oper und 
Drama (IV. 9, 10) he emphasizes hia contempt for that 
instrument by calling it "toneless" and accusing it of 

' Concerning hta temporary London Eraid, Wagner wrote after 
thanking Liszt : "I believe It I once owned an Inttniment like that, I 
would yet learn to play the plane." 

> Km/ *J V* 

. i.ave turned with such mighty 
orchestra, and, as it were, through this to t 

But there were occasions when a p 
despised; and one of these was whe 
coming down to Zdrich to play the 
music-starving friend. So anxious wi 
WaOcUre played by Liszt, that the v 
repeatedly postponed. 

** The anticipation of going over this score ( 
you, is the only advantage to myself I hope froi 
totally onahle to undertake it on the piano in 
derive any pleasure from it. You alone can d^ 
intend, therefore, not to have you meet me till I 
whole with you.** 

To get his own voice into proper conditio 
Liszt, he even practised solfeggios. It ha 
stated that Wagner could no more sing 1 
play. Praeger relates that one evening, : 
sang: — 

** And what singing it was 1 It was, as I tol< 
like the barking of a big Newfoundland dog. He 
but kept on nevertheless. He cared not. Yet thoi 
was but howling, he sang with his whole heart, an 
were, spellbound.** 

On the occasion of his third visi*^^ ^'^ "^ 
1856), Liszt was accm 



genstein and her daughter, and it was at hei qoartera that 
Liszt, W^Tier, and the wife o£ Kapellmeister Heim, who 
had an excellent roice, attempted a primitive interpre- 
tation of the WaOaire in presence of an assembl^e of 
distinguiahed guests invited by Liert to the hotel Baar. 
The performance was warmly applauded, and the listeners 
would have 4)een no doubt greatly surprised had any one 
foretold that twenty years would elapse before this drama 
would have its first adequate performance. Liszt re- 
mained several weeks, and a few epistolary fr^meats 
addressed to him during this festive period indicate that 
Wagner, who had to nurse hia health, was occasionally 
compelled to desert his boon compamons and advise them 
to follow his example and go to sleep. In November, an 
excursion was undertaken to St. Gallen, where Wagner 
conducted the Eroica symphony, and Liszt his own Pri- 
ludes and Orpheua. Concerning the impression made by 
these two pieces, Wagner writes: "Our orchestras are 
usually good, and when Liszt himself, or his initiated 
pupils are conducting, success can never fail any more 
than it did when Liszt, e.g., appeared before th« honest 
citizens of St. Gallen, who so touchingly expressed their 
astonishment that compositions which had been described 
to them as being so bombastic and formless, were found 
to be so clear and so easily comprehended." 

WAQNXB'S opinion of LISZT'8 HU8I0 

The sentence just quoted contains an intimation of 
Wagner's opinion of Liezt as a composer — an opinion 
which has been as persistently misrepresented by Liszt's 
enemieB as his attitude towards the masters of the dassi- 

..^iiLecl tens of thousands Avitli & 
the masters of all schools as no one 
by his countless transcriptions for ti 
make good orchestral works and soi 
Kapellmeisters and singers put toget 
a kind word for everybody, who wa 
the incompetent, who wittingly offe 
whose tact and amiability are evincec 
and doings, — Liszt had enemies? Ay 
enemies who, on account of his loft 
finally succeeded in driving him from A 
in the press, enemies everywhere; critic 
haps more bitter and venomous even 
This fact alone refutes the oft-made ass 
opposition to Wagner's music was caused 
'* personal arrogance," his " polemic essays 
of diplomatic tact." If that were true, 
explain the fact that Liszt, who had not 
gance or aggressiveness, who wrote no ] 
and whose diplomacy was proverbial, fai 
than Wagner as regards criticisms and pei 
badly, indeed, that his symphonic poemi 
now beginning to make their way in O 

The enemies of Liszt, not content wi 
compositions all merit, even attp*- ' 
mblio in regard ♦^ *^ 


others, notably by Wagner. Dr. Hanslich, for instance, 
had the audacity to remark, in his review of the Wj^ner- 
Liszt Correspondence that, whereas Liszt always praises 
Wagner's compositions in a tone of deep conviction, 
"Wagner, on the contrary, confines himself to a few 
rather vague explosions of enthusiasm for his 'wonderful 
great friend ' without making any special remarks regard- 
ing his separate works. . . . That be did not by any 
means esteem Liszt's works highly, bis intimate friends 
knew very well." This assertion is enough to take away 
the breath of any one who bus read Wagner's essay on 
Lint's Symphonic Poems, and the numerous entbusiastic 
references to his separate works in the Correspondence, 
which, together, would make up about thirty pages of 
this volume. 

In the essay on LisiU's Symphonic Poem*,"^ W^ner 
points out Liszt's originality in a sphere where some of 
the very greatest composers were mere imitators ; namely, 
in the creation of a new form for instrumental music, — 
the Symphonic Poem, — which he pronounces superior to 
the old symphonic form. We know that in his earlier theo- 
retical works, Wagner had expressed his belief that abso- 
lute (purely instrumental) music bad reached its highest 
development in Beethoven, and that there was nothing to 
be expected beyond. But in this essay be frankly admits 
bis error: Liszt baa convinced him that a new develop- 
ment was possible, and not only a new development bat 
an extremely important one: while the Symphony is 
evolved from dance and march rhythms, the Symphonic 

■ One of th« moit roggenfTe uid ralnable tmttiM to ftll mmiol 
Ittentore ; ft paper which evaiy critic, protewor, uoaMor, and profM- 
■ional ahonld leain 1>j heart. It ii printed in VoL V. 335-487. 

18 i.jja TEAMS or Jtnzjp 

Poem has a poetie motive; iti form is conditioned hy tiaoi 
development of a poetac idM, and not by a change or 
alteration of slow or liraly duace rhythms : " Now, I aek, 
is the march or danoe^ with all the thottgbts accompany- . 
ing this act, a mora wtatiij sootce of Form than, e.g., tha 
idea of the principal and most oharacteristic features in^ 
the actions and snfCaringa ot an Orpheus, a Prometheus, 

Nor did Liszt exhaoHb hia originality l^ thai ozMting 
a new orchestral, form vhicb^ in its o^ania nnify, is a> 
superior to the old iQ'mboUo form vith its nnoonneotsd 
movements, as W(l|gnei'8 miuic-dzama is to the old mosaio 
of unconnected opeiatio tOQes. He had also the gift dt 
filling these forms with interesting ideas. Wagnet taa^ 
tifies to " the extraordinary wealth of musical prodnotlTS 
power manifested by the great tone-poems which were 
placed before as as by magic " ; and he points out the 
" great and eloquqpt definiteness " with which the subject, 
or idea, is presented in these symphonic poems, in a musi- 
cal transformation. " This inspired deliniten^ss of mnsi* 
cal conception is expressed by Liszt at the very beginning 
of his compositions in so pregnant a way that I often had 
to exclaim after the first sixteen bars, 'Enough; I have it 
all.' " He also appeals to the lady to whom this essay 
was addressed as a public letter: — 

"Yoa were witness ot the exttaordinaty ezsJtation of feeling 
induced in me by Liszt when be played bis new works for me. 
You saw me when I was overwhelmed with emotion and J07 tliat 
at last Hucb tblngs could have been created and communicated 

Imagine Wagner's astonishment when his pupil, Karl 
Bitter, informed him one day that Liszt's enemies were 


assuring the reading public that in this essay he "really 
expressed himself evasively, sjid took pains to say noth- 
ing definite about Liszt! " Bitter was led by this report 
to read the essay. The result was that "he was de- 
lighted," as Wagner wrote to Liszt (No. 290), 

■>U> note the enormons Importance I assigned to jou therein. 
Immediatelj I too — fall of BstonishmeDt at the posaibility of a 
miaunderBtandlng — read the letter over again, and could not but 
join thereupon In Karl's cordial deannciation of the incredible 
obtuseaess, saperfioiallt;, and triviality of the persons who found 
it poasible to mlsuudentAnd the import of this letter. ' ' 

As for Liszt, he wrote in his next letter: "I told yon 
at the time how cordially I waa delighted with your lettet 
to M.on my symphonic poems; — let us take no notice 
of the gossip about it started by imbecility, triviality, 
and malice." 

Does it not seem extraordinary that in face of all this, 
a professor of Musical History at the University of 
Vienna should have had the audacity to write the words 
we have above quoted? We stand here before another rid- 
dle, and not a pleasant one. But the riddle deepens when 
we read the references to Liszt's compositions scattered 
through the Correspondence. On March 5, 1855, he tells 
Liszt frankly what he likes and what he does not like 
in his Kilnaller, and explains the difference between his 
own method and Liszt's. He offers to produce some of 
his works in London (to which Liszt refuses his consent), 
and on April 5, 1855, he writes: — 

" KUndworth has just plajed lor me your grand aonata ! We 
spent the day together; he dined with me and afterwards he 
played. Dearest Franz t Now you have been with me 1 The 
■onata is lieaatif ul beyond all conception ; grand, bvely, deep, and 

., io.>.), Wagner wrote a^'uiu: — 

*' If there is anything to come to whic 
anticipation as true enjoyment, it is the \ 
your new compositions. DonH forget to 

One of the most important of the 
compositions is dated July 12, 185( 
essay in aesthetic analysis, but I can 
elusion reached : — 

** Thus I look on your orchestral works as 
of your personal art, and herein they are so i 
critics will need a long time to find out what t 

A postscript to the same letter adds : '' 
beautiful your Mazeppa is : I was quit 
after reading it through the first time I 
for the poor horse : how cruel are nature 
A week later (July 20) he writes again : 

*• With your symphonic poems I am now qi 
are the only music I have anything to do wi 
cannot think of doing any work of my own wh 
leal treatment. £yery day I read one or the ol 
Just as I would read a poem, easily and withou 
I feel every time as if I had dived into a crystal 
be all alone by myself, having left all the work 
an hour my own proper life. Refreshed and 
come to the surface again, full of ^'^^ ' 
Yes, my friend, w^— ' 


" I feel thoroughly contemptible aa a musician, whereas 
yju, as I have now convinced myeelf, are the greatest 
musician of all times " (Dec. 6, 1856). Passages like 
this, where Wagner, in a fit of despair, depreciates his 
own powers, are not infrequent in his letters. See espe- 
cially the extraordinary outburst of self -destructive lava 
in a letter dated May 8, 1859, in which he confesses that 
he is convinced from the bottom of his heart that he is 
" an absolute bungler, " ' while Liszt is an artist " from 
whose every pore music pours in wells and streams and 
waterfalls." He found that he remembered every detail 
of the Dante, but takes that less as a compliment to his 
own memory and receptive powers than as evidence of 
the " peculiar grandeur " of that symphony. 

Among the letters from Wagner's pen that have been 
lost, or remain unpublished, up to date, none arouse one's 
curiosity more than those which he wrote to his former 
revolutionary colle£^ue, August Boeckel, who was aging 
prematurely in the Waldheim prison. Wagner always 
did what he could to alleviate his loneliness by sending 
him the scores of his operas as they came from the press, 
knowing that the ex-conductor would prize them above 
all treasures. From the Waldheim prison also comes 
indirect testimony as to the high value Wagner placed 
on Liszt's music: he wrote so much about it to Boeckel 
that the imprisoned conductor became eager to see some 
of it, and begged Wagner to send him some of Liszt's 
scores (Correspondence, No. 245). No one who knows 
Wagner's undiplomatic and stubborn sincerity would 

1 Thig ge«Tn> 10 have eecaped Mr. Joseph Bconett's attention. Why 
try to prove laborious!; that ft nuui U a bnngler or a cbktlatui, when 
be ftdmita It UiumU? 

liiO^^ J-Jli7>^l> v^ Jlll4> 

,vn«'i, if lie (lid not admins it sin 
Imitation, the sincerest form of 1 
added to Wagner's tributes to Lis: 
August GroUerich, in his biography c 
anecdote : — 

** It waa at a rehearsal of the Walkiire 
attended, when suddenly, as Sieglinde uttc 
*Did father then return,* Richard Wagnei 
exclaiming: *Papa, here comes a theme whi 
• Very well,' replied Liszt, * then it will at leat 
getting a hearing I ' The theme in question is l 
Fatut symphony, at the first hearing of whicl 
sammlung at Weimar, Aug. 6-8, 1861) Wagner 
ously : * Many beautiful and delightful things U 
bat this music is divinely beautiful ! * " 

On May 22, 1883, Liszt completed at ^ 
position for string quartet and harp (ad li 
or piano. The manuscript is prefaced by 

'*At Richard Wagneb^s Gray 

** Richard Wagner once reminded me of the res 
his Parsifal motives and an earlier composition c 
(Introduction, The Bells of the Strasburg Cathet 

** May these reminiscences be fixed herewith, 
grand and noble in the art of our time. 

1 That Wagner's admiration for Liszt's cot«^- 
ished by the lapse of years, is fih^- 
his defence in one r^*^' 



After Liszt liad departed from Zlirich, leaviiig many 
pleasant memories of hia third visit, Winner returned to 
his work on the Nibelung's Ring. The first two dramas 
were entirely completed; the third, Siegfried, was now 
to receive its musical setting. Not that the mosical work 
remained to be done ab initio: the poem was entirely 
completed, and that meant, with Wagner, that the prin- 
cipal musical themes, and many of the details, were 
already worked out in bis brain. This was his method 
of working from the earliest period, as ^e see from a 
most interesting document in the shape of a letter to a 
Berlin friend, the poet and bookseller, Carl Gaillard, 
bearing the date of Jan. 30, 1844, and written, therefore, 
during the time when the writer was at work on Tatm- 
h&user. This letter was puhlished by W, Tappert in an_ 
article on Wagner in Berlin (Bayreuther Festbldtter), 
and in a footnote, Professor Tappert says that " thirty- 
three years later — in September, 1877 — Wagner, in 
course of a long conversation, described to me in detail his 
method of composing, almost exactly as in this first letter 
to Gaillard." As this document has, to my knowledge, 
never appeared in an English version, I translate here- 
with the pertinent part of it. After stating that he did 
not pride himself much on his poetic work (a point on 
which he changed his mind in later years — and with 

the Dante Sfiiiphony, Btter repeated heaiing, as Uiii " equal); iDsplred 
and mtstetfnl creation In oqr art world." and of " Liszt's geniiu, ezallod 
above time and space," aa liaTlng given birth to an Immortal work, 
" even though that immortaUt; be not recognized at pnaeut In Leipzig 
and Berlin." 


(«1 A V/ i; AA V A • 

^, KK) Choose a certain subject, elabo 
then excogitate music suitable to go with it. 
indeed subject me to the disadvantage of 1 
twice by the same subject, which is impossibl 
ferent from that : In the first place, no 8ubje« 
such as present a musical as well as poetic 
same time. Then, before I begin to make a i 
ject a scene, I am already intoxicated by the i 
my task. I have all the tones, all the chanu 
my head, so that when the verses are comple 
arranged, the opera is practically finished so far i 
and the detailed execution of the work is little 
after-labor, which has been preceded by the real 
tion. For this purpose, it is true, I must select s 
as are capable of no other but a musical treatmen 
choose a subject which might as well have been 
Wright for a spoken drama. But as a musicia 
subjects, invent situations and contrasts, which m 
outside of the playwright's domain.'* 

Numerons passages in Wagner's corresj 
witness to the fact that this was always h 
composing. After he had found his subje 
prose sketch of the plot, which was then p 
followed by a Reinschrifty or clean copy, ^ 
rections and improvements as suggeste< 
daring revision (compare Siegfried^ s Tod wi 
merung, by way of illustration). A sent( 
(to Liszt, May 22, 1851), "I am onV - 
pleasant sunny day to h^"' 


pen, as it ie already completed in my head," indicateB that 
the Terses also were in great part finished before he put 
them on paper, — a task seemingly difflcnit, yet obviously 
not impossible to one who could retain in his memory 
vhole symphonic scores of Beethoven. 

How did musical ideas come to Wagner? Commonly 
on his solitary walks when his dog was his only compan- 
ion. Then his pregnant imagination would give birth 
to those beautiful motivee which hare since delighted so 
many thousands both by their musical loveliness and by 
their remarkable &mUy resemblance to the poetic verses 
with which they were twin-bom. Concerning the mental 
process of parturition Wagner gives this interestii^ 
revelation in one of his last essays (X. 225-226), wbva 
he evidently adopts the theory of the tenor Vogel (Schu- 
bert's friend), that musical creation is a sort of clair- 
voyance : — 

" A dmnUlc compOHer of my ' direction ' I Bboold advise, above 
ill things, never to adopt & text before be can see In it a plot, and 
this plot acted out by chancters that for some reason or other 
deeply interest him as a mnddan. Then let him fix very carefully 
the one of these ch&ncten with which he may be directly con- 
cerned to-day ; If It carries a ma«k, away with it I it it is arrayed 
in the dress of a coatumer's model, away with It I Let him imag- 
ine the character In a dim li^t, where be can see only the (^oe 
of the eyes ; if this speaks to him, the character will perhaps get 
into motion — which may even frighten him, but which he must 
endme ; at last its lips move, the mouth is opened, and a voice 
from the spirit-world tells him something quite real, entirely intel- 
ligible, but also so unheard (as, for Instance, the storLe guest, per- 
haps also the page Cherabin, told It to Mourt) —that it awaken* 
Urn from his dream. Everything baa vanished ; but In his mind's 
ear the sounds continue : he has had an ' idea,' a so-called musical 
•motive'; Heaven knows whether others mqrbave beaid It jnst 

• " """at H' 

sly ''"'^l t ''■"^^■ 

^*^ioe r '^'•^te, 






» b 



"lie /'*' ^ater *'"^'i>« 0/ ^"-^ 






«£S2'-«>:i^*'- « 


* «» I «r^**»«sfi 

Oi? **' W'' ^Ct" ^^'''^.S. ^^ 


««* i«to?*'°« Of J7^«d 


simil&t pasBa^s oocut in his letters. But this does not 
shov that b« composed " at the piano " ; that is, he did not 
try to come upon mosical ideas by improvieing. Hia 
musical motives came to him, as we have just seen, on 
his solitary walks, during his "trances," and while at 
work on his poena. The very idea that those amazingly 
complex orchestral scores — which it ia almost impossible 
to reduce to pianistic terms — could have been composed 
at the piano, is ridiculous : Wagner could not even play 
tkem on the piano, and had to get his friends — Liszt, 
Klindworth, BOlow, and Tausig — to do it for him. The 
whole atmosphere of his mind was orchestral, and, as we 
have seen, he had a certain contempt for the piano and 
its meagre resources of color and dynamics. Arrange- 
ments of his operas for piano solo (without words) he 
pronounced "ridiculous," and endurable only for the 
publisher's benefit. His feeling about this matter is 
indicated in this remark to Uhlig: "The very idea of a 
pianoforte score was so painful to me, that when it 
arrived, I felt hardly anything but distress and discon- 
tent; and it needed all the assurance of Baumgartner 
and MCIller, that the arrangement was an excellent one, to 
make me fair in this matter towards you and your care- 
ful work." 

What use, then, did he make of the piano in compos- 
ing? The correct answer to this question is given in the 
following remarks by Praeger, who, during a visit to 
ZOrich in 1856, had an opportunity to see tiie composer 
at work on Siesfried: "He did not seek his ideas at the 
piano. He went to the piano with his idea already com- 
posed, and made the piano his sketch-book, wherein he 
worked and reworked his subject, steadily modelling and 

,,-.v 1 usecl the piano as 
10 mould his theiiies into varioui 
that was all: the delicate lace-^ 
score was all pure mental work wh 
ulation at the piano could assist. 
ishing work that the most peculia 
is revealed. Wise critics have as^ 
operas are inferior as works of art U 
because they lose so much of their be 
for the pianoforte. We ignorant f 
continue to believe that herein lies 
striking points of superiority. For ^ 
employing two hundred players, sol 
singers for an opera, when you can gt 
marrow on the piano? You might as 
because he made pictures which are so 
esting in a print or a photograph. A 
genius lay in producing with colors 
print or photograph can possibly rep 
thought out his operas in orchestral < 
ideas are often conceived in colors and ii 
binations which the piano can no more 
could have suggested them to the comj 
in music emotional and sensuous ideas, 
lectual 'Hhemes," and in an opera the 
as important as the latter. The magic 
the NibeLung*8 Ring would loo^- ^ 
in ft. diffftrftnf. '^-'' 


but that is not a fault of the composer; it is a mark of 
his superlative genius. 

After he had his musical motives satis&ctorily arranged 
in his head, how did he proceed to put them on paper? 
First he made a sort of skeleton sketch, — as painters 
make preliminaiy sketches, — the ideas being roughly 
jotted down on a few lines of music paper; and from 
these the orchestral score was subsequently elaborated. 
In the details of this method, slight changes were made 
from time to time. Thus in a letter to Fischer, speaking 
of the composition of Rheingold, he makes a remark which 
shows how utterly absurd is the notion that Wagner com- 
posed at the piano: "At this time I was adopting a 
new method with the instrumentation, whereby I did not 
first make a completely developed preliminary sketch. 
I felt the want of an arrangement from which I could 
play to any one. I therefore a^ked my friend to go on 
with the pianoforte version, while I waa still writing the 
score, and so I sent him the detailed sections as soon as 
they were finished." Concerning this new method of 
instrumentation, several more interesting hints are given 
in letters to Liszt. One of the most significant is the 
following : — 

••I am DOW composing my Rhrtngold at once In. score, with the 
instruDieDtatlon ; I could not &nd n waj of mahing a clear sketch 
of the Prelude (the depUis of the Bhine) ; bo I resorted to tlie full 
score at once. This Is much slower work, however." 

In another letter he says : — 

" I am working with all my energies. Could you not send me 
a man who wonld be able to take m; wild lead-peacil sketches and 
male a cleanly copied score of them ? I am working this time on 
a plan quite different from my former one. Bat the ot^ying Is 



kUltng me t ItB&kea me lose time oE which I might make r 
preclona oae ; and besides, the constant writing fatigues me so 
mncb that It makes tae ill and causes me to lose tbe mood for the 
real woA of oompoein^. Without ttuch a tiever sasistant 1 am 
loM: with him I Would iiave tlie u>h'il'- [Tetr.ilugj] completed in 
Ino yean. For Uiat loii^-lli <<f tinu' ! fuMM intd Uie unm : should | 
there be a pause In mf oa^poatllan, W ml(^ pot U« Itea fa l(f 
copying out the aepante puts. 8m if 70B can find ana I Bm 
there Is nobody. Tnw, It aonada taoKwbaX tafantei thM I wMtt 
tokeepasecntaiy— IiKbooubaidlybB^tiiTidf in land aM 
batter I" 

He required, indeed, a UiORmgh mnaioiaii— tnoh M h> 
afterwards found in his secretarieg, Hans Biehtflr aocl 
Anton Seidl — to make np a aoore out of his jottingi vbidt 
be himself describes as wild sketohes — "eveiTthiog 
written with penoil illegibly on single sheets." A fsr 
weeks later, indeed, he conoladed tJiat he would have 
to do his own copying, and not merely for pecuniary rea- 
sons : " It ia altogether too difficult to copy them in my 
way, especially as the sketches often really are dread- 
fully oonfused, so that only I can decipher them." So 
he continued his copying of Mheingold while he was 
composing the Walkiire. 

for the lovers of autographs this result has proved a 
blessing, for never were there such neat-looking orches- 
tral scores aa W^;ner's, — no corrections or erasures, — 
all these having been made before the SeinMhriJl, — so 
that his scores ate almost as legible in facsimile litho- 
graph as in printed form. He was proud, too, of his 
elegant handwriting, and repeatedly refers to it, as in 
these lines to Liszt: — 

" You need not get me a copyist ; Mme. Wesendonck has road* 
me a present of a gold pen — everlasting — which hia made a calU- 


graphic pedant of me again. These acoies will be m; most flniahed 
maBterworks In calligraphy I One cannot escape one'i fate I 
HeTerbeer, in foimer days, admired nothing in my acoiea more 
than the neat writing : this tritnit« ot admiration has now become 
a cane to me ; 1 ntu«t write neat scoree u long aa I liTe I " 

Ija3nneQ can have no conception of the enormous amount 
of labor involved in the writing and revriting of such 
scores as Wagner's. There must be at least a million 
notes in the full score of the WaUciire, and each of these 
million notes has to be not only written and rewritten, 
but written in its proper place, with a view to its rela- 
tions to a score of other notes; and the composer, in 
doing this manual work, must keep in view harmonic 
congruity, avoid incongruous or inappropriate combina- 
tions of color, transpose wood-wind parts, etc. I As 
Heinricb Dom, himself a composer of operas, remarks, 
in commenting on the "colossal industry " which Wag- 
ner displayed in the time between Lohengrin and the 
completion of the Nibelvng't Ring : " No one who has not 
himself written scores, can comprehend what it means 
to achieve such a task in comparatively so short a time; 
and one who does comprehend it, must be doubly as- 
tounded at this exhausting and colossal activity." And 
this activity becomes almost incredible when we reflect 
that Wagner, moat of this time, was poor in health, poor 
in purse, suffering the anguish of Prometheus Bound, and 
never expecting to survive a performance of what he was 
engi^ed on, — leaving all its pleasures and proSts to 
future generations. Such is the nature and fonction of 
supreme genius: a sacrifice of the individual for the 
benefit of the species; jost as the mother bird feeds her 
insatiable young till she falls dead from exhaustion. 


82 ulbt tmaeb or exile 


What is it that urges a man of genius thus to oonswimi 
himself in the ardor of oompositiony even when there ie 
no hope of reward ezoept through posthnnuras fame? To 
this question Schopenhauer has given the best answer: — 

**Genlas is its own rewaxd: for a man's best quslttlss mnat 
necessarily benefit himself . *He who is bom loM a tslenti/br a 
talent, finds in it his happiest ezistehce/ says Qoelhs. If we look 
up to a great man of the past, we do not say : * How hiHPIT he is to 
be still admired by all of US'; but: * How h^ipy bs must ha?B been 
in the direct enjoyment of a mind whose taraoes continue to deU||)ife 
mankind for centoiies.* Not fame itself is of Tslne, but that 
wherewith it is aoqnhred ; and in the begetting of immortal ohil* 
dren lies the real enjoyment.** 

With this view Wagner entirely agrees. "Artistic 
creation is delightful activity, not work," he wrote (IH. 
31) years before he became acquainted with Schopen- 
hauer's writings; and this sentence is the key to one 
of his most characteristic traits — his complete and 
almost frenzied absorption in his composition. " I have 
just completed a new score," he writes to the music- 
teacher F. Schmitt (June 3, 1854) ; * " if you only knew 
what working implies with me at present! It is a fanat- 
icism which permits me to recognize or notice nothing 
else right or left." From the beginning, his subjects 
"tormented " him (his own word) till he had shaped them 
satisfactorily ; and we have seen how the story of Lohen- 
grin took such hold of his feelings that he wept when he 
realized that the knight must leave Elsa. His "fanati- 

1 Oesterlein'8 Wagner Katalog, III. 15. 


ciam " for his vork became more abeorbii^ the ceaier be 
approached the end — after completing TbnnAduaer he 
felt as if he had escaped " a deadly peril " ; and " when I 
have finished such a work as the Walktire," he wrote to 

" I always leel u if I had sweated lome fnrfnl anxietf oat of 
my bodjr — an anxiety that oonatantly iDcreaaea u the work !■ 
dnwlDK to a close ; a kind of fear leat I might spoil something. I 
write my sigDstnre, with the date underneath, In aa much haste aa 
11 the devil mm atandlng behind me, and wished to prevent ma 
£rom finishing." 

The source of this fanaticism for work is, of conrs^ 
the delight of begetting immortal children. "More and 
more I am becomii^ convinced, " he writes to Lisz^ " that 
men of our type most really be always unwell except in 
the moments, hoars, and days of creative excitement; but 
then, it most be admitted, we enjoy and revel more than 
all other men." In another letter he declares that his 
life is endurable only in work: "rest is death to me." 
And ^ain : — 

" If I had to get up tome morning without being allowed to con- 
Unne my moalc,! should be unhappy." "Work is the only pleaa- 
ore remaining to me ; for that reason 1 woik too much." >■ Talk- 
ing, letter-writing, business complications — these are my life-foes ; 
undisturbed, peaceful creation and work are, on the contrary, my 
life's preserveis." " So long aa I work I can deceive myself, bat 
aa aoon aa I give myself np to recreation I can no longer deceive 
myself, and then my wretchednees la simply terrible." 

With all his delight in creative activity, he understood 
the truth which Moore has expressed in this question: 
" Whem did ever a sublime thought spring up in the sonl, 
that melancholy was not to be found, however latent, in 

LAST rK£as«r J 

Tuiw to Zor: h, w« w«n sUigadi to pnt amr i 

iiic^n^:.!!!; - eats pne«du« hM tUiA Tint: «• 
ttiervfi^K r-:nM« our atofa^ uidt brMf titinii 

the^tcBtsuf :hefearlS56. iBjuumrheagUD 

to cbe i>ru>^t >af wUck be bid spoken to Liait whea 

waa at *c.rk. on HAn'Bpo/fn of j^viinn^- i kvprist- Ha 
fouri'i \\iaX. he oo-^Id ^-ive e:;;i''.i\v:u5'u; lo oue for three 
years; ij.;: thut wo-^'.d ivst eight hun.lrv>i fmii'sayear; 
un'i su-h a sum he eouM not. of vourre. ileiluot from his 
w-arit itii-ome. Could LUzt helji liir.i? Liszt did send a 
thfjii-uii.! fran'-s. !jut was unable to [irv'tnise an annual 
atijKTi.l iu'h as his friend needeii. He himself was poor, 
his iijcome small, his L-ompositious uupr^^tiiable, and his 
efTorts fj interest princes and others tiuaneially in VVag- 
ntr's liehalf were not successful. In return for Liszt's 
generous contribution, Wagner prouiiseii to devote the 
sum U> the expenses of copying the yibelung'a Rtitg and 
to fj!a<;e the eopiea afterwards at Liszt's disposal as his 
I>ers<irial property. 

Ill «iiriiig, the desire to return to Germany awoke in 


him more ardently tlum ever. He resolved to write to 
the KiDg of Saxoay, confessing his revolutionary rash- 
ness, and promising humbly never t^ain to have anything 
to do with politics. What he asked for was not permis- 
sion to reside again in Germany, — for he knew that 
Switzerland vas a more favorable place for composition, 
— but only the privilege of attending here and there a 
first performance of one of his operas, to see that they 
were not maltreated. To avoid any "demonstrations," 
he would be quit« willing to remain only during the 
rehearsals, always leaving the ci^ before the first per- 
formance. But all his plans came to nought, as usual. 
Even Liszt, who wBa continually hobnobbing with all the 
princes in Germany, could not do anything for him — 
and could not even make it possible for him to come to 
Weimar, or Karlsruhe, where the sovereigns were per- 
sonally well-disposed, but did not wish to offend the 
Saxon king by harboring a fugitive from his courts. 

In midsummer, as was his wont, when his means per- 
mitted, Wagner went higher up into the Alps. The $200 
Liszt had sent proved too much of a temptation to be 
resisted. The Nibelung copies could wait : nobody seemed 
very eager to have them, anyway; besides, he had just 
recovered from the twelfth attack of erysipelas in one 
year, and his health was now the most important con- 
sideration. So he packed his bundle and went to Geneva. 
Not far from that city, half-way up Mont Salfeve, he dis- 
covered a pension which suited him perfectly. From the 
balcony "a divine view of the whole Mont Blajic chain," 
behind the house a garden, and in this a secluded, quiet 
garden-house, which he managed to secure for himself, 
no one being admitted but the servant and the successor 


of Peps, the new dog, Fips. There was only one condi- 
tion attaching to hia occupancy of this cottage: every 
Sunday morning, from nine to twelve, he had to vacate 
it for the services which a Protestant clergyman from 
Geneva oaine to conduct. "For religion's sake," he 
playfully JuUla, he was willing to make this concession: 
perhaps some of his sins would be forgiven him for this 
sacrifice I 

Here he studied Liszt's new compositions, finding them, 
like the mountain air, a tonic which braced him up for 
the beginniub' of the SiegfrUd music. Here also he found 
what was becoming more and more a necessity of his life 
— ibsolute seclusion and solitude. He did not care for 
the personal homage of the multitude; what he wanted 
the people to devote themselves to was his operas, not 
hia person. The unbidden visitors who constantly molest 
men of fame were a Lorror to him : — 

" What one of our class sacrifices in hia intt^rcourse with all 
sorts of persons, utter strangers, what annoyances and tortures 
attend it, no one else can have any conception of ; these tortures 
are the greater because no other class of persons understands tbem, 
and because men who are our very antipodes believe that we are 
really like themselves, for they luiderstand just as much in us as 
we have in common with them, and do not know how little, how 
very little, that is. I repeat, the tortures of intercourse now annoy 
me more than any others ; I make the most subtle arran^ments 
to secure isolation, compel myself to be alone, and take pains to 
attain my object." 

The taste of a quiet, secluded life amidst beautiful 
surroundings, which he got in this garden-house on Mont 
Sal&ve, revived in liim the eager desire, which he had 
harbored for several years, of having such a place, which 


be could call his own, sjid in which he would be secure 
from all noise, — especially " the aecuised piano-banging " 
to which he was everywhere exposed, and which often 
made him so nerrons that all thought of writing was 
banished from his mind. 

"Why," he exeUlms in % letter, "why ehonld I, poor devil, 
burden and tonoie rayseU with Buch terrible tMlu, if the prcMnt 
generation refoMi to lot tne have even a workshop ? I have told 
the HSrtela that U tl)ey canuot help me to an isolated houae on a 
hill, anch as I need, I shall let the whole mbblah go." 

To secure the means of buying a plaoe such as he 
wanted, he had offered his Nibelung scores, as &r as 
completed, to H&rtel, who declared his willingness to do 
something extra in order to secure them. In course of 
the negotiations the composer appears to have lost his 
patience, and shown his temper, for Liszt urges him to 
write a " somewhat polite note " to H&rtel, who seemed 
offended: it was wise to be diplomatic, for publishers 
who could invest the preliminary ten thousand thalers 
these scores would call for, were not numerous. Inas- 
much as the musical " experts " denied the very possibili^ 
of a performance of these IlTibelung dramas, HSrtel can 
hardly be blamed for going slowly in this matter; nor, 
on the other hand, can we fail to sympathize with Wag- 
ner for lamenting the necessity of offering his scores at 
that stage to the only bidder, when, if he could have been 
able to wait, he might have realized so much more on 
them. He, at any rate, knew that these scores were like 
a real estate investment in a growing Western city, bound 
to bear interest a thousand-fold. 

In the meantime Liszt had paid his third risit. After 


his departure Siegjried was taken up in earnest. 
Dec. 6, 1856, the oompoaer writes; — 

" In these days I am oompleling the first acene. Strange, thM 
not till I begin to compose does tbe inner significance of m; poem 
reveal itself to me : everywhere I discover secrets which had until 
then remained hidden even to mysell." 

But the soore, for various reasons, grew slowly. On 
Jan. 17 he completed the sketch of the first act, and 
then for ten diiya all activity was suspended on aecount 
of a peraisteiit headache; the usual "fanatic" interest 
in his task, kid once more caused him to work too hard; 
every morning he sat down, stared at his paper a while, 
and finally concluded that a novel by Scott was about 
much of an effort as he was equal to. He compares bifl 
nervous systcDi to a piano out of tune; money 
troubled him, as usual; he intended to complete 
instrumentation of the first act at once; but the noisf 
his house — musical and unmusical — were so great that 
he had to give up all thought of composing. 

In this emergency there appeared opportunely a friend 
whom he characterizes as one of his greatest benefactors. 
A wealthy merchant named Wesendonck, whose wife was 
a great admirer of Wagner, built a villa on an eminence 
overlooking the lake of Ztirich which he furnished in the 
most luxurious manner. Neat it was a cottage which he 
rented, for a small sum, to the composer, who took pos- 
session of it in the last week of April, 1857. His wife 
being ill, he had to attend to all the details of moving 
himself. Here, at last, he was in a position to continue 
his beloved Siegfried, amid the inspiring surroundings of 
good friends, fine scenery, bracing air, and domestic com- 
fort, which he had always longed for; — 


" ISj stndy b»B been unmged with the ped&ntr; And eleg&ut 
eonifOTt known to you- Mf wiiUng-table stands &t the \a,ige wis- 
dow, with a splendid view ot the lake uid the Alps ; rest and quiet 
sniToimd m«. A pretty and well-stocked gaiden offers little walki 
and Testing-placea to me, and will enable my wife to occapy her- 
self pleasantly, and to keep herself free from troubling thooghls 
about me ; in particular, a large kitchen garden claims her tendei^ 
eat care. So yon see what a very pretty plaoe I have f onnd for my 

Siegfried, there ia good reason to believe, was Wag- 
ner's favorite muBic-drama. He certainly enjoyed com- 
posing it immensely — more, perhaps, than any of the 
other dramas. As early as 1852 he spoke of the delight- 
ful time he expected to have in writing its musio. Two 
years later he wrote: "For the sake of my life's most 
beautiful dream, the Toung Siegfried, I feel that I must 
complete the Nibelung dramas; the Walklire has ex- 
hausted me so much that I must permit myself this 
recreation." It was for the composition of Siegfried that 
he had originally chosen the Seelisberg, which he de- 
scribed as the most delightful spot he had discavered in 
Switzerland. That plan came to naught, thanks to the 
London Philharmonic interruption; but at last fortune 
smiled on him — foramoment: he had an ideal work- 
shop, and bis favorite Siegfried was to get the benefit of 
the happy creative mood which this would ensure. There 
is more in this than the reader perhaps fancies. The 
second act of Siegfried, which was written here, contains 
(without even excepting the last act of the Meiater singer), 
the most genial, serene, cheerful music Wagner ever 
wrote, — music which appeals even to those who dislike 
his other dramas because of their concatenated discords 
and heart-rending au^ish. Doubtless he would have 



given U3 more such happy music had fate more frequently 
smUed on him as it did during the days he spent ia 
Wesendonck's cottage, where, besides the advantages 
above enumerated, he enjoyed also the creative stimulus 
which a man of genius finds in the sympathetic appreci- 
ation of a refined, intelligent woman. Newspaper gossip 
pursued him even here, but it can be stated on the very 
best authority tliat this slanderous gossip was as men- 
dacious as it was malicious. 

Of course it would be absurd to attribute the fact that 
Siegfried is ^\'agne^'3 most inspired and spontaneous 
music-dtama entirely to the happy circumstances amid 
which it was written; those account for its sunny atmos- 
phere, but the real source of musical inspiration was tha 
poera, which is his masterpiece, in every respect — a 
production which neither Schiller, nor Goethe, nor even 
Shakespeare could have surpassed in structure, diction, 
spirit, and feeling. Hence it is that the first act, too, 
which was written amid less favorable surroundings, is 
pervaded by such a remarkable buoyancy and siwntaneity 
of musical utterance. And Wagner knew, better than 
any one else, what he had accomplished. "So far," he 
writes soon after his arrival at Wesendonck's, — 

"I have composed odI; ttie first act; but that is entirely fln- 
Isbed, more beautiful and successful than anything that came be- 
fore it. I waa astonished mystAS at b^ing able to do such a thing ; 
for since our last meeting I have again seemed to myself a dreadful 
bungler, . . . But now all is clear to me, and when you come to 
hear the forging and saiith; songs, you shall learn something new 
from me." 

He adds that in order to accomplish such a task, he 
needs "absolute concentration; all diversion is death to 


And now ve come to one of the most important episodes 
in his life. Most of the second aot of Sitsfried was 
written in 1867 ; the leat of it, with the last act, was not 
completed till 1869 — twelve years later — after TriaUm 
and Di4 MeiaUTMnger had been composed and performed. 
What was the cause of this long interruption? 


In the last days of Jose, 1857, Liszt received a letter 
containing this startling news : — 

'< I ahkll bM,n no further tronble wltb the Elitels, m I have de- 
termined flnallr to give np my hwdotrong dndgn of oompletlng the 
VlbeluDgen. I have led my young Siegfried into a beantifnl foreet 
•olitade, and there have left him under i linden tree, and taken 
laave of him irith heartfelt t«are. He will be better off then than 
elsewhere. If I were ever to remune the work, some one wonld 
have to make It very eaay for me, or elw I ehonld have to b« Id a 
poeltlon to present it to the world as a ffift, in the full tense of the 

The causes which led to this abandonment of his gigan- 
tic undertaking were several. Eight years had elapsed 
since he had had an opportunity to enjoy the stimulus to 
activity that would have been given him by the chance 
to hear a good representation of one of his operas. At 
the same time the wretched performances of his early 
operas which were then being given in German cities 
deprived him of all desire to write any more operas to 
be thus maltreated. The disgust which he felt with this 
state of affairs was one of the motives which propped 
him up when he undertook the seemingly impracticable 
Nibelnng project: its very impracticability tempted 


him; for, while engaged on this task, he would feel 
free from all temptation to have in mind, and make oon- 
cessions to, the theatres and artists of the period. Such a 
work [L3 hia Tetralogy could only be given under extraor^ 
dinary circumstances, at a special festival, under hia 
own supervision. This was the answer which he had 
in readiness for his friends, when they expreseed sur- 
prise that a composer who had shown so much practical 
sense and insight as he, should engage in such a chimeri- 
cal undertaking. 

The very conception of such a plan was a heroic per- 
formance ; the complete and uninterrupted eseoutioo of 
it would have been a miraele. A time came 7hen even 
his courage weakened: — 

■' When I laid aside one completed soore after another, notto 
look at it ag-.iin, I Geemed f) mjaeU occaaloDallj like a somnamlnlr 
liBt, nho his no consciausneas of hia doings. Yea, If I then looked 
up from these scores into tbe bright dayligbt about me, this terrible 
day of ourGermaji opera, with itaconductora, tenora, aongBtressea, 
and repertoire difficultiea, I waa obliged to laugh aloud, and think 
of the > stuff and nonsense' to which I was devoting myself" 
(VI. 378). 

Even thus, however, things might have gone on with- 
out interruption had not money matters interfered. He 
must have something to live on. In a moment of em- 
barrassment he had even sold the performing right to 
TannhiHistr to the manager of a suburban theatre in 
Vienna — the Royal Opera having not yet deigned to 
bring out any of his works. His attempt to make satis- 
factory arrangements with the Hartels regarding the 
publication of the Nibelung scores came to naught 
(although he would have been satisfied with $750 for 


each score; to-day (20,000 would not buy one of these 
scores), and it was on this money that he had lelied 
chiefly for his income during the time when the last 
two of his four dramas were to be composed. Some- 
thing, it ia clear, had to be done. What that was to 
be, he did not quite know himself; when suddenly the 
scales were turned, as it seems, by an extraordinary mes- 
sf^e from South America. In May, 1857, he received 
from a represeotative of the Emperor of Brazil an offer 
to write an opera specially for the Italian company at 
Bio de Janeiro. The composer himself was to conduct 
the performances, and all the means and resources 
necessaiy for a brilliant success were to be placed at his 
disposal. Of the sincerity of this offer there can be no 
doabt, for we know that Dom Pedro always took an in- 
terest in Wagner and was one of the patrons and visitors 
at the first Bayreuth festival. Wagner was at first 
staggered by the Brazilian proposal, and he actually 
appears to have for a moment considered it feasible. 
But after reflecting on the impossibility of entrusting 
such operas as he was then writing to Italian singers, 
he laughed at his momentary acquiescence. Neverthe- 
less, this afFair seems to have brought to a crisis a plan 
which had been in his mind indistinctly for some time, 
and which was nothing leas than the interruption of 
his N&tetung'a Ring in order to write a single opera which 
might be produced at once at the ordinary theatres and 
help to fill his depleted purse. 

This opera was TVuton and Itoide, the plan of which 
he had conceived several years before. First mention 
of it is made in an undated letter to Liszt (written in 
the laat months of 1854) in these words: — 


" As 1 havp never in mj life enjoyed Uie true felicity of 1ot«, I 
will erect to tliis most beaniiful o£ my dreams IStegfried) a monu- 
ment in nhich, from be^ning to end, thia love shall hare tlie 
[ulleat gratiflcniion ; I have sketched in my head a Tristan and 
Itolde, the simplest of miuical conceptions, but full-blooded ; with 
the ' black flag ' which waves at the end I shall then cover myseU 

This plan he now (June, 18S7) determined to cany'H 
ont. Ill :i yn^tr the poem and music could be written^ J 
ami then, :ls no German city was open to him, he wonI4! 
produce it at tlie Strassburg theatre with Niemann a 
an orchestra fnim KarlBnihe, or some other opera-houee.'! 
Furthermore, he intended to have this opera translated 
into Italiun, dedicate the score to the Emperor of Brazil, 
and allow liia compajiy to give the first performance of 
it at Rio de Janeiro, where, probably, T'annMumr would 
precede it. The information oonoludes wltb these 
words : — 

" Thla time I have had to do violence to my feelings ; in the 
midst of the moat favorable mood I have torn Siegfried from my 
heart and put him under lock and key like one buried alive. There 
1 shall keep him, and no one shall get sight of him, since I have to 
lock him up even from myBcK. Well, perhaps the sleep will do 
him good ; but as to the awakening, 1 can guarantee nothing. It 
cost rne a hard, bitter fight before I got so far. Now let that also 

He diwB t.l.H jctUT with an injunction, doubly under- 
lined, t/i yti-K^fii: aliHolute silence regarding the Tristan 

Wagiit;r wiiM tn)t the only one who wept because he had 
to give u[i Sii-'jfried. Liszt also shed tears over the 
abandonmentj yet he cordially approved of the Tristan 
subject : — 

PABia, TAVaiO, AND MUfNA 46 

"Beyond a doulit joa will make « gloilotu voik of it— and 
will then retam to yoar yibelwtgtn wiUk fresh energies. To Stnw»- 
burg we atull all go and form a garde d'honneur tor jon." One 
thing, however, staggered Liszt: "How, in the name of all Ute 
gods, are you going to make of it an opera for RaUati >fnfieri (as 
B. tells me you are)? Well, since tlie incredible and Impossible 
hsTe become your element, perh^M yon will achieve this too." 

But, as we liaye seen, the absurdity of snob an idea bad 
become evident to W^ner bimself as soon as tbe first 
flush of enthagiaBm, during whicb everything was wont 
to seem possible to bis sanguine nature, bad passed 


"So tnacb is clear to me: I must this time aooomplisb 
a miraele in order to make tbe world believe in me." 
With this sentiment Wagner set to Torh on Trittan and 
Itolde. On the last day of the year 1857 tbe first act 
was completed. Business matters now called bim to 
Paris ; steps had to be taken to preserve the copyrights 
of his operas for Prance. In a small room on the third 
story of the Hotel du Louvre (No. 364), facing the yard, 
be found a quiet retreat such as he needed. Among 
bis visitors were Berlioz and Liszt's son-in-law, M. 
OUivier. Spare moments he devoted to reading Galde- 
ron, for whom be conceived a tremendous admiration 
which overflows in a long letter to Liszt (No. 266). In 
the same letter he remarks: — > 

" Besides yon and Calderon, a glance at the completed flrtt act 
of Triitan which I have brought here, has in these days butted 
me up wonderfnlly. Thla will become a remarkable composition. 
I feet a violent impulse to commnnlcate It to some one, and fear 
that it will lead me presently to play some of it to BerUoc, rc^ud- 


hss whether my be&ntifut pUyiug will arouse hi* conaUnimUon or ] 
iliBguat. Heavens, U I were only wilh you now 1 " 

It was as well that he did not play Tristan to Berlicn \ 
on the piauo; for that composer, as we shall liear pres- i 
ently, did not understand that music, even in its orohes- j 
tral preseutation. 

To cover the expenses of this trip (one of the objects I 
of which was also to try to arrange for a performance 4 
of Bienzi at the Thffitre Ljrique), Wagner had been J 
obliged to borrow $200 of Liszt, who, in turn, borrowed'] 
of hia aou-in-law (poorLiflztl his aymphonio poems were J 
even lesa profitable than his friend's scores) I Wagner, ' 
however, promised to repay it aa soon as he had received I 
his first advance on the Tristan score. Necessity had 
compelled him to make a [leculiar arntngement with hia 
Leipzig publishers. Breitkopf and HSrtel had refused 
to take th(! Nibelung scores at his terms because that 
work appeared so impracticable; Tristan seemed more 
of a possibility, so they not only accepted it, but made 
their arrangements even before it was composed, promis- 
ing to pay one-half of the author's royalty (which was 
to be $800 in all) on receipt of the manuscript of the 
first act. The publishers hoped like the composer that 
Tristan would prove profitable by n\aking Us way at 
once to all the German opera-houses; they did not 
dream that seven years would elapse before its first per- 
formance. But what more could have been expected? 
Wagner was only forty-five years old, and Tannhduser 
and Lohengrin had been before the world only thirteen 
and eight years respectively! Did not Liszt write to 
him about this date: " The laist time we performed iofeen- 
grin I felt proud of my century, for post^essing such a 


man as yon have sbowa yourself! With Lohengrin the 
old operatic world comes to an end; the spirit hovers 
over the waters and there is light!" Was not anch a 
message better than money? Why should men of 
genius have money, anyway? 

Room No. 364 at the Hotel du Louvre was a quiet, 
secluded place, but it bad one disadvantage. The waiter 
was a lascal who stole what little money Wagner had 
left, and then decamped for Germany. Liszt, the rem- 
edy for all evils, was immediately informed of bis desti- 
nation, and the police put on bis track; but whether 
this thief of doubly-borrowed money — the repayment 
of which was to cost one-quarter of the earnings ^m 
' the composition of Trittan and Isolde — was caught and 
deservedly punished, is a point which must be left for 
some future investigator of the Jena police records to 

On hia return to Zdrich, another surprise awaited 
Wagner. Liszt sent him the "wonder-fellow" Karl 
Tausig, the "Liszt of the future," as be was called, and 
whom he commended to their common friends, the poet 
Herwegh, journalist Wille, architect Semper, physiolo- 
gist Moleschott, etc. Letter 260 gives a most amusing 
account of the " terrible " young pianist, whose " &antic " 
playing made his host "shudder." To keep such a 
fellow in the house was impossible ; he had to do bia 
practising in a neighboring tavern, but spent all the 
rest of tbe time in the house of the composer, whose 
ardent apostle be was destined to become. He drank 
tea and smoked strong cigars incessantly; had no 
appetite at mealtime, because he was always eating 
cheese and zwiebaiJc between meals — those favorite 



biscuits of which Minna, who happened to be away, had 
left a supply barely sufflcieut for her husband. Karl 
detested walking, and declared, after one hour, that they 
had been out four; in short, Wagner had, for the first 
time, a taste of a father's feelings in taking care of an 
nnrnly bey. Tausig was then aged seventeen. 

Minna, all this time, was at a neighboring summer 
resort for the cure of her heart-trouble: "My anxiety 
for her was terrible: for two months I was really pre- 
pared to hear of her death any day. Her deplorable 
condition was brought about especially by the excessive 
ofle of opium — ostensibly as a cure for insomnia." She 
was now better, but her heart-trouble was incurable, 
and promised much future tribulation for her husband, 
who complains in a letter ' of this period to Frau Julie 
Bitter (his benefactress) about his wife's nerroasneas, 
despondency, and violent temper, and that she was 
" making a hell " of the home to which he was so fond 
of confining himself: — 

*■ Her coDdltlon of mind became nieh a torment to haneU and 
ber anmnrndingg, tbat a radical change of the elbution bad to be 
made, unless we wete all willing to wear onnelTea out niiMaton- 
ably. . . . The state of ber edncaUon, and ber iDteUectoal o^»o- 
ities, make it impowible tor her to find In me and my endowmenta, 
tbe consolation which ahe needed ao much by way of componsUon 
(or the dUagreeableneas of our material sltoation. If this is the 
sonrce of great anguish to me, it oeTertheleas make* ma pity ber 
with all mj heart, and it is my moat cordial wish that I m^ aome 
day be able to afford her lasting conaolation in ber own way." 

Praeger, in his reminiscences of his Tisit to Zdricb in 
1856, relates two incidents which show how ill-mated 

iLuflhiBi, OatcAldUt il«r JfMtt, n. US. 


Wagner and his first vife were. One morning when 
Praeger and Hlnna were waiting for her husband to 
come down from his work on the Tetralt^, she asked, 
"Nov, honestly, is Richard snchagreat genins?" She 
had evidently not been able to make up her mind as to 
this, in the fourteen years that had elapsed since the 
production of Biensil On another occasion, when he 
was bitterly animadverting on his treatment by the 
public, she said, "Well, Richard, why don't you write 
somethii^ for the gallery?" "And yet, "Praeger adds, 
"notwithstanding her inaptitude, Wagner was ever ooo- 
siderate, tender, and affectionate , towards her." She 
had all the domestic virtues which are so highly prized 
in Germaoy, and she had, especially, the economic sens^ 
which Wagner lacked, and which once made him ex- 
claim to Liszt that hereafter he would place his financial 
affairs entirely in her hands. But such qualities could 
not atone for the lack of artistic sympathy which her 
husband craved, and which made him form a romantic 
friendship and seek the company of Mrs. Weseodonck 
more than was agreeable to Minna, whose jealousy was 
repeatedly aroused; to what a degree may be inferred 
from what he wrote to Fraeger one day: "The devil is 
loose. I shall leave Zflrich at once and come to you in 
Paris." But two days later he writes again: "Matters 
have been smoothed over, so that I am not compelled to 
leave here. 1 hope we shall be quite free from annoy- 
ance in a short time; but ach, the virulence, the cruel 
maliciousness of some of my enemies. . . ." 

There appears to have been a temporary separation ; 
for in 186d Wagner writes to Frau Ritter in reference 
to the projected performance of Trittan at Kailsmhe : — 



"This period I liaye also choaeii tor a reunion irith my poor 
vife. Ma.j HeavEn grant that I ahall always fpel able to carry out 
pUIeutlf my firm and cordial determination ol treating her in the 
moat conalderate manner. I conress that my relation to this poor 
woman, wbo has hod ao many trialsi and is now suDering ao much, 
baa alwaya apurrad me on to preserve and develop my moral powers. 
In all my relations to her I am guided only by tbe deepest pity 
with bar conditio)), and 1 hope cotifidently that it will always arm 
m« with the persistent patience with which 1 fe«l called upon not 
only to endure the consequences of her illness, but persoiudly to 
allay them." 

So peace was patched ap for » fair more years; but better 
far had it been if the^two liad nerer met. Wagner had 
made the same matrimoiual mistake aa Goethe, Heine, 
Bacine, and many otiier men ot genius; and a poor 
voman, kind by nature, who might have made a com- 
mon mortal happy and been happy herself, had to suffer 
a quarter of a century for this mistake of wedding <Hie 
with whom there could be no marriage of sonls. 


The second act of Ti-Mtan waa superficially sketched 
at Zdrich, in June, 1858j but the orchestral elaboration 
which, in the case of so richly colored and intensely 
emotional a work as this, is of equal importance, was 
made in a more romantic spot. The reader knows that 
Wagner shared that nniversal longing of the Qerman 
heart for Italy, to which Goethe gave expression, before 
he had been there, in his famous song "Kennst da das 
Land wo die Citronen blOhen? " But the greater part of 
Italy belonged to the German Alliance, and was thwe- 
fore not open to the exiled composer. Venice, however, 


being an Aastxian possesaioD at that tim^ vaa aeeean- 
ble provided the Austrian officiala interposed do obstacle ; 
and Venice was precisel; the citj he most longed to lira 
in. Its attractions had been punted to him in the 
brightest colors by friends. Being half-way between 
Vienna and Germany, it was also a coDrenient station 
for transacting operatic business. But the principal 
reason for his choice was a hygienic one : Venice, being 
without horses, was always free from dost and ooise. 
Schopenhauer, with his usual acomen, made the horror 
of noise a criterion <tf adraacing civilization, and pointed 
oat what tortures especiaUy men of genius, witii their 
senBitire nerrons organization, are subjected to bom 
the brutal indtflennce to noise displayed in our large 
cities — the rambling of wagons, cracking of whips, cry- 
ing of wares, jingling of bells, ete. \o man of genius 
ever suffered more from such noises than Wagner, who, 
whenever he stayed, if only a few days, in a large city, 
always sought for a room in a quiet region, with a few 
green trees thrown in, if possible. Trees are scarce in 
Venice, but it is — outside of Japan — the least noisy 
city in the world, and this feature it was, as he tells us, 
that decided his choice. 

Of course Liszt bad to be consulted in the matter: 
his position was such that without his friend's advice 
and assistance he could hardly take a step outside of 
Switzerland, during the period of his exile. Liszt was 
asked to beg of the Grand I>ake of Weimar, as a special 
favor, intercession with the Austrian government for 
permission on Wagner's part to live in Venice for some 
time. Liszt immediately investigated the matter, and 
came to the conclusion that Venice was not an abso- 



lately safe plaoe for him, politically; bo be advised 
Genoa or Sardinia instead. But Wagner, with charac- 
teristio fearlessness, had already gone to Venice, on his 
own responsibilify, before his friend's answer came. 
Liszt fancied that he had gone to Italy in the hope of 
producing some of hia works there; and knowing very 
well that there was little hope for serious works of art 
in that country, where the chief function of operatic 
composers was the writing of strings of showy arias for 
popular singers to display their vocal agility, he frankly 
informed him that he had M little to hope firam Uklr — 
or France — artistioally, m btaa Austria pelMBeHy; 
" for several years to oome Oennuty is tiie aHj tne toil 
for your works; to this soilt" he adds pinphntlnrily, 
" tiiey will assert their right more and more firmly, snd 
more than all others." 

But the composer of Tmtan had no other "^rtistlo 
intentions " in visiting Venice than the desire to finish 
that score amid agreeable and soothing surroundings. 
This desire was at first gratified : — 

'■ You wiU be pleaaed to hear that Venice hu not diHppofnted 
me In my expectatlouH. The meluicbol; silence of the Ontnd 
Canal, on which m; residence — a atalcl; palace with large rooms 
— is Hituated, ia sympathetic to jne ; eDtertalnment and agreeable 
dlverBlon of the imaginatlOD are provided bjr mjr daily walks on 
the St. Mark's Place, by gondola excursloaB to the Islands, prome- 
Dodes on the latter, etc. Later on the art treasures will have tbelr 
turn. The absolute novelty of these tntereetlng Burrouudlngs Is a 
source of great pleasure to me. I am now waiting for my piano, 
and hope to be able next month to resume my work without dU- 
tnrbance. To complete 7Vi*la» Is my object ; I have no other. '* 

It was amid such surroundings that the glorious loTe* 
duo which takes up so great a part of the second act of 


TriMm -vaa composed. Of all cities in the world 
Venice, with its voluptuous climate, famous works of 
ait^ and lovely women, was the best place to provide 
the inspiration and the sensuous Titianesque coloring 
for this amorous duo. The piano arrived in October, 
and was placed in a large, resonant hall, where composi- 
tion was resumed in a happy mood : — 

<> My work !■ deuer to me than ever ; I took it np BgiJn the 
other day ; the moalo flows like a soft stream from my mind. . . . 
The seoond act, of which I bad before made only a light sketch, 
was Interrupted by vlsiton. I have now reanmed It ; it will be 
veiy beaatUul, and will be completed and in print by the end of 
the year, at the latest. In March the last act will follow, and If 
all goes well, I shall attend the first performance by Easter." 

Poor deluded maji ! Seven years of bitter, continuous 
disappointments were to elapse before that first perform- 
ance. Troubles began to gather before longi the furies 
of fate persecuted this unhappy artist wherever he went. 
"Such work as this," he had written, "I can do only in 
the most favorable mood"j and thie happy mood was 
not to last long. He was af&icted with a new phase of 
bis cutaneous disease; for almost two weeks he could 
not leave his chair; a sore on his leg caused him such 
excruciating pain that, as he says, with gtim humor, 
"during my occupation with the music I occasionally 
cry out aloud, which often produces a great effect." 
Like Job, too, he had to sit and hear the hopeless mes- 
sages as they came in, one after another. From Munich 
came the news that the projected Riemi had been given 
up, on account of " religious objections " which had been 
urged against it! Another little pile of ducats gone — 
a very serious matter to " such a poor devil as myself. 

_^ x^it! aiier neanng 
It I Hienzi ! — and Wagner was then at w» 

"Worse things were to follow. Liszt 1 
coming helpless to aid his friend. We 
''Bajreuthy" had capitulated to the em 
advent of Dingelstedt. A '^ brutal mercai 
Liszt called it, took the place of the 1 
ideals; operas, including Wagner's, were 
to make money; Liszt ceased conducting, 
cabal directed against the Barber of Bagdad 
he gave up his post as conductor entirely, 
ignored in the arrangements for the producti 
Dingelstedt was not ashamed to haggle ^ 
for a few dollars more or less honorariun 
was abandoned, another ''lottery prize" va 
air, — and Wagner was reduced to such a ] 
had to pawn his only valuables, his watch, a g 
box from the Grand Duke, and a bonhonnih 
Princess. (''May the world pardon me thes 
he exclaims.) 

Surely there was reason why he should ma] 
attempt, through Liszt, to improve his po 
does not care so much for amnesty, or fo 
position at a German theatre; even occasic 
ance at performances is not what he most 
mission is to compose, and how can he do 
this when petty financial cares are t^^'--- 


and what he thinks he has a right to claim, is a reg^nlar 
pension, such as friendly German potentates might award 
him, in retam for aerrices to be rendered. He •wants 
the enormous . annual sum of "at least two or three 
thousand thalers" (S1600 to S2200)— no more than 
had been paid to other composers — even to Mendelssohn, 
who was wealthy and did not need it. In return for this 
be would pledge himself to compose continuously, and, 
after his return to Germany, personally superintend the 
production of his operas at the theatres of the Princes 
who contributed to the pension. The obligation would 
not be great, he adds. He was now forty-six years old, 
and looked forward to ten years more of activity. 

Of course this plan, like all its predecessors, came 
to naught. Xay, so far from being amnestied and pen- 
sioned, he was deliberately harassed in Italy. The 
Saxon authorities made an effort to secure his expulsion 
from Venice, and it was only owing to a certificate from 
his physician that he was allowed to stay a little longer, 
on account of the state of his health. 

Such experiences would embitter a saint, and Wagner 
was a Job only in experiences, not in temper. He 
BotEered at this time from several paroxysms of fury and 
ill humor, in which, he says himself, " I must be very 
ugly. ... I know that I allow myself too much free- 
dom, and that I count more than is right on the patience 
of others." And as a man who has been annoyed by 
persons on whom he cannot discharge his pent-up wrath, 
sometimes uses the dearest friends and relatives as a 
lightning-rod; so Wagner, goaded by ill-health, and the 
cumulating pile of disappointments, wrote a letter to 
Liszt which might have brought about a niptnie but for 


the good nature of Liszt, who, however, "washed his 
friend's head " thoroughly Id a reply which Is not 
printed in tlie Correapondence. It was only a " family 
quarrel," a passing storm, leaving matters as they were 
before. And how they were before, may be seen from 
Liazt'a utterance when he received advance sheets of 
the act of Trittan from the publishers, and from 
Wagner's answer: — 

•' What a heavenly gift HSrtel Iim sent roe I All the ohlldran in 
tbe world, with Clirlatmas trees adorned with goldeo fruits and 
lovely preBPuts, cannot experience tu mach joy as I alone derived 
from your unique TriUan. Away with all cares and troubles of 
the humdrum world I Here once more ia something to weep over 
and flare up in enthusiasm. What raiislilng magic 1 Wbat an 
incredible wealth of beAUt; in Uua flaming love potion I Wbat 
muHt have been your (eelingi when you conceived and composed 
this wonderful work 1 " 

Liszt, being a composer himself, knew that the pleas- 
ures of creating outweigh all the triumphs of popular 
success. That only one thing is comparable to these crea- 
tive pleasures Wagner knew. Supersensitive though he 
was to criticism, he was far from sharing the feelings of 
Byron, who once wrote that the depreciation of the low- 
est of mankind was more painful to him than the ap- 
plause of the highest was pleasing. On the contrary, 
the sympathy and encouragement of one man upheld 
him against a host of Philistines: "The blessing of 
your expression of sympathetic interest in Tristan, 
which I had long looked forward to with incredible 
eagerness, made me flare up in convulsive exultation," 
was his answer to Liszt; and it was this manifestation 
of sympathy that had led him to hope that others might 


come to Bhare it, and help him to secure the peoBion 
which Toold enable him to contiQiie his creative work. 


Driven from Venice by the persecution of Saxon offi- 
cials, he once more sought refuge in Switzerland, choos- 
ing tbia time tbe romantic Lake of Lucerne : — 

" Toa know how I lore tlie Vlerwaldstltter &ee," he wrftM to 
hiB frtend ; " Rigt and PllmUia, etc., have become a hygienic neoea- 
sity for my blood. There I shall be quite alone. At thl« aeMon 
[Haroh] it will be easy to find a moat deeliable lealdence, and 
there I expect to woric q>lendldly. My Biard baa already gone 

Here the third act of Trlttan was begnn and completed, 
in about four months ; there is extant a telegram from 
Liszt, dated Aug. d, 1859, reading: "To the completed 
Tri»Um the heartiest congratulations of your faithful 
Franciscus." It need not be said that under the most 
cheering circumstances the writing of such a marvel- 
lously complicated act as the third of Tristan, bubbling 
over with genius, would have been a tremendous achieve- 
ment; but the feat becomes more remarkable when we 
discover what a cheerless, desolate existence the com- 
poser led during this time: — 

"Excepting the seivanta, I do not iee a human being. Try to 
Imagine what my feelings must be. — Children I children 1 I fear 
I shall be neglected loo long, and the ■ too late ' will some day pra. 
sent itsell to yon too, with reference to me. I un told, 'finish 
TriHan, then we shall se« ' 1 But what if I did not finish Triitan 
becanae I conld not do it ? I feel as if I must bieak down la 
deqiairbefontha— goal?— is reached. At any rate, I daily look 


at my book nitb the best will, but mr hend renu^B deKlsle, m; 
heart empty, aad I etare out into the mlata and rain- clouds, whi[^h 
hare been impenetrable here since my arrival [two montht ago], 
and have prevented me even from purifying my dark blood by 
means of a few invigorating eicuraions. . . . 

" With the last act of thts child of pain, 1 am now stAoding on 
the edge of Co be ornot to be — a trifling presBure on some spring 
of the common chance to which I am now exposed so meroUessly, 
may kill thi* child before its birth." 

For the second time lie was tempted to give up composi- 
tion, to go abroad and conduct concerts, the offer coming 
this time from the United States. Fortuuately he said 
no; who knows what might have happened to him? and 
Tristan would have remained incomplete. The whole 
long and tragic letter (No. 290), from which I have just 
quoted a few lines, should be studied by every reader of 
this biography. No one but the composer of the heart- 
rending music of the third aet of Trixtan could have 
possibly written it. Liszt describes it admirably in his 
reply : — 

'• What a frightful storm — your letter, dearest Kichard 1 With 
what might of despair it tosses about and demolishes everything ! 
What remains to be heard amid this din and howling ? . . . And 
yet my faith in you is firm. . . . Even your crazy injustice towards 
yourself, wlien you call yourself ' a miserable, bungling musi- 
cian' (!!!) iaasipi of your greatness. As Pascal remarks, 'True 
elac[iiotiou mocks at eloquence. ' " 

To which the pious Lis2t adds, as was his wont, words 
of religious consolation, though he knew that his seeds 
would not fall on soil where they could grow. Tristan, 
however, was completed, and remains the most remarka- 
ble opiu in the literature of music — a work so original, 


BO oaiqne, that no other composer before or since could 
have written a pi^e of it; a score bo marvellously con- 
catenated in all its parts that a page removed &om it 
would mar the whole, as much as a pillar removed would 
mar a temple j and just as a single capital suffioes to 
show the style of a temple, so every single bar of Tristan 
is unmistakably Tristanesque. 

The score being completed and placed in the pub- 
lisher's bands, the next thing was to find a place for its 
performance. The Strassbu^ project previously alluded 
to was given up on the advice of Dr. £. Devrient, Direc- 
tor of the Orandducal theatre at Karlsruhe, who recom- 
mended his own theatre instead. Koi was this unwise 
counsel, for Grand Duke Friedricb of Baden had married 
the Princess Ix>nise of Prussia, who was an admirer of 
Wagner's music, as was the Duke himself, who prom* 
ised to provide the means for a good performance. 
Moreover, at this time the Karlsruhe theatre rejoiced 
in the possession of those two gifted singers, Schnorr 
Ton Garolsfeld and his wife, whom Wagner, six years 
later, chose among all German singers to impersonate 
the rdles of Tristan and Isolde at Munich. But the 
usual ill-luck pursued him here. To give Tristan with- 
out his personal supervision was out of the question, and 
although the Duke himself pleaded with the King of 
Saxony on his behalf, permission for his even temporary 
sojourn in Germany could not be secured. And when in 
the following year, a partial amnesty followed, which 
would have enabled Wagner to go to Karlsruhe, the two 
Schnorrs had left that city (gone to Dre*den — the 
capital of Saxony, from which he was still excluded), 
while the singers who had taken their place were unable 


lug Closed against him, iiotliing was 1 
in Switzerland, or go to Paris or Lond 
ences at London had not been such as 1 
experiments, and Switzerland was begii 
him, for the reason that he had no oppo 
hear his own or any other music. Pari 
selected as a place where he could at an 
occasional quartet o^ orchestral concei 
offered at least the possibility of the perf< 
of his operas. There was a chance foi 
Th^tre Lyrique; Tannhduser was nan 
in a vague connection with the Grand 0] 
knows but that a chance might offer even 
To Paris, therefore, he went, with the ini 
maining there an indefinite time — regardlc 
agreeable memories which this sojourn mi 
his trials, disappointments, and starvation 
place twenty years before. Twenty yet 
meantime he had finished Biemif compose 
maUf Tannhduaer, Lohengrin, Rheingold, ] 
of Siegfried, and the whole of Tristan; ] 
his fame and prospects in Paris were c 
might as well have spent these years as a i 
South Africa. A few selections from hi 
been played at semi-private concerts; a nui 
cious and a few favorable newspaper ai-^^^ 
peared on his t«"— - 



piano score of Tannhfiuser in the house of a friend — but 
that was about all. France vas slumbering in profound 
igliorance of the composer of the "music of the future "; 
but events were brewing which were soon to make him 

the best known man in Paris. 


In a public letter addreflsed to the editor of a Vienna 
newspaper,' Wagner himself confessed that his chief 
motive for settling again in Paris, in the autumn of 
1859, was the hope of being able to bring about a per- 
formance of Tristan under his personal guidance, which 
in Germany vfas at that time impossible. His original 
plan was to invite a number of the best German singers 
to Paris, in the summer of 1860, to give a series of 
model performances of Tristan, to which periiapa some 
of his earlier works might be added. This, however, 
was more easily planned than carried out. The desired 
singers, having their vacations at different times, could 
not all accept simultaneously, and, more important still,- 
such an enterprise would require a large sum of money 
of which the projector himself could not advance a 
penny. There was, however, a wealthy man, a friend 
of one of his friends, who might perhaps be induced to 
take the risk, provided he could be sufficiently interested 
in the music. Por this purjiose, and in order to give 
the Parisians a taste of his music, Wagner made ar- 
rangements for a few concerts, at which excerpts from 
his operas were to be given. But before describing 
these concerts, a few preliminary events must be related. 
1 BoUcha/ter, ISOSj reprinted io Bayreuther Blatter, 189a 


Aji interesting and seemingly aospicions incident 
occurred at the cuBtom-houae when Wagner entered 
Paris. It is related by the dramatist Sardou in the 
preface to a collection of the poems of Edmond Boche. 
This young poet was at that time a cnstoms officer at 
the railway station. One day he noticed that a stranger, 
just from Grermany, was having difficulty in getting 
through the thousand fonnalities of the place. The 
stranger's name was Wagner; Roche assisted him with 
the greatest possible politeness, and when Wagner 
thanked him, he replied : " I am only too happy to have 
obliged a great artist." "You know me then?" ex- 
claimed the artist, surprised and pleased. Koche smiled 
and hummed a few melodies from his operas. "Ah, 
it is a happy augury," exclaimed Wagner; "the first 
Parisian I meet knows my music and likes it. We 
shall meet again; " and with these words he took a few 
sheets of music from his satchel and dedicated them 
to Boche. They did meet again, for Koche became the 
translator of Tannhauser; but the "happy augury " did 
not amount to much. 

One of the first friends Wagner made in Paris at this 
time was A. de Gasp^riui, a young physician and author, 
who subsequently published a Wagner biography of 173 
pages* which contains many interesting details, espe- 
cially of this Parisian period. Gasp^rini relates that 
when he met the composer he would have judged him, 
from his appearance, to be thirty-six, and not forty-alx. 
At first he was struck by his apparent coldness, reserve, 
aod the immobility of bis features. But as he warmed 
up in eonversation, a complete transformation took place, 
iParU: Baiigd,lS66. 

64 a PAB18 AOfUW, 

and his visitor found in Imn the man niQh as he had im- 
agined him from his works. When thejtoaehed a sym- 
pathetic subject, — the Parisian plans^— he looked no 
longer like an ascetic disciple of Buddha and Schopen- 
hauer, but '^a yoimg man, fall of life and futh, and in 
spite of his theories, far removed from Bqddha and hia 
sterile meditations.'' 

The first few months Wagner lived on the Bne Mati- 
gnon, but the place was too noisy for him, so he moved 
to the Rue Newton, near the Arc de Triomphe^ where he 
could enjoy the sight of trees. His npholstary, the 
accumulation of years, he had brought from Zflrieh, and 
forthwith the gossips charged him with the ostentation 
of an Eastern potentatel ''Look here,'' he said one 
day to Praeger, who had gone to Paris to call on him; 
''now you know this furniture, and how carefully Minna 
has preserved it, and yet see how I am treated." In the 
third volume of the anonymous Memairen einer Idealittin 
(p. 258) we find this description of the new domicile: — 

** Wagner had rented a smaU house with a Uttle garden, in a 
quiet street, not too far from the ChampB-^lys^es. It presented 
a charmingly cosy appearance ; especially did the composer's work- 
room and the music-room, though small, wear an artistic aspect 
Here began a series of happy hours. Here for the first time did I 
see Wagner in a proper light ; the London fogs were dispeUed, and 
with astonishment I beheld this mighty personality unfolding 
before me. He seemed in a much more social mood than he had 
in London. Hospitably he opened his house once a week, and 
many persons of note attended these gatherings.** 

Among the notabilities seen there were the authors and 
poets Baudelaire, Ghampfleury, Boche, Lorbac, JAroj, 
Qasn^rini besides Gustavo Bor^^ Jules Ferry, Ollivier 


and his wife (Liszt's daagliter)^ F. Villot, conservator 
of the Imperial museums, and Berlioz. 


So far, everything seemed to promise well enough. 
By way of calling the attention of the public to his 
presence and his projects three Wagner concerts were 
now determined upon. An application was made for 
the free use of the opera-house; but again the inevitable 
ill-luck interfered. No answer was received for so long 
a time that he gave up hope from this quarter and hired 
the Th^tre Yentadour at a high sum: hardly had he 
done this when the Op^ra was placed at his disposal — 
too late, of course, for he could not break his contract at 
the ^^Italiens." Rehearsals were immediately begun, 
partly under the direction of Wagner, partly under 
Bdlow, who had come to Paris to train the (chiefly ama- 
teur) chorus. The first concert took place on Jan. 25, 
1860, and was followed by two others on Feb. 1 and 8. 
The programme was the same in each case : Overture to 
Dutchman; march with chorus, introduction to Act III., 
pilgrims' chorus, and overture from Tannhduser; prel- 
ude of Tristan; prelude, introduction to Act III., and 
wedding chorus from Lohengrin, A programme which 
to-day an audience in a Western mining camp would 
almost be able to appreciate; but to the Parisian critics 
of three decades ago (if they really expressed their hon- 
est opinions), it was all caviare I Not so to the public, 
which included such eminent musicians as Auber, Gou- 
nod, Meyerbeer, Berlioz, Grevaert, and Beyer. Champ- 
fleury states that ^'each piece was received with veritable 

6e m PARIS AGAiy 

The financial result of the three concerts, however, 
was worse thau had been imticipated. The loss was 
over $1100, [ind poor VVaguer, who had just succeeded 
in selling hia Nibelung scores to Schott at Mayence, had 
to pay for trying to interest the I'arisians in his early 
operas^ by using up a large part of the scant money he 
had earned by several years' hard work on his Tetral- 
ogy I Hard work, hard luck, such was his fate until 
after his fiftieth year; and even then the change for the 
better was only apparent and temporary. 

To repair the damage to his purse, he accepted an 
invitation to repeat his concerts (in March) at the Bel- 
gian Paris, HrussL'ls. Here he was still less known than 
in Paris, but the fact that Brussels had been one of the 
first cities to propose a performance of Lohengrin, though 
it came to nothing, may have helped to decide him to 
take this step. A few decades later Brussels <iid become 
a Wagnerian centre; here almost all of his operas and 
mnaic-dramas have been brought out with success ' but 
at that time there was not sufficient interest in him to 
make his concerts a success; the hrst brought in 2123 
francs, the second 1395 — not enough to pay expenses.' 

Amusing anecdotes are told, d propos of these concerts, 
of the famous musical critic, historian, and theorist, 
F^tis — the same who disliked Beethoven's third style, 
and after reading whose essays on his own works and 
theories Wagner once exclaimed, " What an oss / " Being 
in a conciliatory mood, he — contrary to his custom — 

1 Lokfngrin leads here as everywhere. U had tweaty-seTen per- 
tormancea in 1S91-3. eigbt more Ctiau even the ever-popular Fautt. 

' E. Evenepoel, Le Waf/neriime hors d' Ailfmagne, p. 68, Fsrii: 
Flschbsflier. a book in wliich the liiittory of Wai^nerlsoi in BrDsseU !■ 
treated vith great detail, and in ui attractive style. 


called on F^ie, who received him in aD3'thing but an 
amiable spirit. The conversation soon degenerated into 
a quarrel; F^tis questioned the sincerity of bis visitor's 
art, used hard words, and finally showed him the door, 
but not before Winner had got in his answer: "Sie 
abgestumpfter Greis, Sie woUen urtheilen tlber einen 
so gefiihlvoUen Mann wie ich! " ("You blaa6 old fogy 
— you presume to sit in judgment on a man of feeling 
like myself ! ") F^tis was greatly enn^ed at the artistic 
success of the concerts. At the Conservatoire, of which 
he was director, he even tried to secure the dismissal of 
one of the professors, A. Samuel, who bad defended the 
German composer; and he also administered a severe 
rebuke to a large number of the students who had 
applauded the "music of the future," which at this time, 
the reader should remember, included nothing more ad- 
vanced than lA>hengrin. 

In the interval between the Paris and the Brusselg 
concerts a most important change had, however, taken 
place in Wagner's prospects. The financial failure of 
hiB concerts combined with the difficulty of engaging 
competent singers, especially when one has no money 
(and, as ill-luck would have it, the wealthy amateur 
whose operatic appetite was to have been stimulated by 
these concerts was prevented from attending them), 
had left no doubt as to the impracticability of the oper- 
atic scheme for which the concerts were to have been a 
preparation. Again he had turned his eyes towards 
Germany, determined to make a final effort to secure 
amnesty, when suddenly — a miracle happened: Napo- 


leon had given an order that TannhHttwr ahould be per- 
foj-med at the Orand Op4ra! The news came upoa 
Wagner like a thunderbolt : he did not even know that 
Tawthduser was under coneideration at the Tuileriea; 
did not know that he had any friends there who could or 
would bring aliout Buch a result. Cherchez la f emmet 
She was the wife of the Austrian ambassador, Princess 
Pauline de Mettemich, a special friend of the Empress; 
she felt pity for the persecuted composer, and she ad- 
mired his operas — two of which had but recently been 
introduced with brilliant success in Vienna. Her recom- 
mendation, weighted by that of members of the German 
embassies, induced the Emperor to give his memorable 
order. It is said that Marshal Magnan, a great admirer 
of Wagner's music, also had a hand in the matter. 

Tannhihtaer at the Grand Op^ra, and by special order 
of the Emperor, with carte blanche to spend as much as 
he chose on the best singers and the most sumptuous 
scenery! It seemed almost too good to believe. 

" It waa one of the grand emotions of Wagner's life," writes 
Gaspfrini : " quick as a child In giving hlmeelf up, either to joyous 
or despondent feelings, he saw in this happy turn of fate the begin- 
ning of an entirely new life. In a few hours he had hatched out 
project upon project, conquest upon conquest." 

"Never in my life," Wagner wrote to Liszt, under- 
scoring each word of this sentence, " have the means for 
a first-rate performance been placed at my command so 
completely and unconditionally as this time. ... It is 
up to date the first triumph of my art which I experi- 
ence personally." Triumph? Alas three — but let us 
give the story in proper order. 

Napoleon's order, while it aroused the jealousy of 



certain French composers (and their &ieads) who irere 
waiting to have operas of their own mounted, made 
W^^er the musical lion of the day — a real lion who 
could have his own way in eTerything. Regardless of 
expense (for the Emperor footed the bills) and under 
his own direction, a mue-en-ac67te was prepared by the 
best French scene-painters, such as he had never dreamt 
of in hia most Utopian moments. In regard to the 
gingers, he was to have free choice. Albert Niemann, 
the promising German tenor, waa secured at a monthly 
salary of 6000 francs, with a special proviso that he must 
not appear in any opera except 2bnnMu«er. Madame 
Tedesco, who was to be Venus, received the same sum. 
For the part of Wolfram, Morelli waa engaged at 3000 

Surprise waa created when Wagner announced his 
extra orchestral needs. He wanted twelve horns (more 
than could be found in Fajis at that time), twelve trum- 
pets, four trombones, four oboes, four flutes, four clari- 
nets, four bassoons, etc. ; he consented, however, to some 
reduction of these figures. Before the singers could 
be assigned their tasks, it was necessary to get the text 
translated into French. Ordinarily, this would have 
been the easiest thing in the world; the original verses 
would have been handed over to some hack rhymester 
who would have done them into slovenly French at so 
much a yard. That was not Wagner's idea o£ operatic 
translation. He must have not only an equivalent in 
words, but the accent of every word must correspond 
with the melodic accent. So important waa this in his 
eyes that when he rewrote the music of the first scene, 
he used the French words in order to secure perfect cor- 


reapondence.' But for the rest of the book the worda 
had to be adapted to the music. A willing victim to 
this difficult and thankless task was found in the poet 
Koche, whose acquaintance we made at the custom-house. 
Sardou, in the preface above referred to, gives a vivid 
description of the hard work to which this poor poet 
submitted in his efforts to please the exacting composer. 
Many days and nights were spent by the two in the 
attempt to find the right words and syllables and accents, 
Sunday, being an off-day for the customs official, was 
given up entirely to the translation. At seven in the 
morning they began, continuing without a pause till 
noon, till one — till two — till finally the pen dropped 
from the hand of the weary poet, who ventured to sug- 
gest that it was lunch time. "Ah, lunch; I had forgot- 
ten," was Wagner's reply; "let US take a hurried bite 
and begin again." 

It was hard on the translator, no doubt, but Sardou 
forgets how much greater must have been the worry and 
toil of the cooperating author, " coming and going, with 
fiery eyes, furious gestures, playing passages on his 
piano, singing, exclaiming, and urging me to 'go on! 
go on! ' " To complete this part of the tale, it may be 
added here that Roche died, broken-hearted, shortly 
after the failure of the opera on which he had placed so 
much hope; wlitle Rudolph Lindau, who had assisted in 
the first version of the translation which the director 
of the Op^ra refused to accept, brought suit against 
Wagner, in order to have his name placed as one of the 
translators on the play bill; but the courts decided 
against him, except as regards a pecuniary compensa- 
' aasp^rinl, p. 62, 


tion, to which of course he was entitled. While he was 
Btill eagaged on this tiaoBlation, Wagner had another 
Buprise: permission to letum to Germany (Saxony ex- 
cepted) had at last been granted him — for ptofessional 
purposes, and provided permiasioD was specially obtained 
in eaoh caae. Xapoleon is said to have expressed sux- 
prise that Germany could so long treat a man like Wag- 
ner as an exile ; and this, combined with the Tannhduter 
affair, and the influence of the Princess von Uettemich, 
has been heretofore assumed by biographers to have 
caused the Saxon officials to relent at last. These 
friends may have helped; but the prime-mover in this 
affair is indicated in a letter to Liszt dated Sept. 13, 
1860. "At the Prussian embassy I was told that the 
Princess of Prussia would eoon be at the Bhine; the 
Saxon ambassador told me it would be a gratification to 
him, and woold also please the King of Saxony, if I 
thanked the Princess for her influence in the late de- 
cision concerning me." 

Od the strength of his partial amnesty he made a short 
excursion to the Rhine region, as far as Frankfort, where 
he met his wife, who had been undergoing treatment at 
Soden, near Wiesbaden. He also visited Baden-Baden, 
where he was graciously received by the Princess of 

"At Wiesbaden, Frankfurt, Damutadt, and 1 know not how 
many other placM," wrote Liazt, afterwards, " they were expecting 
Wagner, and wanted to see him direct or at least attend a per- 
formance of TannhSuftr and Lohengrin. Certainly there would 
have been no lack of enthusiastic demonstrations. But in face of 
a work like TrUtan, where every one must say at first si^t of the 
score : 'here is something unprecedented, wonderful, sublime,' the 
lubbers all crawl sway and conceal themselTes." 


on this ballet in the second act, and this assertion was 
confirmed by the Minister of State. A more "diplo- 
matic " man would have yielded the point, but Wagner's 
magniiicent stubbornness in matters of principle made 
him prefer failure to a success dependent on the prosti- 
tntion of his opera. He obstinately refused to accede to 
the director's wishes, declared that ho would sooner take 
back hia score and give up the performance altogether, 
and finally appealed to his protectress, the Princess von 
Metternich, whose intercession at the highest tribunal 
had the res\ilt that he was allowed to have his own way 
in this matter — at his own risk. 

He had long felt that the first scene in Tannh&user 
was weak and needed revision. Without any reference 
to the "aristocratic subscribers " (i.e. the Jockey Club), 
who would not see this part of the opera anyway, he 
therefore sot about recomposing this scene entirely, 

" Iain retouching such wesk points as I have found in the ecor»," 
he writes to Liszt, on Sept. 13, 1860 ; " with much enjojment I am 
rBwriting the great Venus scene, and intend that it ahall be greatly 
benefited thereby. The ballet-acene also will be entirely new, alter 
a more elBborat« plan which I have made for it." 

Unfortunately, this scene, as imagined by him, pre- 
sented difiicultiea insuperable to the ballet corps even 
of the Grand Op^ra, an institution which had degener- 
ated at that time into little more than a pretext for 
ballet performances, — that is, the crude, clumsy, and 
lascivious anatomical exhibitions and tip-toe dancing 
which, by some strange occultation of all lesthetic pow- 
ers of discrimination, used to be considered "graceful." 
In his essay On Conducting (VIII. 386) W^ner relates 


the result of his efforts to make something artistic of 
this ballet: — 

'* I called the ballet-master^s attention to the awkward contrast 
which the lamentable skips and short jmm of his mnnads and 
bacchantes presented to my mosic, and demanded that, in place of 
this, his dancers should enact something bold and wildly sublime, 
resembling the groups and processions of bacchanals on antique 
reliefs. Whereupon the man whistled through his fingers and said : 
* Ah, I take your point perfectly, but for such a thing I would need 
an entire corps of '* first ** dancers ; were I to tell my dancers a 
word about this, and endeavor to give them the attitude you mean, 
we should at once have the cancan, and would be lost.* '* ^ 

As the rehearsals had already begun when these 
changes were made in the score, some confusion was 
created by them, especially among the singers. Nie- 
mann, who had been intimidated by hostile influences, 
created a sensation by refusing to sing the new version 
of his scene with Venus, and the composer was com- 
pelled to make excisions. Tedesco also became so im- 
patient over the composer's attempts to teach her how 
to properly sing her part, that she could hardly be 
restrained from marking his face with her finger-nails. 
All the singers, and the players too, were disgusted at 
the unusual number of rehearsals exacted. There were 
no fewer than 164, all told.* The reader knows what a 

1 Wagner did not live to carry oat his later plan of producing Janii- 
Mu9«r at Bayreath exactly as he had conceived it. The bacchanalian 
scene in question was, however, done at the Festival of 1891, without 
his supervision, in a manner wliich proved that it can be superbly exe- 
cuted without a corps of " first " dancers. 

* Ch. Nuitter has given a detailed account of them in the Bayreuther 
Fesihldttert from which it appears that there were seventy-three rehear- 
sals with piano, all but nine of which Wagner attended; forty-five 
ehoral rehearsals, twenty-seven on the stage, all but three of which he 
supervised, and fourteen fuU rehearsals with orchestra, aU of which 
were held in his presence. 

76 IN PAHia AGAOt 

tremendous worker Wagner waa at rehearsals. To have 
more than a hundred of them was enough to break doWD 
even his iron constitution. He had an illness which 
verged on an attack of brain-fever, and made him sub- 
pend all activity for some weeks. On Dec. 15 he writes 
to Liszt tiiat he may infer his condition from the fact 
that "the proof-sheets of Rheingold, which Bchott was 
so anxious to publish before Christmas, have been lying 
on my table for seven weeks untouched." 

Every moment of his time was, in fact, devoted to 
— or riither wasted on — the rehearsals, which lasted 
almost six months (Sept. 24, I860, to March 10, 1861). 
His poor health, the terrible strain on his nerves, 
caused by a hundred rehearsals, would alone have suf- 
ficed to make him irritable and cause him to indulge 
in explosions of wrath. But what made the situation 
almost unendurable to a man of his temperament was 
the insulting and irrational conduct of the assisting 
artists, and especially of the couductor. Here was the 
composer of an opera which had made its way trium- 
phantly to all the German opera-houses. He, the author 
of both the verses and the music, shoulil have been 
looked upon, one would think, as the best and incon- 
trovertible authority regarding its interpretation. But 
the singers became angry when he tried to teach them 
the correct phrasing of their parts, the ballet-master 
declared that his intentions could not be carried out, 
and, worst of all, the conductor obstinately refused to 
tfollow his instructions regarding tempo and modifica- 
tions of tempo, on which the whole spirit of the opera 
depends. This conductor was Dietsch, the same man 
who, twenty years previously, had converted the Flying 


Dutchman poem into an opera — which proved a dismal 
failure. Wagner soon discovered that this man was 
absolutely incompetent to conduct TannMuaeTf while 
his obstinacy in refusing to listen to suggestions threat- 
ened to ruin everything. An appeal was therefore made 
to Director Royer that he himself should be allowed to 
conduct the first performances; but this request, being 
contrary to all rules and precedence at the Op^ra, was 
politely refused by the Director, and, on appeal, by 
Count Walewski, Minister of State. ^ The orchestra 
sided with Dietsch and the authorities in this matter, 
not from any hostility to Wagner, — for in 1875, when 
the conductor of the Op^ra wanted to give the b&ton to 
Gounod, on a Faust night, the orchestra opposed the 
change too, — but because custom is custom, and change 
implies extra labor. The result was, as Nuitter re- 
marks, that 

" Wagner, with all his insistence, his energy, his influential pat- 
rons, had to resign himself to see the orchestra conducted by 
another, and conducted contrary to his intentions. Those who 
attended the rehearsals will never forget them. The conductor at 
his dedk was beating his time ; wliile the composer, seated two 
steps away from him, on the stage, by the prompter's box, was 
beating his own time, and beating it with hands and feet, raising a 
terrible noise and a cloud of dust on the stage floor.*' 

Would it be possible to conceive anything more ex- 
traordinary, more idiotic, than such treatment of a 
dramatic author? After all, the foolish, vain, and incom- 
petent Dietsch was but a sample of the average conduc- 
tor with whom Wagner had to deal all his life. If, under 

1 The interesting correspondence on tliis subject is published in the 
article by Ch. Nuitter in the Bayreuther FestbldtUr, 


such circumstances, he lost his temper, and became vio- 
lent, everybody eiclaimed, "What a disagreeable manl 
No wonder he has enemies! " No wonder indeedl And 
no wonder that, as Gasp^rini relates : — 

" >Vben the day of the performance arrived, the unhappy com- 
poser, irritated, wounded, ill, dissatisfied wltb everybody, bimseU 
included, bad lost all hope, and nas almost wishing for a cataclysm 
to deliver him at a blow from this wretched life. He went to the 
Opera-bouw, not like one about to do battle, but bad binxelt 
dragged there like one condemned to death. In the few days pre- 
ceding the decisive hour, he bad forgotten his deareat friends ; he 
hud fallen a victim to a deep, incurable despair ; the only thing bo 
hoped for was delivenmoe, rest." 

In his own account of this episode Wagner writes 

(VH.iag): — 

" What kind oF a reception my opera would receive at the hiada 
of tbe public, was, under such clrcumstAnces, almost a matter of 
iudifference to me ; the most brilliant success could not have in- 
duced me to personally attend a series of performances, since I 
was altogether too much dtaaatisfied." 

But he could hardly have suspected what a terrible 
fiasco was awaiting him, even though rumor must have 
acquainted him in advance with the fact that there were 
several conspiracies to frustrate all chance of success. 
The regular claque was offended and determined to have 
revenge because be had demanded its suppression, since 
he wanted an honest success or none at all; the jour- 
nalists (on whom he had failed to call) had banded to- 
gether, not only to jump on him after the event, in their 
articles, but to "demonstrate" against him during the 
performance. But the most formidable enemy was that 
scum of human society (which, future generations will 

tanshAubeb and the jockey club 79 

find to their amazed amusement, used to be regarded as 
"Booiety" itself) the jgunesae dorie, the young "ariBtoc- 
racy," chiefly members of the Jockey Club, whose mia- 
tresses were in the corps de ballet, and who angiily 
resented the refusal to provide theii habitual ballet in 
the second act. Suppose, they reasoned, Tannhduaer 
should be a sueceasi then this stupid opera would be 
given week after weeh, month after month, and they 
would have to go, night after night, without the only 
feature in an operatic performance which interested 
them. This, of course, was not to be tolerated. The 
would-be reformer of the opera must be punished, 
crushed, exterminated. 

It is needless to describe the performances, the first of 
which occurred on March 13, 1S61, in detail, or to point 
out what numbers the conspirators had previously agreed 
to pass by, and on which to combine their demonstrations. 
On the first evening the opposition marred various pas- 
sages by outbursts of derisive laughter and other ex- 
pressions of ill-will) but the public, anxious to hear the 
much-taUced-about opera, endeavored to suppress the 
cabal by means of counter- demonstrations of applause, 
so that the general result was undecided. This induced 
the opposition to redouble its efforts on the second even- 
ing. The members of the Jockey Club bought a number 
of penny whistles with which to enforce their sentiments. 
Up to their usual time of arrival, about the middle of 
the second act, all had been quiet, except that certain 
tnnefnl numbers had been applauded; when suddenly 
an infernal tumult broke loose and continued to the end 
of the opera with such persistent malignity that most of 
the music was drowned in the noise (" I know not if it 


was even sung," Baudelaire remarks of TannhSuaer's 

Apart from these cabals, the audience behaved in a 
most honorable manner, as Wagner himself testifies. 
Its love of justice and fair-play were abundantly demon- 
strated, and to see it espousing the cause of bia much- 
maligned music, defending it, hour after hour, with 
salvos of applause and efforts to down the noisy clique, 
filled him with feelings of warm gratitude. But its ap- 
plause, hisses at the boxes, and cries of "throw the 
Jockeys out doors," had no more effect than the efforts 
of the Emperor and Empress to preserve peace by their 
intercession and demonstrative applause. The battle 
was lost; the Jockey Club had done its work well; its 
hirelings had not only insulted the composer and the 
singers, but members of the audience, including the com- 
poser's wife and the Princess von Metternich. To end 
these insults, Wagner decided to withdraw the opera, 
but finally consented to a third performance on condi- 
tion that it be given on a Sunday, when the "aristo- 
cratic " subscribers would not occupy their boxes, thus 
giving the public at large an opportunity to hear Tann- 
kauser. But the Jockey ruffians, fearing that in their 
absence the opera might win a pronounced and irrevo- 
cable success, attended, contrary to their custom, this 
Sunday performance, with all their hirelings, and the 
resulting tumult was even greater than before, the em- 
bittered audience, frustrated in its desire to hear the 
opera, being restrained from acts of personal violence 
against the vnlgar offenders only by the high rank of 
the "aristocratic " rowdies who led the attack. 
Director Eoyer had apparently been under the impres- 


sion, after the first performance, that the derisive laugh- 
ter which followed certain numbers was excited by the 
music itself, and he had therefore induced the composer, 
though with difficulty, to cancel some of the finest 
passages in the opera, including the young shepherd's 
quaint melody, the return of Venus, and the hunting 
horns with the dogs! It was, of course, useless trouble; 
the cause of the demonstrations was not the music or 
the dogs, but the absence of a ballet.^ 

After the second performance Eoyer could no longer 
affect blindness as to the real casus beUi: he asked for 
more ''cuts,'' in order to save time to introduce a ballet, 
on his own responsibility, in the second act. Wagner's 
reply was in a tone of resignation. '' Consider me as if 
I were dead,* and do whatever you please," was the sub- 
stance of it. He had lost all interest in the affair, and 
did not attend the third performance at all. The " Ideal- 
istin " above referred to relates that after this third per- 
formance she met some of her friends in the foyer and 
went to Wagner's house. It was past two o'clock when 
they arrived, but they found the composer and his wife 
calmly at their supper. 

*' He received the news of the third and most violent battle of 
all with a smile, and joked with Olga, saying be had heard that she 
had hissed his music. But by the trembling of the hand he held 
out to me I felt that he was deeply agitated. Although all the dis- 

1 ** These poor dogs," says M. Jallien, ** that had aroused the indig- 
nation of fastidious spectators, and served as a pretext for some high- 
toned commonplaces, contributed singularly, some, time later, to the 
success of a grand drama. La Jeunesse du Roi Henri, by Lambert Thi- 
boust and Ponson du Terrail, which was produced in 1864 at the ChAtelet 
Theatre. The authors had simply borrowed Wagner's idea, and had 
•very reason to congratulate themselves for so doing." 


grace of Ihis proceeding fell back on iU perpetratore, sUU, one more 
liijpe of the composer was gone, and the rough path of life wliich 
never seemed to grow amootber, again la; before him In iU dimnal 
and tortunuB windings." 

On the following morning the Director received this 

letter : — 

" Since tlie memberB of the Jockey Club are not willing to penult 
the Parisian public to bear my opera at the Imperial Academy of 
MuHie, except on condition of having a ballet at the usual hour of 
their appearance in the theatre, I hereby withdraw my bcotb and 
beg you to tiave the kindnesa to commimicaU to his Excellency the 
MiniKt«r of State my resolution, with which I believe I afaall deliver 
bini from a very erobarrasaing position," 

Count Walewsky and Director Eoyer, aiter discussing 
the situation, came to the concluaion that, .although the 
contract did not allow the composer thus to witbdiaw 
his work at will, they would accede to his request; SO 
they shelved the opera, though with reluctance, because 
it promised to be one of the greatest financial successes 
ever witnessed at the Imperial Academy. The receipts 
for the first evening had been 7491 francs; of the 
second, 8415; of the third 10764; fabulous prices were 
paid for some of the tickets resold. Hundreds of persons 
were unable to get in, and there were enough bookings 
to sell out the house for many performances ahead. The 
extra expenses of this opera bad amounted to about 
$20,000; much of this was a dead loss, although the 
costumes and mise-en-schie were afterwards partly used 
in Meyerbeer and other operas. 

The loss to the poor composer was a more serious 
matter. Financial ruin was again staring in his face. 
True, he was no longer likely to stand face to face with 


absolute starvation, as he had stood in the same city 
twenty years before, when the foundation was laid foi 
those stomach troubles which made him suffer so much 
for the rest of his life, and so greatly diminished his 
power of working; but poverty had long before the event 
just related forced him to give up his pleasant residence 
and seek a domicile where his health had to suffer and 
domestic enjoyment was out of the question. The 
" Idealistin " relates that when she returned to Paris, in 
1861, she found the Wagner fomily 

"DO longer in the plBu&nt little home of the preoedlng winter, 
bat in the Moond stoiy of a large house inhabited by man; ftml- 
lles, la one of Uie noisiest, darkest streets of Paris. This change 
had been made from pecuniary necesBltles. It cat inta my heart 
deeply ta see this. I felt how terrible it most be for Wagner ta 
lire In so uncongenial a dwelling." 

If Tannh&nter had not been deliberately driven off 
the stage by a pack of ruffians, he would have been able 
to recover his financial balance in a few months. Ac- 
cording to the custom at the Op^ra, he was to receive 500 
francs for each performance, half of which, for the first 
twenty evenings was to go to the translators; as but 
three performances were given, he received 750 francs 
(C150) for about a year's hard and wearing work and 
worry t This is at the rate of almost half a dollar a day. 
Of course it was all bis own &ult. He was a German 
composer, and as sach he had no right to expect more 
than fifty cents a day. ■ The main thing waa that the 
Jockey Club bad had its fun. Bull-fighting was for- 
bidden in Paris at that time, on the ground of cruelty; 
but composer-baiting — ah, that is i^uite another aSa.ii I 



. were, nevertheless, a few consoling features 

Ibis operatic disaster. The Emperor and Empress 

tied liis friends, and were willing to use their 

■ ti 'piice to prevent further disturbances. Thousands 

eased sincere disappointment at the withdrawal of 

. opera. A petition protesting ag&inst the outrage 

which eminent writers pronounced a national dis- 

was li:inded around and signed by many muai- 

. artists, and men of letters. There was even a 

oiect to build a. special tlieatre for the performance of 
Wacner'a works and other good operas, abandoning the 
Grand Op6r<i to the Jockey Club and their dancing mis- 
treases. Hut \Vagner had no desire to make further 

efforts not only on account of the attendant annoyances 

and waste of time, but because be felt that lie could not 
hope for ^ satisfactory interpretation of his opera under 
given ci re u in stanches. Indeed, in the letter which he 
wrote on the day following the third performance (VTI. 

jg7j aremarkably impartial, diguified, and impressive 

document — lie uses as an unction for his wound the 
thought tliat after all Tannliduser could not have won a 
A^utne success, as a music -dram a, liecause the perfor- 
mance, as a whole, was so poor; so that the ill wind blew 
this good that the disturbance concealed from the audi- 
ence tlie inadequacy of the interpretation. 

Furthermore, tlie Paris Tannhuuser year cannot be pro- 
nounced a complete loss in its author's life, for it gave 
rise to that superb essay on Music of the Future, and the 
still more superb additions to the score which are referred 
to as the " Paris version " of Tannhduser, which haii 


been introduced, within the last few years, at the leading 
German opera-houses with such brilliant financial and 
artistic results. The whole score was touched up, here 
and there, the vocal contest in the second act shortened 
and improved. But the principal changes were in the 
first act. The shortened overture leads into the magnifi- 
cently heathen and orgiastic Bacchanale, the most tumul- 
tuous, dissonant, and delirious composition ever written 
— but how admirably suited to the situation ! — the wild 
revelry of the bacchantes, the cupids in the air shooting 
love-poisoned arrows, the rape of Europa, the decoy song 
of the sirens, Leda and the swan, and the other scenes 
previously described. We may realize the voluptuous 
fancies of an opium-eater, without the bad after-effects, 
by simply listening to this ballet music — if it be proper 
to apply this term to a composition which is as superior 
to ordinary ballet music as a symphony is to a quadrille. 
Objection has been made to the mixture of Wagner's 
" second and third styles " in the Paris version of Tann- 
Tiduser, and there is no doubt some force in it; what we 
must regret, however, is not that the first scene was 
rewritten in the Tristan style, but that the composer, 
instead of wasting a year on the Parisians, did not 
employ his time in rewriting the whole of TannMTiser 
in the Tristan style; retaining the motives, but elabo- 
rating them in the much more finished polyphonic and 
orchestral art of his '^ third style," as he did in the new 
duo and the Bacchanale.^ 

^ I koow of no task more fascinating and instractiye than a minata 
compariBon of the old Tannhduser with the Paris version ; noting how 
an altered rhythm here, a new modalation there, changes the character 
of the melody, and gives the words (which in some cases were altered 
too) a deeper dramatic import; how the musical motives are repeated 



Another pleasant result of the TannMuaer episode 
was the evidence it once more afforded that the men 
of genius were always the first champions of Wagner 
against the professional critics and Philistines. I shall 
not waste space by quoting from the countless venomous 
and silly articles written before and after the Wagner 
concerts and the Tnnnhauser representation; the follow- 
ing judgment of an eminent French critic of our period, 
M. Jullien, on his colleagues of thirty years ago sums 
up the situation from a French point of view; — 

"ThU whole TanahSiuer affair, from wbatever point of view 
we regard it, is anylhing but honorable for ua. Bui the saddest 
purl nf it is ni>t the iiifomaJ row ploiwd by high-livere aft«r their 
dinner-cup and before their supper, but ttiu attitude of the prem, 
which waa not like the others a dependent of the corps de ballet, 
but naively fancied itself face to face witli an execrable work, and 
of a chance coziiposer. The newspapers vied with each other in » 
course of abuse, a tourjiament of ignorance, and for weeks, long 
even aft*r llie composer had fled from I'aris, they abused tlie work 
and vilifled the man with unprecedented violence." 

In the long list of critics there were only a few hon- 
orable exceptions, who treated Wagner like judges and 

and combineil n-itli the suhlle psycholoj^c art of the Tristan style ; how 
muirti wariniT, richer, and more passionate the orcliestral coloring Iim 
bocoine ; and, most slmiiticaot ot all, the thrilling use made of a theme 
derived from the wjiit; of the sirens, and developed by tlie use o( Trii- 
taneiqiir hjirmonifs, into full SBplUng trombone chords that alrikingly 
BUgBBBt the love-music in Trinliin. It is heard the moment the intoit- 
cAled bacchantes on the stage rush into the arms of their lovers. The 
reeemblance is not a mere unconscious reminiscence ol the TrUtan 
style, but has, as the tender need not be told, a psychologic stgnlficaDcs, 
based on amorDus affinity. 


gentlemen; among them were Beyer^ Weber^ Franck- 
Marie^ and Grasp^rini. But Wagner's most interesting 
French champions were the poets, who took up the 
cudgels in his behalf; nor was it surprising, as Baude- 
laire wrote, that " men of letters, in particular, should 
show their sympathy with a musician who glories in 
being a poet and a dramaturgist." Several years before 
TannhdtLser was produced in Paris, the greatest literary 
artist among French poets, Th^phile Grautier, had heard 
some of Wagner's music in Germany and was delighted 
with it; he found it "full of melody, even Italian mel- 
ody," of "great beauty," "irresistibly effective," and ex- 
presses a wish that Tannhduser should be performed 
in Paris. Gerard de Nerval heard Lohengrin at Weimar, 
in 1850, and wrote a favorable account of it, dwelling 
on the growing appreciation following repeated hearing. 
We have seen how the poet Roche welcomed Wagner to 
Paris, and became his translator. Champfleury promised 
the assistance of his pen if needed, and nobly kept his 
promise in newspaper articles and in a pamphlet wherein 
he defended his friend against some absurd charges, and 
described the effect of his works on him ; also his per- 
sonal appearance, the chin being, in his opinion, his most 
characteristic feature. He declares that his music fills 
him "with joy and enthusiasm "; and he adds a few bio- 
graphic facts which lead him to exclaim : " I search but 
find nowhere a martyr comparable to Wagner." 

Of all the French poets Baudelaire wrote most inter- 
estingly of the German poet-musician. His seventy- 
page pamphlet Richard Wagner et Tannhduser d Paris 
is one of the most valuable of all contributions to the 
extremely voluminous literature on its subject. Ho 


relates that after the first hearing of this music it seemed 
to him as if a spiritual chauge bad been worked in him; 
" it was a revelation." He went about everywhere seek- 
ing opportunities to hear more of it, to read about it; 
the mysterious repetitions of themes (Leading Motives) 
fascinated him especially, as a striking novelty with 
a deep significance; and he purchased the scores in order 
to study and solve the mystery. He defends Wagner 
against the absurd charge that his works are the result 
of "reflection" instead of "inspiration," All great 
poets must be critics, he says; and he asks, pertinently, 
whether Leonardo da Vinci, Hogarth, and Eeynolds 
were less great painters because they also analyzed the 
principles of their art. He points out the astounding 
combination of titanic power with refined subtlety in 
this music, the nervous intensity, the violent paesion- 

" Wagner resembles the antique writers by the passionate energy 
of his utterances, and he ia to-day the truest representative of the 
modem world. Will, desire, concentration, nervous iotenaity, ei- 
plosiveneaa, are manifested in all his works. I helieve that neither 
am I mistaken myself nor shall 1 mislead any one if 1 affirm that 
these are the principal characteristics of the phenomenon we call 

He sums up the various causes which led to the fall of 
Tannkiiuser, and points out the absurdity of calling it a 
"failure": " Tannkiiuser was not even heard." 


Of the Parisian professional critics Berlioz is the only 
one on whose attitude it is worth while to dwell here ; not 


only becaase, though ignored as a composer^ he was looked 
on as the most influential and formidable of the musical 
critics^ but because he had been a personal friend of 
Wagner and was supposed, by public opinion, to be his 
follower or colleague. His extraordinary antics on this 
occasion proved a source of mortification to his own 
friends, and of joy to the enemies of TannMtiaer and its 

These two revolutionary composers met occasionally 
during Wagner's first sojourn in Paris, and it will be 
remembered that Berlioz made &Yorable mention, in 
one of his f euilletons, of the noyelette, A Pilgrimage to 
Beethoven, Louis de Fourcaud relates that when Ber- 
lioz called on Wagner the first time, he found his own 
treatise on Instrumentation lying on the table, and was 
so much pleased and moved thereby that he warmly 
embraced his German colleague. In Dresden, a year or 
two later, just after Wagner had been appointed royal 
conductor, Berlioz arrived to give some concerts; his 
friend's first of&cial act, as Berlioz himself relates, was 
to assist in arranging these concerts, ''which he did with 
zeal and hearty good will." Eight years later Wagner 
had occasion, in his Opera and Drama, to discuss Ber- 
lioz's talent (III. 348-350), which he describes as "an 
enormous musical intelligence," inspired by "a truly 
artistic and consuming aspiration." His great achieve- 
ment, he says, is the development of orchestral resources, 
which he carried to a "miraculous " point; but he went 
too &r: he enabled a musician to dress up the most 
empty and inartistic material in such a way as to pro- 
duce an astounding effect. In a word, the author of 
Opera and Dram^ mixed up praise and censurei precisely 


aa Berlioz had done in describing Rienxi and the Dutch- 
nan, when he hebrd them at Dresden. 

Liazt vas a grmt ftdmira at BtcUoi^ ilor wbne «p«w 
he made the same eflbtto wX Waimar u for 'Wi^ti'i, 
bat with less satisfkotoiy' zomlti. la' the kttan from 
which we hare bo offeea quoted tiiare ace ft«i—t lef- 
etences to Beilios. On Sept Z, ISSS^ Wegnar vittee: 
"Believe me, I lews Beclioi, even tiuni^ Iw sftMi me 
suspicioosly and obstinate^: he taunn lae iiitti-*>biib I 
know Aim. If there is one of whom I have e»pMatioM, 
it is Berlioz; not on the road I7 which he arrived at ^ 
absurdities of the Fawi sympbxmy," bat Iry wrjMiig nal 
music'dramas prepared for him Ify a po^ in plpia of 
his own concoctions from Goethe and flhatoepeaie. 
Berlioz, for his part, wrote to Liszt that he had not read 
the critique on him in Opera and Drama, and would 
not resent it in the least, as lie himself had fired too 
many pistol-shots to mind being used as an occasional 
target. In 1855, when Berlioz and Wagner conducted 
the two Philharmonic Societies in London, they fre- 
quently met, and Wagner wrote that he would "bring 
one aoquisition from England — a cordial and intimate 
feeling of friendship with Berlioz, which is recipro- 
cated." Berlioz again wrote to Liszt (quoted in No. 
122) : " Wagner attracts me remarkably, and if we an 
both eccentric, our eccentricities at any rate run in par- 
allel lines " (he adds an amusing sketch of these " eccen- 
tric lines "). Wagner made cfEorts to secure Berlioz's 
scores through the composer; but as he publisher would 
not grant any more complimentary copies, he foiled to 
get them. In 1856 Berlioz heard Lo?iengrin at Weimar. 
He possessed the score and wrote to its composer at 


Ztirich, begging for the Tannhdvser score to add to it, 
promising some of his own works in return. I mention 
these facts in order to show that Berlioz had plenty of 
opportunities to become acquainted with his friend's 
works. How he profited by these opportunities, and 
what he did in return for the "zeal and hearty good 
will " with which Wagner had helped him in Dresden, 
we shall now see, going back, for a moment, to the three 
Paris concerts and Tannhduser. 

Berlioz commented on these concerts in the Journal 
dea D&kUb, He spoke well of some of the pieces, espe* 
cially the introductions to the first and third acts of 
Lohengrin; whereas the Tristan prelude he confessed he 
did not comprehend: "I have read this strange page, 
and reread it; I have listened to it with the deepest at- 
tention, and a lively desire to discover its meaning: well, 
I must confess, I have not yet the slightest idea of what 
the composer wanted to say." So far Berlioz was above 
reproach and simply doing his duty as a critic. But this 
criticism is followed by a long and most ridiculous ar- 
raignment of the "music of the future,'' written after a 
method that would do honor to a Greek sophist. He puts 
two cases: (1) if the music of the future means such 
and such things, — here he enumerates a number of 
principles to which any conscientious composer, past, 
present, or future, must necessarily subscribe, — then I 
believe in it; (2) but if the music of the future means 
such and such things, — here he mentions maxims like 
these: one must break all rules; use no melody; mal- 
treat the ear; use atrocious modulations; pay no regard 
to singers, and use only the most difficult and ugly inter- 
vals; etc., — then, he says, I do not believe in it. " Non 
Credo J' 

92 m PARIS AOAllt 

Note how slyly thia is put; he does not say that Wag- 
ner represents this latter kind of "music of the future," 
but no one can help reading it between the lines. The 
whole journalistic world, as a matter of coarse, took this 
Noil Credo as a vicious attack on Wagner, and it contrib- 
uted more than anything else to the disgraceful exhibi- 
tion the Parisian critics made of themselves over the 
TannhduseT episode, 

Like everjbody else, Wagner took this 2fbn Credo as 
a personal attack on himself — an unprovoked stab in 
the back by one whom he supposed to be a friend. He 
accordingly wrote in the same paper, a reply which 
every one who wishes to realize how much nobler and 
more sincere a character Wagner was than Berlioz should 
read (reprinted in VII. 59). Pathetic are the words in 
which he explains why he came to Paris: — 

"For eleven years [t has been impossible for me lo hear my 
own works, and I shudder at the thought of remaining any longer 
perhaps the only German who has not heard my Lohengrin. Not 
ambition, nor a desire to popularize my operaa, were therefore the 
motives which induced me to seek French hospitality," etc. 

He goes on to explain that he himself never dreamed 
of founding a new school of music and calling it the 
"music of the future," as so many — including, to his 
surprise, even Berlioz — seemed to imagine; that term 
was invented for derisive purjKises by Professor Bisch- 
off of Cologne. In conclusion, he expresses his re- 
grets at having ever written any theoretical treatises; 
for if even Berlioz, a specialist and colleague, so grossly 
misunderstood and misreported him, what could be ex- 
pected of the general public* 



No attention was, of course, paid by the journalists to 
this reply, except that it was pronounced " ill-advised '' 
and "egotistic," while Berlioz, in true Parisian style, 
tried to turn the matter into a joke by saying that fie was 
worse off than Wagner, since, if the latter was the only 
one who had not heard his operas, he himself was the 
only one who had heard his. And now note his tactics 
over the Tannhduser affair. If jealousy alone can have 
inspired his Non Credo, this feeling was intensified a 
hundredfold by the announcement of the acceptance of 
Wagner's score at the Grand Op^ra. He had been hop- 
ing that his Trayena would be selected — and now the 
choice had fallen on this foreign opera! He was so 
angry that he did not trust himself to write about 
the Tannh&uaer performance, but engaged a friend to 
do it for him. His private letters, however, give a 
ghastly insight into the incredible malevolence and 
spite which jealousy was able to excite in this com- 
poser: — 

** Wagner is turning the singers, the orchestra, and chorus of the 
Opera into goats. . . . The last general rehearsal was atrocious, 
it is said, and did not end before one in the morning.*' ** Every 
one I see is Infuriated ; the Minister of State came from a rehearsal 
the other day in an angry mood. . . . Wagner is evidently a fool. 
... I allowed d*Ortigue to write my article ; I wish to protest by 
my silence, ready to speak later if pushed to if After the first 
performance : ** What outbursts of laughter 1 The Parisian showed 
himself to-day in an entirely new aspect; he laughed at a bad 
musical style, at the capers of a burlesque orchestra ; he laughed 
at the naivetes of an oboe ; ... as for the horrors, they were 
splendidly hissed.*' After the second performance : ** Worse than 
the first. The audience did not laugh any more ; it was furious ; it 
hissed enough to break up everything, in spite of the presence of 
the Emperor and Empress. . . T When Wagner went down tlie 

94 m PARIS AOAIir 

suircaw, the unfortunite man was opcrnly treated as a scamp, an 
Insolent feitow, aii idlol. As for niyMir, 1 am truelli/ aceng»d." 

And this BerlioE, in public opinion, carefully fostered 
by iinsfnipnious scribblers, is oue of the composers 
wliom Wagner " abused " and " maltreated " I 

From this disgusting spectacle of jealous spite let us 
turn for a moment to two other composers whom Wagner 
met at this time in Paris. He relates how one evening 
he met Auber, who inquired about the subject of Tann- 
hiiuser. After the story had been briefly told him, he 
replied; "Ah, there will be something to seel that 
means a succl'sb, you may feel assured." "What he 
Hnally thought of my Ttxnnhduaer," he adds, " I have not 
lieard. I assume he 'understood not a word of it.'" 
Tiiis guess seems to have been near the mark; at any 
rate, the newspitpers reported two " bon-mots " of Auber : 
" Wagner ia Herlioz without melody " ( !) and hia music 
is "like reading, without stopping to take breath, a book 
that lias no commas or periods." 

To Kossini, also, various bon-mots were attributed and 
industriously circulated in France, England, and Ger- 
luitny. He was reported to have served an admirer of 
Wagner's at dinner with sauce without fish, saying that 
that must be acceptable to one who liked harmony with- 
out melody. He was also reported to have said to 
Wagner, when the latter protested that he did not in- 
tend to annihilate all the great men of the past, "Ah, 
my dear Mr, Wagner, if you could do that I" One fine 
day, however, Rossini became angry at these silly " jokes " 
fathered on him, and wrote a letter to a Paris journal 
disclaiming them, protesting against the "malicious 
hoax," and ezolaiming that he did not presume to pass 



judgment on Wafer's musio, since he liad nerer beard 
any of it except a maroh, which he liked very well. 
This letter appeared in the paper it was addressed to, 
but the other papers, which had chuckled over the 
apocryphal jokes, ignored it absolutely, as was their 
wont; BO the " bon-mots " in question have continued to 
oircnlate as BoBsiui's down to the present day. Nay 
more: the Philistiue insolence which fancies itself so 
superior to genius, has endeavored to show that W^- 
ner acted like a dunce in face of Rossini and his wit. 
Wagner relates (VIII. 279) that Bossini's letter, in 
which he piotested against having such silly "witti- 
cisms " attributed to him, made such a pleasant impreasioa 
on him that he called on his colleague to exchange senti- 
ments. Bossini remarked that he felt conscious of hav- 
ing talent, and that he might have done something worth 
while (arriver & quelque chose) under favorable circum- 
stances (if, for inatance, he had lived in Germany) ; but 
the operatic conditions in Italy were such as to counter- 
act and suppress all efforts aiming at a higher art ideal; 
with other remarks to the same effect. One of Wagner's 
French biographers, M. Jullien, after referring to these 
utterances, remarks that Rossini, seeing Winner ready 
to swallow this "irony," enlarged on the subject with- 
out his visitor's "suspecting the farce for a moment. 
One cannot be more cruel — nor more naif." 

It is worth while to expose the silly insolence of this 
comment, which has passed into several other books. In 
the first place, Rossini was a gentleman, and gentlemen 
do not quiz their visitors. Secondly, a man of Wag- 
ner's powers of sarcasm and keen sense of humor could 
not have been taken in for a moment if Bossini had been 


so ill-mannered aa to try to make fun of him. Thirdly, 
if Rossini had spoken ironically, the joke would be all 
on him ; for he is to-day little but a name and a memory 
in the musical world, and the opinion of himself which 
he gave to hia visitor is the one now accepted everyvihere. 
He was a man of geniuB, who, in a less shallow field than 
that of Italian opera, might have created immortal maa- 
terworks; but in Italy, where every carnival demanded 
a new opera, usually written in a few weeks, at^e com- 
positions could hardly have more than an ephemeral 
value. Hence it is natural to find that hia only opera 
which is likely to survive his century, Tell, was written 
for Paris ; hut even there the conditions were unfavora- 
ble; Tell was shamefully mutilated and maltreated, and 
this is no doultt the main reason why Rossini did not 
write anotlier opera for the remaining thirty-nine years 
of hia life: he found no reco^ition for the beiter quali- 
ties of hia genius, and not being, like Wagner, a hero 
who waa willing to fight for the recognition of these 
qualities, he stopped composing altogether. His biog- 
raphers have preserved remarks of his, similar to that 
which ho addressed to Wagner, showing tliat he was 
quite aware that much of his work was ephemeral. Hia 
teacher, moreover, used to call him the "little German," 
because of hia love of Haydn and Mozart; and later on 
we find him attempting to introduce Mozartean reforms 
in Italian opera — which, however, were received with 
almost as violent opposition as Wagner's reforms were 
in Germany and elsewhere. As one of his biographers, 
Mr. Joseph Bennett (surely not a prejudiced witness in 
this case) exclaims : " To what heights might the author 
of Wiiliam Teli have risen had his early yaars been spent 



amid a people less tolerant of abeurdities ! " This is 
what Bossini referred to in bis " ironic " conversation 
with Wagner. And the moral of this little tale is that 
an attempt to make out that Wagner was a fool is very 
apt to take the direction of a boomerang. 


Ik commentii^ on Wagner's diffiooltiefl is London^ 
and his reported res^ination u FlulhumaBio oondnetor, 
I spoke of the fact that the Qermans at home ohtkAled 
gleefully over the disoomfitnre of one of their oouifciy 
men abroad, where other nations woold hare felt an- 
noyed if not indignant. The same noble German tiait 
came to the front during and after the TannhUtuer row. 
Among the most ill-mannered rowdies who prevented 
the gentleman and ladies in the Op^ra from hearing that 
vork were not a few Germans; and prominent among 
the critical mud-alingers was the German, Albert Wolff, 
who, for the thirty years following, devot«d his wit to 
attempts to turn his countryman's personality and musio 
to ridicule and contempt, in the columns of the Figaro. 
As regards the Germans at home, the Frankfurier Convef 
aationsblatl wrote : " German newspapers have made haste 
to intone over the fall of a German in Paris songs of 
joy, full of open or disguised scorn, and hollow tirades." 
True, when, after his long exile, he returned to his 
fatherland, the crowded spectators at such performances 
of his operas as he chose to attend, almost broke their 
necks trying to cateh a glimpse of him — just as they 
would have done in case of a notorious murderer in a 
court-room. But real sympathy, sympathy that is will- 


ing to make some sacrifices i la Liszt, and that wonld 
have enablMl him to realize his art-ideaU, was nowhere 
to be found. 


In a preceding page I stated that the real motive that 
took Wagner to Paris was the hope of bringing about a 
model performance of Trittan; to this he intended to 
inrite German managers and conductors, to whose tender 
mercies he might then be able to give up his music- 
diuna with some hopes of attaining correct perform- 
ances. When he found that even TannkauMr could not 
jet be acclimated on French soil, he saw the folly of 
hoping anything for Trittan, so he returned to Germany 
as the only conntry where his desire could possibly be 
gratified. There were hopes that Weimar might under- 
take to bring oat Tristan; Prague also coquetted with 
tite idea; but these plans came to nai^ht. The Duke 
of Bftden (to whom the score is dedicated) was still 
fitTOtsble to the project, but Schnorr and his wife had 
left Karlsruhe, and with their successors the convietion 
Boon gained ground that Triatan was "impossible," as 
Dingelstedt had also pronounced it at WViiuur. and 
had even offered to wager with Liszt that it cuuld not 
be performed anywhere else. >'iemanQ bad told Wag- 
ner that be believed the King of Hanover would be 
inclined to undertake a model performauce of the new 
work, but thia also led to no results. Dresden was still 
fliosed, for political reasons; at Berlin and Munich the 
managers and conductors were hostile; there remained 
only Vienna, and the Opera there seemed indeed the 
best place for the experiment: "It has better singers 

.. Oil .way 9, ItSGl. Tweiity-nii 
since his first visit to tliis '' Asii 
returned four years sooner, he would 
in a city where not one of his opera 
formed! Let me repeat this extr£ 
more striking form : Vienna did not 
Wagner^a operas till he toas forty-four 
composed RienziyDutchmauy Tanrihduei 
goldj WdOciire, half of Siegfried, and c 
but three of his works I It seems inc 
other (German capitals, Munich and 
the same predicament. In reading 
despair in the impoverished Wagner's 
to bear these astounding facts in mint 
did at last hear Tannhduser (1857), i 
Imperial Opera, but at a suburban theat 
objections (the references to the Pope 
kept it quarantined from the Imperial 
grin was the first to be given at thif 
Tannhduser followed in 1859. Both h 
with enthusiasm, although it is charact 
that Nestroy's parody of Tannhduser n 
fifth performance before the opera itsel 
Shortly before going to Vienna, Wa 
to Praeger from Karlsruhe : — 

" Was ever work like mine r.rpof«'' ' 


of thlt I («el poaitive ; yea, m pmKItb u that I lirq, uid tbU ia, 
my Trittan and Itolde, with which I am now coamimed) does not 
find Its equal In the world's library of miuic. Oh, how I yt»iu to 
hear it ; I am feveriBh ; I feel worn ; perhaps that causes ma t3 be 
agitated and anxloos, but my Trittaa has been SnEshed now UtMe 
three yean and baa not been heard. When I think of thia I wonder 
whether it will be with this as with Lohengrin, which now ia thir- 
teen years old, and has been as dead to me. But the dotida aeem 
breaking, are breaking. ... I am going to Vienna soon. There 
they are going to give me a snrpriae. It Is supposed to be kept a 
secret from me, but a friend has iDformed me ttiej are going to 
bring out Lohengrin.^' 

Three days after hia arrival in Vienna this special 
performance of Lohengrin took place — the first the 
composer himself had ever heard, thirteen years after 
the creation of the operal It was of course a gala night, 
singers and players did their very best, the house was 
crowded, the applause tumultuous; after each act all 
eyes were turned toward the box where the composer satj 
again and again he had to bow his acknowledgments, 
and at the close he was called before the curtain three 
times and made a brief speech of thanks. Ia his later 
writings he repeatedly refers to this " intoxicating May 
night," but notea also the characteristic fact that, with 
all this enthusiasm in the air, he was, nevertheless, 
unable to secure a few rehearsals at which he wished to 
correct some errors in the interpretation! Always the 
same story I As a whole, however, the performance had 
been good enough to inspire him anew with the belief 
that Vienna was the proper place for Tristan; and when 
the score was formally accepted, his heart leaped once 
more with joy at the thought that at last his prospects 
looked brighter. Alas! the everlasting alas! 



The. 'rehearsals were to begin in the autumn (1S61), 

but .tfepy were fniatrated by a long UlneBS of the tenor 

^Wdtr, In the following summer Ander had seemingly re- 

ijoyered his voice, and the outlook wa« (^ain bright. The 

■ . rest of the story may be told in Wagner's own words : ' — 

" RTcr Bince the first procrBAtination of the Tristan rebearsaJg, 
tlie musical press of Vienna had found its favorite occupation in 
the attempt to prove tiiat a. perionnauce of my work wag impoasi- 
ble under any circumstances. Ttiat no singer could hit on my 
notes, or remember them — this assertion became the motto of all 
who reported, wrote, and spoke about me, in any part of Qermany. 
A French Tocalisl. a great one, it is true, Madame Viardot, ex- 
pressed her surprise to me one day, that it was possible for the 
German artists to make such assertions about the impossibility of 
singing this and that ; she asked If musical people were not musi' 
cians in Germany as elsewhere ? Well, to this I knew not just 
what to reply, especially In face of a songstress who had onoe, in 
Paris, sung a whole act of UoleU at sight. As a matter of tact, my 
German singers were not so incompetent as report made them : my 
Viennese singers, also, guided by the uncommonly intelligent eHorta 
and zeal of my esteemed friend. Kapellmeister F.sser, at last gave 
me the great pleasure of singing the whole opera faultlessly and 
effectively to a pianoforte accompanimenl. How it could have got 
into their heads, later on, to assert tliat tliey could not tcarn their 
rule) — for this was reported tu me — remains a riddle to me, with 
the solution of which I will not fatigue my head : perhaps it was 
done lo please our famous musical critics of Vienna and other 
cities, who were so astoundingly anxious to prove that my work 
was impossible, and who would have felt positively insulted if a 
(lerformance had succeeded nevertheless. I'erhaps, again, all that 
was reported to me is imtrue ; anything is possible, for the doings 
ot our press are often anything bm Christian." ^ 

1 BajirfulhtT Blmer. 18D0, p. 17li. 

' Obviously Wagner here bad in mind, among others, Dr, Hanalick, 
who felt called upon to defend himself {Muiikal. Skizieniuch, p. 7) 
liy saying that tenor Ander himself told him that " by the lime be had 



Whatever may have been the cause of the pcratpone- 
ment of TrMan, the fact remaioB that its performance 
was finally abandoned as " impossible " — after fifl^- 
fonr rehearsals (Nov. 9, 1862, to March 24, 1863); and 
it wu not till twenty years later (Oct. 4, 1883) that Tris- 
tan had its first performance in Vienna I 

The composer of Tristan was at Moscow when he re- 
ceived notice from Vienna that that work had been aban- 
doned. He was hardly surprised. "To be frank," he 
says, " I was tired of the matter, and thought no more 
about it." But what was he doing in Russia? Trying 
to earn his bread and butter. He had commenced the 
compoeition of Die MeiaterBinger and was very anxious 
to continue it. But one cannot live by writing musical 
"notes," which no one is willing to honor. His early 
operas were being sung everjrwhere, but in most cities 
the small honorarium (340 to about S240) due at the 
first performance had long since been paid and used up; 
tantiemes he received in only a few cases, and in these 
they amounted to a mere pittance, while in the large 
cities his operas were systematically and purposely per- 

leuned the second act he had nj^n torgotWo the first," But what of 
that? Ander, being an ordinary uneducated singer, could not know 
mneh about the hUtory oF mnstc; could not know ihat the notions as 
towhat Is possible in vocal mnslc had olten changed; could not know. 
for Instance, that Mozart's Don Jaan had been given up at Floreaco 
after thirty-eiz rehearsals as "impossible." But professional critics 
wbo pose as blstoriaos of music ought to know such things, and ought 
to enconrage despoodent artists, mstead of banging like rnill-stones 
around the neck of muflical progress, crying " iinpoaaible " at every new 
manifeatAtion of creative genius. The fact that Trittan and Uolde waa 
tn ISOO-lSSl snng at thirteen German cities shows bow " impossible " a 
work it Is and whal an acnie Judge of vocal music Dr. Hanslick waa. 


formed as poorly and as seldom as possible, thanks to 
the effort'^ of such influential enemies as HSlsea, Lach- 
ner, etc. He was forced to do something to make a 
living, and in view of the enthusiastic demonstrations at 
the special performance of Lohengrin it was natural to 
suppose that a few concerts in Vienna and other cities 
might benefit hia exchequer and at the same time call 
attention to his later works. In January, 1863, while the 
Tristan rehearsals were still in progress, he therefore 
gave three concerts in Vienna, at which selections from 
Rheingold, Watkiire, Siegfried, and the Meiatersinger were 
played. Great enthusiasm was aroused by some of these 
selections, especially by Siegraund'a Love Song, the 
Magic Fire Scene, the Ride of the Valkyries, and the 
university students made a special demonstration in 
favor of the "music of the future." 

These concerts were subsequently repeated, under the 
composer's direction, at Prague, Pesth, Karlsruhe, Leip- 
zig, and other German cities, Berlin was passed by; 
not entirely, however, for Wagner had a wish to see 
Tntendant Hiilsijn, with a view, apparently, of discuss- 
ing a possible first Meislerainger performance; but he 
was informed that Hiilsen would not receive him! At 
Leipzig, his birthplace, he did give a concert, but had 
reason to regret it; the public simply left the house 
empty, Leipzig was still a Mendelssohn town. 

Even Russia was included, as we have intimated, in 
this concert tour. Four concerts were given at St. Peters- 
burg, one of which was entirely devoted to his own com- 
positions. Here he found ardent champions in Seroff 
and other members of the young Kussian school; and 
here, he exclaims (VIII. 310) "the miracle happened 


tibat for the first time in my experience the newspapers 
receired me as favorably as the public." What is more 
important still, these concerts at St. Petersborg (and at 
Moscow) were the only ones which brought tiie hard- 
working composer a pecuniary profit. It is worth while 
to reflect for a moment, and connect these last two &cts. 
They explain clearly why Wagner could not earn an 
honest penny in Grermany by giving concerts. The 
critics, with hardly any exceptions, persisted in declar- 
ing his music void of form and melody, while at the 
same time the public was demanding repetitions of this 
''formless" Nibelung music in the concert-halls. The 
public, I say; but it was a small public; the large, the 
paying public, took its cue from the newspapers and 
refused to risk its money on music whichrthe critics and 
feuilletonists described as ''formless and void of mel- 
ody." It fills one's heart with bitterness to think that 
if it had not been for these "critical " dunces, Wagner 
might have been able to devote all his time to composi- 
tion, in which case operatic literature would have been 
enriched by several more masterworks like Tristan and 
Die Meittersinger. These critics could not kill Wagner's 
music, but they showed that they were able to retard 
musical progress, poison the life of a genius, and de- 
prive the world of several immortal compositions. 

Nor is this all. Insult was added to injury. When 
Wagner began giving selections from his later operas in 
concert-halls, the critics pounced on him for his " incon- 
sistency." "Here is a man," they exclaimed, "who has 
proved, in elaborate theoretic treatises, that his dra- 
matic music can be justly appreciated only in its proper 
place in the theatre, in connection with action, words, 



and scenery i yet now he goes about the oountry playing 
fra^ests from bis music-dramas." It is impossible to 
conceive anything more spiteful and omel than this 
attitude of the press, maintained persistently for many 
years, against a poor artist driven against his own will 
and conviction to give these concerts for the purpose of 
earning his living, and of bringing to public notice his 
new operas which the managers refused to perform. 

In the biography of the eminent Vienneije conductor, 
Johann Herbeck, by his son, there is printed, among 
other interesting letters from Wagner, one which illus- 
trates how unwilling he was, at first, to produce even 
independent orchestral portions of his music-dramas in 
the concert-hall. Herbeck had written for permission 
to give the Tristan prelude at a concert. Wagner's 
reply (dat«d Paris, Oct. 12, 1859) was: "The score of 
Tristan will shortly appear in print. A preliminary 
performance of the orchestral prelude was given even 
at Leipzig against my will: as soon as you make the 
acquaintance of this piece, you will certainly understand 
why I cannot consider it suited for concert perform- 
ance." But Herbeck was not to be put off. He called 
attention to the fact that the performances of the pre- 
lude already given at Prague under Billow's direction 
and at Leipzig under Liszt's had been attended by very 
great success, and adds: — 

" Now, since a performance of thia piece has taken place two 
months ago against your will, coulil you, honored Sir, perhaps per- 
mit VieoTia to form tlie Ihird in the robber trio, which exploits 
another's property against the rightful owner's will ? " ' 

1 H«re we see how the imporlunlty of friends combinad with pecuni- 
ftiy and ftrtiBtlc necessity In forcing him to produce selections from his 



Amid the distractions and annoyances of the Tristan 
rehearsals and the concert tours, Wagner found time 
occasionaUy to devote a few days to his new operatic 
project, Die Meitteninger. It will be remembered that 
he oonceiyed and sketched the plot of this opera at a 
Bohemian summer resort, in the happy mood which 
followed the completion of Tannk&user. About the 
same time the LoTiengrin subject had forced itself on his 
mind, and caused him to give up, or rather to postpone, 
the comic-opera plan. Sixteen years later it began to 
ferment again in his brain. It is probable that the diffi- 
culties he experienced with Tristan recalled to his mem- 
ory the advice of Dresden friends that a comic opera 
would appeal to the public more forcibly than a tragedy. 
Strange to say, it was after the depressing events follow- 
ing the Tannhdiiser catastrophe that the humorous poem 
of this opera was written, at Paris, to which he had 

nmsio-dnuiims in the concert-hall. "Half a loaf is better than no 
bread/' one might say; bat the pnblic was dnd is very far from look- 
ing at Wagner selections in the concert-hall as " half a loaf." On the 
contrary, it prefers them even to the "whole loafs" of most other 
oompoeerSy baked expressly for concert consumption. This is tme 
especially of oonntries where there are few or no opportunities to hear 
Wagner's dramas on the stage. In London the Hans Richter concerts 
haye for years been the most popolar and successful of all orchestral 
entertainments; and the programmes, as everybody knows, are made 
op almost entirely of Wagner and Beethoven, with a decided preponder- 
ance of Wagner. A glance at Mr. G. H. Wilson's Musical Year Book 
of the United States for the last few years, shows that in America 
Wagner has more performances at orchestral concerts than any other 
composer ; and although I have no definite French statistics, I have a 
sospicion that the same statement might be made regarding concerts 
in Paris. 


score at concerts, he now determined to issue the poem; 
namely, because it would help to call attention to his 
Tetralogy, and thus carry on an agitation which might 
ultimately help him to realize the execution of his gigan- 
tic enterprise. The poem is accompanied by two short 
but extremely interesting autobiographic and critical 
sketches — a Preface and an Epilogue giving an account 
of the circumstances attending the conception, execution, 
and further adventures of the Nibelung poems up to the 
time of their appearance in print. The biographic details 
herein contained have been given in preceding pages, in 
their proper places; it only remains for us to note here 
that the Preface contains a concise and graphic descrip- 
tion of a projected Nibelung Festival, such as was real- 
ized in Bayreuth fourteen years later, with all the 
essential details — a special theatre, with amphitheatric 
auditorium; an invisible orchestra; afternoon perform- 
ances, with long intermissions for lunch and recreation; 
leading singers devoted solely to the task of interpreting 
a new national Grerman style of musico-dramatic art, etc. 
But for such a stage festival a considerable sum would 
be needed. How could these funds be provided? By 
means of a subscription among wealthy amateurs? He 
could see little chance in this direction, and the only 
hope lay in the possibility that some German sovereign 
might decide to devote to this new national art some of 
the money that was so freely squandered on the flimsy 
operatic performances of the x>criod. Wird dieser FUrst 
sick ftndenf Will this monarch be found? 

Those were the weightiest words Bichard Wagner ever 
wrote; they were destined to turn the wheel of fortune, 
and ehange the current of his whole life. But when he 


%« • A LA. 1 

reading public. To have it attract the noti 
will not be easy, since it has no real mark 
puts away the ' opera-text ' as concerning tl 
musician will put it away because he cannot 
can set such a poem to music. The public p. 
decided in my favor, asks for the * Act.* T 

About this time he also wrote an es 
Court Opera-Housey with many pra 
which he hoped might be heeded in tl 
the new opera-house then in course < 
house he probably had in mind, too, ^ 
offer to write a new opera especially 
which offer, as he relates (VI. 383), th 

** well-considered answer was returned in i 
present, it was thou^^t the name 'Wagner* hat 
Uon, and that it was considered well to give a 
opportunity. This other composer was Jao 
actually was asked about this time to write a : 
for Vienna." 

A few more concerts were undertake 
elsewhere, at one of which Tausig ap 
applause continued to be more abun( 
ceipts. A serenade given him by the 


tr» ^•*^ "■ 


not improTe his material positioD. Debts vera again 
orerwhelmiag him; be found he had to give up his resi- 
dence at Penzing neai Vienna. But where should he 
go? Would it not be better to give up the hopeless 
atmggle, Uirow his artistic work aside forever, and try 
to earn hia living some other and better way? He seri- 
ously contemplated accompanying an English family to 
India as a tutor. But the thought of his unfinished score 
deterred him. After completing Die Meiaterainger, how- 
ever, he determined to go to St. Petersburg, where he 
had been so well received, and make that his home for 
the remainder of his life ; and if that should fail to meet 
his expectations, he intended to join his relatives in 
Oermany and lead a quiet retired life. 


But the MeUtersinger must first be completed. Where? 
Switzerland, where his last four scores had been written, 
naturally suggested itself as the best place, especially 
since the summer was coming on. But his ZCirich home 
was no more; his wife had left him. In this emergency 
it occurred to him to seek refuge for a while under the 
always hospitable roof of his Mariafeld friends, the 
Willes. He wrote a letter describing his situation, and 
asking if a workroom could be placed at his disposal, 
either in the main building or the outhouse: "some 
furniture is still in my posseaaion, and could be used. 
For the rest, I ask only board and service. In every 
other way I shall try to avoid being a burden." 

The letter was followed by the writer so rapidly that 
Fr&u Wille bad hardly found time to arrange the guest- 

pit- ceuing tiie day when King Ludwig 
ger to find Wagner, the latter was thus J 
of an intellectual woman, a novelist, ^ 
his greatness, and not only could give 1 
and home life he needed, but was wise e 
some of his remarks and doings on si 
of which, in 1886, she constructed par 
Rundachau articles to which reference 1 
peatedly in preceding pages. To Frai 
owe a number of most interesting inst 
graphs of the period when part of the A 
was written, besides a number of invalu 
Wagner regarding his first meetings 
which for the fijrst time enable the bi( 
details about this interesting period. 

Frau Wille took care that her dist 
should have ererything arranged to suit 

** He wanted to work, to be ondistarbed, anc 
him servants for his own use. Many vlBitors fr 
here by cariosity or sympathy, when the ne? 
famous man was at Mariafeld, were turned aw] 
was not in a mood to submit to such interruptic 
received many letters ; he begged me to pay m 
to let him eat alone in his room, if that did not 
my domestic arrangements. It was a pleasure 1 


walkg. I can still see him walking up and down oar garden ter- 
race, in his bro¥ni velvet gown, with the black biretta as headdress, 
as if he were one of the patricians painted by Albrecht Dtirer.** 

He was in the kind of a mood, Frau Wille remarks, 
that will lead a son to confide to bis mother. Her 
efforts to console him with the reflection that it is the 
lot of great men to suffer from annoyances, great and 
small, were received with a good-natured smile. One 
day he remarked to her: "My friend, you do not know 
the extent of my sufferings, the depth of the misery that 
lies before me.'' There were hours when the bitterest 
invectiye against his fate came from his lips; but there 
were also days when he indulged in pleasant reminis- 
cences of his younger days : — 

** Thus the sun shone on many a fine day when Wagner felt 
disposed to come to my family room. All who were near him 
know how warmhearted and amiable he could be. The sons by the 
side of their mother received his kindest attention. ... He knew 
how to tease and how to tell stories delightfully. He had been 
pleased with Vienna ; he called it the only musical German city. 
His house in Fenzing had been neatly furnished, to suit his taste. 
He told of the two servants, man and wife, who had taken good 
care of him, also of the large dog, the splendid faithful animal, 
which he missed here. But the happy mood did not last. Letters 
came which put an end to his good humor. He retired to the soli- 
tude of his room, and when he saw me alone, his heart would over- 
flow in words that rarely took a hopeful view of the future.** 

One evening, as he was sitting by the window gazing 
at the setting sun, Frau Wille tried to console him by 
painting to his fancy pictures of a happy future which 
seemed certain to come. Wagner replied: — 

** How can you talk of a future, when my manuscripts are locked 
up in my desk 1 Who is to bring out the art-work which only I 


with the co-operation of propitious deities can produce, «) that all 
the vrnrld maj see how It la, bow die master HW and wauled hia 

In great agitation he walked up and down the room. 
Suddenly lie stoud still and said: — 

" I am differently organized from others, have sensitive nerves, 
must have heauty, splendor, and light I I cannot be content with 
the miserable position ol an organist, like our Master Bach. Is it 
really sucli au ouira^ous demand if I claim a rij^t to the little bit 
of luxury which I like — I, who am preparing enjoyment for Uie 
world and (or lliousands I " 

As be said this, his head waa raised defiantly ; then he 
sank again into the armchair, gazing at the setting sun. 

He related one morning a dream that had harassed 
him all uigiit: Amid lightning and storm he had roamed 
all night over the heath; he himself was King Lear. 
The fool sang mocking tunes, the poor beggar Edgar 
whined that he was cold. Lear with his royal soul flung 
his curse into the night and storm, and felt great and 
wretched but not humiliated. " What say you, my 
friend, to such an experience where a man feels himself 
identified with the fancies of his dreams? " 

Of his music-drama he spoke seldom; but one day he 
hinted at the autobiographic aspect of Die Meistersinger, 
and added : " The world will be astounded when it hears 
the tones and chords which I sound in honor of the Mas- 
tersinger! — Energy and seriousness are my attributes — 
Thoroughly Oennan is my Hans Sachs, as much so as 
the amiable burgher who sang the noble aong of the 
Wittenberg nightingale in honor of your Luther. — My 
Mastersinger you shall hold in honor!" When Frau 
Wille told him of the deep impression once made on 


her by Bach's Passion, he suddenly exclaimed: '^Tou 
poor woman, why have I not played for you all this 
time? This very day you shall hear what will please 
you ''j and he played the love-duo from Tristan, From 
that day he occasionally came to her parlor and played 
on the grand, which he liked better than the ordinary 
piano in his room. Thus it happened that his hostess 
was privileged to be the first mortal to hear some of the 
sublime strains of Die Meistersinger: — 

** One morning majestic chords came to me in my sitting-room 
from the salon. I opened the door softly, and held my breath, to 
hear what came, as it were, directly from the master^s first cast. 
Nothing could have induced me to interrupt him. It was as if I 
felt directly the power of a great artist's mastery over a refractory 
material. What was it that so mightily agitated my fancy and 
spirit? First darkness — suddenly a ray of light — then like a 
flash of lightning, joy illumines the soul. — Silently as I had come 
I went. I never told Wagner of the impression made on me by 
what I had heard. A few days later he begged me to follow him 
to his room. He showed me manuscripts lying in portfolios, and 
devoted the whole evening to me. I admired the handwriting, the 
elegant copies, — and most of all the sketches made with extremely 
small notes, — there they lay like flowers of beauty in the bud. I 
looked at the man who had power to create such riches, with mixed 
feeling of awe and admiration.'* 


The reader has probably wondered repeatedly why, in 
the narrative of the last few years' events in Austria, 
Germany, and Switzerland, no mention has been made 
of Minna. The reason is a simple one : she had left the 
composer, and, although not divorced, the two were 
separated for life. Their last months together were 


a iiLLie rational in her old age/' 

In Paris she had once more to share a 
ness and the perpetual disappointments 
his life^ and less than ever could she c 
he should not be " practical '' and pay si 
" gallery '' as made success so easy f oi 
they had but a tithe of his ability. An 
and frequent visitor^ the "Idealistin" 
ferred to, remarks: — 

** Fraa Wagner wished to mediate by demand 
oonoeesiona to the worid which he could not, must 
this complete inability to understand the nature 
relations to the world, there resulted almoet daily 
ment in their intercourse, increased by the fact tli 
children deprived them of the last element of recon 
theless, Frau Wagner was a good woman, and io 
worid decidedly the better half and the chief su 
otherwise, and felt the deepest pity with Wagnei 
should have built the bridge by which he might ha^ 
wheVeas now it was only making the bitter cup of 
I was on good terms with Frau Wagner, who < 
complaints into my ears, and I tried to console hi 
in yain.'' 

She adds that she often spoke to Ma 
(a daughter of Liszt) about this mattei 


When Wagner was liying at Penzing, waiting for 
Triaian to be produced at Vienna, his wife had gone back 
to Dresden, where she spent the rest of her life with 
members of her famUy. Tet the break had apparently 
not been irreparable; for on Febmaiy, 1863, Wagner 
writes from St. Petersborg to Praeger: ^'I would Minna 
were here with me; we might, in the excitement that 
now moves fast around me, grow again the quiescent 
pair of yore. The whole thing is annoying. I am not 
in good spirits; I move about freely, and see a number 
of i)eople, but my misery is bitter.'' Nor had Minna 
apparently given him up entirely, for she opened a 
correspondence with Praeger; whereupon her husband 
again writes: — 

** And so she has written to you ? Whose fault was it ? How 
could she have expected I was to be shackled and fettered as any 
ordinary cold common mortal ? My inspirations carried me into 
a sphere she could not follow, and then the exuberance of my 
heated enthusiasm was met by a cold douche. But still there was 
no reason for the extreme step; everything might have been 
arranged between us, and it would have been better had it been so. 
Now there is a dark void, and my misery is deep.^* 

This note is dated April, 1864, Mariafeld, and this 
brings us back to Frau Wille. She relates first an inci- 
dent that happened some years before when, after 
reading the preface to Opera and Drama, Wagner had 
commented on the imprudence of marrying when young 
and poor. Minna had retorted: "Well, I have plenty 
of letters that show which of us wanted to marry. R 
was not J." (Perhaps if she had loved her husband it 
would have been easier for her to understand him.) 
Wagner had answered: "Poor woman, who was called 


upoa to get along with a, moDster of a. genius." And 
now, in the spring of 1864, when all was lostj he ex- 
claimed to Fran Wille : — 

" Betweea me and my wife all might have turned out well I I 
bad simply apoilud her dreadfully, and yielded to her in everything. 
She did DOt ftel that 1 am a man who cannot live with wi]i|;B tied 
down. What did she know of the divine right of passion, which I 
ivnnounce in the Hame-death of the Valkyrie, who hu fallen from 
the p-Bca of the gods 7 With the death-eacriflce of love the Qotler- 
d&tnmerang [dusk of the gods] sets in." 

The world is apt to side with the woman in a case like 
this, especially if her partner is of the irritabiU genua, 
a, man of genius. No doubt Minna had much to endure, 
and deserves all our pity; but that her husband is 
not alone to blame in this matter, is shown by the 
extremely happy and contented life he led with his 
second wife, Cosima, the daughter of Liszt, who did love 
and understand him. Her he married in 1870. Minna 
died at Dresden in 1866, of heart disease. One of her 
last acta was the writing of a letter in which she made 
a public denial of the charges trumped up against her 
husband by unscrupulous enemies, that, while revelling 
in luxury, he had allowed her to starve. As a matter of 
fact, he continued to support her, as he had supported 
her parents, even in times of extreme poverty. He 
never, after their separation, countenanced disparaging 
allusions to her, and his letters of this period, as well 
aa the testimony of friends, show that for a long time 
the bitterness of the separation helped to poison his hap- 
piness, and that he greatly missed his partner of twenty- 
seven years. To Praeger he wrote in June, 1864, of his 
"torturing feeling of isolation": — 


c«xiie eommonert domestic details most now be done by me ; 
the pnxchMing of kitchen ntensUs and such kindred matters am I 
driven to. Ah ! poor Beethoven ! now is it forcibly brought home 
to me what his discomforts were with his washing-book and engag- 
ing of housekeepers, etc., etc. I who have praised woman more 
% \i^n Fraoenlob, have not one for my companion. The truth is, I 
have spoiled Minna ; too much did I indulge her, too much did I 
yield to her ; but it were better not to talk upon a subject which 
neTer ceases to vex me.'* 


Frau Wille relates that one day (in the latter part of 
April) Wagner took a walk with her and her husband, 
who had jtist come back from the Orient. On their re- 
turn a package of letters was placed in the composer's 
hands. After a glance at them he declared that he would 
depart on the following day. He kept his word, but 
before leaving he said he would soon return, and bring 
along Bfilow and his wife to spend the summer with 
them. To Wille he remarked that he was going to seek 
a health resort in order to invigorate his constitution, 
and then t^> visit the theatres of Stuttgart, Karlsruhe, 
and Hanover to make arrangements for producing some 
of his operas. Buch were indeed his intentions, as the 
sequel showed; but his departure was doubtless hastened 
by the news he ha/1 received in one of those letters that 
his Viennese creditors were on his tracks, and that he 
was in fact, in danger of being arrested and imprisoned 
for debt. He had lived unwisely and extravagantly at 
Vienna. He had a passion for refined luxury, and, like 
most musicians and other artists, could not resist the 
temptation, when he had a little money, to squander it 


recklessly. Rumor said that he had earned $20,000 
with his coDcerts, and spent 6000 francs alone on a 
Bilk -embroidered couch! This was of course absurd, 
for his concerts had been unprofitable, excepting the 
five given in Bussia, and those could not by any possibil- 
ity have netted such a sum — or a quarter of it. He 
had, however, been so foolish as to borrow a large sum 
that was to be repaid from the profits of a second Rus- 
sian tour — which was subsequently given up. Hence 
the new debts, added to the old ones. It had been bis 
fate, as ths reader knows, to fail (except in Russia) in 
all those enterprises from which he had hoped pecuniary 
benefit, and which (o-riay are so immensely profitable. 
Debts at Dresden for publishing his operas^ debts in 
Paris for brinfjing out Tannhduser ; debts in Vienna for 
attempting Tristan and giving concerts; debts for his 
daily expenses, his necessary travels, and the support of 
his wife. As he says in a letter of this period to Frau 
von Muchanow:' "The most extraordinary, almost de- 
moniac bad luck frustrated all my efforts; I resolved 
to retire for all time to a quiet refuge and give up my 
artistic labors forever." His project of- going to live 
in Russia had also come to naught. Not long before he 
left Mariafeld he had received a letter from Russia, 
showing that the offers of assistance which had been 
made by the Princess Hel^ne would not bear the test of 
trial. Add to this that Tristan had been found "impos- 
sible " wherever it had been attempted, and Die Meialer- 
singer, the comic opera in which he was about to meet 
the operatic managers and the public half-way, had been 
sneeringly refused in advance wherever he had offered 
• fspp«R, p. SI. 


it — and we see why even his iron will was about to 

He went to Stuttgart, where be bad a good friend in 
Conductor Eckert of tbe Opera; tbrougb bis influence be 
boped to win tbe good-will of tbe Intendant, Baron Gkdl. 
Cannstadt, near Stuttgart, was reconunended to bim for 
bis bealtb. His operatic bopes were annibilated wben 
be beard a performance, wbicb inspired bim "witb 
deadly disgust." Yet be decided to remain bere some 
time, and directed Frau Wille to send letters in caie of 
Eckert. Tbis was on May 2. On May 4 be writes 
again, from Municb, in great exuberance of joy: — 

" I would be the most ongratefol of men if I did not immediately 
inform yon of my bonndlees good luck. Ton know that the King 
of Bayaria sent a meaeenger to find me. To-day I was broo^t 
before him. He is, alas, so beautiful and intellectual, so symiMb- 
thetic and delightful, that I am afraid his life must fade away in 
this common world like a dream. He loves me with the depth and 
ardor of first love ; he knows everything about myself, and under- 
stands me like my own soul. He wants me to be with him always, 
to work, to rest, to produce my works ; he will give me everything 
I need ; I am to finish my Nibelungen, and he will have them per- 
formed as I w\b!(l I am to be my own unrestricted master, not 
Kapellmeister — nothing but myself and his friend. All troubles 
are to be taken from me ; I shall have whatever I need, if only I 
stay with him. 

** What do you say to this ? what do you say ? Is it not unheard 
of ? Can this be anything but a dream ? '* 

But it was not a dream. Tbe young King of Bavaria 
bad read that preface to tbe ^ibelung poems; be bad 
read tbe despairing call of tbe composer: ^^Will tbis 
Prince be found?" and bad said to himself, "I will be 
that Prince." Tbe story is best told in Wagner's own 
words, in a letter to Frau Wille ; — . 


"In the year when my TannhSuser was fltm perfonned (ihe 
wotk with which I entered on my new thorny pttth}, in ihe month 
of August, wlien 1 was filled with such an exuberance of crcaliva 
impulse that I sketched Lohenffrin and Die MefHentngfr at the 
same lime, a mother gave birth to my guardian angel. At the time 
when I was fiiiishbg my TrUtan at Lucerne, and was making 
unspeakable efforts to secure permlsaion to live on German terri- 
tory (Baden), and finaliy, in despair, turned to Paris, there lo 
enpage in undertakings against which my spirit revolted — at that 
time the youth of fliteen first heard a performance of my iMhengrin 
which moved him ho deeply that from that date he educated him- 
self by the study of my works and writinga in eucli a manner that 
he now frankly confesses to his surroimdings, as well as to me 
that I wns really bia s"'" educator and t«aclier. lie followed up 
my career and my troubles, my disagreeable Parisian experiences 
my mlsEortnnes in Gennany, and now his sole wish is lo have the 
power to prove his supreme love for me. The only sore trouble o( 
the youth was to comprehend how to secure Irom his obtuse sur- 
nitiuditiga this ni'ceHsary sympathy forme. Early in March, of this 
year, — 1 reoicnibiir the day, — I became oonvlnoed that any at- 
tempt to improve my situatlun must fail ; ri]->euly and defcncflcss I 
confronted all the abominable indignities inflicted on me, when, 
quite unexpectedly, the King of Bavaria died, and my compassion- 
ate guardian angel — contrary to all fate — mounted the throne. 
Four weeks later, his first care was to send for me. While 1 was, 
with your compassionate assistaiicf, draining the cup of misery to 
the dregs, bis messenger was already searching for me at my empty 
house in Penzing ; he had to bring the loving King a lead-pencU, a 
pen, belonging to mc. How and when he found me you know 

The messenger despatched by the King to find Wagner 

was Adjutant Sauer. The song-composer Baron Hom- 
stein met hiin on a boat on Lake Constance and found 
him looking tired and disappointed. On being ques- 
tioned, he s.aid that King Ludwig had suddenly become a 
great Wagner enthusiast, and had sent him out to find 

sma AND C0UP08ER 128 

him and bring him to Htmich. He had spent a week 
honting for him in Vienna and elsewhere, and was now 
on his way to his Swiss haunts in the hope of finding 
him there. "Why," said Homstein, "I know where he 
ia; he is at Stuttgart hiding from his creditors." So 
Sauer went to Stuttgart, where he found his man.' 

The King's love for Wa^er was one of those roman- 
tic passions which, among the Greeks, great statesmen, 
artists, and philosophers used to inspire in the mind of 
gifted youths — a &iendsbip with ^ the symptoms of 
romantic love.* It was like love at first sight. After 
a brief visit to Vienna, where his relations to King 
Lndwig made it easy for him to pacify his creditors for 
the moment^ he took up his residence in a villa on the 
beautiful Lake Stamberg, not far from Munich, which 
his royal friend had placed at his disposal. It was 
only ten minutes from Schloss Berg, the lake-castle of 
the King, who sent his carriage for his new friend two or 
three times every day. 

•> I fly U) him aa to A beloved one," Wagner wtiMa. " It ia an 
enchanting intimacy. Never befon have I seen sach unreBtrained 
eagemeas to leam, such comprehension, ardor, and enthiuiasm, and 
then his loving care for me, the chaste cordiality which ia expnsMd 
In eveij mien when IM Msnrea me of his happiness in posseadng 
me ; thua we often dt for boora, lost In contemplation of each 

' ThcM detail! I have from the Munich tenor Herr Vcgl, who «aid 
he onoa told the Btoiy to Wagner, who conQnned It. Vcgl added that 
Wagner'a affairs had come to such a pass that he bad decided to pot- 
chase apMol to end hl« Ufa, when be wu aavgd by the timely arrival 
of Um Klng'i meeseager. Apparently Baron PfiateDmalstar was also 
despatclied t« find Wagner. One of tbeae meMengera soeompanied 
bin to Hunich. 

■ For a discna^D of this kind of pasaionate Iriendablp, eommoD 
among the Greeka, and not rare to-day, aee the chapter on " Qrealc 
Lov«" Lb my Bomantie Lovt and Ptrtoiiat Btmity. 

]:j S»']t^':i/rxrr he writes agai 

'* Now I btLYe a young King who 
you cannot oonoeiTe what that means 
I had aa a youth : I dreamed that Sha. 
I nw him and spoke to him, actually a 
forgotten the impression which this mat 
the desire in me to see Beethoven (who 
the llTing). Somewhat similar must be 
ing young man in having me. He tells 
that I am really his ! His letters to me 
astonishment and deli^^t. Liszt remarke 
rereaiad in them, was on the same lofty p 
Beliere me, a is a mirade.** ''Through 
another letter, **the male aex has comple 
in ny eyes/* 

Tbu0 the auminer of 1864 was agrc 
Btaraberg. Here he composed his j 
maracAy as an expression of homage ; 
royal benefactor; and here he wrote, 
bis essay on StaU and Religion^ in 
the functions of kings, patriotism, i 
fibith, dogma, and other topics, in a ni 
or interesting manner. He would ] 
use of his time by writing another p 
gungmnar$ckf of which the song-coi 
said that "tender and full of '^- 
ward, while ^^^^ 


force ever outward, like the magnetic mountain which 
drawa eveiTthing in its range to itself." The somewhat 
brassy character of this march is accounted for by the 
fact that it was originally intended as a piece for the mil- 
itary band. 

In the autumn king and composer returned to Munich, 
and a detached residence in the most artistic part of the 
city, near the Propylea, was placed at Wagner's dis- 
posal. The first thing to do was to prepare the soil for 
the coming great artistic events. The composer needed 
lieutenants, and these he found in Biilow, Cornelius, and 
others, who were summoned to his assistance. The 
presence of BOlow also ensured the companionship of 
his wife Gosima, daughter of Liszt, whom Wagner had 
first met three years previously in Paris. She arrived 
in June, with her two children and servant, in advance 
of her husband, who was to follow soon. This helped 
to mitigate the melancholy which he had felt in his 
lonely household ever since his wife had gone to Dres- 
den, in spite of all the loving attentions of the King. 

"FootBQIow," he writea to Fran Wllle, '■anired earl; in July 
In a moat depreaaed atate of bealth, witb overworked and aballered 
nervea ; he foond here peraiateDt bad, cold weather which made 
hia aojonni disagiee with him, and brought on one rel^iee after 
another. Add to thia a tragic marriage; a young woman or ex- 
traordinary, quite onprecedeDted endowment, Liszt's wonderful 
image, but of superior intellect. . . . The most important thing 
waa to make BtUow give ap hia inaaaely exhausting art-activity and 
provide a nobler field for bim. It was easy to induce the King — 
(or whom also it was a matter of consequence — to appoint Billow 
•a coort planiaL I now hope to have Uta Blilowa here with me 
■oon for good." 


The King was ready to begin at once: "He is pre- 
pared," writes Wagner to his friend F. Schmitt' "for 
aoythiiig and everything that will make possible the 
performance of my works; I am obliged to curb his 
impatience by my despair of finding the proper singers," 
This trouble he decided to overcome radically by found- 
ing a. new music school at Munich, the organization of 
which he described elaborately in a long and most valua- 
ble essay entitled, "Report to His Majesty, King Lud- 
wig II. of Bavaria, concerning a German Music School 
to be Founded in Munich " (VIII. 160-220). It is full 
of most important and suggestive matter relating to ttie 
history and proper management of conservatories, the 
importance of the piano in securing a general musical 
education, the training of the voice required for the 
interpretation of German music, etc' 

October 7th, 1864, is an important date; for on that 
day the King decided that Wagner was to finish his 
Nibelung Tetralogy and produce it forthwith, in a theatre 
specially constructed according to his indications. The 
year 1867 was chosen as the date. When this was 
arranged, " I was so overwhelmed with astonishment at 
this marvel, this heavenly royal youth, that I came near 
sinking down and worshipping him." Mark the date, 
— 1867, — yet the Nibelung festival did not take place 
till 1876, — nine years later, — and at Bayreuth instead 
of in Munich! The events which led to this postpone- 
ment form an entertaining but by no means creditable 
chapter in Bavarian history; to them we must now turn. 

' Oesterlela, Wagner Satalog, III. IG. Scbmitt VM a vocal teacher 
la Viennii. 

' Pages 182-188 must be specially commended to the attentioD ol 
conductors and critics who still believe that Bacb, Moiatt, and Bee- 
thoven should be condocled metrooomlcallf. 



When the royal youth of eighteen first showed his 
passion for Biehard Wagner, his friends and subjects 
looked upon it as a harmless whim, which would proba- 
bly soon pass away. They knew he had been brought 
up amidst romantic mountainous surroundings and was 
romantically inclined. They did not realize, however, 
that he had fallen in love, and that his love was to last 
as long as his life. But as soon as it was announced 
that he had given his '' favorite " a house and a regular 
salary, envy and malice raised their heads and sought 
his ruin. The silliest rumors were circulated with the 
object of injuring him. He was accused of squandering 
the King's money and living like a sybarite. Thousands 
were spent by him, it was said, on carpets and furniture 
which he changed constantly ! distinguished artists had 
been paid to adorn his rooms with frescoes ; descriptions 
were given of his wardrobe, etc.* 

** This chaige of Oriental luxury,** says Praeger in reference to 
these rumors, ** was a stock one with some people. Even now his 
velvet coat and biretta are made the subject of puerile attacks ; but 
I cannot refrain from stating that Richard Wagner's house and 
decorations are far surpassed by the luxuriously appointed palaces 
of certain English painters, musicians, and dramatic poetasters. 
Wagner was fond of velvets and satins, and he knew how best to 
display them. The arrangements in the house, too, showed the 
unmistakable guiding hand of a woman. Madame von BUlow 
acted as a sort of secretary to Wagner.** 

Dr. Ludwig Nohl says in regard to this charge of 
** Oriental luxury " and " Sybaritism " that it could only 

^ See one of these descriptive articles in Glasenapp, 11. 163. 


have been brought in a place where people tae used to 
such primitive domestic anangemenlB as was the case 
in Munich at that time; and that Wagner's fomishings 
were no more luxurious than those of any well-^o-do 
merchant on the Bhine.^ 

Another charge brought against him was that ha was 
inaccessible, unsociaL So he was, no doubt. He suf- 
fered 80 much from unbidden visitors, who seemed to 
look on him as one of the local curiosities whom one 
could go and see like a giraSe or an elephant^ that he 
finally became very shy of admitting callers. Those 
who came to be thus repulsed, (and among whom there 
were probably some who had a claim to his attention,) 
took revenge by writing him up as an arrogant individ- 
ual. His love of solitudCi which he shared with all 
men of genius, had been so aggravated by his many 
years of enforced isolation in Switzerland, that he did 
not feel tempted to avail himself as much of artistic 
fellowship in Munich as he would have done had he 
been more '^ diplomatic.'' His principal desire, as al- 
ways, was to be left in peace and alone with his art- 
work ; but this desire was not to be gratified, even though 
the munificence of the King had at last taken from his 
shoulders the petty cares of gaining a livelihood, which 
had so often interrupted his composition. 

The main source of trouble was this munificence of the 
King and the partiality which inspired it. Wagner was 
believed to have as great an influence on the King in 
political as in art matters. This was not the case; for, 
as he once remarked to Wille, " the King looked at the 
ceiling and began to whistle whenever he talked to him 

^ 2feu€t Skixxeribuch, p. 148. 


about politics.'' How tmiyenal this belief nevertheless 
was is indicated in this incident related in a letter to 
Frau Wille, the reference being to Lassalle: — 

** The unhappy man csme to me (Uiioog)i Billow's Introduction) 
just fourteen days before his deaths to beg me to Intercede with the 
King of Bavaria against his ambassador in Switzerland (Donniges). 
(For I am considered simply an onmipotent favorite; the other 
day the relatives of a female poisoner implored my protection I) 
What do you say to that ? I had never before met Lassalle ; on 
this occasion I disliked hhn heartily. It was a love affair, prompted 
purely by vanity and false pathos. I recognized in him the type 
of our prominent men of the future, which I must call the Germanic- 

Olasenapp relates that politicians endeavored to gain 
influence on the young King through Wagner; and when 
the latter refused to be made a tool for their designs 
they turned against him and plotted his ruin. 

In the letter to Frau Wille following the one just 
quoted from, Wagner accuses himself of insincerity and 
admits that his general influence on the King is greater 
than he had confessed. And herein lies his chief care 
and trouble. He cannot abandon the King to his sur- 
roundings without fearing the worst for him. To cite 
his own words : — 

**The deepest anguish overwhelms me, and I ask my demon: 
' Why this cup to me ? * Why must I, who seek only quiet and 
time for work, be involved in a responsibility which places the 
salvation of a divinely endowed young man, perhaps the welfare 
of a whole country, in my hands? How can I here save my 
heart ? How still remain an artist ? He has not a man such as he 
needs! — This, this is my real perplexity. The superficial play of 
intrigues is of no consequence ; it is intended merely to make me 
foiget myself and commit an indiscretion. But what energy — 

180 KINO LUDwm jmmB wmmmb 

which would forever depAyt wiB€imj lepoM—^ would I oot SMd 
to tear away my young friend fnrever.from liis ionoaadliigi 1 He 
clings to me with touching flddltj« and iadlatee himaelf agatoit aU 
at present. What do yon aay to my fatef -^Mj^ longiiig lor tiie 
last rest is inexpressible; my hmxi caa no longor eodoio Uieao 

Four days before these woids were wiitteDi Ae JSg^ 
meine Zeitung (Feb. 22, 1866) had eontained an open 
letter of three columns in which Wagner replied to the 
slanders and charges broog^ against him bj the news- 
papers. It is an eloquent doeomenti so snperb in its 
dignified pathos, so crushing in its simple assertion of 
the truth, that I regret that considerations of spaoe pre- 
vent me from translating the whole of it in thli plaoe. 
It begins with these words: — 

** Having been summoned to Munich by the munificence of His 
Majesty, the King of Bavaria, in order to be enabled, after hard 
struggles and toils, to harvest the fruits of a laborious artist-life in 
the undisturbed enjoyment of repose and opportunity to work, it 
has been my fate, after living in great seclusion and awaiting 
only my noble patron^s orders, to be suddenly disturbed in my 
asylum by attacks on my personality, by a storm of public accusa- 
tions such as ordinarily get into the papers only from the law-courts 
and even from there only with certain traditional considerations. 

** I have been in London and Paris when my art works and ten- 
dencies were unmercifully ridiculed by the newspapers, my works 
dragged into the dust and hissed in the theatre ; but that my person, 
my private character, my civic qualities and domestic habits should 
be exposed to public abuse in the most dishonorable manner, — that 
is an experience which was reserved for me till I came to a place 
where my works are appreciated, my aims and tendencies acknowl- 
edged to possess manly seriousness and noble significance.*' 

Concerning the hullabaloo raised over the salary given 
to him by the King he says, after explaining the 


plan of the Nibelung Tetral<^, as approved by His 
Majesty : — 

"For Qda order [to complete Uke Tetralogy], the acceptance 
of which compelled me to glre up for several jeaia all work tta 
irtilcb I could hope to receive immediate recompense from the 
Qerman theatres, Hie Hajeatj granted me, under a regular contract, 
emolumenta which did not exceed what Bavarian Kinp liad pre- 
viously granted In ordering works of art or science. Having a 
ri^t, therefore, to regard myself, not as a favorite, but as an artist 
adequately paid for his work, I believe tltat I am not called upon 
to give an account of my expenditures to any one, unless it be 
that I must apologize for having secured for my work the same 
compensation which painters, architects, savants, etc., have often 
obtained. How highly I nevertheless appreciate the good luck of 
having unexpectedly found jnst here the magnanimous patron who 
knew how to tqipreciate the value of my boldest artistic plan, may 
be seen from this that I forthwith ukad the King's consent to my 
natuiallzation aa a Bavarian citizen, and gave the orders necessary 
therefor. Although German art cannot be Bavarian, but simply 
German, Munich la nevertheteas the tupltal of this Gennau art ; to 
feel myself here, under the protection o( a sovereign who inspires 
me, perfectly at home and one ol the people, was a true and sincere 
necessity to me who had so long been a homeless wanderer in many 

Id regard to the charges of bis isolation he briefly 

" Having always been accustomed to great retirement from public 
life, being usually in poor health, and suffering from the after- 
etlecla of yeara of privation, I was obliged duruig the fitBt part of 
my sojourn here to postpone to a later period my cordial desire to 
enlarge the circle of my personal friends and thereby completely 
realiie my naturalization In Bavaria." 

Goncemisg the charge that he had ordered his own 
portrait painted by his friend Pecht and then sent a bill 



of a thousand florins therefor to the royal exchequer, 
he says : "' I assure my accuser that . . . there ia not 
one true word in this matter, as the court-officials in 
question will attest to him on application, whereas the 
real occurrence ia capable of no other but an extremely 
honorable interpretation." 

Such were some of the indictments brought against 
Wagner. His reply acted like a thunderbolt; the slan- 
derers kept in hiding for a while, and the composer was 
able to proceed with his labors, which were soon to cul- 
minate in an event which, as he had predicted, marked 
an epoch in the history of dramatic music. 



On page 638 of the AUgemeine Musikdlische ZeUung 
for 1864 may be found a letter from Munich in which 
these lines occur: ''Local musical affairs will soon un- 
dergo a change unsuspected a short time ago. In place 
of Lachner's classical and exclusive policy we shall have 
all the Future. Bichard Wagner goes in and out of the 
royal apartments unannounced." It was a change, in- 
deed, that was impending in Munich; a change which 
was to convert the Bavarian capital from a pool of stag- 
nation into the whirlpool of modern^ music. In other 
words, Munich became, for eleven years, the " Bayreuth " 
of musicians, taking the place of what I have called the 
first Bayreuth, Weimar, which fell from its glory when 
Liszt abandoned it to the enemy. It was an odd chance, 
too, that conferred this honor on Munich; for of the 
numerous Grerman capitals it was almost the last to take 
up the Wagner cult. A correspondent of the Neue 
Zeitschrift fiir Musik writes in 1852 that the concert sea- 
son of that winter was opened with the Tamihduser 
overture, the first piece of Wagner's heard in that city 
up to date! Fancy! It took the Tannhduser overture 
seven years to reach Munich from Dresden! For this 
delay a fifth-rate composer, Franz Lachner, who hap- 



pened to be General -Musik -Director, was chiefly re- 
sponsible. Lachner was very slow and cautious, even 
for a Bavarian Ge neral-M us ik- Director; after the roiin- 
hduaer overture had been heard, the opera itself was kept 
in quarantine four years longer. When it was given, 
Liszt heard his interpretation of it and found it very 
defective; consequently the reception was a cold one; 
nor was Lohengrin more warmly received two years 
later (1858), As for the Flying Dutchman, we know that 
it had been refused at Munich almost a quarter of a 
century before the date at which we have now arrived, 
as "unsuitable for the German stage." 

It was with this opera that Wagner took up his prac- 
tical duties in repayment of the Kiug's favors, in the 
autumn of 1804. It was prodiiced under his own direc- 
tion, on Dpp. 4. and was cordially received. Shortly 
afterwards a Wngner concert was given, with the usual 
result — plenty of applause, but little money. In Sep- 
tember of the same year the project of giving Tristan 
had already received the King's eager approval; but it 
had to be postponed, for various reasons. It was not 
till April, 1865, that matters had progressed so far that 
Schnorr and his wife could be summoned from Dresden 
to attend the rehearsals. 


Twenty years had elapsed since Richard Wagner had 
been enabled personally to sujjerintend the production 
of a new opera of his own, although such an event had 
been the consuming desire of every day of his unhappy 
life. He had in the interim completed four works, — 
Lohengrin, Rheingold, Walkilre, Tristan, — entirely, and 


two more — Siegfried and Die Meistereinger in part, — yet 
he had to wait until a king appeared on the scene to 
compel his obtuse contemporaries to pay attention to the 
claims of genius! On April 18, 1865, he wrote a public 
letter inviting his friends in all parts of Europe to come 
to Munich for the performance of his eight-year-old 
TiHstan, now first permitted to see the light of the world. 
This letter was addressed to the editor of the Vienna 
Botschafier, ''still the only editor of a large political 
newspaper, on whose support I can rely whenever I 
have a communication to address to the public." ^ After 
giving a sketch of the history of his opera, the writer 
pays his tribute to King Ludwig, and then announces 
that there are to be three performances of Tristan, under 
conditions which will make them a thing quite apart 
from ordinary operatic representations, their object be- 
ing not to amuse and make money, but to solve a noble 
artistic problem. One of the royal theatres had been 
entirely placed at his disposal for the rehearsals, and 
here, with the assistance of Billow, he was preparing the 
performance. To Billow, who conducted all the per- 
formances, he pays a special tribute as to 

*^him who achieved the impossible in providing a playable piano- 
forte score of this work, as regards which no musician can yet 
comprehend how he was able to do it. With him at my side, a 
second Ego, who knows by heart every minute detail of this score, 
which to many still appears such a riddle, and who is familiar 
with my intentions in their most delicate nuances, I can,'' etc.^ 

1 This letter is reprinted in the Bayreuther Blatter, 1890, 173-180. 

* BiUow also arrauged for the piano the Vorspiel of the Meistergin- 
ger, as well as the Huldigungamarsch, the Fauat overture, and Wag- 
ner's version of Gluck's Iphigenia overture. In a private letter of this 
period Wagner speaks of Billow as the only living conductor in whom 
he had full confidence. 


In this matter ICimioh presenfeed a delig^tftil oontnst 
to Paris. In other leepeota Wagner had to oongntnlato 
himself that he had not riaked ZVMoii in Ftei% where 
his singers would have been utterly inadeqnato to their 
tasks. Tnie, Niemann afterwarda beoame a great Tris- 
tan, but at that time he would not even attempt the com- 
plete Paris yersion of the soene with Yenna. Now Wagner 
had Schnorr, the greatest vocal artist he had emt heard, 
and to whose eulogy he devotes an article of seventeen 
pages which all those should read who wish to know what 
was bis ideal of a dramatic singer. Schnorr's character 
was as great as his art. He detested the flimsy operatic 
works of the day on which he was condemned to waste 
his powers^ and his one ambition was to satisfy his Mas- 
ter: '* Never has the most bungling singer or player 
accepted so much detailed instruction from me as tiiis 
vocal herO; whose art touched on supreme mastery." 
Only in regard to the third act Wagner never said a 
word to him, excepting on one point. From the beg^- 
ning of the act, contrary to his usual habit at rehearsals, 
he sat on the stage with closed eyes; Schnorr at first 
interpreted this as apathy or dissatisfaction; but when, 
after the love-curse, he arose, bent over the singer on his 
couch and whispered that he had no opinion to express 
on his realized ideal, Schnorr's 'Mark eye flashed like 
the star of love; a scarcely audible sob — and never 
again did we speak another serious word about this act." 

The performances were to be on May 15, 18, 22, but 
illness and other causes of delay intervened, and the 
date had to be repeatedly postponed, so that it actually 
happened that a parody, entitled TriManderl und Suss- 
hcidef appeared ''for the very first and often postponed 


time " before the original drama; and among the friends 
of the composer who had hastened to Munich in response 
to his invitation (Pohl mentions Gaap^rini, Ealliiroda, 
Bckert, Gall, Draeseke, Elindworth, Jensen, Kfihler, 
Dr. Damrosch, Bfickel, Lassen, and others) some were 
obl^ed to return before the event. Among those who 
were thus disappointed was the inspired song-composer, 
Adolf Jensen, who had transferred his former Schu- 
mann worship to Wagner. After the first postponement 
he decided to wait, and in a letter to Hansen' he gives 
ns a pleasant glimpse of musical life in Munich: — 

"We spent Tanday afternoon at Wagner's, where the lime 
paiwd in the moat iaconcelvably delightful fashion. . . . Billow 
played all sorta of things. Wsgner s&ng ua his Cobbler's song 
from Die Mei^ertinger, with ironical humor, and cut up all sorts 
of pranks. Mrs. tod Bdlow peimaded me to stay by all means, 
because the performance would be sore to take place next week. 
Sbe begged me to visit them whenever I liked, since I could not but 
value the chance of being with Wagner. Wagner drew me to a 
cb^ beside him, and said: 'Now, look here. Can't you stay? 
Are you positively obliged to be tMwk In Konigsberg by a cert^n 
day?' This was all said in a channlngly playful fashion. I 
replied that I was not absolutely compelled, but that peconlarx 
necessities and other things would make It difficult for me to 
stay. . . . When we all met in the evening at the Vier Jahret- 
zeiten, Wagner said in his delightful, enchanting way ; ' Now, my 
children, you must all suppose joutselves to have been taken ilL 
We are founding a big hospital here,' and thereupon he introduced 
Dr. Gaspirlni (who had attended him In Paris), saying to him, 
'Now, doctor, yon most give these gentlemen certificates of 

But when one postponement followed upon another, 

poor Jensen had to leave without hearing Trittan, which 

> Bee AUgeneitw Muiikxeitvng, 1888. 


won not given till Juiw 10. H? had ta get what oon- 
aoliitioit he could from thp account sent to him by the 
priii«i|kal artist, Sohuorr: — 

"I'ho iKirfonEiiuic* traot oS t'rf w^ll, knd «ltb(»£h D17 wifa 
1TM not 'lultn rrii'Ttrwl, (he did wou(I«ra, and curied everytfaiiig 
»ff. Hiprp wcrv rnthiHlaAta OfttlB kttrc ereiy act, knd kfiei tbe 
Irul wo Imd thn ptnuun to Mnff out Wagner in our midEt before 
llip npi'UiiilInK aiKllcneo. . . . Th« wonl hu gone oal into all the 
world with a ndjuhVf MUad. Ko wr oui henc«fonii close ItseU 
•t|>iii«t tlilii wroiulroua It^nd. Triatan is born again, and Dr. 
IUll■blll^k (hV) liiuitMlhbvacn'. . . . Among tboee «^o ctayed 
the wIioId UiiiP wctt) Dribekr. Piwtcw, IlaniroBch, Gaeperlni, Taa- ' 
aif, 1'ohl, Taiilipn, NMwabda. KaUiwodi, Pmckner, Se;dd. ate.** 

Tlirw mort' performauoes followed, on June 1^ lU^ 
and July 1. i\\l before crowded housosi wiummfoa 
Holiiiorr relucUnitly returned to I>n0den. 

Act I. Isolde, daughter of the King of Ireland, was 
engaged to Morold, her eoiisiu. Morold went to Corn- 
wall to collect the customary tribute, but was slain by 
Tristan, nephew of King Marke of Cornwall. In place 
of the expected tribute Tristan sent Morold's head to 
Isolde. But Tristan himself had been wounded In the 
affray, and resolved to seek the assistance of Isolde, 
who had learned from her mother the magic art of heal- 
ing. He came under the assumed name of Tantris; but 
Isolde recognized him as Tristan, for she discovered in 
his sword a notch into which a piece of iron she had 
extracted from Morold's head fitted exactly. She raised 
her sword to avenge her lover's death; when suddenly, 
meeting Tristan's eyes, she became overpowered by a 


strong emotion, and allowed him to depart withont reveal- 
ing her discoTery. After his rettum to Comwall, Tris- 
tan joins those who are urging King Marke to many 
again. He induces the King to despatch him ^ain to 
Ireland to sue for Isolde as his fatnre queen. 

These events, preceding the drama, are related in the 
exposition, with the author's usual dramatic skill. When 
the curtain rises, the prow of the vessel on which Tristan 
has brought Isolde to the coast of Cornwall is before the 
spectator. Isolde is an unwilling bride, for she secretly 
loves Tristan, and is forious because he, with seeming in- 
difference, has wooed her for another, and, in obedience 
to the custom which forbids the suitor to see the bride 
on the journey, refuses to leave the helm and come and 
speak to her, even after her companion BrangSne has deliv- 
ered her message to him. She expresses her passionate 
regrets that she has not inherited the ancestral art of com- 
manding the waves, that she might invite their destruc- 
tion together. All that her mother had been able to do 
for her was to give her a golden casket with magic vials, 
one of which contains a love potion potent to inflame the 
passions of any one and were he as old ae King Marke. 
But there is another vial, carefully marked by Isolde, 
containing a death potion. This she commands Bran- 
g&ue to pour into the golden cup, and then sends her 
once more to Tristan with the mess£^ that she will 
refuse to go ashore unless he comes first to obtain her 
pardon. Tristan obeys. In reply to her taunt that he 
slew her lover whereas she saved and spared Am life 
when it was in her power, he sadly offers his sword and 
bids her, if Morold was so dear to her, to take her re- 
venge now. As she replies, with bitter irony, which ill 

140 TBI8TAN ABD IKOMi Ot^^nrNK^ 

conceals her love, the cries of tiie mBsisB iiidieato that 
the harbor is close at hand. ITo tinie li to te loet. She 
beckons to Brangftne to bring the dea^b poUon ttid offers 
it to Tristan, who oomj^^eheiids HbB tttoiittoii and pfdts 
the welcome cap to his willing lips «— fivr be too is de* 
▼oared by a secret passion, and prefers IminiyHats death 
to a life of hopeless lore-longing. "WHSi Hud words 
'' Treason here tool" Isolde snatches tiie half^emptied 
cap from his lips and drinks what is left. , Bat Bran* 
gftne had secretly substitiited the loTe potion for the 
poison, as the lesser eyil of tWd. The weird and tliriU- 
ing love-motive is heard in the orchestra^ first bdow, 
then on the highest tremolo notes of the Tiolins. As it 
grows more intense and passionate, its strains ard re- 
flected in the mimic action of the two lovers, whose 
sullen resolve to die gradually changes to the rapturous 
ecstasy of amorous intoxication, till they meet in a pas- 
sionate embrace. At this moment the ship has arrived 
in the harbor. The curtain that has shut off the sight 
of the poop is pushed aside, and we behold the men 
swinging their hats anil greeting the King, who ap- 
proaches on a small boat to meet his bride, while his 
castle is seen towering above the cliffs on the coast. 

Act n. Isolde is soon to be married to the King, but 
her heart is with Tristan, and the one longing of her 
soul is for the end of the hateful day and the approach 
of night when she may see her lover. She is with 
Brang^e in a beautiful garden adjoining her apart- 
ments. It is a warm summer night. A torch is burn- 
ing, the extinction of which is to announce to Tristan 
that all is safe for a clandestine interview. Oradually 
dying away in the distance we hear two sets of forest 


horns responding to each other in different keys, and 
forming with the dreamy orcbestral harmonies the moBt 
exquisite tone-picture ever conceived. The infatuated 
Isolde fancies these sounds are but the murmurings of 
the leaves trembling in the breezes. The more sober 
Brang&ne knows that what they hear are the boms of 
the King's attendants, and suspects that the hunting 
expedition is a mere sham to put them off their guard. 
For one of the oonrtiers, Melot, is jealous of Tristan, 
and has resolved to betray him to die King, in whose 
company he intends to surprise the lovers. But Isolde 
is deaf to BrangAne's warnings. She dashes the torch to 
the ground, where it is eztinguishedi and in a few 
moments Tristan comes, as if borne along on the tumnl* 
tuous tone-waves of the music. In words and tones that 
are the very onomatopceia of passion, the elemental 
language of emotion, a wonderful love-duet followsj 
in which the praises of night are sung as against the 
spiteful day, whose symbol, the torch, had so long 
delayed the meeting of the lovers. In a mutual embrace, 
forgetful of all the world, they gradually sink down on 
a dower-bench. The bench is on the stage, the flowers 
are heard. The orchestra becomes a perfect Oriental 
garden of fresh and fragrant melodies, some of them, 
like tuberose or hyacinth, almost overpowering in their 
sweetness. The scene is one long nocturne, in which the 
dreamy, sweet, and exquisitely tender leads gmdually 
to an outburst of excitement and unbounded passion 
which is the superlative climax of all music. To quote 
the poetic paraphrase of Catulle Mend^s : — 

" Puerile from excess of joy, they content theniHlvea with these 
two nanus pionoanced together, Tristan and Isolde! . , , Bat 


wbat 13 this — a syllable sepamting these two words? There Is 
■oniething between Tristan and Isolde 1 Tliese tiiree letters form 
an odious barrier ; it must not be Tristan and Isolde, but Tristan- 
Isolde. . . . Tlioy lose tbemselves in the Nirvana of Love, and 
already, having ceased to be, retaining of their individual love but 
a vague, delicious feeling, they disaolve Into their common soul, 
which, large and unfathomable, seema Uj them the aoul of the 

At its very climax tbia encliantiiig loTe-sceoe is oraelly 
interrupted. Brangfine'a suspicions were well founded. 
The King, followed by Melot and attendants, suddenly 
appears and addresses a string of bitter reproaches to his 
nephew and benefactor. Tristan, still in the trance of 
love, replies dreamily that be has nothing to say, then 
turns to Isolde, asks if she will follow him to the land 
where the light of the sun does not shine, and kisses 
her gently on tlie forehead. At this Melot rualies for- 
ward, shouting "Treason," and stabs him. 

Act III. The wound was not fatal, for in the third 
act we again behold Tristan on a couch, unconscious, in 
the yard in front of his castle in Bretagne, whither 
Kurvenal had conveyed him after the affray with Melot. 
Kurvenal had secretly sent for Isolde, hoping that she 
might once more cure Tristan's wound. A shepherd 
has been stationed on the rocks to watch for the ship's 
approach. His quaintly mournful melody is heard alone 
for several minutes, after the beautiful sad orchestral 
introduction, and indicates that the ship is not yet in 
sight. Suddenly the melody becomes excited and joy- 
ous; the ship is coming, and Kurvenal mshea off to 
meet Isolde. While he is away Tristan, delirious with 
excitement, tears the bandage from his wound just as 
Isolde is beard calling out bis name. She arrives in 


time to bear his last word, "Isolde," and to catch Ma 
lifeless body in her arms. As she bends over him, 
bitterly repioacbing him for leaving her at this mo- 
ment, the shepherd rushes in to announce the arrival 
of a second ship, with the King on board. The gate 
is quickly barricaded. Korvenal, after slaying Melot, 
himself receives a deadly wound and Ealls down by the 
side of Tristan's body. The catastrophe was needless; 
for the King, having heard from Brangfine the secret of 
the irresistible love-potion, had pardoned Tristan, and 
come, not to reclaim Isolde, but to unite her with him 
in marriage. Isolde recovers for a moment to sing those 
pathetically beautiful last strains, celebrating, as Schur^ 
finely ex^vesses it, "the marriage of two sister-souls 
with the world-soul." 


In speaking of Tristan and Isolde one feels like the 
lover who sighs for something stronger than a superla- 
tive to express his admiration. It forms, with Shake- 
speare's .Borneo and Juiiet, and Goethe's Faust, part of 
the world's great Trilogy of love-tragedies. Of action, 
in the ordinary theatric sense of the word, there is little 
in it, except in the first act and toward the end of the 
third. That Wagner, nevertheless, distinguished Tristan 
above all his other works by the name of "action" 
(HamUung) may be partly due to the &ct that he 
objected to the word "music-drama" on historic and 
philological grounds. Partly, however, the special 
claims of this work to the word "drama," in its literal 
sense, may be made clear in this way : The proper aim 
of a drama is to represent the growth and oonfiict of 

144 TBisTAn Ajn> Mt&aoi ormuwam 

emotions. This end la usually bait attalaad by rapid 
and exciting action. Btit if a dzamatial can atir fhe aool 
to its inmost depths with a aimple aiOtiiQl^ aJDl the moie 
honor is due to his genhia. TtkUm ia aaaiofeicHia), like 
no other art work eTer ereatedj it ia a la^a-alraam of 
passionate poetry and amorcntt mvrio; hidaedf if any 
objection to it can be snatainedi it ia that- the emotional 
tension in it is too grea% too oonatant. That it appeals 
to emotions to whioh ordinary mortala are atrangevBy or 
which they consider aa exaggerated^ ia not ita ttxdt, 
bat constitutes its greatneaa. It waa not writtai for 
Philistines ; Wagner wrote it for himaelf and for flioae 
who are able to follow him into the tropiBal ng^Ma of 
art and ethics. It ia a poem for p06t% a aeora for 

A poem for poets, because of the variety and subtlety 
of its psychologic motives. Bead and reread it a dozen 
times, and you will always find new beauties, new links 
connecting the different parts of the plot, just as in 
studying the score you become more and more amazed 
at the intricacy, yet simplicity, and the significance of 
the melodic web of leading motives. Although poetic 
imagery is less essential in a musical drama than in a 
literary drama, because there the music supplies the 
appeal to the feelings for which a poet usually resorts 
to similes, Wagner's Tristan poem, nevertheless, is full 
of exquisite imagery which alone would put him in the 
^ front rank of German poets. The extraordinary com- 
mand of all the resources of his language whioh enables 
him not only to present his dramatic thoughts with rare 
conciseness but to choose for its expression apt alliter- 
ation and assonance, often combined beautifully with 

A POEit FOB P0XT8 146 

luyme, — which in a mosic-diama is almost like paint- 
ing the lily, — suggests the verbal fluency of Mr. Swin- 
burne (who has always been a great admirer of Wa^gaet's 
poetry). There are pages in this poem on which every 
line is a picture. This remarkable concentration of 
thought suggests the choruses of Greek tragedy; and 
some of the musical critics who have undertaken to com- 
ment on Wagner's poem seem to have had as toilsome 
and hopeless a time in their efforts to comprehend him 
as their philologic colleagues have had with the choruses 
of .^Bchylus. To a person of general culture, however, 
there is not an obscure line in the Tristan poem; indeed, 
those that seem obscure at first are found to be the most 
pregnant with meaning. 

The subject itself has been a favorite one of poets of 
all countries for almost a thousand years. It is the 
finest of all Celtic legends, and in Cornwall the supposed 
grave of Tristan and Isolde Ib still shown to visitors, as 
is Juliet's tomb at Verona. The legend relates that over 
the grave of Tristan and Isolde once grew a vine and a 
rosebush so closely intertwined that they could not be 
separated without destroying both. To this famous 
legend Wagner was, as he relates (VI, 378), attracted not 
only by its intrinsic beauty, but by its remarkable affini- 
ties to the Siegfried legend, on which he was occupied 
when practical considerations compelled him to interrupt 
his Tetralogy. Like Siegfried, Tristan is fated to woo 
bis own love for another, and in both cases a magic 
potion comes into play. But while in the Q6tterd&m- 
memng the catastrophe is the hero's death, in Trutan 
the emphasis is placed on the anguish of hopeless love, 
which fills out the three long acts. 



A German critic, Louis EoUer, oneo said there were 
two kinds of ramposere, — those who make music and 
those who make the music — or as we should suy in 
English, those who simply write muaio and those who cre- 
ate it, i.e. provide new harmonic, melodic, and rhythmic 
material. In this sense, the four greatest composers the 
world has ever seen are> in my opinion, Bach, Schubert, 
Chopin, and Wagner. And if we take single works to 
compare in point of originality and oreativeneas, the 
palm must, I am convinced, be given to Tristan and 
boMe. It is a work which raises the whole art of music 
to a nt!W level, a summit whence we see all that has gone 
before in musical evolution, while an entire new har- 
monic and melodic continent is revealed for future 
explorers. To change the simile, the Tristan score ia a 
mine in which composers of the future will find a wealth 
of new musical material such as no other works but 
Bach's St. Matthew's Passion, Schubert's songs, and 
Chopin's Preludes have ever revealed.' 

Tristan is a score for musicians, for the reason just 
given. But that does not any the less make it a score 
for lay men and women ; for men and women, I mean, 
who go to the theatre for the nohle emotional gratifica- 
tion which is given by a tragedy, not those who crave for 
barrel-organ tunes, and vocal tight-rope dancing as an 
aid to digesting a late dinner; for men and women who 
are willing to give serious and active attention to what 

1 1 am Bware that this paragraph will make the luic of orthodox 
muaiciaiiB sUdcI on end; but thnt makes no difference. Time, 11 they 
live a decade or two longer, will comb IL down again. 


they see and hear imd not for those who want to enjoy 
their music passively, as they do a hot bath. The marvel 
about Tristan, however, is that although it is the most 
profound and inspired musical work ever written, it 
really requires no special musical aptitude or study for 
its appreciation — at least for its partial appreciation. 
Ho one but a specialist can ever know all the marks of 
genius which Wagner has chiselled on this score with 
the microscopic minuteness of a Japanese ivory-carrer. 
But there is such an elemental force and directness of 
emotional utterance in this music, — one moment stormy 
as the Haroh Atlantic, and the next placid as an August 
lake by moonlight, — that even persons who have no 
technical knowledge of mueie are thrilled by it, and feel 
how it intensifies the tragic denouement of the poem. 

Dr. Hans Ton Bolow had the honor of being the tirst 
man who saw the pages of ZVistan. While he was 
arranging the orchestral score for piano at Venice, in 
September, 1858, he wrote to a friend : ' — 

" Ton may promise yoniself a great treat I Wagner, considered 
pnrely as a mnalclaii, is undergoing a remarkable progresa In his 
development. What I know so far of this work is simply superb, 
repiv^bly poetic, much finer in details than Lohenffrin, and 
everywhere new, bold, original. At the same time a thematic 
elaboration as locld ■■ it is lo^cal, such aa no open heretoTore 
has shown." 

Wagner himself, in his essay on Music of the Future 
(VII. 160, 163), has these interesting remarks to offer 
on his score: — 

"Tbii work I am willing to sntimlt to the severest tests that 
rasnlt from my theoretic aMertiou* ; not because I formed it In 

148 TBI8TAV AMmaa^mat wmttm 

aocoxdanee with my th60iy,-«te all teoix.iVM namtiMtf to- 
gotten by me, —bat beouiie hen at Init I mond abMit wlOi 4iw 
utmost freedom and tlie moat abaoliita din^gMd to atfasy tiwo- 
letical consideration, in andli a.manner that In the ooozae of the 
eitecation I became awaira that I went to beyond my q^rten. 
Believe me, there is no g r e ater ^itoaiwue iSbma Ihia pectot fBsedim 
of thought daring compoaitioii, aneh aa I fait whfla at wokIl on 
IHitoa. Perhaps it becamapoiHihla to ma only tooi^^thiBt that 
a preceding period of refleotkm had hiTifonted ma aonawhatltt a 
shnilar way that my teacher oooa sawrted that he had ghao me 
strength by teaching me the moat difHoolt eontnpiiiital aria— 
strength not to write fogoea, bat to aeovre what atone wa aoqpfaa 
through strict exercise —IndependMiee^ omnfldenee.^ 

Bdlow's assertion that no previooa opera emt eompoaed 
was characterized by suoh loeid and logioal ttMmatie 
elaboratioiii hits the nail on the head. Herd^ for the 
first time^ was a musical score to which the test could 
be applied concerning which an English critic of litera- 
ture has said: '^ It is the^pe^ection of good English that 
jj^gejahould cohere with page in such a manner that only 
here and there can a few paragraphs be remoyed without 
doing injustice to them." That the (German critics of 
thirty years ago should have^ almost unanimouslyi 
pronounced this score "formless/' is one of those extiu- 
ordinary phenomena which will serve for the amazement 
and delectation of future generations. It was called 
"formless " because it did not follow the slovenly custom 
of making a simple mosaic of independent and uncon- 
nected arias, duos, choruses^ and ballets^ and calling it 
an opera! The gigantic intellects of these critics could 
not comprehend the simple fact that a work of Bxt, like 
an animal, to be "organically" formed, must be. united 
in aU its partSj and not, like the old-fashioned opera^ 


asgiDg-<^ tmconnecfed parts. The subtlety with which 
Wagner concatenated every bar of Tristan with every 
other bar in the score by means of reminiscent, charac- 
teristic melodies, affords on every page evidence of his 
subtle genius and amazing technical skill. But this 
whole question of Leading Motives will be treated in a 
special chapter, later on.^ 

The assertion that Tristan marks a new epoch in the 
evolution and ereaJtion of music calls for a few more 
specifications. We have just seen how it r evoluti onized 
^Q^Jorm of dramatic music by what Billow calls its un- 
precedented^^ lucid and logical thematic elaboration,'' 
or, more definitely, by the establishment of a genuinely 
organic connection of all parts of the drama — the dra- 
maJtis personoB being characterized as consistently in the 
music as in the poem. No less progressive is THstan 
in all the material factors of music — Instrumentation, 
Harmony, Melody, Rhythm.* The innovations in the 
orchestration are those which first move the average 
opera-goer. If a painter should discover and use a new 
spectrum with colors never before seen by mortal eyes, 
he would do for the sense of sight what Wagner has 
done in Tristan for the ear. What a marvellous variety 

1 Elaborate analyses of the motives in this score . (and the other 
music-dramas) may be found in Hans von Wolzogen's Thematisclier 
Leitfaden, A. Heintze's Tristan und Isolde, Gustav Kobb^'s Woffner 
Bioffraphy. In H. E. Krehbiel's Studies in the Wagnerian Drama 
there is an interesting comparison of Wagner's version of the Tristan 
Legend with those of Malory, Matthew Arnold, Tennyson, and Swin- 

* The fact that two dramas of the Tetralogy were completed before 
Tristan, is overlooked here, not only becaose Tristan was prodnced 
before those other works, but because it is more radical in its methods 
and deeper in its inspiration. It marks the climax of Wagner's creative 


TBisTAN Axnb mourn' at wnmm 

^ft^me^orsy many of tbem «nlaidy rMwr<aL fliajniiriflai 
palette s,, has he layished on this MOiel Tet all HdB 

^Bensuoiis be auty is plaeed e giaiely in tibe serrioe of tibe 
^amatic e motion which it ia intended to jatensifr * At 
l^iSFduch is nis intention; the oxehesti% he bujb, ahoold 
never attract attention to itself bat ^should serve 
merely as a coloring material to beautify and enqihidBe 
the action." Shall we ohide him ii^ in TH&km, tibe 
orchestra dgeg ^sometimeej ggnaj^ etely abeoirb oar atten- 
tion,— especL^Jyln the li ove-itao^ — m epite ci liH Aeo- 
ries and itif^nfimifly- i^ntA ^1 JTRmy i^^fln^ an ^ rol^dna d 

^e instrumentation Ja? how the strings and wwd*wiiid 
prevail, the brass being used chiefly to eioieli iiit har- 
monic tone-colors, except at a climax.^ • 

While the new orchestral colors in TWaton fascinate 
every one from the beginning, the equally OQgiiUhLimd 
much more important new .h gjmonicLjprogres^ aMU-ajid 
modulations a;re apt at first to repel a certain dass of 
hearers whose brains do not readily assimilate new 
impressions. Indeed, from the severe and (sometimes, 
at least) sincere condemnation of modem discords pro- 
nounced by conservative critics one would infer that 
they actually give them physical pain. This is to be 
regretted; but if these persons will read a history of 
music they will discover that conservative minds were 
always thus affected whenever an epoch-making composer 
enlarged the freedom of hann^c progi^eaaions. The 
appreciation of harmony is, in fact, entirely an acquired 

1 Bat the " boUer-factory " joke continnes to floarish in spite of the 
fact that the principal objection advanced against TrUtan by the box- 
holders of the Metropolitan Opera-honse in New York was that the 
mnsie was so soft that it did not permit of the usual operatic oonywia- 
tion without eliciting a chorus of hisses ! 


taste; the ancient Greeks had none, and It is only 
within the last three centoties that it has become an im- 
portant element in mosio — to-day the most important of 
all. When, at the beginning of the Bcventeeoth century, 
the "Italian Wagner," Monteverde, boldly used such a 
horrid discord as the tmprepared dominant seventh — 
which to-day enters into the simplest pastoral and 
cradle songs — Dr. Hanslick — beg pardon! — Signor 
Axtusi wrote a severe treatise on The Imperfectiotu of 
Modem Music (2 vols. 1600 to 1630) in which he accused 
Monteverde of having " lost sight of the proper function 
of music, which is to give pleasure." Strange to say, 
every one of the great composers foUowii^ Monteverde 
"foi^t the proper function of music," if we are to be- 
lieve the Hanslicks of their period. Mozart's maxim 
that music should "please " even in heart-rending situa- 
tions is often quoted. But Mozart's best music did not 
"please" his contemporaries. The Austrian Emperor 
voiced the general sentiment when he said there were 
"too many notes" in one of his operas; to which Mozart 
boldly replied: "Precisely as many as there ought to 

To realize the extraordinary harmonic originality of 
Wagner, we must bear in'mmd that he outstripped his 
generation not only once, like Monteverde and Mozart, 
^d the other great composers, but twice. The criticisms 
quoted in preceding chapters show how far ahead of their 
generation Tannhduser and Lohengrin were. Even the 
liberal Spohr — noted for his harmonic boldness — drew 

1 Soma of Hotart'B finest qnkitata were ones Mnt back to the palH 
lUbert fioin Florence, In the belief that the bold and hotbI hkrmonlM 
la tbem were mlipHnU. 

can hear this whole opera wi 
To-day, of course, Lohengrin 
according to Dr. Hanslick (P 
at the Uniyersity of Vienna 
formance would be equivalent 
as well as the hearers " ; while 
critic, Louis Ehlert, wrote ii 
modulations in Parsifal^ that ^ 
composers modify our harmonic 
sity for ''criminal assault '^ {Ver 
the farce goes on merrily, from g 
Thousands, even of those who ha 
grin, naively fancied — as musics 
that the limits of their own intell 
of musical evolution, and indignai 
run against a Tristan. What fool 
If those who ciy out against 
cause they are not ''beautiful" 
apply their theory to the literary < 
at once how ridiculous it is. Kin 
ful," neither is Othello. The emo 
are those of tragic passion, grandei 
sadness, but not the tender emot 
the Beautiful. In the songs as 
Elsa, Wagner has shown that n( 
beautiful music than hf^- ^ 
ant "Dafl"**^ — 


alatigne alone can ex^reas tragic ^Qsiooa; JQSt as a 
dramatiBt in a thrilling situation does not break the 
spell b; letting some one prematurely tell how it is all 
going to end, so Wagner avo ida cade nces and premature 
concords, and passes on "from one discord to another, 
tCus keeping the feelings of the hearer at a high state 
of tension until the end is reached. The younger gen- 
eration of musicians love Wagner's discords and modu- 
lations, as they do those of Chopin, because they afford 
a glimpse into hitherto unsuspected relationships be- 
tween remote keys; for discord is but "harmony ill 
understood." They love them also because to them they 
owe the aesthetic pleasure of sadness, which is so much 
more intense than the pleasure of joy. 

Technically,* it may be said in brief that historians 
of the fatore will record as one of Wagner's greatest 
achierementa that in IViatan he made harmonies of the 
nin th as natural as chords of the seventh. To me — 
and I am sure to many others — chords of the ninth are 
not discords, but the most voluptuous of concords, espe- 
cially in the great love-duo, where they are as common as 
the major triad is in ordinary music. 'So other com- 
poser has known how to use these delicious "discords " 
for such ravishing modulations. Let me add the words 
of a specialist, Professor J. C. Fillmore: — 

"The eaaeDtial pecnllarity of Wagner's faannoniefl lies In his 
recDgnmoo of tbe value and natnralneBB of tiie thiid and sixUi 
reUtlonahlpe. There had been hlnla of this in Beethoven, Schu- 
bert and otheis. But in Wagner the principle comea, for tbe flnt . 
time, to lU fnll rect^nltion and appieciaUon. He broadened the 
conception of tonality to Its utmoat limiia, to the utter confiuion 
o( contempoiary theoilits. No stricture on bitn was more oonunoa 


tbui tlie aesertioD that bis music was void _ol tonality, tt, la ttow 
begtnumg (o be recognized that eveo those harmonic connectionB 
in bia workD which once seemed moat forced, itrange, and lumat- 
ural, aie really eimple and easily comprcbended. He merely dis- 
covered, clearly recognized and applied, certain natural principles 
of harmonic relationships which bad been oTerlooked by his prede- 
cessors. This is ono of the stroogost evidences of his genius. It 
was real creative insight." ' 


It is ii curious fact that in one point of musical ter- 
minology the English language has an advantage over 
the German, We have the word tune to difitinguish 
dance-melody from what may be called dramatic or emo- 
tional melody; whereas Wagner, when he.wishedtomake 
clear to the German " experts " the differetuw between 
tune and true melody, had to introduce for tiH Utter 
the Grfiek word tnelns. To the illiterate in music, "mel- 
ody " always means tune. If you were invited by Texas 
cowboys to "give us a tune," and complied by playing 
sonietliing by Haydn or Mozart, instead of Yankee Doodle 
or Fisher's JJornpipe, they would inform you that they 
did not care for "scientific music," or, perhaps, they 
would ask you when you were going to "quit tuning and 
begin to play." Nor would you blame the cowboys, for 
they cannot be expected to recognize as melody anything 
that is not " quick and devilish," and fit to be danced to. 
But what shall we say to the fact that, only a few 
decades ago, the leading musical critics of Europe and 

1 The words of Cervantes that " Rood wits jump; a word to the wise 
1b enouKh," should bo borne iu mind by those who lind no " eonnocting 
links " in Wagner's modiiliiliooH. In music as in literature geniaa con- 
sists in discovering new relationships between remote things. 


America could not — or s&id they could not — find any 
melody in Wagner's operas? Even Sienzi was "an 
opera without music," i.e. melody. Later came Lohen- 
grin "without a bar of melody," and by the time that it 
had become orthodox and melodious — although the 
opera itself, I need not say, had not been changed a bit 
— Tristan bad appeared, to be in turn declared unmelo- 
dious. The best-known German critic of this genera- 
tion, Dr. Hanslick, wrote, as late as 1883, that such 
" continuous melody " as occurs in Triatan is not true 
melody; and that even in the loi^ love-duo, there is 
only one melodic pearl I H. Dom wrote, in 1876, that 
true melody "is a tare thing in Wagner, anyway; in 
Tiittan then it pra^icaUy none at aUI" And Lonis 
Ehlert asserted that Wagner is less a melodist than a 
Thetnatiker, that he rarely gives us more than the " bud " 
of a melody 1 

Biaum teneatia amicif But W^ner is not the only 
composer in whom these funny "experts" found no 
"melody." Louis Ehlert wrote, inhia essay on Brahms, 
that melody is the "soul" of musics that it is rare as 
pearls; that "Bach and Handel, in proportion to their 
other grandeur, had it in no great measure " 1 And the 
Austrian critic, Grillparzer flatly denied that there was 
any real melody in Weber's Euryajithel So the "soul " 
of music is not to be sought for in Bach or Handel or 
Weber or Wagner! For that we must go to the tuneful 
Bellini and Balfe and Flotow. What an extraordinary 
fact here stares us in the face — the fact that the official 
esthetics of musical criticism in Germany up to the last 
quarter of the nineteenth century, was identical with the 
taste of the Texas cowboy, the whistling street urchiSf 

t"-"^'^' '° for. ^ . 


*»»„"" "-114 ^^ sod .• '«"», 


Wagner referred, in his superb essay on the Music of 
the Future (IV. 166-173), when he said that "it belongs 
to the childhood of the musical art, wherefore the exclu- 
sive delight in it must appear to us childish." It must 
be distinctly understood that he did not deny the proper 
uses and value of such dance-tunes. He paid his willing 
tribute to the pretty airs of Bellini and Rossini; what 
he denied was that the musio-drama is the proper place 
for such tunes — tunes which, in the old-fashioned 
Italian opera, are always of about the same character, 
and adorned with the same merry runs and trills, whether 
the situation be a wedding or a funeral or a mad-scene. 

The blunder made by the Texas cowboys and by 
Messrs. Hanslick, Dom, Eblert, and Orillparzei, is that 
they mistake the simplest, crudest, and most primitive 
form of melody — dance-tune — for melody itself. There 
is a nobler kind of melody — dra matic melody, which 
ranks as highly above this dance-tune as a Shakespearian 
drama does above a pantomimic ballet. The dance is 
entirely out of place in a serious drama. Wagner not 
only eliminates the ridiculous ballet from the plot, 
he alsb~?HJSmaies the dance-rhytfims from the melody, fol- 
lowing the precedence of Mozart and Weber in their 
most inspired moments (in Don Juan and Euryanthe). 
This is perhaps the greatest of all his great achieve- 
ments; it inaugurates a new era in dramatic music. The 
difference between his method and the old style may be 
made clear in this way : ' in dance-tunes, at the end of 
every four, eight, or sixteen bars, there is a cadence, 
analogous to an end-rhyme. These systematic cadences 
seem very tiresome and superfluous to a modem listener; 
they remind him sometimes of a grasshopper which flies 


TBI8TAN ASJtUMMI^tmamiiffm 

eight feet| alights, flies ei|^t moze^ and so on. K<nr 
Wagner scorns this eig^t-bar anangenAnfc (whieh^ nor 
cording to the "experts '^ is essential to tme melodyl) 
and seldom uses a cadeno% <.s. tooehes gronad^ eioepfc ait 

£KF6n£L of an act. His melody, ' 
sweep — it is continuous, uninfterrupted, IOdo the lofty 
flight of an eagle, and in its most sublime momenfci 
affects the imagination like the irresistible movement of 
a planet. It is this elementary force and graadeur— • 
this overarching of a whole act with an unbroken mdody 
— this gradual unfolding of a stately osik from a simple 
melodic acorn (Leading Hotiye) -^ that imposes on tiie 
unmusical alike with ^the truly musicaL But in iatoo* 
ducing such an innovation in operatie melody, he seemed 
indeed a bold bad man. The babes cried for their toys; 
he gave them no eight-bar tunes to whistle in the street 
or to have the barrel-organs grind out for them. If all 
literary dramas had up to date been written in rhymed 
verse and a powerful author suddenly appeared who used 
only the continuous melody of prose, the case would be 
analogous to Wagner's. It is needless to add that this 
does not affect the poetic character of Wagner's music. 
Much of our best poetic literature has the form of prose, 
and the (Germans very sensibly give the name of poet 
not only to verse-makers but to all who devote them- 
selves to belles lettres. 

Wagner's treatment of melody inaugurates, as I have 
just said, a new era in dramatic music : it makes litera- 
ture (dramatic poetry) the basis of musical form, in place 
of the steps of the dance-hall. His melody is construfited. 
on dramatic, psychological principles; that is, it is ready 
to duxnge its rhythm or its tempo with the meaning ofeverjf 


line o f the poetry. An actor, ia reciting Shakespeare, 
does not talk slowly for five misutea, and then quickly 
for five minutes, as the singera do in the old-faahioned 
operas which are divided into slow and fast "numbers"; 
but he accelerates or retards his delivery according aa 
the emotional character of the lines calls for rapid or 
slow speech; a few words sufficing sometimes to make 
him modify his pace or tempo for a moment. This is 
the method followed in Wagner's music-dramas: the 
melody does not _im pose a monotonous dance-rhythm ou 
tti^^OfHs, but accepts its form from the poem to which 
it is wedded. By way of illustration, open the vocal 
score at random. On page 188 (Billow's original quarto 
edition) there are seventeen bars; and now note the 
changes in tempo and expression: ^'u forte; riten.; f; 
oocel. ; /; j»; af; crescendo; riteji. ; f; accel. ; f; p; sf; 
crescendo; very agitated; Jf; dimin. ; af; 'oery gradually 
becoming slower; decreaeittg in loudness, p. All these 
changes are on one page, requiring about half a minute 
in the performance! Can any one fail to see how this 
kind of melodic movement vivifies the score a thousand 
times more than the liveliest operatic dance-tunes of the 
regular, monotonous, four-bar pattern? No melody in 
these music-dramas? Goto! Wagner did not claim a 
straw too much when he asserted (VII. 172) that the 
music not only does not lose anything by this close union 
with the words of the poem, but gains a freedom and 
wealth of melodic development surpassing even the end- 
less variety and capacity of the symphony, which is not 
emancipated from the dance-form. 

No melody in Tristan! Why, the whole work, like a 
Bach score, is polyphonic^ that is, every harmonic part 


is a melody, a coatinuous melody. Often two or more 
melodies are heard at a time, in illustration of the com- 
plex dramatic emotion. It is a " forest of melodies " 
which the myopic cannot see on account of the "trees," 
The principal melody is now in the Toioe, anon in the 
orchestra. It is an emancipated melody, no longer 
dependent on the dancing-master's geometrical figures, 
but moving on with a free dramatic rubato; no longer 
imprisoned in one key, but going about from key to key, 
unfettered, on the bridge of modulation, thus illustrating 
the relationship of alt the keys. Wlmt shall we say of 
" experts " who could find no melody in a work in which 
not only the vocal parts are melodious, but every orches- 
tral instrument has its melody? Of experts who lavished 
their praises on Italian operas in which, as Wagner 
points out, only a tenth or twelfth part of the score is 
devoted to tunes, while the rest is an absolute desert of 
nnmelodious recitative? The Italians themselves, in- 
deed, did not care much even for these tunes, but only 
for the singers who embellished them with the vulgar 
cosmetic oijioriiure. Wliat the French composer Gr^try 
wrote from Rome in 1813 has always been true of Ital- 
ians at the opera: "If occasionally a crowd filled the 
theatre, it was to hear this or that singer; but when he 
was no longer on the stage, every one retired to his box 
to play cards or eat ice-cream, while the parterre 

How shallow, vulgar, trite, and commonplace are 
those popular operatic tunes compared with the poly- 
phony, the true harmonic melody, of Bach and Wagner! 
One thing, it is true, we cannot do with this harmonic 
melody : we cannot whistle it, cannot take it along with 


OS. It is like the coDtinuoos melody which the forest 
sings to us, and to heai which a^ain we must revisit the 
trees and the birds and the babbling brooks, with the 
clear nocturnal sky above, in which the countless stars 
are revealed ever more clearly and in greater numbers 
the longer we gaze at them. I cannot sufficiently urge 
the reader to look up the wonderful page of prose (VTI. 
174) in which W^ner thus describes nature's melody 
as the prototype of the TrMan melody. Then let Mm 
reflect on the fact that this exquisitely poetic and sug- 
gestive forest-simile afforded the critics do end of fnii 
and occasion for ridicule I 


Wagner once wrote that love was the subject of all his 
dramas, from the DtOchman to Parsifal. This assertion 
may be questioned in the case of Parsifal, in which love 

— at least romantic love — occurs only as an episodic 
possibility; but in the other operas, if we read their 
stories aright, the centre of interest is in the lovers — 
Senta and the Dutchman, Elisabeth and Tannh&uaer, 
Elsa and Lohengrin, Tristan and Isolde, Eva and Walter, 
SiegmundandSieglinde, Siegfried and Briinnhildc; while 
Sheingold, though it has not a pair of lovers, has for its 
moral the power of love, which has only one rival — the 
lust for gold. What strikes one first in Winer's treat- 
ment of the romantic passion is that he evidently believes 
that love, to be true, must be love at first sight. All 
his heroes and heroines fall in love at their first meeting 

— or before. The Dutchman arranges the matter with 
Daland in three short lines : — 


thuchmaa. — " Have you a daughier ? " 
Dalawi. — "Indeed 1 have, a. faithful child 1" 
Dutcaman. — "Letherbemy wife 1" 

This is on the European plan, through the parent, but 
Senta soon meets hia wishes more than half way. Elisa- 
beth falls in love with Taimhiluser at a vocal tournament, 
and subsaquently ooufessea her love d la Juliet, only 
"more so," for she has not the cover of darkness or the 
excuse of fancying herself alone. Elsa's .story is the 
most romantic of all: she falls in love with Lohengrin 
aa seen in a prophetic dream, while he declares his pas- 
sion at their first meeting. Walter tries to woo Eva ou 
the American plan, after church and sans chaperon; 
while Siegfried is still less ceremonious, for he finds 
the unprotected Brflnnhilde fast asleep in the woods and 
forthwith wooa and wins her with' a kisa — the longest 
kiss on record. 

Another amorous trait common to these dramas is the 
willingness and unselfish eagerness of the heroine to 
sacrifice herself for the welfare and life of her lover; it 
is the old feminine ideal of unselfish devotion which the 
modern viragoes of the so-called "woman's rights" 
movement are striving so hard to eradicate. Senta 
throws herself into the sea to redeem the unhappy mari- 
ner from the effects of his terrible curse. Elisabeth 
defies all the laws of propriety by interceding for the 
life of the sinful Taniihiiuser; she prays for his redemp- 
tion and dies of a broken heart. Elsa stands as a 
warning example : she is punished for not having uncon- 
ditional, unquestioning faith in her lover, Isolde expires 
on Tristan's body; while Briinnhilde immolates herself 
on Siegfried's funeral pyre. 


The essence of modem romantic love^ as compared 
^ith the crude amorous passion of the ancients^ lies in 
the recent development and emphasizing of the psychic, 
emotional, unselfish traits of that feeling. The ancient 
philosophers and poets treated 9iaii!^.lQye for woman ^as 
mere lust, as something degrading and less noble thsui 
lEriendship between men. Modem philosophy and poetry, 
on the contrary, make man's love for woman superior 
to friendship; make it, indeed, the most ennobling and 
refining influence in his life.^ The contrast between 
ancient passion and modem romantic love is embodied 
in the characters of Venus and Elisabeth. Venus shares 
only the joys of Tannhftuser, while Elisabeth is ready to 
suffer with him. Venus is carnal and selfish, Elisabeth 
affectionate and self-sacrificing. Venus degrades, Elisa- 
beth ennobles ; the depth of her love atones for the shal- 
low, sinful infatuation of Tannh&user. The abandoned 
Venus threatens revenge, the forsaken Elisabeth dies of 

In Tristan and Isolde we find all these traits of roman- 
tic love united. It is, more than any other, the drama 
of modem love, in which that passion is proclaimed as 
the SuPBEBiB Law of Natube. Yet there are few 
poems about which so much rubbish has ever been 
written. The lovers have been denounced as criminals, 
guilty of adultery; King Marke as a tiresome preacher 
and a fool for not killing his nephew on the spot. The 
magic potion, we have been told, makes mere puppets of 
the lovers; and H. Dom calls the play a chemical trag- 

^ The difference between ancient and modern loye is diieaned at 
great length in my treatise on Romantic Love and Perianal Reauty, 
Fifth edition, 1892. 


edy which "may be of interest to apothecaries, but to 
others ... it is extremely distasteful." Dr. Hanslick 
finds the "diseased kernel " of the tragedy in this, that 
the lovers are not like Hero and Leander and Romeo and 
Juliet, who fall passionately in love with each other at 
first sight, and need no potion to inspire passion. Let 
Ufl examine this last charge first; it throws a glaring 
light on the competence of these musical critica to judge 
Wagner as a poet. 

The very esBenije — moral and dramatic — of Wafer's 
tragedy lies in the fact that Tristan and Isolde loved 
each other before they drank the potion. This point is 
brought out repeatedly in the poem, so clearly that he 
must be a very hasty or obtuse reader who does not see 
it. Isolde's every action would betray her previous love 
even if we were not told in vivid lines how she had 
dropped the avenging sword when his eyes met hers. 
Of course she could not openly confess this love, because 
she was a woman, and because Tristan had slain her 
cousin and bridegroom. As for Tristan, he not only 
confesses his previous love, but tells us explicitly (in 
the great duo) why, in spite of it, he had come to woo 
her not for himself, but for the King. It was done in a 
fit of defiance of his enemies; he has gone to find a bride 
for his uncle in order to belie their insinuations that he 
was plotting to be the King's heir. Such was the situa- 
tion on the ship before the potion was drunk. They 
both loved — hopelessly, for she was the King's bride. 
They both drank the potion heroically in the belief that 
it would end their life and suffering: when fate inter- 
vened in the substitution of the love-potion for the 
poison, and willed that they should love and live; and 
in face of fate man is powerless. 


But why, if Tristan and Isolde loved before they drank 
from the cup, introduce that feature at all? For poetic, 
psychologic, and dramatic reasons. In the first place, 
it is a part of the old legend, an interesting bit of mediae- 
val local color. It recalls the time when all diseases of 
the body, all strong affections of the mind, were attrib- 
uted to potions and other forms of magic influence. For 
those who have not siifficient poetic sensibility and im- 
agination to sympathize with such a motive, Tristan 
was not written: they will find a more congenial sphere 
of enjoyment in mathematics or osteology than in poetry 
and music. 

In the second place, a poet with Wagner's keen dra- 
matic instincts could not have possibly failed to utilize 
the love-potion, on account of its theatric value: it 
makes the underlying motive of the drama, the magic, 
irresistible power of Lovey visible to the spectators. The 
drinking of the potion, with the wonderful music accom- 
panying it, is one of the most thrilling scenes in all 
dramatic literature, and it would have been the climax 
of imbecility to omit this grand dramatic opportunity 
provided by the legend. Yet Dr. Hanslick says the love- 
potion is "undramatic"! Funny, isn't it? Why did 
Shakespeare become a dramatist instead of a mere book- 
writer? Was it not because he, the greatest poet that 
ever lived, felt that in order to make the deepest possi- 
ble impression on men and women he must make his 
poetic inspirations visible on the stage — that he must 
reveal the deepest feelings of the soul to the eyes in 
realistic action? That is the advantage the living drama 
has over the printed page; and when the poem is allied 
with music, we have a further reason for retaining such 


a motive as the lore-potion, in the remarkable affinity 
that exists between music and the supernatural which 
all the great composers have felt instinctively.^ 

There is still another point from which we may view 
and welcome the love-potion, and a most important one : 
it purifies the moral atmosphere of the drama. With- 
out the irresistible compulsion of the drink, Tristan's 
actions would be a breach of faith, and his love on the 
level of an ordinary French drama of conjugal infidelity; 
with the magic potion he becomes a victim of inexorable 
fate and excites our pity so that we sympathize with him 
even though his conduct may seem reprehensible. And 
this conduct is not so reprehensible as it seems at first 
sight; indeed, in no instance have the hostile commen- 
tators HO glaringly exposed their obtuseness as in their 
failure to see that Wagner has entirely omitted the adul- 
teroTis element of the legend. His lovers are free from 
such guilt. Their sense of lionor and pride was so great 
that they had both resolved to die with the secret of 
their love locked in their hearts, when the elixir com- 
pelled them to confess it. The King does indeed come to 
meet the maid chosen for him, but nothing is said about 
marriage. After their arrival in Cornwall the lovers 
meet only twice; the first time in the garden, where 
they discourse of night and death, and Tristan is fatally 
wounded; the second time in Bretagne, when Isolde 
arrives just in time to catch him dying in her arms. He 
had not made love to the King's wife, only to his bride, 
his betrothed. This is proved by King Marke's words, 
"Der mein Wille nie zu nahen wagte," etc., in his first 
great monologue, and still more unmistakably by his 
' See the later chapter on Myth orui Muiic. 


words a4; the close of the tragedy, when he tells Isolde 
that he has come not to punish, but to give her in mar- 
riage to Tristan. How could he have done this if she 
had been his wife? Bear these things in mind, and you 
will see that not only is Wagner's play free from immo- 
rality, but that there is nothing "unmanly" in the 
King's action in chiding Tristan, instead of chopping off 
his head. He was an old man, he loved Tristan like an 
own child, and Isolde had been none of his own seeking. 
But is it not immoral to make love to a man's be- 
trothed? Not necessarily. Here we need not fall back 
on the irresistible might of the love-potion. There 
was something more irresistible than even a magic drink 
which made Tristan claim Isolde — a law of nature — 
the Law of Love. He loved her, and she loved him; 
therefore it was not only their right but their duty to 
possess each other. An accident had condemned Isolde 
to marry a decrepit old man who loved lier not and 
whom she loved not. Such a marriage would have been 
a crime, not only against the lovers, but against nature ; 
for, as Schopenhauer has so forcibly pointed out, in the 
choosing of mates the welfare of the neoct generation is at 
stake. Love chooses youth, health, beauty; health and 
beauty are hereditary: hence love-matches provide for 
a healthy, beautiful progeny, while marriages for money 
and rank, where there is no love, and one of the two 
generally old, ugly, or decrepit, have the opposite result. 
This great Law of Love, which we all feel but which 
Schopenhauer was the first to formulate, is the moral 
key to Wagner's tragedy, and explains why every specta- 
tor sympathizes with the interrupted lovers and not with 
the King. It is here that the influence of Schopenhauer 



on Wagner may perhaps be traced, and not, as many of 
the commentators have fancied, in the longing of the 
lovers for a blending of their aoula in death, which is a 
common pantheistic notion thouaands of years older than 

To sum up: the key-note of Wagner's T^-istan and 
Isolde is Schopenhauer's sublime thought that Love is 
the highest of all moral and hygienic laws, because it 
provides for the welfare of the next generation, which is 
placed in our hands and to which everything must be 
sacrificed. The ma^ic potion \a simply the visible dra- 
matic symbol of Love's irresistible power, and as anch it 
pervades, both poetically and musically, the whole drama. 
The time will come when Schopenhauer's great thought 
(which made so deep an impression on Darwin too) 
will be fully appreciated, and when loveless marriages 
for rank and monej will be considered as immoral as 
adultery. It is interesting to find that this same thought 
was the topic which engaged Wagner in the last hours 
of his life. His last essay, dated two days before hia 
death (and never finished), traces the degeneracy of the 
human race, and its average inferiority in health and 
beauty to animals, to the violation of the Law of Love by 
marriages for rank and money — Konventiona-HeiraZhen.^ 

A word more about the poetic aspect of the love-duo. 
Where the music is so ravisliingly beautiful, one might 
well pardon the poet for nodding; and this excuse ap- 
pears to be generally accepted even by Wagner's admir- 
ers, who seem inclined to admit that metaphysical 

1 EntJBurfe, Frai/m^nte, elc., 125-129. See also the aoalysU of the 
Trulnn Prelude, in this same posthummis voliinie (101-103), where the 
Bubjeciof the trageity is referred to as "the revenge ol tbe Jealous 
goddess of love for her sappre«sed righto." 


discussions on love and death are not exactly the topics 
dear to lovers. Not to ordinary lovers, quite true. But 
Tristan and Isolde are not ordinary lovers. They are 
forced to love, but feel that they cannot enjoy that love 
unless their hopes and beliefs regarding a union of souls 
in death are realized; hence, to them, love and death are 
the most natural topics in the world. Moreover, that is 
by no means all they talk about. Bead over the love- 
scene again, and you will find that much of it is taken 
up by tiie alternate confessions of the two as to their 
love at first meeting and the reasons why they con- 
cealed that love : and this is precisely what lovers just 
engaged are most likely to do. I would not say, how- 
ever, that poetically this duo is the finest part of the 
drama. That distinction belongs to Isolde's swan-song 
''Mild und Leise," which is perhaps the most wonderful 
page in all the dramatic literature of Germany. In 
it the poetry of pantheism becomes a religious ecstasy. 
The words themselves are hete impalpable fragrance 
and music. He who can even read this apotheosis with- 
out a thrill of emotion and moistened eyes is to be pro- 
foundly pitied, for he has not the love of divine art in 
his soul. But oh, the impossibility of translation! 

It would take a separate volume to analyze the musi- 
cal beauties of the Tristan score. I will therefore stop 
to call attention to only one maligned episode. The 
music of King Marke's great monologue in the second 
act has often been called tiresome, while it is one of the 
profoundest and most deeply emotional scenes. Unfor- 
tunately, it comes immediately after the grandest climax 
ever built by musician, — and after that climax of emo- 
tional music almost anything else ever written would 


seem an aDti-climaz. In that love-duo Wagner has 

achieved for music what Shakespeare did for the expres- 
sion of love in poetry; and as Shakespeaie's treatment 
of romantic love haa been the model for poets ever since, 
80 this duo will remain for centuries the fount of inspi- 
ration for all writers of amorous music. 

Audiatur et altera pars ! A conscientious historian of 
Wagner's life in peace and war must not neglect to cast 
an occasional glance into the enemy's camp, Let us 
begin with H. Dorn, a composer himself, who wrote 
eight operas, including one on a Nibelung plot. Of all 
these operas not a note survives; yet it would be rash to 
say that tie did not immortalize himself, for he will 
surely be known for centuries aB the author of the fol- 
lowing criticisms on Tiistan and Isolde: — 

" It is the most unfortunate clioice of & text-book ever m»de by 
a really prominent composer"; "devoid of all moral ba^i." 
" Harmon; is used in a nay which scofis at iu very name." "Of 
melody there is practically hod e." "Tristan and Iiolde, considered 
■B a work of art, is and remaine an absolute failure." 

Of Dr. Hanslick's opinions some have already been 
quoted. Here are a few more : — 

The first act is "intolerably tedious." The loveJao reveals "a 
hopeless poetic Impotence." "A more anti-vocal, unsingable style 
than that ot Trislan could hardly be found anywhere." We muAt 
" protest most emphatically against the idea of accepting this assas- 
rination of sense and language, this stuttering and stammering, 
these bombastic, artificial monologues and dialogues, void ot all 
natural senlimeiit, as a poetic work of art." "The simplest song 
of Mendelssohn appeals more to heart and soul than t«n Wagner 
operas & la Tristan and Isolde." 



Dr. Hansliok's '' method " comes into play very subtly 
when he endeavors to crush his opponents by citing the 
'^confession" of a "sincere admirer" of Tristauy Louis 
Ehlerty that "the red-pencil is useless here where only 
a sword can help." Here are a few more of Ehlert's 
opinions: — 

<• Considered purely as a poem, few wUl be able to read Tristan 
withoat comic emotions/^ As a poet, Wagner is ^^ a dilettante **; 
Markers monologue produces **a perfectly irresistible desire to 
lao^** and is ** musicaUy tedious.** Wagner has written no operas 
equal to Don Juan or Figaro, The passion in Tristan is not beau- 
tiful, but a *^ Medusalike distortion.'* And, to sum up, **a8 a 
rule Wagner* 8 opponents are right in aU their censures!*^ 

A nice sort of a "sincere admirer," oh Hanslick! 
Another great Austrian critic, Ludwig Speidel, calls the 
introduction and finale "lyric pap," which, I suppose, 
must be Viennese wit. According to Eduard Schelle, 
the TSista/a poem is " in every respect an absurdity, and 
the music, with some exceptions, the artificial brew of a 
decayed imagination." A few other pet names bestowed 
on tills music-drama by German critics are "silly," 
"higher cat-music," "a monstrosity," "sonorous mo- 
notony," "grinning and bawling," "a tone-chaos of 
heart-rending chords." 

Not all the critics, of course, were so boorish: some, 
more in sorrow than in anger, advised Wagner to turn 
back from his path into the musical wilderness and 
travel in the operatic highroad of Lohengrin. Instead 
of quoting their lucubrations, it will conduce more to 
the reader's amusement, if I cite from Thayer's life of 
Beethoven the remarks of one of the kind-hearted critics 
of that day advising that composer to use his "acknowl* 


edged great talent" in returning from the erroneous 
style of hia third (Eroica.) symphony and going back 
to the lucid simplicity of the first: — 

" I am certainlfoneof Herr Beethoven's mofit siDcere admirers, 
but iu tbia nark even 1 must confess that there ie too much that is 
shrill and bizarrt^ whereby the comprehension is greatly impeded 
and the unity slmost lost. [So it seems Beethoven, too, had 
■■no form."] The symphony would gain immeasutablj if Bee- 
thoven coald mako op his mind to shorten It [how abont using 
" a sword " V] and glre the whole more cieamesa and oni^." 

Another critio, leas amiable but more "witty," 

"Some, Beethoven's special friends, assert that this very sym- 
phony Is a masterwork, tliat this was the true style for higher 
music, and thai if it does not please to-day, this is only because tha 
public is not siifficiently cultivated to appreciate all these beauties ; 
but that ajler afein thougand years it irotitd not fail of its effect." 

Note the fine sarcasm in that last line — the sneer at 
Beethoven's "music of the future." What a grand 
privilege it is to be a musical critic! No other profes- 
sion, not even that of a circus clown, affords such 
glorious opportunities for making a fool of one's self. 

On Dec. 2, 1886, the New York Times displayed the 
following headlines over an account of the first perform- 
ance in America of Tristan and Isolde: "A Work not 


Symphonic Music in the Opera." On Jan. 23, 1887, 
the rimes had to "eat crow," as the politicians say, by 
informing its readers, after the sixth performance of the 
same work: "The receipts were the largest ever taken 
in since German opera was first given in this city." 



Some critics baye had the good sense to confess their 
former errors frankly. The English historian, W. S. 
Kockstro, is a notable instance. Before his conversion 
he wrote that Senta's Ballad would be remembered ages 
after Wagner's operas had ceased to be performed in 
their entirety, and other things to that effect. After 
his conversion Mr. Kockstro wrote in his History of Music 
that '^ two thousand years ago the Antigone of Sophocles 
affected the Greeks as Tristan and Isolde affects us 
now." The opening bars are "ravishingly beautiful,'' 
and the whole work ''may be fitly described as one long 
unbroken stream of melody, from beginning to end — 
melody infinitely more impassioned, and not a whit less 
tuneful, even at the moment of Isolde's death, than the 
most captivating strains in the poisoning scene in Lucre' 
zia Borgia.^^ But even Mr. Bockstro was not quite cour- 
ageous and manly enough to confess that the fault was 
his own. He makes the ''unintelligent eulogies" of 
Wagner's friends, "repeated ad nauseaniy" responsible 
for all the damage. Of course — no doubt — if the few 
critics who did praise Wagner — Liszt, Cornelius, Franz, 
Pohl, Nohl, Raff, BiUow, Kohler — had joined in the 
general chorus of abuse and misrepresentation, Mr. 
Bockstro would have found out much sooner that Tristan 
is brimful of melody I Dreadful fellows, those Wagner- 
ites arel 




In Munich itself, the reception of Trialan was, as wa 

have seen, enthusiastic; but this was largely due to the 
influence of royal favor and the presence among the spec- 
tators of many Wagneritea from outside. The Munich- 
ers themselves had not the remotest idea that they were 
looking on a musical genius greater than any that Ger- 
many had ever seen, and with the grandest art-work 
produced up to that date. Of the local papers only 
one assumed an attitude that was at least neutral, if 
not friendly. How immeasurably Tristan was above 
the head of the local editors may be inferred from the 
fact that when Ludwig Nohl in 1864 sent a favorable 
article on the Flying Dutchman to the leading newspaper, 
the editor decliued it on the ground that while he found 
his writings on Beethoven and Mozart excellent, he 
could not understand liis admiration for Wagner, who 
"placed Mozart so low" (!) and whose poems were so 

In the hope that Tristan would soon find its way from 

Munich to other opera-houses, Wagner was once more 

doomed to disappointment. Even in Munich it was not 

sung again till four years later. Weimar was the first 

1 Nohl, Seuti Skizzenbuch, p. 13B. 



city to repeat the experiment (1874)| the departure of 
Dingelstedt having left the field free again for the former 
modem tendencies. Berlin came next; in 1876, with a 
good performance, the result of which, howeyer, as 
Ehlert chronicles, was '^ an honorable fiasco " — for the 
audience ! But the greatest blow to Wagner's hopes was 
the death of his ideal tenor, Schnorr, only a week after 
he had returned to Dresden from Munich. His adipose 
physique had made him liable to illness; he had com- 
plained to the Munich stage-authorities of the intolera- 
ble draught to which he was exposed while lying on his 
couch throughout the third act of TriBtan; no attention 
was paid to these complaints, and the result was an 
attack of inflammatory rheumatism to which he suc- 
cumbed.* Unscrupulous enemies of course asserted that 
Wagner's music had killed him. Schnorr's last moments 
were filled with apprehensions that his friend might be 
held responsible for his fate; his last regrets were that 
now he could not live to create the rOle of Siegfried. 
On the news of his death, Wagner hastened to Dresden 
with Btilow to attend his funeral; they arrived a few 
hours too late. It was a bright day in July; the coach- 
man informed them that 20,000 singers were coming to 
Dresden for a festival. "Alas," said Wagner to him- 
self, *Hhe singer is no more." On him he had placed 
so many hopes for Tristan and the Nibelung's Sing ! 

Other disappointments followed. Even a king had 
not the power to arrest the fury of the anti- Wagnerian 
Fates. Everything was anti-Wagnerian — politics, re- 
ligion, society, musicians; all these forces combined in 
a frantic effort to drive him out of the city. His dream 
of happiness was over. 


176 fozjmS3hmrii^imt0J^^ 

' A*Ji. 

"There was a short tinu^** h0 wrote 16 Inn Willi in SqplQBl* 
ber, "when I really heliered I was dreaming^ so liapff wis agr 
mood. This was the time of thi9 2VMcm xehaaasls. HnlSbibmA 
tbne in my life I was hero embedded with my ivliole matmw azt, 
as on a bank of loTe. . . . Tlieflzstpertomaiieewillioiitapiiiliie 
andience only among omnMlves, gifeii out as a diesB-MkaiMd» was 
like the realization of tho impoasibla.** 

Then came the death of Sohnoir. 

"Since that time I am in a sad mood. Iwaa lonely iMMif Hm 
high Alps, now I am lonely here. I eannot qwak to aagr onob and 
am always supposed to be oat of town. Ibe wondxoos love o| Hm 
King keeps me alive ; he takes oaze of me, as no hnman Wnf eiver 
took care of another. I Uve within him, and will live to emil a|9^ 
works for him. For myself I really live no longer. • . • WiflUm 
of workconsomesalimythoo^ts. Ibe J^^fMim^miaxenowtoie 
completed." • 

One might have thought that an artist who thus lived 
in retirement, deyoted solely to the creation of music- 
dramas, might be left alone by political and religious 
schemers. But Wagner was '^ the King's favorite ''; that 
was enough to create enemies by wholesale. How they 
chuckled when, previous to the Tristan performance, the 
King did not attend some Wagner evenings given at the 
Opera. The rumor immediately spread that the ^'&vor- 
ite'^ had fallen. But the simple truth was that the 
King had begun his habit of enjoying Wagner's operas 
as sole spectator. Disappointed in this insinuation, the 
enemies put their heads together and hatched out canard 
after canard. Nothing was too mean and contemptible 
for their Philistine minds to stoop to. They declared 
^that while he was living in luxury he allowed his wife 
in Dresden to starve. Her denial of this slander was 


briefly referred to in a previous page. Here is the noble 
and womanly letter she wrote, a few weeks before her 
death: — 

^*The malicious romon concerning my husband, which haTS 
been for some time published by Vienna and Munich newspapen, 
oblige me to declare that I have received from him upto thia day 
an income amply sufficient for my maintenance. I take this oppor- 
tunity with the more pleasure as it enables me to put an end to 
at least one of the numerous calumnies launched against my 

Equally absurd and groundless were the divers politi- 
cal rumors disseminated by the enemy. We have seen 
that, according to his own statement, the King was in the 
habit of looking at the ceiling and whistling, if he ever 
broached a political subject. He was accused of being 
the head of a " demagogic clique '' which tried to incline 
the King to favor "Prussian designs *'; whereas, in real- 
ity, his feelings towards Bismarck and Prussia were 
anything but friendly. The fact that his former revolu- 
tionary partner, August Roeckel, recently released after 
thirteen years' imprisonment, visited him at this time, 
gave occasion to bring to the fore the former " rebellious " 
and "unloyal" conduct of Wagner at Dresden; but, as 
Von Btilow pointed out,^ Koeckel had come to Munich 
merely to hear Tristan; and as regards the progressist 
party, BCilow gives his assurance that Wagner kept apart 
from it so completely that he did not even know the 
leaders personally and had only once called on the editor 
of the Neueste Ndchrichten in order to thank him for hav- 
ing preserved a purely "literary" attitude to¥rard the 

2 Letter to the Berlin Kreuzzettung, printed Dae 21, ISSB. 


scandals in circulation* Wagner had roflbred too nuioh 
from political matters to care to be personally conoemed 
in them again. Bdlow relates that even at Ztlrioh he 
had kept aloof from other. Qerman fngitiTes, many of 
whom maligned him in consequence. Bfllow also gives 
his solemn assurance that in the royal intervievs with 
the architect Semper at which he was present^ no allu- 
sion whatever was made to politics; and he points out 
finally, regarding the liberal partji that it was at any 
rate devoted to the royal house — a virtoe whieh tliie 
native-clerical party could not dainu 

It was from this clerical. Ultramontane, or old-Oafholic 
party that the principal opposition came. Grounds for 
attack were easily manufactured; for, had not Wagner 
shown in his writings sympathy, at first with the left 
wing of Hegelianism, and, more recently, with Schopen- 
hauer, the scoffer at church and religion? The following 
citation from an editorial article in the VosHsche ZeUung 
of Berlin (Dec. 17, 1865) shows what tactics were adopted 
by the Ultramontane writers : — 

" The reTelations regarding the abyss into which honest Bavaria, 
together with its old dynasty, was to be precipitated by Richard 
Wagner are becoming more and more gmesome " (I) ** * Xot music 
alone,* says an Ultramontane pai>er, * ia in question, but obviously 
an entire system for which he wished to make a oonyert on the 
throne. His intention is to place art, and esjwcially the theatre, 
in a relation to the people which has heretofore been held by 
religion.* " 

More effective even than these political and religious 
canards were the rumors concerning the way in which 
Wagner was depleting the royal treasury. Fabulous 
sums were mentioned as having been paid to him, and 


the OQmic papers represented him as knocking at the 
door of the mint whenever his pocket was empty. Doc- 
umentary evidence that he coold not get money when- 
ever he wanted it may be found in some letters addressed 
by him to the vocEd teacher, Friedrich Schmitt, in 
Vienna.* In one, dated March 12, 1865, he begs his 
friend to raise a sum of a thousand florins for him, for 
a year, at from ten to twenty per cent interest. On 
Oct. 11, 1865, reference is again made to the necessity 
of getting this check. Now it is not likely that he 
would have borrowed money at such, a rate of interest if 
he could have had it from the King for the asking. On 
Oct. 22, 1866, he writes again to Schmitt: — 

««Tluit yoUf too, shoold to frivolooily — pftidon me — have be- 
lieved the cnudest gUninnifti regardiiig the King's prodigility, u to 
aerionaly beliere in the 70,000 florins which he was said to have 
given me on my birthday, and that yon — in consequence of this 
beUef — begged me to interfere in your diificolties, has really dumb- 
foonded me. . . . Against such mini^rehensions no weapon 
is now left me except a leaort to aUenoe. My only desire is for 
the continued prosperity and power of my beloved King, who, it 
seems, is the only person that reaUy understands me/' 

In the same letter he says : — 

*^ My influence on the King can therefore relate only in a general 
way to the course which I must wish that a monarch, supported by 
the love of his subjects in troublous times, should take in the effort 
to free himself so far as to be able to appear openly and eneiget- 
ically as a patron of the arts.'* 

It was precisely here that the chief trouble arose. The 
architect Semper had been asked, early in 1865, to pre- 

1 Extracts from these are printed in Oesterlein's Wagner Kataloff^ 
m. 16-19. 



pare a model of a ner Waguei theaitre to be built in 
Munich. Semper complied with the request^ and his 
model was immensely admired at Zflrioh, where it was 
first placed on view. The crisis appears to have been 
precipitated by the report Qtalb thia theatre was actnally 
to be built, and that it was to cost seven miUion marks 
(91,760,000). That suoh a mm should be drawn from 
the royal treasniy and deducted from the petqoiaitea of 
beaorocratio circles was not to be tolerated. In later 
years King Ludwig expended much larger sums on hia 
luxurious castles, f&r away from the oi^, where no one 
was benefited by them. The snccess of the Bajfreath 
Festivals has shown, moreover, that many millions of 
dollars would have flowed into the pockets of the Monioh- 
ers had they allowed the King and Semper to build one 
of the finest theatres in the world in their city, and make 
it the place for the Festivals projected by Wagner. But 
when all the newspapers were combining with profes- 
sional musicians, politicians, and priests in declarii^; 
Wagner a charlatan and a dangerous person, the populace 
itself can hardly be blamed for having fancied that this 
tempest in a teapot really threatened ruin to the coun- 
try. The King was informed by his confidential advis- 
ers, supported by the chief of police and the Archbishop, 
that there was actual danger of an insurrection. His 
answer was : " I will show my dear people that I place its 
confidence, its love, above everything"; and he be^ed 
Wagner to leave the city until the storm had blown over. 
The enemies chuckled with delight. They fancied the 
"monster" had been got rid of for good. But the King 
was not snoh a fickle lover. As Wagner wrote to 

Alf IDEAL 8WI88 HOME 181 

**The stories you lead in the papers of my flying the conntiy 
are wholly untrue. The King did nothing of the kind. He implored 
me to leave ; said my life was in danger ; that the director of the 
police had represented to him the positive necessity for my quitting 
Munich, or he could not guarantee my safety. Think, so greatly 
did he fear the populace ! The populace opposed to me ? No ; not 
if they knew me. My return, I am told, is only a question of time, 
until the King is able to change his advisers. May he come out of 
his troubles well.'* 

Banished again! Was ever man so unfortunate? But 
there was one consolation. In this misfortune, as in the 
catastrophes in London and Paris, the nobility of his 
character, artistic and personal, stands out proudly 
against the contemptible meanness, cowardice, and men- 
dacity of his enemies. Their motives were pure selfish- 
ness and malice; his sole aim was to find a theatre and 
funds that would enable him before his death to super- 
intend the production of the greatest art-works ever 
created on German soil. Can we wonder that during 
this second exile he sympathized more than ever with 
the pessimism of Schopenhauer, with his contemptuous 
denunciation of mankind, his bitter and imsparing 
exposure of all the petty, selfish, and sensual motives 
which thwart the efforts of art to assert itself in a 
utilitarian world? 


The Munich dream — disturbed by so many night- 
mares — had lasted just a year and a half. In May, 
1864, he had arrived in Munich ; in December, 1865, he 
returned to Switzerland, his usual refuge in moments of 
distress. After a brief sojourn at Vevey and Genevay 


and an esouxsioa to Southern France, lie returned to his 
old haunts at Lucerne. When the King requested him 
to leave Munich, he did so not only much against his 
wishes, but he evinced hia continued good-will by grant- 
ing his friend au annuity of almost $4000. With this 
in prospect, Wagnei was able to look about for a home 
that would give him the seclnsion, comfort, fresh air, 
and inspiring scenery that he always found such great 
aids to hia composition. About half an hour's walk 
from Lucerne there la a sort of promontory known as 
Triebschen. This, for six years, — until he moved to 
Eayreuth, — became his home. And a more delightful 
home it would be difficult to find anywhere: the open 
lake on three sides, to the left Lucerne, straight ahead 
the sunny peaceful Rigl, to the right the stern, storm- 
threatening Mt. Pilatus. The two-story square house 
itself is without any pretensions to style or beauty, but 
is roomy and invitingN* 

In Munich, after the King had decided that the 
Nibelung's Ring should be produced as soon as it was 
completed, the composer had taken up Siegfried again, 
after an interruption of seven years. The furious oppo- 
sition aroused against the project of a Nibelung Theatre 
and Festival induced him, however, to resume the Meia- 
tersinger score, since that would not call for such special 
conditions. To this he now devoted himself at Trieb- 
schen. The domestic comforts and superior table which 

' Thia house Is now the property of an eccentric Americao, who has 
BDrrounded It with heautiful gardens and keeps a targe kennel of dogn, 
but absolutely retuHes permission (he is said to have denied it, a few 
years ago, even to Coslma Wagner) to see the Interior. His nearest 
neighbor Is the CbeTsller von Hesse. Wartegg, wbo Uvea lb a cbaiming 
villa with hii wife, nte Aliimie Hauk. 


the King's pension enabled him to en jo j, hadabenefieial 
effect on his health. In plaee of the two or three hoora 
to which ill health had limited his daily work in Zfirich 
at the time when pettjr cares lowered his Titality, he 
now devoted himself to his task from eight in the morn- 
ing tin five. The evenings were given np to walks and 
to social diversion. The wife of Hans von Bfilow, with 
her childreni had accompanied him to Triebechen, and 
in June Bfilow himself arrived, and made the pianoforte 
arrangement of the introduction to the MeUiertimger. 
Wagner's enemies had socceeded in making Munich 
^'too hot " for him, too. Leaving his ^mily at Lucerne, 
BOlow went to Basel in the winter to earn his living as 
a piano-teacher. In October Wagner had been so lucky 
as to secure a new assistant who was destined soon to 
become his greatest interpreter: Hans Ricbter arrived 
and forthwith set to work copying the first act (which 
was at once forwarded to the publisher) while the com- 
poser was completing the sketch of the third act. 


Besides Bfilow and Richt^r, Wagner had some other 
interesting visitors during tJie first three years of his 
sojourn at Triebschen. (ytm of these was no other than 
King Ludwig himself, who gave, by his repeated visits 
to his friend, at so considerable a distance from Munich, 
the most convincing proof that his personal admiration 
for him had not decreased and that great must have been 
the pressure brought to bear on him before he could 
have been induced to request one so dear to him to leave 
the capital. These visits of course gave great displeas* 


are to the Munich Philiatinea. In a letter' to a dress- 
maker in Munich named Bertha (whom we shall meet 
again presently), Wagner's cook, Verena Weidmann, 
complains that she has been very busy on account of the 
presence of Madame von Billow and all her family j add- 
ing, "there is again a great hubbub in Munich because 
the King came to U8, and I am beginning to believe 
that we shall never return." 

These royal visits were made incognito, and gave rise 
to the most romantic rumors. The French poet, Catulle 
Mendes, author of a charming book of essays on Wag- 
ner, gives an amusing account 'of a visit he paid with 
two friends — a gentleman and a lady — to the object of 
his adoration about this period, and how astonished they 
were at the obaeijuiousness of every one in the hotel, the 
landlord even coming to the carriage to kiss their hands 
when thpy went for a drive to Triebschen. In the streets 
the people stood in a line with uncovered heada as they 
passed. Moreover, if they went to visit Wagner in a 
row-boat, which was the shortest way, they were fol- 
lowed across the lake by some Englishmen, who waited 
for hours near Wagner's house. On inquiring at the 
hotel why such a fuss was made over a few poor devils 
of tourists, they discovered that Mendf^s waa taken for 
King Ludwig, his friend for Prince Taxis, and the lady 
for — Madame Patti! It was useless to protest their 
innocence. "Sire," said the landlord, "everything shall 
be in accordance with your Majesty's wishes, and, since 
that is desired, the incognito shall be respected." The 
Englishmen had accompanied them in the belief that 


Madame Patti was visiting Wagner to study with him 
a new rdle, and in the hope of hearing a few strains! 

CatuUe Mend^s had met Wagner in Paris some years 
previously, and was known to him as one of his most 
ardent champions. They expected, therefore, to be weU 
received, but were hardly prepared for the cordial dem- 
onstrations with which they were welcomed. Wagner 
threw his cap in the air, danced for joy, embraced them, 
and dragged them off to his house, where he insisted on 
their spending most of their time during their sojourn 
of several weeks. They were struck, as before, by '^the 
magnificent expression of dignity and serenity '^ in his 
face, his small pale lips, the large beautiful forehead, 
and especially the clear, frank, dreamy eyes, ''like those 
of a child or a virgin. '^ More than once, when they 
called early, they surprised him in his strange morning 
dress: — 

** Coat and trouseis of golden satin embroidered with pearl 
flowers'; for he had a passionate love for luminous stufiCs that spread 
themselves like sheets of flame or fall in splendid folds. Velvets 
and sUks abounded in his drawing-room and his study, in broad 
masses or flowing plaits, anywhere, without the pretext of furni- 
ture, without other reason than their beauty, to give the poet the 
enchantment of their glorious brilliancy.'* 

While they were waiting for dinner in the large salon 
with its fine view of the mountains, the guests were 
sometimes seated, but the nervous and active host never. 
Mendki does not remember to have seen him seated a 
single time except at meals or at the piano. Always 
going and coming, moving about the chairs, searching 
in all his pockets for his snuff-box, which always seemed 
lost, or for his spectacles^ which were sometimes hung up 


OQ the chandeliers, but never on his nose, taking oB bis 
velvet cap, jamming it between his hands, putting it back 
on his head, he was always talking, talking, talking^ 
about Paris, about Farsifal, about the King, about Ros- 
sini, about newspapers, Bach, Auber, Weber, Schroeder- 
Devrient, Sclmorr, Tristan, and a hundred other topics, 
wliile his guests, overwhelmed, laughed and wept with 
him, indulged in his visions and ecstasies, wherever his 
imperious words led them. Towards the ParisianB and 
Paris, in spite of the TannMuaer affair, he not only had 
no ill feeling, but, says Mend^s, " I saw his eyes suffused 
with tears at the mention of a certain corner-house 
which he remembered and which had been demolished." 
Another French visitor, Judith Gautier, daughter of 
the great poet, has given us a charming description of 
some happy weeks she spent as Wagner's guest at Trieb- 
Bchen.' She dwells on the enthusiasm which had led 
her to write a few essays on his music in Paris and for- 
ward them to him for his criticism or possible approval, 
hardly daring to hope for an answer from one 80 great 
and so busy. A few weeks later, however, she received 
a letter in a handwriting which she knew not, but divined. 
Wagner cordially thanked her for her articles, in which 
he had found notJiing to correct or suggest, and begged 
to enroll her in tJie small circle of true friends whose 
clairvoyant sympathy constituted his only fame. He 
added that he hoped soon to see her in Paris; but as he 
did not come, she finally concluded to go and call on 
him at Lucerne. When she arrived, she hardly had the 
courage to carry out her plan. Such strange stories 
were told about him. She was informed that no one 
' B. Wagner e( ion CEuvre. 


was allowed to enter his house, which was peopled by a 
seraglio of women from all countries, in luxurious gar- 
ments. The composer was represented as being unsocial, 
sinister, living in strict seclusion, guarded by two large 
savage black dogs.^ Of course, she found all these 
things to be the usual anti- Wagnerian fables. There 
was at least one dog, it is true, a big Newfoundland 
named Buss, but he was not savage, and he soon became 
a good friend of the Frenchwoman and paid her visits at 
the hotel. Nor was his master as black as he had been 
painted. To her, as to all who did not persecute him, 
he was one of the most amiable men she had ever met. 
What had struck her most on first meeting him, even 
more than his massive head and keen glance, was ''the 
expression of infinite kindness which played about his 
lips and which none of his portraits had led me to look 
for. This almost celestial kindness I had occasion to 
notice constantly; it was reflected in the veneration felt 
toward him not only by his family but by all about him ; 
the personnel of his small home even abused his amia- 
bility." It was true heart-politeness and not the merely 
"theoretical" civility so common in the world. "A 
Frenchman, Count Gobineau, said of Wagner, *He can 
never be perfectly happy, because he will always have 
some one about him whose sorrow he must share.' " 

Madame Gautier does not overlook that temper of his 
which at all times of his life led to explosions of wrath 
or to excessively frank and violent utterances which did 

1 Similar ttoriM are stiU in circulation in Lnceme, where I was 
informed in 1891 that at times, when King Ludwig was Wagner's guest 
these dogs kept at bay the messengers sent after him from Munich 
and compeUed them to wait several days, till it suited His Hajesty's 
pleasure to become visible! Also stories about nootnnud boat-rides, eto. 


not spare evea his beat friends. But they were, as she 
adds, but momentary ebullitions, always followed by 
remorse and a sincere desire to repair the damage to 
]«raonal feelings. At Triebsohen there were few oppor- 
tunities for tills volcanic side of his character to come to 
the surface; he lived alone with the Biilow family, and 
visitors were infrequent. Much of his time was de- 
voted to reading, in which be took great pleasure : " In 
these hours of peace and contemplation he had moments 
of divine contentment. An expression of incomparable 
tenderness hovered over his features, and a pallor, which 
was not that of ill-health, suffused bis face like a light 

Franz Liszt was another interesting visitor of the 
Triebsnhen refugee. The tale of his visit, as related by 
Pohl,' who was liis companion, is somewhat mysterious 
and rninautic. The two great musicians had not met 
as frequently after Wagner's amnesty as they must bave 
wished, for Liszt ha<l gone, in 1861, to live in Kome. 
The reader has perhaps wondered why, since 1861, there 
have been no more citations in this volume from the 
Wagner-Liszt Correspondence. For the simple reason 
that it comes to an end in that year. When the two 
volumes first appeared, it was taken as a matter of 
course that another one, if not two, would follow; yet 
the statement has been made by those who claimed to 
have it from Cosiiua Wagner herself, that there are no 
more of these letters. But it seems improbable, almost 
incredible, that two such intimate friends who had ex- 
changed 316 letters in twenty years, should not write 
another one in the twenty-two years following. Liszt's 
1 KUnchner't Wagntr Jahrfmch, 188S, pp. TS-a<. 


departaie from Weimar was a seiinis Vjlw jo Wkcusc. 
for it left him for seren yean (l&^-lNMt wrifoxs a 
"Bayreuth," such as Weimar had toeii fcT ytfz. jssis^. 
Yet Liszt had not left that eitj of his ovn c^^^k. bes 
simply because the despotic Intendant Din2«:l<««c: i 
upset all his plans in regard to the *~ music of t£ 
future''; his departure was therefore no cauK for a 
'* rupturey" such as rumor said existed between him and 
Wagner. Dr. Hansliek lemazks : ' — 

'' It is well known thai a long 
two friends, the princi|Mi caiiM of wUeh is asoacd to 
this, tbiU Ijstt*s feelingi as a lither and a Cashcfie |«ic9« 4faeiikdlj 
revolted againrt a marriage of bis daogbter. BHaw's wife, wflh 
Wagner. Liait was not pnaent either at tte fim jMifiiiMiMi of 
TriMiOM ami JmMe in Monicfa (1 W5> or at the Isjing of the 
stone of the Bayieoth Tbeane (1872). Tbe recoDcsaatioB did 
take plaoe till later, and eontinned op u> Wagner^s death.^ 

This comes about as near the truth as Hansliek's 
statements usually do. In the first place, it is absurd to 
attribute any such motives to Liszt, for the simple rea^ 
son that he was in the very same boat as Wagner, For 
years he too had wished to marry a divorced woman, but 
was restrained by religious customs (see his last printed 
letter to Wagner); and Liszt was not the man to find 
fault with others for following his own example; more- 
over, Wagner and Cosima were not married till 1870. In 
the second place, there was obviously no " estrangement.^ 
If Liszt did not attend the TVtJtoii performaooes, he 
nevertheless visited Wagner at Munich in 1864; and in 
the autumn of 1867 he again called on him, jost after the 
Meuieninger score had been completed. 

1 Mu9ik»U$eh€S und LUerariseh€$,^tL 


It ia this viait tliat Pohl describes. He had met Liszt 
at Stuttgiirt and been asked to accompany him to Basel, 
whence they went to Triebsehen. Liszt evidently had 
some secret to talk over with Wagner, so PoUl iillowed 
him to proceed alone to the villa while he went on a 
lake excursion. When he returned to the hotel he found 
Wagner's coachman waiting for hira with orders to bring 
him over, liag and baggage. Although Pohl failed to 
discover the cause of Liszt's mysterious visit, he waa 
amply compensated. To quote his own words: — 

■' When I ftrriveJ, Liail wm BJtUog M the B^cliHtein grand, with 
Ihe open orchefltml avoro of tlie iaatr<:omp\eled JHeisteninfftr before 
lilui ; tbe first act had Juat been played through, and Liazi had 
bej^n the second. Tit see him play this score, utterly new to him, 
and one of the moat diffiault in existence, at first sight, was astoand- 
inSi unique ia fact, WagriBT sang tbf vocal parla ; I have never 
lieiird a more beauiiful perfcimiance of Dir MehUninger. Thi* 
trutlifnlneaa ol eipreBalon, this perfection of phrasing, this cleameM 
ill nil details, was enchanting. Only at the finale of the second act 
did I.iszt hesitate —'That must be heard on the stage; it ia too 
polyphonic to be reproduced on the piano,' he said. . . . The third 
act pleased Liszt moat of all — such a thing no one could write 
but Wagner, he exclaimed repeatedly, stopping In hia aatonish- 
ment and delight, to play some pasaages over again." 

The soiree continued till midnight. Wagner, who was 
always very kind to his servantSj had considerately sent 
them to bed, as they had to get up before five to take 
away Liszt; so he personally lighted the candles, showed 
his guests their rooms, and then locked the house. After 
Liszt's departure he did not see him again till eight 
years later, when he came from Vienna to Pesth to direct 
a concert for the benefit of the Bayreuth funds, at which 
Liszt played. 




While Pohl was eating his first supper at Triebschen 
Wagner told him all about his house and what trouble 
he had had to get it comfortably arranged. There had 
been no stoves, and in the salon he had put a new fire- 
place which had taken the Lucerne workmen an incredi- 
bly long time to build. 

** But now/' says Pohl, ** everything was in order, newly car- 
peted and furnished. Many things Wagner had brou^^t along 
from Munich ; it is well known that he had an astounding talent 
for cosy arrangement and tasteful decoration. All the rooms were 
brilliantly lighted, partly by chandeliers, pactly by wall-lamps ; in 
his bedroom a red glass lamp was burning.** 

So far Pohl. The alterations in the house apparently 
did not meet with the approval of " Vronka,'' as the cook 
was called. In one of her letters to the Viennese dress- 
maker, Bertha, she growls that 

** the workmen never get out of our house ; Master is having the 
whole house arranged according to his ideas.** And in another 
letter (Sept., *68) : **In our house the greatest disorder prevails ; 
they are building, and on a large scale ; Master is, indeed, having 
all this done at his own expense, which I can hardly approve, since 
after all it is not his own house. . . . Otherwise it is very lonely 
here; no one comes except these workmen.** 

Yronka's letters also contain a certain kind of items 
which touch upon the oddest of Wagner's foibles. On 
June 26, 1866, she promises Bertha some money from 
her master in a few weeks, and orders twenty-five to 
thirty ells of light blue atlas for the bed. On May 12, 
1867, we read^ '^ Yesterday a check for a thousand florins 


was sent to you"; and again, on Sept. 9, 18C8, "At Mas- 
ter's request I send you herewith a thousand florins." 
It is satisfactory to read, on auch unquestionable evi- 
dence, that Wagner paid his bills, for hia enemies con- 
stantly asserted that he did not. But what were these 
articles that cost him such big sums? The answer to 
this question has been already hinted at, and is to be 
found in full in a coUeetion of sixteen letters from 
Wagner himself to his dressmaker, which were sold in 
Vienna in 1877 for a hundred florins and published in 
the Neue Freie Presae by the feuilletonist Spitzer. They 
are certainly most remarkable documents, as are the 
sketches, by Wagner himself, of certain garments that 
he wanted, in the description of which he was as minute 
as a writer and illustrator for a fashion journal. Here, 
for instance, is the kind of a dressing-gown he ordered 
in one letter : — 

" Pink satin, stuffed with eider down and quilted in sqiureg, like 
the gn; and red coverlet I had of you ; exactly that mibetiuice, 
light, not heavy ; of course with tlie upper and under material 
quill«d together. Lined with light satin, gii widths at the bottom, 
therefore very wide. Then put on extra — not sown on to the 
quilted material — a padded niching all round of the same material ; 
from the waiat the niching must extend downwards into a raised 
facing (or garniture) cutting off the front part. Study the drawing 
carefully : at the bottom the facing or Sehopp, which must be 
worked in a particularly beautiful manner, is to spread out on both 
aides to have an ell in widtli and then, rising to the waist, loBe 
itself in the ordinary width of (he padded ruching which runs all 

And so on. Whence we may infer that the composer 
of the Meistersinger designed his dressing-gowns as care- 
fully and aa elaborately as his operatic scores. 


Besides the dressing-gown, many other things were 
ordered, always with the same minute indications as to 
form and color: silks, satins, laces; pink, green, bine, 
gray. The writer is very particular, too, in regard to the 
shades, as in this sentence: ''Do not confound No. 2, 
the dark pink, with the old violet pink, which is not 
what I mean, but real pink, only very dark and fiery.'* 
One of his accounts included 300 ells of satin in thir- 
teen colors, the cost of which amounted to 3010 florins. 
The sixteen letters cover the period 1864-1868, the first 
of them being dated at Penzing (near Vienna), and the 
others at Munich and Triebschen. 

If the Socratic ''Know thyself " is the highest test of 
wisdom, Wagner was a very wise man when he wrote to 
Liszt: "I am much better qualified to squander 60,000 
francs in six months than to earn it"; or to Praeger: 
" By nature I am luxurious, prodigal, and extravagant, 
much more than Sardanapalus and all the old Emperors 
put together." His penchant for the good things in life 
was revealed in his boyhood. Glasenapp relates ^ how, 
when Bichard was eight years old, he one day traded off 
his volume of Schiller's poems for a Windbeutel (a sort 
of cake) at conditor Orlandi's, opposite his home. 
Praeger, when Wagner was his guest in London, had 
occasion to note his curious craving for certain luxuries 
of life : — 

** The first thing he wanted was an easel for his work, so that 
he might stand up to score. No sooner was that desire graUfled 
than he insisted on an eider-down quUt for his bed. . • . When he 
arrived in London, his means were limited, but nevertheless the 
satisfaction of the desires was what he ever adhered to.** 

1 Kiirichner's Wagner Jahrhuch, 1886, p. 6S. 


On another page, after referring to the attacks of 
erysipelas from wliich W^ner had suffered ever since 
he was a, boy, and which had made his nervous system 
su delicate, sensitive, and irritable, Praeger gives this 
extremely interesting revelation: — 

" Spasmodic displays of temper were often tie result, I feel 
(irmly convinced, of purely pliysical suffering. Ills akin vras so 
aenxillve that he wore silk next to the body, and tliat at a lime 
when he was not the favored of fortune. In London he bought 
the allk, and had shirts made tor him ; so too it was with his other 
gamieTits. We went tof^tber tu a fashionable tailor in Regent 
Strtet, wliere he ordered that his pockets and the back of hia vest 
should be of silk, aa also the lining of his frock-coat sleeves ; for 
Wagner uould not endure the touch of cotton, as it produced a 
shudderiug sensatloii throughout the body that distressed him." 

The psychologii.! and biographic import of this seem- 
ingly trifling observation is great; it throws light both 
on Wagner's irritable temper and on his craving for 
luxury. It should teach pachydermatous Philistines 
not to judge thin-skinned men of genius from their own 
point of view. No doubt the silk and aatin which Wag- 
ner wore on his person by day and covered himself with 
at night exercised a soothing effect on his nerves, over- 
wrought by excessive work and continual worries and 

This applies to the alyffs he wore; but how about the 
colors? How about the rich furniture, and the gorgeous 
curtains of silk and satin that divided his rooms in place 
of walls? Did they, too, serve to soothe his nerves? 
On the contrary, it is probable that he loved these rich 
colors, — which he could find in such gorgeousness only 
in silks and other fineries, — because they stimulated 


Ills fancy through the eyes. Rumor had it that he 
altered the color of his surroundings and dress in accord- 
ance with the nature of the operatic scene he was at 
work upon. This may or may not have been true, but 
it seems certain that these bright colors had an exhil- 
arating and inspiriting effect on him. The dark, misty 
winter-weather of Switzerland made him inclined to 
melancholy, and disinclined to work, while the bright 
colors of his silk surrounding and the brilliant illumina- 
tion helped him to brave the dreary winters, and to bring 
some of the glories of Nature's colors and cheering sun- 
shine into his home. Moreover, a psychologist would 
expect that a man who had an ear for delicate shades of 
orchestral sounds such as no mortal ever had, would be 
correspondingly refined and dainty in his color percep- 
tions : and we have seen how particular Wagner was in 
regard to shades and tints. It is therefore absurd to 
treat this matter, as his enemies did, simply as '^ femi- 
nine love of finery" which in a man is "contemptible." 
True, such aesthetic indulgence does not harmonize with 
the modem conception of man as a biped who smokes, 
plays poker, likes to go to war, leaves art and books to 
women, talks politics, business, and races, and wears 
black clothes. But men of genius have always been 
distinguished for certain feminine traits in their char- 
acter; Wagner had more than one such trait, and though 
we may pronounce his devotion to gorgeous satin gowns 
and curtains foolish, it is surely more foolish to make 
it the basis of attacks on his personality. 

Moli^re, as his biographers tell us, liked a sumptuous 
life, and his wardrobe was richly supplied. Was he 
therefore "effeminate"? Were not men in general, a 


L'entiiry or more ago, more addicted to finery than women? 
It is related tliat Haydn, before lie sat down to compose, 
" dressed himself with oare and always put a diamond 
ring upon his finger." Most men of genius have some 
such peculiarity; Schiller, for instance, who could not 
write comfortably unless he had a rotten apple on his 

Wagner's letters to hia dressmaker, inste-ad of detract- 
ing from the nobility of hia character, only serve to 
emphasize it. The very fact that he had such a sybaritic 
penchant to luxurious indulgence brings out more con- 
spicuously hia astounding heroism and aolf-denial. It 
makes it seem little less than a miracle that, with snch 
cravings, he should have lived, for a quarter of a c-en- 
tury, a life of privation, discomfort, and annoyance 
when, by simply throwing his artistic ideals overboard, 
and remaining in the general operatic "swim, "he might 
have been one of the richest and most petted musicians 
of the period. Had he written more Htenxis, he would 
have soon revelled in wealth; had he, in Paris, even 
made the single concession of allowing a ballet to be 
introduced in Tannhdnser, thousands would have been 
his reward. But not a step would he budge from his 
artistic ideals, for sybaritic motives or any others. And 
most wonderful of all, year after year he worked at his 
Tetralogy, though he was convinced he would not live 
to see it and certainly never receive any worldly profit 
from it. That is what I call true nobility of character 
— twenty-five years of possible comfort and im 
sacrificed to an art-ideal! • 




Wherever Wagner made his home he loved to be 
surrounded by animals. The cook " Vronka,'' in describ- 
ing the home at Triebschen to the dressmaker Bertha, 
writes, after dwelling on the infrequent visitors : " Then 
we have chickens, peacocks, our two dogs, which often 
prove a real pastime.'' Two dogs, the cook says, where- 
as Mend^s, Gautier, and Pohl mention only one. Doubt- 
less the cook knew best; she had to feed them; but the 
'' enormous" Newfoundland Buss was obviously the 
more notable of 'the two. Pohl says of this dog (who 
was poisoned at Bayreuth and now lies buried in the 
Wahnfried garden at his master's feet), that ''it took 
Stocker, who came out at Buss's signal, some time to 
convince the faithful guardian that I was an admirer of 
the master. Afterwards we, Stocker, Euss, and I, be- 
came the best of friends." 

F. Avenarius, the son of Wagner's half-sister, has 
preserved^ two anecdotes which show that a love of 
animals, like a love of nature, was a trait of Wagner's 
childhood. The boy went all over town hunting for 
good-natured dogs, and forming friendships with them. 
One day he heard whining sounds in a ditch and found 
a young puppy. Knowing that no such addition to the 
large family at home would receive official approval, he 
secretly smuggled it into his bedroom, where he fed it 
and kept it warm until it was betrayed by its whining. 
On another occasion his mother heard peculiar squeaking 
sounds in his room, but could not locate them. When 

1 AUgemeine Zeitung, Munich. 


the teacher carae to give the boy his lesson, he notiiied 
a peculiai", disagreeable odor. Investigation brought to 
light, in Richard's bureau, a whole family of young 
rabbits. "The poor things would have died," was the 
boy's excuse. He had made an air-hole for them, and 
his sister had provided the food. 

Only once in his life did he kill an animal for amuse- 
ment.' He joined a party of young hunters and shot a 
rabbit. Its dying look met hia eyes and bo moved him 
to pity that nothing could have induced him ever to go 
hunting again. The impression then made on him is 
echoed in the libretto of hia early opera, The Fairies, 
where the doe is hit by the arrow: "Oh sect the animal 
weeps, a tear is in its eye. Oh, how its broken glances 
rest on me! " And again in his last work in the pathetic 
lines of Ournemanz reproaching Parsifal for killing the 
sacred awan: "Was that dir der treue Schwan?" etc, — 
lines which teach the duty of Pity more eloquently than 
all the essays of Scliopenliauer, whom Wagner followed, 
from an inborn sympathy, in regarding Pity as the 
supreme moral law. 

Aniniala are introduced in all but three of his operas 
{Dutchman, Tristan, and MeiKter singer). There are 
Jiorses in Rienzi, Tannhtiuser, Walkure, Qotterdammer- 
ung; a swan and dove in Lohengrin; hunting dogs in 
Tannkfiitaer ; a toad and a snake in Rheingold; a ram in 
tlie Walkure; a bear, a dragon, and a bird in Siegfried; 
ravens in GiiUerdamrherung ; a awan in Parsifal. The 
swans, the bird, and the dragon are accompanied by 

>This anecdote, with several others here repeated, Is relal«d in 
Wagner vnd die Thierwelt by Haoa von Woliogen, who had them [roro 
Wagnei himself. 


some of the most characteristic or beautiful music in 
the respective operas ; and it is interesting to note that 
the swan motive in Lohengrin reappears in a modified 
form in ParsifcU, just as a few motives from Tristan are 
introduced in the Meistersinger where Sachs alludes to 
that legend. In this delightful kind of self-quotation 
Wagner followed the precedent of Mozart, who introduces 
a number from Figaro in Don Juan; with humorous 
intent, however, in this case. 

When Wagner die^, in his seventieth year, several 
interesting artistic and literary projects were buried with 
him. One of these was to write "A History of My 
Dogs." It would have been an extremely interesting 
little book, no doubt, for, next to his work and a few 
intimate friends, there was nothing in the world to 
which he was so attached as to his dogs. From his 
early youth to his last days he always had one who was 
his constant companion, whether he was writing or 
resting. At Magdeburg, in 1834, he had a poodle of 
musical propensities who accompanied him to all the 
rehearsals at the theatre. At first he was allowed to 
enter the orchestra circle, but when he permitted him- 
self to " criticise " the performances, this privilege was 
taken from him, and he had to wait at the stage door to 
accompany his master home. Wolzogen thinks it was the 
same dog of whom Wagner related the following anec- 
dote. One day he took him along on an excursion into 
the Saxon Switzerland. Wishing to climb a precipitous 
rock on the Bastei, and fearing that the poodle might 
come to grief, he threw down his handkerchief for the 
dog to watch. But the animal was too clever for him. 
After a moment of deliberation, he scratched a hole in 


the ground, buried the handkerctiief for safe keeping, 
and then made haste to clamber after bis master. 

His next pet, at Riga, was a big Newfoundland dog 
named Robber. He belonged at first to an English mer- 
chant, but became so passionately attached to Wagner, 
following him by day and lying on his door-step at night, 
that be was at last adopted as a member of the family. 
He too accompanied his master to all the rehearsals, 
and on the way he always took a bath in the canal; 
being a Busiiian dog, he kept up this habit even in 
winter provided he could find a hole in the ice. His 
career as a musical critic was cut short, like that of the 
poodle. His favorite place was between the conductor's 
desk and the double-bass player. The latter he always 
regarded with suspicion because of his constantly push- 
ing hia bow in his direction. One evening a sudden 
vehement nfonando push of the bow proved too much for 
him, and Wagner was suddenly startled, and the piece 
interrupted, by the cry : " Herr Kapellmeister, the dog! " 
Robber had the honor of accompanying his master to 
Paris, on that stormy ocean trip which lasted almost 
four weeks; and he is of course the canine hero of the 
novelette An End in Paris, which contains many auto- 
biographic details in the guise of fiction. The temporary 
loss of this animal in London caused one of the deepest 
pangs of anguish his master ever felt. 

The successor of Robber was Peps, the most famous 
of all his dogs. He used to say that this dog helped 
him to compose Tannhauser: — 

" It Beems that when al the piano . . . singing with hia accns- 
tomed boisterousneBs, the dog, whose constant place was at his 
master's feet, would occasionally leap to the table, peer into his 


face and howl piteoosly. Then Wagner wonld address his * elo- 
quent critic ' with * What ? it does not suit you ? * and shaking the 
animal's paw, would say, quoting Puck, * Well, I will do thy bid- 
ding gently.* " * 

In later years at Z&rich he loved to talk to liis dog 
when taking his daily walk: — 

** He would declaim against imaginary enemies, gesticnlate, and 
vent his irascible excitement in loud speeches, when Peps, * human 
Peps,* as he called him, with the sympathy of the intelligent dumb 
creation, would rush forward, bark and snap loodfy, as if aiding 
Wagner in destroying liis enemies, and then retom, jdainly addng 
for friendly recognition for the demolition.** 

Peps was useful in reminding him of his duty towards 
his body. Thus^ in a letter to Uhlig^ we rep'l- **! am 
done upi and must get into the open air : Peps won't leave 
me in peace any longer.'' There are numerous other 
references to Peps in the letters, sometimes comic or 

satiric, sometimes pathetic. 


*^ To-morrow I go up the RigL Peps is barking loudly.** From 
Lugano : ** I have written to my wife to come with Peps.** ** Peps 
confirms this by a sneeze.** In a postscript to Heine : ** Peps is 
still alive, but fearfully lazy wheneyer he is not baridng,** 

In a wordy Peps was treated and looked upon as a 
member of the family. We have already seen that when 
Liszt visited his friend in Ziirich he received, as a n# 
plus uUra of affection, the pet name of '^ Double-Peps ''; 
which name he gleefully adopted, signing himself in 
his next letter '* Your Double Peps, or Double eztrait ds 
Peps, or Double Stout Peps con doppio movimento sem- 
pre crescendo al JQf." 

1 Pkaeger, pp. 137, 209. 


On returning from an excursion to Faria or London 
Wagner did not fail to remember his wife with a pres- 
ent; nor was Peps forgotten: — 

"Peps received me joyfully at Uie wagon; bat tben I hare 
brought him a beautiful collar with hU name (now become so 
sacred to me) engraved on it. Be never leaves my side any more i 
in the morning he comes to my bed and wakes me; he is a dear, 
good animal I " 

But Peps had to die, like all of us. He was too old 

to be taken to London, in 1855, and must have deeply 
grieved over his master's four months' absence. For- 
tunately be survived bia return and received Mm with 
boundless delight. The day for the departure to Seelis- 
berg, where the WaUciire was to be completed, had been 
set, when the journey had to be postponed two days by 
Peps's illness and death. The following extract from a 
pathetic letter to Praeger lets us see deeply into Wag- 
ner's heart, one of the gentlest and tenderest that ever 
beat: — 

touching aa 
, and, though 

" Up to the last moment Peps showed 
to be almost heart-rending ; kept his eyes fixed 
I chanced to move but a few steps from him, continued to follow 
me with his eyes. He died in my arms on tlie night of the 9th-10th 
of the month, parsing a way without a, sound, quietly and peace- 
fiil)y. On the morrow, midday, we buried him in the garden 
beside the house. 1 cried incessantly, and since then have felt 
bitter pain and sorrow for the dear friend of the past thirteen 
years, who ever worked and walked with me. . . . And yet there 
are those who would scoQ at our feeling in such a matter!" 

Four years before Peps died his master had suffered 
another loss which made him give way to heartfelt, 
bitter mourning. His "little whistling, chattering, 


household faiiji" as he called his parrot Papo, died, 
shortly after he had learned a melody (cited in Letter 
22 to Uhlig) which he used to whistle at him when he 
came home '^with unspeakable joy." It became ill, they 
neglected too long to send for a surgeon, and in the 
morning it was dead : — 

** Ah, if I could say to you what has died for me in this dear 
creature 1 It matters nothing to me whether I am laughed at for 
this. What I feel, I cannot help feeling ; and I have no longer any 
inclination to do violence to my feelings ; anyhow, I should have 
to write volumes to make dear to those disposed to lau£^ at me, 
what such a small creature is and can become to a man who in 
everything is guided only by phanUuy. Three days have passed 
and still nothing can quiet me ; and so it is with my wife ; — the 
bird was something indispensable between us and for us." 

Wagner's love of animals was not merely the semi- 
selfish emotion which the reciprocated affection for 
animals gives us. It was manifested also in his deep 
compassion for their sufferings. Fish stories are not 
usually considered trustworthy, but the following may 
be accepted literally as I have it from Mr. Anton Seidl. 
One morning Wagner was at the station at Bayreuth, 
waiting for the departure of a train. Presently he 
noticed a peasant-woman with a covered basket in which 
there was a constant wriggling motion. He walked up 
to the woman and asked abruptly what she had in her 
basket. She removed the cloth and revealed a dozen 
fish in the agonies of a slow death. Whereupon Wagner 
suddenly burst out into a furious tira^le against the 
astonished woman, took his pocket-knife and cut off the 
heads. He got so excited over this incident that, in 
spite of repeated summons, he missed the tnuiL 


He was often furiously excited about the cruel way 
in which cattle are slaughtered. When, a^ a boy, ha 
Baw for the Erst time an axe descending on an ox's head, 
followed by the moans of the poor animal, his compan- 
ions could hardly hold him back from rushing at the 
butcher. In London streets he had quarrels with men 
who ill-treated their horses. A ride on the romantic 
Lago Maggiore was spoiled for bim one day by the sight 
of poor fowls and ducks which were, as he wrote to 

" BO vilely tortured, and left to the most cnial privatioiu, that the 
revolting unfeclitignesN nf (he men who had tbls sight constantljr 
bcfnre Ibeir Eyes, again filled me with violent anger. Aod lo know 
that one nould be merely laughed at If one attempted to interfere." 

Our biography of Wagner's dogs is not complete, as 
nothing has been said of the Viennese Pol, and of a 
bulldog named Leo whose accidental bite not only inter- 
rupted Wagner's work several weeks, but gave rise to a 
rumor that a mad dog had bitten him. But I must close 
this chapter with a pretty genre picture painted by 
Praeger. While in Lontion, in 1855, W^ner took a 
walk every day in the Kegent'a Park: — 

"There, at the small bridge over the ornamental water, would 
he stand regularly and feed the ducks, having previously provided 
himself for the purpose with a number of French rolls — rolls 
ordereU each day for the occasion. There was a awan, too, that 
came in for much of Wfigner's affection. It was a regal bird, and 
fit, as the master said, to draw the chariot of Lohengrin. The 
childlike happiness, full to overdowing, with which this innocent 
occupation filled Wagner, was an impressive sight never to be for- 
gotten. It was Wftfrner you saw before you, the natural man, 
attectionate, gentle, and mirthful." 



There are no doubt many Philistines who will look on 
the trait in Wagner's character jnst described as child- 
ish. That is precisely what it is; and it is, moreover, 
one of the main traits that distinguish a man of genius 
from a Philistine, i.e. a person who is not a genius nor 
even able to appreciate genius. In his admirable chap- 
ter on (Jenius (which miftrors Wagner as delightfully as 
its author) Schopenhauer says that 

it every child is to a certain extent a genius, and eveiy genius 
to a certain extent a child. The relationship between the two is 
manifested primarily in the naivete and sublime simplicity which 
is a fundamental trait of real genius : it also shows itself in various 
other ways ; so that a certain childishness indubitably is one of 
the characteristics of genius. In Riemer^s communication regard- 
ing Goethe it is stated that Herder and others blamed Goethe for 
having always been a big child : ^ they were right in their assertion, 
but wrong in blaming him. Of Mozart also it is said that he 
remained a child all his life. Schlichtegroll's Nekrolog says of 
him : * In his art he became a man at an early age ; but in all other 
respects he always remained a child. ... A man who does not 
practically remain a big child as long as he lives may be a very 
useful and estimable citizen of the world, but never a genius.** 

When Bichard Wagner was seven years old his step- 
father wrote a letter to Uncle Albert in which he com- 
plained that the boy left the seat of a pair of trousers 
hanging on a fence every day. We have seen how he 
used to terrify his mother by jumping down stairs, slid- 

1 One of his pranks was to stand in the market-place at Weimar with 
the Duke, cracking whips, and scandalizing the Philistines by his mi- 
dignified behavior. Byron's childish actions, and the charfM of insan* 
ity based on them by Philistines, are weU known. 


ing down the banisters, and perpetrating other daring 
acrobatic feats; and how he climbed to the roof of the 
schoolhouse after his playmate's cap. Herein, too, the 
boy was father to the man. Praeger relates two oharac- 
teristic anecdotes Apropos: — 

" I remeiober full veil one day, nlieo we were sitting together 
In Ihe drawiiig-rcKim at Ttiebschen (1871), on a sort o( ottoman, 
talking over tLe events of the years gone by, when he auddenlj 
rose and atood oo his head on the ottoman. At the very moment 
he WHS in that inverted position the door opened, and Madame 
Witgner entered. Her eurprise and alarm were great, and she 
hastened forwant, exclaiming, ■ Ach 1 lieber Richard I Ricbanl I ' 
Quickly recoverinK himself, be reaasured her of hU sanity, eipiain- 
ing that ho waa only ehoning Ferdinand he could sland on hia head 
at sixty, which naa more than the said Ferdinand could do." 

On a previous oceasion, when Praeger risited Wag- 
ner at Ztirich, he was taken on an excursion to the falls 

of the Ehine. They spent the night in the hotel, and 
breakfast was to be in the garden, but when the hour 
arrived Wagner was nowhere to be found. At last shouts 
were heard from a height. Wagner had mounted on 
the back of a plaster lion placed at a giddy height; "And 
how he came down! The recklessness of a schoolboy 
was iu all his movements. We were in fear; he laughed 
heartily, saying he had gone up there to get an appetite 
for breakfast." 

Judith Gautier gives us a pleasant glimpse of this 
same trait, in her souvenirs of Triebsehen: — 

" One of the most remarkable things about Wagner is the 
youtliful gaiety which so frequently breaks out, and the charm- 
ing good humor which his tormented life has never been able 
to quench, Uia entertaining and profound conversation will 


become all M once, wiUumt tnuudtloii, Ml ol humor and ImagliW' 
tion. He tellB itories In the moat comical manner, with a fine 
irony which belongs to him alone. At Lucerne he auiprlsed mo 
by hla iklll in bodily exercises and by his slngolar aglUty. Be 
climbed the highest trees In his garden, to the terror of hU wife, 
who besought me not to look at him, because, she said, U he were 
encouraged he would commit no end of follies." 

Wolzogen relates that one day at the Villa Wahnfried, 
when Liszt had been playing as only he could play, and 
erei; one present was deeply moved, Wagner saddenly 
got CHI his knees and hands, crawled up to the pianist, 
and exclaimed: "Fianz, to you people should come only 
on all fonts [" 

This playfulness also shows itself in the droll jokes 
he is always perpetrating in his letters, especially in the 
apostrophes and signatures. He is constantly vaiying 
the monotony of "My Deai Friend" and that sort of 
thing by such allocutions as " theatre-music-fiddllng- 
fellow"; " dearest friend, brother and regisseui"} "kind 
old sinner"; "0 you most excellent fellow, man, 
brother, friend, chorus-director, and music-copyist " ; " O 
you wicked fellow "; "Oh you good, fatherly brother "; 
"much-tortured chamber-musician"; " HeTrgottatauaend- 
aakramenter" ; "Oh you bad man (Aomo maliu)"; "0 
you man, &omo terribUu (Lin. II. 63) "; "Sancte Fran- 
ziscel Ora pro nobisi" "Hi-ha-Heine "; "Heinemto- 
nel"; "dear old j)!ay-fellow " (to punning Wagner was 
almost as much addicted as Beethoven). More of these 
playfn] things are addressed to Fischer than to Uhlig; 
perhaps Wagner had not forgotten that Uhlig took the 
broad sarcasm of letter No. 10, in which he described his 
happiness in Paris, and admiration for Meyerbeer, for a 


sober statement of facta. The close of this letter illua- 
trates another form of Wagnei'a epiatolaiy drollery. It 
ends in this wise; — 

" To my joy, some one is pUying the piano overhead ; bat do 
melody, only accomptutiment, which has a charm for me in tliat I 
can pmctiBB myself in the art of (Inding melodies — Adieu 1 Bon 
jour t Comment voua portez-vous ? AgrCez I'aHSurance de la 
plus baute conBtderation, aveo taquelle j'al rhonneur d'etre TOtre 
tout dovoufi M 

The letter is signed as the French pronounced his 
name — "Richard Vanier." In other letters he signs 
himself "your reformed rake," "reformed scamp," "your 
fussy R. W." Even illneaa does not sober him, and he 
must pun on his erysipelas; "I have had 'rosea ' on my 
face again; but still mj humor will not turn very rosy." 
And one day wlien he is too ill to get np lie mites a 
letter to Uhlig in telegraphic style beginning vitb this 
untranslatable pun : " Dieser Brief wird Dir sehr gelegen 
kommen, denn ich schreibe ihn liegend." He coins 
new verba out of the names of his operas, talks of 
"etwas vornibelungen"; tells how he has "getannhau- 
sert," and "gelohengrint," "wir walken morgen kfire," 
and so on. When he gave photographs or copies of 
his works to friends he usually chose some humorous 
form of dedication. 

His ready wit was often shown at rehearsals. He 
found that a joke was the moat effective and least offen- 
sive way of correcting a mistake. When the trombones 
once played too loud for him, at a rehearsal of Rienzx, 
he remarked, with a smile; "Gentlemen, if I mistake 
not, we are in Dresden, and not marching round Jericho, 
where your ancestors, strong of lung, blew down the 


city walls." ^ A propos of the Mendelssohnian fashion 
of rattling off an allegro in London, he remarked that evi- 
dently in England, "time is music." The very "full" 
programmes he was called upon to conduct in London, 
coupled with the cry of omnibus conductors "full in- 
side," led him to call himself the "Conductor of the 
Philharmonic Omnibus." Praeger relates that when 
quizzed about his ridiculously clumsy fingering at the 
piano, "he would reply with characteristic waggishness, 
'I play a great deal better than Berlioz,' who^ it should 
be stated, could not play at all." 

At Ziirich it was his habit, if he got up first, to sit 
dpwn at the piano and wake his wife by playing, with 
strange harmonies, "Gtet up, get up, thou merry Swiss 
boy." Sometimes he would take up a Leipzig paper, 
just arrived, and paralyze his wife by reading to her, 
with the most sober mien in the world, astounding bits 
of news, till the manifest exaggeration betrayed him. 
Even in the darkest hour of his life, when he fled to 
Stuttgart in fear of his pursuing creditors, his sense of 
humor was not subdued. On the evening before his 
departure he went once more to the village barber, and 
after he had been shaved he said, " Yes, my friend, it's 
no use, I must go; you are altogether too exorbitant." 
The poor man took this seriously and begged him not to 
go on that account^ as he was willing to shave him for 
less. Fran Wille, who tells this anecdote, and who had 

1 Hr. Sachleben, one of Bfr. Theodore Thomas's yiolonoeUists, remem- 
bers some characteristic utterances of Wagner's at a Hamburg rehearsal 
for a Bayreuth benefit concert. With pathetic drollery Wagner found 
fault with Hamburg for having so many fine, large buildings but not a 
single — bass-clarinet I He was standing near the edge of the platform 
and some one warned him lest he might fall. ** That's aU right," he 
y>«i^ii«^ ; «• I couldn't help falling on a Jew in thii plaoo." 



frequeut opportunity to note tlie humorous, sarcastic, 
and playful inoods of her guest, quotes the apt re- 
marks of an English writer tliat "there is nothing so 
pleasant as the nonseoae of men of genius; but no fool 
should be present." 



The anecdotes of the last pages form a natural bridge 
which takes ns back to our narrative. The great event 
now to be considered is the first performance of Wag- 
ner's only comic opera. The Maateraingers of Nuremberg, 
Although he once refers to his Siegfried poem as a 
''comic-opera-text/' and although that drama has not 
a few comic features, especially in the first act; yet, as a 
whole, one would hardly class it as a humorous work; 
at any rate, it is in Die Meisterainger that his playful 
and humorous traits are chiefly exemplified. But before 
describing this opera a few events that happened in 
Munich previous to its performance must be briefly 

In the last of the letters to Heine, dated Munich, 
March 28, 1868, Wagner invites his old friend to the 
impending performances of the Meistersinger, offering to 
pay the cost of the expedition. He explains that he is 
still living in Lucerne, where he has a home in the most 
absolute stillness and retirement; adding, in regard to 
Munich: ''Here I am only en visite, and I run off the 
moment the 'entertainment ' and 'distraction ' become too 
much for me." 

One of these visits was made in March, 1867, for the 



purpose of arranging foi a model performance of Loken- 
grin; but even ou this occasion he did not reside in tlie 
city, but remained for a few months in his former villa 
at Lake Staruberg. Loltengrin was to be for the first 
time given absolutely without cuts, and with the beat 
obtainable east. Betz came from Berlin, Frau Mayr 
from Nuremberg, Tichatschek from Dresden; Frl. Mal- 
linger was the Elsa. Rehearsals were held as if the 
opera had never before been given in Munich. BCilow, 
who had been temporarily reinstated (and to whom the 
King had written a flattering letter in the preceding year, 
regretting that he had been led to give up hia place by 
the calumnious newspaper attacks), worked ten hours a 
day at these rehearsals, and rumor said that he even 
slept in the theatre. Everything promised well, but 
Wagner, of course, was fated not to enjoy the result. 
This time, strange to say, the disturbance came from 
the King himself. As Wag:ner relates, in a letter to 
Fraeger ; — 

"Tichatschek had displeaaed bim, and he asserted he would 
never again attend a performaitce or rehearsal in nhich tbitt singer 
took part. As Uiis dislike referred only lo the stiff acting of 
Tichatscbek (for he had sung splendidly), I felt that the King's 
enthusiasm inclined to the spectacular, and where this was defec- 
tive, !ie could not elsewhere find compensation. But now comeB 
the outrage. Without consulting me, he ordered Tichatschek and 
the Ortrud to be sent away. I was, and am, furious, and forthwith 
mean to quit Munich." 

In place of the two artists thus dismissed, two young 
singers who subsequently won so much fame in Wagne- 
rian rSles, Herr Vogl and Frl. Thoma (\a.teT Frau Vogl), 
made their appearance, consequently the opera did not 



suffer. It was received with much enthusiasm, bat 
when Wagner had left, bhe old cuts were restored. The 
public was not yet ripe for a complete Lohengrin; in- 
deed, no less an authority than Albert Niemann had 
once asserted that Lohengrin without cuts was impossi- 
ble! The King's action in changing the cast gave rise 
to all sorts of rumors. Wagner's own explanation is 
probably the correct one: — 

'* The erUouragt of the King seemed to have coDceiyed a thor- 
ough dislike to Tichatschek. But what is more trae, they were, I 
am conyinced, desirous of preyenting my appearing with the King, 
because they feared a demonstration." 

The composer returned to Triebschen, where he com- 
pleted the Meistersinger score in October. In more than 
one respect he was '^ in clover " at that time. Not only 
was the King willing and eager to have the new opera 
produced at once, but its author numbered among his 
assistants three of the most capable musicians of the 
century. Hans Bichter, who had copied the score at 
Triebschen, was appointed chorus-master, Hans von 
Bfilow conducted, and Karl Tausig arranged the full 
score for piano, a task which he accomplished as satis- 
factorily as Btilow had in the case of Tristan. It was 
not practicable to produce the new opera in the year of 
its completion, but Hans Richter set to work at once 
teaching his singers the difficult and important choruses. 
His conscientiousness and thoroughness may be inferred 
from this, that no fewer than sixty-six chorus rehearsals 
were held before the first performance. A slight in- 
crease in salary, combined with a growing enthusiasm 
for the music, made the singers willingly submit to 


this unprecedented demand on their time. In his own 
sphere, BCilow was no less energetic. The orchestra 
was enlarged to eighty men, some of the older players 
temporarily replaced by younger ones; and although the 
remark was made by one in authority regarding Wagner 
and Bfilow that "to these two it does not make the 
slightest difference if they are obliged to pass over corpses 
to reach their goal," no fiddler or blower is known to 
have committed melodic or harmonic suicide on this 
occasion; nor was the score murdered; on the contrary, 
when it came to the point of attack, these musicians 
played as they had never played before. Chorus and 
orchestra. Indeed, were the most perfect factors at the 
first representations. 

An interesting and detailed description of incidents 
connected with these rehearsals may be found in Nohl's 
Neuea Skizzenbuch (350-385). A few points only can be 
noted here. BUlow, unlike his conservative and indo- 
lent predecessor, Lachner, always stood up to conduct. 
Wa^er was omnipresent. In this opera, in which 
"every step, every nod of the head, every gesture of 
the arms, every opening of the door, is musically illus- 
trated," it was of supreme importance that a correct 
tratlition should be established, and the Master did his 
best in this direction by accompanying every bar with 
the appropriate gestures, which the singers endeavored 
to copy — endeavored, witliout always succeeding; for 
Wagner was a wonderful actor, and if he had had more 
voice he would have been an interpreter of his own 
works such as the world has never seen. Nohl specially 
notes one detail; "He showed Beckmesser at the point 
where he is finally driven frantic by Sachs's persistent 


singing and hammering, how he must suddenly rush at 
the 'malicious and insolent ' cobbler: it was a positively 
tiger-like, quivering jump which Hdlzl had trouble to 
imitate even jmrtially." Besides Holzl, the cast in- 
cluded Betz, Nachbaur, Schlosser, Mallinger, and Diez 
in the r61es of Sachs, Walter, David, Eva, and Magda- 
lena respectively. Of these singers, Mallinger required 
least interference on Wagner's part. A Viennese feu- 
illetonist, in describing the rehearsals, says : — 

** Only when Frftolein Mallinger sings, does Wagner pause occa- 
sionally in his directions ; he listens with evident pleasure, then 
walks up and down the stage with short steps, one hand in his 
trousers' pocket, and finally sits down on the chair beside the 
prompter's box, nodding his head in a satisfied and pleased way, 
and smiling all over his face. But if anything in the orchestra 
displeases him, which happens not infrequently, he jumps up as if 
a snake had bitten him, claps his hands, and calls to the orchestra, 
after Bttlow has rapped for silence : * Piano, gentlemen, piano t 
That must be played softly, softly, softly, as if it came to us from 
another world 1 * And the orchestra begins again. * More softly 
still,* cries Wagner, with an appropriate gesture ; — so, sOy so, gut, 
gut, gut, 9ehr schone.^ '' ^ 

Among the notabilities who were present during 
the rehearsals were Dingelstedt, Hfilsen, Esser, Eck- 
ert, Pasdeloup, Kalliwoda, Niemann, Tichatschek, 
Kirchner, Tausig, Pauline Viardot Garcia, Turgenieff, 
Schott, Pohl, Hanslick, G. Engel, etc. In the audito- 
rium there were also some well-known artists who were 
to judge if the 45,000 florins expended on the scenery 
had been well utilized. After the last rehearsal the 
composer delivered an address of thanks to the artists, 

1 The reference is to Eva's words (Act in J« " Einer weiie mUd nnd 


embracing several of them, while some of tho singers 
crowded around to kisa hia arm or shoulder. Turning 
finally to the orchestra, he said : " To you 1 have nothing 
further to say. We are German musicians; we under- 
stand each other without words." Whereat, a joyous 
oom motion. 

The first performance was on June 21, 1868. It began 
at 5.30 and lasted four hours and forty minutes, includ- 
ing intermissions.' The house was crowded from pit to 
gallery, and the King was in his box, to which he had 
invited Wagner. It was a foregone conclusion that a 
new work like the Meiaterainger, in such a performance, 
before such an audience, would meet with a most cordial 
reception. The principal numbers were lustily ap- 
plauded, and at the end of the first act the calls for the 
composer would not cease. Wagner always disliked 
showing himself to the public. But on this occasion he 
could not withdraw, and, at a hint from the King, he 
got up and bowed. This had the effect of redoubling 
the applause; hut the act itself — a "commoner" bow- 
ing from the King's box — was regarded by members of 
the old " aristocracy " as a dreadful breach of etiquette. 
A North German paper, instead! of rejoicing that a King 
had been great enough to recognize the royalty of Genius, 
thus commented on this episode; "The self-assertion, 
the contempt for public opinion, shown by thus bowing 

1 Tlie masic \tae\t lasted four boura and tbree minutes : first set, one 
hour seventeeii minutcH; second, fl[ty-fii-e minutes; third, one hour 
fifty-one minutes, according to B. Folil, who eives these eiact dais to 
refute the charges of " ejcesgive length." Although these lengths are 
official, it must be remembered that repetition makes Wagner-perform- 
ances more and more i^ompact. Mr. Seidl. who is secood to none as 
a Wagoer lulerpreter. has repeatedly conducted this opera (In New 
York) in a little OTer tbree hours and a lutlt wltb very law Miloni cnU- 


from the so-called Kai9eriogej docs not redound to the 
honor either of Wagner or of art!'' But apart from 
this petty incident, the Meisteninger premUre was the 
most joyful event, the most brilliant success, of Wag- 
ner's whole career. A number of repetitions followed, 
and most of the operatic managers from other cities at 
once made arrangements for acquiring the right to repro- 
duce the novelty. 


In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries poetiy and song 
in Europe were in the hands of the Troubadours in Pro- 
vence and the Minnesingers in Germany. They were 
chiefly knights and other noblemen, kings and princes 
even being found among their numbers. But in course 
of time the higher classes lost their interest in such 
pursuits, and the cultivation of poetiy and song was 
taken up by the artisans in the towns, — the tailors, 
weavers, shoemakers, and other Meister, or " bosses," who 
formed societies and fostered the Meistergesang, in 
accordance with a large number of fixed, conventional 
rules of amazing complexity and artificiality. One of 
the chief seats of these Mastersingers was Nuremberg, 
which, at the time of the immortal 

Hans Sachs shoe- 
Maker and poet too, 

in the middle of the sixteenth century had more than 

two hundred and fifty of them. Into this picturesque 

mediaeval circle Wagner introduces us in his comic opera. 

Act I. The curtain rises on a scene representing the 


interior of the St. Catharine's Church in Kutemberg. 
The congregation is just engaged in singing, to the 
accompajiinient of organ, the last stanza of a stately 
choral. In one of the last rows of benches is seated Eva, 
daughter of Pogner, the wealthy goldsmith. Her devo- 
tion is sadly disturbed by the young knight, WaJther 
von Stolzing, who is leaning against a neighboring pil- 
lar, and whose admiring glances and gestures she does 
not at all discourage. As the congregation leaves, he 
finds an opportunity to speak to her, the chaperon Mag- 
dalena having been sent ba«k after Eva's handkerchief. 
Without many preliminaries, the knight confesses his 
love, but hears to his consternation that Eva is practi- 
cally betrothed ; for on the morrow she is to be bestowed 
on the Meistersinger who shall, with his song, win the 
prize at the festival. However, Eva (who, like all of 
Wagner's heroines, loves as frankly as tTuliet) gives him 
a hint that, happen what may, she will bestow the prize 
on him or on no one, and leaves with her chaperon; 
while Walther remains watching the preparations which 
are being made for an assembly of the Mastersingers. 
Pending their arrival he gets David, the mischievous 
apprentice of Hans Sachs, to initiate him into the mys- 
teries and rules of the musical code or " tablature " of 
those artisan-artists ; for he has made up his mind to 
become a Meisler too, since only a Meister can sue for 
Eva's hand. David proceeds to tell him at great length 
how he must master the rules of the tablature with all 
its prohibitions, and pass through the successive stages 
of "scholar," "schoolman," and "poet," before he can 
aspire to be a "mastersinger," that is, one who can set to 
music his own verses. Walther decides to try for the 


^Meister" degree at onoey which sablime eonfidenee 
causes David to exclaim, ^O Lena! O Magdalena! ^ 

The Mastersingeis arriTe at last, to the stnins of a 
pompons march, in groaps of two and three. The roll 
is called, and Pogner annoonoes what Walther had 
already heard from Eva. The knight now steps for- 
ward and begs to be examined for admission into the 
worthy society; much to the disgust of one of their 
number, Beckmesser, an old, nghr, ooooeited, and disa- 
greeable character, who turns out to be his rival for the 
prize and, what is worse, the critic^ or marker, who Is 
to chalk down his errors. To prore his fitness for the 
desired honor Walther is required to sing a new son^ 
in which, if he deriates more than seren times from the 
thirty-three rules of the tablatnre, he has vermngen^ or, 
to use an Americanism, is Splayed out.'' A chair is 
placed for him on one side, while Beckmesser takes his 
stand behind a screen, where he is to note down on a 
blackboard every violation of the roles. Walther f ings 
of nature, love, and women, but long before his delight- 
ful song is finished, Beckmesser, who has all the time 
been scratching away audibly, rushes out angrily and 
holds up the board, all covered with marks. The Mas- 
ters agree with him as to the knight's complete fiasco: 
his song is voted contrary to all traditional forms and 
usages, — no cadences, no vocal embellishments, and "of 
melody not a trace.'' Hans Sachs alone interposes in his 
favor. He finds the song "new, yet not confused,'' and 
cautions his colleagues not to measure by their own rules 
that of which they have not yet discovered the rules. 
But, in spite of this, the Masters decide that Walther 
has outsung himself. 



Act II. Characteristic narrow street in old Nurem- 
berg, smelling of feudal times and limiting city-walls. 
To the left the humble house of Hana Sachs, to the 
right the more elegant mansion of Pogner. We see and 
hear first a score of frolicsome apprentices making fun 
of David, who has been discovered to be in love with 
Magdalena, Eva has heard that Walther'a song waa 
adjudged a failure. She visits Sachs for confirmation of 
this report. Widower Sachs really has a tender feeling 
for Eva too, but knows how to repress it. By appar- 
ently abusing the knight: "Be a friend still of him be- 
fore whom we all felt so small? " he provokes Eva's angry 
resentment and thus discovers, what he had before sus- 
pected, that she is in love, Eva returns and meets her 
lover, who, after a passionate greeting, bitterly de- 
nounces the narrow-minded Masters, and then proposes 
an elopement : the horses are already waiting in front 
of the city-gates. But Sachs has overheard their rash 
project and frustrates their departure by opening his 
shutter and throwing a strong liglit on the street. The 
lovers retire behind the bushes in front of Pogner's 
house. While they are waiting, that grotesque institu- 
tion of the middle ages (still surviving in some small 
German towns), the night-watchman, comes up the 
street, with his spear and lantern, blowing his ox-horn, 
and proclaiming the hour of the night. This danger 
past, a more serious one presents itself. Beckmesser, 
who had announced his intention to serenade Eva (to 
meet which contingency Magdalena had been requested 
to don Eva's clothes and appear in the window), comes 
along to begin operations. To his infinite disgust, Sachs, 
who still has an eye on the fugitive lovers, at this 


moment carries his work-bench in front of the house and 
begins to hammer away and sing a jovial song about Eve, 
and how she suffered with her bare feet, after expulsion, 
till the Lord had his angel make shoes for her. The 
suspicious knight does not quite catch the drift of the 
song and thinks that his Eva is being made fun of, but 
she pacifies him by pointing out that the reference is to 
another Eve. Beckmesser is more angry still; he en- 
treats, commands Sachs to stop, begins his serenade 
several times; but Sachs persists in hammering away at 
the shoes — Beckmesser 's shoes; for had not Beckmes- 
ser sneered at him in the morning for neglecting his 
work over his poetry? The shoes must be finished for 
to-morrow, and he begs Beckmesser to proceed, telling 
him he will ''mark" his faults on the soles with his 
hammer even as he had chalked down the knight's faults 
on the blackboard. Beckmesser finally decides to pay 
no more attention to the cobbler, but proceeds with his 
ludicrous serenade, with its old-fashioned vocal orna- 
ments and turns and twists, to the twangy accompani- 
ment of his lute. The song, combined with Sachs's 
hammering, finally arouses the neighbors from tlieir 
slumbers. David comes out, and recognizing the dis- 
guised Magdalena looking out of the window to which 
Beckmesser's song is directed, he attacks the musician 
and beats him unmercifully. The street is soon filled with 
apprentices and workmen of all trades, who take sides in 
the quarrel. The noise is increased by the cries of the 
women, who are looking out of the windows on the 
riotous scene below. Suddenly the horn of the watch- 
man is heard, and in a moment the crowd has dispersed. 
The sudden contrast is most amusing, as the watchman 


comes slowly down the street, blowing his immense ox- 
born, and solemnly proclaiming the eleventh hour. The 
curtain drgps on an act which abounds in genuine humor, 
grotesque effects, and telling sarcasm. 

Act III. A deeply meditative spirit pervades tlie in- 
troduction to the last act. Hans Sachs sits in his room, 
reading a large folio and engaged in pessimistic reflec- 
tions on past events. He is interrupted by David, who 
comes to congratulate him on his birthday, sings his 
apprentice soug about St. John on the banks of the 
Jordan, advises his master to marry again, and leaves, 
glad not to be taken to task for his pugnacious conduct 
of the preceding night. Walther now enters and tells 
Sachs a wonderful dream which he had during the uight 
— Waltber's melodious prize-song. Sachs carefully 
notes it down on a slip of paper. Thus, from an unex- 
pected quarter, is the knight equipped for the coming 
contest. After they have gone to prepare for the festi- 
val, Beckmesser enters, finds the paper lying on the 
table, and quickly puts it in his pocket. A new song by 
Sachs! There is time left for him to learn it, and with 
it he must surely win the prize. Sachs returns, discov- 
ers the theft, but tells Beckmesser he may keep the 
poem and use it. The latter rushes out, wild with joy. 
Eva enters, richly dressed in white. One of her shoes 
does not quite fit. While Sachs makes it right, Walther 
returns, and dazzled by the beauty of his expected bride, 
addresses to her a verse of his song. David and Magda- 
lena also appear, and the scene ends in a quintet. 

The scene changes to a wide meadow, with a most 
imposing view of the whole city of Nuremberg in the 
background. Boats on the river, floral decorations. 


men, women, and children in festive attire, singing and 
dancing. A chorus of shoemakers sing the praises of 
St. Crispin, who stole the leather from the rich to make 
shoes for the poor; the tailors tell of the patriotic feats 
of one of their number, who was sewed up in a goat- 
skin, and, by frisking about on the city wall, induced 
the enemy to raise the siege in despair. The bakers 
also have their song. At last the Mastersingers come 
marching along to the sounds of their glorious march. 
On an eminence quickly constructed with pieces of turf 
Beckmesser now takes his stand, confused and trem- 
bling; but his ill-gotten song is too much for him. His 
memory fails him, and he is obliged (to use a college 
phrase) to ''crib'' several times from his manuscript. 
Of the text he makes the most ludicrous nonsense, and 
his melody is a capital parody of an obsolete vocal style 
with its bombastic embellishments. The people inter- 
rupt him several times with exclamations of surprise, 
and finally his song is drowned by their laughter and 
cries of derision. Enraged, he throws the manuscript 
on the ground, and exclaims it is not his — Hans Sachs 
is the author. Sachs explains that the poem is good, 
only it must be properly rendered. It is agreed that he 
who can sing its proper melody shall receive the prize. 
Walther steps forward, fulfils these conditions, and 
wins the bride. A jubilant outburst of full orchestra 
and chorus, with swinging of hats and handkerchiefs, 
follows, and the curtain drops on this most realistic and 
lively representation of a QetmsjiVolksfest. 



Even this bare outline of the plot miist convince the 
reader that never has there been written a comedy more 
replete with merry incidents and stirring scenes than 
the Maslersingers of Nvremberg. Aa a picture of medi- 
SBval life it is as realistic, accurate, and delightful as 
the beat of Scott's novels. Two of Wagner's sources of 
local color, in incident and language, were Wagenseil's 
Nilmberger Chronik (1697) and the works of the prolific 
cobbler-poet Hans Sachs. Lortzing'a opera of Nana 
Sachs may have su^ested a few hints for tbe love- 
story ; but for the rest, Die JHeUtersiitger is his own crea- 
tion. And what a creation! /iiven without the music it 
would make a most amusing play. No other poem gives 
a better idea of his eminently dramatic genius, of hia 
wonderful fertility of invention, hia keen eye for theatri- 
cal effect, the only serious fault being a tendency to 
dwell too long on some of the scenes; a tendency which 
is more objectionable in comedy than in tragedy. Yet 
it must be remembered that here, as in all of Wagner's 
operas, many passages that seem unduly spun out do not 
appear so if the singers are good actors and bring out 
all the points of the pja^f^ Perhaps the best proof of 
the greatness of this poem lies in the numerous lines it 
contains that serve for apt citations in everyday situa- 
tions; many of these will find their way into the diction- 
aries of familiar quotations. 

Instead of calling this Wagner's only comic opera it 
would perhaps be more accurate to call it satiric; for 
it is not comic in the exact sense in which some of 


Mozart's, Rossini's, and Auber's operas are comic. The 
humor is essentially German and Wagnerian — a combi- 
nation of playfulness, exuberant animal spirits, practi- 
cal jokes, puns, burlesque, and withal an undercurrent 
of amiability, seriousness, passion, and even sadness, 
as in all great humorous literature. Every form of 
humor is represented, .the lowest as well as the highest; 
from the horse-play accompanying the riot scene, the 
pun on Yogelgesang's name, and the broad burlesque of 
Beckmesser's serenade, to the more subtle persiflage of 
Kothner's address, the merry mockery of the appren- 
tices, the quaint spectacle of the watchman, the chival- 
rous bluster of the knight, the rollicking cobbler songs, 
and the subtle satire of Sachs. In this variety of humor, 
from the lowest to the highest, Wagner resembles Shake- 
speare. Yet there have been commentators who pro- 
tested they could not see anything funny in this opera. 
Quite likely. The French have never been able to ap- 
preciate Shakespeare's humor; but is that Shakespeare's 
fault? There is a national taste in jokes as there is an 
individual taste. Qeorge Eliot has said that '^ there is 
no greater strain on the affections than a difference of 
taste in jokes." But a person of refinement and cosmo- 
politan culture enjoys humor all the more for its local 
color; does not sneer at a joke because it is French, or 
English, or Crerman, or because it does not smell of 
Paris or London or Berlin. For my part, I have not 
only often enjoyed immensely the drolleries and the 
sarcasm in Die Meistersinger, but I have heard crowded 
audiences in New York, Berlin, Munich, and Vienna 
laugh so loudly over its fun that the music was drowned 
for the moment. 


What makes tlie satire in Die Meiateraiiiger t)ie more 
interesting, is the fact that it has a biogi'aphic signifi- 
cance, Wagner himaelf was fond of dwelling in his 
essays (especially in the Covimtinication to my Friendt) 
on the personal elements that entered into his operas. 
In the case of his comic opera one mu3t be very obtuae 
indeed not to bo able to read between the lines — and in 
them — that it is a musical autobiography, just as hia 
Parisian novelettes described his own feelings and trials 
in the guise of fiction. Of course, Wagner was too 
much of an artist to mar his drama by too minute etab- 
oratiou of this biographic element; but in a general way 
it may be said that Walther, with his novel melodic 
form, which violates the pedantic rules of the Master- 
singers (tune-form), repreBeots the "music of the future"; 
Beckmesser embodies the ignorant, malicious, and n&r- 
row-minded critics who can see no good in aoythlng 
that is new in art; and the poet, Hans Sachs, represents 
enlightened public opinion, always ready to appreciate a 
genius in advance of bis professional colleagues. Hans 
Sachs is the most delightful character in the whole range 
of operatic literature. His speeches are the most mar- 
rowy Wagner has written. When Walther insists on 
singing his third stanza, at the examination, even though 
Beckmesser and the other " experts " have already con- 
demned hiia, Sachs exclaims : — 

" Das heisa ich Muth, aingt der noch forti " 

(" I call that courage ; be still sings on ") — which brings 
before us Wagner himself, of whom it has been wittily 
said that when the critics condemned him for doing a 
certain thing be replied by " doing it again, only more 

so." It should also be noted tint iliiioii^ Savdis ic l3tMt 
champion of spontaneoas genhu and itorirhT is an, l«e. 
nevertheless, like the tme Wagxter (not tLe sueudMbouft 
caricatore of the erities », insists ikxad the incpetniciiis 
knight shoold respect the old mastcxs: ^ V^nehtet ntir 
die Meister nicht." How deli^^btfnllj, text, tiae qnesetaoD 
of the *^ endless" or "fbiest Melody " is g"*""**^ iq^ 
in Sachs's lines: — 

«• Nor mit der Xdodflf 

Knr MI'S nidk 

• ■« 

In prose: ''Bat vidi the melodj joa ai« a Bttfe free; 
yet would I not call that a isolt; odj 'tis sot €aisj to 
remember, and that annoys i0ar old ODf»." 

Tet there is nothing biuer in his UtaasL-ffid <A tLt ene- 
mies who are satirized in this Qi0en^ It if tjjfjwii that 
he suffered most acntelj from the criticsd tLorxts wLxrh 
were incessantly thrust into his heart; D^TertLel/f^sSy 
when he came to take his rerenge, he simplj gare the 
public a chance to see the ** Beokmessers ^ in their true 
light as unconscious clowns and grotesque fc^ols. There 
is, besides, a sly point of sarcasm in this, that Boekmes- 
ser is made not only Walther's judge, but also his riral, 
and thus has extra reason to hate him, because he takes 
away his prize. By way of emphasizing this point I 
may quote here what Pohl says in another oonnection: — 


Tbe mediocre operft^oompoten are, witbom ezoepcioii, Wagoief^s 
enemies. . . . £mil Xsnnumn, and hif friend, Ccmit toii Hocb- 
berg. Max Bmch, Gail Reinecke, Abert, Rheinthakr, ele., not to 
forget RnWmtffa,— all are more or lesi enraged whtm Wsgner is 


mentioned in tlielr presence. For Wagner alone is to blame Ibal 
Lhelr operas do not ainounl to anything. Had Wagner uever been, 
they would be somebodies, while now tbty are nobodies. Conse- 
quently — such IB their logic — Wagner is the niin of art 1 " 

Anotber amusiug actual feature in this comedy is 
that some of the critics who feel more or less guilty of 
having once been Beckmessers, still are a little sore on 
the subject and mercilessly abuse actors who are intelli- 
gent enough to treat this part in a real burlesque spirit. 
But Wagner shows by his whole treatment of this role 
— the blackboard scene, the tuning and twanging of the 
lute, the grotesque serenade, the antics (musical and 
mimic) in Sachs's room after the fight, and especially 
the laughable parody of the prize aong on the little stand 
on the meadow : — 

" Morgen Ich leuchte la rodgem Bcbein, 
Voll Blat und Duft," etc., 

that he intended this rfliaracter to be essentially a bur- 
lesque, and not the doleful, dignified duffer the critics 
referred to would have it. Wagner even rewrote the 
mock prize-song and made it more extravagant than be- 
fore. Beckmesser is naturally a silly fellow, and in 
this case his pedantry, arrogance, and incompetence are 
aggravated in such a manner by blinding jealousy that 
he cannot help making a fool of himself. If he did not 
make a fool of himself, why should the people laugh at 
him loudly, and the Masters exclaim : " What does this 
mean? Can he be crazy? " ' 

' 0[ course tlie self -burl eeque Tnnst be Dnconecioug on BeckmesBer's 
parL Wagner wrote to a tenor In 1ST2: " Be serious throughout. . . . 
Great pettinsu and much gall. Take as a model any captious critic." 


Perhaps the most astounding thing about this comic 
opera is that its music differs from that of the tragic 
IVistan as widely as does the poem. Comparing the 
two, no one can fail to be struck by the profound origi- 
nality and extreme range of Wagner's genius. Although, 
of course, every bar of his music bears his autograph, 
yet there is hardly anything in the Meiaterainger that 
suggests its predecessor, except the deliberate reference 
of Sachs to the story of Tristan and Isolde, which, of 
course, evokes from the orchestra a couple of Leading 
Motives from the Tristan score. In Tristan all is head- 
long, impetuous passion, leaving one hardly time to gasp 
for breath; while Die Meistersinger is full of fun and 
frolic, naive mirth, sweet simple melody, and brisk, 
exhilarating rhythms. In its unfathomable wealth of 
melody this comic opera is a marvel. Surely Mozart 
was a great melodist, especially in his operas, yet Pro- 
fessor Tappert does not exaggerate when he says that 
there is more melody in Die Meistersinger than in all of 
Mozart's operas combined. We may also ask : Where, 
in the whole range of music, is there such a soulful 
orchestral prelude as that of the third act? Where a 
more exquisite melody than the prize-song? where a 
concerted piece of more thrilling beauty than the quintet 
of the last act? where a more stirring choral than that 
which opens the opera, or a more glorious chorus than 
the '' Wachet Auf " ? And how all these melodies, with 
scores of others, are interwoven throughout the opera, 
making the music mirror the poem word by word! Pre- 
viously to Wagner it was considered the supreme achieve- 
ment of musical genius to write, not even a whole 
symphony, but only a single symphonic movement (last- 


iog about a quarter of an hour) in such a way that its 
themes are logically developed and connected; but here 
we have a a four-hour sr/mphomc score organically con- 
nected in all Ha parts I Think how much greater a genius 
for form, ia required to do this than to write a symphonic 
movement! and think how much more brains are re- 
quired to grasp such au achievement, and realize its 
marvel than to be simply tickled by a string of operatic 
tunes to the accompaniment of au orchestral guitar I 

It would detain us too long to refer even to the principal 
musical beauties of this score, Herbeck, who conducted 
this opera when it was first produced in Vienna, said 
that if Wagner had written nothing but the introduction 
of the third act, he would have to be claased with the 
immortal composers. The introduction to the first act 
is quite as fine in its way, but Is much more difficult to 
interpret properly on account of the constant modifica- 
tion of tempo called for. One of the most fascinating 
details in the whole score has always teen to me that 
stupendous pedal point which is heard when the congre- 
gation leaves church (and generally overlooked in the 
interest inspired by the flirtation in the foreground) — 
a long-drawn-out basa note which serves as pivot for a 
series of superb modulations — resembling a church 
organ with orchestral sonority and wealth of coloring. 
In tlie second act one of the musical gems is Sachs's mon- 
ologue, when the fragrance of the elder tree, transmuted 
into tones, is diffused over the wliole audience. What 
colors! what modulations! And how poetically this 
act closes! A Meyerbeer would have ended it, for 
"effect," with the noisy mob-scene and "free fight." 
Not so Wagner. The rise of the moon on the narrow 


mediffival street, the appearance of the timid old watch- 
maiiy with his spear and lantern, while the orchestra 
wafts zephyrs of fragrant reminiscences over the audito- 
rium, is an episode which alone would stamp its creator 
as the most imaginative and poetic of modern dramatists. 
The realism and " local color " of the scenes in which 
this watchman appears are greatly heightened if he blows 
a real ox-horn (instead of having his part blown on a 
trombone, as was done at first in Vienna and in New 
York). The tones of the real ox-horn contrast most de- 
lightfully with the gossamer moonlight harmonies which 
follow in the orchestra, and Wagner was even more solici- 
tous about this horn than about Beckmesser's having the 
real twangy lute prescribed (for which all sorts of sub- 
stitutes have been used, including a harp with paper 
between the strings). To Eckert in Berlin he wrote 
(Luzem, 1870) : — 

" I beg you most insistently to see that a real ox-horn in G flat 
Ib provided for the watchman. This is indispensable and impend 
tive for a unique, important effect.** In a letter to Herbeck, he 
notes the drastic effect produced by this scene in Munich, adding 
pointedly : *^ When I prescribe such a thing, I know what I am 
about, and if you had been in Munich, you would have been con- 
vinced that the effect I here attain with the natural horn is very 
X)ertinent, and necessary to make the situation clear.** 


It was Wagner's opinion that Die Meistersingery more 
than any other drama of his, would appeal to non-German 
audiences. This opinion time has verified. In Eng- 
land, Italy, Belgium, it has been the first of all the later 
music-dramas to be selected for acclimatization. Nor is 


it difBcult to account for this. Die Meisterainger might 
be called the Lohengrin o£ the Third Period. It is true 
that in the treatment of the voices and the orchestra, in 
instrumental coloring, and especially in the constant 
ingeuiouH use of Leading Motives the Meistersinger score 
does not differ from that of its immediate predecessor; 
but ill other respects it resembles Lohengrin rather than 
Tristan; especially by its abundant choruses, lyric epi- 
sodes, and pompous processions. How are we to ac- 
count for this contrast between Die Meisterainger and 
Tristan? The difference in subjects, one being comic, 
the other tragic, does not explain it, for Lohengrin, too, 
is tragic. The problem is as deep as it is interesting, 
and its solution will throw a bright light on the evolu- 
tion of Wagner's genius. 

In the chapter entitled "How Wagner Composed" we 
saw that be usually conceived his musical ideas simul- 
taneously with his verses. Now we know that the plot 
of Die Meistersinger was sketched and written out in the 
same month as the sketch of Lohengrin, and even pre- 
ceding the latter. This plot was not seriously modified 
when — fifteen years later — the verses were written out 
in Paris. May we not assume, in view of the juvenile 
character of many of the Meistersinger melodies (espe- 
cially in the third act), that these melodies did not wait 
for the verses, but crowded into Wagner's mind in that 
fertile perio<l while he was sketching the mere outlines 
of the plot in the Bohemian forest? There is nothing 
improbable in this supposition, but in the absence of any 
direct hints to this effect in the composer's essays or 
letters, it must stiiud as a mere guess. At the same 
time there is another and a still more suggestive way of 

TEX CHonua in waqneb's operas 288 

explaining the resemblance in the ''popular" character 
of Lohengrin and Die Meistersinger. 

I am convinced that Lohengrin owes its popular inter- 
national success in part to the &ct that Wagner^ dis- 
gusted and alarmed by the frigid reception of the 
DuJtchman and TannhdueeTy made a deliberate effort to 
meet the public half-waj^ not by concessions and incon- 
sistencies, but by widening his principles sufficiently to 
take in some popular operatic elements and weld them 
with his own dramatic style. The same, I suspect, is 
true of the Meistersinger. Discouraged by the inability 
to complete his Tetralogy without interruption, and still 
more by failure of all efforts to bring out his Tristan 
imtil seven years after its completion, he was once more 
in the mood for a reconciliation such as he had been in 
when composing Lohengrin. It was the easier to give 
himself up to this mood, as it harmonized with a change 
in his musico-dramatic principles. He has nowhere in 
his writings confessed this change; but practice is more 
convincing than theory : the scores of Die JHeietereinger 
and Parsifal — the last two of his works to be planned 
in detail — are more eloquent proof of the recantation 
than any theoretical treatise could be. 

This recantation relates to the use of ensemble pieces 
— duos, trios, etc., and especially, of choruses. We know 
that in the first two periods, ending with Rienzi and 
with Lohengrin respectively, Wagner made use of the 
chorus, like other opera-composers, and, in the latter 
case, surpassed them all on their own ground, not only 
as regards the musical grandeur of his ensembles, but by 
the conscientious dramatic use he made of them — not 
dragging the choristers in by the hair whenever he thought 

individualities can arouse our ; 
stun (verbluffen), but cannot io 
gradually disappeared from the 
none in tiie Shakes peariitn drama 
none in the muaic-drania; ei-t/O W 
special use of it in his five works 
four Sibelung dramas and TrMem. 
This reasoning seems logioal, 
tainly was consistent with the < 
But there was a flaw in the arga 
that masses can only '' stun " and n 
est us. The thrilling effects prodo 
company In such plays as ,M(u» 
mannaachlacht prove the contrary, 
can interest us musically — very n: 
this is what Wagner forgot for the 
was in a state of reaction; he wai 
unscrupulous manner in which his 
opera hod sacriflced the drama to mu 
chorus seems to necessitate ondri 
words; moreover, when fifty or ] 
words, no one can understand the 
chorus must go, in the interest oj 
more as the symoboni" "—^ 



Here, again, Wagner overlooks an important fact 
Granted that the chorus cannot be properly understood, 
why should it not be used as an integral part of the or- 
cheatraf for variety of color, and the attainment of a mas- 
sive climax, deriving its eloquence, like the orchestra 
itself, from the use of Leading Motives? Wagner allowed 
the pendulum to swing too far in the direction of the 
drama, and in doing so overlooked the &ct that in a music- 
drama music has its special claims as well as the drama. 

But, as I have said, he saw his error in time to let 
two of his most mature works benefit by his change of 
view. And besides, if we look at the matter closely, 
we find that in reality only two of his dramas are en- 
tirely without chorus and ensemble-songs, — Rheingold* 
and Siegfried. Siegfried does not need any, but Rhein- 
giM would have doubtless benefited by the musical utili- 
zation of the chorus which co-operates in the drama. 
Even Tristan has a chorus; true, it sings only a few 
bars, but when they are lustily sung they produce a 
splendid effect. In the WaJkiire we have the weird and 
thrilling chorus of the war-maidens; in OdUerddmrne- 
rung the manly chorus of Hagen's followers; in Parsifal 
a delightful variety of choral music, supplied by the 
knights and the flower maidens. Of concerted pieces, 
too, there are some choice specimens in this strict theo- 
retical period — think of the glorious trios of the Ehine 
maidens in Bheingold and Odtterd&mmerung, the love- 
duos in WaUcUre and Siegfried, and find anything to 
equal them in other operas if you can. As for the quin- 
tet in the Meistersinger, few would deny that it dwarfs 
every other quintet ever written. The same is true of 
the superb choruses in this opera. Where will you find 


anything to match the opening choral fwith the exqui- 
sitely ainorous orchestral interludes depicting the flirta- 
tion), the merry gambols of the apprentices, the humorous 
songs of the tailors, bakers, and cobblers, and especially 
the glorious " Wachet auf " at the close? Here the 
vox popuH is indeed divine ! ' 


It was a lucky circumstance that no leas a man than 
Hans Richter supervised the choral forces in this opera, 
where they play so great a r61e. The sixty-six separate 
rehearsals on which he had insisted ensured absolute 
perfection of the choral parts, and this had much to do 
with the enthusiasm aroused at the first performances in 
Munich. Even the local critics were carried off their 
feet for the moment, and could not but admit that the 
opera was a popular success. It was bom under a lucky 
star. While Tristan had had to wait .seven years for a 
performance, and remained for a decade longer confined 
to Munich, Die Meistersinger had been put on the stage 
eight months after its completion and at once made its 
way to various cities; to Dresden, Dessau, Karlsruhe, 
Mannheim, Weimar, within the following year (1869), 
and in 1870 to Hanover, Vienna, Konisberg, and even 
Berlin, with other cities. The critics thus had an early 
opportunity to have their "say," and they made the best 
iise of it, their unconscious mission being, as usual, to 
amuse future generations. 

' The moll Bcene at tliu close of the second act is the greatest poly- 
phonic marvel ever written. It is amazingly difficult, and Gblert, 
UiinhiDg iC iniposaible, uriied its omission and a resort U> dunili-shoiT. 
But I Lave lieard this " impossible " scene sung to perlecUoQ many a 
time. Eblert'8 advice is atnurd. 


One of the best-known German critics. Otto Gum- 
prechty said of the Introduction to Die Meistersinger that 
it was "a vicious kind of polyphony, poisoned counter- 
point^' (!) and speaks further of "this ugly rioting of 
dissonances that make one's hair stand on end, this 
brutal terrorism of the brass." According to Ferdinand 
Hiller the riot scene is "the craziest assault ever made 
on art, taste, music, and poetry." "'Brutal' is the 
only correct word for this scene," wrote our old friend 
Dorn. The periodical Europa pronoimced the opera "a 
dramatico-musical humbug." The Berlin Montagszei- 
tung called it "the most horrible caterwauling that could 
be devised," and compares the effect to that which would 
be produced if all the organ-grinders in Berlin played at 
the same time in the Circus Eenz, each a different tune. 
Echo refers to the " voice-murdering part of Hans Sachs." 
Another paper calls the score "a boundless desert." 
Dr. J. Gastan said that a single cavatina in Eossini's 
Barber was worth more than Wagner's whole score, 
and he was exceedingly angry with the composer for 
"daring" to introduce Rossini's "Di tanti palpiti" in 
the bleating chorus of the tailors.^ 

Let us now hear what Dr. Eduard Hanslick, Beckmes- 
ser of Musical History at the University of Vienna, has 
to say about Richard Wagner's Meistersinger: — 

The Introduction is '* a musical product of painful artificiality, 
and poeitiTely brutal in its effect.'* ** Pogner's address falls like 
a ray of sunlight into the tediously dismal musical mist that before 

^Tappert chronicles this conyersation in a German library, 1868. 
Visitor: **'HB,YejoviW9Lgaet*8 Meistersinger?" Librarian: "No, sirl 
I could never assume the responsibility of purchasing such rubbish. If 
we had money to throw away, I would put a copy in the reading-room 
as a warning example." 


it prevailed olune." The dialogue between Skcha and Eva "u k 
whole is painfully monotonous and ponderous." Sachs's cobbler 
song (Jerum, Jeruin) is " alleged to be comic, but suggests ku 
infuriated hyena rather Iban a merry cobbler." Sachs's joke (tum- 
mering on the soles) ends by being " inHultely Insipid," The riot 
scene at the end of the secoad act becomes, on the stage, " a truly 
brutal shouting and ooise." Sachs'a " Wahu" monologue, but tor 
a few interesting details, " would expose us to the danger of fall- 
ing asleep." Even the melodious quintet owes i» effect entirely 
to the fact that no other ensemble music has been heard so long : 
" in any other opera it would not have ezci(«d such uncominon 
att£Dtiou." " The tnoat serious defect is Wagner's absolute lack 
of humor." 

■' In the expression of the comic, in particular, Wagner's music 
la thoroughly unfortunate ; it beooroea here regularly inflated, over- 
tiwlen, aye disagreeable." The mob scene la ■> not comic but only 
ugly and vulgar." In this opera the " vocal part In itself is not 
only something incomplete, but nothing at all." And, worst of 
all, tlicru in abaoluteiy no fonn In tlie score. It is "a boneless 
tone-mollusc." It is "the deliberate dissolution of all definite 
form into a formless, sensually-intoxicating mass of sound, Hie 
substitution for independent organic melodies of a formless, vague 


Compare with tlieae utterances of a profeasional Phil- 
istine the impression produced by tlie same opera on a 
mail of genius — one who would have ranked among the 
higliest, had not an early death snatched him away. 
Adolf Jensen heard this opera in Munich and wrote to 
a friend: " I do not attempt to describe to you the im- 
pression it luatie upon me. It is indescribable. Dur- 
ing the first act the tears incessantly trembled in my 
eyes, and all my veins throbbed." Jensen was inspired 
by his impressions to attempt a comic opera of his owqj 


but he was already too much weakened by consumption 
to undertake such a task. He went to Dresden^ where 
he ahnost killed himself by his efforts to promote the 
performances of Wagner's comic opera. In a letter to 
Ehlert he speaks of the cabals formed against it there : — 

** As I can see eTerywhere, great efforts are being made to secore 
a foilure for the opera — if it succeeds in spite of these, it will be 
due to the conyincing truth and power of the music, and such 
an unsuspected success would be a painful suiprise to certain 

Jensen ''did his utmost to teach the artists, wrote 
letters to everyboify he thought he could influence, 
played and sang the score from beginning to end to 
everybody he cotdd get to listen to him,'' as a biographer 
of his relates. And success was his reward. Over 
five thousand orders came in for the first night, and Die 
Meisterainger soon became a favorite in Dresden although 
at that time the performance was much inferior to that 
in Munich. 

Two more citations from Jensen's letters may be made 
by way of showing Wagner's profound influence on his 
genius. Concerning his opera 40, 41, he says : " In these 
songs you will seek in vain for the former gushing, van- 
ished Jensen. Earth grips me once more. My great 
venerated master, Richard Wagner, lies deep at the 
bottom of my heart." In 1870 he secured a copy of 
Tristatiy and "for eight days," he writes, "I rioted in 
ecstasy over it without getting to the end of the flrst 
act." » 

1 It is often said that Wagner wiU never form a school. Fudge! AU 
the younger composers belong to the Wagner " school " in modulation, 
melody, and instrumentation, even if they do not write mnsio^dramas 


It would take too much space to follow the adventures 
of Die Meistersinger through the various G«rtaaii and 
foreign cities. Brief reference must, however, be made 
to the performances at Vienna, because we possess in the 
Herbeck biography a full and most interesting account 
of it, including several long and valuable letters by 
Warner, from which I have already quoted. Johann 
Strauss (who, by the way, is another genius who at least 
in instrumentation also belongs to the Wagner " school ") 
liad been the first, in 1853, to introduce fragments from 
Lohengrin in Vienna, and he it was also who first played 
Meistersinger fragments in that city. When the opera 
itself was under rehearsal, the usual ant i- Wagnerian 
rumors were circulated. One of these was : " The opera 
is so difB.cult that the director will be obliged to give it 
up at the last moment." Another: "The music is of 
8 nature which makes a failure seem inevitable; the 
very first chord of the overture is false." There was a 
clique in the audience which attempted to imitate the 
Paris Jockey Club with hisses, whistling, and howling, 
the consequence being that, as Herbeck telegraphed to 
the composer (among other things) : " Close of second 
act not yet properly heard by any one because of colos- 
sally enthusiastic applause mingled with hisses." But 

with leadtng motLves. Tlis I&Cer Jensen U of the Wagner " scbool." 
All the French composers of to-ilay have been Influenced by Wagner. 
So has the Norwegian Grieg, who is a great admirer of Wagnet, and 
who wrote a epecial account of the Bayreulh festival in 1876, The Bo- 
hemian Dvorik. as a young man, followed ahout Wagner In Prague with 
a TeneratiOD Ube that which Wagner felt towards Weber; and it Is on 
him that Wagner's mantle of gorgeous orchestral coloring has fallen. 
To-day It Is almost impossible to take np an opera or orcbeelral score 
without noting the effect of Wagner's "acbooling" in bannony and 



on subsequent evenings the opposition disappeared. 
Wagner would have been willing to cooperate, but lie 
had not been officially invited, as the management feared 
that the disturbances might be increased by his presenee. 
Nor was he needed, at least for present porpoees. Eleven 
performances were given in rapid succession; where- 
upon the opera was shelved for a long time; and why? 
Because the Hans Sachs, Beck, had turned Beck-messer. 
He measured Wagner's art by his own powers, dedaied 
that further singing of his rdle would ruin his voice; 
and there was no one to take his place. 






After the Meitlernnger hod been laimcbed at Munioh, 
Wagaer returned to Lucerne and took up ^ain the twic«- 
interrupted composition of Siegfried, with the intention 
of completing the last of the four dramas, too, aa wxHi 
as possible, and then attempting, with the King's assist- 
ance, to give the Nibeluug Festival. But the King' 
was an insatiable i^d impatient Wagnerite. The Odt- 
terdaniTnerung would take some time to compose, and 
in the meantime Hia Majesty was anxious to hear the 
two dramas that had so long been awaiting performance 
— Rheingold and Walkure. Wagner finally had to yield 
to his desires, and, much against his own wish, gave up 
his Rkeingdld score to Intendant Perfall. Most unfor- 
tunately, it soon appeared. The King had given written 
orders that Rkeingold should be conscientiously placed 
on the stage in exact accordance with Wagner's direc- 
tions, and the unprecedented sum of 60,000 florins had 
been expended on the scenery. But the Intendant had 
given the job into such incompetent hands that when it 
came to the rehearsals the complicated machinery was 
found not only far from what Wagner intended it to be, 
but practically useless. Indeed, the eminent Hessian 
stage machinist Brandt, on consultation, declared that it 


could not be even improved but would have to be made 
anew to answer its purposes. Under these circum- 
stances Hans Richter, who had been chosen Kapellmeis- 
ter (Bdlow having again resigned), refused to conduct ; 
for which act of '^ insubordination " he was suspended, 
while at the same time Intendant von Perfall handed 
in his resignation, declaring that either he or Richter 
must go. Or, as his newspaper organ ^ put it : — 

** Yon Perfall gave this alternative : either to have that influenoe 
broken for good or to go himself. ... So important an art insti- 
tute as the Munich Court Opera must not any longer — such is pub- 
lic opinion — be made the playground of boundless wilfulness, 
intriguing presumption, and boyish vainglory, such as the satellites 
of the new Great Koptha show." 

Hans Bichter, on his part, wrote a long letter to a 
local paper,* which is one of those manly, eloquent docu- 
ments that carry conviction in every line. He shows up 
PerfalFs conduct in its true light, and says of the re- 
hearsals (Betz, Schlosser, and Frau Stehle were in the 
cast) : — 

(^The most annoying incidents occurred. The frantic joy of 
those who desired a failure, the hopeless despondency of those who 
were equally anxious of success, will f oreyer remain engraven in the 
memory of all concerned.** He ends his letter with these words 
in explanation of his refusal to conduct : ** I am convinced that I 
have herein behaved by no means as 'a Wagnerian music-director,* 
as the Intendant*8 organ asserts, but simply as a man of honor, 
who would rather sacrifice his position than his artistic conviction.** 

A worthy disciple of his master. After Richter's 
resignation the direction of Rheingold was successively 

1 Attgemeine Zeitung, Sept. 11, 1809. 

* Reprinted in Neue ZeiUchrift fikr Musik, Sept. 24» 1869. 



offered to Tjaasen, Biilow, Klindwortli, and Saint-SaSoa, 
all of whom refuued. It was finally accepted by Wiillner, 
and a few very crude performancea were given. Many 
well-known persons were among the spectators, includ- 
ing Liszt, Klindworth, SerofE, Sgambati, Langhans, Pas- 
deloup, Mend^s, Saint-Saens, Brassin, Lproy, Holmes, 
Draeaeke, Joachim, Viardot-Garcia, Bache, Dannreu- 
ther, etc, Hanalick came from Vienna and prophesied 
in his report that no other opera-house would ever again 
produce this worthless and expensive work! Wagner's 
attitude in this matter is shown in these lines from a 
public letter addressed by him to the Allgemeine : — 

"Thai m7 refusal to coSperate peisonalljr was not the conae- 

quence of an ' elaborate intrigaa against the Iiiteudanl," I proved 
by the fntl that wlion the evil results of this con due tor-less uoder- 
taklng became roanifeet, I hMI«ned to Mnnlch, bot to BecoiB for 
my work an adequate perform&iice, which was Impoaaible, but ona 
sufficient tu save the honor of the Intendancc" 

The date of the first performance was Sept, 22. In 
the following summer, June 26, 1870, the Walkvre, with 
Vogl and his wife as Siegmund and Sieglinde, was given, 
with musical results not very much better than those 
that attended Rkeingold; for the composer not only re- 
fused to have anything more to do with the Munich 
Opera, but even declined to advise the Intendant regard- 
ing a conductor and other matters. Wiillner conducted 
again, but he had not had, like Eichter, the advan- 
tage of studying the score with the composer; he dragged 
the tempi so much that the drama lasted half an hour 
longer than it should have lasted. Nevertheless, the 
reception of this work was enthusiastic, although there 


were some hisses mingled with the plaudits. The inno- 
vation of a lowered orchestra (partially after Wagner's 
plans); which had been introduced at the Kheingold per- 
formance, benefited the Walkure also.^ The usual parody, 
of course, made its appearance, imder the title of Kein- 
gold (No gold). Regarding the issue of these Munich 
performances, Wagner himself says (IX. 373), "I have 
not learned the details, as my friends imderstood that 
my feelings must be spared." 


The marriage of Hans von Billow to Cosima Liszt had 
not been a happy one. In a letter dated 1864 Wagner 
referred to it as "tragic,'' as the reader will remember. 
The two were divorced in the autumn of 1869, and on 
Aug. 26, 1870, Cosima was married to Wagner. There 
were difficulties to overcome, involving the necessity of 
a change of religious profession on the part of the woman. 
In the meantime Wagner followed the example of Liszt, 
of Goethe, and other European men of genius — an ex- 
ample the ethics of which this is not the place to discuss. 
Some of his friends apparently did not approviB of his 
second marriage, as may be inferred from this brief note 
to Praeger, dated July, 1870: "You will no doubt be 
angry with me when you hear that I am soon to marry 
Billow's wife, who has become a convert in order to be 
divorced." More light on the situation is thrown by 
these extracts from a letter to Frau Wille, dated June 
25,1870: — 

^ Fuller accounts of these Rheingold and WcUkUre performanoes may 
be foond In Pohl's yolnme of essays. 


" Certamly we sbaJl come, for fou are to be the firal to whom 
we shall present ourselTeB ae man and wife. To get into thU sUte, 
great patience wae reqaired: what hu been for yeara inevitable, 
WEi« not to be brought about until after all manner of suffering. 
Since last I aaw you in Munich, 1 have not again left my asylum, 
which, in the meanwhile, has also become the refuge of her who 
was destined to prove that 1 could well he helped, and that the 
axiom of roanj oC m; friends, that I ' could not be helped ' was 
false I .She knew that I could be helped, and has helped me : she 
haB defied every disapprohalion and taken upon herself every con- 
demnation. She has borne to me a wonderfully beautiful and 
vigorous bo)-, ulioui I could boldly call ' Siegfried ' : he is now 
growing, together with my woik, and giTM me a new, long life, 
which at hut has attained ameMtfng. Thus we got along without 
the world, from which we had retired enUiely. . . . Bat now 
listen ; you will, 1 trust, Kg^mm of the aentlment which leads tia 
to postpone our visit until I oan IntndDoe to yon the mother of m^ 
son as my wedded wife. This will soon be the case, and before the 
leaves fait we hope to be In Hailafeld," 

It was in honor of Siegfried, and to celebrate his 
mother's birtliday, tliat Wagner wrote his exquisite 
Siegfried Idyl. It was composed secretly, and the first 
performance was a surprise to Cosiina, Hans Eichter 
brought the necessary musicians from Zurich and re- 
hearsed the piece with them at Lucerne. On the morn- 
ing of the birthday the musicians placed themselves on 
the steps of the villa at Triebschen, Wagner conducted, 
and Bicliter took the trumpet part. It was a serenade 
such as no other mortal has ever been honored with. 
The Siegfried Idyl is a piece not only of ravishing musi- 
cal beauty, but it breathes a spirit of refinement, of 
delicacy, of tenderness which alone would suffice to 
refute all the aspersions on Wagner's character; no one 
but a man whose inmost nature is love and kindness 


could have penned such an IdyL And with such simple 
means tool If Wagner, in his tragedies, asks for an 
orchestra of from sixty to one hundred, he has his rea- 
sons for it. In the Siegfried Idyl he has shown that he 
can write music as tender and melodious as Schubert's, 
and as full of the most exquisite color as any part of his 
own music-dramas, with a diminutive orchestra consist- 
ing only of strings, woodwind, one trumpet, and two 

The principal themes are taken from the Siegfiied 
score, which he was completing at that time; these he 
turns over and over in various combinations and colors 
till they flash and sparkle like a string of gems. An 
old German cradle-song, Schlafe Eindchenj is also used 
as a theme. The innocence and happiness of child life 
have never been mirrored as in this Idyl. It is not 
merely an orchestral cradle-song; it is the embodiment 
of love, paternal and conjugal. But how few conductors 
and orchestras are able to bring out all the tenderness, 
beauty, and color of this simple piece! It was not 
originally intended for publication, and for a number 
of years the composer reserved it as a special treat for 
his personal friends. In 1878 the score was published 
by Schott, with Frau Gosima's permission. 


Why is &me and even subsistence usually denied to 
men of genius by their contemporaries? To this ques- 
tion Professor Lombroso replies in his work The Man of 
Oenius: ''The reason is that . . . men of genius are 
lacking in taot^ in moderation, in the sense of practical 


life, in the virtues which aJone are useful in soci&l 
affairs." At the period we have now reached, Richard 
Wagner gave repeated evidence of such lack of tact and 
moderation. When his Meiatersinger was making its 
way across Germany, and when it would have been wise 
to keep his opinions in the background and let that glo- 
rious music plead for him, what does he do but reprint 
his old pamphlet on Judaism in Music, with aggravating 
additions, although he knew that the German press was 
practically in the hands of the Jews; and shortly after- 
wards he launched his pamphlet On Cojuiucling, which is 
a variation on the same theme — a criticism of the Jew- 
ish Mendelssohnian way of interpreting the German 
classics. It was a courageous thing to do, but unwise 
from his personal point of view; for he must have 
known that the storm of protestation aroused by his 
action would take the coarse of renewed attacks on his 
music, his theories, and his personality. The violence 
of this atorm may be inferred from the fact that, accord- 
ing to Glaaenapp, at least 170 replies to the Judaism 
pamphlet were published. It is true that Wagner could 
have had no idea that his new pamphlets would start 
such a cyclone, since most of their predecessors had been 
received in almost complete silence. But there is no 
reason to believe that he would have acted otiierwise 
had he expected the tornado. Reformers are never 

An essay of quite another sort followed, in the month 
after his marriage — the remarkable treatise on Beetho- 
ven (IX. 77-151), which was written as a contribution to 
the celebration of the centenary of that composer's birth, 
On the glowing tributes to Beethoven's genius contained 


in this 

Philoeophj of M-nsie aikc mdnfOi n ^ 

Strange ^et ; for &:M]Matfdnier mm m. 

mnsicy and most of his opixikais s^sst^ djMuevrjSfclt^ %^ 

posed to Wa^xMT' c. Wtr wJipxi moL uf tM- «'jmo^ tua^x 

in one sentenee: Tl«e flute vnc ii» yis umaum^gar. «sc 

Rossini his izroribt ttoauyftrnx. Uimt nn; ^ V99 ^ tm 

funny opinions: — 

•* Mdodj Is tke 
grsTj to rossi ssa 
music). ^ The kn^Mi dnstiMC. sif 
"The c 
the text k, tf Mt mahmw, m 

MfeA «V-^^4 

iv^ <^ 

Haw eovltd Wh^mt pjam tn^ imuu^ <f «^.«e 
siead phflosojwier ol Uit Jbi«^i/<^%^ •ow»^f' b<c»<^4#» 

the S^i^KVriJ lif fc lliUb«<rxiil ^<>;t/i<liii|r V, \;jt |r^i«s^. 

pewmdsi. muii'iV suoiot i&;ito^ Ir'./u. 4^1 f^t;^' 4»^> ^s;^. 

cL'xise to gire it. Ota«ef airtt. ij^ «tjnL ^.■*<t wt <^jr 
sLadovVy vLile imisk ^^r^^e ut tu^ ^^i^^^ru^^. Tia iM» 
goage of mnsie is iicttrJli^^j^ ^rr^rririii^f^. ;iitft m mu^ fi^^ 
emotional eries of ajb^xuti. tf /ij- 7\'i*$M; ix^^»y%xyfb^^ 
speenlatioiis, tLe crud^ ykyti^^'*"/^- v5 w::«<;i tnjt ie uus 
the plaee to ex{m«y W^i^sk;! Mki}^ is4^ «uitf|^ fq^M^ 



combining thein with Schopenhauer's unscientific and 
ridiculous somnaiubulisin - and ■ uiglitmare ■ speculations, 
and with their aid endeavors to explain the phenomena 
of musical inspiration and Beethoven's genius in partic* 
ular. Fortunately only a portion of his Beethoven essay 
is devoted to such nebulous stuff; the rest of it is very 
suggestive and valuable reading matter; especially the 
remarks on musical form, on the emotional characteris- 
tics of tieetlioven's symphonies, and on the sublime 
ver»ii3 the beautiful. 

Apart from the fundamental metaphysical doctrine 
just referred to, there is absolutely no point of musical 
contact between Schopenhauer and Wagner. In the 
poems, too, the influence of Schopenhauer is much less 
apparent than the commentators have assumed. The 
letter to Lifizt in which he Krst "cntliuses " over his dis- 
covery of Schopenhauer is dated at a time when the 
Nibelung poems were already written. In Triatan, as 
we have seen, there is less of Schopenhauer than of pan- 
theism, which that philosopher, in fact, repudiates. In 
the Meistershiger the " Walin " monologue of Sachs might 
perhaps be referred to a page (II. 693) of Die WeU alt 
Wille und Vorstellung, but that is a mere trifle. Scho- 
penhauer's principal idea — the Negation of the Will to 
Live — was not new to Wagner (see No. IfiS of the Liszt 
letters), and the only point in which Schopenhauer's 
influence seems really conspicuous is the ethical idea of 
I'ity, which underlies Parsifal (" Through I'ity enlight- 
ened, the guileless fool "), although in liviinnliilde's con- 
duct we had before met with this ethical motive in a 
dramatic form. In Letter 190 to Liszt Wagner gives a 
synopsis of Schopenhauer's views on Pity, the Negation 



of the Willy etc. 9 which would en3ure any college senior 
a high mark in an examination in the history of philoso- 
phy; but it has not the directness and vivid imagery 
of the original, or of his own writings on music and the 
drama. In philosophy Wagner was almost as much of 
an amateur as Schopenhauer was in music; and the dis- 
position which is at present being shown by some fanatic 
admirers in (jermany to worship him as a great philoso- 
pher, is absurd. 

What did Schopenhauer think of Wagner? When, 
in 1854, Wagner printed a few copies of the Nibelung 
poems for private circulation, a copy was sent to Scho- 
penhauer, who refers to it in a letter to Frauenstedt ^ as 

** a book from Richard Wagner, which is not in the market, but 
was printed for friends only, on superb thick paper, and neatly 
bound; it is caUed the Bing des Nibelungen, is a series of four 
operas which he intends some day to set to music, — probably the 
real art- work of the future ; appears to be very fantastic ; have read 
only the Vorspiel : shall continue. No letter with it, but only the 
dedication From Admiration and Oratitude.^^ 

A few years ago a Berlin journalist came across this 
copy and found a considerable number of pencil marks 
in it, suggesting improvements (Wagner himself made 
many changes in the revised version) and objecting to 
certain archaic and musical expressions; for Schopen- 
hauer was a most pedantic purist in linguistic matters, 
and forgot, or did not know, that Groethe uses such 
archaic expressions much more freely than Wagner, 
although in a music-drama they are very much more 
justifiable than in a purely literary poem. One awk- 

1 MemorabUien, p. 696. 


ward word leads him to comment: "He has no ears, the 

deaf musician." He objects to the close of the first act 
of Die Watkilre, and wrote after the words "The curtain 
drops quickly" " Denn es ist kohe Zeit." Siegfried has 
the fewest marks, and as a whole the poema seem to 
have impressed him favorably; for, as Wagner one day 
exclaimed to Frau Wills, whose husband met Schopen- 
hauer every year at Frankfurt: — 

" Do you remember the greeting he once brought me from Scho- 
peiiliauer ? ' TpI! your friend Wagner that I thank him for his 
book, but he sliould give up musio ; he has more genlua for poetry. 
I, Schopenhauer, remain faithful to Bossinl and Mozart.' Do you 
fancy," added Wagner, "tbat I bore (he philosopher any grudge 

He did not; indeed, in this matter he showed himself 
the greater man of the two: he was able to appreciate 
Schopenhauer, which was more than Schopenhauer could 
do for him. 


One of the weak points of Wagner's character was his 
inclination to meddle with politics. One would have 
thought that his Dresden experiences, resulting in almost 
thirteen years' banishment from the only country where 
his art could have prospered at the time, might have 
cured him of that weakness. But no! He must "put 
his foot into it " again, and make France as impossible 
for himself as he had previously made Germany. In 
1868 he wasted some of his precious time on a tedious 
essay of over a hundred pages, entitled Oerman Art and 
Oerman Politics (VIII. 41-158). The fact that it first 
appeared as a series of feuilleton articles in a newspaper 


founded by his friend Eoeckel, partly accounts for its 
rambling character. It contains a few lucid and sugges- 
tive pages, but as a whole none but a robust German 
stomach could digest its turgid, metaphysical phraseol- 
ogy; besides, it touches on questions of stat^, church, 
school, etc., which had only a local and temporary inter- 
est. The principal theme of the essay, however, is an 
attack on France, or rather on the subjugation of Ger- 
many by French taste. He shows how the French form 
of civilization had prevailed for centuries in Germany, 
where it was exclusively fostered by the princes, while 
German literature and art languished and owed their 
very existence only to the heroic efforts of a few men 
of genius. This French influence Wagner objects to 
and pleads that an original German civilization should 
take its place. In his main position he was no doubt 
right; the French fashions and the French ways as 
copied by the Germans necessarily resulted in a mere 
caricature, and he knew that the Germans were capable 
of something better if they would only try to be original. 
But in some of the details he allowed his pen to run 
away with his tact in a way that might have angered the 
French had they been likely to read such a rambling 
and ponderous essay. His incidental remarks on FavMy 
for instance, made Gounod his mortal enemy, although, 
if Gounod had been able to read German, he might have 
seen that these remarks were aimed not so much at his 
music as at the libretto, of which Berlioz, too, has said 
that " it destroys admirable musical situations which one 
ought to have invented if Goethe himself had not in- 
vented them.'* 
The subject of this essay was evidently still ferment- 

254 FROM nuyica to batssuth 

iug iu Wagner's brain, when two years later the German 
army besieged Paris. At last there was a hope that if 
Germany should wiu in tbe war she would tlirow otf 
Jier artificial imitation of tbe French in art and manners. 
Ill the joy which this thought inspired he hastily wrote 
down, in a very few days, towards the end of 1870, the 
libretto for a musical burlesque A la Offenbach which he 
called A Capitulation (IX. 7-50). A young musician 
who had promised to set it to music, seemed relieved 
when tlie libretto was refused by the theatre managers. 
And, indeed, it deserved such a rebuff, for it is one of 
the stupidest libretti ever concocted, and it seems almost 
incredible that the author of that masterwork of humor, 
Die MeisleTsinger, should have penned it. Tbe charac- 
ters are Victor Hugo, Jnles Favre, Ferry, Simon, Qam- 
betta, Offenbach, Perrin, etc. Balloons play a great rflle 
in the piece ; one of the choruses consists of monstrous 
rats which are afterwards changed into ballet girls. The 
quality of the jokes may be inferred from this pun: 
Mottu cries "a present: jurez!" to which Keller re- 
plies, "Schur6 is not here." At the close, Victor Hugo 
has a long address in which he declares that "as enemies 
you shall not take Paris, but we will make you a present 
of it" — of its cafes, restaurants, bal MabiUe, Myst^res 
de Paris, poudre de riz, chignons, etc. In the last 
chorus the lutendants of the German theatres take part; 
they dance awkwar<Uy, and are laughed at. And of such 
silly things the whole burlesque is made up. 

Obviously, as an imitator of Offenbach's librettists 
Wagner was no more successful than Offenbach himself 
would have been as the composer of Parsifal. At the 
same time it must be said that, foolish as Wagner's 


libretto is, it is not half as foolish as the foss which the 
French chauvinists made over it for more than twentr 
years. Just as a lot of ill-bred members of the " aris- 
tocracy '' in 1861 prevented Paris from hearing Tami- 
hdusery so during the twenty-one years following the 
appearance of A Capitulation every effort to produce 
another Wagner opera in Paris was frustrated by a band 
of gamins and chauvinists, in spite of protests by all 
reasonable people, by the united Press, and the declara- 
tion of the Figaro that such conduct was evidence not of 
patriotism but of patriotitis. How the Parisians were 
meanwhile hungering for a Wagner opera may be in- 
ferred from the eloquent fact that when hoiktnqrin was 
finally produced at the Grand Op^ra, under police protec- 
tion, on Sept. 16, 1891, it attained, in the course of the 
first year (ending Sept. 15, 1891), as many as sixty-tnie 
performances, the highest receipts being 23^000 franca, 
the lowest 14,300, and the total 1,097,320 francs and 
51 centimes.^ If the Grand Op^ra took in $219,464 in 
one year, with one of W£^;ner's operas, how much has 
it lost by waiting exactly half a century, from the first 
performance, before it listened to one of these ope- 
ras?* All this loss in money and pleasure was occa- 
sioned by the foolish Capitulation^ the chief point of 
which, moreover, — and this is the only amusing part of 
the whole farce, — was directed not against the French, 
but against the Germans, especially the Crerman theatre- 
managers I As Wagner himself remarks in the pref- 
ace: — 

1 These fignret are official. I owe them to the oonrteqr ot the Dine- 
tion des Beaux Arte. 

* Apart from the eleyen inadeqiiate performances of Bienxi givin la 
1M9 by Fasdelonp (and which were followed by a parody iUsn). 


" My subject Muchea on no other aide o( the French than one by 
the lUimiination of nhlch we Germans are really mirrored In a 
much more ridiculous light than the French, who, in all their 
follies, are at least original, wbereae wc, in our disgueting Imitation 
of them, Bink for below the level of the lodiorous." 

lu re^^ard to the charge of meanDess in aiming such a 
burlesque at a fallen enemy, it must be remembered that 
it was written during the aiege, before its issue was 
decided. Moreover, as Serviferes remarks, the raillery 
ooncerna chiefly the govemment of the D^ense Na- 
tionale, adding: — 

" It would have been tnily too mneh to Bsk of a sttftnger to whom 
we had, in a very dlegiaceful manner, given cauae ol complaint 
■gaiuHt UB, more reserve and good taste thftu of an editor of the 
Pigarn or the Vie parisienne. Thus what mas legitimate in a 
frlToloua French paper became monstrooa, Ignoble, ajid revolting 
under the pen of an hunlled Qeiman, exalted by the triumph of 
his countrymen." ' 


Great as wa^ Wagner's patriotism, it did Dot lead him 
to magnify the merits of things German unduly. He 
cheerfully conceded the superiority of the Marseillaise 
to the Watch onthe Rhine as a patriotic song; indeed, he 
expressed liia surprise that the German army should have 
returned again and again for inspiration to what he calls 
a rather commonplace song — ein ziemlich Jlauea LiedeT' 

1 There are soma other very sensible remarlts on this topic in 8er- 
vifirea'a Wagnir Jugt en f rancB, a book whieb gives a muph more inter- 
esting uccount of Wafer's relations Co France tban Jullien's biography. 
He dwells especially on the inconslsteney of bis counlrymen In con- 
stantly maldng tun of tbe OermaDB, aud then getting furioue when onc« 
a Oerman turns the tables on them. 


tafel-product, "which the French took for one of those 
Rhine-wine songs they had before made fun of 

These comments are made in an essay entitled What ia 
Oerman, which was written in 1878. They are followed 
by this interesting explanation of the circumstances 
under which the Kaisermarach was written. 

** After the return of oar victorious army, I made private inqui- 
ries in Berlin whetlier, in case a grand ceremonial in honor of the 
fallen soldiers were projected, I could be permitted to provide a 
piece suited to such a solemn occasion. But I was told that it was 
not considered desirable to make special provision for painful im- 
pressions to accompany the joyous return of the army. I proposed, 
still privately, another piece, which was to accompany the entrance 
of the army, and into which, at the close, — say in defiling before 
the victorious monarch, — the excellent vocal corps of the Prussian 
army might join with some popular melody. But this would have 
necessitated serious changes in the arrangements that had been 
completed long before, and I was dissuaded from my project. Con- 
sequently I arranged my Kaisermarsch for the concert-hall, for 
which let it be adapted as well as may be.** 

In plain English, he had been snubbed again. What 
had he to do with the German triumph — he whom 
almost all the music professors and critics united in pro- 
nouncing a charlatan? He then lacked but three years 
of sixty; but the Grermans, as a nation, had not yet the 
remotest conception that his mind had given birth to 
ideas which, more than the ideas of any other German 
brain of this century, were destined to spread the glory 
of German art throughout the world. They did not 
anticipate that he would be the first to introduce Ger- 
man opera successfully in foreign countries; that ''Ger- 
man Opera," in fact, was soon to be synonymous with 
"Wagner Opera," as it has been lately in New York and 


Tlie iiiv.iaioit of foreign comiti-ies began about that 
time. Russia had heard Lohengrin in 1867; Brussels 
followed with the same opera three years later; London 
had its first heai-ing of a Wagoer opera — Flying Dutch- 
man with Santley — in 1870; Lohengrin followed in 
1875, with two simultaneous companies, one of which 
included Nilason, Campanini, and Tietjens; TannhHuser 
in 1876, Madrid did not hear a Wagner opera till 1876, 
while Italy heard Lohengrin as early as 1869. It was at 
Bologna, which for the time became a sort of Italian 
Bayreuth to which visitors came from all over the penin- 
sula.' Wagner was made an honorary citizen of Bologna, 
and wrote a letter to BoTto expressing his gratification. 

In the meantime he remained iu his Triebschen re- 
treat, devoted to the composition of the OSIferdiimme- 
rung, the first act of which was completed in 1870. One 
of his tasks of the years 1871-3 waa to collect his varions 
essays, poems, newspaper articles, and public letters 
into a series of volumes, arranged chronologically. Nine 
of these volumes had appeared in 1873; a tenth was 
added after his death. 

tausig's happy thodght 

As the last drama of the Nibelung Tetralogy was 
making rapid progress, the plan for an adequate perform- 
ance of this gigantic work began to engross his thoughts 
more and more. When King Ludwig had asked him to 
resume its composition, he had been filled with joy, for 
J to be then no doubt that everything would 


be done in accordance with his wishes. But the Philis- 
tines who had hitherto thwarted his efforts proved too 
much even for a king. The foolish Munichers drove 
him out of their city; a local professor declared that he 
ought to be hanged; the leading paper ^ had said: ''We 
are, with many experts, of the opinion that with the first 
stone [of the Wagner theatre] the foundation of a ruin 
would be laid." 

What fools these mortals were! No one who has been 
in Munich can look at the picture of Semper's model 
theatre, in the BayreuJther Festbl&tter, without acknowl- 
edging that it would have been the greatest architectural 
ornament of that art-city, in the commanding site across 
the bridge, where the ungainly Maximilianeum now 
stands. A ''ruin" indeed! The receipts of the Bay- 
reuth festivals of 1891 and 1892 — the eighth and ninth 
— averaged about $150,000 each, and the annual visitors 
numbered about 25,000. If each of these spent only 
ten dollars, besides the price of his tickets, the Bay- 
reuthers profited a million marks a year; but twice that 
sum would come nearer the mark. It was the project 
of building this " ruinous " Wagner theatre in Munich 
that had brought to a climax the machinations which 
led to Wagner's expulsion. As for bringing out the 
Tetralogy at the Court Theatre, that also seemed out of 
the question, after the maltreatment of Rheingold in 
spite of the King's wishes and positive orders. Other 
cities were even less available. In Vienna, Tristan had 
been put aside as " impossible " after two years' rehears- 
als, and Die Meistersinger refused because it was " Offen- 
bach's turn." In Berlin even Tannhatiser had required 

^ Allgemeine Ztitung, Jan. 26, 1867. 


ten years tu piiss quarantiDe, Tristan was yet uulieard, 
though it had been available for more than a decade; 
and when as late as 1873 Wagner offered to bring out 
Lohengrin there without euts, the matter was after soma 
consideration dropped because it was, in plain langu^e, 
"too much bother." In Dresden, too, the authoritiei 
were hostile; and in the smaller cities he could not 
expect to find a theatre and singers such as he needed. 
Evidently a radical measure was ealleji for. He re- 
verted to his original idea of 1851, of building a special 
theatre on the Rhine, or elsewhere, for a Nibelung 
Festival. A plan as gigantic as the work to be pro- 
duced; but Wagner, like his hero Siegfried, had never I 
learned the meaning of the word /ear, and he boldly pro- I 
ceeded toward his Ideal, in spite of Philistines, news- 
papers, and other dragons, whose extraordinary antics 
will be noticed presently. But where get the means for 
such an enterprise? It costs a small fortune to bring 
out a new opera — and here were four new ones, and a 
special theatre to be built in addition 1 He communi- 
cated his intentions at first to a few friends only, and 
one of these, the brilliant young pianist, Tausig, had a 
happy thought, inspired by his glowing enthusiasm for 
the MeiMer. He conceived, and, with the aid of the 
Baroness Marie von Schleinitz, elaborated, the plan of 
a Society of Patrons for collecting the Nibelung Festival 
funds. This plan was adopted by Wagner and briefly 
described by him in a public address to his friends, dated 
May 12, 1871 ; — 

" The total expense of the preparations and performancea of the 
stage-(estival-play, The Nibflung'a Sing, are estimated at 300,000 
thalera [about $225,000]. This sum is to be provided by diapoalug 


of one thousand certificates of membership, at 800 thalexs each, 
among friends and patrons of this national project. The possession 
of such a certificate entitles the holder to a place for all the 
perfonnances. Any patron is at liberty to secure several of these 
certificates ; it is also permissible for three persons to participate in 
one of the certificates, each of them thereby acquiring the right to 
a seat at one of the performances of the festival-play." 

Strange fatality! Hardly had Tausig, with a zeal 
that could not have been greater had the cause been his 
own, taken the first steps towards aiding his friend (he 
intended, among other things, to form a special orches- 
tra, for benefit performances and to be used later at the 
festival), when typhoid fever carried him off at the early 
age of thirty. It was a sad blow to Wagner; he had 
lost his most intimate friends, Uhlig and Schnorr, in 
the flower of their youth; and now Tausig followed, and 
nothing remained but to write his epitaph and eulogy 
(IX. 385-6). The pen revolts at relating the indecen- 
cies of Wagner's enemies : even this epitaph was brutally 
parodied by one of them! 

A new champion had meanwhile come forward. Emil 
Meckel,^ of Mannheim, having expressed his desire to 
assist Wagner, was referred to Tausig, and with his con- 
sent he proposed the formation of Wagner Societies, to 
enable persons of limited means to take part in the work 
of collecting funds. Having returned to Mannheim, 
Heckel formed the first Wagner Society, in June, 1871. 
Members had to pay an annual due of five florins, in re- 

^ To Heckel Wagner wrote over sixty letters, in the years following, 
mostly relating to Bayrenth. His son, Karl Heckel, has ntilized these 
letters for a brief history of the Bayrenth festivals, printed in Kiirsch- 
ner's Wagner Jahrbuch, 1886 (167-196) ; to this valuable document I am 
indebted for many important details. 



t (oT auf ^^1 

hirty-five ^^H 
hereupon ^^B 

turn for which they received a numbered ticket 
number they chose, at that rate). For every thirty- 
memljers a Patron's Certificate was bought, whereupon 
lots were drawn, and the fortunate winner had an oppor- 
tunity to hear the Tetralogy for little more than the 
price of an ordinary theatre ticket, while the others had 
at least the consciousness of having helped along a noble 
cause, A further object of the society was to give con- 
certa, the proceeds of which were also to be devoted 
to the purchase of certificates to be disposed of by lot. 
Similar societies were soon formed in Vienna, Munich, ' 
and Leipzig, and by April, 1874, the number of societies 
hiid grown to twen^-five in various German and foreign 
cities, including Brussels, London, St. Petersburg, and 
New York. 


The question as to where the Nibelung Festival was 
to be held had in the meantime been decided in favor of 
the quiet old Bavarian town of Bayreuth, which is situ- 
ated in the exact centre of Germany. Several weighty 
reasons determined this choice. There was of course 
110 lack of available places; any German city, large or 
small, would have welcomed a scheme which promised 
to bring to it a number of distinguished artists and prof- 
itable pilgrims. Prominent among the applicants was 
the picturesque Baden-Baden, which offered as a special 
inducement the fact that a local audience, large enough 
to fill the theatre over and over again, would be formed 
every summer by the thousands of visitors at that popu- 
lar resort. But this was precisely one of the things 
Wagner wished to avoid. His festival was to be not for 


the cnrioiUy hungering for ^Mmuaemeaf; it w»s to be 
a seriouB aBsthetic event in the lives of thot»e who nym- 
pathized with his ambition to lay the foundatiou of a 
national and original (Jrermsai ai% freed froiu all foreign 
admixture. His intention even was not to oi£er an/ 
seats at all for sale to the general pubJic, but t(; give 
admission solely to members of the Wngner Hoei^ies^ 
so as to keep out unbidden eritim and other yhi}iMiwm, 
who, since this wa« not to be a eoum^rciMl ^uU^ri^im, 
were not needed or desired. 

Another resMn, and the imneipul 000^, why the ^fvivt 
Bayreuth wa« preferred to a {MMbiouni/l^ t^umuiM' Msort, 
was that it belonged to the Kingdotu of l^va/ia. 'i*h^ 
King had never faltered io his devotion to th^r ^art-wv^ 
of the future,^ and be would not faiJ U; «x«it^ibute hii^ 
share toward the erection of a U^utpk for it^ yr^/Vi4^ H 
wa« to be within his realms, Wagn«?r hhUi^il, in ^ 
letter to Hecfcel^ sums up hu( reabOiUif I'/r <^W^iiig i^. 
reuth, in half-a^jzen lin4:ib : — 

'*The place wm V> be of/ cspitiJ wia *«j 4«U^iii»Uyd Ut^nuA-, 
nor one of the fnftv^miM UiAhM, wU'u:U ju«ft Ut huJuuMH v^'/M 'ALa 
me a totallj nwUminlbUs pu^AU; ; H wm t/> be im:*/ Cii« <;^'i<W^ 4;^ 
Germanj, and a Barariao Wwa, UyjiMiii; I iiite!#i^ 4iJj»'^ e/^ t«i^ ^ 
therein my peimaaettt reaideace triiVii I ff j>d I csa propkfi^ ^, ,^^ 
in Bayaria/* 

Bayreuth had made a favorable impression on Wiumer 
when he casually parsed tlirougfa it at a young nou, i|, 
the spring of 1871 he revmUid it for tlie first tin^j^ ,^, 
officially, to see if it would ry^me up t// hU exiMstiUiUi^ 
On his way back to Lucerne lie htop|>e/J at l^ivii^^^l^' 
he conducted his Kai$emiar9rJi at a private coneert. ^ 
at Berlin, where he wan Imuiueied soul UmUt At tj 



house of Minister Ton Schleinitz be delivered a lecture 
on the proposed Kibelung Theatre, and a few days later 
lie conducted a concert for the benefit of the Kfinig- 
Wilhelm Society, at which his Kaisermarsch was the 
novelty. It was warmly applauded by the public, but 
the critics mostly echoed the opinion of a Munich col- 
league who had elegantly characterized this march 
"a piece of such barbaric rudeness, such impotence in 
invention, such shameless impudence in the use of all 
conceivable noises, that its name appears to us a blaa- 
phemy, its performance before a civilized public a coarse 
insult." How gently they cooed, these critics! A 
big canard, too, was hatched out by these gentlemen; 
namely, the rumor that Wagner had come to Berlin to^ 
try to secure the title of General- Music-Director. Noth- 
ing could have been &rther from his intentions; for, as 
Fraeger has said, although he ever bore himself with 
the consciousness ot superiority, "as for titles and dec- 
orative distinctions he disdained them all. Were they 
not bestowed on numskulls? therefore he has loudly 
proclaimed genius should not dishonor its lofty intelli- 
gence in accepting such baubles." Very likely, if that 
enthusiastic Wagnerite, William II., had been Emperor 
then, such a title would have been offered him; but he 
would have refused it, even as he refused all such 
honors from the hands of the King of Bavaria. 


To reward Mannheim and Vienna for being the first 
cities to come to his assistance, Wagner accepted an 
urgent invitation to coSperate at a series of " Bayreuth " 



concerts. The programme at Mannheim included the 
Kaisermarsckj of which, on this occasion, Pohl gave this 
succinct and admirable " table of contents '' : — 

«« Encased in a coat of mail, prepared for battle, the Emperor 
marchee past with his renowned generals ; the people crowd about 
him enthusiastically, the swords glitter ; * A stronghold sure is our 
Lord * [Luther^s Choral] is the battle cry, which rises above all the 
din of battle ; and in the folksong, * Hail, hail, the Kaiser,^ the song 
of triumph reaches its climax. This is genuine Qerman music ! " 

At the concert in Vienna — which brought in the fabu- 
lous sum of 12,000 florins — an interesting and ominous 
incident occurred. A storm arose, and the Magic Fire 
music was accompanied by thunder and lightning. At 
the moment when Wotan invokes the flre-god Loge to 
come and protect the sleeping Valkyrie, a brilliant 
flash of lightning lit up the hall. It seemed to be the 
moment chosen by the gods to show that henceforth the 
much-persecuted and ill-fated artist was to be under 
their protection; and this was the interpretation put on 
the phenomenon by Wagner, who arose, in response to 
deafening applause and calls, and uttered these inspired 
words :. — 

** When the Greeks undertook a great work, they invoked Zens 
to send them his lightning, in token of his favor. Let us, too, who 
are united here in the desire to found a hearth for German art, 
interpret to-day^s lightning in favor of our national undertaking — 
as a sign of blessing from above/* ^ 

For his fifty-ninth birthday, on May 22, 1872, Wagner 
planned a grand Beethoven Festival at Bayreuth. The 
Ninth Symphony — which, because of its invoking in its 

I Glasenapp, IL 323. 



last part the aid of voice and poetry, bad always seemed 
to him the point of transition from purely instrumental 
music to the " aii-work of the future " — waa to be per- 
formed, with the aid of Germany's leading vocalists and 
instrumentalists; at the same time representatives of the 
different Wagner Societies were to be thus given an 
opportunity to meet and to witness the laying of the 
corner-stone of the Nibelung Theatre. There had been 
no diiticulty in finding a suitable location for such a 
theatre. The Bayreuthers, headed by Burgomaster 
Muncker and banker and representative Feustel, had of 
course received Wagner's project with open arms, feel- 
ing instinctively that it would arouse their town, like a 
Dornroscben, from its hundred years' slumber. They 
generously made him a present of a site large enough 
for a theatre with park-like surroundings — a site fit for 
a Walhalla and the beauties of which have been appre- 
ciated by numberless tourists. The theatre now stands 
on an eminence, within easy walking distance of the city 
(about twenty minutes' walk from the centre of the town) 
and commanding a romantic view of the surrounding 
country — the Franconian Switzerland. Before it lies 
the city, to the right and left the mountain chains of the 
Fichtelgebirge, and behind it a densely wooded hill, 
crowned with a tower of Victory, erected after the war 
with France. 

Invitations to participate in this Beethoven Festival 
had been sent to various cities, and were in most cases 
promptly accepted. Eiedel's vocal society in Leipzig, 
and Stem's in Berlin, formed the nucleus of the chorus; 
orchestral players came from Vienna, Leipzig, Weimar, 
Berlin, Munich, Stuttgart, etc.; and the soloists were 


Niemann^ Betz, Frl. Lehmann, Frau Jachmann. As 
the place for the concert Wagner had chosen the old 
opera-house — the same which he had had in mind when 
he first revisited Bayreuth, as being possibly available 
for his Tetralogy. Externally, it is "a jewel of the 
Renaissance style," but a glimpse at the interior had 
shown that no alteration could possibly fit it for his 
uses. It is the oldest theatre but one in (Germany, and 
at the time when it was erected French plays and Italian 
operas alone were cultivated and enjoyed by the Grerman 
potentates who built such houses. Wagner wanted a 
democratic theatre, not one which had been "so con- 
structed that the Margrave's carriage could be driven 
inside the edifice and clear up to the court-box." He 
wanted, as we shall see in a moment, several other things 
which neither this nor any other existing opera-house 
provided. But for the concert this place would serve as 
well as any other. Of the rehearsals Tappert wrote an 
entertaining account,* from which I will copy this in- 
stantaneous photograph : — 

**The difAcuit presUhifUraden of the last movement caused the 
master and his men much trouble. Wagner expressed his desire 
that all rhythm and accents should disappear here ; a tone-flood 
should break in, sudden, wild, irrepressible ! It was difficult to 
carry out this idea, but after many attempts the interesting prob- 
lem was solved. Then Betz got up and sang: *0 friends, not 
these tones.* His magnificent voice filled the vast auditorium, and 
the large audience listened in admiration. * So that is the famous 
Betz I * * Yes, that is our Betz,' the Berliner whispers proudly. 
' More vivaciously ! ' cried Wagner, * as if you meant to say : ** Fel- 
lows, what awful stuff you are playing f * * Very well,* replied 
Betz, and proved at once that he had understood the hint." 

1 Mutikalischet WochetS>UUt, Nos. 23-26, 1872. 


Tappert also makes some interesting comments on the 
tempo rubato with which Wagner vivified the Ninth Sym- 
phony, and the no less interesting remark that the main 
tempo and some of the nuances of the Kaiaemarsch were 
here taken by the composer somewhat differently from 
what they had been in Berlin : as was to be expected, 
I may add, for only the academic critics fancy that 
there is such a thing as a cast-iron tempo for a piece, 
and that the one they consider right. Nor did Wagner 
believe in the theory that a conductor should be ao ele- 
gant and graceful that a photograph might be taken of 
him at any moment. He gesticulated, stamped, and, 
towards the close of the symphony, he became so excited 
that his baton broke in two. 

On this occasion certain minor impprfections in Bee- 
thoven's orchestration, which interrupted the melodic 
continuity and distinctness in a few places, induced him 
to make slight alterations, which there can be no doubt 
whatever that Beethoven himself would have approved, 
and which he surely would have made himself had not 
the imperfect character of certain instruments used in 
his day prevented him.* In tlie little speeches made 
during and after the rehearsals Wagner joked about the 
lunatic asylum which faced the Nibelung Theatre on the 
opposite hill; and he congratulated himself and his 
friends on l>eing there among themselves, solely to per- 
form and enjoy Beethoven; adding, "The devil take any 
one who criticises us." 

' These alterations are explained anil justified by him In a special 
eway (IX. 277-301|, wliere he points out liow I.inzt's arrangement at 
the symphony for piano first cleared up certain obaoiiriiies in the score 


The concert at the old opera-house was followed by 
the ceremony of the laying of the comer-stone on the 
hill, which was somewhat marred by the weather. 
While the band was playing the Hvldigungamarschj 
Wagner took the hammer, and uttering the words: 
''Blessings on this stone; may it stand long and hold 
firmly/' he gave it the first three strokes, whereupon the 
bystanders followed his example. There was a deep 
significance and touching tribute in performing this 
ceremony to the sounds of the March of Homageto King 
Ludwig, without whose encouragement the world would 
have never seen the Nibelung Theatre — perhaps never 
even possessed the Nibelung Tetralogy complete. The 
King, too, was with his friend in this hour; this tele- 
gram was received from him: — 

** To the German poet-composer Herr Richard Wagner in Bay- 

«^ From the profoandest depths of my soul I express to yoa« 
dearest friend, my warmest and most sincere congratulations on 
this day of such great significance to all Germany. Blessing and 
prosperity to the great undertaking next year. To-day more than 
ever, I am united with you in spirit 


''Kochel, May 22, 1872." 

This telegram with other documents, including the 
statutes of the first Wagner Society, some coins, and a 
few verses of Wagner's, — 

*' Hier schliess loh ein Geheimniss ein, 
Da ruh* es viele hundert Jahr* ; 
So lange es verwahrt der Stein, 
Macht es der Welt sich offenbar,*' 

was deposited in a tin box under the corner-stone. 



"Blessing and prosperity to your undertaking next 
year," King Ludwig had telegraphed: those last two 
words tell a sad tale. The Nibelung Festival was in- 
tended to be in 1873; but although the score would have 
been ready by that time, and the artists all prepared for 
their tasks, it was not till 1876 that the festival could 
be held. Three times it had to be postponed, and even 
in 1876 a man with less courage than its projector would 
have abandoned it forever. The fa^ts leading to these 
postponements constitute one of the strangest and least 
creditable pages, not so much in the history of German 
music as in German CuUurgeschidite. But they must be 

One thousand patrons' tickets would have to be dis- 
posed of, it was estimated, to make the festival possible. 
But in January, 1873, only 242 had been taken; in July, 
340. An offer from Berlin of 660,000 marks, if the 
theatre were built there, could not be accepted, now 
that matters had progressed so far at Bayreuth, and for 
various other reasons: similar offers from London and 
Chicago were still less feasible. The Wagner Societies 
issued a circuLar calling attention to the national impor- 
tance and interest of the project, and soliciting subscrip- 
tions of any amount, however small, from patriots. Of 
this circular 4000 copies were distributed and exposed in 
music and book shops; the result was that — several 
students at Giessen signed a few dollars! Another cir- 
cular was sent to Operatic managers asking for a Bay- 
reuth benefit performance. To three of these negative 

18 IT NATIONAL f 271 

replies were returned; the others were not answered at 
all! Yet at that time most of the (German opera-houses 
were already deriving their chief income from Wagner's 
operas^ and common prudence and business sagacity, if no 
higher motive, ought to have induced the managers to 
assist at the birth of four more of these profitable works. 
On Jan. 7, 1874, Heckel received a telegram begging 
him urgently to come to Bayreuth. On his arrival Wag- 
ner informed him that he had made up his mind to ad- 
dress to him a public letter announcing the collapse of 
the Bayreuth project: ''I shall have the still open sides 
of the theatre covered with boards, to keep the owls out, 
at any rate, till circumstances permit us to continue." 
''That must not be! " was the retort made by Heckel, 
who proposed a plan of getting a certain sovereign to 
induce the German Emperor to x>atronize the undertak- 
ing. This plan could not be carried out; and Wagner's 
own efforts to secure the cooperation of the Imperial 
Grovemment also failed. Bismarck was first appealed 
to. Wagner wrote him a letter urging him to read the 
last two pages of his pamphlet on the Stage-Festival' 
Theatre at Bayreuth,^ Bismarck, who is an even greater 
ignoramus in music than Schopenhauer was, and who 
had no idea that he was dealing with a man greater than 
himself, did not even deign to answer Wagner's letter. 
More successful were the efforts of the Baroness von 
Schleinitz to win over the aged Emperor to the Bayreuth 
cause. At a moment when collapse seemed inevitable, 

1 In these pages he points ont how the character of the theatre had 
been determined in e^ery point by the natore of the work to be per- 
formed; and that the possible result was not only a new style of 
mnsico-dramatio art, bat a new national style of architecton. 



Wagner had ventured to appeal to the Emperor for a 
considerable portion of the " funda for the furtherance 
of national interests " which he knew were at his dis- 

" I waa assured," Le relates,' " that the Emperor »t once gnuted 
my petition and commended It to the Chancellonhip ; but thkt in 
consequence of an unlaTorsble judgment of the prveldent of thu 
time, the matter wsa dropped. 1 waa then told that the Imperial 
Chancellor hiioBelf had known nothing bf thla aftali ; that Herr 
D«lbr(lc|[ alone had had the matter In band ; that bia diMuadlng the 
Emperor was not Burprising, aince he was eietoalTelj a man o( 
finance and cured for nothing elae. On the other hand, It waa aald 
that the CultosminisWr, Herr Fa!k, whom I might have looked on 
as a, repreaentative of tnj Plan, vraa purely a jurist, unmindful of 
other things." 

And 80 on; the upshot being that he did not get the 
money, From his private funds the kind-hearted 
Kaiser contributed the value of twenty-five Patrons* Cer- 
tificates ($5675), but this was only a drop where a bucket 
waa needed. Wagner had hoped that a very small 
fraction of the milliards of indemnity paid by France 
might be spared from the military funds for the most 
original and most thoroughly German artistic undertak- 
ing ever projected. A million marks would have sufficed 
to establish for all time a model theatre where artists 
could meet annually to perfect themselves in a style of 
performance which would do justice for the first time 
not only to Wagner's works, but to some of the master- 
works of all the national composers, which were now 
neglected because the true art of interpreting them had 
been lost. For it was Wagner's intention to bring out 
at Bayreuth not only his own music-dramas, but the best 
1 BctiMpcct on the Stage-FegUval-PlajTa of 1876, X. 146. 

18 IT NATIONAL t , 278 

works of Mozart, Beethoven, Weber, and others, under 
his own supervision; to make Bayreuth, in fact, a high 
school of (German art. 

The (German nation scorned his ofiFer. Can we blame 
Bismarck and the other politicians for this? Hardly; 
they knew nothing of art, and could have been induced 
to favor an art-movement only if the '^ experts" had 
urged them to it. But this is precisely what the experts 
did not do. Wagner himself recognized the fact that 
the failure of his efforts was due to a necessary " agree- 
ment with the great press " on the part of the politi- 
cians. He does not cite any of these ''opinions of the 
press," leaving that pleasant duty to his biographers. 
Chapters might be filled with them; here we have room 
for only a few choice specimens, some of which appeared 
before, some after the event. After the Festival, one of 
the leading Viennese critics, L. Speidel, wrote: — 

*^No, no, and a third time no ; the German nation has nothing 
in common with this, now-revealed, simian disgrace (^Affenachande); 
and if it ever should take real pleasure in the counterfeit gold of 
the Nibelung^s Bingt this mere fact would obliterate it from the 
list of western civilized nations.*' 

It was after the festival that a leading Berlin critic, 
Gustav Engel, wrote, in the Vossische ZeUungy that he 
must deny Wagner's right to claim a national significance 
for his new theatre and his new dramas, on the ground 
that the Gterman people did not recognize him as a great 
composer: — 

*^ However much TannhSuser and Lohengrin may dominate the 
German theatres,** he continues, '* there is as yet [1876, seven 
years before Wagner's death 1] no evidence of his being oelsbrated 

274 fbo:m MUNICH to batreutb 

by hia countrymen aa were Moiart' and BeetlioveD, aa even Men^ 
delsaohn was in his day ; only the fanatic zeai of his special ad- 
mlrere could deceive toteignere on this point." 

Such being the opinions of leading " experts " of Berlin 
and Vienna, it is small wonder that the press at large 
should have maligned the Bayreuth schema before as 
well as after the Festival. The Orazar Wochenblatt fur 
Lileratur, etc., alluded to 

"Uie colOBsal impudence of the BByreuth undertaking," The 
Cotiigne Qattlte referred to the "coaree big-mouthedness " of the 
"German maal«r," dpropos of the prelimlnarT Beethoven Festival 
ot mT2 ; and this, according lo Tappert, was the only reference 
made in this leading German paper to that event and to the laying 
of the corner-stone I Dr. Wilhelm Mohr, who wrote a pamphlet 
in 1872 entitled Dag OrfiiidertftMin in der Mmik ( Stocks windle), 
guolet! friiiu a I^'ip/ig muaicnl paper this edilurial note: "We 
shall not publish a report on tbe laying of the corner-stone at B^- 
reuth, although several have been sent to us. We consider it a 
farce, staged with genuine Wagnerian raffinement, and calculated 
solely for hia personal gloriGcation. Many of the scenes that 
occurred there are simply nauseating." Dr. Mohr himself de- 
nounced the Festival as giving foreigners "a spectacle of revolting 
ludicrousness and servility." The WQrzburg Stechap/H wrot« that 
" there is a such a thing as spiritual epidemics among nations. 
The persecution of witches was one of tliese ; at present we have 
another in the Wagner swindle." 

Tbe climax of indecency was reached in a virulent 
pamphlet written by a Munich physician named Pusch- 
mann, who endeavored seriously to prove that Wagner 

1 Poor Engel was obviously not aware of the unfortonate fact that 
his own predecessor on tlie same paper wrote, tliree years before 
Mozart's dvatli. a priipoi of Hon Juan : " It is tlie product of a freak, a 
caprice, aud not iuspircd by tbe heart. ■ . . Besides, we have oevBi 
heard that Mozart was a composer of note." 

18 IT NATIONAL? 276 

was a lunatic. The pamphlet is, however, not iinamus- 
ing. The charge of insanity is based on three grounds: 
Wagner's vanity, his fondness for luxury, and his belief 
that he is a yictim of persecution. This reasoning of 
course is perfectly sound; for no artist before Wagner 
was ever guilty of vanity or love of luxury; and as for 
the idea of persecution, that was obviously a pure hallu- 
cination, for we know that nobody ever said an unkind 
word against Wagner. The funniest part of this busi- 
ness is that in a country where almost every man suffers 
from megalomania, the one man who had the best claim 
to the title of genius should have been pronounced a 

There was, however, a very serious side to all this. 
Wagner, as Lesimple relates, was greatly amused by 
Puschmann's pamphlet and often alluded to it jocu- 
larly; but he was not at all amused by the persistent 
efforts of influential newspapers to discredit his national 
undertaking by falsely declaring it the mere outcome of 
a desire for self-glorification. There was, for instance, 
the Oartenlaube, with a circulation of 400,000 copies, 
declaring editorially 

** that the nation has absolutely nothing to do with the Bayreuth 
performances, and that it is only the nuisance of cliques and puffery 
which still flourishes in Germany that tries to give to the Wagner 
Festival a nimbus which in reidity it does not possess nor can 

Eeferring to this article, Wagner says (X. 89) : — 

** The wealthy citizen of a small town had sent in his name to 
one of my friends for a seat at the Bayreuth Festival : he took this 
back when he read in the Gartenlaube that the whole thing was a 
swindle and an endeavor to get money under false pretences.*' 


These maclii nations oontiaued to the very last moment. 
When the first Siegfried perfornianc* had to be post- 
poned a day on account of the illness of a singer, tele- 
gTiuna were sent to Vienna announcing the impending 
collapse of the whole Festival. The result of this was, 
as Wagner afterwards discovered, that "many persona 
in Vienna and Hungary who had intended to come for 
the second series, were Induced to remain at home." 

If we bear in mind this attitude of the press, and the 
general poverty of the Germans, we can understand why 
an undertaking, the mere pluckineaa of which in any other 
country would have aroused universal admiration, should 
have beeu repeatedly on the point of collapse. Indeed, 
it would have collapsed had not King Ludwig once more 
stepped in ami advanced the sum of 200,OtH) marks' 
absolutely needed to complete the arrangements. This, 
combined with $2500 sent by the Viceroy of Egypt and 
the 404 Certificates disposed of by July, 1875, induced 
Wagner finally to announce the Festival definitely for 
the summer of 1876. To do this, however, required the 
courage of a Siegfried; for, as he wrote to Heckel as 
late as Feb. 4, 1876: — 

" Our anxielies are great, and in the end I must pronounce my 
decision to have the performances Ihia year foolhardy. Our 
Falrons' CertificateB number 490, but we need, according to the 
Latest estimate, 1300 to cover expenses. The undertaking aa orig- 
inally projected is therefore a complete failure. " 

' Not ihalrri, as Jullien, with his — I had almost said usual — inac- 
curacy, states — a difference of 8100,0001 See the aleoographic report of 
Wagner's iateteatiug epeecb ad hoc, in Kiirscbner's Jahrbuch, 196-206. 



About a month before the Beethoven Festival at Bay- 
reuthy Wagner had given up his villa near Lucerne and 
taken up his residence at Bayreuth — or rather near 
Bayreuth; for, pending the erection of his own house, 
he was living in an inn adjoining the lovely park called 
Fantaisie, an hour's drive from Bayreuth. About a 
week before they abandoned their home on the Lake of 
Lucerne, Madame Wagner wrote to Judith Gkkutier that 
they were about to leave Triebschen with heavy hearts, 
and she herself with apprehensions. Triebschen had 
been an ideal home for her husband. Here he had com- 
pleted the Meiatersinger and Siegfried scores and written 
many pages of the Odtterddmmerung too. Here he had 
f^njoyed the quiet and isolation which is essential to the 
full ripening of works of genius. The only disturbers 
of the peace had been the tourists who, after " doing " 
the Bigi, Pilatus, the lake, and the lion of Lucerne, had 
come to see that other local lion, "the King's favorite." 
Madame Gautier relates an amusing anecdote concerning 
the precautions that were taken by Madame Wagner to 
keep such unbidden visitors from molesting her husband, 
by keeping him in hiding under a bower till the tourists 
had been persuaded that he was "not at home." Wag- 
ner himself related to her a story of how Groethe once 
received such an intruder. He planted himself in the 
middle of the room, with arms crossed, eyes fixed on the 
ceiling, immovable as a statue. The Englishman had 
enough sense of humor to see the point: he put on his 
eyeglass, walked slowly around the poet, examining him 


from head to foot, and then left without a word. "It 
is difficult to say," added Wagner, "which of the two 
showed the more wit." 

Bayreuth, under ordinary circumstances, would have 
been quieter even than Triebschen, being entirely iso- 
lated from all the usual tourist routes, and being, more- 
over, one of the sleepiest old towns in Germany, the 
inhabitants of which (about 20,000 in number) might 
have felt inclined to regard the stories of the gaiety and 
frivolity that prevailed there in the eighteenth century 
as mere fables, had not the castles and the opera-house 
in town, and especially the neighboring Eremitage — a 
sort of miniature Versailles, with parks, rococo build- 
ings and grottoes covered with shells, and waterworks — 
remained as witnesses of the brilliant past.' Now, 
after a century's sleep, the Bayreuthers were fated to 
be awakened to new life by the electric atmosphere of 
(he very latest and most vivifying manifestations of 
modem art. 

In one respect the Bayreuthers were not dormant. 
They were wide awake to the advantages which would 
accrue to them from this musical invasion, and they 
showed their gratitude in advance — a new sensation to 
Wagner! — by making him a present not only of a large 
plot of land for the theatre, but of another one, adjoin- 
ing the pretty town-park, for a residence. Here, re- 
moved from the noise of street traffic, he built himself a 
villa according to his own plans. It is of interest to 

' This blDgraph; Is haidl; the place for a history and description of 
Bayreuth. English visitors will find an entertainine account o( the 
past aud present in Mr. J. P. Jackson's TAc BiKjreulh of Wagner. A 
guide to the city in several languages may be baugbt Id any Oennon 


know what ideal of a dwelling-house and a theatre the 
creator of the "Art- Work of the Future" had in his 
mind. Both these buildings are plain on the outside; 
in the case of the theatre, at any rate, from necessity, 
because the funds were not sufficient to build a more 
ornamental temple of art. The villa has for its sole 
ornament a fresco over the door with four figures — 
Wotan, as representative of (German mythology, two 
females symbolizing music and tragedy, and the boy 
Siegfried. These figures are really portraits, their fea- 
tures bearing the likeness of Betz, Gosima Wagner, 
Schroeder-Devrient, and Siegfried Wagner. Beneath 
this fresco are three tablets, with the words : " Hier wo 
mein Wittmen Frieden fand Wahnfbied sei dieses Hans 
von mir benannt." (Here where my illusions came to 
rest, Wahnfried [freedom from illusion] be this house 

It is to the interior, in the villa (as in the theatre), 
that we must look for Wagner's ideal. We pass through 
the door into a large hall, the ceiling of which is the 
roof itself, whence light is admitted through a colored 
glass window. Above we see a gallery leading to the 
family and bed rooms. On the right, below, is the dining- 
room, on the left the spacious library and reception-room. 
This room is elegantly adorned with the savings of a 
lifetime, the trophies of various triumphs. The music 
and book shelves are filled with the volumes of Wagner's 
favorite authors and composers, historic and philosophic 
books, orchestral and operatic scores. The walls are 
adorned with portraits of his mother and stepfather, 
Ludwig Geyer, Beethoven, Schopenhauer, King Ludwig, 
Schiller and Goethe, Liszt, and his daughter Gosima. 


In one comer of the room is the magnificent Steinway ' 
Grand which Benred to convince Wagner that ii 
branch of music, at any rate, America leads the world. 
Id front of the bouse is a bronze statue of Ludwig II., 
and the grounds are further adorned with trees and 
shrubbery, which at present almost conceal the house 
from the street. 

In this house Wa^er spent the happiest decade of hia ' 
life, with his wife Cosima, and three children.* Fraa 
Cosima took from him many of the burdens of life, looked 
after bis business affairs, shielded him from unwelcome 
visitors, and answered bis enormous coTrespondeoce as 
far as possible; excepting, of course, the autographs, for 
which demands came daily, especially from England and 
America, and which, it is said, Wagner was good-natured 
enough to answer as a rale. By the Bayreuthera he was 
stared at with awe and admiration whenever he saun- 
tered down the streets, or took his daily walk in neigh- 
boring groves and fields, with his large dogs, in search 
of open-air inspiration for his Parsifal motives. His 
amiability is illustrated by an anecdote related by Glase- 
napp. An humble but honest citizen, employee at a local 
factory, had the courage to ask him to be godfather to 
his youngest child, born on the day when the corner-stone 
had been laid. Wagner accepted the invitation, came 
with his whole family, and spent the entire afternoon in 
the employee's house, joking and telling stories. 

Another characteristic anecdote was related to me by 
Herr Oesterlein, owner of the Wagner Miiseum in Vienna. 

I After Cosima's diTorce, and her marriage to Wagner, Hans von 
Billow avoided personal intercourse with the (amily, but continued hU 
friendly relatiom and deTotlon as an artist. 


One day while the theatre was in ooone of oonstmetion, 
Wagner had been up the hill in a bad humor. Something 
had been done contrary to his plans and instructions; he 
had tried to explain what he wanted, but the builders 
had not understood. One of the oyerseers, however (not 
a trained builder), saw a light, and acted in accordance 
with his inspiration. Next day Wagner found what had 
been done, and was delighted. ^^Who did this?'' he 
asked. The name was given. ''Where is he?" He 
could not be found. On returning to town, Wagner saw 
him, accosted him effusiyely, slapped him on the shoulder, 
and exclaiming, ''You are a brilliant fellow," dragged 
him off to a tayem, drank a bottle of wine with him, and 
exchanged the brotherly "du" (thou) — the Idghest 
degree of cordiality in a German's repertory. 


From Villa Wahnfried to the Nibelung Theatre we 
can walk comfortably in half an hour. German yisitors 
— especially those suffering from the national disease of 
beer-corpulence — have uttered many groans over the 
necessity of climbing up this hill in warm weather, when 
carriages are scarce and dear; but in reality it is just a 
pleasant walk, to brace up the system for the perform- 
ance to come. In 1876 the road leading up the hill was 
plain and unadorned, except as to the ever-widening view ; 
at present the trees planted along the road have grown 
up into a stately alley, affording shade, hiding the dis- 
tant view, and leaving it for a pleasant surprise when 
you arrive on top. The hill is higher than it seems when 
the theatre is first seen as the train approaches Bayreuth^ 


and the view, as already stated, is delightful, some of ths I 
peaks rising to a height of almost four thousand feet. 

Although the present Xibelimg Theatre was intended i 
to be merely proTisional, — until funds could be collected | 
for a more substantial architectural ornament,- 
exterior is by no means uninteresting. Pictures of it 
are so familiar that it is needless to describe it. I will 
only call attention to the fact that the batik part of tha 
building ia almost twice as high as the front, owing to 
the scenic arrangements. In the works to be performed ' 
— especially Rkeingold — the requisite changes of scen- 
ery are so rapid and elaborate that the ordinary way of 
shifting would be impracticable; the method adopted J 
here consistti in raising the old scene by machinery into 1 
the high part of the building, so that the new one, pre- 1 
viously arranged in the deep cellar, can take its place. 
The stage is one of the largest in the world — larger tliao 
the auditorium, which seats about sixteen hundred, if we 
include the gallery (seating 300) above the royal boxes. 
The auditorium resembles the Greek amphitheatre, the 
seats rising in a semicircle one above the other, ending 
behind in a row of boxes surmounted by a gallery. 
There are no boxes or galleries on the sides, which are 
adorned with simple columns. Every seat faces the 
stage, and no one is obliged to look at the play with 
the distortions necessary in the usual curved galleries. 
The precautions agaiust fire are unusually good. There 
are twelve different places of exit, with no stairs, so that 
the whole theatre can be emptied in a minute or two; 
while on the stage there are four so-called water-towers. 

All these deviations from the usual plan of a theatric 
interior were, as Wagner states (IX. 399), the natural 


outcome of the most important and fundamental innoTa- 
tion of all — the desire to make the orchestra inyisible. 
With side galleries it would have been impossible to 
prevent the orchestra from being visible to many of the 
spectators; but with amphitheatric seats it was practi- 
cable, although the details required much study on the 
part of Wagner and his architectural assistants. The 
French composer Gr^try, and Goethe in WilTidm Meister, 
had anticipated Wagner in suggesting that the instru- 
mental performers should be removed from sight; but it 
remained for him to show how this could be done and to 
do U. It is evident that, if a drama is to produce a 
perfect illusion of reality, the up and down motion of the 
violin-bows and trombones, the blows of the drummers, 
the gesticulations of the conductor, etc., should be as 
little seen by the spectators as the ropes and pulleys 
behind the scenes. The position of the orchestra remains 
as before, but it is lowered seventeen feet, while a thin 
partition entirely shuts off the sight of it, and the wall 
serves as a reflector of the sound. 

Of all the innovations introduced in the art world by 
Wagner, this one found the most general and immediate 
acceptance. Even the professional opponents were con- 
vinced. Indeed, the advantages of the new system are 
too great to escape even hardened Philistines. The 
invisibility of the orchestra is not the only gain. By 
dispensing with side galleries the proscenium boxes are, 
of course, done away with. Now, of all the evidences of 
man's habitual lack of aesthetic refinement, a proscenium 
box is the most eloquent. Imagine several thousand 
spectators gathered together to enjoy a drama — musical 
or literary, and permitting the managers to mar the illu- 



sion by having on each side of the stage boxes whose 
occupants, with their ogling, yawning, jewels, and con- 
Tersation, make themselves quite as oonsplcuous as the 
actors themselves. At Bayreuth not only is this nuisance 
entirely done away with, but the architect Semper had 
suggested to Wagner a most ingenious way of atilizing 
the space between the stage and the first tow of seats. 
This apace, from which issued the sounds of the invisible 
orchestra, was called "the mystic abyss," because it sep- 
arates reality from Ideality, and the effect of the arrange- 
ment adopted — a narrow proscenium behind, and a wider 
one in front — was to produce the wonderful illusion as 
if the scene on the stage had been removed to a distance, 
while at the same time the spectator sees it with the 
distiufitiieaa of actual nearness ; whence results the fur- 
ther illusion that the actors are seen in seemingly more 
than natural size. In a word, the effect produced on the 
spectator's eyes is very much like the superior distinct- 
ness and realism of a spectroscopic view compared with 
a photograph. 

To the ears, the advantages of the new arrangement 
have proved still greater and more numerous. Wagner 
summed them up prophetically in one concise sentence 
(\'I. 388); biit we must look at them somewhat more 
closely, because they are of epoch-making importance: — 

(1) If you sit near an orchestra, your ear, if it is sen- 
sitive, will be offended by all sorts of non-musical sounds 
issuing from the instruments — a strident sound from the 
flutes and clarinets, a scraping sound from the violins 
and other strings, a blatant sound from the trumpets, 
from the trombones a sound which is onomatopoetically 
described by the German -viovA prasaelnd, and so on. But 


if you hear the same music through a thin partition, it 
becomes, as Wagner says, " etherealized [verkldri]f puri- 
fied from all these non-musical sounds." This result is 
attained at Bayreuth, and might be compared to the effect 
produced by the " retouching " of a photographic nega- 
tive, — removing all coarse blemishes. 

(2) The singer not only enjoys the advantage of directly 
facing the spectators without intervening orchestral and 
conductorial gesticulations, but the exclusion of the non- 
musical (anti-musical) sounds just described makes it 
easier for the audience to follow his enunciation of the 


words on which so much depends in a true music-drama. 
The absurd objection so often advanced against Wagner 
that his music is ^^ noisy," and that the singers are 
" drowned " in the orchestral din, arose entirely from the 
fact that conductors and orchestras did not know how to 
play this music. Before Wagner, brass was chiefly used 
for massive, crashing fortissimo effects. He, too, uses 
it for such a purpose, and he is the supreme master of 
climax; but much more frequently he utilizes the brass 
merely for coloring purposes — to obtain those rich 
clang-tints which distinguish his music from all other. 
Brass players were not used to piano, and whenever 
Wagner superintended a rehearsal of one of his operas, 
he had to cry constantly piano, piano ! At Bayreuth the 
brass is placed farthest away from the audience, under 
the stage, the consequence being that the trumpets and 
trombones could not, if they would, drown the voices of 
the singers; every word is heard distinctly, and no 
honest person who has been at Bayreuth would ever 
repeat the ridiculous charge that Wagner places the 
statue in the orchestra, and the pedestal on the stage — 


a. charge which lias beea brought by ignoramuses agaitiBt 
every musical reformer. 

(3) Perhaps even more important than these advan- 
tages is the third one summed up by Wagner in the 
word verkiart — i.e. etherealized, idealized, sublimatedi 
a result following partly from the greater physical purity 
of the tones, partly from the mysterious invisibleness of 
the source of the music. Goethe had this same idea 
vaguely in miud when he wrote: "He always listened to 
music with his eyes closed, in order to concentrate his 
whole consciousness on the sole, pure enjoyment through 
the ears." More definitely do we grasp Wagner's idea 
if we recall the thrilling effect produced on us by music 
in a. church : the priests long ago discovered the superior 
magic of invisible music. Operatic composers have occa- 
sionally followed ecclesiastic example, and delighted 
their hearers with an invisible choms; but it remained 
for Wagner to reveal the charm of an invisible operatic 
orchestra, whose sounds seem to hover over the singers 
aa the mingled perfumes over a bed of flowers. Years 
before the Nibelung Theatre was built, Wagner wrote that 
the orchestra " should completely disappear in relation to 
the singer, or, more correctly, should appear to be an 
integral part of his song." This ideal was realized at 
Bayreutb, thanks to the invisible orchestra. 

Dr. J. Scbucht' has made the suggestion that one 
source of the purified and idealized tone-color of the 
Bayreuth lies in the fact that the higher, dissonant over- 
tones are absorbed, and do not get to the audience: "The 
brass is changed into gold." It is well, however, to bear 


in mind that the Bayreuth arrangements, while perfectly 
adapted to Wagner's later dramas, might not be favor- 
able to operas more simply orchestrated. Indeed, the 
performance of TanrUiduaer, in 1891, convinced me that 
changes would have to be made even for Wagner's own 
early operas : the voices in this case were too loud, and 
in the choral numbers the orchestra was hardly audible. 
However, it is probable that changes in the position of 
the players and of the partitions would obviate this short- 
coming; the advantages resulting from the invisible 
orchestra are certainly so great that it would be worth 
while to spend a great deal of time and money in acoustic 
experiments in order to secure these benefits for all 


In discussing the sound of the Nibelung orchestra, we 
somewhat anticipated our narrative; we must now return 
for a moment, to record briefly a few events preceding 
the Festival. During the months following the laying 
of the comer-stone Wagner was unusually busy with his 
pen. Essays on Actors and SiJigers, On the Designation 
Music-Drama, On Acting, public letters to Nietzsche, and 
to the Burgomaster of Bologna, followed in rapid succes- 
sion. His next task — a most important and difficult one 
— was to find artists for the Festival. He needed singers 

1 A sense of Justice compels me to add that one of the critics, Paul 
Lindaa, did not entirely approve of the invisible orchestra; he gets a 
** deeper impression " if he can see the fiddle-bows, etc. This reminds 
me of a little story told in Gottschalk's Notes of a Pianist. Gotts- 
chalk foond, when he gave concerts in Western American towns many 
years ago, that the spectators in the first rows often seemed to be much 
more interested in his pedalling than in his playing. 2>e gustibus non 
est dispiUandum I 


who were actors too, and fur certain characters, such as 
the giauta Fasolt and Fafner, and the dwarf, Mime, he 
wanted artista whose stature would not belie their rdles. 
To find all these artists, he visited iu succession the 
lea<Ung German opera-houses. To judge by the essay 
A Olimpse of the German Opera Houses of To-day, in 
which he related some of bis experiences, he was not 
very much pleased with what he saw and heard. He 
had been cordially received everywhere, and bad never 
hesitated to give singers and conductors the benefit of 
his advice. In dealing with such vain and sensitive 
people it would have been wiser to hold liis tongue; but 
Wagner never could resist the impulse, when he saw an 
error, to try to set it right. He also assisted at concerts, 
followed by banquets and speeches, which are conscien- 
tiously recorded in the pages of Glasenapp. At Leipzig 
and Weimar he spent a few days with Liszt. In June, 
1873, appeared the vocal score of Rheingold, to be followed 
by the Walkiire in September, 1874, Siegfried in January, 
1876, and Ootterddrnmerung in June, 1876. The score 
of the last-named drama was completed in November, 

There was no difficulty in securing the services of the 
singers who seemed best fitted for the Bayreuth perform- 
ances. Unlike the critics, the German singers realized 
the importance of this event, and in most cases placed 
themselves at the Meiater's service without asking any 
compensation except the honor of cooperating with him. 
Doubtless, too, they felt that the personal instruction 
they would receive from the composer would be worth 
more to them than the highest honorarium that any Court 
Theatre had ever paid them. The prestige of having 


been a Bayreuth singer served as a diploma which opened 
all theatre doors wide to them. Take Matema as an 
instance. She received 91000 an evening for singing in 
the Metropolitan Opera House at New York, in 1884-5. 
But would she have obtained a quarter of that sum except 
for her Bayreuth fame? She owes her international 
reputation chiefly to her wonderful Briinnhilde, which 
Wagner taught her, bar for bar. Her Isolde, which he 
did not teach her, has never been a success. 

Preliminary rehearsals, attended by the leading singers 
and the orchestra, were held in July and August, 1875, 
at first in Wagner's house, subsequently in the theatre, 
of which the stage had made more progress towards com- 
pletion than the auditorium. Intendant Hfflsen had, 
with unexpected amiability, permitted twenty-six of his 
best orchestral players to join the Nibelung orchestra, 
which also included musicians from Munich, Vienna, 
Weimar, Breslau, Hanover, and other cities. The choice 
of Hans Richter for conductor was a most wise one. 
More than any other musician, he was initiated into the 
secrets of Wagner's score; and apart from this he was 
doubtless the best conductor of the period. As Tappert 
wrote of him in 1872 : " Richter is as much at home in 
the orchestra as a fish in the water. As real KapeU- 
meister we see him now with a viola in his hand, and 
suddenly we find him behind the big drum, or tinkling 
the triangle." Kufferath relates a little incident of a 
rehearsal at Brussels which tells us more about Bichter's 
art, and the secret of his greatness, than pages of techni- 
cal disquisition : — 

t«You know, in the Tristan prelude, the pUintive melody of 
the oboe which, after the first song of the violoncellos, rises in semi- 


tones, to <lie away Id ti very lender jn'anisfiino. To iudicau^ lIip 
expression of tbia phrase, <ffbile hU rigbt tiaml was beating the 
measure, M. Kicbter quietly placed hia left hand on bis heart, with 
a natural ami uuiiHected movement that said plainly aiid touch- 
ingly, ' Play with soul.' And his nlah was obeyed." 

Rithter had arranged that when Wagner came up for 
the Brat time to meet his miiBlciaiis in the Nibelung 
Theatre, the moment he entered, the orchestra played 
the sublime Walhalla strains from RkeingcUd, and Betz 
greeted him in the words in which Wotan celebrates the 
completion of the burg of the gods, built by the giants on 
mountain summit. It was a most happy thought, which 
Wagner appreciated cordially, 

Heinrich Forges,' who acted the rSle of Boswell during 
the Bayreuth rehearsals, calls attention to the unique way 
in which they were carried on. It is customary to begin 
with separate rehearsals for the string and wind instru- 
ments, combining them afterwards. Here, on the con- 
trary, the whole orchestra played an act in the morning, 
repeating it in the afternoon with the singers; in this 
way all participants gained at once a general idea of the 
whole, perfecting of details being left to later meetings. 
With such eminent vocal and instrumental artists as 
were assembled, even these first readings could not fail 
to be of interest, and permission to attend them had been 
granted to a few hundred persons, including Liszt and 
Fran von Schleinitz. As the builders had not yet had 
time to prepare more than eighty seats, the remaining 
spectators had to squat on boxes or pJanks, or on the 
floor. At the place where the prompter's box usually is, 
Wagner had a small table with a lamp, and a desk, on 
' See Mb artidea \a the Bayrtuther Blatitr. 


which lay his score, and whence he superintended the 
toiU ensemble. 

Among the visitors who appeared .at Bayreuth during 
these rehearsals were Director Jauner of the Vienna 
Opera, and Intendant Htilsen of Berlin; both came to 
make arrangements for the production of Tristan in their 
cities, if possible with the composer's cooperation (the 
wind had turned!); and Jauner also begged Wagner to 
bring out at Vienna the Paris version of TannMuser, and 
Lohengrin without cuts. The Meister was willing, and 
after a short rest at Teplitz he took up his residence for 
two months in Vienna, devoting day after day zealously 
to the rehearsals of his early operas. Tannhduser came 
first. At the close there were persistent calls for the 
composer, who finally appeared on the stage, and said: — 

** Fifteen years have passed since I first heard my Lohengrin^ 
here in Vienna, and enjoyed so favorable a reception on your part 
This joy has been renewed to-day, and this urges me to continue 
in my efforts to make my works clearer to you, so far as the forces 
at my disposal permit this.'* 

It has been often pointed out how unfortunate and 
insulting Wagner used to be in his public speeches. 
Here he had been kindly and generously invited to bring 
out his Tannhduser in the perfected version; he had been 
permitted, without being charged a penny, to spend three 
weeks of his time in putting things into shape; a tre- 
mendous audience had been attracted, for which no one 
had reproached him: yet instead of feeling overwhelmed 
by all these favors, and thanking the public, the artists, 
and the management on his knees, he went and intimated 
that he could bring out his operas in perfect form only 
<< in so far as the forces placed at his disposal permitted ! '^ 

292 FRon vCNicn to bayrevth 

It was a horrid speech to make, and the critics told liim 
so frankly. Only a few years before, one of his works 
had been put aside in Vienna after two years' rehearsals, 
as "impossible": how, under these circumstaiicea, could 
he dare to insinuate that hia operas could not be done 
there to absolute perfection? Was there ever a man ao 
void of gratitude, so insulting, so odious? But let us 
draw a veil over the painful scene, merely adding, with 
a sense of relief, that after Lohengrin, he refrained from 
making another inaulting speech; he even tried to make 
up for his former brutal conduct by personally conduct- 
ing that o[>era once — a very unusual favor — for the 
benefit of the chorua. After his departure, the Viennese 
fell back on the old TannkSiUSfT and the old Lohengrin 
with all their imperfectlona and cuts : tliey were shorter, 
and allowed the burghers to get home before the porter 
had locked the front door, and thus save their five cents. 
Not long after these incidents in Vienna, Wagner went 
to Berlin to assist at the premiere of Tristan. Emperor 
William himself took a special intei-est in this event; he 
even attended the dress rehearsal, and directed that the 
receipts of the first performance should be handed over 
to the Bayreuth funds, which thus gained the handsome 
addition of almost $4000 — an almost unprecedented sum 
for the Berlin Opera. The press was still for the most 
part hostile; but the performance was a good one, and a 
part of the audience, at any rate, appreciated the grandeur 
of the drama; not all, however; for, according to Paul 
Lindau, "the mournful melody of the Breton shepherd at 
the beginning of the last act, provoked an unfortunate 
outbreak of hilarity. The public, unable to see the 
shepherd, did not know what the blowing behind the 



scene signified!" Happened at the Metropolis of Cos- 
mic Intelligence, on March 20, 18761 

On June 3d the preparations for the Nibdun^a Ring 
were actively resumed at Bayreuth. They began with 
separate rehearsals of the instrumental groups and 
of the vocalists. No less than six weeks were thus 
required to reach the end of the Tetralogy. The second 
series of rehearsals was brought to an end in two weeks, 
each day being devoted to a separate act; and not till 
the third series, the Hauptprobeuy was a complete drama 
gone over each time; the same being done, of course, at 
the Oeneralproben, or what we call the dress rehearsals. 
All the singers and players had arrived in town promptly. 
The orchestra, numbering 113, — double the size of the 
usual operatic orchestras, — with Wilhelmj as leader of 
the violins, took its place in the mystic abyss, which, if 
it was hot and prevented them from seeing either the 
spectators or the stage, offered, on the other hand, this 
midsummer advantage, that the players needed no full 
dress, but could play in shirt sleeves — a privilege which 
many made use of, including Hans Kichter, who could 
be seen, of course, from the stage, but not from the 

Some readers may wonder why Wagner himself did not 
on this occasion display his universally admired skill as 
a conductor by assuming the bS,ton personally. In the 
first place, because he had perfect confidence in Hans 
Kichter; secondly, because he was needed to supervise 
not only the orchestra, but the scenic arrangements, and 
every gesture, tone, and facial expression of the singers. 
His usual place, as already stated, was at a small table 
where the prompter's box would have been if he had 


permitted such a nuisance in his theatre. But every 
moment he would jump np to arrange a group, phrase a 
bar for a singer, aet the mise-en-st^ne right, or ask the 
orchestra to repeat a passage. A little bridge had been 
built for him across the mystic abyss, so that he could 
easily cross into the auditorium to study a scenic or 
a{.^oustic effect; thus he was active all the time, working 
harder than any of his assistants. ^Nor did his sixty- 
three years hold him back from any acrobatic experi- 
ment. When, at one rehearsal, Alberieh hesitated, at the 
end of the first Rhehigold scene, to trust himself to the 
apparatus which precipitates him from the high rock to 
the bed of the Rhine, Wagner pushed him aaide and 
went through the performance for him. The Bayreuth 
turners who offered their services as Nibelungs, were, by 
his example, so completely transformed into dwarfish, 
crawling gnomes, that no one would have suspected what 
fine examples of physical development they were; and so 
on, in regard to every detail. In this universal stage- 
genius Wagner never had a parallel, and it was no idle 
boast of his when he once wrote to a friend that if he 
had the voice of a Tichatschek he would do something to 
astonish theatre-goers. 

The real Wagner is admirably revealed in two notices 
which he posted behind the scenes, and in the mystic 
abyss : — 

" To THE SiNOERS ; Distill clnesB, the large notes come of tbem- 
selves, the small notes and their text are the main thing. Never 
»ay anything to the public. In monologaes always look up or 
down, never straight ahead. Laat wish : preserve me jour good 
will, my friends." 

In the orchestra this brief notice was posted: "No 


preludizing! Piano, pianissimo, then all will be well." 
In connection with this last direction, it is interesting 
to read an observation made by Boswell Forges : ^ — 

*^ At the rehearsals of the Nibelung^s Ring it was found neces- 
saiy hi many places to moderate the dynamic marks, substituting 
a forte for a fortissimo, a mezzoforte for a forte, etc. This was 
done for the reason above all to enable the singer to enounce his 
tone and word distinctly. . . . This relation of the dynamic force 
of the singer to the orchestra was frequently discussed during the 
rehearsals, and the Meister repeatedly made use of his favorite 
comparison — that the orchestra should always bear the singer as 
the agitated sea bears a boat, but without ever putting it in danger 
of capsizing or of sinking.*' 

Another observation by Forges contains a whole treatise 
on conducting, in a nutshell : — 

** Special attention was called by the Meister to the fact that the 
Walhalla theme, in all those places where it appears as the expres- 
sion of a present situation, should be played in a stately manner, 
slowly, and with broad sonority ; whereas in places where it only 
appears in the orchestra as a reminiscent motive (as, for example, 
in Sieglinde^s narrative in the Walkiire) it should be played some- 
what faster, and with less emphasizing of the rhythmic accents, 
somewhat like the light and careless stress which actors place on a 
parenthetic sentence.^' 

But we must hurry on to the Festival itself, the most 
interesting and important event in the history of music. 


When Liszt was first informed of the mammoth project 
of a Nibelung Trilogy to be produced at a special Nibe- 
lung Festival, he urged his enterprising friend to go 

1 BayretUher BUUter, Jane, 1880. 


4 . 

■ . l" 


ahead undauntedly with his work, for which the same 
motto might be adopted as that placed before the anhi- 
tocts of the Seville Cathedral by the cathedral authorities : 
"Build U3 such a temple that future generations will 
have to say the ecclesiastics were crazy to undertake such 
an extraordinary thing. And yet the Cathedral stands! " 
Tliat was written in 1851 ; and exactly twenty-five years 
later the Bayreuth Theatre stood, ready for the Nibelung 
Trilogy. Was Wagner crazy when he undertook this 
scheme? His contemporaries seemed to think so. The 
"gentlemen of the press" exhausted their ingenuity in 
inventing pet names for "Jlia Majesty Richard the 
First," the "Infallible music-Pope," and "Shah of Bay- 
reuth," He was called a "charlatan," "royal Bavarian 
niffian," "enfant terrible," "fool," "musical Helioga- 
balus," "swallower of Jews," ditto of Frenchmen, 
"musical Ijasaalle," "Bavarian lunatic," "mipriscMe 
Bavarois," "song murderer," "plagiarist" of Berlioz, of 
Mendelssohn, and of Offenbach (fact!), "Saxon school- 
master," "Thersites," "Vandal of art," "Don Quixote," 
"Musical Miinclihausen," and so on. As even Mr. 
Joseph Bennett waa obliged to confess in 1876: "Wag- 
ner has been the butt of ridicule for more than twenty 
years, and the answer to it all is — Bayreuth." 

Royalty, genius, talent, curiosity, and envy travelled 
to this remote Bavarian town to see the work of his life- 
time. The former rebel and twelve-years' political exile 
was now the host of German and foreign royalty. Two 
Emperors, a King, three Grand Dukes, besides dukes, 
counts, and other representatives of the aristocracy by 
the score, appeared as patrons and spectatora : Emperor 
William I., Dom Pedro of Brazil, King Ludwig II., the 


Grand Dukes of Weimar, of Baden, and of Mecklenburg, 
the Duke of Anhalt, Prince Wladimir of Russia, Prince 
William of Hessen. The Viceroy of Egypt and the 
Sultan of Turkey were also patrons, but did not appear 
personally. As for musicians, four countries at any rate 
had their greatest masters there, — Liszt representing 
Hungary, Saint-Saens France, Grieg Norway, and Wag- 
ner himself Germany. Grerman art was well represented, 
but the German composers and musicians — major and 
minor — were conspicuous by their absence : why should 
they have contributed their mite to the glorification 
of a rival? ^ 

The first of the royal personages to arrive was King 
Ludwig. Having a strong aversion to crowds and 
demonstrations, he managed to escape the multitude by 
leaving the train a few miles outside the town. Here a 
carpet was spread from the track to his carriage, and 
Wagner and the Mayor of Bayreuth were present to 
receive him and accompany him to his residence at the 
Eremitage. The King attended the last series of rehear- 
sals, but not the first performances, possibly because he 
had no desire just then to meet the Emperor, although 
that monarch was there by his special invitation. Per- 
haps King Ludwig's penchant for private performances 
had something to do with his actions. On the RheingM 
night no spectator was permitted in any part of the house 
except in the gallery, out of the King's sight; but the 
empty house proving injurious to the acoustic effect^ 
many others were admitted to the last three dramas, at 
the King's special request. After the curtain had fallen 

^ The Berlin NatiowU Zeitung pablished a trinrnphaiit lift of iaiiioiit 
people who were not at Bayreuth I 


on tbe GdUerddmmeruTig, the monarch sent a message of 
thanks to the artists, saying that he would remember 
these days as among tbe most delightfu] in his life. He 
then left Bayreuth, but returned for the third series ten 
days later. 

Emperor William arrived on Aug. 12, the day before 
the first performance. He was received at the station 
by Wagner, the Mayor, and an immense concourse of 
visitors and natives. After the brief reception cere- 
monies, the Emperor drove to the Eremitic, through 
the town, which was gay with flags and with young fir- 
trees placed along the sidewalks. The usual fine Kaiser- 
weather had followed his Majesty, who looked twenty 
years younger than he waa, and unlike the shy King 
Ludwig, seemed to love the curious multitude, to whose 
signs of homage he replied with smiles and bows. He 
complimented Wagner on the success of his undertaking, 
adding: "I did not believe you would be able to carry it 
through." In the evening the enthusiastic Bayreuthers, 
who had never seen an emperor in their town before, 
had a grand torchlight procession to the Eremitage. 

On the following day the Kaiser requested to see the 
theatre and the "mystic abyss," where his "court musi- 
cians had to perspire," and In the evening he was in his 
seat at seven, with his usual punctuality. He remained, 
however, only to bear Mkeingold and Walkiire — to the 
ill-concealed pleasure of the Philistines, who saw in this 
"desertion" a great chance for jokes and comments. 
Jullien, as usual, follows the foolish newspaper talk, 
remarking that " Wagner was not the man ever to forgive 
the Emperor for this." Now, there would have been 
nothing strange or discreditable to any one concerned, if 


the Emperor had found the Tetralogy uninteresting. 
Unlike Frederick the Great and his own nephew, Wil- 
liam II., Kaiser Wilhelm was not at all musical, and the 
opera was to him little more than a pleasant form of 
court ceremony. But I have positive proof that he never 
intended to remain for a whole Kibelung Cyclus. It lies 
in this Berlin despatch printed in the German newspapers 
on Aug. 2, 1876 : — 

(* The Emperof, in reply to King Ludwig of Bavarians invitation 
to attend the Wagner performances at Bayreuth, has com missioned 
General v. d. Tann with the delivery of an extremely cordial auto- 
graph letter, in which he accepts the invitation, his health permit- 
ting, to attend said performances. Should the Emperor therefore 
undertake a trip to Bayreuth, he would be there in the interval 
between the 13th and 16th, and attend a part of the fint eerieM of 
performances." ^ 

It was fortunate for the royalty and aristocracy gath- 
ered on this occasion that Bayreuth had once been a 
Eesidenzstadt, so that there were several castles available 

^ Considering all the cirenmstances of the case, it was, indeed, quite 
remarkable that the Emperor shoald have come to Bajrrenth at till. In 
connection with this matter it is of interest to read a letter he once 
addressed to Intendant von Hiilsen (printed in Hel^ne von Hulsen's 
biography of her husband) : *' My daughter, the Orandduchess of Baden, 
has asked me if it were not possible to give in Berlin one of Wagner's 
latest operas, which form, I believe, a cyclus. I know of these works 
nothing further than that Liszt at Weimar tried to read them, but that 
the notes are said to be so crazy that the idea of a performance was at 
ooce abandoned. I therefore b^ you for information regarding this 
matter. Wagner's desire to rehearse his work personally is a political 
question, which would have to be decided separately." We can imagine 
what Hiilsen's answer to this note was. The last sentence of the 
Emperor's note shows that it must have been written before 1861 while 
Wagner was stiU an exile. Had Hiilsen been great enough to appre- 
ciate Wagner's genius, there is reason to think that Kaiser WUbelm 
might have anticipated King Ludwig in coming to his rescue. Thanks 
to Hfilsen he lost this opportunity of adding another Jewel to his crown. 


for their headquarters. The other visitors fared let 
sumptuously. The artists themselves' were ejuarteri 
among the inhabitants, while several of them found (X>iii4 
fortahle rooms in the local prison and the lunatic aaylu; 
At the hotels the price of rooms rose from fifty cents to I 
two and three dollars a day. But the chief difficulty v 
to get something to eat. The small hotels could acoom- 
modate only their own guests, and of restaurants there 
were only a few. i remember a characteristic scene at , 
LochmQller's, the principal restaurant at that time, j 
Every one at the crowded tables was imploring thfl-J 
waiters to serve them, and finally the majority decided i 
that they might save an hour or two by waiting on them- 
selves. So they all crowded around the buffet, ready to 
grasp whatever appeared from the kitchen; while the 
waiters, pushed aside, stood in a comer, and one of 
them sarciistically suggested to his companions that they 
■hould sit down and let the guests wait on them.' 

But the most Boliemian scenes were to be witnessed at 
Angermann's, the leading beer tavern. This had been 
for years one of Wagner's favorite resorts, although its 
appearance was anything but inviting: low, dark rooms, 
primitive wooden chairs and tables, felt mats for the beer- 
glasses. Here he used to sit, entertaining his friends 

1 Tbe orchestral musicians received free lodgings and board, besides 
travellinc expensea and S4S A nionlli. 

3 At later restivala matters irere miioh improved, but tbe medinval 
spirit had DOC yet quite disappeared. One day I went with several 
tiienils to a restaurant and asked if we cnuld onler our dinner tor next 
da;. We were told we could, and bo we could ; but wlien we arrived 
neil day, we found that there was nothint; but the reipilar dinner, — 
chiefly potk. As we did not care for pork In midsummer, we qaietlj 
look our liBt« and walked down stairs. Just before we reached the 
bottom the landlord put his bead over the balustrade and staouted, 
" Call again in ten yefusi " 


with jokes, anecdotes, and reminiscences. " Then when 
the room was echoing with laughter/' Lesimple relates, 
^* he knocked with his glass for the waitress, ^Brfinnhilde,' 
and, provided with new supplies, continued his animated 
narrative." The presence of a single unsympathetic 
person, however, would at once put him "out of tune." 
Even during the rehearsals this tavern was found inade- 
quate to the demands made on it, and one could see 
conductors, tenors, sopranos, chorus, and soloists, besides 
orchestral players, sitting outdoors on beer-kegs, or 
even on the curbstone, a glass in one hand, a sandwich 
in the other. During the performances, even beer-kegs 
and curbstones were at a premium, and lucky he who, 
by waiting on himself, could secure a sausage and a glass 
of foaming "Bavarian." 

The projector of the Festival had by no means over- 
looked the culinary side of the problem. A restaurant 
had been built near the theatre, where sandwiches could 
be obtained as well as a regular supper. This supper 
was to be, indeed, part of the regular programme. It 
has often been urged against Wagner's music-dramas 
that they make too great demands on our attention and 
our powers of physical endurance, especially after a day's 
hard work, such as falls to the lot of most mortals. The 
desire to obviate this objection was one of the motives 
leading to the selection of Bayreuth, in preference to a 
large city. Here, as at the Olympic festivals in ancient 
Greece, the spectators would come into the theatre, not 
to seek a frivolous and shallow entertainment, for tired 
brains; but they would take their recreation in the day- 
time, walking and driving in the bracing mountain air, 
amid the varied scenes of the Franconian Switzerland; 



while toward the close of the day they would assemble, 
with fresh energies, tor serious appreeiatioQ of an art- 
work which cajinot be enjoyed passively, like a cup of 
coffee, but calls for active intellectual and emotional 
participation on the spectator's part. Aa a further 
precaution against fatigue, arrangement was made for 
having, between the acts, interiuiasions of about an hour's 
duration, during which the audience could seek refresh- 
ment in a walk, conversation, lunch, or a regular supper; 
BO that every brain came fresh to the third act, which 
in most of Wagner's dramas ia the best. To prevent 
any one from being left out, a motive from the drama 
that was to be given was blown by brass players twice 
— ten and five minutes before the resumption of the 
music. The result was that every one was in his place 
several minutes before the overture began — a reform 
for which alone Wagner would deaerve to be placed in 
the calendar of saints. No one, absolutely, was admitted 
after the doors had been closed.' 

The first performance of Rheingold was postponed, by 
special placard, from five o'clock to aeven, because the 
Emperor of Brazil was unable to arrive on time. But 
this made no difference, aa that Vorspiel to the Trilogy 
lasts less than three hours. When the distinguished and 
motley crowd, representing every civilized country on 
the globe — including " the United States and California, " 
as a German paper had it — entered the auditorium, 
every one was surprised at the novelty of the theatre — 
original, like everything emanating from Wagner's mind. 

< It iru related on the Walkiire evening that millioanslre Rothschild 
of ViendR had tlius lost one act — probably because he bad Ungered too 
loDg in queet o[ aaaDdwicta ora Wiener Wiiriil, 


What impressed connoissenrs especially — apart from 
the features already described — was the absence of a 
chandelier, and the smallness of the auditorium, the 
desirability of which Gr^try had already mentioned as a 
feature of his ideal theatre, while Berlioz has given us 
the philosophy of the matter in the remark that " sound 
beyond a certain distance, although we may still hear it, 
is like a flame that we see, but the warmth of which we 
do not feel." Finally, when the stage picture was to be 
revealed, after the mystic Bheingold prelude, we did not 
see a painted curtain stiffly rolled up, but there was a 
real curtain, divided in the middle, and pushed aside as 
by invisible hands. 

The artists who took part in the performance were 
Betz (Wotan), Vogl (Loge), Hill (Alberich), Schlosser 
(Mime), Gura (Donner), Eilers (Fasolt), Reichenberg 
(Fafner), and the Misses Lilli and Marie Lehmann and 
Marie Lammert as the Khine-maidens, whose enchanting 
song first interrupts the orchestral mirroring of the flow- 
ing waters of the Khine. All these artists acquitted 
themselves creditably, although several of them had but 
lately been introduced to the new vocal style. Vogl was 
even loudly applauded after Loge's narrative, to the dis- 
gust of the true Wagnerites, who object to this silly and 
vicious method of distinguishing a singer at the expense 
of the music, and who, of course, did not join in this 
foolish and ill-timed applause.^ When the curtain closed 

1 Such applaoae is really an inmlt to the composer and his work, 
which no true admirer would be guilty of. Yet, with amusing naivete, 
Paul Lindau found in the fact tliat this narrative, which, he thinks, 
approaches in form the older ** operatic melody/' alone was speciaUy 
applauded, ao argument against the Wagnerian form of the musio- 


upon the last scene, a storm of applause arose ; it lasted 
fullj ten miautea, with calls for Wagner and the artists; 
but DO oae appeared, although two Emperors and three 
Grand Dukes were among those waiting. On the follow- 
ing day a notice was posted up begging the public not 
to take it ill that their generous applause had not been 
responded to, as it was the firm intention of all the 
artists engaged in the enterprise not to show themselves 
on the stage eKcept In the rflles assigned to them. Those 
who know the usual vanity of singers — tlieir pettiness 
in regard to precedence on a programme, the size of the 
type, etc. — will realize that in thus getting the consent 
of all his vocalists to merge their personalities and vani- i 
ties entirely in their roles, Wagner had won another i 
tremendous victory for art. 

Nor did he wish to appear himself, although that would 
have marred no stage illusion. He disliked ovations of 
that sort, and, moreover, it was said that lie had left the 
theatre before the close of the drama, displeased by acci- 
dents and shortcomings in the scenic department, on 
which so much depends in Sheingold. There had been, 
especially, an unfortunate hitch in cha)iging from the 
first scene to the second. This was merely due to the 
nervousness of the workmen; it had not occurred at 
the last rehearsal, not did it occur at subsequent repeti- 
tions. But the house was full of hostile critics, and 
Wagner knew that all the world would now be informed 
by telegraph or by letter that the Rkeingohi scenery was 
no better than it had been at Munich when Hans Eiehter 
refused to conduct. This is precisely what the "gentle- 
men of the press" did. Overlooking the magnificent 
realism and perfect illusion of the first scene where the 



Khine-maidens seemed actually to swim about under the 
water; the splendid subterranean scenes among the Kibe- 
lung dwarfs, the stately Walhalla castle on the mountain, 
and the superbly realistic storm and lightning, when Don- 
ner has gathered the dark clouds; ignoring the fine effect 
of the colored steam in place of the curtain which is usu- 
ally intruded and mars the illusion; ignoring the general 
superiority of the scenic arrangements to those seen at 
opera-houses — a really painted sky, and no flimsy back- 
grounds and unrealistic corners, — they condemned the 
entire stage setting because of that accidental hitch, and 
because the rainbow bridge over which the gods marched 
was not perfect, and the snake into which Alberich 
changed himself produced a '^ comic effect " ! 

A few shortcomings, I may as well add in this place, 
occurred in the following dramas; the duel amid the 
clouds in the WnUkiire was a failure, and the last scene 
in the Gdtterddmmerung — an enormously difficult one 
— was far from perfect, while the dragon in Siegfried 
was an unwieldy and not very convincing beast. (It had 
been ordered from England, and arrived in an incomplete 
form.) But who was to blame for this? Not Wagner 
or his assistant Brandt; the lack of funds was the cause, 
and at the bottom of it all were these same journalists 
who were now scoffing at what was really their work: 
their persistent misrepresentation of Wagner, their ridi- 
culing of his enterprise, had prevented the Grernuui 
people from taking an interest in Bayreuth in sufficiently 
large numbers to make it possible to procure all the 
scenic materials just as they were needed and planned. 

On Aug. 14 the first Bayreuth performance of the 
WaJkiire was given, the cast including Matema (Brtinn- 


hilde), Niemann (Siegmund), Scheffzky (Sieglinde), 
Betz (Wotao), Niering (Hunding), Griln (Frieka), 
while the eight Valkyries included auch names as 
Lilli Lehmann, Reicher-Kindermann, J achmann- Wag- 
ner, Jaida; it was a chorus of priiua donnaa, and its 
effect on the audience was electrifying. That Matema, 
Niemann, and Betz were superb in their rSles, the present 
generation need not be told. But it was in the two 
dramas following that Matema firat showed to what 
supecb heights her art could rise under Wagner's guid- 
ance. Owing to Unger's indisposition, Siegfried had to 
be postponed till Aug. 16. Its cast embraced Unger 
(Siegfried), Matema (BrUnnhUde), Betz (Wotan), Schlos- 
ser (Mime), Hill (Alberich), Reichenberg (Fafnet), Jatda 
(Erda), Lilli Lehmann (Forest Bird). The Omerddm- 
merung followed on Aug. 17, with Siegfried, Brilnnhilde, 
Alberich, and the Rhine -daughters the same as in the pre- 
ceding dramas, besides Gura (Guntber), Siehr (Hagen), 
Weckerlin (Gutrune), Jaida (Waltraute). There Is no 
space here to discuss these performances in detail. In 
general, however, it must be said that while some of 
the Bayrenth artists have since sung even better than 
they did in 1876, and while some of the roles have 
since been better interpreted, — notably is the Siegfried 
of Alvary and of Vogl better than Unger's was, — 
yet there was something in the Bayrenth ensemble 
that I have always missed elsewhere, and especially in 
that constant adaptation of action to orchestra, bar by 
bar, which adds so much to the eloquence of the music, 
and to the understanding and vividness of the plot. 
There has never been a stage-manager equal to Wagner. 



At the close of the Oi^erdiimmerung, the applause was 
so tumultuous and so persistent that Wagner found it 
impossible to withstand any longer. He appeared on 
the stage and spoke these words: ''To your favor, and 
to the infinite exertions of my cooperating artists, you 
owe this deed. What I have to say to you besides this 
might be summed up in a few words, in an axiom. You 
have seen what we can do; it is now for you to will. 
And if you will, we shall have an art ! " Bowed and 
disappeared amid renewed applause. Now, if Wagner 
had fallen down from the sky and never written a line 
about his art previous to this speech, one might have 
imagined him a very conceited person. Was there no 
art before the Nibelung^s Ring? Is there no art in 
Homer, in Dante, in Shakespeare, in Goethe? Were not 
Bach, and Mozart, and Beethoven artists? Are not Don 
Juan, FideliOy Euryanthe, works of art? Imagine the 
colossal vanity of this man, to fancy that there was no 
art before him I Surely the Bayreuth success must have 
turned his head! Puschmann was right — Wagner was 

Had Wagner never before this occasion written a word, 
one might, I repeat, have interpreted his speech in this 
manner. But he had written many big volumes of 
essays and public letters, explaining his views of art, 
and expressing his unbounded admiration for the great 
poets and composers of the past. He had explained 
over and over and over again what his life's aim was : 
the creation of a new art, thoroughly German^ in wliioli 


music and the drama would enter into a real union, and 
not a mere association; in a word, the music-diama. aa 
distinguished from the old-fasliioned opera. This music- 
drama, he believed, would be tlie "art-work of the 
future," more potent to move the feeliugs than music 
alone or the drama alone. Now, if there was one place 
in the world where he had reason to think he could take 
for panted »oine knowledge of his viewB on the part of 
the audience, it was Bayreuth. When he said, " if yoi* 
will, we shall now have an art," be never dreamed that 
any one could be such an ass as to fancy that he meant 
that there had been no art before the Nihelun^s Ring. 
He took it for granted that every person endowed with 
the usual intellectual faculties would understand that he 
was merely expressing in an epigrammatic form, suitable 
for the occasion, his belief that now a specimen of this 
new art- work had been placed before his friends; that 
he had done his part, and that it remained for f/iem, if 
they had been persuaded that this was the "art-work of 
the future," to foster it. 

Yet, incredible as it may seem, the vast majority of 
the German critics — either in ignorance or conscious 
malice — wrote and telegraphed to their newspapers 
fierce acid indignant diatribes on Wagner's "vanity" and 
"impudence," in "denying that there had been any art 
before his festival play " ! Future generations will find 
it difficult to believe this; but printed documents prov- 
ing it exist by the score, some of them — like those of 
Gustav Engel, Paul Lindau, Hanslick, etc. — in pam- 
phlet and book form, for convenient reference. One 
would have to read many pages of Mark Twain or 
Artemus AVard to find in their conscious drollery so 


much food for laughter as in the serious and elaborate 
arguments perpetrated by these German critics to prove 
to the ignorant and conceited Wagner that there were 
great men and real works of art before him. Names of 
authors and works are carefully given^ and the argument 
usually closes with a defiant air of '^Now then, Mr. 
Wagner, what do you say to that? " 

So great, indeed, was the scandal produced by Wagner's 
speech, even at Bayreuth, that he found it necessary at 
a banquet, on Aug. 18, at which about seven hundred 
artists and visitors were present, to explain, in the 
course of a long address, what he had really meant by 
his epigrammatic utterance — a new, Oerman art, free 
from foreign elements. Upon which Paul Lindau com- 
ments (seriously f) that ''he explained that if he had 
said 'A,' he obviously had not meant 'A,' but something 
entirely different." Paul Lindau also explains what 
Wagner shatM have said, and would have said if he had 
not been the conceited and ungrateful wretch he was : — 

** In this hour, when thousands from all parts of Germany and 
foreign countries had at his bidding travelled to a remote town, 
with sacrifices of time, money, comfort, rest, recreation, — in this 
hour the only word which must have welled from an overflowing 
artist-heart and forced itself through the lips, was a word of sin- 
cere, deep, inexpressible gratitude — of thanks to the artists, thanks 
to his faithful friends, who had tirelessly supported him, thanks to 
the public which had come at his call. . . . Like a shower-bath 
his words, cold, and without emotion or joy, fell on all of us. 
What ! Even yet not enough ?ias been done for Wagner f . . • 
Strange, most strange ! *' 

Strange, most strange, indeed! Has Paul Lindau ever 
read the following remarks made by a certain (German 

_..„ Micayg vianted to have me d; 
(Ac Lord tn make inc. After I ha< 
pkase (Ae world with a neio leork, 1 
thmk prapte /or hnjtng /owrf it a 
e*ietd praite, I wot txptfUd Mt to < 
6v( to dscIfiM it \Bilh totae moit^ Jk 
flMtd the utter unuorrAirMM ((^ nqr 
however, mp nature rebels ajai»it, t 
mtttKtble teamp to show myt^f <** **■ 
noa, *intt I leai firm enough to retMOl 
were, t wai pronounced pruui, and oi 

What a unique and dolightfn. 
of treating their men of ^mnsl ' 

If Wagner did not take the o 
tain-call " to thiuik the Crennaiu 
mitted him to spend tven^-fiT 
adding a priceless jewel to their i 
not even thauk his artists for hay 
of their life at a place where tl 
for their intematiotial fame in tl 
years at home, — it was because he 
gratitude to these artists and to 
at the banquet following the lecil 
ing and some humorous Boenes ' 
the fomter was his tribute to 1 
out to the guests as the first wht 


whereupon the two great artists embraced cordially; 
among the latter was the presentation, by Madame Lucca 
of MilaUi of a silver laurel-wreath to Wagner, who play- 
fully kept it on his head, and, in one of his gayest moods, 
arm in arm with Frau von Schleinitz, thus passed along 
the tables to greet his friends. 

Concerning the second and third series of performances, 
nothing of special importance remains to be added except 
that they were of course an improvement on the first. 
The dates were, for the second cyclus, Aug. 20, 21, 22, 
23; for the third, Aug. 27, 28, 29, 30. After the curtain 
had closed for the last time. King Ludwig jumped up 
from his seat, and led the applause. In a moment the 
whole house joined with bravos, clapping of hands, 
waving of hats and handkerchiefs, and calls for Wagner, 
who at last appeared before the curtain and was received 
with a shower of wreaths and bouquets, many of which, 
however, fell down into the "mystic abyss."* "The 
Biihnenfestspiele are ended; whether they will be re- 
peated I know not," he commenced; then, after allud- 
ing to the purpose of the enterprise, and the reasons 
which had guided him in choosing the term "stage- 
festival-play," he spoke of his generous patron, the 
King, without whose kind interest they would not now 
be assembled for such a purpose, as well as of the late 
Karl Tausig, who had shown a way for the people to par- 
ticipate in making the Festival possible. But they who 
first enabled him to bring his production before the pub- 
lic, and thus to complete it, were the artists, and it was 
fitting that they should now show themselves. The 

^ The throwers miscalculated the distance — proving the correctness 
of Wagner's theory that the stage would seem nearer than it was. 


curtain parted once more, disclosing the artists standing 
in a semicircle with Hans Ricfater in the middle, and at 
the aides Doppler and Brandt. To this circle Wagner 
once more directed his warmest thanks for their gener- 
ous support, and bade them farewell. Aa the curtain 
closed, he was seen going around and shaking hands with 
them. The King, too, did not forget to reward the 
principal participants with orders and decorations, that 
are more valued by artists than the riches of Alberich. 
Thus ended the first Nibelung Festival. We must now 
tarn to the Tetralogy itself. 



With the discoveiy of gold the golden age came to an I 
end: in these words we might indicate the keynote of the / 
Prelude to the Trilogy, the action of which takes us back 
to the mythical time when the earth was shared by four 
kinds of beings, — gods, giants, dwarfs, and human beings. 
The gods dwelt in the cloud regions, the giants on the 
mountains, the dwarfs in the interior of the earth, and 
the men on the plains and in the forests. Although 
these different classes of beings were not always at peace 
with each other, the principal source of strife and discord 
— gold — had not yet manifested its curse. It still 
lay buried in the earth and under the water, and the 
most precious deposit of it, in the waters of the Rhine, 
has been put by the gods under the special protection of 
the three Rhine-daughters. It is placed on a high rock, 
difficult of access. To this Rhine-gold the Prelude 
introduces us. 

Scene I. The stage, from above to the floor, represents 
a section of the Rhine; the water is continually flowing 
from right to left. It is almost dark. As the twilight 
gradually increases, rugged rocks are seen projecting from 
the bed of the river almost to its surface, and around 
these rocks the three Rhine-maidens are swimming, play- 


lu-iuettishlv, Init darts out 
fancies !,.-rsc-«irp. Suadei 
to a strange phenomeaon. 
froni bdiindthe mouBtains, : 
g<dd on the rock. The malt 
great the morning glitter of 
giatiff the ugly dwarfs en 
eeciet of the gold — that the ; 
it into a ring, could become 
an not afraid to rcTcal this 
being as Alberlch; for, as thej 
he who has ntterly renounced 
from the bosom of the Rhine. 
rich's lustful love immediate)] 
gold and pover. With terribl 
di^ and, cQtsing lore, he Boatc 
into the depths below. The i 
with the disappearance of the 
set in again, and nothing is h 
the Bhine-maidena mingled in- 
of Alberich. 

Scene II. While the music oo 
tion, tiie darkened waters of the 
into cloud vapors, and presen 
fetied to a mountainous regioi 
the gods, Wotan, and his vrifp ''■ 
l^ot »* *^ - 


her look falls on a newly completed lofty castle on the 
hill before them. In order to assure himself the govern- 
ment of the world, and as a protection against enemiesi 
Wotan had made a contract with the two giants, Fasolt 
and Fafner, to build this citadel, promising them, as a 
reward, Freia, the goddess of youth and beauty. He 
knew very well that on the presence of Freia among the 
gods depended their continued youth and health; but, 
relying on the cunning of the fire-god, Loge, to get him 
out of his scrape, he had never intended to keep his 
compact with the giants. While Fricka reproaches him 
for his rash contract, Freia suddenly appears, crying 
for help: the giants have come to claim their reward. 
When Wotan refuses it, they threaten violence. The 
gods, Froh and Donner (thunder) come to Freia^s assist- 
ance, and the matter threatens to end in a fight. At 
this juncture Loge, the fire-god, returns; he had been sent 
to find something that the giants might be willing to 
take as a substitute for the beautiful woman promised 
them ; but he relates that he has travelled all over the 
world, but nowhere had he found anything that was pre- 
ferred to love and woman until that very morning, when 
he had heard of the Nibelung dwarf, Alberich, who had 
cursed love for the sake of the Bhine-gold. When the 
giants hear of the qualities of this gold, their lust is 
aroused, and they agree to take it as a substitute for 
Freia if the gods will procure it for them. Wotan 
accepts the offer, and sets out with Loge for Nibelheim, 
the home of the dwarfs, to see if he cannot, through the 
cunning of his friend, win the gold from Alberich. They 
disappear in a cleft between the rocks from which ascends 
a sulphurous vapor, which becomes more and more dense, 



while the whole scene seems to sink until we arrive in 
the subterranean home of the dwarfs, Nibelheim, con- 

Scene UL Alberich, whose Bing has already enabled 
him to make all the other dwarfs his slaveSi is seen drag- 
ging along his brother Mime by the ear to compel him to 
give up the Tamhelm, or magic helmet, which he, the 
best of the smiths, had been commanded to make. Mime 
does not know that the possessor of this helmet can, by 
putting it on, make himself invisible, or change himself 
into any form he pleases; he finds this out to his cost 
when Alberich makes himself invisible, and belabors 
him with a whip for having tried to keep the Tamhelm; 
whereupon his voice is heard in the distance abusing his 
Nibelung slaves. Loge and Wotan appear. Mime com- 
plains to them how Alberich compels all the other dwarfs 
to toil in the rocks day and night in order to win gold 
for him. Alberich returns and angrily asks the two gods 
what they are after. Loge craftily leads him to speak of 
the Bing and the Tamhelm, and to describe their magic 
qualities. Loge pretends to doubt these; to convince 
him, Alberich changes himself first into a large snake, 
then into a toad : at this moment Wotan puts his foot 
on him, Loge snatches the helmet from his head, and 
Alberich lies there, in his real form, in the power of 
the gods, who fetter him and drag him away into 

Scene IV. is the same as Scene II. Alberich lies in 
the foreground, his hands tied. Wotan commands him 
to summon the dwarfs to bring up all the gold accumu- 
lated in Nibelheim, to serve as a ransom for Freia. The 
dwarf most reluctantly obeys; the Nibelungs appear. 


carrying the treasures. Alberich hopes to get back his 
Tamhelmet with his freedom, but to his great rage 
Wotan throws that too on the pile, and finally demands 
the Ring which Alberich has on his finger — the King 
which ensures supreme power in the world. The dwarf 
declares he will sooner part with his life ; but the Bing 
is taken from him by force. He is then restored to free- 
dom, but before leaving he curses the Bing: ruin and 
death shall it bring to him who wears it until it is 
returned to the one who had it forged for him. The 
giants appear again with Freia, whom they had kept as 
security. They want as much gold as is sufficient to 
cover the goddess entirely. The gold is piled around 
her, but there is not enough to quite cover her head, so 
Wotan is compelled, much to his chagrin, to add the 
Tarnhelm. Yet still Fasolt is able to see one of Freia's 
eyes. He demands the Bing to fill up the gap. Wotan 
obstinately refuses, until the giants seize the unhappy 
Freia and drag her away. Suddenly a weird blue light 
appears in a cavern on one side. Erda, the mother of 
the Fates, the seeress of the future, appears, and warns 
Wotan to give up the Bing which will lead to his ruin : — 

** All that is, endeth. 
A gloomy day 
Dawns for the gods. 
The Ring, I warn you, avoid." 

Wotan is awed by this threat of the Odtterddmmerung, — 
the decline of the gods, — and gives up the Bing to the 
giants. Its curse shows itself immediately. Fafner had 
intended to marry Freia; Fasolt now claims that his 
turn had come — that the gold is his. But Fafner fells 

f,— iritfi A blow of Iiis aUff, filln his aek with tfac gold 
a to transform himself, with the «id of the 
, into ft dfafp>n, as wfaicli he lies in a cawm to 
fiB4 the gfild. Dounar now asceiulA a cli^ and strikes 
1^ rack with his faiuniner. A brilliant fiaab of ligbtning 
it fotkwcd hy a deafminii; thuoder-clup. The dark clouds 
wkieh bad shut (lif Iht) n'i^it of the new citadel, are dis- 
pelled, and u rainbow hridgtiH the Rhine. The gods 
i»*f ph slowly ovRf thi« brid)(C to their burg, which Wotau 
talH the Wulhaila; while below is heard the mournful 
song of tho Uhlne-maideiis, laiucutitig the loss of their 

Even this brief ontline of the plot of Rheingotd, in 
which many intfri'stiriK dohiils hiive U-en omitted, muat 
convince the r<.^udeT that seldom has there been a drama 
in which thtirn are so many and such strange things to 
see, and mifh ii brisk and varied action. I remember 
tliat tht' nativii Hiiyrvuthcrs were more eager to see flftetn- 
gohl thim liny otlii-r Nibeluiig drama, so much had they 
been ini[in'»s('d with tiie tiilcs of the water-maidens in 
till' Kliino, tlm gliltiTing Ni be lung caves, the novel trans- 
foniiiitiiui of till' sn-ni'M with steam in place of curtains, 
aint, uIhivi' all, Itiiinu'r's wonderful storm — the dazzling 
flaah of /in'ag lightning on the black clouds. In uo 
other oiu-ra-buusc — and I have soeu Jiliei'iigotd in most 
of the ^Jortnan cities — has this st^u-m scene ever been 
eqiiallod. Carl Urandt eertiiinly deserved the jocular 
compliniout Wagner jiaid liiin one day at Bayreuth aft^r 
a storm nhich, he deolan'd, " had been as successful as if 
Brandt had su|>i'rintonded it." 

How delightful it is for persons of poetic sensibility 


to follow the composer of Rheingold in deserting the 
artificial life of operatic drawing-rooms and cities for the 
glories and wonders of nature ! Kivers, caverns, moan- 
tains, clouds, storms — how infinitely more impressive 
they are as backgrounds to a tragedy than the narrow 
walls of a room, the dirty streets of a city! What a 
relief, for persons of imaginative temperament, to get 
away, for a change, from everlasting man and his petty 
cares, in order to watch the doings of gods, giants, and 
dwarfs, the denizens of nature ; to breathe the atmosphere 
of forest and mountain in place of the stupefying fumes 
of our hot-house furnaces! How amusing it was, after 
the Bayreuth Festival, to watch the antics of the poor, 
pampered, green-house critics; how they whined to get 
back behind their stoves, to their musty haunts; how 
they shivered in the rare and bracing air of Wotan's 
mountain-top, in Alberich's cave. 

It is one of the greatest charms of the Nibelung 
Tetralogy, this return to nature, to elemental forces, 
human as well as physical, which music is so much bet- 
ter suited to illustrate than the commonplace woes and 
joys of tenors and sopranos. In all the other dramas of 
the Tetralogy we find this preference for out-door scenes 
— especially in Siegfried. And how realistic all these 
scenes are — what an artist-imagination Wagner showed 
in conceiving them! How anxious he was- not to mis- 
represent the phenomena of nature is shown in an anec- 
dote related by the ^^Idealistin," referred to in previous 

**Tbe spring (1861) was wonderfully fine in Paris. One night 
a violent thonderHStorm arose, and in the morning, as by a stroke 
of magic, the trees of the Champs Elys^es, the gardens and boshes, 


'bunt fonb in the tr«Bb Bhimmer of Ibeir first green. Wftgner t«ia 
me that this phenomenon had pleased him very much. For In 
Hheingold, Donner strikes the rock, whereupon the clouds gather 
lor a Btonn, and when they roll by again, Walballa and the e&nb 
are adorned with the beanty of spring. NowUiat very night doubts 
bad arisen in his mind as to whethtir thia was permisaible. Conse- 
quently be WB8 miicb gratified by what he saw in the morning." 

In the preface to his Nibelung Poems he pointed out 
that Bheiv^old would give the stage caipeuters and 
machinists an opportunity to show that their profession 
is a real art. The problems here presented are so diffi- 
cult that even at Bajreuth some of them were not suc- 
cesafully solved. In other places, as a rule, no real 
attempt has been made to carry out Wagner's picturesque 
plans, the consequence being that Rheingold is much less 
popular than the other parts of the Tetralogy. " Oho I " 
I hear an adversary shout, "then you admit that the 
success of Rhetngold depends largely on its scenery!" 
Of course I do, you ignorant fellow. You do not seem 
to know the very alphabet of Wagnerism — the fact that 
in the " art-work of the future, " music, action, and scenery 
are to be of equal importance. It is almost impossible 
to get this simple idea into some people's heads — that 
Wagner's dramas are not to be judged, like "operas," by 
their music, their "tunes," alone. He wrote acta, and 
even a whole work (Tristan), in which the music is much 
more important than the scene. Conversely, in Bhein- 
goid, the scenery, with all the deligbtfid phenomena of 
nature which form part of it, is, if not more important 
than the music or the action, at least equally so. Now, 
operatic managers, knowing that Rhehicjoid is less popu- 
lar than the WaikHre, expend much less money on it than 


on other operas, so that the scenery looks just aboat as 
the score would sound if it were played by a strolling 
brass band. I am convinced that if Mheingold were 
brought out with the scenic splendor lavished, e.g., in 
Dresden or Bayreuth on the Paris version of Tannhduaer, 
it would become exceedingly popular; and such a pro- 
duction would make clear the fact that the imagination 
displayed in the MheingM scenes alone suffices to stamp 
Wagner as the greatest artist in that field the world has 
ever seen. 

The very opening of Bheingold shows most vividly 
what an important element artistic scenery is in the real 
music-drama. When the curtain is first parted, nothing 
definite is seen on the darkened stage, and the music is 
equally indefinite — a bass note, deep as the Rhine, on 
which the constituent notes of the chord of E flat major 
undulate up and down on the different instruments for 
135 bars, — monotonous as the flow of the water, yet 
slowly gaining in volume as the rising sun's light grad- 
ually increases, and the movement of the swimming 
maidens is felt in the water. Now this music, in the 
concert-hall, would be utterly meaningless — a mere 
acoustic puzzle; whereas as an accompaniment of this 
subaqueous scene it is simply delightful — a musical 
mirror of the visible scene which immediately attunes 
every hearer's mood to the situation. Who can fail to 
see here the advantage which the music-drama has over 
the symphony, or over the drama without music? And 
when, in the 136th bar, the orchestra makes the first 
modulation to A flat, this simple harmonic change pro- 
duces a thrilling effect; Wagner has shown here, as in 
many other places, how absurd is the charge that he 


always emploj'S strange hannoniea and constant modula.- 
tious to produce a dramatic impreasion. ^ 

Nothiug need lie said here of the engrossing and virile 

Rheingold jKiem, as a separate chapter will be given to 

' Wagner's poetry at the end of this volume. Musically 

\ the moat remarkable thing about this work ia that it is 

,' the longest piece of uninterrupted music ever written. 

I Symphonic movements rarely last longer than fifteen or 

twenty miuutes. There are operatic acts lasting over an 

hour; but Rheingold, if given as it should be, lasts about 

two hours and a half without a single stop. Outside of 

Bayreuth it has been found advisable to make a short 

intermission, but in this way the charm of one of the 

scenic changes is lost.' 

Owing to the order in which Wagner's works were 
first produced, and are now always arranged whenever a 
"chronological cyclus" of all his dramas ia given, an 
impression naturally prevails that the Nibelung's Ring is 
the last of his creations, excepting Parsifal, This is 
true of the Gotterdiimmerung ; but it must be remembered 
that Rheingold, Wdlkure, and a large portion of Siegfried 
were composed before Tristan and the Meialersinger. It 
is only when we bear in mind that Rheingold followed 
Lohengrin, that we fully realize its novelty of style, 

1 In Vol, X,, p. 243, may be found some instructive remarks on the 
proner use of modulation 8, n projioj of lliia Prelude. It may be added 
that in order to do this B<^ue to musieal perfection tlie lon^ baaa note 
(pedal-point) should be strengthened, as it was at Bayreuth, by an organ 
tone. This will be easier thnii to provide tbe six harps which at Bay- 
reuth added so tnucli to tbe color of tlie rainbow scene. 

^ It is not generally known that the Flpiiui Dulclimon also had been 
originally intcuded as a one-act opera (VII. 1^), but the plan was aban- 
doned, probably when it was found that the score was becomiog too 


which makes it inaugurate Wagner's third period. The 
transition seems^ however, less abrupt when we compare 
Rheingold, not with Lohengrin as a whole, but only with 
its second act, which was composed after the third, and 
in which the " third style " is foreshadowed in a way 
that long made this second act caviare to the public. 
Between the last scene of Lohengrin and the first of 
Rheingold lies a most important phase in the development 
of their composer's mind. In June, 1845, shortly after 
completing Tannh&tiser, he wrote to his friend Gktillard 
in Berlin : — 

** I have made up my mind to be idle a whole year, i.e. to use 
my library, without producing anything, to which unhappily I am 
already impelled again, since a new subject fascinates me greatly ; 
but I shall force myself away from it, in the first place because I 
should like yet to learn many a thing, and secondly because I have 
arrived at the conviction that if a dramatic work is to have mar- 
rowy significance and originality, it must be the outcome of a 
decided advance in life, of a certain important ei>och in the artistes 
development; such an advance — such an epoch, however, does 
not come every six months.'^ 

Now between the end of the LoTiengrin sketches and 
the beginning of the Rheingold sketches six years had 
elapsed. And during these six years his art principles 
had assumed definite theoretical shape in his mind. It 
is not true, as his opponents have said a thousand times, 
that these art principles were the result of abstract 
reflection; on the contrary, from the first act of the 
Dutchman to the second of Lohengrin his peculiar method 
of dramatic composition had been slowly developed, and 
gradually assumed the quasi- Nibelung phase of the duet 
between Ortrad and Telramund. The only difference 


between this sceue and RheiDgold ia that in the latter he 
coiwciously used a method of compositiou which in his 
earlier works had gradually and irresistibly forced itself 
on him unconsciously, in the heat of inepiratioa. 

That, iu my opinion, the swing of the pendulum car- 
ried him a little too far in making him exclude the chorus 
almost entirely from the Nibelung'a Ring, was stated in 
an earlier chapter. But how delightfully this omission 
ia atoned for in Rheitigold by the two trios of the Rhiue- 
iiiaideus, the first when they greet the awakeuiDg of the 
gold in the morning sun, the second at the close, when 
they lament the loss of their treasure! And how, in 
other respects, the progress in Wagner's art compensates 
for the loss of choral effects and the "tunefulness" of 
the vocal parts ! What progress over all other composers 
in the art of vocoi characteriiation I Compare, for in- 
stance, the song of the Rhine-maidens, crystalline and 
undulating like their element, with the heavy, coarse, 
utterances of the giants, or the weird, unearthly tones of 
Erda; or Wotan's dignified, majestic utterances, with 
the impish, clownish, peevish tones of Mime. Here, at 
last, we have the true art of dramatic vocalism. And 
how the orchestra intensifies this characterization, in a 
manner far surpassing all preceding operas! Where, in 
the whole range of music can you find anything so vividly* 
realistic and almost pictorial aa the heavy, clumsy, awk- 
ward motive of the giants ; or anytli ing so flickering and 
flaming as the fire-god's motive; or anything so weird 
and mystic as the motive of the mi^ic Tarnhelmet; or 
any chords so sublime in their simple majesty as the 
Walhalla motive? No less characteristic and suggestive 
are the other leading motives in Rheingold, which con- 


tains thirty-five of the whole number of ninety that Hans 
von Wolzogen has traced in his well-known Thematic 
Guide of the Nihelun^s Ring, The Bheingold motives 
of course recur in the dramas following it whenever the 
dramatic ideas associated with them recur. Most of 
them, indeed, do not receive their full development till 
we come to the later dramas, but several grow at once 
from the bud into the full blossom, and what glorious 
blossoms they are! 

To a musician and an intelligent amateur these motives, 
and the ingenious and truly inspired manner in which 
they are used, either to color a present scene or as remi- 
niscences or prophecies, afford an endless source of delight 
and study. Saint-Sa^ns, the profoundest musical scholar 
France has produced, who attended the first Bayreuth 
Festival, wrote, nine years later, that his admiration for 
Bheingold "has never ceased growing." 

'^ When one reads this score, ^^ he says, ** when one has seen this 
marveUoas jeweUer^s work, one has some difficulty in noting aU 
the chasing relegated au dernier plan and sacrificed to the general 
effect. Wagner has imitated the medisdval artists who sculptured 
a cathedral as minutely as they would have decorated furniture.^' 

There is another point to which Saint-Saens refers — 
the old charge that Wagner's music is noisy, advanced 
usually by people who really delight in the cymbals, 
drums, and comets that make many of the old-fashioned 
operas hideous: "It is certain that the least operetta 
makes more noise than Rfieingold.^^ Tappert, indeed, 
has taken the pains to ascertain that in the^rs^ movement 
of Beethoven's G minor symphony there are 258 bars 
marked j^ while in the wJiole of Bheingold there are only 
236 marked jf and jQ^T. Nor is iMetyi^o^d exceptional in 


this respect, and a drama justifies loud music more than 
a symphony. To the loudest bars in Rheingold I should 
like to call the reader's attention specially. They occur 
ill the scene where the Nibelung dwarfs, after having 
deposited their burdens of gold on the upper world, file 
past the fettered Alberich, their former tyrant, and 
iiu pertinently leer in his face. The furious, cyclonic 
orchestral outburst which here conveys the mute Albe- 
ricli's feelings to the audience, illustrates one o£ the tre- 
mendous advantages which the musie-drama has over 
the literary or spoken drama. Attention may also be 
called to the tine realistic effect produced in this work 
by "noise," the hissing steam, and the eighteen tuned 
anvils that are heard while Wotan and Loge are approach- 
ing the subterranean smithies of the Nibeluug dwarfs.' 


By his foolish and criminal actions, as witnessed in 
Rlieingold, Wotan has involved himself and the rest of 
the gods in a serious dilemma which threatens their de- 
struction. It must be understood that the old German 
and Scandinavian goda are not omnipotent nor even im- 
mortal ; although their lives are ages longer than those of 
mortals, they are doomed to die, while their rule over 
men, giants, and dwarfs is conditioned upon their justice, 
and upon a regular contract, the terms of which are 
written on Wotan's spear. The building of the strong- 
hold, Walhalla, which was intended to secure the gods 
from attacks, has proved the entering wedge of their 

' HuetTer, in hU brief but valuable Wsgner bioErapliy (85-06), points 
out iome oF tlie humorous and otber touches in tbe miniature cbisel- 
Ung or this score. 


ruin; for it has led Wotan to a series of crimes and 
violations of justice : he has lusted for the gold belong- 
ing to the Rhine-maidens; he has tried to break his 
contract with the giants; he has used treachery and 
violence towards Alberich; and he has worn the fatal 
Ring cursed by the Nibelung. Now, the fundamental 
tragic idea of Wagner's drama, in harmony with the 
spirit of the ancient myth, is, as Professor Kostlin has 
concisely summed it up,^ that ''everything, even the 
highest (the gods), even the noblest (Siegfried and Br(inn- 
hilde) perishes, if it allows anjrthing to persuade it to 
resort to violence, either open or secret (cunning, treach- 
ery), instead of relying on Love, the only bond that 
holds things together/' 

The dilemma of the gods is this : they must not try 
to get back the cursed Ring, for Erda has warned them 
that its possession will entail their ruin; but if they 
leave it to the stupid giant Fafner, there is danger that 
the crafty Alberich will recover it; and he has already 
threatened that in that case the gods and goddesses shall 
become his slaves, like the Nibelungs. Out of this 
dilemma only one way seems to lead : the Ring must get 
into the hands of some one whom the gods need not fear. 
But he must be a free agent, for Wotan cannot aid him 
directly without incurring new guilt and danger by break- 
ing his compact with Fafner. However, as long as the 
Ring is in the possession of that transformed giant, the 
gods are safe, for Fafner is too stupid to care for more 
than the mere possession of the Ring. As long as no 
dangerous enemy has the Ring, the gods are safe enough 
in their new citadel. To make this more of a stronghold 

^ 2>er Ring de» Nibelungen, Tiibin^^, 1877, p. S3L 



still, Wotan consorts with Erda, who betas him nine 
maidens, the Vaikyries, wfaoee missioD it is to iocite 
mortals to combat and then convey the £aUen heroea on 
their steeds to Walhalla, to form its guard. 

Ha.viag thas provided for present safety, Wotan takes 
measures for the future. He goes to the earth and, unit- 
ing himself with a mortal woman, be founds the formid- 
able race of the Volsungs. The twins, Siegmund and 
Sieglinde are bom, and Siegmtind is chosen by Wotan 
as the agent who, being a demi-god, would be strong 
enough to win the Bing from Fafner, yet harmless to 
the gods after he had secured it. But being unable, OD 
account of his compacts, to aid his hero directly, Wobm 
is obliged to leave him to his own devices. His sister, 
Sieglinde, is carried oft by the enemy and married to 
Hunding against her will, and one day, Si^jnitmd, on 
returning to his haunts, finds nothing but an empty wolf- 
skin and believes his father dead too. Alone he now 
engages with hia formidable foes, to protect a woman 
from wrong; but hia weapon is destroyed and he has to 
flee for his life. This brings us to the opening scene. 

Act I. Handing's hut; a violent storm is raging. 
Siegmund, overcome with fatigue, enters and sinks down 
at the hearth. Sieglinde soon comes in, sees the stran- 
ger, whom she does not know (for the twins had been 
separated la infancy) and offers him food and drink. A 
noise at the door interrupts their conversation. Hun- 
ding haa returned. He asks his guest's name. Sieg- 
mund'B story reveals the fact that Hunding belongs to 
the tribe which has sworn vengeance on him. Hunding 
tells him he may stay that night, but in the morning he 
must fight. Sieglinde, at the comnmnd of her husband, 


iiad preceded him to their bed-chamber, bat she soon 
returns, tells Siegmond that she has given her husband 
a sleeping potion, and urges him to flee. In the centre 
of the room grows a mighty ash-tree and in its trunk 
glimmers the hilt of a sword. Sieglinde tells her guest 
that one day a stranger, of impressive appearance, had 
come into the room when there was an assembly, and 
thrust in that sword, promisiag it to him who could pull 
it out. But so far no one had succeeded. Then follows 
a love-scene, which is one of the most beautiful in all 
dramatic literature, and the musical part is no less per- 
fect. The two discover that they are brother and sister, 
and that the stranger who put the sword in the tree was 
no one else than their &ther, Wotan, who had promised 
Siegmund that in an hour of need he should find a sword, 
called Nothung, with which he could overcome every- 
thing. Siegmund draws out the sword, and the two 
embrace each other with a love that is more than that of 

Act II. Wotan in a wild mountaia region gives orders 
to Brtinnhilde, his best beloved Valkyrie, to protect Sieg- 
mund in the coming contest with Hundiag. As Briinn- 
hilde disappears beyond the rocks, Wotan's wife, Fricka, 
appears on her chariot drawn by two goats. She has 
been called upon by Hunding to avenge the injury to his 
honor done by Siegmund; and now follows a long scene 
in which Fricka demands that Wotan shall not protect 
the guilty couple. Wotan for a long time refuses to 
thwart his own plans, but at last he is obliged to yield 
to the entreaties of his wife, and promises not to protect 
Siegmund, and to prevent Briinnhilde also from doing 
so. Fricka leaves, and Briinnhilde returns. She finds 

330 TBB Sl£&i.V2iO'B ItlNQ 

her father in a terribly desyx>ndpnt statv of mind. He 
tells her of the impending doimfall of the gods and of his 
frustrated plans of overcomiiig the enemy with the aid of 
the Valkyries and of Siegmuad, But he must yield, and 
she shall not defend Siegmitnd. Brfinnliilde proposes, 
in spite of Wotan's commaud, to protect him, but this 
arouses the anger of Wotan, and he threatens her with 
the most dreadful pujiishment if she does not obey. 
They leave t)ie at^e, and Siegmund appears E^ain with 
Sieglinde, in flight. SiegHnde bitterly accuses herself 
and falls in a swoon. As Siegmund bends over her, 
Brdnnhilde reappears and tells him that he must fall in 
the coming contest, but that she will herself take him to 
Walhalla, the abode of the gods. But Siegmund does 
not wish to go; he cannot think of leaving Sieglinde. 
In despair, he draws the sword on her, when the Valkyrie 
is moved to pity and promises to protect him and to save 
their offspring. The voice of the approaching Hunding 
is heard. Siegmund rushes up into the clouds to meet 
him. They fight, while Briinnhilde holds her protecting 
shield over Siegmund. Already the latter has drawn 
his sword, "Nothung," to inflict the deadly blow on his 
opponent, when suddenly, amid thunder and lightning, 
Wotan appears, and with hia spear catches the blow of 
the sword, which breaks into pieces, while Hunding slays 
his defenceless opponent. Briinnhilde gathers the frag- 
ments of the sword for Sieglinde; they shall lie united 
again for lier son. But Hunding falls dead before a 
contemptuous motion of Wotan's hand. 

Act III. Summit of a rocky mountain. Amid bril- 
liant flashes of lightning the eight Valkyries, in succes- 
sion, ride through the clouds on their white steeds, and 


land on the rocks. They are joined by Brdnnhilde, who 
with Sieglinde is trying to escape the wrath of Wotan 
for having defended Siegmund. But the Valkyries dread 
his anger, while Sieglinde confesses her unworthiness of 
their protection, and her willingness to die. Br(innhilde, 
however, beseeches her to live for the sake of her off- 
spring, the child which will be bom, and induces her to 
continue her flight, while she stays to abide the anger of 
Wotan. The god appears and demands Brflnuhilde. 
She comes forward and confesses her guilt, yet believes 
she has acted according to his inmost wishes; she asks 
what her punishment will be. Wotan first sends away 
the other Valkyries, and then announces to his maiden 
daughter that she shall no longer be a Valkyrie and bring 
fallen heroes to Walhalla, but shall be laid on the rock, 
fast asleep, and shall become the wife of the first man 
who finds and awakens her. Brfinnhilde falls on her 
knees and entreats him in the most imploring tones not 
to inflict such cruel punishment, or at least to grant her 
one last prayer, and that is to surround her resting-place 
with an ever-burning sea of flames, so that none but the 
most valiant hero could awake her. Wotan is overcome 
with pity and consents. He fondly embraces her once 
more, then lays her down on the moss, covers her with 
shield and helmet, and strikes the rock with his spear. 
Flames dart up on all sides, surrounding the rock, and 
the drama ends with the words of Wotan: ''Who fears 
the tip of my spear, never shall pass through this fire." 
He slowly retires into the background, leaving the sleep- 
ing maiden alone on the flame-encircled rock. 

Schopenhauer wrote on the margin of his copy of the 
Nibelung poem that in the WaUcUre "clouds play the 


leading r31e," In epigrammatic brevity tliis indicates 
that, like its predecessor, the Wi^kUre is an open-aii 
play, a drama of Nature. Only in the first act are we 
in a human habitation, and even there the most conspic- 
uous thing is the large tree around which Hunding's 
hut is built; and long before the act is over the back 
door opens and reveals a spring landscape in the light of 
the full moon. In the second act we are in a wild moun- 
taiuouB region. Before and during the duel scene one 
needs no musio to be oarried along by the excitement of 
the poem, in which occur such directions as these (which 
alasl have never been half-way carried out as conceived, 
not even at Bayreuth) : — 

■'The stage has gradually become dark; heavy Btonnclonds 
sink down over the backgronnd ftnd gradually and completely veU 
the nails of rock, the ravine, and the high ridge." "Slegmnnd 
disappears on the ildge in the dark stonncloud." " Strong light- 
ning flashes through the clouds ; a terrible tbundcr-clap wakes Sieg- 
linde." "A flash for a moment lightens the ridge on which 
Huoding and Siegmund are now seen flghting." 

And so on — the orchestra all the time mirroring and 
vivifying these phenomena. In the third act we are 
again in a rough mountainous region, where the wild 
Valkyries, one after another, approach amid the clouds 
on their war-steeds; and at the close the natural solitude 
is only emphasized by the sleeping maiden. Taken as 
a whole, I do not think the Wiiikiire as fine a poem as 
Siegfried or as pregnant in language and absorbing in 
interest as Rkeingold : the dialogues in the second act are 
doubtless somewhat too extended and delay the action 
too long. Yet how perfect is the opening scene of the 
drama, when the weary Siegmund enters the hut! how 


exciting the pursuit of the guilty lovers by HundingI 
how his horn makes the flesh creep! How touching is 
the scene where Briinnhilde is ''elevated," as has been 
finely said, "from a goddess to a woman," when pity 
for the fugitive condemned lovers induces her to face 
Wotan's anger by her efforts to save them! How 
pathetic, again, the last scenes — the heart-rending 
accents of the condemned Valkyrie, so mournfully 
emphasized by the plaintive woodwind accompaniment, 
and Wotan's touching farewell! If in Rheingold the 
chief of the gods excites our interest rather than our 
sympathy, here, where his expiation begins, we feel with 
him the pang of the sorrow that overcomes him at having 
to punish his favorite daughter for having carried out 
his secret wishes. 

Concerning one scene in the WaUciire enough has been 
written to fill many stout volumes. On no other ground 
has its author been so virulently assailed as for his auda- 
city in making the hero and heroine of this opera guilty 
of adultery and incest at the same time. I, myself, believe 
that he did not gain any dramatic advantage by follow- 
ing the old Edda legend in this detail. To be sure, only 
in this way could Siegfried come of divine stock on both 
sides, but the incest might at least have been made 
unconscious. However, the poet might have replied that 
in Home we must do as the Romans do: if we bring 
mythical beings on the stage we must leave them their 
morals as well as their manners. The Greek gods inter- 
marry within the forbidden relationship; the Egyptian 
Pharaohs married their sisters, and many primitive peo- 
ples did and do the same. As for the charge of adultery, 
that is not admitted in this drama. Wagner does not 


concede that there can be a true mairiaga without love. 
Sieglinde was carried off forcibly by Hunding; she was 
overwhelmed; that is not marriage. The point is argued 
at length in the text by Wotan ; at greater length still in 
the original version of the poem, which was abbreviated 
by 126 lines when it was set to music. It must be said, 
too, that hypocrisy, prudery, and a desire to hit Wag- 
ner had more to do with the attacks on this scene than 
any feelings of outraged morality. This is what the 
Rev. Dr. Haweis told some of the English censors. I 
have in my notebooks a few brief quotations which put 
the whole question in a nutshell : — 

" An episode found in nil mytliologiea may well be pardoned for 
tho sake of tbc exquisite music it has inspired" (^London Timtf, 
July 2, 1892). " I cannot share the moral indignation over the 
Incestuoua relationship between Siegmund and Sieglinde. When 
we read the story in the poem, — well, yes, it seemB rather ques- 
tionable, but in the scenic eieculion it is entirely discreet; no 
offence can be taken at it" (Paul Lindau, NSchterne Britfe), 
" Those who hold mythological beings to aa strict a moral account 
as they do people ot to-day, can imagine that the lovers were 
strangers or second-cousins or anything else — only let them stop 
preaching" (GustaT Kobb<^, The Sing of the Ifibelitng). "Who 
has ever been sliocked at Uie amours ot the Greek divinities on 
account of their being within the forbidden degrees of relationship, 
or at the intermarriage of the children of Adam and Eve which the 
Tentateuch implies ? " (F, Hueffer, Wagner). 

Finally, I would beg those fiinny critics who deny the 
author of the N^ibelung's Ring poetic sensibility and 
refinement because he brings such wicked gods and men 
on the stage, to read this remark of Max Mtiller's 
regarding the Greeks: "Their poets had an instinctive 
aversion to everything excessive or monstrous, yet they 


would relate of their gods what would make the most 
savage of Bed Indians creep and shudder" {Encydo- 
pcedia Britannica, art. " Mythology "). And the moral of 
this whole moral discussion is that a little less " moral- 
ity " in modern criticisms would be a moral gain. The 
moral feelings of the people are all right, and on the 
poet's side. Is there one person in a whole Wdlkiire 
audience who does not instinctively detest Fricka for a 
tiresome intermeddler, and hope that Siegmund may win 
in the battle with Hunding ? This argument alone, which 
was suggested to me by one of the purest and most refined 
women in the world, weighs more than all the prudish 
comments put together. 

The impotence of critical hypocrisy and malice against 
Genius is vividly illustrated by the fact that, in Ger- 
many, Die WaOciire has become by far the most popular 
of the four Nibelung dramas. It owes this largely to its 
music, which is richer and more stirring than that of 
Rheingold, I do not agree with Ehlert that the first act < 
of the Wdlkiire is the finest act ever written by its com- 
poser. To me each of the three acts of Siegfried, as well 
as the last act of Ootterddmmerung,' seem greater, more 
perfect. But I willingly concede the wondrous beauties 
of this first act. The very Introduction is as marvellous 
in its way as the calm aqueous Rheingold prelude, to 
which it forms a complete antithesis. Never has storm 
been so vividly painted in such a few strokes. The 
agitated tremolos and runs of the violins depict the rain- 
storm fiercely beating on the roof of Hunding's hut, 
while the low growling of the thunder is first muttered 
by the double-basses, until finally the whole orchestra 
breaks out into a fierce tornado of sound, in the crashing 


climax of which is heard the reverberation of the motiTe 
of the storm-god, known to tlie hearer from Rheingold. 
It 19 a masterpiece, more vivid and naturalistic than even 
tlie storm music in the Dutchman. Repeatedly, in hear- 
ing Hans Kichter or Anton Seidl conduct this storm, I 
have had a curious feeling as if the lightning bad really 
struck the band, and the instruments were carried away 
by the storm in all directions, still sounding! 

How utterly different, yet equally fine, is the tender 
eloquence of the quintet for violoncellos which we hear 
when Sieglinde gives Siegmund the cooling drink. It 
was no doubt this passage among others that led Saint' 
Saens to pay this tribute to Wagner's orchestration : — 

" When the u:toTS ore silent, the orcheatTB speakt, uid what & 
language 1 Wagner, the man of noise, the tamer of ferocious in- 
BtruDaenta, employe here nothing but string Instnunents. By the 
maoner in which a composer makes the string quartet speak, the 
master is shown. The goddess reveals herself as such by her 

How superb is the orchestral outburst when Siegmund 
triumphantly draws the sword from the tree ! But it is 
needless to call attention to all the gems ; spectators can 
see their glitter for themselves, as easily as the glitter 
of the sword-hilt when the orchestra tells us what it is; 
to others they cannot be described. Concerning the pas- 
sionate love-scene which forms the climax of this act I 
beg leave again to quote Saint-Saeus: — 

" Here nothing would have prevented the composer from writing 
an air and a duo in the traditional style ; but no air, no duo, could 
have, from a theatrical point ot view, the value of this monologue 
and this dialogue scene. Melodic flowers of the most exquisite 
fragrance spring up at every step, and tlie orchestra, like a bound- 


less ocean, rocks the two lovers on its magic waves. Here we have 
the theatre of the future ; neither the opera nor the simple drama 
will ever rouse such deep emotions in the soul. If the composer 
had completely succeeded in no other scene but this, it would suf- 
fice to prove that his ideal is not an impracticable dream : the cause 
has been heard. A thousand critics writing each a thousand lines 
a day for ten years would injure this work about as much as a 
child* 8 breath would go towards overthrowing the pyramids of 

Lest I be accused of indiscriminate admiration, I wiCi 
admit here that there are blemishes in the WalkUrt, 
some of the dialogues are (under ordinary operatic con- 
ditions) too long. All music-dramas and operas, who- 
ever their composer may be, would be better (for all 
practical purposes) if they had been originally written to 
last only three hours instead of four or more. There are 
also weak spots in the score. The weakest of these is 
the famous love-song of Siegmund in the Bcene just 
referred to. The poetic lines are beautiful, but the 
melody is trivial and shallow. I confess to a positive 
dislike for this brief love-song, which seems to me a 
cheap tune, as unworthy of Wagner's genius as the Lohen- 
grin Wedding March. Its chopped-up, four-bar rhythm 
contrasts painfully with the flowing, continuous, unca- 
denced melody of the rest of the score. 

At Bayreuth it was amusing to note how some of the 
critical babes, who had been crying for their toys (Paul 
Lindau was positively pathetic : " I beg, I beg you, dear 
little birds, for a tune "), rejoiced at Siegmund's love- 
song, because that was something they could whistle, 
give to the organ-grinders, and work up in the next 
carnival quadrille. But Lindau was not quite satisfied 
with having an old-fashioned tune; he also wanted it 


mng in the old-fashioned way. He actually wrote that 
an Italian tenor 

" woQld Burely not have missed t±iB opportanitj lo come forward 
with Uie well-kiiowD gesture to the promptcr'H box and to sing th« 
wonderful molotiy at the enchant*"! audience with languorous 
movements, lliat would be inartistlt, but It would be entranefng ; 
whereas now, iu the atrictl; artistic execution, the effect is not as 
great as hod been expected " t 

Could anything more vividly and atartlingly illustrate 
the utter corruption of all healthy artistic instincts 
brought about by the old-fashioned opera? "Inartistic 
but entrancing! " It must be remembered that this was 
written as late as 1876, when Wagner was sixty-three 
years old, by one of the most distinguished German 
critics and playwrights ! This shows us what kind of an 
artistic atmosphere Wagner found in Germany, and how 
much dramatic music needed a Hercules to clear out the 
Augean stables, 

Wlien Wagner had completed the first act of the 
WalkUre, he gave Liszt his opinion that it was "extraor- 
dinarily beautiful," and that nothing he had done before 
approached it; in which opinion he was right, as usual. 
Concerning the second act there is an extremely interest- 
ing page in Letter 200 to Liszt. He felt anxious about 
the scene between Wotan and Brunnhilde, and once, iu 
London, had been on the point of excising it altogether; 
but on going over it again he found that his spleen was 
not justified. Indeed, he asserts that " in the develop- 
ment of the whole tetralogical drama this is the most 
important scene, and as such it will probably receive the 
necessary sympathy and attention." But it needs per- 
fect performers, he adds. Another point he makes re- 


gaxding this second act is that it contains two important 
and tremendous catastrophes, — enough really for two 
acts, — yet they could not have been kept apart. 

*' If represented according to my designs, so that every inten- 
tion is completely understood, it must overwhelm the feelings in an 
unprecedented manner. Such a work is only written for persons 
who can endure something (really for no one I) : that the incom- 
petent and weak will complain, cannot influence my actions.** 

He f oref elt the charges that would be launched against 
this act, but he was right in implying that to the " chosen 
few'' it is the grandest of the three. Its fate will be 
like that of the second act of Lohengrin^ which, for three 
decades, was declared a bore, while now that the singers 
and hearers have grown up to it, it is acknowledged to 
be the best in the opera. 

When the third act of the WdOcilre was completed, the 
composer again declared that it was '^probably the best" 
he had so far written. It is certainly a wonderful act, 
far superior to the first, in my opinion, in some respects 
even to the second. The opening scene, the famous Bide 
of the Valkyries, is an entirely new kind of music, 
orchestrally and vocally. What exultation, what bar- 
barous realism, in the cries of the war-maidens! how 
thrilling the union of their voices! how the orchestra 
vies with these voices, and the storm-clouds, and the 
flying steeds, in picturing the scene! And how touching 
the contrast, when the noisy maidens have left, and 
Brijnnhilde alone remains with the unhappy Wotan to 
implore his pardon, with tears in his voice! Here, as 
Saint-Saens remarks, the work ''attains JSschylean 
grandeur." What a glorious orchestral climax, when 
the Valkyrie for the last time rushes into Wotan's arms I 

840 THE mBBLvxa's Rma 

And at last the M^c Fire Scene, in wluch " the Tiolins 
flame, the harps crackle, the timbres scintillate. The 
Walkiire ends with a tableau which is a feast for the ears 
and for the eyes," the famous French composer exclaims. 
And how much more effective, I may add, is this tableau, 
without any song at all, simply a sleeping Valkyrie, on 
a flame -encircled rock — and an orchestra quietly com- 
bining the Briinnhilde and flame music —than the final 
chorus which before Wagner used to be considered abso- 
lutely necessary to give an opera a sufficiently noisy 


Sieglinde, after BrflnnMlde had been oompelled, I7 
the pursuit of the angry Wotan, to abandon her, wan- 
dered about in the forest until she was found by the 
dwarf Mime, She died in giving birth to Siegfried, 

and intrusted him to the care of Mime, to whom, at the 
same time, she gave the fragments of the sword Nothung, 
with the information that through it the Nibelung's Ring 
could be recovered from the dragon, Fafner. Mime 
brings up young Siegfried, not from love of him, but in 
the hope of becoming through him the possessor of the 
Ring. Mime knows the location of Fafner's cave, and 
his one desire is to kill the Dragon and recover the Ring. 
He is too cowardly to attack him, however, and his only 
hope lies in his foster-child, now a robust youth of 
twenty, full of animal spirits and courage, whose com- 
panions are the birds and beasts of the forest, and who 
has never seen any human being except the ugly dwarf. 
Mime has made several swords for Siegfried to slay the 
Dragon with, "strong enough for giants"; but the mus- 


colar youth has dashed them all to pieces on the anvil, 
as if they had been so many toy swords. 

Act I. It is this " ungrateful boy " that Mime com- 
plains about when we behold him, in the opening scene, 
in his rock-surrounded forest smithy. Presently, to his 
terror, Siegfried rushes in with a live bear, with which 
he pursues and teases him. Then he inquires about the 
new sword which Mime has been forging for him. After 
examining it critically, he breaks it to pieces on the 
anvil, and abuses the smith for his incompetence. Mime 
reproaches him for ingratitude, and tells him a most piti- 
ful tale of how he has fostered and fed him, and toiled 
for him only to be maltreated in return. But Siegfried 
is unable to conceal his aversion to the ugly dwarf. He 
refuses to believe that Mime is his father, for in his 
forest life he has noticed that young animals always re- 
semble their parents, whereas his own face, when he saw 
it reflected in the brooks, certainly did not in any way 
resemble Mime's; angered by the dwarf's evasive an- 
swers, he seizes him by the throat and makes him tell 
the truth about his parentage. When he is shown the 
fragments of the magic Nothung, he commands Mime to 
orge them into a new sword, and rushes out into the 
oreBtf leaving the dwarf in perfect despair, for he has 
t'ten tried to forge these pieces into a sword, but found 
I em so hard that all his arts were useless. 
As he cowers down by the anvil, a stranger enters, 
hose face is partly covered with a broad hat.^ It is 

^ UndAT a ecMtnme sketch of Wotan, dow in Oetterlefo*t Wmfcner 
<4eiim at Vienna, Wagner has written : " full brown hair and beard, 
helmet, but a Uurge soft felt hat, wliich will become pictaresqne by 
^g mm ildewise on the head." 


Wotani who has been wandering about the &oe of the 
earth, and now, disguised as the '' Wanderer/' comes to 
supervise, as far as he may, the fate of his grandson 
Siegfried, who is to recover the Bing from the Dragon. 
He claims the hospitality of Mime's hearth, offering his 
advice on any question in return; but Mime says he 
needs no advice. At last he consents to ask the stranger 
three questions, and be asked three in return; the one 
who fails to answer all three shall forfeit his head. To 
the questions of Mime : Who dwells in the bowels of the 
earth ? who on the face of the earth ? who on the cloudy 
heights ? Wotan answers, respectively, the dwarfs, the 
giants, and the gods. Mime then answers two questions 
correctly, but fails at the third: ''Who will reforge the 
sword Nothung ? " Wotan supplies the answer. " He 
alone who has never felt fear can fashion Nothung anew.'' 
Then he adds, before leaving: — 

"Thy crafty head 
keep if thou canst, 
as forfeit it falls to him 
who fear has never yet felt.'* 

Siegfried returns, and is very indignant on finding that 
Mime has not succeeded in welding together the frag- 
ments of the sword. He calls him a bungler, and then 
tries his own hand at the task. He starts the fire and 
the bellows, files the sword into pieces, melts them in a 
crucible, pours the mass into a long mould, and plunges 
it into the water. Then he hammers the red-hot steel, 
and when the sword is finished, he brandishes it, and 
with one mighty blow cleaves the anvil in twain, to 
Mime's mingled delight and consternation. 

Act II. Scene : in the depths of a forest near the 


Dn^Q Fafner's den. It is almost dark. Alberich is 
continoally in that neighborhood, watching an opporta- 
city to steal the Bing and Tamhelmet from Fafner. 
Wotan meets him and tells him that Siegfried is on his 
way to slay the Dragon. Alberich replies with volleys of 
abuse. Wotao mockingly asks him to propose to Fafner 
to let him have the Ring, in return for the information 
that his life is threatened through Siegfried. He pro- 
ceeds to awake the Dragon, who answers from the depths 
of his cavern with a stentorian voice tfaat he is willii^ 
the hero should come; that he is hungry for such a mor- 
sel. Then he yawns and bids the men not to disturb his 
sleep any longer. Wotan disappears in a storm wind, 
and Alberich conceals himself for he sees Mime coming 
with Siegfried. Mime, intimidated by Wotan's proph- 
ecy about the "fearless hero," has resolved that Siegfried 
must see the Dragon at once and learn the emotion of 
fear. If Siegfried should not learn to fear, and should 
succeed in killing the Drt^on, Mime has resolved to save 
his own head all the same, and secure the Ring too, by 
poisoning Siegfried after the deed. So he leaves him 
alone. Siegfried lies down under a huge tree and listens 
to the song of the birds and the rustling of the forest 
leaves. He wonders what the birds are saying, and cuts 
a reed on which he tries to imitate them, so as to learn 
their language; but the result is a grotesque failure. 
Impatiently he seizes his horn and sounds a long and 
merry call. This wakes up the Dragon, who seems de- 
lighted to see Siegfried, for he is hungry. 

After some preliminary banter a terrible fight ensnea, 
tuid Fafner receives a mortal wound. Some of the 
Dragon's blood is sprinkled on Siegfried's fingei. It 




burns, and he puta it involuntarily to hia lips. This 
gives him suddenly the power of understanding the lan- 
guage of the birds. He listens, and one of them tells 
him to go into the cave and get the valuable Ring. After 
he has retired, Mime and Albericb arrive and quarrel as 
to who shall have the Ring and the Tarnhelniet. When 
Siegfried returns, the bird warns him against Mime's 
murderous intentions, but this was unnecessary, as the 
tasting of the Dragon's blood has enabled Siegfried to 
hear Mime's thoughts in place of bis words. So when 
Mime, after many murderous compliments, offers his 
poisoned bowl, Siegfried takes his sword and kills him 
with a blow. Again he listens to the bird, which tells 
him of the beautiful Valkyrie, asleep on the fire-sur- 
rounded rock. Then it flies away, and Siegfried exult- 
ingly follows its guidance. 

Act III. A wild region at the foot of a precipitous 
cliff. Amid thunder and lightning Wotan summons the 
all-knowing Erda, to consult her regarding the impend- 
ing doom of the gods. Can she tell him how to stop a 
rolling wheel? But here her wisdom ends. Wotan then 
informs her of his resignation. Since the gods are 
doomed, he worries no more; it is even his wish. The 
Volsung Siegfried shall possess the Ring: he shall be 
the heir of the supreme power in the world: man's rule 
.shall succeed that of the gods. As Erda sinks into her 
cave, Siegfried arrives, still following the bird which is 
guiding him to the fire-girded rock on ivhich Wotan had 
left Briinnhilde, plunged in a magnetic sleep, for dis- 
obeying his orders, but mercifully surrounded by flames, 
so that none but a dauntless hero who fears not the flames 
nor Wotan's spear shall wake and woo her. Wotan holds 


out his spear to impede Siegfried's progress, but, after 
some irreverent badimige Siegfried cuts it in two, and 
boldly climbs the rocks amid the leaping flames. Clouds 
of steam and fire enyelop the whole stage amid a mag- 
nificent orchestral outburst, and when they finally dis- 
solve and calm down, the scene has changed to the top of 
the rock where Briinnhilde has lain asleep ever since 
Siegfried was bom. Siegfried unfastens her helmet, 
carefully cuts the rings of mail on either side of the 
armor, and then lifts off the cuirass and greaves. Brtinn- 
hilde lies before him clad in soft feminine garments. He 
starts back surprised and dazed — for this is not a man, 
as he had supposed, but a woman — the first he has ever 
seen. Now at last trembling and awe seize him. Love 
has taught him what neither Fafner nor Mime could teach 
— the emotion of fear. But his passion is stronger than 
his fear, and he stoops down and with a long and raptur- 
ous kiss awakens the demi-goddess from her twenty years' 
slumber. After the first delight at returning to the light 
of the sun, and the joy at recognizing in her awakener 
the hoped-for hero Siegfried, Briinnhilde remembers her 
divine origin and seeks to repel his passionate advances ; 
but Siegfried soon loses again the newly-found fear; the 
womanly instincts awaken in Brdnnhilde, and she throws 
herself passionately into his arms. 

''The most beautiful of my life's dreams," Wagner 
called Siegfried; and I have already expressed the con- 
viction that he considered it the best of all his dramas. 
In my opinion it is not only the most symmetrical and 
perfect of his works, but also the most Wagnerian — that 
in which all his theories are most consistently and most 


astonishingly carried out. In all his other music-dramas 
acd operas there are choruses or easemble numbers ; even 
, Sheingold has its vocal trios, and Tristan has a short 
chorus, while in three of its scenes the stage is filled with 
, people. But in Siegfried there are at no time more than 
I two persons on the sta^, and the only time when two 
I voices unite for a moment is in the love-duo at the end. 
More curious still, with the exception of the brief epi- 
sodes of Erda and the Forest Bird, no female voice is 
heard till the second half of the last act is reached. No 
wonder that Saint-SaSns exclaimed in regard to this, " the 
most original part of the Tetralogy " : '■ Not only is this 
no longer opera, it is no longer the theatre ; the spectator 
is transported to an entirely new world, which music alone 
mnkea poxsihle." And so great is the magic of Wagner's 
genius that few spectators realize that in this score the 
last traces of the old "opera" are eliminated, until their 
attention is called to the matter. 

The full-fledged Wagnerites do not agree as to which 
is the master's greatest work. As for myself, I have 
always hesitated between Tristan and Siegfried. The 
question of preference between these two is more a mat- 
ter of temperament tlian of art or inspiration. In Tristan 
the passion of love has found its most ecstatic expres- 
sion since Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet ; while in Sieg- 
fried we have pictures of forest life, some of which may 
be placed side by side with the forest scenes and senti- 
ments in As You Like It. From a poetic point of view 
Siegfried is, beyond all question, AVagner's most finished 
work. It is simply the most poetic tale in German 
mythology dramatized and set to music. Almost all the 
features of the drama are to be found in the old Rhine 


legends; bat just as no one but Siegfried knew how to 
weld together the fragments of the sword Nothung, so it 
remained for Wagner to construct a coherent drama from 
the poetic material which is scattered through the differ- 
ent Scandinavian and Grerman versions of tiie Siegfried 

That the average Grerman mind is strangely uncritical, 
singularly blind to contemporaneous genius, is proved 
once more by the fact that the literary critics did not rise 
as a man to proclaim the beauties of this Siegfried poem, 
to announce the birth of a drama, immortal as Gtoethe's 
Fa'iisty unequalled in all Grerman literature for its exqui- 
site mirroring of forest life. Rheingold and WdUcUre are 
open-air dramas too, but Siegfried far surpasses them 
in buoyancy, spontaneity, and delightful realism which 
makes us forget every moment that we are in an opera- 
house. The text of Siegfried is in every line so redolent 
of nature, and poetic beauties are so abundant, that it 
seems incredible they should not have been recognized at 
once and loudly celebrated, without a dissentient voice. 
Shakespeare himself could not have placed before us more 
vividly this son of a Northern forest, brought up with 
bears as playmates, ignorant of the world and its human 
denizens excepting the dwarf Mime; ignorant of the 
existence of such a being as a woman until brought face 
to face with Brfinnhilde. The brusqueness, the boyish 
naivete, the buoyancy, the boastfulness springing from 
his fearlessness — all the traits natural to such a forest 
child are embodied in Wagner's Siegfried. 

No less naturalistic and individual are the other char- 
acters of this drama, in the portrayal of whom Wagner 
has shown more convincingly than ever the advantages 


to be gained by a union of music with poetry for heighten 
iug the dramatic effects. Let us briefly consider a few 
of the more salient points. Mime's hypocritical song, 
" A!s zuUendes Kind," in which he recounts his servicea 
in Siegfried's behalf, is an amusing tale, and the perGist- 
ent way in which subsequently Mime introduces snatches 
of it, in order to avoid answering Siegfried's questions 
regarding his parentage, produces a ludicrous effect. 
Siegfried's description of the courtship and love of 
animals which people his forest home is another pret^ 
conceit, accompanied by the tenderest orchestral strains; 
and lovelier still are both the music and the poetry when 
he tells of bow he saw his image reflected in the brook. 
Most pathetic is Mime's tale of Sieglinde's death, inten- 
sified by the sorrowful tones and accents of the wood- 
wind instruments. Magnificent strains, majestic as the 
Walhalla motive itself, accompany Wotan's song when 
he enters Mime's cave-like smithy. 

The conclusion of the interview with Mime when 
Wotan, in speaking of the gods in \Valhana, involunta- 
rily touches the ground with his spear, and a faint 
rumbling of thunder follows, — in the orchestra as well 
as on the stage, — is one of those sublime effects which 
Wagner first introduced on the operatic stage. And 
after Wotan has left Mime to his fears, cowering on the 
ground and gazing into the forest, where his crazed 
imagination beholds ghostly flashes and flickers of sun- 
light, and finally a vision of the hideous Dragon itself, 
with mouth wide open, — it is here that Wagner's 
marvellous poetic and onomatopoetic art makes one of 
its masterworks. The flickering lights as scenically 
represented, Mime's exclamations, and the flashing, 


shrieking, delirious sounds in the orchestra are all one 
and the same thing; language, scene, and music are here 
as identical as if toe had but a single sense to apprehend 

An exquisite use of the Leading Motive principle is 
made in the following scene, when Siegfried has returned, 
and Mime tries to teach him to fear by giving him a 
gruesome account of the Dragon and his den. Siegfried 
declares he is very anxious to see the beast and learn the 
new emotion; but all the while the orchestra does not 
play the Dragon motive, but the Br(innhilde motive — 
thus foreshadowing in a most poetic way that not the 
Dragon, but the sleeping maiden, will first teach him to 
tremble and stand in awe. Who can fail to see in a case 
like this what a mighty and subtle power Wagner has 
added to the dramatist's methods by his use of the Lead- 
ing Motives, or to smile at the stolidity of critics like 
Dr. Hanslick, who could not see in Leading Motives any- 
thing but labels such as chemists put on their bottles? 
To note only one more application of the same principle 
— when Siegfried, after slaying the Dragon, goes into 
the cave to get the King. He is ignorant of its power 
and uses, but the orchestra knows all about it, and by 
conjuring some motives from Bheingold, tells us about 
the rape of the gold and its significance. In a word, 
Wagner has, with his Leading Motives, given the orches- 
tra the faculty of definite articulate speech. 

The grandest rdle for tenors of the future will be that 
of Siegfried;; and in the smithy and forging songs of the 
first act of this drama they will celebrate their greatest 
triumphs. What life, what buoyancy, what melody, 
what humor, pervade those songs! This whole scene. 


indeed, is a marvel of geoius, a source of imeuding delight 
to every educated spectator. The blowing of the bellows, 
the tiling of the gword, the hissing of the water when it 
is plunged in red hot, the hammering of it on the anvil, 
are sights and sounds which are startlingly similar on 
the stage and in the orchestra. Musical realism can go 
no further, and when Siegfried raises his sword and with 
a mighty blow splits the anvil in two his exultant joy 
is borne across the house on the Intoxicating orchestral 
strains and sways the audience irresistibly to enthusiasm. 
Xote, also, the superb effect produced when, in the con- 
sciousness of triumph, Siegfried's song modulates from 
minor into a jubilant major pffian, before he cleaves the 

The second act of Siegfi^ied is unique in stage art. Its 
gem is the scene where the hero, reclining under a tree, 
listens to the bird-voices. The whirr and lisping of the 
violins is an acoustic image of the rustling of the leaves 
and of the shadows of twigs dancing on the trunks of 
the trees. How sweetly the bird-voices animate this 
forest-whirr (Waldweben), and what a happy thought it 
was to leave the bird-voice inarticulate (instrumental) 
until Siegfried has tasted the Dragon's blood, when at 
once it becomes articulate (vocal), so that the audience 
has the same experience in regard to its intelligibility as 
Siegfried himself! In this wonderful scene Wagner has 
embodied all his passion for nature with inimitable art, 
even as in the preceding act, in Siegfried's questions 
regarding his mother, he gave expression to the senti- 
ment of filial love with an art which no previous musi- 
cian has approached. 

The Dragon scene which interrupts this forest music 



came in for much criticism at Bayreuih, partly owing to 
the fact that the Dragon ordered in England did not arriTe 
in time, and the subetitute hastily made teas rather an 
unwieldy and ludicrous beast. But as done elsewhere, 
notably at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York, 
this Dragon is quite a formidable and "life-like" mini- 
ster. It lashes its tail furiously, hisses angry steam 
from its nostrils, moves from side to side as nimbly as 
a big lizard, and when it dies, covers its eyes with its 
lids quite pathetically. 

Some of Wagner's opponents have imagined that they 
scored a great point against him by remarking that many 
persons in the audience laugh when the Dragon first 
appears. But why on earth should they not laugh? 
Siegfried is a fairy tale, and Wagner expects his adult 
hearers to take it in the way adults generally take a feiry 
tale — in a humorous or semi-humorous way. Even chil- 
dren do hot believe you are a bear when you " play bear ^ 
with them ; they are half frightened, half amused when 
you pursue them on all fours; and for grown children it 
is not necessary to take the Dragon seriously in order to 
be delighted with the scene. Wagner himself treats the 
scene humorously in the banter between Siegfried and 
the Dragoii before the fight. But when the fight really 
begins, the audience is as downright in earnest as at a 
bull-fight, and the extraordinary hubbub in the orchestra 
makes it impossible for any one not to be excited over 
the contest. No doubt there is some force in the criti- 
cism that Wagner is no true realist because he makes a 
dragon sing. At first sight this seems a serious objection 
— yet, come to think of it, I do not remember to have 
ever met a dragon who did not sing. 


Seriously speaking, no scene ever written baa givBD 
the muaical experts more opportunity to show tlieir 
habitual lock of poetic feeling, of naivete, and sense of 
humor, tliau this, " Touni/ Siesfiitd baa the decided 
advantage that it presents the important myth in the 
form of a play to the public, just aa a fairy tale ia pre- 
sented to a child." Thus wrote Wagner to Uhlig, in 
1851, and thus it is that the public looks on Siesfried 
to-day. But what did the "experts" in 1876 say of it? 
Here are a few specimens. Joseph Bennett calls it — 

" a combat uf maQ and brut« such m no stage art can make 
<iltier but absurd." I'aul Lintlau exclaims Ibat " it BOems incredi- 
ble that an anUt of Wagner's rank ehould degrade himself by 
writing music for a show which belong in a fair-ground. Away 
with the worm I The fight with the Dragon on the Btage ia cMldlalt 
and objectionable," And Dr. HanaUck remarks that " Wagner com- 
posed this scene In perfect seriousness, but its effect, especially at 
the close, nhen the Dragon becomes sentimental and makes conQ- 
dentlal communications to bis murderer, ia extremely comic." 

Comment on these opinions would be foolish. A man 
who cannot see the exquisite combinations of humor and 
pathos in this fairy scene for grown children, cannot be 
helped by argument, however much we may pity him. 
Compare with these philistinisms the words of another 
musical expert, who is at the same time a man of feeling 
— Anton Seidl : — 

"Every time that the Dragon scene is enacted on the stage 
(New York) I see, in different parts of th« house, a smile of con- 
tempt, or an expression of surprise at the childislmess of the idea 
of making a dragon sing. These people I should like to take to 
Munich, where Fatner is sung by the veteran Kindermann. Sel- 
dom have 1 heard anything more pathetic on the stage than the 
dying words of this dragon. Not I alone, who might be accused of 


partiality, bat the whole audience was to OTerwbelmed \tj pity and 
sympathy that I saw tears rolling down many cbeeki^ Tbe deash 
of Fafner, the last of his tribe, I nerer heard mora pathetically 
enacted than by this artist.** 

As for the comic side of the enoonnter with the Dragon 
before the fight, what could be more droll than Sieg- 
fried's banter and bragging bluster, and the Dragon's 
calm and contemptuous rejoinder: — 

•'To drink I came, 
now fodder I find " ? 

which is sung with such gusto that we can easily fancj 
the hero already struggling in the Dragon's jaws. Incred- 
ible as it may seem. Dr. Hanslick quotes a great part of 
this inimitable scene by way of showing what a bungler 
the poet Wagner is, and how he maltreats the Crenoan 
language! As a matter of fact, there is not» in all Ger- 
man literature, a scene in which the language used is 
more realistically and amusingly adapted to tbe situation 
than here. 

One of the most amusing touches in this aet» which is 
full of the spirit of comedy, is Mime's parting words as 
he leaves Siegfried under the tre^ waiting for the 

Dragon : — 

" Fkfner and Siegfried — 

Siegfried and Fkfner^ 

Woold that each sbmijiteied the other.'* 

But the most ingenious bit of humor occurs in the 
lines where Mime sings his murderous thoughts to Sieg- 
fried in the sweetest of accents, while Siegfried, thanks 
to having tasted the Dragon's blood, hears his niol senti- 
ments instead of his Meiuled words, with this climax: 


" Why, my dartiDg child, you do not understand me! T 
merely wish to chop off youi head I " It is in scenes like 
this, where the music can give one sentiment while the 
words express another, that the superioritj' of the music- 
drama to the literary drama is incontestably showo. 

Wagner is very partial to the introductions to his third 
acts. Tannh&uaer, Lohen^in, 7Vt«(an, MeisUrsinger, and 
Parsifal have such introductions, which may be consid- 
ered the orchestral gems of these works. Siegfried, too, 
has a wonderfully constructed tone-poem to lead into the 
stormy and weird opening scene of the third act. One 
feels that this exuberance, this exultation, can hardly be 
purely artistic — that it must have a biographic signifi- 
cance: and so it has; for remember this act was composed 
after King Ludwig had invited Wagner to resume the 
long-neglected Trilogy. The joy over this happy turn 
in his affairs seems to hare infected the Uiird act of 
Siegfried, to which he now turned after this long inter- 
ruption. It is the greatest, the most inspired, of the 
three acts. Although the opening scene between Wotan 
and Erda, with its weird harmonies and mysterious tone- 
colors, is perhaps for musical epicures only, the follow- 
ing scene, where Siegfried ascends the mountain amid 
the flames, while the orchestra flickers and fiames, and 
roars, carries away even the most unsusceptible portion 
of tlie audience; and the scene which follows, when the 
hero has awakened the Valkyrie with his " long, long kiss 
of youth and love," is merely a translation of these magic 
flames to the hearts of the lovers, where they rage and 
burn on. 

The passionate love-duo which closes the act would be 
magnificent in any place ; but coming as it does, it affords 


a remarkable instance of Wagner's dramatic Ingenuity. 
Throughout the first two acts and part of the third, for 
more than three hours and a half the spectator has heard 
no female voice, with the exception of the few notes sung 
by the Forest Bird and Erda. Siegfried, when he finds 
Briinnhilde, had never seen a woman; the audience, 
when she begins to sing, feel as if they had never heard 
a woman's voice. The effect is thrilling, and one under- 
stands why in ascetic times women were not allowed to 
sing in church: for the very timbre of woman's voice 
suggests love. 

After the Siegfiried forest-drama, in which the tiagie 
elements are happily relieved by comic incidents, and 
which Dr. Hueffer, in comparing the Tetralogy to a 
symphony, aptly characterized as the Scherzo, we come \ 
to the tragic gloom and sublimity of the final drama, the 
Ihuk of the Ooda. It ia twice as long as Rkeingold, in- 
cluding as it does a prelude consisting of twu long scenes, 
besides the usual three acts. Dramatically, as well as 
musically, Die OStterddmrnerung contains material enough 
for half-a-dozen operas in the old style. The story is a 
continuation of Siegfried's adventures. When that hero 
had slain Fafner, he left all the golden Nibelung treas- 
ures in the Dragon's cave, taking with him only the 
Tamhelmet and the Bing, hardly conscious of their 
value, although the bird had told him that the Ring 
ensured supreme power in the world to its possessor. 
At the close of Siegfried we saw Brtlnnhilde throwing 
herself passionately into the arms of the fearless hero 
who had crossed the flames to woo and wed her. 


Prelude. As the curtain rises on the last drama of the 
Tetralogy, we see once more Briinnhilde'a rock, with a 
rim of fire in the background, too faint to dispel the 
twilight gloom in which we behold indistinctly the three 
Noms, or Fates, in dark gannents, fastening their golden 
cord in turn to a tree or rock and unravelling the past, 
present, and fiiture from its fibres. They tell of Sieg- 
fried's bold act in shattering Wotan's spear, and how 
Wotan, thereafter, had the worhl-ash, from which the 
spear had been made, cut into pieces which were piled 
around Walhalla, in which he and the other gods were 
awaiting their end. As they are about to pry into the 
future, the cord snaps apart, and the Norns disappear. 

The rising sun has almost obliterated the encircling 
flames, when Siegfried and Bniiinhilde appear on the 
scene. They have enjoyed a happy period of wedded 
life, and the former Valkyrie has imparted to Siegfried 
much of her divine knowledge, besides making him 
invulnerable — except in the back, for she knows that her 
hero will never show his back to an enemy. After the 
custom of mediaeval heroes it is now time for Siegfried 
to go in quest of new adventures. He gives her his Ring 
as pledge of his fidelity, and she gives him her shield 
and her steed Grane, no longer able to speed through the 
air, but still a horse such as mortal never rode before. 

Act I. In the open hall of the Gibicbungs' burg, with 
a view of the Rhine in the background, Gunther, Gu- 
trune, and Hageu are sitting at a table. Neither King 
Gunther nor his beautiful sister, Gutrune, is married, 
and Hagen is anxious that they should be. Hagen is a 
wild, gloomy warrior, the King's half-brother, the off- 
spring of Gunther's mother and the dwarf Alberich, who 


had succeeded in gaining with gold the love which his 
curse had made inaccessible to him otherwise. Just as 
Wotan has reared Siegmund to be the means of getting 
back the Eing, so Alberich had begotten Hagen as his 
agent. Hagen knows what is wanted of him, and he has 
a wily plan for securing the Bing. Knowing that Sieg- 
fried possesses it, the first step necessary is to have that 
hero near him. He begins by reproaching the King for 
not being married, and tells him of a beauteous woman 
who should be his queen — the Valkyrie, Br(innhilde. 
Hagen does not know that Brtinnhilde has already been 
wooed and won, but he knows that no one but Siegfried 
can penetrate the flames surrounding her. He therefore 
proposes that they should find Siegfried, and offer him 
the hand of the beautiful Gutrune if he should consent 
to win Brtinnhilde as bride for Gunther. The objection 
that Siegfried might already be in love is brushed aside 
by Hagen, who knows how to brew a drink which will 
cause the hero to forget all other women, and fall in love 
with Gutrune. Hardly has this scheme been elaborated, 
when a merry horn is heard, and presently Siegfried is 
seen coming opportunely down the Rhine. He is wel- 
comed, the potion is administered and has the desired 
effect. He forgets his wife, asks for Gutrune's hand, 
and she is promised to him after he shall have delivered 
Brdnnhilde into the King's hands. Without delay he 
sets out with Gunther on the journey, after swearing 
blood-brotherhood with him. 

In the meantime, we are brought back to Brtinnhilde, 
who sits on her rock fondly contemplating her beloved 
Ring. She is roused from her reverie by a sudden storm, 
in tiie midst of which appears Waltraute, one of her 



sister -Valkyries. In mournful tones abe tells of the sad 
state of affairs at Walhalla, with Wotan and the other 
gods awaiting their doom in gloomy silence. Once only 
had Wotan spoken, to say that were Brflnuhilde to return 
the Kingto the Rhine-maidens, "the curse's weight would 
he taken from god and the world." Upon hearing which 
Waltraute had hastened to BrCinnhilde to entreat her to 
give up the Ring. But in vain. The Ring is the pledge 
of Siegfried's faith, the symbol of his love, and what is 
all the world, what is the eternal happiness and fate of 
all the gods, to Siegfried's love? In despair, presaging 
woe to her and to Walhalla's hosts, Waltraute mounts 
her horse and hastes away through the air. So sooner 
has she left tlian Brflnnhilde hears a horn — Siegfried's 
horn. She jumps upj and througli the columns of fire 
comes a man. It is Siegfried, but transformed into the 
shape of Guntber by means of the Tamhelmet, whose 
secret Hagen had revealed. At sight of the form of a 
stranger Briinnhilde starts back in horror; but Siegfried 
pursues her, and after a short struggle takes away her 
Ring. After this she is powerless, and obliged to fol- 
low him obediently to her abode. Before entering, Sieg- 
fried draws his sword, which, he says, shall rest between 
him and Gunther's bride, to prove that faitlifully he 
wooed for his friend. 

Act II. Hagen, spear in hand, shield by his side, is 
sitting in front of the King's castle. He is asleep, and 
the bright rays of the moon, suddenly falling on him, 
show the figure of Alberich, who is kneeling before his 
son, and, as in a trance or dream, urges him to persist 
in his plot to get the Ring; with it, they two will b» 
rulers of the world, but if the Rhine-maidens should 


get poasesaion of it f^in, it will be lost forever. Hagea 
promises, and Alberich vanishes. Slowly the sun rises 
and shows first its red rays and gradually full daylight - 
on the waters of the Rhine. Suddenly Siegfried appears 
from behind a bush, and takes oS the Tarnhelmet, th« 
use of which had enabled him to transport himself 
instantaneously back to the King's palace, while Gunther 
himself follows more slowly by water with his unwilling 
bride, Brflnnhilde. Hagen ascends a cliff, and his loud 
heighol heighol his cries of danger, and call to arms 
soon bring his warriors around him, eager to know the 
source of trouble; but when they bear that the fancied 
danger is the King's impending marriage, and that they 
are expected to prepare for a great feast, great hilarity 
ensues, since even grim Hagen is so facetiously disposed. 
The King presently arrives with hie bride, and is greeted 
by a chorus of welcome and congratulation. Brtinn- 
hilde's astonishment on seeing Siegfried changes to 
indignation when she finds that he claims Gutrune as 
his bride, and her anger reaches a climax of fury when 
she sees her Ring on his finger. She indignantly accuses 
him of deceit, and claims that she is his real wife. 
Siegfried, ignorantly guilty, swears on the point of 
Hagen's spear that he is innocent, that his sword rested 
between him and BrCinnhilde that nighty but she angrily 
pushes him aside and swears that be iA guilty of perjury, 
Siegfried, with a sneer at this mysterious exhibition of 
feminine temper, ends the scene by putting his arm 
around Gutrune, and entering the hall, leaving Hagen, 
the King, and his bride alone. They resolve that the 
traitor must die, and Brflnnhilde informs Hagen that 
the hero's body is vulnerable in the back. To save 

360 TBE yiBELUNCS RlifO 

Gutrune's feelings it is decided that Siegfried shall fall 
in the woods, on a hunting expedition, so tha.t his death 
may be attributed to a wild boar. 

Act III. takes us to a wild forest region by the shore 
of the Rhine. The three Rhine-maidens emerge from 
the water, lamenting the loss of their gold, and implor- 
ing the sun to send that way the hero who wears the ring 
made of that gold. Their prayer is heard. Siegfried, 
pursuing a bear, gets separated from his companions, 
and suddenly cornea across the Rhine-daughters. They 
lieg him for the Ring on his iinger, telling of the curse 
attaehed to it, and prophesying his death that very day 
if lie keeps it; but he looks on all tlieir coaxing and 
warning as a way women have to get what they want^ 
and refuses to part with the Ring. The maidens dive 
and vanish as the horns of Siegfried's companions are 
heard. Gunther, Ha^n, and the hunters now appear on 
the scene, with the game on their shoulders. They all 
lie down in groups and pass around the cup. Hagen 
addresses Siegfried, saying he has heard that he under- 
stands the language of birds. Thus invited, Siegfried 
tells the story of Mime, the Dragon, and the forest-bird. 
When he has got to the place wliere he followed the bird 
to Briinnhilde's sleeping-place, Hagen gives him a drink 
with wliich he has secretly mixed the juice of an herb. 
This potion restores his remembrance of Brflnnhilde, and 
he jiroceeds to relate how he wooed, won, and wedded 
her. As Gunther listens, horrified, to this revelation, 
two ravens fly across the stage. Siegfried turns to look 
at them, and H^en stabs him in the ba«k, to the con- 
sternation of all. Siegfried makes a last effort to crush 
Hagen with bis shield, then falls down and expires with 


a greeting to Br(innhilde. The body is placed on bis 
shield and slowly carried up the hill in the moonlight, to 
the sound of the majestic dead-march, the procession 
gradually disappearing in the gathering mists. 

Meanwhile, at the castle, Gutrone awaits Siegfried's 
return. Hagen comes and tells her he has been killed 
by a boar. The corpse arrives, and Gutrune throws her- 
self on it in despair. Hagen claims the Ring, and when 
Gunther opposes him he kills him with a stab. Hagen 
then attempts to snatch the Ring from Siegfried's finger, 
when the corpse raises its hand in awful warning. At 
this moment Briinnhilde appears, solemnly, majestically. 
Gutrune accuses her of being the cause of all this, when 
Brdunhilde scornfully informs her that she has never 
been anything but Siegfried's mistress, as she herself 
was his lawful wife. She directs the young men to build 
a funeral pyre and place on it the body of Siegfried, 
after she has taken the Ring from his finger. Then she 
throws a torch under the pyre, and, as the flames rise on 
high, seizes her horse and rushes into the burning mass. 
Suddenly the fire collapses, the Rhine begins to swell 
until it has reached the coals of the pyre, bearing on its 
surface the three Rhine-daughters, one of whom recovers 
the King from the ashes. On seeing this, Hagen jumps 
into the water, with the cry, "Back from the Ring," 
but is pulled down and drowned. The sky is seen 
aglow: Walhalla is in flames. The end of the gods is 
at hand. 

The story of Die Odtterddmmerung is related in the 
preceding pages as it is unfolded in the poem and as it 
was enacted at Bayreuth. Unfortunately, the example 


of Bajreutb has seldom been followed in other cities; 
and for this Wagner himself is to blame. There can be 
no doubt that, for practical purpoaea. Die QotterdHmme- 
rung is too long. At Bayreuth, where the Wagner dramas 
are every one's business as well as pleasure, and where 
performances begin at four and have an hour's intermis- 
sion after each act, four to five hours of music is perhaps 
not too much; but under ordinary circumstauces, where 
the opera is looked upon as recreation after the day's 
business, three hours is quite enougli. Wagner followed 
Meyerbeer's bad example in this respect, at any rate, 
that he made most of bis works extend to four hours and 
more. The consequence is that cuts and mutilations can 
hardly be avoided. In the last drama of the Tetralogy, 
three scenes are habitually sacrificed, two of which are 
unique mood pictures. Nothing could bo finer in its 
way than the sombre opening scene of the Noms — a 
" symphony in gray " to the eyes as to the ears ; yet this 
is frequently omitted, as is that companion piece of 
gloom and weirdness, Alberich's interview with Hagen 
("Schlttf'st du, Hagen, mein Sohn?") which at Bay- 
reuth made the cold chills creep down one's back. Not 
less important, musically, is the third scene, now often 
omitted — Waltraute's visit to Briiunhilde; poetically, 
too, this is one of the best. Has ever poet or playwright, 
in hyperbolic language or dramatic situation, more strik-. 
ingly revealed the essence, the superlative importance 
of the master passion, as ia done here in Briinnhilde's 
refusal to part with the Ring, the pledge of Siegfried's 
love, even though she could thereby redeem the world 
from its curse, and save the gods from their impending 


** A gjanoe at its gUttering gold, 
a flash of its ciiding fire— 

blinds my senses 

to all your gods* 

erer-lasting &te 1 

For always in it 
speaks to me 8iegfried*s lore.** 

If the parts usually omitted have such chann, what 
must be said of those that remain, those that no Kapell- 
meister could be so callous as to cut? To mention them 
all would be to go over the whole tragedy again. A few 
may be recalled here. If I were asked what is the most 
thrilling scene ever composed, I should hesitate between 
the climax of the Tristan love-duo and the love-duo in 
the second prelude to the OdUerd&mmerungf where Sieg- 
fried takes leave of BrOnnhildCi and she gazes rapturously 
after him until his horn dies away in the distance. 
There is no sadness in this parting; the love-intoxication 
is too complete, too joyous, too confident, to allow any 
other feeling to be mingled with it, even at the moment 
of parting: and to this amorous rapture the two voices, 
and afterwards the orchestra alone, give expression with 
a vividness which makes mere human speech, in the 
greatest of tragedies, spoken by the greatest of trage- 
dians, seem impotent and dumb in comparison. It is 
the amorous apotheosis of pantomimic music, following 
a sublime love-duo; it is the vindication of the claims of 
the music-drama to be considered the first of all human 

Of action, in the usual theatric sense of the word, there 
is more in the 06Uerddmmerung than in any other of its 
author's dramas except — for its length — in BkehiffokL 

364 TEE yiBELVNG'S BtHQ ^ 

Incident crowds on inoident. If in Siegfried the reader 
often stops to admire the exquisite poetry of nature, in 
the last drama of the Tetralogy he iB hurried along in 
breathless excitement by the absorbing interest of the 
action. With the music the fascination ia more than 

>' The muaie Iriptts At inteniUji o/ tlie feelings wUh Khieh tke 

' characterg are anlmnted — that In all one can say M those who have 
not heard it," wrote SainUSaina at Bayreulh. "Tbo auditor," ho 
adiia, " loses all aense o£ Ume as by a magic effect, and forgets to 
count the hours." " It ia impossible to give tbe faiutest Idea of 
such music ; it resembles no other." 

Much has been written about the thrilling mxirder 
scene, and the grandeur of the Dead March, in which the 
story of Siegfried's life ia retold just as the scenes of hia 
life are said to recur to a drowning man, or as a minister 
eulogizes a fallen hero over the grave by recounting his 
deeds. It was one of those subtle strokes of genius which 
seem as inevitable as laws of nature that this funereal 
conclusion to Siegfried's life should follow immediately 
upon his recital o£ his early life — that glorious narra- 
tive in which we once more hear all the enchanting 
motives of the Siegfried drama. This whole scene is one 
before which even the frivolous box-holders of our mod- 
ern opera-houses are awed, and for which they are willing 
to postpone their supper. I'erhaps I may be permitted 
to quote what I wrote after a performance of the Ootter- 
diimmening at the Metropolitan Opera House in New 
York: — 

" But last evening, when Wagner's elaborate tragedy was given, 
all the boxes remained occupied until aft^r Siegfried's body had 
been carried up tbe bill amid the lowering clouds ; and there wma 


a solemn silence throughout the house as if it had been a real 
funeral of a great general or man of genius. This scene is one 
before which the most inveterate enemy of Wagner and the mott ; 
unmusical mind must bow in awe, and confess that there is nothiiig 
to match it in the whole range of dramatic composition, with or 
without music. It is a scene which has perhaps made more con- 
verts to Wagner than anything else he wrote, and which at the 
twentieth hearing, as at the first, touches the heart as profoundly 
and pathetically as any tragedy in real life in which we are person- 
ally concerned. Go, ye scoffers, hear this drama, and hang your 
heads in shame at the thought that you ever spoke a word in dis- 
paragement of a genius who could create such a sublime scene.** 

In a preceding chapter the question was put. Which is 
the greatest of Wagner's works? and the answer was. 
Either Tristan or Siegfriedj the first named being musi- 
cally the more epoch-making, while Siegfried is the more 
symmetrical and perfect as a work of art. But were L 
asked, Which is the greatest act ever composed by Wag- 
ner? I should answer, The third act of Ootterddmmerung. 
For this act contains not only the wonderful autobio- 
graphic and death-scenes just described, but it has two 
others which have no equal in the whole range of music. 
Even Weber in his Oberon has nothing so enchanting as < 
the trio of the Khine-maidens mingling their sweety 
plaintive, or warning tones with the weird harmonies of 
the orchestra. Wagner, in his later works, seldom writes 
concerted pieces, but when he does, how he distances all 
competitors! And what a mighty ocean of sound the 
final scene is, when Brunnhilde gives majestic utterance 
to her grief, announces the impending conflagration of 
Walhalla, and greets her lover, whom she is about to 
join on the funeral pyre. Here, all the pertinent leading 
motives of the whole Tetralogy are once more recalled and 


combined, with an astounding art of construction at which 
Bach himself would have opened wide his eyes in won- 
der, and with an overwhelming emotional effect at which 
he would have bowed his head in awe and admiration. 
It is an ocean of sound to which each of the dramas con- 
tributes its rivers and rivulets. How exultingly Loge's 
fire-motive seizes upon the burg of the gods t Once more 
Siegfried's motive is heard, but the sounds which have 
presaged the end of the gods smother it. But neither 
Loge nor this gloomy 06tterd&mmerung motive have the 
last word. The new melody, symbolizing the redemption 
through love, rises on the violins, upheld by the harps, 
proclaiming that the curse of Alberich's Eing has been 

Not the least remarkable thing in the Cfdtterddmmerung 
is the delightful freshness and spontaneity of the music. 
It might be stated as a general rule that great composers 
have written their most inspired works in the later years 
of their life. Should any one, however, doubt this, he 
might still find an explanation for the spontaneity of 
this drama in the fact that some of its melodies sprouted 
in Wagner's mind immediately after Lohengrin was com- 
pleted, for it was at that time that the poem of Siegfried^ a 
Tod (the original version of Odtterddmmerung) was writ- 
ten; and it was Wagner's way, as we have seen, to con- 
ceive his principal musical themes at the time when the 
poem was written. Tappert (77) tells us, from Wagner's 
own testimony, that this was true of some of the music 
in this case; and in a letter to Liszt, written in the month 
of the first performance of Lohengnn (August, 1850), 
when he still intended to set the original Siegfried^s Tod 
to music, he exclaimed that the Siegfried (i.e. OdUer- 


ddmmerung) music was already haunting him in all his 
organs (tpukt mir bereita in alien Oliedem),^ 

Regarding the sources of Wagner's Nibelung poems so 
much has been written elsewhere that it suffices here to 
recall the fact that less use was made of the mediaeval 
Ifibdungenlied than of the still older Edda Myths^ which 
Wagner sifted and welded into his Bing.^ 


Some time after the first Nibelung rehearsals Liszt 
wrote to a friend: '' Of the wonderwork. The Nibelung a 
Bingf I have lately heard more than twenty rehearsals 
at Bayreuth. It overtops and commands our whole art- 
epoch as Mont Blanc does our other mountains." A 
similar thought occurred to Saint-Sa^ns, who wrote that 
" from the elevation of the last act of O^tterdfimmerung 
the whole work appears, in its almost supernatural gran- 
deur, like the chain of the Alps seen from the summit of 
Mont Blanc." 

This, however, was but the silly enthusiasm of two 
men of genius. The academic '' experts " knew better. 
Professor Lombroso, in The Man of Oenius, remarks 
that — 

** it is sufficient to be present at any academy, nniyersity, faculty, 
or gathering of men who, without genius, possess at least emdi- 

1 Poor Hanslick, ignorant of theue facts, once more gaTS proof of his 
critical acumen by pointing ont that in the pther Nibelung dramas there 
" coursed a quicker, warmer blood, indicating an earlier origin, whereas 
on the Odtterddmmerung there lies a peculiarly oppressiTe fatigue and 
exhaustion, something like the approaching weariness of old age. Here 
nothing seems to sprout and bloom." 

* For details on this point the reader may profitably oonsnlt the 
works of Tappert and Muncker. Sjrstematic analyses of the Leading 
Motives of the Tetralogy have been supplied by Wolzogen and Kobb^ 


THE yiBBLUNG's myo 

tion, to perceive M once that theii domlaaiit thought Is almyi 
dlsUain and hate of the mim who posBesses, almoat or entirely, the 
quality of genius." 

The "disdain and hate of genius" displayed by the 
critical erudites at Bayreuth were au amazing sight to 
behold. The onslaughts on TVistan and the Meigtersinger 
in previous years seemed mere preliminary skirmishes 
to the cannonade of hostile articles and pamphlets that 
commenced at Bayreuth and continued for years. Many 
chapters might be filled with curiosities of Nibelung criti- 
cism; here there is room for only a few of the most 
amusing specimens. 

Lot us begin with the English Archphilistine, Bennett, 
in whose Letters from Bayreuth we are told among other 
funny things that 

"we have in Bheingold the contlnuoos flow of (ormtess music" 
which " alreams along the mind, so to speak, without passing into 
it," and " offera but little of an intelligible character to lay hold 
of." This music " has no meaning by itself." The dialogues in 
Die Walkareexe "most terribly wearisome and painful sounds, ' 
which excite the mind "to a stale of intense irritation." Never- 
theless, there are things in this music-drama which " approach 
as nearly as possible to that which we commonly know as music," 
Of the music in the G'oUfTdiijnmemng the memory " retains an 
impression deflnite only with regard to features which produced 
weariness." As a music-drama, this work "disappoints, the more 
keenly because of the magnificent opportunities supplied by its 
situations for really sublime musical effect." ' 

Another English expert, Mr. H, H. Statham, wrote, 
in 1876, an article on Wagner for the Edinburgh Re- 

' For a caustic and amusing rejoinder to Mr. Bennett's auKfrestloD of 
hnw mtich better Verdi would have done with this drama, see Hendrr- 
■on'i I'reludts and Sludiei, wbers Sir Arthur Sullivan alto is "sited 
up " M a Wagner ciltie. 

mBtiLUNO cnrtica a^d pttopBtiTa 869 

view, which he reprinted in 1892 in a book entitled 
My Thoughts on Music and Musicians. One of these 
" thoughts " is that 

** of all the doggerel ever written * to be said or song ' on the stage, 
Wagner^s verses appear to be among the worst. Childish jingle and 
alliteration take the place of poetic thought. ... He has certainly 
prostituted the language of Schiller and Goethe. But it would be 
cruel to judge such trash by any known literary standard.'' An- 
other of Mr. Statham's "thoughts'' is that Wagner was ** the most 
remarkable charlatan who has ever appeared in art," the character- 
istics of charlatanism being ** brag and insincerity." Still another 
^* thought " : The music of his operas ** is entirely devoid of con- 
tinuity of musical form." And a few more : The Leading Motives 
have nothing **in common with true melodic invention and expres- 
sion" ; they are ** arbitrary groups of notes destitute of melodic 
expression or coherence." The Gotterd&mmerung leaves a sense 
that ** one ought to be ashamed of being seen listening for hours to 
ugly music accompanying an absurd and puerile stage play." 

Mr. Statham is not only " thoughtful '' ; he also has a 
delicious sense of humor, for he suggests that, on account 
of the presence of the horse Grane, the subtitle of the 
Nihelung's Ring should be " Scenes in the Life of a Cab- 
Horse,^^ Mr. Statham doubtless knew that nothing kills 
so surely as ridicule. 

Turning now to the best-known German critics, we 
find in the pages of Gustav Engel such gems as the 
admission that the song of the Ehine-maidens in Khein- 
gold is '' to a certain degree even melodious " I " Of Sieg- 
fried 2l knowledge of the text and score had led one to 
expect little." He mercifully admits that it is Wagner's 
misfortune more than his fault that he had to resort to 
something more artificial and difficult than the simple 
subject and f onns of Don Juan I 

370 TB£ NiBELuyo-s fcma 

Ludwig Speidel of Vienna found that 

"in the WallcBre the only tragic tliln); naa » tenor witlioat » 
voice." "In Siegfried there are momenta which make « ne&r 
approach to real mualc ; one mar« Htrp, and the art would be 
reached ; Wagner, who never brlnga forth a musical idea from the 
depth of his soul, is an iugeaious imitator ol externa] eretitB ; bis 
music in the foreat-scene is the cteTerest ape of reality." As a 
whole, Siegfried ia a '• puppel-play." Of the Jfibtlung poem la 
general, Speidel saya : " Coosider the bungling atruciure as a whole, 
the vile spirit which pervades it, the we^cness ( Verblatenheit) of 
the choractera, — and asic yourself whether an artificial, htundvr- 
ing work like this can be dignified by the name of 'poem.' " 

It is to the critic of the Neue Freie Presse, however, 
that we must go for the moat sparkling Nibelang epi- 
grams. Here, as always, Dr. Hanalick ia facile princepa. 
He tella ua that the choice of Hayreuth waa a mistake, 
the invisible orchestra an eza^eration. He found the 
Sheingold poem the most "insipid" thing he had ever 
. come across. On reading this poem for the first time 
one becomes " seasick, tossed about between vexation and 
laughter." Of the Tetralogy as a whole he says: — 

" Wagner's latest reform is not an enrichment, a development 
or innovation within music, in the sense in which this can be said 
of the art of Mozart, Beethoven, Weber, Schumann ; it is, on the 
contrary, a perversion and violation of the fundamental laws of 
music, 3. style opposed to the nature of human hearing and senti- 
ment." "The knife haa here been applied not to antiquated forms, 
bnt to the living root of dramatic music." 

"What torture it is to follow this musical goose-march four 
eveninga, he only knows who has experienced it." In the first act 
of the Walkiire the redeeming feature is the love-tune. The second 
act ia "an abysa of ennui," with only one beautiful melody, which 
is stolen from Marachner. Siegfried's forgingsongdoea not amount 
to much. "It sounds more like a funeral dirge than a song of 


joy. NaTve, natural merriment is beyond Wagner's ken.** Sieg- 
fried's Death March is not a product of inspiration, but of ** inge- 
nious reflection." 

Hanslick cordially agrees with Ehlert and Lindau that 
the Bayreuth event had ^' no national -significance " ; and 
with Naumann that it is ridiculous to speak of Wagner 
as a martyr, a man ^'who was misunderstood or mal- 
treated by his contemporaries." Even the scenic won- 
ders and innovations introduced in the Nibelun^B Ring 
are an evil '' which will bring about the ruin of the whole 
genus opera." Thus it goes on merrily, page after pa^e. 

The comedy grows still funnier when we pass on to 
the utterances of Louis Ehlert, whom Hanslick once more 
cites as ^'an eloquent and intelligent champion of Wag- 
ner." We saw in the chapter on Tristan what sort of a 
"champion" Ehlert was; here are a few of his "elo- 
quent " pleadings in behalf of the NvMun^B Ring. He 
accuses Wagner of being guilty of 

** dramatic velleities which we would find unpardonable even in 
Birch-Pfeiffer." Wotan is always ** tiresome," Mime ** repulsive " 
without being at all comic. Indeed, ** Wagner seems to be utterly 
unable to distinguish between the comic and the tiresome." In 
the O^tUrd&mmerung drama **the whole axis is misplaced"; 
Brtinnhilde alone has our sympathy, and ** love is degraded to a 
delirium." Wagnerism will last ** until a spontaneous operatic 
poet will put an end to this protean combination of arts." And 
six years later (1882) Ehlert wrote of the Nibelung dramas that 
*^they have made their journey through the world and have not 
stood the test . . . A pity for all the power which Wagner wasted 
on the greatest of his works, and it is to be sincerely hoped that he 
may never discover how impossible it is for us to still enjoy any- 
thing but fragments of it." 

Extraordinary "championship/' n'e^ oe pasf But 

'" •' "■"6'11'S, and iioveli 
■»«. on hearins so .,,1,1 
•''""S for the a„. Z 
dfrrade lia,eif i„ a, 

^. ^°1""^ ''*•'<" 

J^^i tti. oW„feh ^ 

i^topun,. ret,afto,.,; 

'■"■ Wa. that the case , 

fiSn^' ° the.r „i,iei,„, 

™ teen more that 


RJieingM, but the doubly-long OWerd&mmerung, twice 
in one day; and I know of others who were like me. 
But of course people differ in their powers of mental 
endurance, and it would be cruel to chide the weak- 
minded for what is rather their misfortune than their 
fault. There was a time when a half-hour symphony 
was considered too great a strain on the hearers' minds, 
wherefore vocal solos were interspersed between the 

It is in their rdle of Prophets, however, that the Bay- 
reuth critics cut the funniest capers. Lindan prophe- 
sied that the fate of the Nibelung'a Ring would be this, 
that some day a merry editor would come along and cut 
down the four dramas so unmercifully that only one 
would be left, which would resemble the old-fashioned 
operas as one %gg resembles another. ''The Bayreuth 
undertaking is doomed, " wrote Albert Wolff ; " to-morrow 
this Bayreuth theatre will probably be a circus, or a 
dance-hall, or a national shooting-gallery." Otto Gum- 
precht expressed his belief that the OdUerddmmerung 
was "the only part of the Trilogy which the German 
theatres would desire to acquire." The sceptical Hans- 
lick points out with the emphasis of italics that the 
Bayreuth success proves nothing about the value and 
vitality of the Nihdung^s Ring. 

** For that it is necessary that Bayreuth should now travel to 
Europe after Europe has been at Bayreuth. Once the moontafai 
came to the prophet; now the prophet will leave to go to the 

With the same disbelief in the future of Wagner's 
Bayreuth work and the same amusing pomponsness of 
critical vanity, Ehlert exclaims : — 

374 TBE xissLUNcra ama 

"1b it conceivable that sncb an accumulation o[ means should 
be repeated, or — more improbable atill — even become a yearlj 

Time has made sad havoc with these prophecies. The 
Nibelung's Ring, which the critics declared to be impossi- 
ble oTitaide of Bayreuth, and not likely to be repeated 
even there, has travelled all over Europe, and won tre- 
mendous triumphs even in America. During the first 
fifteen years following the Festival of 1876 the four Ain^ 
dramas were given 358+823+322+314=1817 times in 
German cities, and to-day there is hardly even a second 
or third class city which does not have its annual per- 
formances of the Ring; nor is any one now afraid of it 
on account of its being " interminable — like all rings," 
818 von Miris puts it in the Fliegmde Siattar: — 

" Und dasB man du Feslspid 
An NibeluDgenring nennt, 

Dbs passt ganz vortrefllich, 
Denu a' Ring hat koan Ead." 

And as regards the "mountain going" more than once 
to the prophet — in 1879 Hanslick chuckled gleefully, in 
reviewing the Bayreuth literature, because "the future 
of the Bayreuth Festivals appears very doubtful to oH 
our authorities," "It must be very depressing to the 
Wagnerites," he adds, that "three years have now 
elapsed without a repetition of the Festival having been 
risked." Very depressing indeed; it made Wagner very 
unhappy; and was not that cause for national German 
congratulation? But the world moved. In 1882 came 
the Parsifal Festival at Bayreuth. Other festivals fol- 
lowed in 1883, 1884, 1886, 1888, 1889, 1891, 1892,— 



with ever-increasing succeaa, nntil, in 1891, the seatB for 
all the twenty performances were sold out Bevend weeks 
in adrance, and sums of twenty dollan and more were 
eagerly paid for five-dollar tickets; while the leceipts 
must have been 9150,000. "Very depieasing to the 



Was Wagner satisfied with the general result of the 
first Festival';* Yes and no. "My ideal was not at- 
tained," he said to his frienda in a speech delivered at 
Bajreuth a year after the Festival; yet, as he wrote on 
the margin of a photograph which he gave to one of the 
ptime-moTers of the Festiral : 

" Freund H«ckel 
Eb war doch guti " 

He could bask in the consciousness of having succeeded 
in a mammoth enterprise, the realization of which even so 
dauntless a general as Emperor William had considered 
improbable. He had had his own theatre, all the details 
of which were in accord with his designs, and in which 
his art-ideal was more clearly presented than it could 
have been in any theatre in the world. He had been 
absolute monarch of all he surveyed, with no stubborn 
and ignorant conductor or singers to harass him as in 
Paris when Tannhtiuser was given and elsewhere. The 
singers and players had been of his own choosing, and 
the achievements of Materna, Niemann, VogI, Hill, Siehr, 
Betz, Lehmann, and Schlosser had been among the most 
memorable in the history of dramatic song. On the 


other hand, we who have since heard Alvary or Yc^l know 
how far from an ideal vocalist and hero the Bayrenth 
Siegfried was ; and the scenic arrangements, thanks to the 
insufficiency of funds, were not perfect in all details. 
Wagner affected to despise the press, bat he was sensi- 
tive to criticism, and the shameful abuse of his great 
work in the leading organs of public opinion must have 
cost him many a moment of anguish and indignation, 
and deepened his pessimism. 

But the chief ground for disappointment was the 
financial result of the Festival — a large deficit^ for 
which, as Heckel truly remarks, the press was primarily 
responsible, since it had for years done everything in its 
power to prevent the Germans from participating in the 
Festival, by decrying it in advance as a fraud and a 
humbug. The amount of this deficit was about $37,500, 
and Wagner now had leisure to reflect on the &u^ that, 
as he had realized a few months before the Festival, it 
was a reckless deed to proceed with it when of the 1300 
subscription tickets needed to cover all expenses, less 
than one-half had been taken. A few weeks after the 
Festival he made a trip to Italy, to recover from the 
exhaustion brought on him by months of incessant work 
and worry. For the first time he extended his journey 
as far south as Rome and Naples. But even here the 
burden of that deficit weighed on his mind. In Novem- 
ber he sent a circular to the patrons of the Festival, ask- 
ing for assistance. He supposed that these patrons had 
made his cause their own and would look upon them- 
selves as guarantors. But he found that there had been 
'4n reality no patrons at all, but only spectators on vexy 
expensive seats/' A wealthy aristocrat in Silesia proved 


an exception, and "Herr Pliiddemann's aunt in Koblenz 
Bent twenty five dollars"; thus the burden of the deficit 
rested on Wagner's own head. He had compoBed and 
brought before hia contemporaries an immortal work of 
art; now he was called upon to pay for it too, after 
having been scolded by the preaa for not having thanked 
these contemporaries for going to hear it. 

Various plana for covering the deficit, and promoting 
the Bayreuth cause, came under his consideration on his 
return to Bayreuth ia December. He offered the Bay- 
reuth Theatre to the Munich authorities as a jStaie or 
branch of their opera-house, which offer was refused. 
He applied once more to Parliament. Inasmuch as the 
government paid large sums every year to conservatories 
which did nothing for national art, why should not a 
real dramatic school like the Bayreuth Theatre receive 
support? The sum of 825,000 a year would be sufficient. 
But the government officials had no ears for such a 
scheme: "an influential member of Parliament assured 
me that neither he nor any of hia colleagues had the 
remotest conception of what I wanted " (referring to a 
project for a dramatic high school, to which I shall 
return presently). 


In the meantime, he had been obliged to borrow $8000, 
at five per cent interest, in order to cover the most urgent 
part of the deficit. A project to give a series of concerts 
in London, originated by Wilhelmj, did not at first 
appeal to him. He had already commenced the Parsifal 
poem, and was anxious to save his energies for that; he 
had, moreover, always disliked having anything to do 


with concert productions of selections from his stage 
works. But necessity once more persuaded him to vio- 
late his convictions. The London offer was accepted. 
Several of the Bayreuth singers, including Matema, Hill, 
Sehlosser, Unger, Grtin, were engaged, and a series of 
six Wagner concerts announced at the Albert Hall for 
the fortnight from May 7 to 19, 1877. There was an 
orchestra of 170, and the first half of each programme 
was conducted by Wagner, the second by Hans Bichter. 

** Wagner conducted part of the performances on each occasion, 
and daring the rest of the concert sat in the front row of the or- 
chestra, following the music with obvioos interestp and himself the 
observed of all observers. As a conductor he scarcely did himself 
justice on this occasion." 

There had been no time to establish a perfect sym- 
pathy between the leader and the men, and 

** Wagner in consequence ibade the orchestra nervous, and the 
musicians greatly preferred Hans Richter to him, showing that 
preference with a demonstrativeness which was probably not very 
agreeable to the most modest of men and greatest of conductors.'* ^ 

The hopes that these concerts would wipe out the 
Bayreuth deficit were doomed to failure. Although the 
audiences were large, the expenses were so enormous that 
the receipts were swamped. There were as many as 
nineteen rehearsals; for Wagner, as usual, made the 
artistic success of the undertaking the prime considera- 
tion; and nineteen rehearsals of an orchestra of 170 
amount to a formidable figure. Mr. Dannreuther, at 
whose house Wagner resided, states that " the attendance, 
though always large, was nothing like what had been 

^ Huefler, Haff a Ceniury of Music in England, p. T3 nq. 


anticipated; the restilt of the six concerts, a difficulty 
in making both ends meet." Matters were somewhat 
amended by two supplementary concerts given on May 
28, 29, at reduced prices, and with programmes contain- 
ing only the most popular pieces. Hueffer relates that 

'■A very large sam had been promised to Witgner for his per- 
Bonftl services in the matter, but when he heard that things were 
not going well, lie declared himself willing to forego all remnneiA- 
tion, with that generoHity which, if on oocaaion he expected from 
his friends, he was not lotb to exercise himself. Tbis Mesan. 
Hodge 1 Essex, who behaved throughout in a str^htlorward and 
admirable manner, refused to accept., and a sum of £700 wa« even- 
tually remitted to Bayreuth. But this Wagner did not expect Then 
he left London^ and the last words he uttered standing at the car- 
riage window im liie train slfamod trtit of Victoria Station were: 
■ All is lost except honor.' " 

When the disastrous result of the Albert Hall Festival 
became known, Hueffer continues, — 

" a number of men determined to wipe off the stain on the English 
artistic character, and a subscription was opened, without Wag- 
ner's knowledge, and soon reached the sum of £561, which was 
duly Bent to Waguer. But once again he gave an instance of that 
contempt for money which be invariably showed when be had any 
money to contemn. He had made arrangements that the royalties 
to come from the peiformances of The Ring at Munich should be 
set aside to cover the debt of the Bayreuth Theatre, and the sum 
collected in England was accordingly returned to the sutiscribetB, 
one of whom wrote in his surprise , ' Strange things happen in the 
realm of music.'" 

This third and last visit to London lasted from April 
30 to June 4. During this time he was much lionized 
and dined, especially by the various German clubs. 
He also went to Windsor, by special invitation of the 


Queen^ with whom he had a long audience. The Queen 
had been prevented from attending the concerts, but the 
Prince of Wales, the Duke of Edinburgh, and other mem- 
bers of the royal family had been present. The composer 
also liked to mix in the society of English people, and 
Hueffer tells of an interesting evening at Mr. Dann- 
reuther'S; when he was the life and soul of a distin- 
guished gathering, including 6. H. Lewes and his wife, 
George Eliot, who on this occasion remarked to Madame 
Wagner, with her usual straightforwardness: '^Your 
husband does not like Jews; my husband is a Jew.'^ 

One more interesting incident of this London episode 
must be referred to here, as it throws a bright light on 
Wagner's personality. It is the amusing account given 
by Mr. Hubert Herkomer {Portfolio 1880) of how he 
painted his famous portrait for the German Athenseum 
Club: — 

^* The whole business of the portrait was disagreeable to him, 
but I was at least allowed free admission to his abode [12 Orme 
Square] f so this * seeing,^ instead of * sittings^ went on for nearly 
a month ; my patience was tried sorely and my independence got 
chafed. But I was wrought up to a curious pitch of excitement 
during this training, for I was affected by the personal power of 
the man over those around him, by the magic of his music, and by 
the face of this poet-musician, which, when stirred by emotion, 
was a grand reflection of his work. 

^* Now I doubt whether any man, since Napoleon I., has been 
known to exercise such powers of fascination over his admirers as 
Richard Wagner does daily, and will do to the termination of his 
physical life. You lose your identity when in his presence ; you 
are sadly inclined to forget that there is something else in the world 
besides Wagner and his music. You are under an influence that sets 
every nerve at its highest key. He has been able to make people 
frantic with enthusiasm. . . . 


" Wagner was la m; mind day anil night, — a conslant vision 
Ibat barred out ever; otber tbouglit, willing or unwilling, — and It 
was in a moment of anger arising from this constant putting off of 
tbe sittingB, that I determined to tr; wliat my uieniorf could (Ur- 
□ish, and, with bia face only inwardly vteibie to me, 1 set to work. 
I worlied all day, and it grew, 1 know not iiow. The neit day I 
worked still harder and more excitedly, and Sniahed the portrait. 
On the third day I tODk it to W^ner. 

" rp to that time he hail but siiflcred me to be near him, paying 
lillle more attention to me than W an animal, but from the moment 
tliat he saw hia portr^t his demeanor changed, and never did a 
man show admiration more tniiy and heartily than did Richard 
Wagner on this occasion, and ever since, to me. How I had done 
it puzzled him. ' You use witchcraft,' be said to me. So Uien be 
wiw ready to sit lo me, and 1 was inl^'nsely eager, not to aay nervoua, 
to compare my iinpressional portrait wiUi the original subject." 

Leaving London on June 4, Wagner visited Ems, 

Heidelberg, Triebschen, and other places, before re- 
turning to Bayreuth, about the end of July. The Heidel- 
berg visit is memorable because here, for the first time 
in Germany (on July 8), he read his Parsifal poem to a 
circle of friends in the picturesquely situated Schloss 
hotel of which Mark Twain has told Americana so much. 
The $3500 which the London Festival had netted him did 
little to diminish the deficit of $37,500. ^Vhile that 
remained, it was useless to think of repeating the Festi- 
val. Practical friends were indeed of opinion that a 
second Festival would be profitable; for the theatre waa 
now built and the scenery on hand, ao that the expenses 
would be greatly reduced, while tickets could be sold at 
a much lower rate than tbe $75 asked for a cycle of 
four evenings in 1876. But apart from tbe fact that 


this possible financial success of a second Festival was 
a mere gaess, there were other serious impediments. 
It would have been difficult once more to obtain from 
unwilling Intendants permission for their singers and 
players to spend a whole summer at Bayreuth; and the 
Meister, besides, had had, as he says, '^personal expe- 
riences " which made him undesirous to play the rdle of 
impresario again. So the plan of repeating the Ring at 
once was abandoned in favor of a bigger scheme, which 
seemed of such importance to its author that he invited 
representatives of the Wagner Societies to meet him at 
Bayreuth on September 15. Many came, and the meet- 
ing was held on the stage of the Festival Theatre. Before 
communicating his plans for the future, the Meister 
spoke for half an hour on the financial and other aspects 
of the Festival, giving many valuable bits of information 
which have been utilized in the preceding pages of this 

The plan itself was to make the Bayreuth Theatre a 
Dramatic High School where singers, players, and con- 
ductors could learn to interpret not only the works of 
Wagner, but of the classical masters in a more correct 

1 Of thif yalnable speech there exists, fortimstely, a stenographio 
report. Wagner had expressly desired that a stenographer should be 
employed, but as it seemed desirable to exclude non-members, Burgo- 
master Franz Muncker himself undertook the task. It was not an easy 
one ; for, as he explains in his introductory remarks (Kiirschner's Way^ 
ner Jahrhuch, 1886, 197-8), the speaker not ^y continued half an hour 
without interruption, but he spoke, as usual, very rapidly, in a chatty, 
conyersational manner, and his thoughts were constantly running away 
with his words; so that sentences were abbreriated, parts of tliam 
" swallowed," and connecting links omitted, or crowded aside by a imw 
thought that suddenly presented itself. While this gave the speedi a 
fragmentary character, it made it all the more yiyid and forceful, for 
it seemed like a direct communication of thoughts too eager and impa- 
tient to clothe tbemaelvea in orderly arrays of academic word^. 


style than prevailed "at the German opera-houses. Wag- 
ner declared himself willing to attend the exercises at 
leaat three times a week. All instruction would be 
gratis, hut no pupils, of course, would be accepted except 
such as had already acquired technical proficiency, so 
that all the lessona could be devoted to the art of inter- 
pretation. The first year, 1878, was to be given up to 
classical chamber music, symphonies, and vocal art; in 
1879 there would be preliminary rehearsals of the Flying 
Dutchman, Tannhauwr, and Lohengrin, which operas 
would be performed in 1880, to be followed in 1881, by 
Tristan and Mettterginger, and in 1882, b^ a repetition of 
the Nibelung's Ring; while 1883 was to see the first per- 
formance of Par*t/al.' For the porpoee of carrying oat 
this six years' Festival plan a central Bayrenth Society 
cf Patrons was formed, of which the former independent 
Wagner Societies became branches, and each member 
pledged himself to pay fifteen marks a year to cover 
expenses and secure funds in advance, 

What was the result of all these efforts? The Dra- 
matic High School was to be opened on Jan. 1, 1878, 
hut, according to Hans von Wolzogen, the number of 
candidates who sent in their names "could be counted 
on the fingers of one hand," so that Wagner was com- 
pelled to [Kistpone his plan to "more favorable times." 
And why should young German singers, players, and 
conductors have come to learn of a man whom the lead- 
ing newspapers continued to denounce as a humbug and 
an enemy of all good music? Why should the Germans, 
as a nation, have given him a chance to sliow, before he 
died, how his operas should be inter])reted? Preposter- 
1 Fo( details, bm Vol. X. pp. 17-26. 


ous idea! Did Beethoven, Mozart^ ht Weber hare soeh 
a chance? No; why, then, should he hare it, the pre- 
sumptuous old charlatan? 


All his life Wagner had longed to show by practical 
example how his operas should be interpreted. Three 
times only had he been able to do so^ — at Dresden, at 
Munich, and at Bayreuth. In the first-named cities his 
activity was temporary; in Bayreuth he had hoped to 
make it permanent, but his hopes were dashed against 
the walls of national indifference. Nothing was left 
but to resort once more to the critical pen, much as be 
would have preferred to devote all his time to composi- 
tion and performance. As a sort of a substitute for the 
impossible High School, a periodical was founded, with 
the name of Bayreuther EldUery which became the organ 
of commimication to the Wagner Societies. This publi- 
cation has survived its founder. In its volumes one 
may find a great deal of verbose twaddle, a great many 
essays as soporific as opium, written by well-mean- 
ing but witless enthusiasts and would-be philosophers. 
There are also not a few articles and doeoments of 
permanent aesthetic and historic interest. But what 
gives the Bayreulher BUUter historic significance is the 
fact that in its pages first appeared almost all the 
essays which Wagner wrote in the last six years of his 
life, and which now make up the greater part of Volume 
X. of his Collected Works. Among these are some of 
his very best papers in point of style as of thought. 
The least valuable of them are those which deal with 
political, social, and philosophical topics, entitled Wkax 


ia Oermanf and Betigion and Arl. More readable ate 
Modem, Public and Popularity, The Public in Tinie and 
Space. In these, as in the two first named, he makes 
out a thoroughly bad case for the world we live in, 
especially for Germany, where everything is going to the 
dogs, thanks largely to Semitic aggressions. Much in 
these papers is simply an echo of Schopenhauer's pessi- 
mism, intensified by the writer's personal disappoint- 
ments in his Bayreuth Festival schemes, 

A foretaste of what the four-volume autobiography 
will be, ia given by three important suggestive essays, — 
A Retronpecl ontlie Stage-Hay-FestivtU of 1S7G, The Stage- 
Consecration- May in Bayreuth 1882, and AccoutU of the 
Performance of a Youthful Work (the first symphony). 
Hardly li^ss valuable are three other essays — On com- 
posing Poetry and Music, On the Composing of Operatic 
Poetry and Music in Particular, and On the Applioation of 
Music to the Drama. These papers no admirer of their 
author should fail to read. They contain some of the 
most incisive criticisms on his own and otiier mnsio, 
written in a more concrete and lucid style than his earlier 
theoretical works. Considerations of space permit me 
to refer to three suggestive points only : the remarks on 
poetic and melodic accents (203-;iI7) with some exquisite on "melody"; the extremely suggestive pages 
(242-250) in which he explains why a dramatist may 
and should modulate more freely than a symphonist 
(instructive illustrations are added); and the timely 
warning to ambitious and reckless young composers con- 
tained in this passage : — 

"It seemH that already a very large proportion of the public 
finds many ihinga, yes, almost everything, ia my dramatic mnaic 


thoroughly natural, and accordingly pleasing, while the * professors ' 
are still crying murder over it. If these gentlemen were to assign 
to me one of their holy chairs, they would perhaps be stUl more 
astounded on seeing what caution and moderation, especially In 
harmonic eftects, I would counsel their pupils, to whom I would 
submit as first rule that they should never leave a key as long as 
what they have to say can be said in it.'* 

Eeference may as well be made here to an additional 
volume which appeared two years after Wagner's death. 
It is entitled Entwilrfe^ Gfedanketiy Fragmente (Concepts, 
Though ts, and Fragments), and contains the chips from 
his workshop — aphorisms on the various subjects that 
interested him: on art, religion, philosophy; on style, 
modulation, composers, and poets, critics, genius; pro- 
grammes to Tristauy Meistersinger, and Parsifai preludes, 


In August, 1879, the Society for the Prevention of 
Cruelty to Animals in Dresden received a note from 
Eichard Wagner, who expressed his desire to assist it to 
the utmost extent of his powers. This led to a corre- 
spondence with Ernst von Weber, whose illustrated 
pamphlet, The Torture-Chambers of Science^ had, io 
1878, started the agitation against cruel physiological 
experiments on living animals. In his second letter 
Wagner forwarded one hundred marks, with the promise 
of a like sum every three months for the funds. 

'' My son/* he says in this letter, ** may learn and become what- 
ever he pleases ; one thing only I shall urge him to do ; namely, to 
learn enough of surgery to be able to render first avlstjuice to men 
or animals, and also, to steel himself — somewhat more than his 
father — against the sight of physical suffering.^ 


1 led Weber to ask 1 

oH-jjf fin VJvia»*^fi«n 


Further remarks followed, which I 
him to expand them into a public letter on Vivisection, 
in the hope of interesting hia numerous admirers in 
the movement. The request was followed. The Public 
Letter appeared, first as a supplement to the Bayreuther 
Blatter, then as a pamphlet of which several thousand 
copies were printed, some for gratuitous distribution, 
others for sale for the benefit of the Society ; the expenses 
of printing being borne by the writer himself. In this 
essay, aa usual, Wagner is nothing if not radical. He 
denies that experiments in vivisection lead to any other 
result than the gratification of the "vanity and stupid 
curiosity " of scientific virtuosi ; yet the vlUitJi of these 
tortures is always — and this is what particularly angers 
him — put forward aa a sufficient escuse for the cruelties 
inf icted in the name of science. Now, he has such a 
high opinion of the unselfishness of animals that he 
believes that whereas man uses his reason chiefly to be 
" more animal than any animal" (as Mephistopheles puts 
it), an animal "would willingly allow itself to be tor- 
tured for its master if it could be made clear to its intel- 
lect that the weal of its human friend was involved," 
But this gives us no right to torture them for our selfish 
purposes. On the contrary, if our civilization were not 
such a wretched farce, religion and the state would recog- 
nize and assert the legal right of animals to the benefits of 
the fundamental law of morality, which is compassion, or 
sympathy with the sufferings of other beings. But no 
one thinks of this; if it can be proved that it is vief%d to 
%a to torture animals, the law protects the tormentors.' 

> The Pn1)Uc Letter which develops these ideas ia rapriDted la Vol. X. 
HlB twelve private lettera to Ernst von Weber on tbls topic hkva 
appeared In n special brochure (DreadsD, 1SS3). 


Logically considered, such love of animals must lead 
to vegetarianism, and Wagner did not shrink from his 
conclusion in theory, at any rate. In his essay on ReHg- 
ion and Art (X. 311) he shows a disposition to trace the 
" degeneration " of the human race to its having fallen 
from grace by eating flesh, and makes the amusing sug- 
gestion that if in a northern climate a meat-diet be 
considered necessary, there are parts of the globe — 
South America and South Africa — large enough to sus- 
tain the world's flesh-eating population on a vegetarian 
basis! Some of the foolish Wagnerites, who took every 
utterance of the Meister as gospel law, started a vege- 
tarian club at Bayreuth, but it is not known whether 
their Prophet partook of their insipid messes; certainly 
he was not a vegetarian at home. 


Ever since the first performance of Rienzi in Dresden 
it had become more and more a custom of musical pil- 
grims to go to one city or another to hear special repre- 
sentations of Wagner's operas, and this custom had 
reached its extraordinary climax at Bayreuth. A few 
years after that Festival the process was reversed ; Bay- 
reuth travelled through Europe; and this is the way it 
came about. According to the original plans and hopes, 
the Nibelung^s Ring was to be reserved during its author's 
lifetime for Bayreuth exclusively. But with that f 37, 500 
deficit, and a possibility of increasing it, a repetition of 
the Festival was out of the question. The efforts to 
cover the deficit by appealing to the patrons, and by 
means of concerts in London, had failed. In this emer- 
gency. King Ludwig once more came to the rescue and 


diminished "the burdens which would otherwise have 
crushed me" (X. 147), The composer's great indebted- 
ness to the King is brought out in these words from that 
memorable Bayreuth speech of Sept. 15, 1877: — 

■' His Majesty the King of B&varia, in fact, already poae«Me8 
the right of producing the \ibrtttng'g Ring, and it was eimply tm 
act of gecerouH coQcession on his fart tlial I was permitted to pro- 
duce It Unit here in Bayreuth. But now he will be entitled to his 

The reference here is to the compact made between the 
composer and the King that in return for an annual pen- 
sion the Ring should be completed and placed at the 
King's disposal; and surely the Ringvas royal payment 
for that royal pension. But the King not only gave 
Bayreuth precedence; he also advanced S-WiOOO towards 
the purchase of the scenic outfit for the Festival. Thig 
sum was not a present, however, but by contract with 
the secretary of the royal treasury the scenery thus pro- 
vided belonged to the King, after it had done service in 
Bayreuth, Now came the question of the deficit. King 
Ludwig would have doubtless generously permitted his 
friend to retain exclusive control of the fling' for some 
years; but the Intendant of the Munich Opera saw in 
the deficit a way of securing possession of Siegfried and 
Ootterdiimmerung. The other two parts of the Tetralogy 
had already been given there; and the production of the 
whole work during the tourist months would no doubt 
prove very profitable. Hence the Intendant offered to 
cover the deficit in return for permission to produce the 
whole Ring — an offer which he could make cheerfully, 
since the sum forwarded to Bayreuth would be saved on 
the ready-made scenery forwarded to him from Bayreuth. 


So every one was benefited, except that the composer had 
to give up his pet scheme, the Bayreuth monopoly of the 

Thus Munich secured the right to the Sing, which was 
first heard there as a complete Tetralogy in Kovember, 
1878. Vienna and Leipzig also received permission to 
produce the whole Tetralogy on the express stipulation 
that they should lend their artists for future Festivals at 
Bayreuth. Further concessions Wt^er did not intend 
to make, for if the Biitg were given in too many cities 
the remote Bayreuth would be apt to be neglected by pil- 
grims, and the High School plan frustrated. When he 
found, however, that within four years after the Festival, 
only liOO of his forty million countrymen cared enough 
for his ideal of producing correct performances during 
his lifetime of all his works, to contribute eleven dollars 
towards that end, he concluded he might as well let the 
theatres have the Ring without further delay. The first 
cities to follow Munich (with the complete Ring) were 
Leipzig (1879), Vienna (1879), and Hamburg (1880). > 
Other cities followed rapidly, but in almost all cases 
Wagner was vexed by the absurd partiality shown by the 
managers for the WaHcUre. I have already commented on 
the ridiculous predilection of the Germans for the Wai- 
kiire, which is certainly inferior to Storied and OHUer- 
ddmmening, both musically and dramatically. From 
Jan. 1, 1876, to Oct. 31, 1891, there were given in Ger- 
many the following number of performances : Rheingold, 
368; WaikUre, 823; Siegfried, 322; OdUerdtimmervng, 314. 
These figures will make future generations smile; but 
what annoyed W^!:ner chiefly was not this silly prefer- 
> Wairfr JtAr^veh, 18BS, p. 8H. Olawnspp, U. EOS. 


ence for the Walkiire, but the fact that, with very few 
exceptions, the managers insisted on mutilatiog the 
scheme of the Tetralogy by beginning with the WaikSre 
instead of with Rkeingold. To one of these exceptions, 
Director von Loen of Weimar, he wrote on Oct. 22, 
1877; — 

"Tbat'B wbat I call devolion I To risk It with RheingoU! 
What more can I aay Ihan ' Good Luck I ' . . . 1 am glad tliU you 
do not, like &lt the other maQagero. aak for the WalkSre only i tc 
these I refuse all. But he who is willing to begin with Bheingold 
is bold and gets — the whole." 

The best of these early productions of the Bing were 

those at Leipzig, at least as far as the ensemble and gen- 
eral spirit were concerned; for here Wagner's young 
favorite, the magnetic Anton Seidl, presided over the 
performances, and the manager was the enterprising 
Angelo Neumann who, two years later, conceived the 
audacious plan of travelling about Eurojte with a special 
Nibelung company. Wagner's consent was given, the 
performing right in various cities secured from the pub- 
lisher, Schott (who had paid $10,000 for the scores) ; and 
on Sept. 1, 1881, the first of these representations was 
given at Breslau. The company consisted of eleven 
members, with Anton Seidl as conductor, and Hedwig 
Eeicher-Kindermann, Marianne Brandt, Augnste Kraus 
(now Mrs. Seidl), Katharina Klafsky, Anton Schott, 
Julius Liban, and Georg Unger among the singers. 
Complete performances of the Ring (with the necessary 
cuts, sanctioned by Wagner) were given in Breslau, 
Konigsberg, Danzig, Hanover, Bremen, Barmen, Berlin, 
Amsterdam, Brussels, Aachen, Diisseldorf, Karlsruhe, 
Darmstadt, Strassburg, and Stuttgart, where the hun- 


dredth performance was witnessed on April 4, 1883. 
In the meantime^ fifty-two Wagner concerts had also 
been given. 

The success of the undertaking was so great that Herr 
Neumann decided to go to Italy, contrary to Wagner's 
strongly expressed desire that this should not be done. 
But as the composer had died (on Feb. 13), there was no 
longer any obstacle, and two months after his death a 
row of Nibelung gondolas was seen moving down the 
Grand Canal in Venice, one of them being guarded by 
the Dragon, Fafner. In Venice, where Wagner had died, 
and where he had enjoyed great personal popularity, the 
success of the Ring was assured. On April 19 there was 
a memorial performance in honor of its composer, in 
front of the Palazzo Vendramin, in which he had died. 
Mr. Seidl's orchestra played the Marcia Eeale, the Tann- 
hduaer overture, and Siegfried's Death March to an 
audience which filled over four hundred gondolas. In 
Bologna, too, the Ring was received with enthusiasm — 
even Rheingoldy which elsewhere gave less pleasure than 
the other dramas. The song of the Ehine-maidens had 
to be sung twice, and — what is a great deal more 
remarkable, and justifies the title of 'Hhe Italian Bay- 
reuth" for Bologna — Mime's very Wagnerian passage, 
beginning "Sorglose Schmiede," had to be repeated by 
Lieban three times! The Eomans, on the other hand, 
showed little sympathy for the new art; the audiences 
were large, but cold. At Milan only a concert could be 
given on account of difficulties with the Italian proprie- 
tors of the scores. Leaving Italy by way of Trieste, the 
company gave a cycle, there, and another at Buda-Pesth, 
whereupon the members disbanded, having given 133 


Nibelung performances, and fifty-eight W^[ner concerts 
between the dates of Sept. 1, 1882, and June 5, 1883.' 

The only regrettable result of this Nibelung tour waa 
that Fran Reicher-Kindermann, whom some judges con- 
sidered an even greater Brfinnhilde than Matema, died 
at Trieste. She ought not to have gone to Italy with 
Neumann; she had been severely ill, and yet persisted 
in singing in spite of fainting spells and partial loss of 
voice. Jealousy of another singer aggravated her mal- 
ady; at Trieste, in a fit of rage, she accompanied her 
friends to a tavern, after singing in Gotterddmmerung; 
to sulxlue her fever she drank glass after glass of ice- 
cold beer. At two o'clock she waa seized with chills 
and had to be taken to the hotel. A few days later she 
was dead, She had been engaged to be a member of the 
Boyal Opera at Berlin; and when Intendant HcUsen 
heard of her death, he wrote to her father : " Alas, I knew 
beforehand what would happen in the poor state of her 
health, and I told her when she bid me good-bye: 'If 
you continue to participate in this swindle, you will not 
endure it, and your appearance in Berlin is more than 
doubtful.' . . . Now German art is the poorer by a 
great talent, and to what end f " 


In order not to interrupt the narrative of the Nibeltmg 

conquest of Europe, I have somewhat anticipated events, 

and must now return to an important and scandalous 

occurrence in 1881 — the first performance of the Nibe- 

1 1 owe moRt of the above details about the Nibelung travelB to two 
Interesting pamphleU b; Inspector J, JuhasE. Dtr Ring det yibtlungtn 
OJarDUltadt, 1883) and Dot Wagner Theater in Ilalitn (BarUu, 1884). 


lung'a Bing in Berlin. That it was an important event is 
a matter of coone; whj it was scandalous remains to be 
explained. Any unsophisticated person would naturally 
suppose that the Berlin Intendant must have been one 
of the veiy fizst to secure the right of performing the 
Tetralogy. Had uot Wagner, ever since 1875, been the 
most popular of all opera-composers in Berlin? • Was 
it not incumbent on the Berlin Intendant — if only for 
business reasons — to produce a work of which all Eu- 
rope was talkii^, and about which a small library had 
already been written? 

Foolish expectations t Hiilsen wanted the WdUciin, 
and only the WaJkiire; the other dramas, he believed, 
would not pay the expense of mountii^. This Botho 
von Hiilsen, the reader will remember, was the same 
man who bad kept Tannh&taer in quarantine for ten 
years (and until forty other theatres had given it) ; the 
same man who waited nine years before he could make 
up his mind that Lohengrin was worth producing. These 
operas were now approaching their two hundredth per- 
formance (the three hundredth of both came in 1892). 
Did this make any impression on Hdlsen? Any man of 
common sense, after such an experience, would have had 
a little less confidence in himself, and a little more in 
Wagner's genius. Unluckily, Hfilsen was one of those 
members of the " aristocracy " who, as Wagner remarked 
in one of his letters, were appointed Intendants of Oer- 

1 It Is tnterastliiK to tnoe the growtli of Wapterlsm In Berlin, In ([dte 
of HtilMD'B heiolo elToitB to down It. In 18S9-eD Wagnei hsd ml; 9 
BTBQlngB u mgminit Aaber, 32 ; Hoiart. 19 ; Meyerbeer, IT ; Weber, 13 ; 
sad Doniiettl, a Id 1861-3 Spootlnl lemda; the ye&r tolloirinK Wagnei 
has only 1 1 In ISTO Meyerbeer goes sliead, and in 1876 Wagner wlna ; 
in 1RT6-T he bad ST avenluga, and this preponderance had grown In 1890-1 
to 90, or abont five UmM aa many as any other compowr. 


man royal theatres, not because of their knowledge, but 
because of their ignorance of art. He bad been brought 
up as a soldier, and he was interested in amateur the- 
atricals, which latter cireumBtance induced King Frederic 
William IV. one day to offer him, to his great surprise, 
the post of Intendant of the royal theatres. He assumed 
his duties in 1851, and for thirty-four ye^rs mismanaged 
the Eoyal Opera in Berlin; indeed, after 1867, he also 
had under his control the opera-houses of Hanover, 
Gassel, and Wiesbaden. 

In 1860 Wagner wrote to Liszt that a complete revo- 
lution in Berlin operatic affairs would be needed before 
he could have any hopes for himself. This revolution, 
alas, did not come till three years after his death (Hillsen 
died in 18Sfi). After the Bayreuth Festival, Hiilseo, 
as I have just stated, wanted the Walkilre; but he could 
not get it except on condition of producing the whole 
Tetralogy. At last, after waiting four years, Hiilsen 
showed a willingness to accede to this condition. But 
Wagner, with his customary detestable " stubbornness " 
and " arrogance, " insisted that the Nibelung'a Ring should 
be performed correctly in Berlin. In view of the fact* 
that in no other German cities such slovenly and incor- 
rect performances of his operas were given as in Berlin, 
he insisted that he should have something to say about 
the choice of singers, and tliat Anton Seidl should con- 
duct. Hiilsen objected to these conditions, aa well aa 
to the proviso that the four dramas should be given in 
proper order; and so the matter was dropped. 

In this emergency another manager appeared on the 
scene — Angelo Neumann. This enterprising impre- 
sario, after giving several successful series of the Ring 


in Leipzig, concluded to take his company to Berlin. At 
first he offered to give his performances at the Boyal 
Opera House; but trouble again arose in regard to con- 
ductor and singers; some of the singers at the Boyal 
Opera contended, and with justice, that if the Ring were 
given at their theatre, they who had helped to interpret 
it at Bayreuth, should help in Berlin too. Emperor 
William had given Hfilsen authority to do whatever he 
pleased in the matter, and HOlsen accordingly pleased to 
drop it. He tried to put the responsibility on the singers, 
but it is unnecessary to point out that the blame for the 
disgraceful fact that the Berliners did not hear the first 
performance of the greatest work of the greatest German 
dramatic composer at the Boyal Opera, which receives 
a subvention of f 150,000 a year for the furtherance of 
national art interests, rests entirely on Botho von Hfll- 
sen, whose duty it was to throw open the doors to Wag- 
ner and his work on any conditions whatever.* 

The consequence of Hiilsen's extraordinary conduct 
was that the Nxbelung^s Ring had to be given in the sub- 

1 After these reyelations the reader wiU not wonder at the aboye- 
cited reference of Hiileen's to the Wagner ** swindle " to which Fran 
Reicher-Kindermann sacrifice^ her life, with the spiteful addition, " and 
to what end ?** It is significant that Fran yon Hnlsen, in the biography 
of her husband, has only one brief reference to Wagner. It was a t<^ic 
which, for her husband's credit, she did weU to ignore. We know from 
the correspondence with Liszt that Wagner wrote Htilsen not a few long 
and imploring letters. Were these letters presenred ? and if so, why 
did not H^^ne yon Hiilsen print them? One ought not to langfa at an 
obituary notice, but I am sure many Germans must haye langhed at the 
statement in the Leipzig SigruUe (No. 60, 1886) that " in Hfilsen wero 
combined, in a rare degree, all faculties needed for the difflcnlt and 
responsible position of a royal Intendant *' ; when the fact was noto- 
rious throughout Germany that during Hfilsen's regime, in qrfte of 
some good singers and a first-lass orchestra, the Berlin Opera gaye 
performances far inferior to those to be heard in any German dty of 
the first or second rank. 


urban Victoria Tlieatre, ill-Baited for such a purpose. 
But with Anton Seidl as conductor, and Matema, Vogl, 
Keicher-Kindermaun, and Schelper among the singera, 
succeaa was assured. Four times the Bing was repeated. 
Wagner himself attended on several evenings, and waa 
made the subject of a great ovation.' In the following 
year the company returned, and gave Nibelung perform- 
ances for several months. 


It is a curious fact that, with the exception of TWston, 
all of "Wagner's dramatic poema were conceived hefore 
he had ended his thirty-fifth year. The Meiiterainger 
plot was fully sketched even before Lohengrin, while the 
germs of the whole Nibelung Tetralogy are contained in 
Siegfried's Death, which waa written soon after Lohen- 
grin. The origin of Parsifal, too, can he traced to this 
period, for it is obvious that not a few things in the 
projected and sketched (1848) but alKuidoned drama Jesus 
of Nazareth {which was referred to in an earlier chapter) 
were transferred to his last work. Frau Wille relates 
in her Rundschau reminiscences that she waa displeased 
when Wagner one day represented to his friends, with 
his vivid enthusiasm, how the "Prophet of Nazareth," 
loved by the sinful Magdalena with earthly love, might 
be made into a stage-picture of touching beauty: "I 

' Tbere is one more extraordlDaiy tact In regard to NeumaoD's Nlbe- 
luDK travels that must be mentioned here. When Nenmimii took his 
company from Florence to Rome, the government charged blm only 
one-quarler the regular railway rales (S400) ; whereas the Pnissiui 
officials charged him SIOOO (or the short trip from Breslau to Konlg*- 
berg, relUBlng to give the dlscoont luually alloved lo tbeaUickl oom- 


looked at him in astonishment, and left the room. . • • 
In the last gift of his genius, in Parsifal, the knightly 
priest, and in Kundry redeemed from the influence of 
evil powers, we find again what he had in his mind as 
early as the year 1852";^ that is, five years after the 
completion of Lohengrin^ and thirty years before the 
actual completion of the Parsifal score. 

A still more interesting revelation regarding the 
growth of the Parsifal plan is contained in a letter to 
Praeger, dated April 8, 1865, in which he says of King 
Ludwig: ''He is so strikingly handsome that he might 
pose as the King of the Jews, and — this in confidence — 
I am seriously reflecting on the Christian tragedy; pos- 
sibly something may come of it.'' Something did come 
of it; for on Sept. 26 of the same year he wrote to Fran 
Wille: '' I am now completing the ^»&6Zun^en ; Sk Parsifal 
is already sketched.'' The versification, however, was 
not completed till after the Bayreuth Festival. He took 
the manuscript to London, and read it on May 17, 1877, for 
the first time, to a circle of friends, in Mr. Dannreuther's 
house (12 Orme Square). Two months later, he read it 
to his friends in Heidelberg, and in September, to the 
delegates of the Wagner Societies, at his own house in 

1 It is said that the Good-Friday-Spell music also belongs to this year. 
Mr. Seidl has told me an interesting incident relating to the music of 
the Flower Oirl score. When he first became Wagner's secretary he 
heard him one day plajring those enchanting strains, which naturally 
made an indelible impression on him. Some years later, when he was 
patting the sketches into rough shape for practical use, Wagner played 
various parts for him. When he came to the Flower Girl music, ICr. 
Seidl remarked, " Ah, I know that." Whereupon Wagner Jumped up 
excitedly, almost angrily, and wanted to know where he had heard it. 
He was pacified on being told where, but for a long time the tboclf. 
affected him, for he often said to Ifr. Seidl: " Well, have you found 
any more familiar things in my mwic? " 



Bayreutb.' Two montlis later the poem appeared in 
print, and in the spring of 1878, the musical sketches of 
the first act were on paper. On Oct. 11 the second act 
was completed. On Christmas morning he conducted, 
for his family at Wahnfried, the Prdlude, the orchestra 
having been kindly supplied by the Duke of Meiningen. 
The sketches of the third act were completed on April 
25, 1879. The inatnimentation of Parai/al was in great 
part completed in Italy, where the Meister was compelled 
— iiot at all against his will — to spend the last winters 
of his life. A return of his erysipelas, complicated by 
symptoms of the heart trouble to which he was fated to 
succumb so soon, made him aeek a home in the Villa 
D'Angri, at Naples, where, sorroanded 011I7 by his fiun- 
ily, he found the solitnde and freedom from exoitement 
which the state of his health called for. He refused an 
invitation to attend the first performance of Iiohengrin at 
the Apollo Theatre in Rome, but consented to attend the 
exercises of the pupils of the Kaples Conservatory, after 
which he wrote a letter to its president, the Duke of 
Bagnera, in which he expressed his gratification at what 
he had heard, and gave some good advice, recommend- 
ing, among other things, the works of Mozart, Gluck, 
and Spontini to the students of song and composition.' 
The greater part of the winter of 1881-2 was spent at 

I ■' Reverently we sat that afternoon In Villa Wahnfried," writes Ta>- 
■pen. " Wben the Mnster came to the third aot, juBt to the place where 
the coliin with Tilurel's corpse is borne into the tiall b; ttie Knights of 
the Grail, the sun was sinking behind the trees la the Hofgartep. Its 
last beams, tremblingly, like greeting spirits, came silently Into the 
room and glorified tbe scene, the waves o{ light resting Uke a h&lo 
around the head of tbe composer." 

* This lettei la printed ia Noufflaid's Wagner d'aprit (ui-mcmc, 


Palermo. Here, at the Hotel des Palmes, be completed 
the score of Parn/al, on Jan. 13, VSXi. The Prince 
Gangi having kindly placed his villa at his ^isiKurtl, he 
moved to that on February first. He also made ^Kor- 
sions to other parts of Sicily, especially in order to 
escape the tormoil of the six hundredth anuiveisary of 
the Sicilian Vespers. Before leaving Palermo^ in April, 
he conducted a concert at which two of his own ™»w>>tf 
were played. On the first of May he arrived in Mnnieh, 
on his way to Bayreuth, which he reached a week later. 
On the twenty-second, his sixty-ninth birthday, be 
was surprised by the gift of two black swans from King 
Ludwig. They found a home in the Park behind his 

It may seem strange that it should have taken almost 
three years to orchestrate Parnfal. The caoae of this 
dela,y was neither old age nor ill-health, bat the indiffer- 
ence of contemporaries. The Germans, as a nation, 
seemed in no harry whatever for a new work from his 
pen. He had promised Paraifal for the rammer of 1880, 
and could have easily completed it \fj that time ; in which 
case he might have written another drama dnring the 
last three years of his life. But the growth of funds 
for the ParnfaL Festival was so slow that it bad to he 
postponed to 1882. While F. Schdn of Worms mntrib- 
uted $2600, and Hans von BSlow $10,000, the Wagner 
Societies had only 1100 members in 1880. A call for • 
fund of $250,000, as a national present to Wagner, od bis 
seventieth birthday, to ensure the continuance of the 
Bayreuth Festivals, was answered by the prev with the 
Qsoal howl of derision. At the close of UBl IIm Fcati' 


val fund had reached about $32,500, to which 92500 
more were added later on. With thiB it would have been 
rash to risk a Festival, had iiot King Ludwig once more 
come to the rescue by placing at Wagner's disposal the 
forces of the Munich opera-house for this Festival ajid 
others to come; in return for which Munich received 
the exclusive right to the performance of the early opera, 
T?ie Fairies.^ 

The newspapers, with few exceptions, not only did 
all they could to discredit the Festival, but some of them 
went so far as to promulgate, at the critical moment, a 
mendacious report that there was an epidemic of small- 
pox at Biiyreuth. Tlieir anger was aroused by the plan 
permitting only metubers of thti various Wagner Soci- 
eties to attend the first two performances. Some of them 
naj'vely remarked that this measure was taken from fear 
of the critics ! It was really taken, as a Berlin journalist 
justly explained, because " the Wagnerites desire to be 
alone at the first performances, so as to be able to enjoy 
the new art-work without being disturbed in their devo- 
tion by rude utterances and stupid raillery, as they were at 
the Nibdung representations." Once more, however, the 
opposition failed in its attempts to crush Wagner, the 
only result of its malice being that the Festival proved 
less successful financially than it would have otherwise. 

A few preliminary rehearsals had already been held in 
the summer of 1881. As there was only one drama to 
be given this time, a month was deemed sufficient time 
for the rehearsals of 1882. The first performance was 
announced for July 26, the last for Aug. 29. The task 


of securing singers had been much less fonnidable than 
in 1876y not only because there were fewer r51eSy but 
because the number of good Wagner singers was now 
much larger — so large, indeed, that there was no diffi- 
culty in securing three casts ; ^ an arrangement which not 
only provided the charm of variety, but gave the eminent 
artists who participated an opportunity to learn from 
each other. This had been one of Wagner's chief motives 
in organizing the Festivals. He expected that each 
vocalist-actor would do justice to a different trait of the 
rdle impersonated, so that the others could perfect their 
conceptions in that direction. This result was attained; 
those who heard the last performances could not help 
noting how much all the singers had grown in one month. 
Besides the soloists,. there was a chorus of 84 men and 
women, 50 boys, and an orchestra of 105, of whom 73 
belonged to the Munich Opera, whose conductor, H. 
Levi, naturally presided over the performances. 

A few days before the first performance, the pilgrims 
began to arrive in large numbers. Those who expected 
to be allowed to attend the last rehearsals, as in 1876, 
were disappointed. They could not but be pleased, on 
the other hand, with the evidences of new life and growth 
presented by Bayreuth. The money which in 1876 had 
flown into the coffers of the citizens encouraged the 
magistrates to build, the very next year, a fine system of 
water-works, adding much to the comfort of tourists, 
and providing the means for a fountain and precautions 
against fire, at the theatre on the hill. A new, com- 

1 P&nifal : Winkelmann, Jiger, Godehns, (Yogi) . Kimdrj : BCatema, 
Brandt, Bfalten. Giinieiiianc : Scarla, Siehr. Amtortat: Beichmann, 
Beck. TttQiel: Kindennmim. KUngior: HUl, Fndu. Leader of the 
flower girliy LiUi Lehmaim. 


modious railway station had also been built, and a num- 
ber of new houses erected iii which the pilgrims found 
more comfortable quarters than many of them had been 
doomed to in 1876. The local paper pointed with pride 
to the vast number of letters and telegrams despatched 
at the post-ofiBce, The shop windows were filled with 
photographs relating to the Festival, and everything 
connected therewith. There were Parsifal cravats, and 
Farsital beer, and Grail cups of all sizes. In short, 
every branch of industry had assumed a Parsifal tinge. 
Every Bayreuther was an ardent admirer of Wagner, 
though he had never heard a note of his music, except 
that supplied by the practising trombone-player in his 
back parlor; and those visitors who doubted Wagner's 
genius were charged a mark more for everything they 
bought.' Before describing the first performance let as, 
as usual, cast a glance at the work to be produced. 

Parsifal is the father of Lohengrin, and Wagner's last 
drama gratifies the curiosity of those who would like to 
know more about the Holy Grail from which Lohengrin 
came to succor the unjustly accused Elsa, and to which 
lie is obliged to return because she breaks her promise. 
The Grailsburg is situated in the neighborhood of the 
Castle Moutsalvat, in Spain, It was built by King 
Titurel and his knights as a sanctuary for the Holy Grail 

I The WagnerizaCloD of Bayreuth has coDtinu^ aince 1882. In 1B86 
the name of the R«DDweg, on whluh tbe villa Walinfrted is aitualod, waa 
cbaD|;ed to Richard Wagner Strasse. There is also a Siegfried Btrasae, 
etc. Moreover, during clie tourist seasoD, Nuremberg and even Munich 
have practically become suburbs of Ba;rautb, all the shop wtndom 
being £Ued with Wagnei-literature and pictuiea. 




which was brought to them by angels to be guarded by 
them against the enemies of Christianity. The Grail, 
in Wagner's poem, is the cup that was used at the Last 
Supper, and that subsequently received the crucified 
Saviour's blood. This cup has the same qualities that 
the earth has for Antseus, or Freia for the gods in Wal- 
halla — it rejuvenates and invigorates the holy knights, 
who are privileged to behold it whenever the King 
uncovers it. When King Titurel found the end of his 
allotted life approaching, his son Amfortas was crowned 
King of the brotherhood. But Amfortas succumbed to 
a temptation which had already brought misfortune upon 
many of the knights : he fell a victim to the wiles of 
Klingsor, the wizard, whose castle is not far off. Kling- 
sor, the representative of heathen sensuality, had once 
endeavored to secure admission to the holy brotherhood. 
But he lacked the requisite purity of heart and conduct, 
and freedom from worldly desires, to obtain which he 
resorted to self-mutilation. Kepulsed from the Grails- 
burg, he swore vengeance on the knights, and in his 
magic castle he now holds many of them as captives to 
the charms of the bevy of lovely maidens whom he has 
gathered for this purpose. King Amfortas, when he 
went forth to annihilate the sorcerer and his castle, fell 
a victim to the wiles of Kundry, the most beautiful of 
the unlucky females enslaved by Klingsor. Kundry is 
a sort of female Wandering Jew, the Herodias of Qet- 
man legend, who laughed at the Saviour when he bore 
his cross. For this she was condemned to ^^ cursed 
laughter," and to wander about the earth until she could 
again find a saviour to release her from her curse by his 
love. Klingsor had gained control over her through his 


magic arts, and now compels her to aid him io reducing 
the number of faithful knights, so that he may ultimately 
satisfy his desire of gaining possession of the Grail. 
While King Amfortaa is ensnared by Kundry'a charms, 
Klingaor snatches from him his holy spear — the spe^ar 
with which Longinua had pierced the Saviour's side, 
and which Titurel had received with the Grail, With 
this spear he inflicts on Amfortas a painful wound which 
refuses to heal, and henceforth forever exposes him to 
the most woful torments. 

Act I. These events, which precede the drama proper, 
are made known to the audience in an epio or episodic 
form during the first act, which also contains some of 
the most stirring dramatic incidents in the play. Wlien 
the curtain is drawn, Gurnemanz, a robust and hale old 
knight, and two young pages are seen asleep under a, 
tree. Gurnemanz awakes at the sound of invisible trom- 
bones blowing a morning call in the direction of the 
Grailsburg. He rouses his companions, and bids them 
go to the lake and prepare the wounded King's morning 
bath. As they retire toward the lake, which is seen in 
the background, they suddenly behold a horse, with a 
female rider, dashing wildly along, almost flying. It is 
Kundry, who in hours of freedom always endeavors to 
atone by some good service for the harm she does the 
knights while under the iniiuence of Klingsor'a spell. 
She is arrayed in a short dress, held together by a girdle 
of snakeskins; her black hair flows in disorder over her 
shoulders; her complexion is dark brown, and her eyes 
piercingly black, now wild in ex])ression, and anon fixed 
in a dead stare. In her hand she has a small flask, which 
she gives to Gurnemanz, and then throws herself on the 
ground, exhausted. 


The King's approach is now heard. He is oonveyed 
in a litter, aocompanied by knights and esquires. From 
Qumemanz he receives the flask, and hears that Kundrj 
has brought it as balm for his wound from Arabia. He 
expresses his gratitude, but has no hope in the remedy, 
for he knows he can expect a cure only through one 
whom the Grail has announced to him as his saviour: 
''By pity enlightened, a guileless fool; wait for him, 
my chosen tool " — these were the words that once 
appeared in magic letters on the rim of the holy vessel 
while he lay before it in fervent prayer. The proces- 
sion now moves on toward the lake, while the esquires 
remain taunting the mysterious Kundry, when suddenly 
the whizz of an arrow, imitated in a strikingly realistic 
manner by the orchestra, followed by weird, swan-motive 
harmonies from Lohengrin, is heard. A wounded swan 
slowly flies across the lake, and then falls down dying. 
The Parsifal motive announces the appearance of the 
culprit who has thus ruthlessly killed one of the animals 
sacred in these precincts. In an affecting passage, in 
which words and music are alike beautiful, Gurnemanz 
reproaches Parsifal, who at first boasts of his skill at 
having killed the bird "on the wing," but after listening 
to the old knight, follows a sudden impulse and breaks 
his bow in pieces. The question who he is and where 
from, he professes to be unable to answer, when Kundry 
interrupts the dialogue and announces that he is the son 
of Gamuret, who gave birth to him after the death of 
his father, who fell in battle. To save her son from a 
similar fate she reared him in a deep forest, ignorant of 
the world and his parentage. 

Parsifal now remembers that one day he saw some 



armed horsemen, with beautiful horseB, whom he endeav- 
ored to follow. Soon he lost sight of them, and, with 
8 elf -constructed weapona, fought his way through the 
various dangers that beset him. Kundry replies that 
his mother is dead — that his departure broke her heart; 
whereupon Parsifal is seized by such sudden regret and 
horror that he threatens violence to the unhappy mes- 
senger of these tidings; but Gurnemanz protects her 
from his fury. A sudden trembling and fatigue now 
overcome Kundry, who retires into the forest to sleep. 
The magic motive of Rlingsor in the orchestra explains 
that it is his spell which calls her thus to his castle. 
Gurnemanz suspects that Parsifal may be the "guileless 
fool " who is chosen to relieve the King, and accordingly 
invites him to follow him to the Grailsburg, in the hope 
that the sight of the Buffering King might "enlighten 
him through pity," and thus make him the chosen tool 
of redemption. As they seem to walk from left to right, 
the scene gradually changes; the forest disappears, and 
wild rock takes its place; a door opens amidst walls of 
stone, which they enter. Sounds of bells and trombones 
are heard coming nearer and nearer. At last they arrive 
in a large hall, ending above in a vaulted dome, through 
wliich alone light is admitted. A door opens on each 
side, through one of which the Knights of the Grail enter 
in procession, singing a solemn chorus. While they take 
places at two long tables, their voices are joined by those 
of yontlis in the mid-height of the dome, and boys' voices 
at the summit. Through the opposite door another pro- 
cession enters bearing Amfortas in his litter. It is the 
King's duty to uncover the Grail, to rejuvenate his 
knights; but he longs to be relieved of this duty, as it 

8T0BT or PABBIFAL 409 

gives him, too, reneired ritality, and prolongs the agony 
of his ezistenoce. The voice of Titurel, hovevei, urges 
him on, and he at last uncoverB the Grail. D&rkness has 
meanvMle spread over the hall so that the Grail cup is 
distinctly seen gradually glowing vith a purple loBtre. 
Amfortas raises it, and gently swings it about on all 
sides — the whole act being accompanied by music of the 
moat super-terrestrial, ethereal character, like a halo of 
sound. Gumemanz invites Parsifal to take part in the 
supper, but Parsifal remains standing, lost in mute 
astonishment at these proceedings. After the knights 
have again departed, the disappointed Gumemanz shakes 
Farisfal by the arm and bids him depart : — 

"Lekve thou our Bwana in fatura alone. 
And oeek thjaeU, gander, a piom." 

Act II. After an agitated introduction by the orches- 
tra the spectator finds himself transferred to Klingsor's 
magic castle — at first in the inside of a tower open at 
its top. Magic implements are scattered about every- 
where. Klingsor summons Knndry by lighting a bluish 
Same in the background of the stage. When Kundiy 
appears he commands her, in spite of her pitiful protests, 
to use her beauty and persuasiveness to ruin Parsifal, 
who is already seen by him approaching the castle. He 
calls out to the knights to defend themselves, but Parsi- 
fal soon puts them all to flight. The tower now slowly 
sinks out of sight, and its place is taken by a magic gar- 
den full of tropical vegetation and the most luxuriant 
large Sowers. A number of beautiful damsels in light 
attire rush on the stage and bewail the loss of their play- 
mates, untU they behold Parsifiil. While aoiae flirt 


about him, othere disappear in an arbor, whence they 
Boon return arrayed in flowers, looking like living flowers 
themselves. Farsifal takes at first a childish delight in 
the spectacle of all this alluring beauty, but remains 
unmoved and unyielding, when presently Kundry's voice 
is heard calling out hia name, "Parsifal, remain!" The 
flower-girls reluctantly retire, not without a parting fling 
at the "guileless fool," who is now at the mercy of 
Kuudry'a charms. With true feminine art she wins his 
confidence by telling nf the last moments of his mother. 
Parsifal, overcome with grief, sinks down at her feet, 
when she raises his head, and gives him his mother's 
last greeting and the first long kiss of love. With an 
expression of consternation, Parsifal jumps to hia feet, 
and pushes Kundry away. Her kiss makes him clair- 
voyant: like a sudden pang, it gives him a presentiment 
of Amfortaa's sufferings, and at once the whole situation 
dawns on him. Hitherto he has only been the " guile- 
less fool "; now he is also, "through pity enlightened." 
Kundry refuses to listen to his esplanation that to grant 
her his love would condemn lier to a new lease of her 
wretched existence. She invokes a curse on him — a 
curse wliich shall compel him to go about the world 
searching in vain for King Amfortas. Her cries summon 
Klingsor to the castle wall, whence he hurls Amfortas's 
holy spear at him. The spear remains suspended over 
the head of Parsifal, who seizes it and describes the 
shape of a cross. Instantaneously, as through an earth- 
quake, the castle vanishes; the garden is transformed 
into a desert, and the maidens lie as withered flowers on 
the ground. Kundry with a shriek, sinks into a swoon, 
and Parsifal, before he hastens away, turns to exclaim, 
" Thou knowest where alone we shall meet again ! " 


Act m. When the curtain parts again, after a weird 
and sad introduction of great beauty, depicting Farsifal'a 
long and fruitless searoh for the Grail, in consequence of 
Sundry's curse, we see a smiling meadow at the borders 
of a forest ; in the background a simple hermit's hat. It 
belongs to Gomemanz, who now appears as a very old 
man. Strange, mournful sounds, proceeding from behind 
a bnsh, induce him to search for their cause. It is 
Kundry, now again the simple, homely servant of the 
Grail, and no longer the fascinating queen of Klingsor's 
dower garden. She is disinclined to apeak, but goes into 
the hut to work. Looking about him, Gumemanz espies 
a knight in full armor approaching. He bids him respect 
the laws of this holy place, which forbid any one to beat 
arms on Good Friday. Parsifal complies, and Gume- 
manz now recognizes him, as well as the holy spear, at 
sight of which be breaks forth in joyous exclamations, 
heralding the King's release from his torments — for 
only then can his wounds be closed when they are touched 
by the " guileless fool " with the same spear that inflicted 
them. Gumemanz relates how, since Parsifal's depart- 
ure, the knights have been deprived of the blessing of 
the Grail, since the King refused to uncover it — hoping 
thus to starve out his life even as Tituiel's was extin- 
guished after long privation. Parsifal, who considers 
himself guilty for not having found the Grail sooner, 
is so moved by this revelation that he almost faints. 
Kundry hastens for a basin of water. She washes his 
feet, pours oil on them from a golden fiask, and dries 
them with her long dark tresses. Then Gumemanz 
poors the oil on his head, and anoints him as King; 
whereupon Parsifal fulfils his first duty by baptizing 


Kundry. Henowdesires to be led to Amfortaa; Gume- 
manz liaa told biro that on that day the Grail once more 
waa to be unveiled. The scene changes back to the hall 
of the Grailsbwrg. Two proceaalona of knights again 
appear, one with Amfortas on his litter, the other with 
Titurel's bier, accompanied by the Btraina of a majestic 
funeral march. Amfortas refuses to perform his task — 
to be once more brought back to painful life from the 
briuk of death. He tears open his bandages and begs 
hia companions to kill him, when ParaifaJ appears and 
tOHchea the wound with bis healing spear, the point of 
which glows blood-red. He then takes the Grail in hia 
hand, while a halo of light is shed over all. A dove 
descenda and hovers over hia head. Kundry sinks slowly 
to tlie ground; lifeless; Amfortas and Gurneraanz do 
homage on their knees to Parsifal, while the voices in 
the cupola almost inaudibly chant the miracle of redemp- 


Parsifal again opens a new phase of Wagner's art. 
Lohengrin, is a romantic o[)era, Tristan a music-drama, 
or " action " ; the Nibelung's Ring was entitled a " stage- 
festival -play, " while Parsifal was baptized as a "stage- 
consecrating-featival-play " (Biihnemceihfestspiet). The 
title explains itself : while the muaic-drama had driven 
unsBsthetic absurdities from the opera, Parsifal conse- 
crates the theatre, and converts it into a Temple of Art. 
Rubinstein's idea of a sacred opera, or an oratorio with 
action and scenery, is here realized with a grandeur which 
be himself was very far from attaining in his Tower of 
Babel and Paradise Lost. Of course Wagner did not get 


his idea from Rubinstein. His Jesus of Nazareth scheme * 
dates back as far as 1848, and this scheme became the 
poetic nucleus of Parsifal. In it we find especially 
emphasized the eagerness of Magdalena (Kundry) to 
serve, by way of atoning for her sins. The scene of the 
foot-washing also occurs in this sketch. By transferring 
these biblical scenes to the mystic regions of mythology, 
he made them available for theatric purposes. Even 
thus, there were critics at Bayreuth who denounced 
them as " blasphemous " ; but the vast majority took a 
more liberal and reasonable view. The London Athe- 
noRum put the matter in a nutshell when it said that — 

** nobody finds any impropriety in looking at a painting of the 
Last Supper, nor in listening to the words of Christ as set to music 
by Bach in his Passion according to St. Matthew. Wagner has in 
the first act of Parsifal combined the two arts.'* **So deeply 
reverent was the spirit of all the i>erfonner8, that the remark was 
made by many who were present that the scene was the most im- 
pressive religious service. they had ever attended.^' ** None of the 
many thousands who have attended the Passion Play need fear any 
violence being done to their religious feelings by the i>erformances 
ot Parsifal.'' ^ 

Besides the projected Jesus of Nazareth drama, there 
were various epic and legendary sources from which the 

1 Published in a small volume by Breitkopf and Hartel. See Vol. I. 
page 227. 

'^ Similar sentiments were expressed by the London Times, Academy, 
Saturday Review (which spoke of the Uebesmahl scene as "most 
reverent and earnestly impressive "), and other papers. Nevertheless, 
all these papers agreed that Parsifal could not be produced on the 
London stage. English logic in this matter is very peculiar. On the 
concert or oratorio stage biblical personages may appear in dress-coat 
and kid-gloves to sing those love-songs which Handel transferred from 
his worldly operas to his oratorios; but they may not appear on the 
dramatic stage to enact a play to which at Bayreuth the devout and 
the agnostic alike rendered homage. 


poet of Parsifal borrowed incidents and suggestions; 
foremost among them being Wolfram von Eschenbach's 
famous epic' One very interestiDg source has been 
usually overlooked ; namely, Eouraouf s Introduction A 
rkistoire du Buddhiiiae Indien, which contains (183-187) 
a Buddhist tale that suggested to Wagner, in 1856, the 
plan of a drama to be entitled Der Sieger (The Victor). 
In the letters to Liszt of that year there are two refer- 
ences to this project, in one of which (July 20) he prom- 
ises his friend that after digesting Tristan, he would 
perhaps receive a communication regarding Der Sieger, 
" the idea of which I have indued carried about me for a 
long time, while the material for its embodiment has ju^ 
now come upon me like a flash of lightning, perfectly 
clear to myself, but not yet sufficiently so for eominn- 
nication." On May 20 he had written down a rough 
sketch,' in which Ghakya-Muni, Ananda, and Frakriti 
occur as characters. Ghakya-Muni becomes a Buddha by 
being like Parsifal, "through pity enlightened." More- 
over, when we find in these tales of old India the inci- 
dent of the spear thrown by Mara (Klingsor) remaining 

> For detailed comparisooa see Muncker, 120; HueRer, 110; Bafi- 
rtulher Blatter. 1X91, No, 1. On the leftend of tbe Grsll there are hat[ 
a dozen books in Oerman alone. Thematic k*i><1^ I^ the Parii/al »core 
have been written by WolzoKeu (tenth edition, 1892), Heintz, Elchberg. 
and Kobbe. The moat complete and valuable treatise on Partl/al Is 
that by Kiifterath, vliieh conaiders the legendary sources, the poem, 
and tbe muaic trom all points ot view. Tbe Rev. H. R. Hawels hsa an 
eloqiieat cbapter on Partifal in his Mutical ifemories. Bat the most 
lasciiiatini: account for lay readers Is tbat written by Mr. Charles Dudlejr 
Warner I Atlantic Monthl;/, January, 1883, reprinted In A Soundabotit 
Jovntt!/) ; this article Is also valuable as sbowing what a profonnd 
Impression Wagner's art-work is capable of producing on a mind o( the 
highest type tbat yet claims no special knowledge of music 

* Reprinted In the postbnmoua Entmiir/e, Fragmenit, Me., pp. 97, 


suspended in the air, as well as the bevy of beautiful 
decoy maidens, we are led to the conclusion that some 
of the incidents intended for the Sieger drama were 
incorporated in Parsifal. 

The mental alchemy known as genius enabled Wagner 
to fuse these diverse Christian and Buddhist elements 
into a drama, from which all epic and superfluous matter 
is eliminated, while the action, concentrated and con- 
catenated, is given theatric prominence, and the charac- 
ters are deepened into problems for psychologic analysis. 
Extensive as the Parsifal literature is already, many 
more essays and pamphlets will be written about the 
strange characters brought together in this drama. The 
only one of them that seems to belong to the everyday 
world is Qumemanz, the genial and lovable old knight^ 
who wins every one's heart by his actions, words, and 
flowing, cordial song. The unhappy Amfortas, a modem 
Philoctetes, appeals to our pity, even as the wounded 
Tristan. Klingsor is an utterly unoperatic character, 
such as only the flull-fledged music-drama could nurture. 
His song and its accompaniment is savage and dissonant 
like his character — to the annoyance of those who seek 
only sweetmeats in music, to the delight of the true 
fiBsthetic epicure, who believes that angry sentiments 
should be expressed in angry tones, in the music-drama 
as well as in the literary drama. Absolutely incon- 
ceivable in a"prima-donna opera" is Kundry, the only 
female character in the drama. Only in the second act 
is she allowed to affect beautiful song; in the first there 
is little but abrupt declamation and interjection, while in 
the third she is condemned to complete silence, a few 
inarticulate sounds excepted. Yet when impersonated 



by a skilled actress, like Materna, Brandt, or Malten, how 
effective thia rBle ia, with its stninge psychic transforma- 
tions from the bearer of a personal curse, to the submis- 
sive servant of the Grail, and again to the lovely, alluring 
slave of Klingsor. How much more eloquent her silence 
in the last act, than an aria di bravura would be — unless 
we came to the theatre for music alone, in which case we 
should have gone to the conoert-hall. ' The author of 
SoUenbrenghel ala Erzieker, which made such a sensation 
in Germany a fewye^ra ago, has advanced* an ingenious 
theory of accounting for Kundry's subjection to Kling- 
sor'a will, and her hysterical actions in general, by mak- 
ing bcr a victim of hypnotism, or mesmerism, as practised 
by the fakirs of India and by modem physiologists alike. 
Looked at in this light, what is more scientific and mod- 
em than myth? The hypnotic theory fits Kundry mar- 
Tellously in every detail. 

The hero of thia tragedy partakes of the characteristics 
of Lohengrin and Siegfried. His mission is to alleviate 
distress, to bring redemption. Eeared in a lonely forest, 
ignorant of the world, he has Siegfried's nai'vet^, as well 
as that hero's dauntless courage, as evinced in the con- 

1 Ad ideal Kundry <s difficult to And, i.e. one wlio conblnea tbe 
beauty called for Id the second act with the bistrionic talent required 
in tbe first and aecnnd actn. In case of doubl, it ia better to Bacriflce 
tbe beaut; ; at least Warner seemed lo tbink so. When be invited FrI. 
Brandt to be one of tbe Kundrys, she was delighted, but eipressed 
doubts of her fitnefis, on aceuuut of tbe directious. " Kundry, a youDg 
woman ot the Kreatest beauty." "Never mind the beauty," inter- 
nipteit the Meister: " I need a clever actress, and that you are ; coa- 
metic will make up tbe rest." 

» Bayrenther Fanfaren, von Ferdinand Pfohl, an eicellent brochure 
on the later Bayreuth teativala, with many admirable remarki on Par~ 
»ifttt, Triitan, and Mtitlertinger. Every collector □[ Wagner books 
•hould have thU one. 


test with tli# knights in Klingsor's garden. His ''tragic 
guilt " lies in his ignorance of compassion^ of pity, the 
highest of all moral attributes. He first shows his lack 
of pity by wantonly killing the sacred swan; he shows 
it again by remaining an unmoved spectator of the 
wounded King's distress. The psychic climax of the 
tragedy lies in the moment when Pity first enlightens 
his soul — when Kundry's long kiss makes him clair- 
voyant, and the voluptuous feeling is suddenly changed 
to a pang of bitter pain as the King's fate and suffering 
dawn on him through his new-bom sense of compassion. 
In making this change in Parsifal's character spring 
from the suddenly acquired sense of pity, Wagner fol- 
lows Schopenhauer, who declares* that "pity alone is 
the true basis of all free justice and all genuine humanity. 
Only in so far as an action springs from it has it a moral 
value." It is ridiculous, however, to say, for this reason, 
as some of the commentators have done, that Parsifal * is 
" Schopenhauer set to music." Pity — for men and ani- 
mals — is the basis of Buddhistic ethics, and is not 
entirely unknown in Christian ethics. Schopenhauer's 
part in this matter was simply this, that he emphasized 
the importance of Pity, especially also as including 
animals. Wagner was too good a dramatist to set Scho- 

1 Orundlage der MonUt p. 206. 

s There has been a great deal of superflaous and pedantic disooadon 
as to the etymology of *' Parsifal.'' Wagner followed Gorres in deriy- 
ing the word from the Arabic Parsi Fal^ the pore fool. W. Herts 
objected that there is no Arabic word Fal meaning fooL Eichberg 
points out that in the Ck>mi8h language par means fellow, and faU 
simple-minded. Bat whether Arabic, Cornish, Chinese, or Volapiik, 
what difference does it make ? Parsifal is a dramatic poem, not a 
philological essay, and a dramatic poet is not bound by the laws of 
etymology ; he may give Bohemia a searcoast if he chooses. 



peuliauer or any other philosopher to nmsie. There is a 
philosophic background to his dramas, but that is a mat- 
ter for private study of the poem, and does uot obtrude 
itself oil the stage. 

To the vast majority of apectatora, Par»ifal appeals 
primarily or solely as a pictorial drauia with music, and 
as such it has few equals. The structure of the plot is 
esceediagly ingenious, betraying in every detail the 
master hand which had gained its cunning by life-long 
theatric practice. The tableaux are among the 
beautiful ever conceived by human imagination: the 
opening scene, Gumemanz and bis esquires asleep under 
the spreading tree; the pi'ocession with the wounded 
King on a litter; the group over the expiring swan; the 
marvellous transformation scene, where, as Parsifal and 
Guruemanz appear to be walking, the forest graduaJly 
disappears, a cave opens in rocky cliffs, and conceals 
them for a moment, whereupon they appear as if going 
up a slope until, amid the peals of bells, they enter the 
mighty hall, with light streaming in from the vaulted 
dome; in the second act, the gruesome scene in Kling- 
sor's tower, forming a striking contrast to the lovely 
groupings of tlie flower-maidens which follow; the spear 
suspended over Parsifal's head; the startling collapse 
and change from the gaudy flower-garden to the bare 
stage with bleak mountains in the background; in the 
third act the flower-meadow; Parsifal's return ; the foot- 
washing and baptism ; and, to crown all, the final tableau 
— tlie knights in red and blue robes seated at two semi- 
circular tables bowing reverently as their new King 
Parsifal uncovers the crystal cup, and gently swings it 
about, while a blinding ray of light shoots down and 



makes it grow with increasing crimson liistre, and the 
dove descends and hovers over his head, — all these 
scenes are the emanations of superlative pictorial genius. 
The Grerman commentator who exclaimed that the pos- 
sibility of such scenes presupposed the entire develop- 
ment of the Christian art of painting, may have been 
carried oS. his feet by his enthusiasm; but it is certain 
that the scenes mentioned, if fixed by instantaneous 
photography, and engraved, would make pictures of 
which Leonardo, Baphael, and Makart might be proud. ^ 
The vivid conciseness with which these scenes are 
sketched in the poem is truly admirable. 

To one of the scenes objection was made by many 
impartial judges, namely, to the monstrous size and 
gaudy colors of the tropical flowers in the second act. 
Yet Wagner had his reason for letting the artist Jou- 
kowsky design this scene as it was. He says (X. 390) 
in regard to the costumes, that 

*^ they had to be devised in hannony with Klingsor^s magic garden, 
and we had to make many experiments before we were satisfied 
that we had decided upon the correct pattern for a floral phenom- 
enon not to be found in actual life — maidens that seemed to have 
naturally sprung from these wizard-flowers.** 

I The scenic problems offered in Wagner's dramas, notably in Par^ 
sifcUf were hard nuts for the carpenters and machinists to crack, and 
mark a new era in their art. The (apparent) walk throogh the chang- 
ing scenic panorama was an absolutely noyel effect and problem, while 
the sudden change from flower-garden to desert is even more startling 
than that from the grotto of Venus to the Wartbnrg valley in TanU' 
h&uaer. Some of these scenic features call for the latest sdentiflo 
appliances; the gradual glowing of the cup, for instance, which is 
effected by means of two fine wires attached to the cup (invisible to 
the spectator), converting the Grail into an incandescent electric lamp. 
The floating spear is attached to a wire by rings and thin threads which 
easily snap when Parsifal seizes the weapon. 


To which I may add that the optical illusioa resulU 
from the enornious size and the bright colors of thee 
" Spanish " flowers was Biich that the buxom Gen 
flower-maiden 3 seemed transformed into petite Andala—I 
sian damsels, and gave a fairy-like, mythical aspect to T 
the whole scene such as we should expect in a sorcerer"* , 
garden. The tropical size and luxuriance of the flowers ' 
also intensified the contrast with the bleak desert into J 
which the garden is suddenly transformed when Parsifal ' 
swings his sacred spear, and breaks the spell of Kling- j 
sor's power; and a third reason for the size of the flowen 
is given in this stage direction. "The girls lie scattered I 
on the ground like withered flowers." 

Never, surely, has a dramatist sketched scenes and t 
incidents which more urgently invoked the cooperation 
of music than these. Only a musician could have writ- 
ten this poem, only a poet set it to music. In one respect, 
at least, Parsifal is the most perfect of Wagner's music- 
dramas. With the exception of the Good Friday spell 
and the chorus of flower-girls there is hardly a page 
which can be transferred to the concert-hall without 
excessive detriment, and even those two scenes lose half 
their charm if severed from their stage surroundings, 
and from the music which precedes and follows them. 
From the concert-giver's point of view this will seem a 
shortcoming; but Parsifal was not written for concert- 
givers. As Dr. Riemann has remarked, 

" Wagner's music is not intended to be effective by itself, but only 
in connection witli the poem and scenery. He dispenaea with cheap 
musical effects in favor of a harmonious structure of the dramatico- 
musical art-work. He who fails Ui see the grandeur of this idea is 
bejond help." 


An exoellent illustration, showing how marvellously 
the dramatic action and scene heighten the power of 
music, may be found in the moment when Klingsor hurls 
his spear at Parsifal. As it flies through the air, the 
orchestra is hushed, excepting the harps, which play a 
rapid glissando run up through three octaves. In the 
concert-hall this would seem an ordinary trick of virtu- 
osity, whereas in the drama every one is thrilled by the 
appropriateness of this simple musical accompaniment 
of the flying spear. 

ParsifoU has three orchestral preludes, — three of those 
admirable mood-pictures which are intended to put the 
hearer in the proper frame of mind for the coming events, 
and are therefore as much out of place in the concert-hall 
as those parts where the orchestra is associated with the 
dramatic vocalism. The prelude to the first act gives us 
a foretaste of the solemn and ecstatic emotions inspired 
by the Grail, and of the sorrows of the sinful Amfortas. 
Love, Faith, and Hope are its themes,^ and it is built up 
principally of the Holy Supper, the Grail, and the Faith 
motives, which recur so often in course of the drama. 

Of the numerous passages in the first act which invite 
discussion, only a few can be referred to here; and as 
the testimony of an entire or partial convert has often 
more force than the eulogy of a champion, let us see 
what Ehlert has to say about one of these — Gumemanz's 
long monologue, in which we get the exposition of the 
drama. Ehlert denies that this scene is too long, as 
some had said: — 

** How perfectly these seemingly innomerable instramento de- 
scribe the case, just as in a parliamentary debate where each mem- 

1 See Wagner's own analysis of this prelnde in ErUwUr/e, etc., pp. 
106, 107. 



ber speska from his ovn seat ! How well tbefte moUTes, eepeclAlly 
Klingsnr'E wizard -motive, phonograpb the subject, ao to say, until 
one ireiM to be lialening, not to tonet, but to dutinct uorrfo.i This 
may be long, but it is Dot long-Bpun." 

One of the most touching episodes in this act is the 
commotion following the shooting of the swan. Whila 
one of the young knights draws the arrow from the dying 
bird's breast, Gumemanz bitterly reproaches Paislfal : — 

"Unheard-of deed! How could you murder hito — here in tha 
sacred forest, where peace and pity sboald prevail ? Did not Uia 
animals oE the grove approach and greet you confidingly ? Did not 
the birds sing to you from the branches ? What grudge had job 
against tbe poor swan ? He was only seeking his mate, circling 
over the lake, which thus he consecrated for the King's bath. Thift 
<lid not move you, but only aroused the childish desire to kill? 
Tlic swnii was dear to lis; what la he now to you ? Here — look 
and see where you hit him ; see the white plumes stained by the 
dark blood ; see his wiogs collapsed ; the broken glance — do yoa 
see that eye? Are you now conscious of your sin? Say, boy, 
do you understand your guilt ? How could you incur it ? " 

I am convinced that many a thoughtless hunter of 
harmless animals, could he read this poem, which even 
in a prose translation is so affecting, would, like Parsifal, 
break his bow and cast his arrows from him. In that 
" broken glance " we have again a reminiscence of the 
one animal that Wagner killed as a youth. We hear, 
also, in the orchestra, a musical reminiscence of the 
Lohenrjrin swan-harmonies, sad and broken. There la 
nothing in all dramatic literature more realistic, more 
pitiable and pathetic, than this swan scene in Parsifal. 

1 The line which I have italiciied indioateB that Ehlsrt had suddenly 
seen a great light regarding the dramatic value of Leading Hotivee. 
It is npver tne late Co learn. It was on account of this definite orches- 
tral and emotional eloquence that Wagner made use of Leading Hotlvat. 



Another emotional climax in this act is the panoramic 
change of scenery, with its swelling waves of orchestral 
sound, in which various motives of reminiscence and 
anticipation are stirringly interwoven; so stirringly that 
even the hostile pen of Ludwig Speidel was impelled to 
write that, '^ on hearing this music, one is vividly im- 
pressed by the feeling that something momentous must 
be happening in the world." ^ 

Of the religious sublimity of the closing scene of this 
act and of the last, printer's ink can convey no shadow 
of an idea. The solemn pealing of the bells, the devout 
chant of the knights, taken up by an invisible chorus of 
youths half-way up the cupola, and finally by boys' voices 
at the extreme height of the cupola; then the unveiling 
and glowing of the Grail amid a halo of exquisite orches- 
tral harmonies, — all this cannot be described.* It is of 
interest to note that in the three-storied arrangement of 

1 Future writers of music-dramas, if convicted of blundering, will 
perhaps derive consolation from the fact that the greatest stage-mana- 
ger the world has ever seen made a miscalculation in his last and most 
mature work. The panoramic music in the first act was found too 
short, and repeats had to be introduced. In the third act the music 
was left as it was, but the shifting scene was omitted. One of the 
things that occupied Wagner's mind in the last months of his life was 
the preparation of a new and correct setting for this scene. There were 
other things in Parsifal in the nature of experiments. Titurel was 
left silent in the last act ; the color of the knights' costume was long in 
doubt, blue and red being finally decided upon. The tricots worn by 
the flower-girls showed their toes, which shocked a Berlin critic, who 
confessed he had never before seen a female foot, and that he was dis- 
appointed in his expectations! No doubt Wagner blundered in not 
importing Andalnsian fiower-girls, as called for by the plot! 

> The bells, unfortunately, were a failure at the first Pargifal Festi- 
val. Their sound was to be produced by a kind of specially oonBtmcted 
hammer-clavier. At later Festivals a great improvement was effected 
by combining the sounds of tam-tams with piano-strings, consisting 
each of six of the strongest strings twisted together; bat absolute 
illusion has not yet been reached in this respect. 


the eiioms, Wagner reverted to an idea which, as we saw 
in a previous chapter, he employed at a performance of 
his early choral work, The Love Feast of the Aposilea. 

" Two solemn services of the Roman Catholic Church 
with an ALhambra ballet separating one from the other," 
is the definition of Parsifal given by a flippant English 
journalist. Paul Lindau more poetically compares this 
mihmge of piety with sensuality to a mingling of incense 
with the perfume of roaes. But even within the second 
act itself the dramatic contrasts have the vividness which 
Wagner alone had at his command: the agitated prelude 
leading to the gruesome wizard-discords and the hypno- 
tization of the hysterical Kundry, followed by the seduc- 
tive aenaualiam of the flower-garden flirtation- This 
decoy song of the flower-maidens — is there anything in 
music to equal its sensuous charm? It is as fresh and 
spontaneous as the seductive chorus of the sirens in 
Tannhduser, and that of the Rhine-maidens in the first 
and last of the Nibeiujig dramas; it is at the same time a 
marvel of musical construction. Soloists singing alone, 
soloists in groups of three, two choruses in tliree-part 
harmony, alternate in assailing the guileless Parsifal, 
first with reproaches for killing their knightly sweet- 
hearts, then, as his attitude dispels their fears, all striv- 
ing in turn to win his favor for their persona! charms by 
blandishing words and caresses. Their song, when they 
have disappeared in groups, and returned attired as 
flowers, has a most insinuating grace, suffused with an 
intoxicating orchestral fragrance. And the most remark- 
able thing about this Oriental scene of enticement is that 
there is not a trace of vulgarity or sensualism in the 
luring flattery of the flower-maidens; we are in Fairy- 


land, and Elingsor's houris are but animated flowers 
whose love-making is as innocent as the flirtations of 
butterflies with roses. ^ 

After this bit of Oriental polygamous flirtation, the 
temptress Kundry has no easy task to conyince Parsifal 
and the spectators of her superior charms. The specta- 
tors may be persuaded, — for there is some ravishing 
music in this scene, up to the moment of the long kiss, 
— but Parsifal does not even succumb to the artful strata- 
gem with which Kundry attempts to win his heart, by 
offering him the dangerous kiss of love in the guise of 
his mother's dying kiss, to be delivered by her lips. It 
is a subtle touch of amorous psychology, a dramatic 

The exquisite prelude to the third act depicts Parsi- 
fal's long, despairing search for the Grailsburg imposed 
on him by Kundry's curse. Desolation and despair 
constitute the prevailing mood, with brief reminiscences 
of the curse and the maidens' reproach, and a ijrophetic 
allusion to Titurel's funeral music. This prelude is a 
marvel of delicate, reflned orchestration, and of vivid 
mood-painting. When Parsifal at last has found the 
Grail and appears before Gumemanz, the aged knight 
does not at once know him, disguised as he is in his 

1 See Wmgner*8 own remarks (X. 384-0) on the "chOdleh nmtreU" 
of this scene, " far removed from any suggestion of sensnalitj " ; and 
secured, partly, by " eliminating the passionate accents which nsnaUy 
break throogh aU the melodic lines," in favor of grace and eopbony. 
" I do not belicTe," he adds with pardonable pride, " that any other 
stage has ever shown snch a bewitching exhibition of maidenly grace 
in song and action as onr artistic friends prorided in this scene." He 
took great delight in this episode, for which he had secnntd six prima 
donnas, with a special choroa-master, H. VoKgm, known thencefartli aa 


helmet; but the spectator knows him, for he recognizes 

the accompanying Parsifal motive, even though it also is 
disguised in minor and in a mysterious color suggesting 
the Nibelung's Tarahelmet. The rest of this scene is a 
delicious stream of uaintemipted orehestral and vocal 
melody: Parsifal's aaointment, with Guraemanz's de- 
vout blessing; the tender redemption of Kundry; and, 
above all, the fragrant flower-meadow music, the " Good 
Friday Spell," which has even invaded the concert-halls. 
The poetic idea underlying this episode is as beautiful 
as the music. Parsifal, after he has baptized Kundry, 
exclaims, "How fair the meadow seema to-day!" and 
Gumemanz explains why, on this day, nature smiles 
instead of sorrowing; the tears of repentant sinners have 
besprinkled the fields with holy dew, whereat all created 
beings rejoice. , 

Pealing of bells is heard again; Gumemanz taJces Par- 
sifal once more to the great hall. Funeral strains of 
tragic grief issue from the orchestra as tlie knights are 
bringing in the bier with Titurel's lifeless body, while 
another group bears Amfortas and the Grail,' The Death 
March of Titurel has in it more of the wail of lament 
than Siegfried's Death March, in which the heroic 
reminiscent strains almost overpower the lament; and 
the solemn peal of the Grailshurg bells deepens its mel- 
ancholy. The responsive choruses of the knights — the 

' Here, as Mr. Charles Dudley Warner has finely remarked, "the 
affects o[ color and grouping are marvuUoua ; and to eyes (amiliar vitb 
sacred paintings of the masters, almostevery figure and dress is a remi- 
niscence of some deal association. The angelic loveliness o( the bearers 
ot the shrine, hovever, turpatiei any picture, ai much a» life tran- 
iceadt any counterfeit of it." Was Wagner right, after all, in MylDg 
that the mosic-drama wlU some da; sapersede the pictorial pUatle 


question ^ whom bear ye on yon gloomy bier?^ with tbe 
answer from the other group that it is Titurel, tbe former 
King, have a quaint, antique solemnity that suggests 
iEschylus.' Nor is there in .fischylus or other poet 
anything more terrible, more awe-inspiring, than the 
urgent, threatening demand, ^'Thou must! Thou must! ^ 
with which the knights crowd around the unwilling 
Amfortas, and insist that he shall uncover the Orail. 

Nothing in Pwnifdl is more remarkable than the prom- 
inence of the chorus, and the variety of forms it assumes. 
I explained in the chapter on Dit Meisteninger how, in 
that drama, Wagner recovered from his excessive preju- 
dice against the use of the chorus in a music-drama and 
atoned for his omissions in the Trilogy by writing such 
stirring choral strains as had never before been heard on 
the stage — choruses of varied form, including ecclesiastic 
chorals; merry songs of gambolling apprentices; a riot set 
to music; humorous songs of trade-guilds; and the sub- 
lime outpourings of the assembled populace. In Parti/al 
this choral variety is still further extended; here we 
have the angelic strains of boys' voices from the cupola, 
suggesting in their melodic and harmonic simplicity and 
purity the seventeenth century music of I'alestrina; 
the devotional chant of the knights at the Holy Supper^ 
the responsive and threatening choruses just referred 
to; and, most wonderful and novel of all, the ftywer- 

I Ifr. Seidl eallad mj stteatfoB to tbs nUmat^ff fuUtmtJHm to^ fk» 
it WBs oiifiiiallj WifiMr'f taUnlkm to fntrodao* fkmm f m pm t^% ^ 
chormet in 09tUrdMm$n€rungt Juit btfom m«ffrM'» hn^ In hmm to 
the funeral pjro. (8oe tbo oHi^nnl form t4 thni 4rM»«, ffUit/Hii4F§ T^, 
11.209: "Wer lit d«r Hold don ilir«r]Mto/'«««,; If* *ov«l Mi MMI 
dramntic imlgbt bjr onttttof ih&m thtm md Intt^dMlof Hktm, mwfgffj 
mutandU, la PoirifwL 



maidens' choruses, in which Wagner has shown onca 
more his astounding originality. In this Flower Girl 
scene we have the operatic chorus of the future, in which, 
while the beauty of ensemble song is retained, we realize 
at the same time Wagner's idea! that there should be no 
word- repetitions, no confusing of the text-words, and 
that every member of the chorus ahouH be an individnal 
actor. There is food here for hours <»f thought. 

The fact that several of the poetic (and consequently 
also the musical) features of Parsifal date back to an 
earlier period of its composer's life, makes it difficult 
to answer definitely the question whether his creative 
power retained its freshness and vigor up to his last 
years. Certain it is that most of the Parsifal motives 
eijUiil, in their definite emotional suggestiveness and 
originality, those of his former dramas; certain it is, 
too, tliat in this score he still further enriched the mys- 
terious science and art of harmony and modulation with 
new combinations which deeply stir the emotions; cer- 
tain, ^ain, that nowhere has he better shown his amazing 
skill in developing, combining, and interweaving motives, 
and in coloring them with orchestral tints such as no 
other composer has ever had on his palette. In the final 
scene of Parsifal — the last pages of music he penned 
— it seems as if all these colors were to be surpassed in 
saturated vividness. Only the deep celestial blue of the 
Mediterranean, of the Spanish sky, can give an idea of ethereal orchestral splendors. 

Generations will pass before the musical public will 
realize what a wealth of musical material is stored in 
this score. Its dramatic grandeur and pictorial beauties 
impress all spectators at once, but the music needs 


repeated hearing before all its marvels are revealed. A 
Berlin critic aptly compared this music to that Raphael 
Madonna, '' which appears to us at first glance to have 
a background of clouds; but if we look more closely the 
clouds are resolved into the heads of angels. '^ ^ 


The future writer of a comic history of music will 
have less of a harvest in the Parsifal than in the Nibe- 
lung criticisms, although the field is almost as large. A 
few grains, however, are worth gleaning. Ten days 
before the first performance at Bayreuth, Franz Hille 
of Vienna wrote an article on ''Eichard Wagner — No 
Musician." Another expert, named Schrattenholtz, who 
had wisely waited until he had heard Parsifal, found 
Parsifal "a desert with a few oases," while the sounds 
uttered by Kundry in the scene where Klingsor hypno- 
tizes her, "might be permissible in a dog subjected to 
vivisection, but in an artist they are simply ridiculous." 
On Alfred von Mensi the Parsifal motives suggested 
" piano-tuning with impediments." The same critic was 
one of two who made the brilliant discovery that the 
Parsifal poem was full of the usual crude and clumsy 
alliterative efiEects, whereas, in truth, there is in this 

1 It is to be feared that when Parsifal makes its way to the oommer- 
cial opera-hoases, much of this beaatiful mosic wiU have to be sacri- 
ficed ; for although in the number of bars (4347) it is Wagner's shortest 
score, except Rheingold (which has 3906 bars, while the Dutchman has 
4432, aocoidiDg to a writer in the London Musical Times of Nov. 1, 
1883) , most of the music is so solemn and slow that more time is con- 
sumed than usually. The first act alone lasts an hour and three- 
quarters; but I have never yet met any one at Bayreuth who found it 
too long. 



whole poem only one alliterative verse: "Ihr nfihrt sia 
niclit, Bie nalit euch nie."' Max Kalbeck pronouuoed 
Wagner a 

"talent without genuine ori^Rslity of LDTentloD. . . . Not & great 
artiBt, but a clubsmith {Vereinmmier), puff-hero, intrigue-forger, 
scan dal-in alter, and seciarlu)." Another Mice, sumamed Schonau, 
opined that in Pani/al Wagner has "once more proven that in 
musical endowment be HurpBaaes all living ogmposers about U 
much aa he hlmaelf is aurpassed by Mozart" ! 

The well-known art-critic Wilhelin Ltibke appears to 
have had au awful experience at Bayreuth. Here are 
a few of the things he discovered in Parsifal: — 

'■The destruction of all healthy art-principles"; "roualeal 
Invention at a lower level"; "an endless desert of diaconragjng 
psalmodic recilatives" [ "an absolute negaluin of the dramatic " ; 
" a complete absence of melodic charm " ; Paraifal blmHeU Is " an 
impotent pray-brotber " ; the whole drama is calculated " for hya* 
tericaJ women and blast men of the world"; the festival Itself 
must be characterized as " art dragged down to the level of com- 
mercial puffery " ; " What would Lessing and Herder, Qoethe and 
Soliiller, say If tiey saw their countrymen threatened by such 
intellectual obscuration? Wbat would they say ... to the at- 
tempt to dish up the obsolete symbols of mediieval mysticism aa 
objects of veneration t " 

No wonder that Lilbke felt inclined to propose Wag- 
ner aa a "Doctor of Cacophony." He forgot only one 
thing: the wisdom of a certain old proverb relating to a 
cobbler and his last, 

Mr. Joseph Bennett, in his letters to the London Tele- 
graph, notes gleefully that before the second performance, 

I Tappert, Fiir nntf widtr Pariifal. Berlin, 1882. T, Bartb. P. 22. 
See also p. 14 for an amusing list of pet names bestowed on the Wag- 
nerltes by the " critics," 


^'an obliging clerk made various graceful carres with 
his pencil upon the plan, and intimated that all seats 
within their cope were at my disposal." This, surely, 
was something to rejoice over, all the more as Mr. Ben- 
nett found the subject *^ painful indeed, " and the " patchy, 
disjointed, flighty music . . . singularly wearisome and 
unsatisfactory"; moreover, he felt quite certain that the 
English people, '^at any rate, will never admit Parsifal 
among them." 

So the English Archphilistine does not disappoint us 
even on this last occasion, but when the comic historian 
of music looks among his German colleagues who were 
formerly so ''amoosin'," he will be doomed to a large 
measure of disappointment. Even Speidel, Ehlert, Lin- 
dau, and Hanslick were not what they should have been; 
they distinctly disappointed their admirers. Speidel 
made one more despairing effort to be witty by calling 
Wagner a " Wahnf riedrich " ; then he utterly collapsed 
into the confession that ''since the first performance of 
Lohengrin, we have not been in a position to bestow praise 
on Wagner. To-day circumstances compel us to oppose 
appreciation to the hard word of condemnation." In 
other words, the great Ludwig Speidel, reputed one of 
the leading German critics of the nineteenth century, 
tells us that he found nothing whatever to praise in 
Eheingold, WaUcUre, Siegfried, Cfdtterddmmerung, Tri^an, 
and Meisterainger I Thus we see the miraculous even in 
Wagner's enemies: as their conscious wit fails them, 
they become witty unwittingly. 

One of the most melancholy episodes in the history of 
Wagnerism is the misunderstanding between Dr. Paul 
Lindau and Dr. Eduard Hanslick on the subject of Par- 


Bifal. Lindau is not quite reconciled to the IfCadiDg 
Motives, and he even tells us that "the hatred of melody 
has taken root more and more deeply in Wagner " ; but he 
modestly qualifies this hy speaking of melody " as com- 
monly understood " (t.e. vocal dance rhythms). He also 
condemns his own procedure on former occasions by 
remarking that "all Wagner's poems improve on closer 
acquaintance, and it would be presumptuous to express a 
final opinion after a single hearing." He pronounces 
Parsifal one of the most beautiful dramatic productions 
in existence, and compares the tableaux to Perugino's ; 
for the music, too, he has little but praise. 

No wonder that Dr. Hanslick, in his review of the 
"Parsifal Literature," found his friend Lindau disap- 
pointing. His letters on Parsifal, he complains, are 
inferior to the Sober Letters on the first Bayreuth Festi- 
val, in which he "told Wagner the bitterest truths about 
his Tetralogy. ... In the Parsifal letters, we miss the 
same irresistible spirit of laughter and derision." In- 
deed, Hanslick is mean enough to intimate that possibly 
Lindau's sources of wit had dried up, because he did not 
make clownish fun of Parsifal ! The most unkindest cut 
of all, on Lindau's part, was that whereas Hanslick had 
found the "diseased kernel" of the drama in the fact 
that Wagner, at the critical point, deviates from the old 
legend,' Lindau, a famous dramatist himself, finds in 
this very fact Wagner's dramatic masterstroke, " which 
renders the conflict more profound." 

And yet — what right has Hanslick to throw stones at 
Lindau when he himself — Professor Dr. Eduard Hans- 


lick — wrote such rank heresies aa the following, d 
propoB of PanifaXt 

" JUBt as that Babylonian niler tkad his name bnmt on every 
brick UiU helped to form great archit«clnrsl works, to bear witneai 
after thousanda of years, so the aathor of Partifal has Impreaaed 
an invlBibla R. W., m It were, on every bar. With perfect cer- 
tainty, BOholan will, in future times, recognize every page of this 

" In all of Wagner's operaa the moaic has succeeded In toning 
down the defects of the poem, and In adding to the beauty of Its 
good points." 

" Panlfal U scored in a surprisingly discreet manner. In the 
art of orcheetraUon Wagner Iiaa not grown old ; In Far^<A this 
art has developed into pure magic, and tor every change of mood 
conjures the most wonderful sounds in Inflnite shades and varle^." 

As regards the creative power in general : — 

" For a man of Wagner's age [sixty-nine], and with his system, 
it seems to me in Partifal to continue to be astounding. Any one 
who can write pieces of the enchanting melodious charm of the 
fiower-girl scene, and of the energy of the final scene in Faraifal, 
still baa control of a power which his youngest contemporaries 
may envy blm." 

Does it not seem as if Hanslick's complaint of Lin- 
dau'a heresy were a case of the pot calliug the kettle 


On the evening before the first performance of Parrifijl, 
there was a banquet at the restaurant near the theatre, 
at which all the artists were present. In course of the 
evening W^ner delivered an address in which he spoke 
in terms of gratitude of the friends who had generously 
assisted him, especially of bis royal patio% without 


whose aid this second Festival too would have been 
impossible; he concluded with a toast to Liszt, whom 
he declared identical with himself — "Franz Liszt ist 
mit mir eins, " After the banquet, when he waa about to 
leave, and had already donned his paletot, he faced aboat^ 
hat in hand, to deliver a few further remarks, ending 
with the exclamation: "May all the actors be possessed 
by the devil, and those in the auditorium at least receive 
him. If you do not all become crazy, our object will 
not have been attained." 

The first representation, on July 26, was more perfect 
than that of any of the Nibelwng dramas had been in 
1876. The oast included Materna, Winkelmann, Reich- 
mann, Scaria, Hill, and Kindermano, in the rftlea of 
Kundry, Parsifal, Amfortas, Gumemanz, Klingsor, and 
Titurel respectively. All of tlii'sf were e.tcellent, both 
as singers and as actors. Scaria, in particular, distin- 
guished himself by revealing, with almost unprecedented 
art, tlie marvellous beauty of Wagnerian song, combin- 
ing a mellow, sonorous tone -production with an absolute 
distinctness of articulation, not a word being lost or 
mumbled. It was ideal dramatic singing, a new style of 
vocal utterance brought to perfection for the first time. 
On this topic, and on the various scenic and other 
experiments that had to be made before everything was 
satisfactory, Wagner himself discourses eloquently and 
suggestively in his reminiscences of the Parsifal Festi- 
val (X. 383-395), from which I will quote only one 

" Experienced theatrical managers ashed me what was the 
ecret of the government which secured such astoniahing resnlta 
1 the precision of all scenic, musical sud dramatic details on. 


over, under, and behind the stage ; upon which I retorted good- 
humoredly that this was accomplished through anarchy, every one 
doing wlutt he wished, namely, the right thing. Certainly this 
was true : every one understood the whole of the object aimed at. 
No one fancied himself called on to do too much or too little. 
Every one cared more for the success of the whole than for personal 
applause, to receive which from the public in the customary manner 
was looked on as a disturbance, while the interest manifested by 
the constant arrival of new audiences rejoiced us as evidence of 
the correctness of our belief in the worth of our efforts.** 

This last sentence vaguely hints at a slightly unpleas- 
ant incident which occurred at the first performance of 
ParsifaL It was understood by Wagner's admirers, who 
made up the greater part of tiie audience, that he was 
averse to applause while the curtain was up. On this 
occasion, in view of the semi-religious character of the 
drama, it was his desire that there should be no applause 
at all, or at least no attempt to call the actors or com- 
poser on the stage before the end of the last act, in order 
that the dramatic illusion might be kept up to the last 
moment. The artists most willingly agreed to this, as 
to everything desired by the Meister; but the public did 
not quite understand the situation. The ecclesiastic 
solemnity of the close of the first act did not invite to 
any noisy demonstrations; but when, after the second 
act, the applause became '^operatic" in character, and 
the calls for the composer and the artists continued, 
Wagner finally appeared, and in a tone of reproach 
begged the audience not to insist on seeing the artists; 
adding that such a form of approval was not called for 
on this occasion. The Wagnerian audience — as obedi- 
ent to the Meister's wishes as the singers themselves — 
took this request literally, and when the last act was 


over refrained from all applause. But this was not what 
Wagner had meant. He rose in bia box and said: 
"Whether my friends are satisfied with me, I know not. 
But if thej are as much satisfied with my artists as I am, 
then I beg them to follow my example, who am the first 
to applaud them." Whereupon a storm of applause 
arose; but the singers had already retired to their 
dressing-rooms, and did not appear before the curtain. 

No sincere friend of art can deny that Wagner's inten- 
tions were of the noblest, and that the nn pleasantness of 
this affair merely resulted from an awkward misunder- 
standing. The critical Philistines, however, who had 
succeeded in getting seats, proceeded, with their usual 
extraordinary hatred of genius, to make this incident the 
basis of one of their regular malicious tirades against 
Wagner's character, the special point of attack being 
again the gaucherie of his speeches to the public. Per- 
haps he took these aspersions to heart; at any rate, at 
the close of the last performance, the third act of which 
he conducted himself, he made an effusive speech of 
thanks' to the artists, who had come on the stage, he 
himself being invisible to the audience, which he also 
ignored in his speech. This again aroused the ire of 
the Philistines: homilies ai>peared on the next day in 
Berlin and Vienna papers abusing Wagner for his " insult- 
ing way of ignoring the audience! " 

The last performance but one had as its most enthusi- 
astic spectator the Crown Prince of Prussia; while the 
last repetition was attended by the Duke and Duchess of 
Edinburgh, the Grand Duke of Weimar, Prince Gustav 
of Sachsen- Weimar, and the Prince and Princess Wladi- 
mir of Bussia. European royalty had evidently quite 



forgiven the former reyolntionist. The , audiences had 
increased toward the end, and on the last two days the 
house was almost filled; the consequence being that the 
fund of f 35,000 collected for the Parsifal Festival not 
only remained intact, but the receipts covered the 
expenses, with a surplus of ^1500, which sum was added 
to that fund. Under these circumstances, a repetition 
of the Festival in 1883 was decided upon, as a matter of 
course. The artists said farewell to their esteemed 
Master on the understanding that all were to meet again 
the following summer; but fate ordained otherwise: 
King Ludwig's two black swans were ominous of the 
mourning in store for them.^ 

1 Not content with thanking his artists coUectively, Wagner called 
on them individaally to express his gratitude in words and by means 
of presents of photographs, vases, statnes, etc., often with playful 
inscriptions. To Reichmann he said: "Na, yon brilliant fellow, yon 
shall have something aniqne," whereapon he put his hand in his pocket 
and pressed a golden ten-mark piece into the astonished singer's hand. 
There, my boy, is a ten-mark souvenir ; Schnorr received only a thaler 
after the first TrUtan night! " (Oesterlein, IIL 178.) 



" To speaik of the suocesa of a new work by Wagner, " 
says Dr. Kiemaim, " sounds to our modern notions almost 
like heresy; it is an event." Parst/al was an " event " 
in musical history, and would have been one even had it 
proved a financial failure; nevertheless it is a pleasure 
to record that it was a suocess pecuniarily as well as 
artisticnlly. Yet it proved a dearly bought victory. 
There can be little doubt that had it not been for the 
labor and excitement of producing Parsifal, Wagner 
might have lived some years longer. Even in his 
younger days, the rehearsing of one of his works pros- 
trated him completely. In 18S2 he had almost reached 
his seventieth year, and the heart-trouble to which he 
succumbed a few months later had already made sad 
inroads on his vigor. He suffered much from palpita- 
tion and abdominal troubles, and had been afflicted, ever 
since 1879, by an occasional, although iufrequent, faint- 
ing-fit. No time -was therefore to be lost; he longed once 
more for the balmy air and autumnal sunshine of Italy. 
He left Bayreuth on Sejit. 14; rumor said, with a physi- 
cian as one of his companions, but this was not true. 
Foi-tunately, hia means allowed him to travel in comfort, 
and safe from the annoyance caused by curiosity. Thanks 


to the tnTelling Wagner Theatre and other sootces, it is 
estimated that his income daring the last year of his Ufa 
was {25,000.* The party arrived in Munich on tha 
fifteenth, in a private parlor-car, and forthwith con- 
tinued the journey to Venice. At Bozen there was a 
narrow escape from an unpleasant detention; heavy rains 
had caused an inundation which interrupted railway 
travel. Fortunately, luck was no loi^r against Wag- 
ner, as always in former years: he was in the last train 
that succeeded in crossing into Italy. 

Venice was reached on the sixteenth, and rooms engaged 
at the Hotel Europe. Wagner had a great aversion to 
hotel life, on account of the inevitable noises and pub- 
licity; but he had to content himself for a week, until 
the superb saite of twenty-eight rooms he had rented in 
the first story of the Palazzo Vendramin had been pre- 
pared for occupancy. This famous palace was built 
before the discovery of America (1481), and it has been 
ever since one of the sights of Venice which few tourists 
overlook. Its spaciousness, its architectural beauty, its 
historic associations, and romantic situation on the Grand 
Canal, appealed to the imagination of Wagner, who was 
in one of his happiest moods when he took possession of 
it, on a bright sunny day. Twenty-eight rooms may 
seem a large number, but there were plenty of occupants 
for them. Besides the composer and his wife, the house- 
hold in the Vendramin comprised Siegfried and Era 
W^[ner (aged twelve and fourteen years), Daniela and 

1 1 may aUta in thii pUee that he aaked ol B. Schott's Boni •30,000 
for the TlKht of pablUblng Partifai. As they had paid Mm tha 
ftbaoidly bidbII BDin of 910,000 for the bna drwou of the N\MvMg'» 
JNny , ha thu wMted to eat»bll«h a. moie Init average. Ha neoaadad, 
howaVar, In getting only SIS.OOO tor FartifaL 




Isolde Biilow, Baron von Stein, the teacliera of Eva and 
Siegfried, and four German servants. Room had also to 
be found for the Count Gravina and his vrife Blandina 
(n&e Billow), for Liszt, and for the painter Joukowsky, 
who were entertained as guests. 

In this domestic circle Wagner spent the laat twenty 
weeks of his life. Visitors were not desired, and if any 
called, Frau Cosima was usually the one to receive them. 
The love of solitude was, if possible, more pronounced 
than ever in her husband. He believed be should live 
to be ninety years old; yet he could not tell; any day 
might be his last, and his mind was still so full of proj- 
ects that he felt his time was too valuable to b© given 
up to social duties. While accepting no calls except 
from intimate friends, he rarely made any except on the 
Countess Hatzfeld, whose daughter, the Countess von 
Schleinitz had been for years one of his dearest friends, 
and a most influential patroness at the Prussian court. 
To husband his strength for his work, he led a most 
regular life. Rising before six o'clock, he devoted a few 
hours to writing, during which no one was allowed to 
enter, unless he called for a servant, who found him in 
such cases sitting with his face to the windows, bending 
over his work, with a glass of wine or cognac on the 
table. On chilly mornings — Italian palaces are not 
easily heated — he exchanged his satin smoking-gown 
for his fur cloak. 

This isolation continued till about ten o'clock, — some- 
times till twelve or one, — breakfast being served sepa- 
rately to him, as to the other members of the household. 
When ^he morning's work was done, Frau Cosima entered, 
to give bim the day's news and inform him of the con- 


tents of letterSi suppressing whaterer might annoy him, 
for the doctor had ordered that excitement must be 
avoided above all things. A good dinner, washed down 
with Bhine wine, was taken after the German fashimi, 
in the middle of the day, at one or two, and was followed 
by an hour's nap in the bedroom facing the 1'alace 
garden, where the cries of the gondoliers, ami the steant' 
whistle of the canal ^^ tramway '^ could not lie heard* Ttte 
afternoon hours were devoted to recreation^ ami to walks 
in the city or excursions on the water* After the room' 
ing conference with his wife, he usually went down into 
the courtyard to ascertain the cIuMiees of good weather/ 
He had a curious habit of lifting bis baodsi one aft#r i\m 
other, and moving them aboot^ as if to teet the HimAiti^m 
of the air. In case of doubt, the gtmdolUfr§ were ^/m* 
suited as to the weather prospedts* If tlii; /y/ri/liti//fis 
were favorable, the gondr^la was ord^rM tor 'A/^K W*if * 
ner often expressed his preference fftr a i^mnUAn ovttr 
a carriage, because of the absence of dust and noise* 
Sometimes the excursions were extended beyond the 
city canals, to Murano or the Lido, as he found that the 
fresh salt breezes from the ocean benefited his lungs. 
On such occasions he was usually seen comfortably 
extended, engaged in conversation with his wife and 
children, with vivid gesticulations, while their attentive 
attitude showed how they worshipped and loved him, 
and cherished every word that came from his lips. 

In his walks in the city he was sometimes also accom- 
panied by his family, but often he went alone as far as 
the Piazetta, where he sometimes sat an hour to rest and 
meditate; or else he called at his banker's, or at a con- 
fectioner's, or indulged in a glass of beer and a piece of 


Swiss cheese, in deBanee of the doctor's warnings; oi 
called at his barber's to have him cut his hair, which 
continued to grow with youthful vigor. Sometimes the 
music in St. Mark's Place seemed to annoy him, and 
once, when a selection from Lohengrin was played, he 
was seen going into Lavennaa, and stopping up his ears. 
On another occasion, he went up to the conductor and 
begged him to play something from Rossini's Oazia 
Ladra. The bandmaster did not know him, and ex- 
pressed his regrets that he could not do so, as he had not 
the music with him; but liardly had Wagner turned his 
back when some one told him who the distinguished- 
looking stranger was. 'Whereupon a messenger was 
immediately despatched and the piece asked for played 
with special care and fire. Wagner was much pleased 
by this attention; he came to thank the musicians for 
their good-will and to compliment them on their perform- 
Sometimes an excursion was made along the narrower 
canals, in the poorer quarters of Venice, or to the special 
sights of the town, such as the fishmarket. When the 
gondolier had found a specially interesting route, Wagner 
would reward him with an extra fee of a few francs. He 
liked to mingle with the poor of Venice, and when he 
came across a case of pathetic poverty, always had a few 

' Fur most ot the toreEoing dptaila reRardin? bis life in Venice and 
many (otlowinR onefl, I am indebted to «n entcrtainlog brotdiara of JBO 
paffK?. by Henry Perl, entitled Richiird Wagner in Venedig (Augsburg, 
1SS3). Kir. Perl was a frienrt of Dr. Keppler. wbo dally visited tbe Ven- 
dramin palace ; lie also obtained details from otber sources, lacludlng 
tbe gODdoliert and the servants. Thus his book is a mosaic which 
brings Wagner In his last months vividly before tbe eyes, and which 
must be comniended to all who would knotr the great composer's 
penouaUtjr. A tew iDaccuracies which occur in it are pudonabla. 


francs to bestow. ETeiybody in the city, rich and poor, 
soon knew the kind-hearted TetUtco, with the la^e gray 
hat and the brown overcoat. Genius inspires respect 
even if its manifestations are not understood; a remark 
repeatedly overheard by Mr. Perl indicates the attitude 
of the nai've Venetian populace towards the great Qer- 
man — " They say he is more than a king ; is it not so? " 
Before dark, the Meiater was always back in the 
.Palace, and the twUight hours were devoted to confiden- 
tial chats with his wife. She was more to him than 
even her father had been, for conjugal love is deeper than 
friendship. He adored her, and she worshipped him. 
All his wishes were anticipated, with an ingenuity known 
only to the unselfish love of woman. To her he could 
impart all hie plans, talk over his projects, knowing that 
they would be appreciated; she was his secretary, and 
his amanuensis whenever he was in the mood for dictat- 
ing. As twilight deepened into night, the Palace was 
illuminated to an extent which astonished the Italians. 
The portier of the Vendramin, a younger brother of 
Byron's gondolier, was reminded thereby of that English 
poet's fondness for brilliant illumination of his apart- 
ments. Supper was eaten at seven or eight, and after- 
wards one of the daughters would read an hour or two 
from a book chosen by her father. Sometimes he 
declaimed something from one of his works, and Perl 
relates that on one occasion he became so impassioned 
that the domestics were alarmed, fearing an accident had 
happened. If a humorous selection was read, his hearty 
laughter proved contagious to all; if a serious seleotioo, 
he would here and there interrupt the reader to make a 
few explanatory remarks or comments. 



By the arrival of Liszt, on Nov. 19, the familj circle 
was agreeably enlarged. Liszt was an earlier riser even 
than Wagner. He got up at four, and devoted the morn- 
ing hours to composition.^ After work hours, for the 
rest of the day, he and his son-in-law were inseparable. 
In the evening, the great pianist sometimes played alone, 
or accompanied the young folks when they sang a chorus* 
from Parsifal, Wagner was particularly fond, in his 
last weeks, of dwelling on scenes of his youth, and play- 
ing his earliest compositions. A special occasion for 
this was given by the discovery of his long-lost sym- 
phony. In a previous chapter (I. 29-^1) we tn^^ed the 
history of this symphony to the time when it was lost. 
It had been performed tliree times, — in the summer of 

1832, at Prague, on Christmas, 1832, and on Jan. 10, 

1833, in Leipzig. The score was then submitted to 
Mendelssohn, and that is the last that has ever been 
heard of it. Fortunately, the separate orchestral parts 
had not been given to Mendelssohn; they might still be 
in existence, but where? So thought Wagner about the 
time of the first Bayreuth Festival. He had founded a 
sort of Wagner Museum for his son Siegfried, and he was 
anxious to add the manuscript of his symphony to this 
collection. So he asked Wilhelm Tappert to use his 
detective's genius for its discovery. Tappert asked 

^ In Namber 363 of the Letters of Liszt, published by Breitkopf imd 
Hartel (1893) reference is made to a composition for piano and rioUn 
or violoncello, with a transcription for piano solo : " The title is La 
Lugubre Oondole (the moaming gondola). As if guided by a presen- 
timent, I wrote this elegy in Venice, six weeks before Wagner's death." 


everywhere, at first in Mendelssohn's family and of the 
executors of his will, then in Magdeburg, Riga, and 
Dresden. At last, in November, 1877, Professor Fflrste- 
nau, royal librarian in Dresden, succeeded in finding in 
a box, which Wagner had left in the house of the tenor 
Tichatschek, when he fled from Dresden, the manuscripts 
of three of his earlier overtures, and the violin part of 
some other composition. These were sent to Tappert, 
who, from some signs, discovered that the violin part 
must belong to the symphony sought for. Further search 
revealed the other parts, excepting the two trombones. 
Tappert forthwith sent the discovered treasure to Bay- 
reuth, where Frau Cosima surprised and delighted her 
husband by playing to him the motive of one of the move- 
ments; he jumped up excitedly, and exclaimed, ^^My old 
symphony — that is it I " 

Having recovered the parts of the score, he asked his 
secretary, Anton Seidl, to put them together into a new 
score, and the missing trombone parts were added. Then, 
for six years, the symphony rested in the ''Siegfried 
Archiv." In December, 1882, it occurred to him that 
''although the recovery could have no other significance 
than that of a friendly family tradition," it would be 
pleasant to hear the work once more. His wife's birth- 
day, on Christmas, was selected as the date of the per- 
formance, to which only a few friends of the family were 
to be invited. Count Coutin, president of the Liceo 
Benedetto Marcello, kindly placed his concert-room and 
orchestra at the disposal of Wagner, who says (X. 
403): — 

" Let me testify, first of all, that the rendering by the orchestra 
of the Liceo greatly satisfied me, owing, no doubt, to the number 


of rehearsals, which long ago at Leipzig hml beun refused t 
The nataral gifts of Ilalinn musiciaos for tone ut 
might lend to excellent developments it Italian taste would inteRst 
itseU in German instnimentAl music. Hjr sympbon; leallf aeened 
lo please." 

The diatin fished Italian critic, Filippo Filippi, who 
happened to be ia Venice at this time, wrote that — 

" Wagner attends Uie daily rehearsals of tills, bia jurenile oom- 
posilion, with the greatest ardor. He is sometimes nervous and 
Inilahle. Altogetliei he is well pleased with the oichestn at the 
Liceo, wbose members applaud enlhuaiastically at tlie end of every 
dirision of the eymphony. 

"The style o[ it is an imitation of Beethoven, hot remains per- 
fectly individu^. The ideas are new, full ol Impulse, splendidly 
harmonious, admirably developed, and instrumented In a way that 
shows traces of what has become the polyphonic system of the last 

W^:ner himaelE (X. 403-405) was rather inclined to 
poke fun at thia "old-fashioned " work, especially at the 
kind of themes which, as he pregnantly said (and this 
applies to many other symphonies), "do very well for 
counterpoint, but express little" — one of those terse 
sayings which contain a world of philosophy.' 

■ The Bymphony lasts about forty-five minutes. It is writUn tor 
lari^e orchestra, includiDK trombones. Mr. J. 8. Sbedlock la do doubt 
right it) pronouncing the scherzo the most original movement, and in 
saying that " looking at the sympbony as a whole. It is of coQ^der«h!a 
Interest, and quite as full of promise as any of the early symphonies of 
Schubert." An elaborate terhntcal analysis of It may be found in 
Upton's Standard Sympkoniei. Wagner himself did not wish this 
symphony to be given to the world ; but his helr« fuBtly decided to 
satisfy universal curiosity by allowing the agent Wolff (In return 
for 812,000) the right of lending the score lor a yeai to ooucert- 



Extremes have never met more strikingly than they 
did when the aged Master, in the zenith of his glory^ 
resurrected this early work exactly half a century after 
its creation. When he laid aside the bd,ton, he ex- 
claimedy "I have conducted for the last time." His 
health had been in a precarious condition ever since he 
had arrived in Venice, and of late it had taken a turn 
for the worse, so that his mind was darkened by pre- 
sentiments. He was fortunate in having been able^ soon 
after his arrival, to place himself under the care of 
a first-class German physician. Dr. Friedrich Keppler. 
The fact that Dr. Keppler did not appreciate his music 
made him none the less welcome as an adviser and inti- 
mate friend, to whom his famous patient not only con- 
fided his physical troubles, but many of his other affairs. 
When the symptoms were unfavorable, Wagner was 
particularly solicitous that his family should be kept in 
ignorance of the fact. It cannot be denied that he was 
not a model patient. He constantly violated the doctor's 
orders, especially in regard to mental work, for which he 
had the same uncontrollable passion as in his youth ; and 
when his strength failed he resorted to coffee, tea, and 
other stimulants to spur on the tired brain, which needed 
absolute rest, especially as he had heart-trouble, in which 
continued rest is the best remedy. When he had a bad 
day, he put the blame on an error of diet, or on the 
weather, which indeed did, more than ever, influence his 
health. When Dr. Keppler took charge of him, he found 
him indulging in the pernicious habit of taking all sorts 


of medicines that had been recommended to him by 
previous physicians. The original source of his troable 
was doubtless his dyspepsia, the result of his starration 
in Paris and subsequent careless habits of diet. In the 
last months of his life he suffered from dilatation of the 
stomach and other abdominal troubles, which gradually 
affected the heart, and led to its enlargement and fatty 
degeneration.' The occasional difficulty of breathing 
resulting from this heart trouble (especially in depressing 
weather) gave rise to his curious habit of putting bis 
hands on his back when walking, to facilitate respiration; 
indeed, his tailor had for years made overcoats for him 
with two pockets on the back for the liands. Locomotion 
had a tendency to relieve liia distress, consequently be 
often walked about the palace for hours at a time. After 
New Year his symptoms became ^gravated. He would 
sometimes go for a walk, but return in a few moments, 
breathing with difficulty and groaning. He now began 
to pay more attention to the doctor's warnings, but every 
respite sent him back to his work. He had several 
fainting fits, and on recovering, his first care was that 
his wife and children should not hear about it. Liszt 
left Venice toward the middle of the month; on Jan. 13 
the two friends embraced for the last time; exactly a 
month later one of the hearts ceased to beat. A few 
days before this catastrophe, Wagner had planned an 
excursion to Verona with Siegfried, which the doctor 
approved of; but bad weather frustrated his intentions. 
On the twelfth he felt uncommonly well — unfortunately, 

' 9ee Dr. Keppler's report prefiied to Perl's AicAaril Warner in 
Venedig. The hertiial trouble had been aggravated by a badly adjuawd 
bfiadage, the corractlon ol which gkve the patient a pleaaant lemponuy 


for it apparently led him to overexert himself fatally on 
the unlucky thirteenth. On this last d&y he rose as 
usual at six, and busied himself, it is believed, wiih the 
preparations and instructions for the coning summer's 
Festival at Bayreuth. Conductor Levi of Munich had 
. just been in Venice to bring him the latest news. It 
was raining in torrents, but the gondola was ordered, as 
usual, to be ready at four, in hopes of a change. He 
gave instmctions that he must not be disturbed before 
two o'clock. The maid, Betty Btirgel, remained in the 
anteroom, according to her custom, in case he should 
want anything. At one o'clock she was summoned by 
the bell. Wagner asked if the gondola had been ordered^ 
and said he wished to dine alone ; a plate of sonp would 
suffice, as he was not feeling well. The soup was brought, 
and Betty resumed her place. Shortly afterwards she 
heard her master walking about the room, conghing 
persistently. She felt alarmed, and was about to call 
Cosima, when she heard her name faintly called. She 
hastened into the room and foond Wagner lying on bis 
sofa, partly covered by his fur, his feet on a chair, 
his features terribly distorted. With difficulty he said, 
"Call my wife and the doctor." These were the last 
words that came from his lips. His death-struggle was 
hard and agonizing. 

Betty hastened to call Cosima, and several messengers 
were despatched after Dr. Keppler. When Cosima hur- 
ried into her husband's room she found him dying; but 
she did not know it. She &ncied he was merely in a 
swoon, and tried various means of restoring him. When 
the doctor arrived and informed her of the true state of 
aSaii^ she ottered a piercing cry, clasped the body in 



her anna, and fainted away. For twenty-sir hours she 
/efused to leave the body or to take any nourishmeat, till 
she swooned again and could be removed. The news of 
Wagner'a death waa all over Venice in on hourj at every 
street-comer, people were saying, " Richard Wagner ia 
dead." Five thousand telegrams relating to this event 
were despatched from, Venice in twenty -four hours. 
Henry Perl met the Master's gondolier at the station, 
with a bundle of telegrams in his band, and almost 
speechless from grief, but gasping out something about 
"the good, noble, only man, who never spoke an unkind 
word to US, however ill he waa." A despatch arrived 
from King Ludwig, rei^uesting that the body should not 
be touched until his messenger bad arrived. Deputations 
oame, offering a grand and Incoming funeral pageant on 
the part of the city of Venice; but the widow could not 
endure the thought of it, and declined the kind offer. 
Among the wreaths sent were two from King Ludwig 
and the King of Italy. King Humbert's wreath was 
trimmed with black, red, and gold libbanda. King 
Ludwig's was tied with blue and white satin streamers, 
with this inscription in golden letters': " To the Master, 
Richard Wagner, from liis devoted admirer and King, 

Herr Gross of Bayreuth came as the King's messenger 
to superintend the transfer of the body to German soil. 
Liszt fainted when the death-message waa brought to 
him at Pesth, and bis prostration was so great that he 
could not come to Venice. Hans Richter came fiom 
Vienna, whence also a superb sarcophagus had been 
ordered. In the meantime the city of Venice had made 
a second offer of an official funeral, which again was 


declined by the widow. The Palace had to be surrounded 
with guards to keep off the crowd. To the room where 
the body lay no one was admitted except a few friends, 
including Dr. Keppler, Hans Richter, and the Countess 
Hatzfeld. Cosima, in the agony of her grief, had cut off 
her long blonde hair, which her husband had always 
loved to have her wear loose over her shoulder, and 
placed it on a red satin cushion under his head, to be 
buried with him. Gosima did not wish a death-mask, 
but it was taken, nevertheless, by the sculptor Ben- 
venuti, without her knowledge. 

It was on a sultry, rainy day, with thunder and light- 
ning, that Wagner had died. On the sixteenth, when 
the body was to be taken to Germany, the sun shone 
brightly in the blue sky. At two o^clock, eight men, 
including Richter, Keppler, and Joukowsky, bore the 
coffin from the Palace down to the black gondola, fol- 
lowed by servants with the wreaths. The family soon 
followed, and boarded other black gondolas. It was the 
widow's express wish that there should be no funeral 
music; she feared it would rend her heart in twain. So 
the procession moved along the canal in solemn silence, 
broken only by the tolling of a distant bell. The canal 
was lined with hundreds of gondolas filled with sympa- 
thetic Italians who regretted that the widow had refused 
the offer of an official fimeral. 

By order of the city authorities, the railway station 
had been shut off to all but passengers, the official repre- 
sentatives of Venice, and the funeral cortege. The coffin 
was placed in a special mourning car, draped in black, 
which had been sent from Vienna; a parlor-car behind 
it was reserved for the mourners. These cars were 


attached to the tegular express train &a tax as Vicenza, 
whence they were taken as an extra train via Verona and 
Munich to Bayreuth. Special orders had been given by 
the Italian, Austrian, and German government officials 
that the train should not be detained or examined at the 


Nowhere had the news of Wagner's death produced 
more consternation than at Bayreuth, the eity rejuve- 
nated by his geniuB. The whole town was draped in 
mourning. Before the arrival of the funeral train, the 
hotels had again filled up, aa during Festival days. A 
black flag floated over the theatre on the hill, black flags 
darkened the windows along the main avenues, and the 
street-lamps were draped in black. Bepresentatives of 
various German princes, of theatres, of the leading W^;- 
ner Societies, eminent conductors and other musicians 
and friends of the deceased were present to do him the 
last honor. It was the widow's desire that the body 
should be buried in presence of only a few intimate 
friends, and without any address or music. The public 
ceremony, therefore, took place at the station, after the 
coffin had been removed from the car to a tribune. The 
proceedings began at four o'clock, on the seventeenth, 
with the playing of Siegfried's Death March. Burgo- 
master Muncker then delivered a brief and touching 
address, followed by Friedrich Feustel, from whose 
remarks' two sentences may be quoted: "Future gen- 
erations will find it difficult to believe what they will 

impleM In the ifeut ZeiftcAr(/t /Sr 


read aboat the impediments that were placed in this 
great man's way in his efforts to attain his ideal." ''The 
performance of Parsifal this year will be the most dig- 
nified memorial service for the deceased." 

A special touch of reminiscent pathos was given by 
the arrangement that after these addresses the Bayreutii 
Liederkranz should sing the chorus on motives from 
Weber's operas which Wagner had arranged for that 
composer's burial in Dresden. The procession was then 
marshalled into line: first a military band, then a car- 
riage loaded with wreaths. This was followed by the 
hearse^ drawn by four black horses, attended by all the 
local clergymen, and the pall-bearers, including Albert 
Niemann, Anton Seidl, Wilhelmj, Forges, Fritz Brandt, 
Levi, and others. Behind the hearse came King Lud- 
wig's representative. Count Fappenheim; then friends 
of the family, deputations of cities, theatres, and Wag- 
ner Societies; artists, journalists, and officers; then 
another band followed by the citizens of Bayreuth, 
thousands of whom had assembled at the station. At 
5.30 the procession moved through the city towards the 
villa Wahnfried, to the funeral dirges of the bands, 
deepened by the doleful sounds of all the bells in the 
city. Half-way down the Bennweg (now Richard Wag- 
ner Street), the music stopped, and the villa was reached 
in silence. The coffin was lifted off the carriage and 
carried into the garden, where Eva and Siegfried Wagner 
awaited it. It was then carried to the grave behind the 
house, followed by members of the family, friends, 
artists, and journalists. At the open grave, Deacon 
Kesselmann spoke a short prayer during which a touch- 
ing incident occurred. Two of Wagner's large black 


dogs had followed the procession, and as Eva and Sieg- 
fried sank down on their knees, one of them c 
licked their faces, aa if sympathizing with their grief; 
and why should he not ? Had he not also lost his best 
friend ? After the prayer, all but the children left the 
grave, such being the desire of Cosima, who now joined 
her family to weep her tears unobserved by other eyes. 
For mouths and years she watched and wept over this 
grave every evening. The Parsifal Festival was again 
held in the summer, but she was not accessible to artists 
or visitors — not even to her father, Liszt. The pleasant 
duty of thanking the artists, after the last performance, 
for their continued devotion, devolved on her children. 
Before the next Festival was due, however, she had made 
a heroic effort to subdue her grief sufficiently to begin 
what was to be the work of her life — the attempt to 
carry out Wagner's intentions as to the periodical model 
performances of all his works at Bayreuth. The grave, 
too, which had been jealously guarded from stranger- 
eyes, was made accessible. Almost every Bayreuth pil- 
grim now pays it a visit. It is a low, square mound, 
covered by a large horizontal marble slab, its sloping 
sides now overrun with ivy. Low, shady trees surround 
it, and visitors who approach it from the side of the city 
park are prevented by an iron grating from despoiling it 
of its ivy dress, but not from throwing on the white 
marble slab the wreaths and bouquets with which it is 
always covered during the Festival weeks. A plain rustic 
bench stands on one side, and a narrow path leads thence 
to the widow Coaima's garden. 



Had he lived three months longer, Richard Wagner 
would have attained the three-score-and-ten years allotted 
to man by the Scriptures. Preparations to celebrate his 
seventieth birthday had been made in various parts of 
Grermany ; but the jubilation was changed to sorrow, and 
Siegfried's Death March had to be substituted for the 
Huldigungsmarsch. Seventy years iro long life — twice 
the average duration of a human generation, and about 
twice as long as the life of Mozart (thirty-five), Schubert 
(thirty-one), Weber (forty), Mendelssohn (thirty-eight), 
Chopin (forty). Wagner, however, hoped for twenty 
years more. His family had quite made up their minds 
that he was to live ninety years, and he used to remark 
that even that would not be enough to allow him to put 
on paper all the schemes he had in his head. What were 
these schemes — musical or literary? On this point the 
widow Gosima alone can perhaps enlighten the world. 
The rumor that there was to be a new Buddhistic music- 
drama, The Victor (or The PenUent)^ was evidently 
without foundation, for the material collected for such 
a drama was, as we have seen, partly incorporated in 
Parsifal, There were also rumors that he contemplated 
studies tending to a revival of Greek music — to which 





BO credence need be given. It seems most probable that 
he intended to write some more philosophical treatises, 
in which case the world's loss is not excessive; for in 
philosophy (the branch of leatbetics, of course, excepted), 
his mind remained to the end a gallery of echoes, and 
his style obscure. 

Whatever his subject might have been, we may be sure 
that had he lived another decade or two another music- 
drama or several more volumes of prose writings would 
have been given to the world. A passion for hard work, 
amounting at times to fanaticism, was one of his most 
conspicuous traits, and lay at the bottom of the unsocia- 
bility and inaccessibility with which he was so often 
reproached. Could he have curbed this eagerness for 
work, he might have lived longer. He wrote up to the 
very hour of his death. The last thing we possess irom. 
hia pen is a fragment of an essay intended for the Bay- 
reuther BteUler. Its beginning is dated Feb. 11, and its 
title is "The Feminine Element in Humanity," To its 
contents reference waa made in a previous chapter 
(" Romantic Love in Wagner's Operas ") ; here I merely 
wish to call attention to tbe interesting fact that the last 
sentence he ever wrote for public use relates to what he 
calls "the beautiful trait" in the Buddhist legend which 
vindicates woman's claim to the saintly privileges previ- 
ously arrogated by man alone. It was fitting that one 
who so adored women as he did, and was worshipped by 
them in return, should thus die with a good word for 
them on his lips. In one letter he refers to himself as 
" I who praised women more than Frauenlob " ; in another, 
he exclaims with reference to the newly created Briinn- 
hilde, " I believe I can assure you that never before has 

'* — ^m ■ : ^ . — 


woman been glorified as in this poem." And ^ain: 
"Women aie the music of life." In saying that "with 
women's hearts it has always gone well with my art," 
he was right too; for the favor shown to him personally, 
and to his art by women, was, from the beginning, so 
marked that ungallant opponents fancied they had scored 
a great point gainst the Wagnerites in general by refer* 
ring to them with the feminine ending, as Wagnerianerin- 

The woman who worshipped him most of all was his 
second wife ; her devotion assumed the valuable form of 
saving him much of the drudgery of the last twenty years 
of his life. To her, among other things, he dictated his 
Autobiography (reaching to 1866), in three volumes,* and 
it is said that a continnatioo of this was one of the tasks 
set for the winter in which he died. In his autobio- 
graphic writings, Wagner is usually at his best, — bright, 
witty, entertaining, — whereas hia other prose works are 
of very unequal merit as regards clearness of style and 
thought; many of them were written "against the grain," 
in the frantic desire to enlighten the world as to his 
aims; yet when he had once plunged into them, he gave 
bis whole energy to his task, as much as when eng^^ 
in the more colonial composition of music or poetry. . 

When he was with friends — or enemies — he gener- 
ally did most of the talking, being in this respect tha 
opposite of Schumann. When he was alone, — as he 
usually was, preferring, like most men of genius, solitude 

1 In OwWilcdn'i Kalalog, m. IS, there is an extract trom one of 
Warier** letten to ft Bm*1 pabllaher In ISTI, beginalng: "1 herewith 
UDd yoa the nozt iheet ot manmcript, which cont^ne the coudiwloB 
of the Momd volnme. TUj 1b Indicated <m gtga 062." lb* third 
Tolnme «M printed by Bnigei in Bayrenth. 

'•Mluilmj the leti, 

'^^ published J;^ 

"^nt persona- inn. 


Tolumes of memoirs, will make about twenty; and ail 
this in addition to a dozen BcoreB all but two or three of 
which contain musical material enough for a dozen ordi- 
nary Italian, French, or German operas I As an inde&t- 
igable worker, Wagner certainly has had few rivals. 

He was fond, too, of reading, and his well-stocked 
and carefully selected library of musical, mythological, 
dramatic, historic, philosophical, and other books was the 
wonder of all who were privileged to visit his villa at 
Bayreuth. Not being a good linguist, he was obliged 
to read many famous books in translations. Mr. Dann- 
reuther says that, 

"with 8h&kMpear« (In 0«nuan, of eonne) he wis ■■ *«.niiii>r h 
wltb Beetfaoven. To hear him rekd ui ict or k scene wm ■ delight- 
never to be fo^tten. The effect, to use liis own words kbont 
Shakespeare, wbh that of ' an improvisation of the hlgheat poetic 
value.' When In particularly good spirits, he would lake' up a 
comic scene and render it with the ezubeiaut merriment of 
a child." 

On some of the most conspicuous personal traits, tastes, 
and habits, it is not necessary to dwell here again, as 
they have been sufficiently discussed and illustrated in 
preceding pages, especially those headed Truth in Fic- 
tion, Life in Ziirich, A Modem Prometheus, Hygiene 
and Gastronomy, Love of Nature and Travel, Boyal and 
Other Visitors, Love of Luxury, Love of Animals, Play- 
fulness and Humor, etc.* His appearance has also been 
repeatedly described, but a brief r^um^ may not be out 
of place here. If we look at his face, the two features 
that first strike us are the noble, massive forehead — the 

aeiicate lip,, ,|,;^; 

'"a jet without, 

,t "PP"'""", ooav, 
'W «»d »iiB ^„ 

Wagner's .wti„. 

«,„,, °'"""«ct8r. a 


quality : it is shunned and hated, and by way of supply- 
ing a pretext for this, its possessor is accused of all sorts 
of fictitious faults." Never was a man more lied about, 
by envious colleagues and common gossip, than Wagner. 
Not that he was free from faults; far from it. Great 
mountains throw deep shadows, and the shadow of Wag- 
ner's displeasure often chilled everything about him. 
Yet I believe that every careful reader of the foregoing 
pages must have 6ome to the conclusion that he was more 
ainned against than sinning. His faults were such as are 
common to reformers, perhaps inseparable from them— * 
a violent temper (more violent perhaps than Handel's or 
Beethoven's), a blunt lack of tact and diplomacy, a self- 
ish absorption in his own work and plans, an egotistic 
contempt for the interests of others, a reckless disposi- 
tion in regard to money matters, an unsocial attitude 
toward his colleagues and the world in general. 

These faults, however, were the inevitable shadows of 
his virtues. '^ Revolutions are not made with civilities." 
Had he not used his club against intendants, singers, 
critics, and Philistines in general, he could not have 
personally carried out his various reforms, and his art 
might have had to wait a century or two for recognition, 
like Bach's. Mr. Dannreuther remarks that ''towards 
the public, and the world of actors, singers, musicians, 
his habitual attitude was one of defiance. He appeared 
on the point of losing his temper, showed impatience 
and irritation, and seemed to delight in tearing men and 
things to pieces." True, but why was this so ? Was 
it not simply because things were out of joint, and he 
wanted to right them ? In Munich, and at Bayreuth, 
where the singers and players had the good will and 

. -"« no ],ar,,5 

'»«»•:«. defiance a 
■?«J <n that aentenc, 

I'M, however. Mao. 
^ 'Wth had thei, ; 
work «p , 

'"""'• »'."h,„..,t 

"""*««*', before h, 
opera. pe„„„a„ ™ 

"I'M of hi, „o4, beta 
P'odueed a. Yie,; ™ 

^"r.« and ove/bel 

17 "'«'""■ hia ear; 
«Md disagreeable,,, 

^4 '.aatlitad, toward 
To I» o 


musical form, when he was the real creator of organic 
form for dramatic music; to be accused of despising and 
abusing the great masters, when no one ever worshipped 
them as he did; to be accused of egotism, commercialism, 
puffery, sybaritic indulgence,, when he had really sacri- 
ficed the comforts of almost his whole life to the attain- 
ment of a seemingly impossible ideal; to be accused of all 
these things, not ten times, but ten thousand times, until 
all the world believed the mammoth lies, — was this an 
experience to make a man amiable in his feelings and 
conduct toward the world? Was he a contemptible 
beggar because he was not ashamed to accept money from 
a few friends who loved him? Was he not right in 
saying "whoever helps me, only helps my art through 
me, and the sacred cause for which I am fighting "? He 
was an egotist; his "sacred cause" absorbed all his 
thoughts, all his energies; his letters are all about him- 
self; when he helped others by teaching them to sing 
or conduct, it was chiefly with a view to the interpre- 
tation of his own works. A colossal egotism, no doubt, 
but was not his task colossal too? Where should he have 
found time and energy to help others in their schemes, 
when he himself needed hundreds to help him carry out 
his own? Such egotism is not only pardonable; it is 
desirable and praiseworthy. 

There were times when Wagner's friends and admirers 
were made to feel his displeasure, as on one occasion 
when an enthusiastic bandmaster, after serenading him 
with the Tannhduser March and the Lohengrin Bridal 
Chorus, went to his room to receive than^ for his atten- 
tion, and was, instead, received by the angry words, 
"Have I composed nothing but those two everlasting 

*k ^ °ff chained all ♦!, 
"• Grand Ca».l ^ '' 
""■•'WtudT^r '^' 

"'/K. n.S'" '' "' 


charge that his music is all dissonance and no melody. 
His heart was overflowing with tender love. He loved 
his art fanatically, and would have gone through the fire 
for it, like a religious martyr; he loved nature, he loved 
animals, he loved his friends, and his heart was aching 
to have all the world as friends through his art. He 
wanted sympathy, wanted to be encouraged in his devo- 
tion to his ideal; yet, for many years, Liszt and a few 
other friends were the only ones who gave him such 
sympathy and support. Dr. Hanslick, in one of his 
essays written after Wagner's death, has the extraordi- 
nary audacity to intimate that there has never been any 
real opposition to Wagner, but only to the Wagneritesll 
Every page of this biography belies that assertion; 
Wagner himself, in one of his letters, refers to such a 
statement as 'Hhat old trick." And how was he afFected 
by the unjust aspersions of his enemies? In his post- 
humous volume (89) he speaks of his having " from the 
beginning met our music-journal writers with a con- 
tempt such as has probably never been exhibited more 
strongly in this world." Yet we know that he often 
suffered great mental tortures from the unjust attacks 
on him and his art. In Letter 67 to Uhlig, he refers to 
a certain assault on him : — 

«« I do not read it, because, though I should not intend to reply 
(and I certainly voQl not any more), yet what is written rona in 
my head for several days, and that mi^t be occupied with some- 
thlx^ better.*' 

A man in his position cannot escape being harassed by 
friends, too. One time, as Wolzogen relates, he received 
from an admirer a letter suggesting how the Bide of the 



VaDgrries mi^t hare been impBOfad, die pt o p oaed 
changes being encloied. 


Tlie 09mpo«er of tbe inferior IFalMmirftl and to irlife 
gntefal be felt towards hk brother-in-law, OUirier, the 
minister of 1870, for the good adriee, whidi he so oftan hn^ to 
loUow in his life : ' Do not leplj.' 


In a letter to Liszt (244) he oomplaina bitterly about 
the class of sillj enthusiasts who write robbish about 
him^ and then expect to be praised. He Mt keenly the 
fact that most of the wits in the press were arraigned 
against him; and in a letter to the editor of the Ifiui* 
kalisches WochenbUUt he exclaims that nsnally he does 
not breathe freely until he comes across an article by 
the witty Tappert.* 

The very stubbornness, egotism, and self-assertion 
which made him so many enemies and were so often 
censured, were among his most useful qualities to the 
world: through them he asserted the royalty of genius 
in society as in his own field of activity, and once for all 
established the fact that the creator of a music-drama^ 

>Tsppert, Allgem. deuUche Musikztg. (Aagnst, 1880), quotes an 
article of one of these ** Waf^nerites " in which this remarkable sentence 
occurs: "If eversrthiog that other musicians, poets, and philosophers 
have left us were burned, and only Wagner's Nibelungen remained, the 
world would not only be no loser, but it would gain, because it could 
then at once and uninterruptedly devote itself to the study of the Nihe- 
lungen.'* This equals anjrthing that might be cited from Nietzsche's 
writings for or against Wagner. Nietzsche, the weU-known philologist, 
was at first an ardent Wagnerite and wrote obscure stuff of which Dr. 
Hanslick truly wrote that the reader *' might fancy himself in a lonatio 
asylum." A few years later he suddenly changed about and wrote in 
a similar style against his former idol (see Der Fall Wagner, in which 
Bizet is represented as the operatic god, and Wagner as the deyil). 
Facilis descensus avemit Shortly thereafter the perpetrator of this 
pamphlet was placed where he belonged — in a lunatic asylonu 


and not the mere interpreter, is the more important per- 
sonage. His reforms extended to everything connected 
with the stage, — the music, the drama and its subject, 
the singers, the actors, the orchestra, the scenery and 
stage-management, the ballet, the theatre itself, and 
even the audiences and their behavior. An influence 
like his has never been exerted by one man in any art, 
and to-day the Wagnerian Maelstrom is engulfing the 
whole musical world. Future generations will admire 
him for the new and beautiful art he created, and they 
will '^ love him for the enemies he made " in the neces- 
sary process of slaughtering prejudices and "assassinat- 
ing formulas." Most of his reforms have been touched 
upon repeatedly in the preceding pages; but several of 
them are of such extreme importance that they must be 
separately, though briefly, considered in this concluding 


In considering Wagner as a poet, the first and most 
important fact that forces itself on the attention is that 
he established for all time the truth that in the opera, 
as much as in a simple drama, ''the play's the thing" 
and tiie music merely a means for intensifying the emo: 
tions. Oluck had the same idea, but unfortunately he 
could not find a poet great enough to help him to its 
realization. It seemed necessary that the poet and the 
musician 'should be one and the same person. Other 
composers before Wagner had taken more or less part in 
the shaping and writing of their librettos — Rousseau, 
Lortzing, Schumann, Donizetti; but in these cases it was 
simply a process of adapting a novel or a literary drama 


nary and constantly growing popularity of his operas 
demonstrates the truth of this assertion. Much of this 
success iSy of course, owing to the music; but that the 
best of music cannot float an opera with a poor libretto 
is shown by the unhappy fate of Weber's EuryarUhe and 
Schumann's Oenoveva, Concerning this dramatic side 
of Wagner's poems, enough has been said in the special 
chapters devoted to them in the preceding pages, so that 
we can confine ourselves here to their other peculiar- 

Mozart once said that '^ poetry in the opera ought to 
be absolutely the obedient daughter of music." This 
maxim, followed to its logical end, gave rise to the 
operatic monstrosities of Kossini and Donizetti. Gluck 
showed himself a much truer artist in this respect when 
he wrote to La Harpe that '' the union between the air 
and the words should be so close that the poem should 
seem made for the music no less than the music for the 
poem." Wagner adapted neither the poem to the music 
nor the music to the poem ; he cast them both into the 
same crucible, and they came out fused in material and 
form. On March 4, 1854, he wrote to Liszt: ''I could 
no longer, under any conditions, produce a melody to 
Schiller's verses, which certainly are made only to be 
read." He wanted poetry intended from the beginning 
to be sung, not read; and as he could find it nowhere, — 
although almost three thousand librettos were offered 
him by contemporaries, — he wrote it himself. 

If we compare Wagner's poems of the first, second, 
and third period, we find some curious differences and 
apparent inconsistencies. In The Fairies and Rienad 
the old operatic models are followed, and many of the 

ilitticult to Hnd the re 
when he reflected on th 
done, and was to do in 
conclusion that rhTme 
poetry, is superfluous o 
leads to incorrect accent, 
the flood of musical soi 
is the melodic element in 
al the end of lines whii 
pared with the endless ' 
oombinations in an oper. 
likely to be missed, and « 
ation it becomes inartistic 
Mliteration, on the otl 
ally of the operatic poet, 
of repeating the same let 
vowels) in two or more wi 
boring line. The accent 
ble, and the root of the i 
choosing harsh or smootl 
verses a definite emotions 
hatred, jealousy, or love, 
instanoes in the whole N. 


one of the Bhine-maidenSy but "slides on the slippery 

slime," one need not know German to understand his 

exclamation^ — 

" Garstig glatter 

glitschriger Glimmer I 

wie gleit* ich aus ! ** 

How beautifully, too, the meaningless opening sounds 
of the water-maidens: "Weia, waga, woge du Welle," 
etc., go with their waving song and swimming motion! 
The Grerman journalists expended an endless amount of 
ridicule on these lines, as well as on the wild " Hojotoho " 
cries of the Valkyries; but when these sounds were sung 
on the stage, every one marvelled at the delightful effect. 
The poet knew what the musician needed. Two other 
classical specimens of alliterative mood-painting are the 
love-song of Siegmund in the WcUkurej and Mime's 
attempt, in Siegfried^ to describe to that hero the feeling 
of fear produced by forest phenomena: '^Fiihltest du 
nie," etc. 

Alliteration, too, seems to link the words together and 
to aid the memory, like rhyme, thus proving an advan- 
tage to vocalists; and it also produces a certain rhythmic 
flow and animation. Yet, all things considered, it seems 
probable that Wagner's main reason for adopting alliter- 
ation was an unconscious craving for local color. Allit- 
eration is part and parcel of the old poetry which was , 
the source of his dramas; the rugged, manly character 
of those northern gods and heroes called for such a 
rugged, virile, poetic mode of expression. In the amor- 
ous Tristan there was less call for such a method, while -" 
in the Meistersinger the demands of realism called for 
rhyme such as was used at the time. But here Wagner 

■"ot-pnzzled them 



discovering its men of genius and their merits. W^^er 
relates that although some of the highest authorities had 
privately spoken to friends of his in the most compli- 
mentary terms of the Xibelung poems, they carefully 
refrained from helping him by expressing these opinions 
in public. The majority stood aghast at the idea that an 
"opera-composer" should have the effrontery to publish 
his librettos as "literary" productions. Hence, as he 
adds, "the cheap witticism of dramatic critics and musi- 
cal jokers was the only notice I received." It was indeed 
most unfortunate that the musical "experts" who had 
not even wits enough to understand Wagner's music, 
should have been the "authorities," to whose opinions 
newspaper readers bad to listen, on poetic productionB 
which lay entirely beyond their horizon. So many of 
these opinions have been cited in preceding pages that 
only two more characteristic specimens need be added 
here. Ambros called the Tristan and Ifibelung texts 
"deadly sins," and Speidel wrote that "he has no con- 
ception of poetry who finds Wagner's texta beautiful, or 
even tolerable." The true inwardness of all these criti- 
cisms may be revealed by two illustrations, one of which 
was previously referred to: Tappert's exposure of the 
two critics who belabored Wagner for his " artificial " 
and "clumsy" alliterations in Parsifal, in which, as a 
matter of fact, there is only one single alliterative line I 
The second point is more significant still. So much has 
been written about the unusual, antiquated, and self- 
invented words in Wagner's poems, that those who have 
never read them must labor under the impression that 
they ar« vell-nigh unintelligible. But what are the 



Id these lines, written* to the Berlin poet Oaillard, in 
1844 (shortly after T^nnhduter had been planned), Wag- 
ner put the case in favor of mythical subjects for the 
opera more compactly than in his theoretical writings. In) 
these essays ■ he makes an elaborate effort to prove that the \ 
myth is the poet's ideal playground. The gods, he says, | 
are the very first inventions of the human poetic faculty; I 
they are connected with the phenomena of natore, with 
man's first and deepest impresaions ; hence the legends 
oooneoted with them have at all times inspired the great 
poets to artistic creativeness. These myths are anony- 
mous, like proverbs; they are no man's property, bnt are 
free for all poets to delve in and find the old gold fw 
new jewelry. They are the condensed, concrete poetry 
and wisdom of the people. In them we get the simple 1 
human passions and emotions, free from accidental his- 
toric tUloy, and therefore imposing no historic or local 
fetters on the musician's imagination: mjrths are as 
purely fanciful, as free from bonds of time and space, as 
the melodies and harmonies of the musician. 

In bis theoretical writings Wagner is too much of a 
German metaphysician to condescend to concrete illus* 
trations; yet he might have greatly strengthened his 
argument had he pointed out some of the historic facts 
supporting it. He might have shown how, even in the 
literary drama, the greatest plays have purely imaginary 
instead of historic subjects. .Xschylus and the oUier 
Greek dramatists found their materi^ chiefiy in the field 
of the old mytiis. Shakespeare's greatest plays are, with 
one or two exceptions, not his histories, but those that 
have a freely invented subject and in several of the best 
i SayrtuOMT FulbUlltr,mtk). • K^MdiO^ IT. U-«;Vn. US, ISL 


*■'■ The thomand, , 
Gl"t, and includi. 
;?'"'«•« ba»d „. 

«»"'iMl- of Mozart', i 
f7. Aod,h.„„^, 

J» "■» «!."» best „pe„ 
.»<"»» the s„pen„^S" 


these means of expression Weber was greatly aided by his gift 
of marvellously mixing the tone colors/* etc. 

Of this gift Wagner had received from the fairies a 
larger share even than Weber; hence, in part, his pre- 
dilection for mythical scenes. The very first sound of 
his orchestra, when the Lohengrin prelude begins, trans- 
ports us at once into the fairyland of myth and music, 
and it is in his works themselves that he has given us 
the strongest plea for his mythical theory. In his 
Meistersinger, on the other hand, he has revealed to us 
the proper, non-mythical field for a comic opera. 


** What enchanted us in Bellini was the pure melody, the simple 
nobility and beauty of song. Surely it can be no sin to assert and 
believe this. Perhaps it is not even sinful to utter a prayer before 
we go to sleep that the German composers may learn some day 
to invent such melodies, and to treat the voice in this way.** 

*^ I shall never forget the impression made on me not long ago 
by a Bellini opera. I was tired of the eternally allegorizing orches- 
tra, and delighted to come once more across a simple, noble song.*' 

Does it not seem ludicrous that Eichard Wagner should 
have written those sentences? How are we to account 
for such a phenomenon? Very easily: he was very 
young when he wrote them — only twenty-one. It was 
silnply the whining of a cub for sweet milk. When the 
bear had grown up, he growled in very different toneft, 
as we all know, and sweet milk was no longer his favorite 

To speak more accurately, Wagner's musical instincts 
were all right; his first love was Weber, and his second 
Beethoven. But when he first came into contact with 

"M, he „, ■ 


melody/' their arias. Oenerally there were three men 
and three women in the cast, each of whom had to have 
a grand aria, and a share in a duo. There had to be 
a certain number of arias, in certain places, regardless 
of the plot; a nuisance which in some places mars the 
score of even Mozart's operas. This nonsensical custom 
Wagner trampled under foot mercilessly; he made the 
drama the main object in an opera in place of the 
singer. Before him there were no operatic poems, but 
only librettos; even so ardent a champion of old-&sh- 
ioned opera as Mr. Sutherland Edwards is forced to 
admit that 

** with the exception of Wagner's highly poetical and highly dra- 
matic works, there are no operas written to be performed through 
out in music which, by their words alone, would have the least 
chance of living.** 

It was Wagner's mission to reform the libretto and 
elevate it into a dramatic poem. Having done so, he 
saw that the next thing to do was to make it possible for 
the audience to follow that poem, word for word, and to 
be impressed by the dramatic plot. This necessitated a 
change in the function and method of the operatic singer; 
and it is from this point of view that we must judge all 
the peculiarities of his vocal style, which has been more 
persistently and ludicrously misrepresented than any- 
thing else in the '' Art-work of the Future." 

By taking away from the operatic singer his " free and 
independent arias," did he ''put the pedestal on the 
stage, the statue in the orchestra"? Quite the reverse; 
he did, indeed, greatly enlarge the usefulness and elo- 
quence of the ordiestra^ but at the same time he elevated 



will understand his impatience with people who could 
find nothing but trombones and fiddles in his operati, and 
the meaning of his remark, in that instmctive letter to 
Stage-manager Zigesar (Correspondence with Liszt, No. 
42), that " if at the performance of my Lohengrin it was 
always oi^y the music, nay, commonly only the orchestra, 
that attracted attention, you may feel assured that the 
vocaliatt fell far below the level of their task." In all 
of Wagner's writings there is not a more luminous 
sentence than that one, or one that more deserves to be 
pondered. What else was the object of the Bayreuth 
Festival than a desire to have the vocal and dramatic 
side of the new art revealed in all the r&les by compe- 
tent singers? What were all the novel amtngements in 
the theatre but an attempt to emphasize the subordina- 
tion of the orchestra to the singer? 

So much for the prominence of the W^nerian singer, 
and his relation to the orchestra. But how about the 
style in which he is asked to sing — is not that unvoeal? 
So we have been told a. thousand times, yet the assertion 
is quite as ridiculous as it would be to say that Chopin's 
pianoforte style is unpianistic. On the contrary, it is 
the Italian style that is unvoeal in character; or rather, 
one of the Italian stales, for there are at least two, the 
florid and the canto&tle. Oddly enough, it is almost 
always the lovers of florid song who bring the charge of 
"unvoeal" against Wi^:ner and against such composen 
aa Schumann, Franz, Liszt, Dvor&, Grieg; when, as a 
matter of fact, it is the florid style with its "scales, 
arpeggios, and trills" that is instrumental. The one 
great advantage which the voice has over instruments ia 
the power of speaking and singing at the same timej that 

tie human voie (7,3 

"» lorere o( tliiii 1 
Sill"™. ope«tt.-pl„ 


Verdi's vocal style is veiy well adapted to the nature of 
the Italian language; so is Gounod's, and Bizet's, to such 
French operas as Faut^ and Carmen; but for German 
poems, and such rugged and passionately dramatic sub- 
jects as Wagner chose, he needed a vocal style of his own. 
It is foolish to fancy that there is only one true vocal 
style. National and individual peculiarities should and 
do prevail here as in literature, and evolution comes into 
play too. Liszt calls attention to the changes in vocal 
style which have taken place during the last three cen- 
turies: — 

** Stradella followed methods that differed from those of Caiis- 
simi ; Earinelli no longer observed the roles which Durante had 
taught at the famous conservatory at Naples ; and the great singers 
taught by Rossini widely departed from the mode of singing ad^ 
mired in the eighteenth century. The decisive introduction of the 
declamatory style will sooner or later be followed by the develop- 
ment of a new school ; and as we behold the victory of that style 
in the works of Wagner, we take it for granted that the changes, 
too, which must necessarily follow in the arUstio training of the 
singers, must especially proceed from, and be developed in, Ger- 
many. In creating for his fatherland a drama which is in harmony 
with its national character, Wagner imposed on it the duty of 
establishing a school of song based on his dramatic method.*' 

Wagner's later vocal style differs from that of all 
other composers, and the most convincing proof of its 
being the one best suited for the German music-drama 
lies in the &ct that it is the result of the lifetime experi- 
ence and development of the greatest of dramatic com- 
posers. Three stages may be noted in its evolution. In 
Rienzi he still wrote vocal melodies for their own sake 
and for the singer's sake. In the DtOchman, Tannhdusety 
and Lohengrin he makes great progress in the art of 


merging the singer in the actor: the vocal part is no less 
melodious than before, but it is no longer intended as an 
^' independent free melody " with which the singer can 
''make an effect," but becomes part and parcel of the 
total musical impression and dramatic emotion, so that 
we no longer think of the singers as tenors and sopranos, 
but as dramatis persaruB. In the dramas of the third 
period this principle is carried out consistently, and at 
the same time the vocal parts are perfected by the gradual 
elimination of aU instrumental features. 

The history of music shows that the idiom peculiar to 
each instrument was not found till comparatively recent 
times. The piano had to wait for Chopin to reveal its 
true language. In the earliest Italian operas and ora- 
torios the players did their own orchestrating, and for 
a long time instruments were used in an indiscriminate 
way until Bach and Haydn taught them to speak a 
language peculiar to their nature. Vocal music, too, 
emerged but slowly from chaos. The polyphonic style 
of the Netherlands was as unvocal as was the florid style 
of the Italian opera. Even the later simple and tuneful 
style of Italian and German opera retains much of the 
instrumental spirit. As Wagner truly says (IV. 360), 
in speaking of the Rossini-Weber period: — 

* ^ A melody, in order to be really popular, had to be of sach a 
nature that it could be fiddled and blown, and hammered on the 
piano, without losing any of its peculiar essence.'* 

In other words, the vocal style is here not yet differ- 
entiated from the instrumental. Louis Ehlert never had 
a more luminous idea than when he wrote that Brahms 's 
songs are 


** not always planned for a human voice with pianoforte accompani- 
ment, for frequently the latter might be replaced by an orchestra 
or quartet, and the former by a 'cello or oboe. This is sometimes 
true of Schumann, rarely of Schubert, never of Franz ; and there- 
fore, in this respect ... I hold Franz to be the greatest of all.*' 

There we have the whole matter in a nutshell. Franz 
has the most perfect style of all Lieder composers 
because his song is inseparable from the words, and loses 
its '' essence " if ** fiddled, and blown, and hammered on 
the piano." And what Franz has thus achieved in lyric 
song, Wagner has done for the music-drama. In his 
later works, the melodic and word accents coincide in 
every syllable; all dance rhythms are eliminated, and 
the result is that, in place of instrumental tunes under- 
laid with words, we have a true melodious declamation 
or poetic melody which seems to grow out of the words 
themselves — an emotional intensification of the melody 
naturally inherent in poetic language. No one would 
ever dream of playing the vocal parts of Tristan or Par- 
sifal on an instrument; they would lose all their peculiar 
essence, because they are utterly and absolutely unin- 
strumental in character. 

Years ago I used to wonder and ponder how this 
ludicrous charge that Wagner's vocal style is "instru- 
mental " could have ever come into the muddled brains 
of academic critics and teachers of the " Italian method." 
The solution of the puzzle is now obvious to me. The 
source of all the tears lies in the difficult melodic inter- 
vals. The composers of "Italian melodies" had so 
spoiled the singers by writing for them only conyenient 
intervals, that they and their friends cried out against a 
master who acted on the principle that dramatic expres- 


' t/»: 

Out w "*»» 
nw«u t.Lii'**' at n 


man singers of that time; and similarly lie spoke well 
of the French. Had Bizet, or Grounod, or Verdi come 
to him for advice regarding the treatment of the Yoioe, 
he would have told them to go ahead, — that their style 
was all right for their languages, and for such operas as 
they were writing, but for his own purposes he needed 
something different. What he strove for was an original 
vocal style, especially suited to the nature of the (Ger- 
man language, and naturally adapted to the music-drama; 
and in this vocal style saccharine beauty of tone and ease 
of execution sometimes have to be sacrificed to higher 
dramatic and emotional considerations.^ 

For the music-drama, Wagner believed and said that 
the Grerman language was better suited than the Italian. 
Seeming disadvantages in the German language turn out 
on closer examination to be actual advantages. Take 
the vowels, for instance. The Grerman language has a 
greater variety of vowel sounds than the Italian. Some 
of these, like 6 and ii, are difficult to sing, but when 
sufficiently practised they become easy, and they add 
new varieties of timbre to the singer's emotional re- 
sources. The Italian teachers pursue the opposite ten- 
dency of sacrificing even such variety of vowel sounds 
as they have, to mere sensuous beauty, which is best 
attained by approximating all vowels to a (ah). Thus, 
characterization, dramatic effect, variety of tonal and 
emotional coloring are all bartered away for sensuous 
beauty of tone. In the case of consonants, this is still 
more noticeable. The Italian language omits or weakens 


1 The differences between " Italimn and Gennmn Vocal Styles " are 
diseoBsed in my C?iopin and other Mtuical Essays in much more detail 
than I hare room for here. 

';•"' ""»1 ooMon 
, """eiypassiooi 

•»otioM, .„d ^ 

;^ to theitl^ 
«^«» o« a p„ , 


To sum up: we have now seen that the Wagnerian 
Yocalist-actor dominates oyer the orchestra^ which is 
merely his pedestal; we have seen that his vooal style 
is more truly vocal, more free from instrumental pecul- 
iarities than any other; and that its power of individual 
emotional characterization is unique and unprecedented. 
We may go a step farther still, and say that if any objec- 
tion can be urged against this new style, it is that some- 
times it is too voccU, in sacrificing the melodic flow to 
the speech and its accents. But in such cases, do we not 
gain in poetic interest what we lose in vocal melody? 
Is it not a sign of primitive musical taste to ask in an 
opera for nothing but naked vocal melody? Does not 
the continuous orchettrcU melody in these music-dramas 
atone for an occasional declamatory passage in them? 
In truth, however, such declamatory episodes are much 
less frequent than is commonly assumed. Lohengrin 
used to be considered full of them; even Franz spoke of 
the intervals in it that " go against the grain " (wider- 
haarig) ; to-day, even the Italian bel canto singers have 
mastered these passages, and in twenty years more they 
may succeed with Siegfried and Parsifal too. 

Unfortunately, to this day real Wagner singers are 
rare, and the incompetent ones are responsible for the 
foolish notion that these vocal parts are unmelodious.. 
These singers throw themselves with all their might 
and main on the most prominent, accented notes, expend 
all their breath on them, and drop out or underaccent 
the small, connecting notes and syllables in the text. 
The result is that the text is not made clear, while the 
music sounds like a succession of wild cries and exclama- 
tions, which come about as near Wagner's intentions ai 

r ^ 
AtwitK, nagiBf Ui wtmlt at an actor, jct is hll eoB- 

dmbaaatioa >■ st tin; muc tim« vn?, and 
d«';larnatifrti,'' Erery wijrd, erery srllable, was di»- 
tinrtly f/r'.ri'mnfiwl, there were no "showto," no breaks, 
tfut & liKi'itifii] {''^'7 floT whkh made his song almost 
Ijk*; a ctntTAfjiU, Imt fnW from cTery trace of instm- 
mtrntal and <ian'« rhythms. This is the troe art of 

' X. 19«-mt. Tbi* «Msj. Iih« maiij puBgw ia bta otha writiBgi. 
■twnri that Ik wu 'am nf th« grcaust ttaeben ol nn^iif the worU baa 
e^iT ■<;•■«. Tb* »r>ra*« <it IbrrK who came ander bis p 
tlim j>r<ivf4 lhi« Mill num nloqiKntlj'. A l< 

w'xil'l '.tu-ii enal.l* iLem Ia oTermnia s wwiduicIt onsiiniosDtBMe 
diffl'iilt)'. III; laH marh alt^ntkiD l4> proper brrttbiiig, bnt his anul 
nM(li»l WW t'l aj/prowrh the mattcttninilbemeDtalaide; to tboreogtilj 
oniJ^nuiiil a poMa^e wu. In bla opialoD, to mMtet half ita plijsieal 

' Wa/fiBr"* rntlrel; ImpenoTnal war of dealing with ait matten, 
Mwi JiIh wiiiin^^eM to rf^ni'ff^it an terror of JDrljrmeiit, are illtutr^ted bj 
hi* tf.;alin«iit of Braria. When S'^ria first tried, at his rcqnest. the 
flirt i-l llaK^n, tie was displease'l and wonld have nothing more to do 
with liliN. hilt whitn be. Iieard him la Berlin as Wotan be was eager 
1(1 lu- taki'ii ui Jiim at once, to apolo^lM lor his mistake, and to make 
lilio till! hfrro iif the Parti/al festlral. 


dramatdc vocalism, and a perfect representative of it is 
an infinitely greater artist than Madame Patti, the last 
representative of the florid style, who could not sing a 
Wagner rdle or a Franz song to save her life.^ 

With a few exceptions (among whom Julias Hey 
deserves mention) the vocal teachers have not yet learned 
anything from Wagner, although Wagner-singers are 
now more in demand than any others. The conserva- 
tories, too, will not be abreast of the situation till about 
twenty years from to-day. Consequently, the great 
dramatic singers will continue to be self-taught, as 
heretofore. It is interesting to note the gradual evolu- 
tion of the Wagnerian singer. The first Lohengrin, 
Beck, declared that rdle impossible, and, in 1862, Wagner 
wrote that a Lohengrin singer was yet to be bom. Even 
Niemann once asserted that this rdle could not be sung 
without cuts; he objected to the new Tannh&user rdle 
in Paris, and at one time, as we have seen, he was even 
afraid to sing Kienzi after Tichatschek. But he perse- 
vered, and in the end became one of the greatest of 
Wagner tenors.* 

^ Fatnre generatioiis will mad with amiiBed interest that the aeademio 
and critical experts of Wagner's time, who looked on tones as the only 
melodies, also considered tone singers as the only vocalists. As late as 
February 13, 18S2, the Neue Freie Pres$e of Vienna wrote concerning a 
young Wagnerian tenor: " Whether Herr Dippel also understands the 
art of singing, he oould not show as Siegfried ; his second rdle, Baonl, 
in the HuguenoU, will make that point clear." The ridiculous charge 
that Wagner's music ruins the voice is also still heard occasionally, 
but not so often as formerly, since Niemann, Vogl, Brandt, and 
Matema have shown how long a Wagner singer can preserve the 
voice. Pauline Lnoea has Justly remarked of this charge that it is 
" mere empty babble. Neither Wagner nor any other composer spoils 
the voice of any one who really knows how to sing." 

* Niemann once remarked to me : " No one can sing weU what he 
does not admire intensely. Ton speak of the profound im pr esilon the 


Heioricb Vogl is another euiinent tenor of this school 
who gradually grew up to his task. Hana von Bfilow 
relates (^Skandinaiyische Reisebriefe) : — 

>■ When, in tbe summer of ISno, I reheatsed TriiCttn and Itolde 
with those two incomparable artisM, Herr and Ftau Vogl, I could 
not ftvoid coDcedJDg a few {nsl^^iScant cuts in the last act ; &t the 
reaiunptioQ of the opera in 1672, I had the great satisfaction of 
hearing every note, without exception, sung by Vogl." 

This same music-drama was, in 1862 and 1863, re- 
hearsed in Vienna fifty-four times, and then pronounced 
impossible. Thirty years later it was sung in thirteen 
German cities. Thus do the singers and audiences grow. 
To-day, a majority of the great dramatic singers are 
Germans, or of the German school; and for this chajige 
in the vocal world, Richard Wagner is responsible. 

In the evolution of Wagner's vocal style, the guiding 
principle was the desire to amalgamate the melody with 
the words, and to make the plot clear and the poem dis- 
tinct at every moment. This was also the guiding prin- 
ciple in the development of the lyric Lied from Schubert 
to Franz and Liszt — a parallel which gives food for much 
thought. In his desire to make the singer's utterances 
intelligible, Wagner went so far as to call upon the 

third act at Triitan made on you; bat I can hardly .tMlieve that it 
stirs you as profoundly aa it does me- Strong man as 1 am, 1 am not 
ashamed to confess that, on seTeral occnsions in this act, my singlag 
has been marred by sobs and tears which I could not snppress. There is 
nothing grander in ShakeHpeare, In ^^chylus than this act. Bat it is a 
tremendous task to alng It — ao enarniaus burden on the memory. I 
have sung Trittait about forty times, yet this very morning Seidl and 
I studied the score together." 


orchestra for assistance, by making it, also, speak a 
language with a definite meaning. This he could only 
do by using Leading Motives — those reminiscent melo- 
dies or chords associated with a particular person, inci- 
dent, or dramatic emotion, which recur in the music 
whenever the person or dramatic idea with which they 
are associated recurs in the play or the singer's utter- 

These definite orchestral Motives not only help to 
elucidate the plot, they also, by their subtle suggestive- 
ness and emotional definiteness and vividness, help to 
atone to the spectator for the loss of those delicate shades 
of facial expression which is inevitable in our large 
modem opera-houses; and, thirdly, the system of Lead- 
ing Motives has enabled Wagner to be the first composer 
who could convert an opera from a crude mosaic of 
imconnected "numbers" into a music-drama, all parts 
of which are as organically connected by means of re- 
current melodies as the parts of the drama itself are 
by the recurrence of the same characters, with the same 
thoughts, traits, and motives of action. 

Here was an innovation in dramatic music which one 
would think the " authorities " must have surely received 
with acclamation as an epoch-marking stroke of genius. 
They did nothing of the sort. Here are a few of the 
" expert opinions " on Wagner's Leading Motives : — 

** a method which is as clomsy as it is ridlcolous ** (Naomami). 
**A purely external aid to the memory . . . superfluous because 
the characters appear on the stage any way. . . . Makes indi- 
vidual characterization impossible ^^ (Reissmann). **The crude 
materialism of external signs** (Jahn). **Too superficial and 
comfortable ** (Lindau). ** Such a naive procedure that it cannot 


claim ft KrlooB me&niiig bat rather prodaces a comic eSect" 
(Rubinstein}. "The ttick la not an exalted one, and Wagner 
works It without mercy " (J. Bennett). " A serious detriment to 
operatic maalc " (Ilanalick). '■ Wagner's Leading Motive system 
was conceived by him, for him, is executable only by him, and will 
disappear with him"(Ehrlich).' 

But the most heinous offence of the Leading Motive, 
according to the "experts," is that it is the outcome of 
" Reflection." There is something very astounding in the 
boundleaa contempt for " Reflection" felt by Wagner'8 
critics. If he had taken the old unconnected operatic 
forms, and filled them out with new tunes, he would have 
been a great artist; but by creating a new art, by build- 
ing his dramas after an original style of musical archi- 
tecture, he showed that he was a charlatan, a victim of 
the detestable vice of "Reflection." What wretched 
bunglers were those "reflecting" men of genius — Less- 
ing, Schiller, Goethe; Da Vinci, Hogarth, Reynolds; 
Gluck, Weber, Schumann ! Beethoven, to be sure, never 
reflected. If he altered his ideas in his note-books over 
and over again — in one instance, eighteen times — that 
was not "Reflection," but pure inspiration. There is 
only one thing more to be said. If " Reflection " is such 
an easy and cheap thing, why did not these experts call 
an academic meeting long ago, put their heads together, 
and " reflect " until they had concocted a few Wagner 
operas? That would have brought them not only fame 
but money — piles of money. Bnt perhaps they re- 
frained because they did not wish to degrade themselves 
to the level of " reflecting " artists. 

1 H. Elitliph actnally wrote, in the Qtgemtart, that there ar» no 
Leading Motives in the Mei*teT$ingtT I And this man sat In Jndgment 
on Wagner lor seTeral decades, In two ol the leading Berlin papers! 



So wonderful a system of musical form as that based 
on the Leading Motives not only required a great deal 
of reflection — inspired reflection: for inspiration is 
simply a spontaneous and irresistible form of reflection 
— before it could attain its perfection, but it required 
the brains of several men of genius to originate it. Just 
as Darwinism was in the air long before the great natu- 
ralist appeared, so Wagnerism, in almost all its details, | 
including the Leading Motive, had been foreshadowed 
long before Wagner, and it remained for him only to de- ' 
velop the suggestions furnished by his predecessors, and 
reduce them to a system. The French Gr^try, who died 
in the year of Wagner's birth, and who suggested the 
desirability of an invisible orchestra, also makes use of 
a melody aa Leading Motive nine times in his AfcAard 
Caur de Lion and he discusses the point in his Mimoirea. 
Gluck had one of those flashes of insight which revealed 
one aspect of the Leading Motive. One day his atten- 
tion was called to the inconsistency between the words 
of Orestes, "Peace returns into my soul," and the agi- 
tated orchestral part; whereupon he quickly retorted, 
" He lies, he lies ; he has killed his mother ! " In Weber, 
the Leading Motive is already more than an aperipi. He 
employs it consciously, and with excellent result, espe- . 
cially in Euryanthe, where the tomb-motive recurs with 
thrilling eSect four times. Professor J^hns, in his 
Weber biography — a splendid monument of German 
industry — shows what extensive use Weber made of 
Leading Motives. Already, in his Abu Saaaan, such a 
motive is used in a reminiscent way. la the FreixitiUz, 
there are eleven motives recurring in tiiirty-fouT places, 
and they are of two kinds, one being associated with 


persons, the other with situations. In Euryanche Pro- 
fessor Jiihns found eight Leading Motives, recurring 
thirty times. In Obenm there is only one, but of that 
one eitensive use is made throughout the opera, to give 
the effect of Oriental local color and fairy-land. 

Yet there is reason to think that Wagner did not get 
the suggeation of using Leading Motives from Gr^try, 
Gluck, or even from Weber. Although the FretKhiitz was 
his operatic first-love, he did not take a bint from its 
recurrent melodies when he wrote hia three early operas, 
— the Xovice of Palermo, The Fairies, and Rienxi. It 
was not till be compoaed his Flying Dutchman, that he 
began to enter the path which was to lead to the real 
music-drama. Of this new departure he has himself 
given an interesting aecount (IV. 392-394).' Just as, 
in discarding the operatic arias, duets, and ao on, he was 
not guided by reflection and a conscious determination 
to destroy old forma, but by the nature of his subject, 
so, he continues, it was not reflection that led bim to 
adopt the system of lamifled themes {Leading Motives), 
but the suggeations given to him by practical experience 
with his subject; — 

" I remember that, even before I actually set to work on the 
composition of the Flying Dutchman, I had sketched Senta's 
ballad in the second act, and elaborated it poetically and musically ; 
into this piece 1 placed unconsciously the thematic germ of the 
whole mtulcal score : it was the concentrated ima^ of the whole 
drama, as it stood before my mind's eye ; and when I was ready 
to give the complete work a title, I was not a little tempted to call 
it a 'dramatic ballad.'" 

1 This sntoblogniphic essay (A Communication to My FrUndt) ia 
DOW accessible to English readeis in Vol. I. of Mi. Ellis's translatioB of 
Wagnei's works. 


In composing the opera, lie oontinaes, this condensed 
thematic BCheme in his mind spread itself spontaneonsly 
as a connected web over the whole opera; all he had to 
do was to let the various thematic germs contained in 
the ballad develop, each in its own direction, and the 
drama was completed. In adopting this new method, 
he followed an instinctive impalse inspired b; the 
dramatic poem, and nothing but conscious reflection and 
arbitrary opposition to his artistic instincts could have 
induced him to resort to the old operatic forms, and 
invent new melodies for the same recurrent sceoM. 
With this method, as Saint-SaSns has graphically re- 
marked {Century Magazine, February, 1893), W^pier, 
" performed almost a miracle when he succeeded during 
the whole of the first act of the Flyiitg Dvtehmany in 
making us hear the sound of the sea without interrupting 
the dramatic action." 

In TannhfLuter, the same method is followed, except 
that here there is no central ballad from which the 
musical motives emanated, but the recurrence of the 
themes is suggested by the various scenes and their 
organic growth and connection. Take, for instance, the 
Venus music. Would it not be inartistic, and almost 
absurd, when Venus reappears in the third acl^ to write 
new music for this scene? Doee not the logic of dramatic 
music call for the same musical motives that we had 
heard before? No new music, however ravishing, could 
thrill us as does the recurrence of the strains we had 
heard before in the Venusberg. Nay more, the orchestra 
tells us what is going on in the mind of the despairing 
Tannh&uBer before he invokes Venus to receive him 
again. The orchestra, in fact, with its Leading Motive, 
enables as to read hia very thoi^hts. 


Similarly, in Lohengrin, how utterly ridiculous it woald 
be to have the Swan return to difiEerent harmonies from 
those which accompanied him on his first appearance! 
Theae harmonies are his muskal character, which, like a 
dramatic character, may undergo various modifications, 
but not a complete change of identity such as a. new 
melody would imply. Reflect on this sentence a moment, 
and you will see that for a genuine artistic music- 
drama the Leading Motive is a necessity, its abeenoe a 
fatal blemish. The method pursued in Lohengrin marks 
a long step in advance of the i>i£/cAmaii. In that opera 
the return of a theme often has the character of merely 
a simple reminiscence, such as other composers employed 
before Wagner. But in Lohengrin, Wagner's originality 
manifests itself in the way he uses the Leading Motives 
as musical characters, as personified melodies, and makes 
them undergo the same emotional changes as the dramatis 
■ personce themselves. 

The very gradual development of this method in his 
operas demonstrates the absolute falseness of the charge 
that the Leading Motive system was the result of 
"Reflection," and was arbitrarily applied in consequence 
of theoretical considerations. It was not till after 
Lohengrin that he wrote his theoretical essays; then, 
indeed, he did reflect on what his artistic instinct had 
gradually led him to; and in consequence of this reflec- 
tion he commenced, with Rheingold, a style of musical 
architecture of which the Leading Motive is the frame- 
work, extending to all parts of the drama, and giving it 
symmetry and organic connection. Thanks to this 
method, there is in Tristan such a unity of spirit and 
form that every single bar bettays its source, just as 


every piece of a broken mirror reflects the same image; 
and this unity between poem and music extends even 
beyond the drama; for when, in Die Meistersinger, Hans 
Sachs casually alludes to the story of Tristan and Isolde^ 
does it not seem absolutely necessary that the pertinent 
Leading Motives should be quoted too? They are quoted 
as a matter of course. And with what polyphonic skill 
the Leading Motives in the later dramas are varied and 
constantly adapted to the poetic situation I Take Parsi- 
fal^ for example. In the third act, when he appears 
with closed helmet, his motive, too, is masked in minor 
intervals and mysterious coloring; when he is anointed 
King, it sounds broad and majestic; in the second 
act, when he appears in the flower-garden, after hav- 
ing slain the knights, it has an agitated, heroic form; 
while at the close of the first act, where he is igno- 
miniously thrust out of the hall by Gumemanz, with the 
words, ''Seek thyself, gander, a goose," it assumes a 
curiously grotesque form. With the same protean art 
all the other motives are transformed and differently 
It is in the Tetralogy^ however^ that the new system 

1 Wagner had a marveUons instinct for the exact tone-color needed 
in each dramatic sitnation, and if existing instruments did not provide 
them he invented new ones ; for instance, the wooden trumpet in the 
form of an oboe which was especially constructed according to his 
directions in order to enable the shepherd in the third act of THttan to 
mark the emotional change from his sad melody to its Jubilant trans- 
formation. In the Tetralogy he introduced several other new instru- 
ments — a bass trumpet, a bass tuba, and four tenor tubas, with which 
he produces superb chords of unique emotional coloring. Ordinarily, 
however, he needed no new means to produce new effects, for his origi- 
nal method of instrumentation produces an orchestral atmosphere differ- 
ing entirely, in its tropical fragrance, from that of all other composers 
—indnding his imitators. It is unmistakable and unprecedented in its 
MDioous charm and emotional definiteness. 



finds its most consistent and marvellous application ; for 
here the Motives recur throughout not only one drama, 
but four dramas. The tact that the OiMerdiimmerung 
is largely built up of themes which had occurred over 
I and over again in the three preceding dramas, while yet 
I it seems as fresh and original as any one of them, calls 
attention to Wagner's unprecedented art of transforming 
and varying the same themes. It also calls attention to 
I the depth, the originality, the musical and emotional 
concentration, and pregnancy of these Motives which 
lend themselves to such varied use and repetition. Has 
any one ever tired of these Motives? On the contrary, 
we are more and more moved and delighted as we pursue 
their course from Rheingold to G&ttei'dammeruixg. This 
is owing not only to their pregnancy, but to their 
i remarkable realism. How characteristic are all these 
! themes — the undulating Rhine-maiden melody, the 
I clumsy musical stride of the giants, the majestic Wal- 
i halla theme, the heroic motive of Siegfried, the magic, 
I veiled sounds of the Tamhelmet, for example. And 
right here let me whisper a secret into your ear. If you 
will talk with a minor composer, he will shake his head 
sceptically over the Leading Motive system, and will 
,' deny that it has a future. And do you know why he 
shakes his head ? Because the Leading Motive principle, 
although apparently easy enough to copy, is really very 
perilous. A shallow theme, used once, after the old 
operatic fashion, may pass without giving offence, and 
may even please; but used as a Leading Motive dozens 
of times, it would be simply nauseating. Kow these 
minor composers are rarely able to create anything but 
shallow themes: hence a sound instinct leads them to 

LEADING MOTirsa 601 

shake their heads and make a cross whenever the Lead- 
ing Motive is mentioned. 

In considering an operatic score, with or without 
Leading Motives, the main question is, after all: ^'Is it 
good music? Are the ideas original, appropriate to the 
situation, and are they developed in a musicianly way?" 
Wagner's musical ideas are not only original, and suited 
to the poetic emotion as no other music ever was, they 
are so plastic, so clear cut in their emotional definiteness, 
that they seem to have been performed in nature. Like 
proverbs and folksongs, these Motives will be handed 
down from generation to generation, things of beauty, 
and a joy forever. And as for the musicianly develop- 
ment of tiiese ideas, Biilow hit the nail on the head when 
he wrote of Tristan that it has ''a thematic elaboration 
as lucid as it is logical, such as no opera heretofore has 

Given, then, good musical ideas, artistically elaborated, 
it is clear that anything else we can get from them 
besides their own beauty is a pure gain, an addition to 
the intellectual resource and the emotional fascination 
of music. It is from this point of view that we realize 
the grandeur and importance of the Wagnerian Leading 
Motive which enables the orchestra not only to play good 
music, but music which suggests, music which talks, 
which tells us about the past, the present, and the future 
almost as definitely as spoken words. Take, for instance, 
the Flower-girl music in Parsifal. We hear it first 
when Gumemanz, in his monologue, tells his companions 
about Klingsor's garden, and it arouses our curiosity 
regarding the damsels who are arrayed in such beautiful 
music. In the second act we see these girls, and aia 


bathed in the fragrance of this music in full blossom; 
and when subsequently a reminiscent strain is introduced 
it thrills us by its suggestive glimpse of the past as no 
mere words, and be they ever so poetic, could tbrill us. 
Indeed, the poet's most imaginative figures of speech 
have not such suggestive power as these reminiscent 
Motives, which resemble them in function. The most 
striking use of reminiscent melodies occurs in the Oot- 
terdammeruTig when Siegfried relates the story of bis life 
to the hunters, just before his assassination. Almost 
all the exquisite Motives of the Sie^ried drama here 
delight the hearer once more, and recall the pleasures of 
an earlier evening. To give Siegfried and the orchestra 
in this place a set of new melodies would have been as 
absurd, as inconsistent, as undramatic, as to make him 
tell a new story. Apply this principle to all the details 
of a score, and you have a luminous idea of the difference 
between an unorganic opera and an organic mustc-drama, 
in which the perfection of musical form is attained by 
having every part connected with every other, as closely 
as are the parts of the dramatic poem. So close, indeed, 
is this union of the poem and the music iu W^;ner's 
music-dramas, that in case of doubt as to the purport of 
the poem, the music will throw light on it; for the music 
is, as Wagner said, " ever initiated into the deepest secrets 
of the poetic intention"; and the orchestra sends its 
blood to pulsate in every vein of the poem — to paint the 
very blush in the heroine's cheek. 

It has been said that the Leading Motives are puzzling, 
because it is dif&cult to remember their names. But as 
a matter of fact they have no names. Wagner never 
gave them any; it was the commentators who invented 



them.^ To those who are able to follow the Grerman ; 
text, the Leading Motives never appear as riddles, for 
every line of the poem, as it is sung, tells the meaning , 
of the music that goes with it, except in cases of s;ubtle 
suggestion. It would be absurd to blame Wagner for 
the fact that some hearers do not understand German, or 
that some singers do not enunciate their words distinctly. 
If they are interpreted properly, there are no riddles- in 
Wagner's music-dramas. They can indeed be enjoyed, 
in a passive sort of way, without paying any special 
attention to the Leading Motives, which, even in that 
case^ make an impression by their musical beauty^ emo- 
tional realism, and unconscious association of ideas; but 
he who would experience all the delights these art-works 
are capable of giving must bring his active attention to 
bear on the recurrence and ramification of the Leading 
Motives; then will he participate in the joys which 
Wagner must have felt when, in the white heat of 
inspiration, he gave them their subtle significance. 


When Germans become Europamiide, — tired of Eu- 
rope, — their first thought is of America. Wagner never 
saw America, but he was several times so tired of Europe 
that he was on the point of crossing the ocean. As early 

1 When LJBzt described this new style of " musical architecture," the 
name Leitmotiv had not been invented. Hans von Wolzogen is credited 
with having first used it. It is not a very happy term, as it does not 
suggest the reminiscent and prophetic function of the Leading Motive, 
which is its very essence ; but the term has now been in use so long 
that it is difScult to discard it. Besides, the suggested substitutes— 
typical themes, representative melodies, reminiscent themes, etc — are 
not much better. 


as July 5, 1848, he wrote a letter ' to Music-Director 
Lobmann at Riga in which he said: — 

" I, for my part, tell you frankly that if I were & poor perfonn- 
Ing musician 1 would not go to America now. for the aimple reaaou 
that I should have been there long ago. What slavery is the lot 
of us poor musicians over here 1 I oan see no grounds for dis- 
Boading any one from seeking liis fortune there, where be ia mote 
likely to find it under any circiunstauceg than here. U I cored 
to give Instances, I could mention a com that lately became known 
here of a fagottist who went to America as a poor man, and tn a 
very short time sent for his wife and children, as he had received 
a 81500 situation. A whole orchestra would certainly be still more 
lucky 1 for in a country where villages are constantly growing into 
cities In live years, there can be no lack of opportunities for the 
settlement of whole bands of musioianH," 

In September, 1849, he writes to his friend Heine that 

" If it comes to Ibe worst I shall write to my patron, yonr WOlielm, 
in America, and tell him to get me some kind of post, as the last 
of the German Mohicans ; then you shall pack us up with you, 
and we will all sail together. If I still hold on with all my roots 
to Europe, it is because 1 have work to do here, and with all my 
mind's weapons." 

For five years nothing more is said in his letters about 
America; in January, 1854, it is Liszt's turn to be told 

"white I live here like a beggar, I bear from America that in 
Boston they are already giving ' Wagner nights.' Some one im- 
plores me to come ; he says that interest in me is rapidly growing 
there - that I could make much money wiCb concert performances, 

The excitement in London over his conductorship of 
I Ptlntad in the Ifeue Zeitichn/t/iir MuHk, 1881, p. 263. 


the Philhannonic Society in 1855 naturally had its echo 
in America. On Sept. 15, he wrote to Praeger: — 

** Fiom New York I have just receiyed an invitation to go oyer 
and conduct there for six months ; it would be well paid. It is 
fortunate, however, that the emolument is not, after all, so very 
large, or else perhaps I might myself be obliged to seriously con- 
Bid3r the matter. But of course I cannot accept the invitation. 
I hkd enough in London.** 

About this time, too, Liszt wrote to him about efforts 
that were being made by Theodore Hagen and William 
Mason to get him (Wagner) to come to Boston to conduct 
a Beethoven festival. Wagner replied that he was glad 
that no big sums were offered; the chance to earn $10,000 
in a short time would be a sore temptation, and he might 
be so foolish as to neglect his proper work once iQore, 
and go on such an expedition. So he begs Liszt to thank 
the gentlemen for their offer, and to say that he was 
unable to accept. But the offer had been a more serious 
matter than he fancied. Liszt wrote again to inquire if 
$10,000 to $12,000 for six months, with sufficient guar- 
anty, would iuduce him to go to America. Li response 
to which Wagner implores him not to tempt him any 
more. Ten years earlier he might have done such a 
thing; if he did it now, his Nibelungen would never be 
completed. Such sums, he adds, people should give him 
as a present. And so the matter was dropped; although, 
not long afterwards, he wrote to Fischer that if his Nihe- 
lung prospects did not soon improve, he would have his 
scores neatly bound, put them on a shelf, and go to 
America to earn a small fortune. 

Li May, 1857, came the offer from the Emperor of 
Brazil^ which was referred to in its proper place in con- 



oection with the Tristan projects; and in 1873, Chicago 
came to the front with a promise of plenty of monej if 
he would come and superintend the production of his own 
operas. Chicago even aspired to be the place for the 
Nibelung Festival; but Wagner declined, ohiefly beoanee 
he was oiraid he might not find there such an audience 
as he wanted.' At last, in 1875, an American offer came 
which he was able to accept, for it did not involve a trip 
across the ocean, but simply the composing of a march. 
When the musical programme of the impending celebra- 
tion of the centenary of American independence was 
under consideration, Mr. Theodore Thomas selected 
American composers for the choral works, but suggested 
that for an instrumental piece it would be appropriate 
to invite the codperation of the greatest living master 
of the nation which has done most to develop instru- 
mental music. The suggestion was adopted, the Women's 
Centennial Organization pledging itself to raise the con- 
siderable sum which would be necessary for such a pur- 
pose. Mr. Thomas accordingly asked Mr. Federlein to 
make a proposal to Richard Wagner, whose answer, 
dated Dec. 22, 1875, follows in part: — 

"On this occasion, too, 1 beg you to express mj thsjiks to 
Huslc-director Thomafl for bis kind efTorts la America in behalf of 
myself and my enterprises over bere. As regards his latest request 
to np, I will gay that it ia quite possible that for the opening of 
the American nalloual featlval so me thing may occur to me — per- 
haps in broad marcb-form — that I can make use of, although I 
haTe not written a note o[ mimic (or a long time, and have quite 
got uul of the way of so-called composing, which you will easily 

" Well, if 1 send you the thing, I shall expect in return that 

tlw Americans will behave well toward me, especially aa regards 

1 Kiicachnar's Wagntr Jahrbuch, 1SS6, p. ISL 


the furthennce of my Festival Plays, which I have postponed 
with special reference to them to the second half of August, at the 
cost of considerable trouble in regard to the singers to be engaged. 
I hope soon to be able to feel assiued of the American visitors.*' 

On Feb. 8, 1876, Wagner wrote a letter to Mr. Thomas, 
of which the following translation is a part: — 

** I take this opportunity to express to you my most cordial 
gratitude for your so successful American activity in behalf of 
German music, which has also benefited my undertaking. . . . 
I therefore declare myself willing to compose for the celebration 
of the Centennial of American Independence a piece for grand 
orchestra, of the length and character of my Kaisermarsch, to be 
sent at the latest on March 15 to a German bank to be named by 
you, against payment of five thousand dollars on receipt of the 
manuscript For the sum here asked I make over to you the com- 
plete copyright of the composition in question for America, but 
not for Europe, for which I am tied by a contract with B. Schott*s 
sons ; but promise not to issue the German edition till six months 
after the American. . . . 

** In fixing the amount of the sum asked, I am guided by my 
latest experiences, since, for example, my Berlin publisher has 
heretofore offered me three thousand thalers for a similar composi- 
tion, which, besides, would not have been related to any national 
celebration. Mr. Verdi has received from his publisher about half 
a million francs for the unconditional rights to the publication and 
performance of his Requiem; consequently I may be allowed to 
make my inference regarding the value of the composition of a now 
famous writer. In regard to this matter I am obliged to give great 
attention to the proper utilization of such of my works as have not 
yet been squandered, since I have not so far been able to save 
a penny of my income from them." 

The next letter is dated Berlin, March 18, and is 
addressed to Mr. Federlein: — 

** Bfr. Thomases address not being at hand, I beg you to make 
the following communications to him. . . . 



" I might have flniahcd my score two weeks ago if mj very 
absorbing occupatioa in Vienna aad Berlin — to whicb I was 
pledged (or tbia time — hod not delayed me, ho thai I w>a finally 
able to complete It only by Iha greatest exertions. , . . 

'■ 1 have indicated the correct tempo by a note r^arding the 

I of tbem 

a the other hand, the always vigorous accent- 

l have Uia effect of impeding 


the flow of the movement. On page 33 and 24 of the score I have 
indicftWd the great pausea, whose solemnity might be atigmented 
at the first festival performance by firing a salute of guns and 
rifles at some distance. The remembrance of this solemn effect 
might perhaps be preserved at later repetitions, by an imitation 
with big drum-beala and ao-called ' Batgchen,' as employed by 
Beethoven in the Battle of Vittoria (in a side room — the sound 
coming apparently from a distance). . . . 

" Now I wish yon good luck I Hy friends here like the march 
very much. I believe it wiU reflect honor on me and on the 

On March 25, he writes once more to Mr. Thomas : — 

" I am dellghwd to have at last received a few lines from you 
personally. ... I praise you higlily for the great trouble you 
have taken to arrange this matter. May success now give you joy. 
. . . From the motto which 1 hare placed over the title you will 
see that I took the matter seriously. A few tender passages in 
my composition I interpreted to my friends, by saying that here 
we must imagine the beautiful and accomplished women of 
America joining in the festival procession. I am accordingly 
much pleased to discover that 1 have thought of these women in 
advance, since they finally made such energetic efforts on behalf 
of my work." 

The full title of the Centennial March is "Grand 
Festival March, for the Opening of the Centennial, 


Commemoratiye of the Declaration of Independence of 
the United States of America. Composed and Dedicated 
to the Women's Centennial Committees by Bichard 

The motto at the head of the score is 

« Nor der yerdient 8ich Freiheit wie das Leben 
Der tftglich sie erobem mtiBs.'* 

(** He only earns the right to freedom and to life 
Who daily is compelled to conquer them.**) 

The manuscript consists of thirty-three large pages^ 
and the score is for grand orchestra, including even a 
bass-trumpet, the procuring of which caused Mr. Thomas 
considerable trouble. It was first played in Philadel- 
phia, on May 10, under Mr. Thomas's direction, with an 
orchestra of 150 men. It "was listened to with the 
closest attention, and a loud burst of applause came from 
the multitude when the march was over." * 

Mr. Dannreuther relates that, after a performance of 
the Centennial March in London (1877), Wagner re- 
marked: "Unless the subject absorbs me completely, I 
cannot produce twenty bars worth listening to"; and 
Lesimple says that when the telegram frojn America 
arrived telling of the great success of the march, he 
remarked with a smile, " Do you know what is the best 
thing about the march? . . . The money I got for it." 
It cannot be denied that this piece is the weakest thing 
Wagner had written in forty years. He had nothing to 

1 Mr. J. R. G. Haasard, in New York Tribune, May 11, 1876. In the 
same paper for April 17 Mr. Hassard has a long and able analysis of the 
march. Bfr. Hassard was at that time the leading American critic, and 
his name wiU oocnpy a very prominent place if the history of Wagner- 
ism in America is eyer written in detaiL 

■4d'.-v- "i^. 



inspire liim, to stimulate his imagination. It bat 
suggested that if he could have seen a collection of 
Amerit'aii tunes, he might have found something to 
elaborate in his own way; but the fact is that, as Mr. 
•Seidl informs ine, he did have a collection of Americaji 
tunes, and found nothing to suit him. He was quite 
distressed for some time because no theme would occur 
to him; till one day, as he was emerging from a dark 
lane in Bayreuth into sunlight, that idea of the triplets 
occurred to him. It is not a valuable idea, and it took 
all of his orchestral skill and ingenuity to make some- 
thing of it. Wliat the Centennial March lacks ia simply 
a pregnant stirring theme. In orchestration and har- 
monization, it is on a level with his best works. The 
richness of the orchestral colors, the massive sonority, 
pompous rhythmic movement, the art of producing 
dynamic contrasts and a grand climax, are truly Wag- 
nerian, and on a level with the Kaisermarsch and 

It was proper that Mr. Theodore Thomaa should have 
conducted Wagner's only contribution to America, as it 
was he who chiefly prepared the soil for the rich han'est 
of Wagnerism which we are now reaping-. Hot that he 
was the first Wagnerian conductor in America. His 
predecessor as conductor of the Philharmonic Society of 
New York, Mr. Carl Bergmann, also did valiant work as 
a pioneer. " But, Mr. Bergmann, " some one remonstrated 
with him one day as he was making up a programme, 
"the people don't like Wagner," " Den dey must hear 

'TheCenWnnittl March Is the only thing Wagner wrote tor Americ*; 
lor the autohlogiajihic eaaay, The Work and Misiion of my Life, which 
appeared in the Ifortk American Review, waa apparently written by H. 
voB Wolzogen. 

IN A2£EBICA 511 

him till dey do/' was his noble answer.^ This same 
policy was pursued by Mr. Thomas for many years; 
rarely did he give a concert without at least one Wagner 
piece, regardless of what the people or the critics said. 
What success he had may be inferred from an interview 
in the Vox Humanely May 1, 1873, in which Mr. Thomas 
is reported as saying he ^' found Wagner's music increas- 
ingly popular every season. Could not make an accep- 
table programme without it. . . . Maintained a large 
orchestra expressly to interpret Wagner's music." 

Within a year or two after the first Lohengrin per- 
formance at Weimar, Wagner numbers began to be 
conspicuous on American concert programmes. On the 
operatic stage, Tannhduser had its first hearing in 1859, 
Lohengrin in 1870, while in 1877 a poor performance of 
Die WaJkiire was given by an incompetent company, and 
with Mr. Neuendorf as conductor. Mr. Thomas had 
intended to devote himself to the Wagner operas to 
crown his labors, and the deep instinctive insight into 
these compositions shown by him would have augured 
success; but in 1884 his plans were frustrated by the fail- 
ure of the Italian opera at the new Metropolitan Opera 
House, and the establishment of German opera with Dr. 
Leopold Damrosch as leader. Mr. Damrosch, too, had 
done good missionary work in the concert-hall, and he 
crowned his labors by a series of seven performances of 

1 B. O. Mason's Sketches and ImpresiUms, which contains many in- 
teresting facts abont early musical life in New York. See also Mr. H. 
E. KrehbiePs The Philharmonic Society of New York, and especially 
bis Reviews of the New York Musical Seasons, 1S86-1S90, for much val* 
nable information regarding the history of Wagnerism in America. My 
own book, entitled Chopin, and Other Musical Essays, contains a much 
more detailed acconnt of German Opera in New York than there is 
loom for here. See also Bitter's Music in America, 



the Walk&re which were an immense improvement on 

those previously given, Neverthelesa, Die Walhiire has 
iipver been so popular in New York as Siegfried and 
Ootterdlimmerung, and 1 regard this as evidence of the 
superior taste of New York audiences. 

Dr. Damrosch sacrificed his life to German opera. 
A cold caught at a rehearsal developed into fatal 
pneumonia. After his death, Anton Seidl was asked to 
take his place. A wiser choice, or one more fortunate 
for America, could not have been made; for, with the 
possible exception of Hans Richter, no other conductor 
has ever entered so deeply into the dramatic spirit oi 
"Winner's music. As Hans Richter, by his London 
concerts, revealed the inner secrets of Wagner's art to 
Londoners, so Anton Seidl took the very atmosphere of 
Bayreuth to New York. These two men were Wagner's 
principal pupils, and the similarity in their conception 
is not an accident, but establishes the real tradition as 
regards modification of tempo, and other matters, which 
ought to be fixed for all time by phonograph, before it 
is too late. Mr. Seidl studied with Mr. Richter, and it 
was through his teacher's recommendation that Wagner 
accepted him as his musical secretary in 1872. Four 
years later, Mr. Seidl assisted in rehearsing the Nibelung 
roles with the solo singers and the chorus of men in Die 
Ootterdiimmeruiig. He also had charge of the musical 
side of the stage management, superintending, for ex- 
ample, the movements of the swimming Rhine-maidens 
ill exact harmony with the score — a task requiring a 
thorough musician. In the following year he was sent 
to London to arrange the preliminary rehearsals tor the 
Albert Hall concerts. The first Nibelung performances 



in Leipzig owed their success rery largdj to Mr. SeaL"* 
cooperation, and he, of coarse, was ebosen to fxadnax, 
the 133 performances of yenmann's traT^Hin^ yfbeio^ 
Theatre. After the Berlin yibelung FeatrraL Wa^aer 
alluded in a speech to "the young artist wir^cL I Lan* 
brought up, and who now accomplishes asv.izruiin^ 
things.'* The chief reason why Hfilsen lad r*f:Li*id ibt 
Tetralogy at the Royal Opera was that Wa&«:T rssir 
bomly insisted that Mr. Seidl should be «(»daetr>r. Is 
was his intention, too, that Mr. Seidl shcold fx&tatt 
the first Parsifal Festival, bat when King Lodwig rAknA 
his Munich orchestra, its conductor, of tc^nrnt^ west 
with it, and Hermann Leri nnquesticnably jmrtd aa 
excellent interpreter. 

That Anton Seidl should have bsjen ^bos««i as tbe 
conductor of the German opera in X^rr Yc«k wu. I 
repeat, extremely fortunate; fes:dft« Li? \iffw'j^^, of 
the correct traditions, he hhfjw^ an *rLVi.'L*L*4iL f'^T Lis 
task which proved contagious to p!ij»^rt, t:L^r%, *A/i 
audiences.^ ^lany famous Wagn^* singert w*??* i«tri 
at the seven seasons of German op^ra, f ffrtii 1/584-lWl 
— Mesdames ^latema, Lilli Lehmann, .ScLro^sd^fr-Hanf- 
stfingl, Kraus, Mielke, Bitter-Goetze, Braiidt, I>?tta^f>:, 
Moran-Olden; Messrs. Niemann, Gu/lehus, Vogl, Jy:J»tt, 
Alvary, Beichmann, Fischer, Staudigl, eV:;. ThafikJi V> 
such singers and such a conductor, thfrre wer*; t^anb^/UM 
when the Metropolitan Opera House, with its vnAUuiuA 
wealth, provided the best German opera in tl^ world -* 
best in everything but the scenic dejiartm^it, wbi^;b 
usually shabby and inadequate. 

1 Under his direction, IHe Meitter$in/jer hs4 tu Urat y^trfiiirMHM* hk 
America on Jan. 4, 1S86; TrUtan, on D«c. 1, UMfr; Aki/rU4, %^/f, 1$^ 
1S87 : OatterUmmerung, Jan. 26, IBW ; BhtingUi, ias. 4, IMflk 



For " German Opera," we might aa well read "Wagner" 
Oi^ra," for the result of the Metropolitan performances 
waa a constantly growing preponderance of Wagner over 
all other composers. Mr. Krehbiel took the trouble to 
collate Director Stanton's official figures for the last five 
years of German opera, and found that " Wagner'a dramas 
yielded $590,021.70 as against 5410,332.76 brought in 
by the entire non-Wagnerian list, a difference in favor of 
Wagner of *179,688.96." Or, if we take the number of 
performances, we find that Wagner had 128, and all 
other composers combined — Germaji, French, and Ital- 
ian— 149! The New York public, in fact, seemed to 
want Wagner, the whole of Wagner, and nothing but 
Wagner; like the Bavarian who had three wishes, and 
for the first chose a thousand barrels of beer, for the 
second all the beer in the world, and for the third — 
after a long pause — another barrel of beer. 

The stockholders of the Metropolitan, most of whom 
had more wealth than musical culture, became disgusted 
at this state of affairs, and concluded to abolish G«rman 
opera altogether, as the only way of getting rid of 
Wagner. Driven from the opera-house, this music once 
more took refuge in the concert-hall, and to-day, not only 
does Wagner have more performances at American con- 
certs than any other composer, but a programme entirely 
devoted to him draws a larger audience than any possible 
combination of other composers. In London, where 
Mr. Eowbotham wrote an article, in 1888, on "The 
Wagner Bubble Burst," the six intended performances 
of German opera in 1892 had to be increased to twenty 
— almost all Wagner; and there, too, the Wagner con- 
certs are patronized the best. In Paris, Lohengrin had 



sixty-one performances in its first year. As for Gerruau 
countries^ the Austrian Archphilistiiie wrote, a decade 
ago, that the Wagner movement had evidently reaished 
its climax, if not got beyond it. At tliat date Wagner 
had about five hundred performances a year; to-day the 
number is doubled; and it is safe to predi(;t that it will 
double again within the next ten years, if the supply 
of dramatic singers and conductors equals tlie demand. 
The Bayreuth Festivals, too, have constantly grown in 
popularity, more than a hundred performances having 
been given there since the Nibelung Festival of 1M70. 
ParHfcd was given in 1882, 1883, 1884, 18M5, 1888, 1889, 
1891, 1892; Trittan, in 1880, 1888, 1889, 1891, 1892; I)U 
MeisterHnger, in 1889, 1891. Wagner's widow ba« xmh 
ously striven to carry out his intentions; but even if 
these Festivals should cease before the end of tlie 
century, they will liave done their worlc. Wagner's 
dramas are now the heritage of tlie whole world, and 
althougli the Music of the Future lias become the music 
of the present, it will continue to be the Music of the 





Action and mnsic, 1. 179. 

Alliteration, n. 470. 

Alvary, M., II. 377. 

America: W. concerts, IL 107, 

001 ; plans for going to, 003-006 ; 

Centennial March, 006-010 ; first 

operatic performances. Oil, 013; 

popularity of W., 014. 
Animals: love of, II. 197-204; in 

W.'s operas, 198, 422. 
Applause, ill-timed, II. 303, 430. 
Aria, I. 300. 

Arnold, Matthew, I. 133. 
Auber, I. 311, 11. 94. 
Autobiojinraphic writings, I. 7, 306, 

n. 2, 407. 
Avenarius, F., I. 20-22, II. 197. 

Bach, I. 106, 314. 

Ballet: in Ricnzi, I. HO; attack 
on, 2.33; Tannhauser, II. 73, 70; 
eliminated, 1, 107. 

Baudelaire, II. 80, 87. 

Bayreuth: first festival plan, I. 
351 ; festival receipts, 1891 and 
1892, 1. 209 ; why chosen in place 
of a large city. 209, 262; esti- 
mated cost of festival, 260; not 
a commercial enterprise, 263; 
W.'s first visit, 263; Ninth Sym- 
phony at, 260-268; present of a 
site, scenery, 266; laying the 

comer-stone, 269 ; is it national 7 
270 ; straggles to raise funds, 270- 
272; comprehensive plan, 272; 
decried as a humbug, 274-276; 
danger of collapse, number of 
patrons, 276; Villa Wahnfried, 
277 ; description of, 278 ; road to 
the Nibelung Theatre, 281; de- 
scription of theatre, 282; invisi- 
ble orchestra, 283-287; Nibelung 
rehearsals, 289, 29^-290; King 
Ludwig and Kaiser Wilhelm, 
297-299 ; accommodations for 
tourists, 300; scenes at Anger- 
mann's, 300; before the per- 
formance, 301 ; scenery and 
critics, 304, 300 ; the singers, 303, 
300, 306; W.'s "scandalous 
speech," 307-310; festivals, from 
1876-1892, 374; financial result 
of first Festival, 376; plan for 
dramatic high-school, 383; for 
future festivals, 384; arrange- 
ment with Munich, 389-391; 
changes in 1882, 403; Munich 
and Nurember}^ as suburbs, 404; 
secret of success, 434; applause 
forbidden, 430; financial success 
of Parsifal, 437; burial of W., 
402; festival years and list of 
dramas, 010. 

Bayreuther Blatter, 11. 380. 

Beethoven: worship of, I. 31-34, 
100, 316; pilgrimage to, 82; on 
FreUchutz, 141; Ninth Sym- 
phony in Dresden, 101 ; on sloven- 


1; pertormanecia, i3t ; IniilitloTM. ' Carteret, J. C. II, 460. 

426; In Londnii, 410; criticisms ' CenteonUI March, II. 506-610. 

BeUlDi, L M), 114, 310, 341, II. 4n. { Chorlef, H, F., I. 191. 



68, 430, 

BerKmann, C, II. 010. 

Berlin: Bienzl.l.lii; TannhSvier 
rejscted, 201; DuKAman. 214; 
Lohtngrin, 3T4; tbe "Circtls 
HalsuD." 3T4~381, II. 3H6-396. 

Berlioi: on a novelette, L 84; on 
llutchman. 13H; auiated by W., 
14(i; on W. as conductor, 146; 
opeu-air composing, 405; on 
poor perfonnancefl, 421; coodact 
U]«(irdsW..U.S8-«4; W.'s apin- 

, 1.3 


;or, H 
Beiisl, Count 
Bisiaarck. II. 211. 
BoloKna, II. 258. 
Bonlogne, I. 86. 

Brandt, Mariamie, II. 416. 
BreiCkopt and Hartel, I. 373, tl. 37, 

41. i2, 48, e( paitim. 
Brendel, I. 332, 339. 

Brussels, IL lid. 

Bjilaw, Hans Ton: on Fanst over- 
ture, I. 416; on form, 41B; Lo- 
henarin, 418; W.'s pupil, 440; In 
Muulch, II. 125; W. on, m coa- 
ductor. I3B; armnKements, 133; 
on Trlttan, 14T; W. and politics, 
1T7, 1T8; leaves family with W., 
183; conducts Meuteriinger, 213; 
and bis wife, 34B : contributes to 
Bajreuth fund, 401. 

Borllogame, E. L., I. 84. 

Cboios: in Weber, 
grin, 266; In Wagner's open*, 
n. 231 ; objections to bis theory, 
234; in Walkilre, 339, 340; In 
Partial. 427. 

Comio opera, see Mei»teriingrr. 

Composing; Lohoigrin, I. 2S3; 
Rheingold, 410-412; method ol, 
II. 33-34; pleasure of. 33; poem 
reveals signilicsjice, 38. 

Concerts; in Dresden. I. 151; at 
Ziiriob,435^39 ; In Loudon (1855), 
443^160; why W. gave, U. 103; 
of W.'s music in America, 107; 
in London (ISH), 378-382. 

Conducting: Essay On, I. 427; IL 

Condoclor: W. as, la Ureadeo, 1. 
lit-lfH; drillmikatcr, 421-424; 
principles at Inlerpretation. 424- 
433; "" 

of Wet 

' 425; testi- 

intellectUBl Interest, 438; modi- 
Bcation of tempo, 429; expert 
testimony. 432-136; in Zurich, 
4.'Sn-443; Loudon, 443-4W; with- 
out score, 451 ; Ninth Symphony, 
n. 2G7; Insists on piano, 285; 
Rlrhter anecdote, 280; directions 
to Bayrenth orchestra and sing- 
ers, 394: " parentbotlc " motives, 

Criticism: function of, I. 133; lags 
behind, 138, 288. 

Critics; Preface, I. 3; on Weber, 
13; on Rifmi and Dulchman, 
132-138; on Weber, 142; on 
rannAauser, 187; should be 
abolislied, 306; on Lohfngrin, 
277; ou W.'s "contempt" for 
the Euaaters, 308; why opposed 



W., 333; neglect dnty, 369; on 
LIsxt's generoeity to W., 383, 392 ; 
In Lcmdon, 1805, 445-460; malice, 
455; on W.'s ooncert-giying, n. 
106; retard his raocees, 105; 
charge of formlefleneee, 148; on 
diaoorde, 150; on abeenoe of 
melody, 165-161; on TrUtan, 
170-173; Uee abont Minna, 176; 
openMX>mpoeing, 227; on MeU- 
terginger, 236-238, 240; inde- 
cency of, 261 ; on KaUermarBch, 
264; and politicians, 273 ; on Bay- 
renth project, 273-276; charge 
of lonacy, 274; try to fmstrate 
festival, 276; on *' scandalous 
speech" in Vienna, 291; pet 
names for W., 296; on Bayreuth 
scenery, 304 ; on moral aspect of 
WalkUre, 333; on Dragon in 
BUgfiried^ 352; vertuM men of 
genius, 367; on the Nibelung's 
Bing, 367-375; weak-minded, 
372; seek to discredit festival, 
402; on Pars</a/, 429-433; bonnd 
to find fault in any case, 436; 
and W.'s poetry, 472; on vocal 
style, 479, 481, 486, 491; on 
Leading Motives, 493; on Reflec- 
tion, 494. 

Damrosch, L., n. 511. 
Dannreuther, I. 06, 77, 200, 379, 

Davison, 1. 445. 
Debts, I. 51, 60, 72, 87, 203, 213, 

382-390, n. Ill, 119, 120, 877, 

Diary, in Paris, 1. 71. 
Dietsch, L 76, 137, H. 77. 
Discords, II. 150. 
DonixetU, I. 79, 310. 
Dom, H., I. 27, 31, 51, 57, 63, 438, 

n. 31, 163, 170. 
Draeseke, F., 1. 268. 

Dresden: Weber and German 
opera, I. 13; Riemi accepted, 
91; performed, 99; Dutchman, 
115; TannMhuer, ISl; insurrec- 
tion, 206; Meisternnger, U, 239. 

Dvorak, n. 240. 

Ehlert, I. 434, H. 171, 236, 371, 373, 

^21 484. 
Ehrlich, I. 482, 494. 
Eliot, George, n. 381. 
EUis, W. A., I. 127, 181, 218, IL 496. 
Elson, L. C, I. 41, 271. 
Engel, G., II. 273, 369. 
Essays: in Paris, I. 80-82. 

Fairies, The, L 37. 

Faust overture, 1.68, 69, 412^19. 

F^tis, 1. 133, 192. 282, 306, IL 66. 

Feuerbach, 1. 290. 

Feustel, F., 462. 

FiUppi, F., 1. 175, 281, 446. 

Fillmore. J. C, U. 153. 

Fischer, W., I. 96. 

Flying Dutchman : impressions on 
a sea-voyage, L 65; Heine, 76; 
sells libretto, 76 ; composition of, 
89-91; refused in Germany, 91; 
score in Berlin, 104; first per- 
formance, 116-118; at Ziirich, 
117; neglected ten years, 118; 
performances in 1889-1891, 118; 
story of, 119-125; comments, 125- 
130; W.*s opinion of, 131; crit- 
ics on, 135-137; Berlioi, Liszt, 
Spohr, 140; intended as one-act 
opera, IL 322; number of bars, 
429; Leading Motives, 496. 

Form: Bttlowon W.'s, 418; in Odt- 
terdSmmsrung, 419; symphonic 
poem, II. 18; in TVisCon, 148. 

Fimns, R.. I. 259-263, n. 486. 

Freitcb: opera, I. 311, 313, 441; 

civUiMiion in Qermnnj, n. 363 ; 
Booree ol hostility to W., 2M, 
Frledrlcb August II.. I. 93. 

Gsde. I. IM, 
Qa^rin). 11. 63, fig. 78. 
Oaslrouomic babita, 1. 402-404. 
GanUer, Th., U. H7, 
Oauder, J., 11. IW, 2DQ, 2TT. 
GlenlM: in W.'a favor, 1. 3; plew- 

ore of creating, S6; lack of l>ct, 

German opera: DreitdeD, I. 13-15; 

3, »)4, 3 

, 11.2 

3. 17, 3 

Glnck; what W. did for, I. lOT; 
refortna, 303; W.'a opinion of, 
314; " trnditloDB," 436; germ of 
Lending Motive, II. 4'6. 

Goethe^ and the Bagltsbman. D. 
3TT; on Invisihle players, 2h:<; 
treatmeot of. by contemporaries, 

OSlUrdStiimfrung : Srstformof,!. 
348-»>3 ; choras in, U. ■2S5; com- 
poflltlon of, 258 ; story of, ;U5- 
361: «<mmenUon,;)61-t6T; W.> 
greatest act, 36S ; early orlj^iu of 
themes, 306 (see also Siegfried's 

Gounod, 11. ZB3. 

Grftry, II. 283, 496. 

GHSK. II' 210, 307. 

Urove, Sir G., I. 330. 

Uumprechl, 1.237,279. 

Halieneck, I. fi8. 
Hale, P., I. I'll. 
Uanslick, E.: W.'a pictorial h 

I. IB; phillRlne, 133; cm DuteK- 
man, 136; (in W.'i Gluck, 160; 
on Lohtngrin. 380; W. on, 333; 
OQ W. and Meyerbeer, 33B. S40; 
W.'a letteie to Lisxt. 303; V. u 
Ufzt'B moslc. IL IT : IVuIon Itn- 
poraible, 103; HaDalickiain. ISl ; 
love-potion in Trulan, 164, 16!>; 
Tnitan iTiticisms. 170; on W. 
liart correspond eoce, 189; on 
Ueitterilntier, 33T; Rhtingald 
prophesy, 244 ; Leading Motives, 
349 ; Dragon in Skgfried. 3S2 ; on 
OSt lerdd mmenmg, 387 ; Ifibetung 
criUcisms, 370; "depreMing to 
WagnerilBB." 374; on PuTti/al, 
431-433; on NietXSclie, 466; on 
Leading Moti*ea, 4M. 

Happy Bear Family, I. 87. 

Harmony and Discord, U. 150-164. 

Hiirtel, see Breitkopt. 

Hassard, J.R. G., II. B09. 

Hnnptmann, M., I. 188, 202, 279, 

Hnweia, H. R., II. 414. 

Heckel, E.p II. ^61, 271. 

Heine, F., I. OS. 

Uoino, U., I. 32, 63, 6S ; 

'., TS, 

Henderson, W. J., IL 368. 

Herbeck, J., II. 106. 

Herder, I. 3. 

Herhomcr, H., H. 381. 

Herwegb, I. .'ViS. 

Hoke Brnvl, I. 64, lOa 

UoDoraria: tor songs, I. Tl ; for 
Blenii, 103; essays. 298, 388; 
TannhSvuT in Vienna, 383 ; tan- 
tiimet in 1893, :t86; from operas, 
383-.190; for Paris Tannha»*er, 
II. 83; operas, 103; tor Ifibe- 
lun'i't Ring and Fartifal, 439. 

Hnliert. P. G., I, 304. 

Htieffer, F., I. »3, 136, 434, 444, 499, 
U. 3, 334, 380. 

BfllMa, Botho Ton, L 370-382, IL 

jM, aeQ, SM-ase. 

ButdtgtMg»marieh, IL IM, 300. 
HDllali, J., L 191. 
Hnnmi, vlt, playftUnsM, L 31, S7, 
a, 4S0, U. ISr, XMOO, 23t-328, 


brtmnwiitaUoD, sm OrclMrtration. 
lUlUn open, I. 48-SO, 80, 300, 901, 
810. n. 160, 481-183. 

ltt^,L an, n. 2(18,303. 

jKkMB, J. P., n. 3T8. 

Itba, O., I. ISO, 384. 

Jbui P«tl, 1. 1. 

jBtwm, A., IL 18T, 338. 

/uiu of NazarsOt, I. 303, 317, H. 

Jbwb, im JodAim. 
JoBchlm, I. 23T. 
JixUlam In Mute, L 922-34T, U. 

Eaiiermartth, H. 134, 3ST, 364, 360. 

KaltMck, M., II. 430. 

KutDer, I. 343, n. 4S8. 

Kcpplet, F.,IL«47. 

KUndwoitb, U. 4. 

KobM, G., II. 149, 334, 367. 

Kontfcsberg, I. Bl. 

KrebUel, H. E., n. 149, Sll, 014. 

Knitusth, U. 289. 

EX 521 

J»mA\ng HotlTW: IVmnUuMT, I. 
181; Lo>ungrin, 368; In pUoe o( 
GrMk dtorat, II. 334; in Shet)^ 
gold. S34 ; mbtle um ot. In Statb 
yHe(l,S4e; \a OottvriammTung, 
36S; \aPartifai,tSl; InpneMl, 
493-002; principle of oignnle 
form, 493; hinory of, 4BB, tfO; 
rsmlnlacaDt uid piopbetio, SOI; 
the nuna, 003. 

Leipzig: W.'H bona*, L 10; oon- 
wiTKtoiy, 306; Lohengrin, 3T4, 

l4dmpl«, n. 87B. 

Letten: oketcbei of, I. SB; tnn*- 
lBt]oii«ot,93; toHeekel, II.3B1; 
ingBDenl, 41B. 

Lenld.-I. SB, TO. 

Ubrettoi oSeied, I. S7. 

lieboBTerbot, 1. 43. 

lindan, Paul, n. 387, 283, 303, 309, 
334, 33T, SB3, SH, 873, 434, 4S1, 

UmA: od Ihitehman, 127, US, 139; 
on TannMuMr, 193, 220; at 
Weimar, 230; aulKs W., 231; 
fint meeting, 313; gives aidvlce, 
330 ; on LohengHn, 236, 238, 239, 
248, 206-209, 2TB; em.; on, 2DB, 
208; woTkiforW.,2T3; ooScbD- 

' bert, 320; on W.'r wretchedneu, 
368; MiricM refoMd, 369 ; eCFoTta 
for TannhSusKT in Berlin, 3T&- 
382; genenwlty, 390; Income, 
why gBTs np playing, eztrara- 
ganee, 391; affection tor W., 
393; style ot oorrecpondenoe, 
393; advice toTr„394; on Wal- 
kOre, n. 7; three vtolU to W., 
8-10; affection tor W., 9, 10; 
W.'b gratltnde and love, ID, 11; 
lait will, 11 ; linglng Bhtingold 
and WalkUrt, 13; tnmi to ot- 
ehaatra, 14 ; W.'b opinion of 
Llwt't mnalo, IS; bu vMndM. 

16; belplcH at Weimat, H; on 

jyuian, S6; Tisits TriebacheD, 
188; end ol the oorrespondence, 
188; wants to marry, 180; plays 
Ueiilfrtinger at aight, 190 ; 
" Double-Pepa," 201 ; at Bay- 
reath, 200; on Nihrlung't Sing, 
36T; TTiemaurainggoiuIola.iii; 
DD Tocal gl?les, 483. 

Ularary worka : antoblographlc 
aketcb. I. 7; lirat essay, W; P»- 
Haian correspondeDce, SO ; gtorlea 
ftnd rasays, 81-87 ; Art and Revo- 
Intion, 291; Art-work ol FHture, 
293; Opera nod Drama, 297; Com- 
tnunlcatloD to Frieuda, 30li; style. 
WI; Jadalsni Id Music, 322; eln- 
«ldsUoiisoaUieaani«,330; Tann- 
hauier Guide, 177, 370; Od Con- 
ducting, 427; Lisit's Sympbonic 
Poems. II. 17; Music of tlie Fu- 
ture, 72; NlbeiuQg Pretace and 
Epilogue, 100 ; Vienna Court Op- 
era, 110; Judaism, CoDducting, 
248; Boethoveo, 348; Gel 
Art and Politics, SA2; A Capitu- 
lation, 2M; Wliac is German' 
2S7; Coilected Writings, 268 
Actora Bad Siogen!, Designatioi 
or Music Drama, On Acting. 2>t] 
German Opera-Hoiwea, 3S8; last 
essays, 3S5-^T; last schemes, 
4M ; style, 497. 

Lohpn^Tin : Paris, 1H91, I. 84, 277 
creation of, 19D; submitted It 
Lisit, 22B; affect on W., 23B: 
guide to, 23T ; fears for, 238; story 
of, 240-247; first perf< 
24T ; duration, 249, 250 ; cuts, ; 
W.'b oplniou of, 201 ; Llazt 
2SS; Franz on, 2A9; comments. 
263-271; chorus. 26S; coDtinuous 
melody, 267; progress of, 271, 
dsdication, 273; popularity, 2T7 
will tt pay to print? 354; " Im 

poHible," 370, 371; Biilonr oi 

fomi,416; piano score, n. 4; tint 
heard by W., t09 ; model perform- 
ance, at Mualcb, 213; success in 
Paris. 3S5; in Italy, 308; under 
W. at Vienna, 292; aooth pe^ 
formance In Berlin, 39fi; Lsading 
Motives, 49S ; In America, 611. 
LondoD; first visit, 1.66; Philhar- 
monic concertB under W., 443- 
460; fitet W. operas, 11. 298; fes- 
tival of 1877. :n8-3e3; Fariifal 
Impossible in, 413; W. opanuln 

Lovefeaat of the Apostles, I. 146. 
Jjove, romantic, In W.'s operas, XL 

161-170. 362. 
Lucerne (see also Trlebachen), U. 

Ludwig II.; privau performaneee, 

I. 39; dedication of score, 47; 
romantic friendship with W., 

II. 121-125; asks W. to finish 
Tetralogy, 126 ; asks W. to leave 
Munich, 180; risiU W.. 183; 
disliiies Tichatschek, 213; con- 
gratulatory telegram, 369; at 
Bayrenth, 297; to the t«aene, 
389, 402 ; suggeats Partifat, 309 ; 
two black swana, 401; aenda 
wreath, 45a 

Liibke, W., IL430L 
LUttichau, I. 93, 236. 
Luxury, lova of, 1. 40B, IL U^ 137, 

Magdeburg, I. 41, «. 

Mariafeld, n. III-IIS. 

Marschner, I. 428. 

Mason, W., 11. SOS. 

Matema, A., II. 289. 

Meltul, I. 313. 

Meiftertini/er : overtore. I. 439; 
piano score, U. 4; compositioD of, 
107-lU i W. on, 114 ; work oo. at 



Trlebeehen, 182; completed, 213; 
rehearsals, 213; first perfonn- 
anoe,216; story of, 217-223; com- 
ments on, 224-231; humorous 
f eatnres, 224 ; aotobiographic 
element, 226; compared with 
LohengHn, 232; its "popular" 
character, 233; early production 
of, 236. 

Melody: in Lohengrin, I. 267; 
search for, 431 ; real, veraiis tune, 
IL 155-161; Schumann on, Ite; 
endless, 157, 158 ; scarce, in Italian 
opera, 160 ; harmonic, 160 ; in 
TrUtan, 159, 173; in Walkure, 
897 ; Tocal or orchestral, 488. 

Mendelssohn : and W.'s symphony, 
L 30; clique, 215 ; W.'s opinion of, 
8121, 344; vanity, and intolerance 
of rivals, 343 ; English god of 
music, 450 ; as conductor, 452. 

Mend^, C, I. 333, U. 184. 

Meser, 1. 203, 385. 

Mettemich, Princess, IL 68, 80. 

Meyerbeer: profits, 1. 54; aidsW., 
67, 71, 75; no result, 76, 77; in 
Berlin, 9i; letter commending 
W., 86; leaves Berlin, 134; exas- 
perates W., 226; W.'s opinion of, 
806, 335-342 ; condemned by great 
composers, 338; on W., 342. 

Modulation, n. 321, 322, 386. 

Mohr, W., n. 274. 

Money troubles, see Debts. 

Mozart: Franz on, I. 260; W. on, 
302, 315; traditions, 425; Don 
Juan "impossible," II. 103; 
"not a composer of note," 274; 
on poetry and music, 469. 

Mnncker, F., II. 383. 

Munich: Dutchman, I. 137; W. 
and King Ludwig, II. 121-125; 
attacks on W.'s personality, 127- 
132 ; " the second Bayreuth," 133 ; 
first W. piece (1852), 133; first 
W. operas, 134; first perform- 

ance, Tristan, 138; political 
accusations, 177, 178; projected 
Wagner theatre, 180, 209; W.'s 
banishment, 180 ; occasional 
visits, 211; first MeiaterHnger 
performance, 216; Eheingold and 
WalkUre, 242-244; arrangement 
with Bayreuth, 390. 

Music-drama: elements in Dutch- 
man, 1. 129; is Tannhauaer one? 
176; Weber's ideal of, 265; U 
Lohengrin one? 268; to displace 
other arts, 294; pantomimic 
music in, 312; the name, n. 143; 
the third style, 322; verms 
spoken drama, 326. 

Myth, I. 204; Rubinstein on, 346; 
and music, n. 474-477. 


Napoleon, n. 67, 71. 

Nature. W.'s love of, L 404-408. 

Neumann, A., n. 392, 396. 

New York, see America. 

Nibeluny^s Ring (see also Khein^ 
gold, WalkUre, Siegfried, and 
OdtterdSmmerung) : first sketch 
of, I. 204, 354 ; writing the poem, 
348-359; first festival plan, 354, 
356; poems printed privately, 
357; " bum it," 373; piano score, 
II. 4; offers scores to publisher, 
37; animals in, 198; scores pub- 
lished, 288 ; rehearsals, 289, 293- 
295; analysis of, 313-375; statis- 
tics of performances, 374; on its 
travels, 391-304; statistics for 
fifteen years, 391; in Italy, 393; 
honorarium for, 439; Leading 
Motives, 499; in America, 513. 

Niemann, A., II. 69, 491. 
' Nietzsche, F., IL 466. 

Nohl, IL 174, 214. 

"Noisiness": Rienzi, L 114; 
Tristan, U. 150; Rheingold, 325. 

Nonnwd, n, 400. 
NoraMM, 1. 8L 
ITovietttfPttiermo, L iS, a 
Noltter, C, IL 78. 

OvUrlsln, PntMw, I. Ssa, 1L380, 

Opera: PuU, L T«; daOuftkm ci. 

180, >ei; erolDtlon ol, 300. 
Optnloni ol otbar oompOMn, W.'l, 

L 308-347, n. IS. 
OichMIn, invUblB, U. 388-281; 

dlrectlDfu to, 200; knd Biugen, 

aOBi tBcnltj of definite ■peeoh, 

Orcbeetratloii: LohmgHn, I. 2S7, 

268; Pruu on, 2S1; UiinUug 

operM la orchettral colore, U. 

28; 7Wjtan,14ei WalkUrt, 336; 

glftot,4TT; ue«ltiitraa]euta,499. 

OTertorea: flnt, L26; BaleBiiUn- 

Ula, Polonla, 63; Colombag, 77; 

Tatmhijuer, popnUrlCj ot, 189. 

PalMtrfna,I.lsa, 309. 

Paiii : flnt viilt, I. 67-03 ; Lohen- 
grin In 1891, 81; Mcond vblt, 
336; fttter twenty feui, n. eO; 
caae<rts,AS; TannhSuter uii the 
Jockey Club, 67-83; ancceai ol 
Lohensrin,2S6; Aienif, 2BS. 

Parf^/iil.' for Municb, I. 39; germB 
of, II. 204; composition of, 396- 
401 ; anfcgeeted bj King Ladwig, 
399; poem completed, 399; fundo 
rorreitiTal,4ai; rebesraals, 402 
casU, 403 ; Blory of, 4M-41!; com. 
, 412-429; " blaspbe- 

,"413; I 

n, 413, 

414; fculdee to, 414; tlie 

417; aoenlo mureta, 418, 43a\ 

mtulo not tot ooneert b*U, 420; 

the Biiule, 4S0-^SK} ehomi fait 
427; eulyaialodlM in, M,1X; 
oritiee on, 420-133; nnmlMr of 
bkn,429; flnt perfommnoe, 488; 
a <tTi*i«ft»i ineoew, 487; boamw 
tinm tot, 430; LeMdlof Molina, 

Padit, F., I. SS. 

Pedro, DoD, IL 18, 308. 

Pepe, n. aoo. 

Perl, H.,IL 443. 
Pfohl. F., n. 41B. 

PhlllEtine, deflultiMi o(, L UB; M* 

iuiofotte, n. 13, 13, as. 

ictorUleeow, 1. 18. 

PUXrimage*. L IIS, 273, IL 380. 

Pianer, ICnna, aee Wagner, Mbma. 

Poetry: writM hU own, 1. 36 ; ifw- 
iet of Palermo and Bientl, L 
109; Dulelariaa, 127; Tarmhtu- 
ttr. 173; Lohtngrin, 306, 364; 
Rheinaold, 3G6; WaOMre, SSI; 
Siegfried'! Death and Oatter- 
dammerung, 348-3B3; Siagfritd. 
3S3; tranalaUnB, II. 00; Mti»ler- 
tinger, 107; Nih^htng, printed, 
106; TrUlan, 143-I4B, 100; OOD- 
dltlons the moilc, 148; Iteltter- 
tiTiger, 224; iofloence ot Soho- 
penhaner, 2S0 ; open-air dramas, 
319,331,346,347; Waltiire,332i 
Siegfried, 3*6; OStterdammer. 
ung, 363; Partifal, I. 204, IL 
see, 413-tla; pecaliarltlee in 
general, 4BT-477; wrltlog own 
llbrettoi, 4ff7; new ploto, 168; 
popolarliM mjtlie, 468; allltar- 
ation and rlijrme. 470; tlui free- 
dom and variety of proee. (72; 
unumal wordi, 473; mjrth and 
music, 4T4; musical Mrnu Ut> 
erary, 474. 

Pohl, B., I. S2, 1T4, aOB, 337, SBl, 
U. 100, 227, 34Bk 2BS. 



PoUtlot, L 200-219, 227, U. 177, 

Forges, H., U. 290, 290. 

Portrait, Herkomer's, of W., II. 

PrMger, F., I. 22, 65, 66, 67, 72, 
212, 327, 340, 397, 403, 424, 434, 
447, n. 1, 4, 27, 49, 118, 127, 181, 
204, 206, 209, 212, 240, 264, 399. 

Press, see Critics. 

Pioelss, I. 93. 

Prophecies, I. 1-4, 136, 191-198, 
277-287, 373. 

Pnschmann, IL274. 

Reflection, IL 494. 

Beicher-Kindemutim, Fran, 11.394. 

Beissiger, L 96, 100, 214, 210, 429. 

Religion and operas, L 96, IL 413. 

Berolntion, at Dresden, L 200-219; 
artistic, 227. 

Bheingold: poem sketched, L 306; 
compodtion of, 409; orchestra- 
tion, n. 29 ; proof-sheets delayed, 
76; no chorus, 230; in Munich, 
242-244; W. at rehearsal of, 294; 
atBayreuth, 308; scenery, 300, 
319; story of, 313-318; comments 
on, 318-326 ; open-air drama, 319 ; 
scenic features, 320; not noisy, 
828; stupid neglect of, 391; num- 
ber of bars, 429; alliteration, 

Bhyme, n. 470, 472. 

Bichter, H. : at Triebschen, n. 183; 
chorus-master for MeiaterHnger, 
218, 236; and JK^ein^o/d in Mu- 
nich, 243; why chosen for Bay- 
reuth« 289; in London, 379. 

Bidicule, power of, IL 296. 

Riemann, H., n. 420, 438. 

Riga, 1. 07. 

Bienzi: two acts of, 1. 09, 74; fin- 
ished, 89; accepted in Dresden, 

91, 98; hints, 98; first perform- 
ance, 99-102; sUny of, 100-108; 
W.'s opinion of, 108-111; poem 
of, 109, 110; in Berlin, 112; com- 
ment on, 112-114; performances 
in 1889-1891, 113; pilgrims to, 
110; critics on, 134; at Hamburg, 
201; in Paris, H. 250. 

Ring of the Nibelung (see JTi&s- 
lung'a Ring). 

Ritter, J., L 390, n. 49. 

Roche, E., n. 63, 70. 

Rockstro, W. 8., IL 173. 

Boeckel, A., L 212, 203. 

Rossini, L 304, 8U, n. 94-67, 287, 

Rubinstein, ▲., on W., L 846, IL 

Rnssia, IL 104, 120. 


Sachleben, IL 209. 

Saint-Saens, IL 297, 826, 886, 316, 
364, 367, 496. 

Scaria, E., IL 490. 

Scenery: at Bayreuth, n. 304, 306, 

Schiller. I. 2, n. 476. 

Schieinitz, Fran yon, II. 260, 290. 

Schlesinger, I. 68, 77, 79. 

Schnorr, U. 136, 138, 170, 480. 

Schopenhauer : on love, II. 167, 
168 ; on childish trait in genius, 
200; opinions on music, 249; and 
W.'s poetry, 200; on W., 201; on 
WalkUre, 331 ; in Parsifal, 417. 

Schroeder-Devrient, L 97, 117. 

Schubert, I. 319, 420. 

Schucht, n. 286. 

Schumann : on TannhSuieTf 1. 196 ; 
W. on, 197 ; on melody, II. 106. 

Schurx, C, I. 326. 

Scribe, I. 04. 

Seidl, Anton : anecdote, IL 208 ; on 
Dragon in tiieg/H6d,9B2i ehoasn 



by Wagner, 896; aneodote, 399; 
on chomi in Par9{fal, 427 ; Cen- 
tennial liarch, 510; Wagner's 
pupil and aasistant, 012, 613. 

Semper, L 206, n. 178, 160. 

Seni^res, IL 266. 

Shedlock, J. S., I. 92, n. 446. 

Siegfried: original design, I. 348, 
349, 363; two acts composed, II. 
34 ; W.'s faTorite drama, 39 ; why 
composition interrupted, 41; re- 
sumed, 182, 242; comic features, 
211; no chorus, 236; story of, 
340-^346; unoperatic character, 
346; a forest drama, 346, 347; 
comments, 346, 366 ; voices of the 
forest, 360; a Dragon for grown 
children, 361 ; orchestral realism, 
364 ; love-duo, 364. 

SieafHed*8 Death, I. 204, 348, 360. 

Siegfried Idyl, II. 246. 

Singers (see also Vocal Style): 
Rubini, I. 80; German, 89, 238; 
as actors. 179; for Bayreuth, II. 
287; directions to, at Bayreuth, 
294; and orchestra, 296; model 
behavior of, at Bayreuth, 304; 
Bayreuth casts, 303, 306, 306; 
W.'s attitude toward, 462 ; vermis 
operas, 478; change in function 
of, 479; when below the level of 
their task, 481; must be good 
musicians, 486; W.'s apprecia- 
tion of Italian, 487 ; spurious W. 
singers, 489 ; W.'s directions to, 
490; not injured by W.'s style, 
491 ; self-taught, 491 ; evolutipn 
of Wagnerian, 491, 492. 

Singing, see Vocal Style. 

Songs, I. 70. 

Speeches, 1. 160. 

Speeches, W.'s "scandalous," II. 
293 307. 

Speidel, n. 171, 272, 370, 423, 431. 

Spohr: on Dutchman, I. 139; on 
TannhSuieT, 194 ; Lohengrin, 161. 

Spontiiii, 1. 161, 168. 
btatham, H. H., IL 368; 

Stories, L 81. 

Strauss, L 321, II. 240. 

Stuttgart, n. 121. 

Switzerland, see Ziirieh, Lnoame, 
and Nature. 

Symphonic Poems, 1. 17. 

Symphony: W.'s first, L 29^; 
second, 34; and symphonic 
poems, n. 17; modnlaHon in, 
386; levival of flzst, 444. 

TcmnhauBer: plot sketched, L90; 
composition of, 163; stinry of, 
164-172; comments, 173-181; a 
mnaioHlrama? 176; first per- 
formance, 181-186; why ending 
changed, 186; critics and proph- 
ets, 187; overture in England, 
189 ; neglected four years, 201 ; 
at Weimar, 220; fate of Guide, 
370 ; success of the new, 374 ; ten 
years' struggle to get into Berlin, 
376-382 ; overture, 437 ; ordered 
by Napoleon, n. 67; opposed by 
Jockey Club, 73-84 ; revision of 
(Paris version), 74, 84, 86; first 
Paris performance, 79; conducted 
by W. in Vienna, 291 ; 300th per- 
formance in Berlin, 396 ; Leading 
Motives, 497; in America, 611. 

Tappert, W., I. 28, 36, 38, 146, 190, 
193, 202, n. 23, 237, 267, 366, 400, 
430, 444, 466. 

Tausig, K., visits W., IL 47; idea 
of Patrons' Certificates, 260; 
death, 261. 

Tempo, modification of, L 429. 

Theatre : aversion to, I. 68 ; object 
of, 206; plan for national, 206. 

Theatrical Wagner family, L 5-0. 

Thomas, T., II. 606-611. 

Tichatschek, 1. 96, Vt, 306. 



TtKnH, W.'s lore of» n. 40i-406. 

TrielMclien, U. 182, 258, 2n. 

Triatan and Isolde: piano score, 
n. 4 ; why intemipted Siegfried, 
41 ; first sketch, 44 ; score paid 
iatf 46; second act composed in 
Venice, 00-57 ; Liszt on, 66 ; com- 
pleted, 57; originality of, 58; 
plans for, 69, 99 ; W.'s opinion of, 
KU. ; prelude refused for concerts, 
106; rehearsals, 196-138; first 
performance, 138 ; story of, 138- 
143; a poem for poets, 143; a 
score for musicians, 146 ; W. on, 
147; perfection of form, 148; 
orchestration, 149; harmony and 
discords, 160-154; as a loye- 
tragedy, 163; the potion, 164- 
106; free from immorality, 166- 
168; loye-duo, 168, 170; melody 
In, 160, 173 ; neglected, 174 ; waits 
■even years for performance, 
237 ; Jensen and, 239 ; in Berlin, 
202 ; Importance of vocal part, 
480; Niemann on, 491. 

UhUg, L 165, 394-^96. 
Upton, G. P., IL 446. 

Vendnunin Palace, II. 439. 

Venice, U. 60-57; 439^151. 

Vocal style: German singers, I. 
838; Franz on Lohengrin^ 261; 
Tristan "impossible," n. 99- 
103; characterization in Khein- 
gold, 324; Siegfried role, 349; 
W.'s, in genera], 477-492 ; change 
of opinion, 477 ; the " statue " not 
In the orchestra, 479; yocal part 
more important than orchestral, 
480; the florid style instrumen- 
tal, 481; Liszt on, 483; evolution 
of W.'s, 483; elimination of in- 

stnimental featoiee, 486; how a 
funny charge aroee, 486; diffi- 
culties, 486; and German lan- 
guage, 487; German and Italian 
styles, 487; new vocal types, 488; 
realism and characterization, 
488; vocal and orchestral mel- 
ody, 489; the true Wagnerian, 
489, 490; W. as teacher, 480. 

Vogl, H., I. 47, II. 12a 

Victor, The, II. 414, 454. 

Vienna: first visit to, 1. 29; TVinTi- 
h&user, 382; attempts with 7W«- 
tan, 100-103 ; Meieter singer, 240; 
Nibelung concert, 266; W. con- 
ducts Tannh'duser and Lohen^ 
grin, 291; a '* scandalous " 
speech, 291. 

Vivisection, IL 387. 


Wagner's ancestors, brothers, and 
sisters, L 5-9. 

Wagner, Adolf, L 6. 

Wagner, Albert, I. 37. 

Wagner, Cosima : translates essays, 
I. 82 ; compared with Minna, IL 
118; tragic marriage, 125; and 
Bfilow, 245; at Bayreuth, 280; 
in Venice, 443, 449, 454, 460. 

Wagner Encyclopaddia and Lexi- ' 
con, L 317. 

Wagner, Minna: marriage, L 52; 
appearance and disposition, 52, 
53; actress, 60; self-denial, 72; 
on the revolution, 209 ; joins W. 
in Paris, 228; a philistine, 230; 
at home, II. 39; ill-health, tem- 
per, 48 ; does not understand W., 
49; temporary separation, 49; 
final separation, 115-119; did 
not love W., 117 ; denies slanders, 
177 ; death, 118. 

Wagner, Richard, Personal £R«- 
tory: birth, I. 10; first musical 

I, U; fint poMlo e^ 
forti, 19, aO; tun* to mule, M ; 
Ant openw, SB; oondnetor M 
lUgdaborg, 41; m itep baok- 
WMd, 41; flrat critical anay, 48; 
fint manlaca, BO ; oondoetor at 
KSnlgiberg, Bl; at Biga, ST; 
flight from Bnnia, 62 ; Yoyage to 
Pari*, BB; dlnppoliitiiiaiitB, 68- 
76; rstnina to Dradan, 91-98; 
appointvd royal ooodootor, 144 j 
lUe la the raYolntiaD, 3(N-2ie| 
why he beoanw a nbtl, 211 
fll^ to Wdmar, 220; In FwU 
■gain, 39Si literary work In 
ZOrieb, 38»-»T; flnt lore, 337; 
llto in ZOrieh, BBS; rouewal of 
WMiaat, 301 ; depBndwtcm Unt, 
383; trlenda tniMed,3!IO;ga««to 
Loodon, 443; back to Zttrieh, U. 
1 ; abudooB Siagfritd, 41 ; offer 
bom BrazU, 43; trip to Paris, 
4B; goea to Venice, BO; dUap- 
(ointmenti and trisla, B3 ; dealrw 
a pension, 64; haraBied bjSazoa 
effldala^ SB; back to Paria, 60; 
Napoleon orders Tanntidtutr, 6A ; 
partial amnesty.Tl ; bears Lohen- 
grin first time, 101; in search of 
a king, 106: separation bom 
Ifinna, llS-119; pnnned by cred- 
itors, 119; beoomea King Lnd- 
wig'a friend, 131; the enemy at 
work, 127; prevented twenty 
years from bringing oat an opera, 
134; " the Klng'i favorite," ITS; 
political accasatlons, ITT; rellg- 
tons attacks, ITS; Influence on 
King, 179; banished again, 180; 
gets an annuity, 183; royal and 
other rlsltors at Triebschen, 1S3 ; 
•econd marriage, 34B; moTes to 
Bayrenth, ZTT; London fsatlTal, 
8TS-382 ; spends last wlntets In 
Italy, 400; Hi-health In 1882, 4S8; 

Wafnar, Blobard, Personal TrvtU, 
HablU, Utmdt, Opfnfoni, Ap- 
paaranet : inherited love of tbe»- 
tre, LB, 21; not aprodigy, 16-30; 
boyish tr^ts, 21-31; "Anwri- 
«an," 36,' re^leasneaa, S4; early 
areralon to actors, BS; ImpiOTl- 
denoe, 60 ; no talent tot intrigue, 
SB; amiability, 88; lack of di- 
plomacy, 113; fiatitDde, MOj 
"eooentridty,"18Bi IngraUtnde 
to King of Saxony, 310; polios 
portrait, 334; oonjngal derotioo, 
329; nnpracttcal ride, 330; ao- 
oep^lielp for his art's sake, SSI; 
pngnaci^, 237, 333; WMpa ovor 
own oreatioaa, 3BS; art (anMl- 
elam,SB7; deToll<Hitaworit,aM; 
dlilikM UMonUoal writing, 307; 
oritlfeAl method, 809; pnjndlo* 
against Jews, tSt ; ignoiM per- 
sonal considerations, 334, 836; 
art tisrno gratitude, 339; change 
of opinion, 341 ; extravagaooa, 
36T, 3B8; soorces of happlneas. 
3B9; personal appeatanoe In 1B4S, 
262; entliDslaam lor BhaUey, 
Hafls, and SchopsnhaiiM, SBS; at 
theidBQ0,3BB; sonrca* of nahai^ 
piness, 3B6-.ieO; domestla joya, 
rapture orer opetatic soccMa, 
366; tnJcidal tbooghts, emoMonal 
fluctuation*, 36T ; tortorsd by the 
fate of his operas, 368; protaata 
against performanc«s, Sll; la* 
ilitsoD corr«ctaeu, 373; worried 
by money tioablea, 383-390; sup- 
ports his wife's parents, 385; 
claims on contemporaries, 886 ; 
eflorta to help himself, 387; good 
only forcompoelng, 388; egotism 
as a TirtDS, 393 ; friendship wltb 
Uhllg, 9M; with FlMher, 386; 
"a relief to ofFend," 306; tem- 
per affected by health, 8D7; af- 



erjslptlas, 807; dyspepsia, in- 
somDU, heart trouble, 308; abort 
work-boors, 990; demon of nn- 
reet, treatment, 400; joy OTer 
bealth, 401 ; stimulants and diet, 
402-404 ; love of nature and trav- 
el, 404-406; loTe of luxury, 406; 
eause of sorrows, 407; aversion 
to stage, 420; as conductor, 420- 
400; as stage-manager, 423; as 

^ teacber, 440; "yanity," 442; 

' irony at a concert, 400; needs 
sympathy, IL 3; isolation, som- 
bre mood, 5 ; artistic heroism, 6 ; 
gratitude, love of Liszt, 10, 11 ; 
eagerness for good piano, 12; 
practises solfeggios, 14 ; pugnac- 
ity not responsible for his ene- 
mies, 16; conceives poem and 
music simultaneously, 24 ; meth- 
od of composing, 23-32 ; colossal 
industry, 31; pleasure of creat- 
ing, 32 ; tortures of intercourse, 
86; pity for Minna, 48; love of 
noiseless Venice, 51 ; ugly mood, 
65 ; delight at Liszt's approval, 
66; isolation, 67 ; self-deprecia- 
tion, 68; appearance (1869), 63; 
at home, in Paris, 64 ; conduct 
at Paris rehearsals, 77; receives 
news of fiasco, 81; habits and 
moods at Mariafeld, 112-116 ; suf- 
ferings, 113 ; craving for luxury, 
114; wretchedness after separa- 
tion from Minna, 117 ; unsocial, 
128-131 ; distressed for the King's 
sake, 129; extraordinary origi- 
nality, 161; life at Triebschen, 
183; appearance described by 
Mend^s, 185; amiability and 
sympathy, 187; violent temper 
and reaction, 187 ; love of luxury, 
191-196; silks and satins, 191; 
W. on his own extravagance, 
193; why wore silk, 194 ; love of 
brilliant colors, 194; feminine 

traits, 196; tnia noVUity of ehar- 
aeter revealed throoi^ hit lova of 
luxury, 196; fondness for ani- 
mals, 197-204; playfulness and 
humor, 206-209; ohildisb traits, 
206, 206; epistolary jokes, S07 
as actor and stage-manager, 214 
satire, variety of humor, 224, 286 
operatic autobiography, 226 ; lack 
of tact, 248; weakness for poll- 
tics, 262; patriotism, 266; refuses 
titles, 264; excited at rehearsal, 
268; *< a lunatic," 274; pluokl- 
ness, 276 ; unbidden visitors, 
276; at home in Bayrenth, 279; 
amiability, 280; characteristio 
anecdotes, 281; makes a "sean- 
dalous " speech, 291 ; conduct at 
rehearsals, 293; another scan- 
dalous speech, 307-310; "van- 
ity" and "impudence," 308; 
Herkomer on powers of fascina- 
tion, 381; W. as a speaker, 888; 
attitude toward vivisection and 
vegetarianism, 387 ; talent versus 
beauty, 416; life in Venice, 43^ 
443; charity, 442; fondness for 
illumination, 443; work and 
stimulants, 447; summary of 
traits, 455-407 ; passion for work, 
466; adoration for women, 456; 
great letter-writer, 668; hand- 
writing, 458; as a reader, 459; 
appearance, 459 ; faults, 461 ; ill- 
ness and irascibility, 462 ; effect 
of disappointments, 4G2 ; egotism , 
463 ; democratic sentiments, 464 ; 
servants and pets, 464 ; effect of 
criticisms, 465 ; of foolish praise, 
466 ; universal reformer, 467 ; as 
vocal teacher, 490; vice of "re- 
flection," 494. 

Wagner School, II. 239. 

Wagner, Siegfried, n. 246. 

Wagner societies, n. 261. 

WalkHre : first hint at, L 866, 366; 


n. n. tn- 

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tratar: la D w J m , L Ift-iS; W^. 

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W»b«r. J.. L IT*. 

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