Richard Wagner

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Richard Wagner in Munich in 1871, photograph by Franz Hanfstaengl
Signature Richard Wagner

Wilhelm Richard Wagner (born May 22, 1813 in Leipzig , † February 13, 1883 in Venice ) was a German composer , playwright , poet , writer , theater director and conductor . With his musical dramas he is considered one of the most important innovators of European music in the 19th century. He changed the expressiveness of romantic music and the theoretical and practical foundations of opera, as well as its overall understanding, by acting as dramatic actsDesigned a total work of art and wrote the libretti , music and stage directions. He founded the festival , which is exclusively dedicated to the performance of his own works, in the Bayreuth Festival Hall he planned . His innovations in harmony influenced the development of music up to the modern age . With his work Das Judenthum in der Musik he is one of the most obsessive advocates of anti-Semitism .


Childhood and adolescence (1813-1830)

Richard Wagner's birthplace in Leipzig around 1885 (demolished in 1886)

Wilhelm Richard Wagner was the ninth child of the police officer Carl Friedrich Wilhelm Wagner (1770–1813) and the baker's daughter Johanna Rosine Wagner, née Pätz (1774–1848), who came from Weißenfels , about 35 km southwest of Leipzig, in Leipzig (in the Gasthof Zum red and white lions ) and baptized Protestant on August 16 in the Thomaskirche . On November 23, 1813, six months after Richard was born, his father died of typhus . On August 28, 1814, Wagner's mother married the portrait painter, actor and poet Ludwig Geyer (1779–1821), who was very much appreciated by Carl Friedrich Wagner and who had taken care of the family after his death. Speculations that Geyer was Richard Wagner's biological father have been refuted. Nowhere in Wagner's written and oral statements is there any evidence that Richard himself doubted his descent from Carl Friedrich Wilhelm Wagner. Richard Wagner's second wife Cosima noted in her diary on December 26, 1878: “Then Richard says that (son) Fidi, to whom he always threw his cap to keep, looked splendid, looked like his father Geyer. Me: 'Father Geyer was certainly your father.' Richard: 'I don't think so.' 'Then where does the similarity come from?' Richard: 'My mother loved him back then, elective affinities.' ”As photographs clearly show, brother Albert, Carl Friedrich Wilhelm Wagner's eldest son, bears a striking resemblance to Richard.

Wagner's stepfather Ludwig Geyer

In 1814 the family moved to Dresden . On February 26, 1815, Richard's half-sister Cäcilie Geyer was born there. His older siblings were named Albert, Gustav, Rosalie, Julius, Luise, Klara, Theresia and Ottilie. In the fall of 1817 Richard started school in Dresden under the name Richard Geyer. Two years later, stepfather Ludwig Geyer fell ill. In the autumn of 1820 Richard was given the care of Pastor Wetzel in Possendorf near Dresden , where he got to know Mozart's life story. Geyer died in Dresden on September 30, 1821. Several relatives then took care of the child . In mid-October 1821 Richard came to the brother of his stepfather Karl in Eisleben , where his brother, the goldsmith Julius Geyer had also been accepted, attended a private school there and lived there for a year under the name Richard Geyer; and in the summer of 1822 he stayed with his uncle, the scholar Adolph Wagner who had a great influence on him . From December 2, 1822 he attended - again registered as Richard Geyer in the matriculation - the Kreuzschule (the Kreuzgymnasium) in Dresden, where he became the favorite student of the teacher Julius Sillig . In 1826 the family moved to Prague after Richard's sister Rosalie had received an engagement as a stage actress there in December 1826. Richard stayed in Dresden and was housed with the Böhme family; but he visited his family several times in Prague. In Dresden his love for music developed around 1826, especially Carl Maria von Weber , who had been the opera director in Dresden since 1817, was valued by Wagner. From Christmas 1827 he was back in Leipzig with his family who had returned. Here he attended from January 21, 1828 to 1830, now under the name Richard Wagner, the Nikolaischule (also called Nicolai-Gymnasium) and, on June 16, 1830, the Thomas School in Leipzig . During this time, the fatherless boy found a role model in his uncle Adolph Wagner , a philologist who had made a name for himself as a translator of the works of Sophocles and corresponded with Goethe . Richard read Shakespeare and the Romantics in his extensive library , for example ETA Hoffmann , and wrote his first dramatic work as a schoolboy, the Pennälerdrama Leubald und Adelaide (1826–1828), a great tragedy in five acts in the style of Shakespeare. Wagner also worked as a translator and in 1826 translated chants of the Odyssey into German.

On April 8, 1827 Richard Geyer was in the Dresden Kreuzkirche confirmed . After that he only bore the name Richard Wagner. In the autumn of 1828, Wagner secretly took harmony lessons from Christian Gottlieb Müller .

At the age of 16, Wagner experienced Beethoven's opera Fidelio for the first time in Leipzig in April 1829 with Wilhelmine Schröder-Devrient in the title role. From now on it was clear to him that he wanted to become a musician and stayed in Leipzig. Shortly afterwards he wrote his first piano sonatas (in D minor and F minor) and a string quartet in D major (1829) as well as several overtures (1830). In the spring of 1830 he earned pocket money by correcting his brother-in-law, the publisher Friedrich Brockhaus , and began to read political writings. In the summer of the same year he received violin lessons for a short time. He wrote a piano reduction for Beethoven's Ninth Symphony .

Sturm und Drang (1831–1833)

From 1831 Richard Wagner studied music at the University of Leipzig , and he also took composition lessons from the Thomaskantor Christian Theodor Weinlig , to whom he dedicated his piano sonata in B flat major. This work was published a year later by the Breitkopf & Härtel publishing house . Spurred on by this and by the success of the first performance of his concert overture in D minor in Leipzig in 1832, Wagner composed other concert pieces, including the C major symphony , which was premiered in the same year at the Prague Conservatory .

Inspired by the late romanticism , in particular by ETA Hoffmann and a material from the age of knights and knighthood, he had written the plan for his first opera under the title The Wedding . He composed the text and began to compose the first numbers of this “night piece of blackest color” (R. W.), whose exaggerated romanticism of the gaze was not well received by his sister Rosalie. Thereupon Wagner destroyed the draft text, parts of the score remained (WWV 31).

Wagner was active in the Corps Saxonia Leipzig , but not for long. Wagner himself wrote that he had voluntarily left the corps, mainly out of disappointment with the apolitical attitude of the Leipzig compatriots (= corps students) to the uprising of the Poles. The compatriots would not have shared Wagner's “painful grief” over the Polish defeat at Ostrolenka . In the wake of the Polish swarming , there was great sympathy for the neighboring people among the students at the time. The writer and publicist Heinrich Laube impressed Wagner in 1833 with the ideas of Young Germany , a revolutionary literary movement of the Vormärz .

First theater experiences (1833–1842)

Wagner left Leipzig in January 1833 with the plan to set the text of his opera Die Feen , which was based on an Italian model, to music and traveled via Hof and Bamberg to Würzburg , where his eldest brother Albert lived and from October 1830 to May 1841 at the theater when tenor was employed. On February 13, 1833 Richard Wagner was registered as "studiosus musicae from Leipzig" in the police register of the city of Würzburg. He took his first accommodation in Würzburg for a few weeks in his brother's apartment in Untere Wöllergasse (today Kolpingstrasse). Later he probably lived in the Hinteren Kapuzinergasse (today corresponding to Huebergasse 5).

In Würzburg he began to compose the opera Die Feen on February 20, 1833 , after his first engagement as choir director and choir repetitor for six months at the Würzburg Theater, which he played on the occasion of a performance of Der Freischütz (with his brother as Max ) first visited on February 18. In addition to his main activity as a choir repetitor, Wagner also had to take on actor and extras roles at the theater and was active as a theater composer. In autumn 1833 the new season of the theater began and Wagner moved into an apartment at Lochgasse 34 on October 17th without resuming his work as choir director (the house at today's Spiegelstrasse 19 was demolished in 1856). During this time, as in the theater holidays from the beginning of May to the end of September, his sister Rosalie took care of his maintenance. After he finished the "Feen" on January 6th, he left Würzburg on January 15th, 1834 and returned to Leipzig. At the same time, he had also ended his less or more intense love affairs with the choir player Therese Ringelmann and Friederike Galvagni, who also worked at the theater.

Soon afterwards (1834) his essay Die Deutsche Oper appeared in Laube's newspaper for the elegant world . As the musical director of the summer season in Bad Lauchstädt and the theater in Magdeburg , he met the actress Minna Planer and fell passionately in love with her. According to his statement, Wagner's first independent musical rehearsal concerned Adolf Müller senior's music for Johann Nestroy's posse Lumpazivagabundus (1833).

Minna Planer, portrait from 1835

Wagner worked on the opera Das Liebesverbot in 1835 and directed the second Magdeburg season. On March 29, 1836, the premiere of the opera Das Liebesverbot or Die Novize von Palermo took place in Magdeburg under desolate conditions . Wagner traveled to Königsberg via Berlin . On November 24th he married Minna Planer , who was engaged as an actress there, in the Tragheimer church . On April 1, 1837, he became music director in Königsberg. The theater business collapsed shortly afterwards due to the bankruptcy of the management. Wagner was used to living beyond his means and asking local citizens for loans that he could not repay. In June 1837 he (hired by theater director Karl von Holtei ) obtained a position as Kapellmeister in Riga , where he initially took shelter from his Prussian creditors . In July his wife Minna left him with a merchant named Dietrich; but in October she returned ruefully to him in Riga. This is where the text and the beginning of the score of his first successful opera Rienzi were written . Wagner also got to know Wilhelm Hauff's fairy tale about the ghost ship with the Dutch fabric. With the theater director Karl von Holtei he planned a Singspiel under the title The Happy Bear Family , but soon blocked himself against the theater business. During this time, the era of traveling theaters came to an end, which increasingly had to give way to city theaters with permanent staff.

Wagner lost his position in Riga as early as 1839. Fearing his creditors, he and his wife secretly crossed the Russian-East Prussian border and went to London on the small sailing ship Thetis . The stormy sea voyage, which was interrupted several times in Norwegian ports and finally lasted over four weeks, during which the ship almost capsized, brought inspiration for the Flying Dutchman . After a short stay in London, the couple traveled on to Paris via Boulogne-sur-Mer , where Wagner personally met Giacomo Meyerbeer, the leading Parisian opera composer .

Wagner in Paris, drawing by Ernst Benedikt Kietz , 1842

Wagner and Minna spent the years 1840 and 1841 until April 1842 in poor economic conditions in Paris . There he completed Rienzi (1840) and wrote and composed the Flying Dutchman (1841). Meyerbeer recognized his talent and encouraged him, but he was less enthusiastic about Wagner's “pump genius” ( Thomas Mann ). The world's leading theaters were located in Paris. Wagner learned to take up suggestions from the grand opéra or melodrama . In order to be able to support himself and his wife, he wrote articles for various journals and did musical contract work. He got to know Heinrich Heine and Franz Liszt . Due to financial difficulties, he even had to sell the prose draft for the Flying Dutchman under the title Le vaisseau fantôme for 500 francs to the Paris Opera , which commissioned its house composer Pierre-Louis Dietsch - which, however, did not prevent Wagner from carrying out his idea himself and in To put music.

In Paris he dealt more and more with the political events in France. While at a young age the atrocities of the French Revolution had filled him with "genuine disgust for its heroes," as he wrote in My Life , he reacted very differently when Lafayette led the liberal opposition in Paris. “The historical world began for me from that day on; and of course I took full part in the revolution, which now presented itself to me in the form of a courageous and victorious popular struggle, free from all the stains of the terrible excesses of the first French revolution. "

This period also dealing with dropped Ludwig Feuerbach religion critical philosophy and the theories of the French early socialists and early theorist of modern anarchism Pierre-Joseph Proudhon . Above all, Proudhon's formulation on the question: “What is property?” Occupied Wagner throughout his life: “As long as property holds privileges, privileged - that is, extortionate - property means theft.” This attitude became a central theme in his Nibelungen drama in particular .

Dresden years (1842–1849)

The old Dresden court theater in Richard Wagner's time

In spring 1842 Wagner received the message from the Dresden court opera that they wanted to perform his new opera Rienzi . After he failed to advance artistic plans in Paris and to be successful there, he left the city in April 1842 and moved to Dresden. He spent June in Teplitz , where he had already been in 1834 and 1836. The first Tannhauser design was made on the Schreckenstein . The premiere of Rienzi took place on October 20th in Dresden. It was a great success and marked the young Wagner's artistic breakthrough. At around the same time, Franz Liszt became court conductor in Weimar .

Wagner premiered his opera The Flying Dutchman in Dresden on January 2, 1843 . On February 2, he was appointed Royal Saxon Kapellmeister at the Dresden Court Opera . A little later he also took over the management of the Dresdner Liedertafel , on whose behalf he composed the monumental choral work Das Liebesmahl der Apostle ; the premiere on July 6, 1843 in the Frauenkirche as part of the Second General Dresden Men's Song Festival was a success through and through. However, Wagner subsequently distanced himself from composing further oratorical works and no longer performed the work. Shortly afterwards he persuaded his friend Ferdinand Hiller to take over the management of the Dresdner Liedertafel.

Friendships arose with Anton Pusinelli and August Röckel , with whom he mainly spoke about politics. In 1844 Wagner continued to work on the Tannhäuser Opera and the Singers' War on (the) Wartburg . In July 1845 he was in Marienbad , where he sketched the plot for the Mastersingers of Nuremberg . After having dealt with Greek and Roman mythology as early as 1823, he now dealt intensively with the German sagas, especially the Nibelungen and Grail myths, and began with the conception of his opera Lohengrin . In Dresden he conducted the world premiere of his Tannhäuser on October 19th . Wagner conducted Beethoven's 9th Symphony in 1846 - including deeply impressed the young Hans von Bülow , born in 1830 , and began composing Lohengrin during a three-month vacation in Graupa near Dresden in the summer . Wagner's mother died on January 9, 1848 in Leipzig. In the spring of 1848 Franz Liszt visited Wagner for the first time in Dresden, a little later there was a return visit to Liszt in Weimar, which began a long friendship.

Wagner's profile from 1849

In the summer of 1848, Wagner traveled to Vienna to get ideas for theater reform. Then he joined the republican reform efforts in Saxony, which were intensified in the course of the March Revolution , and got to know the Russian anarchist Michail Bakunin . Wagner tried to reform the theater at the court theater and developed his ideal ideas about the status of art in society. He published several articles in the popular papers of his friend August Röckel , among others. the font The Revolution . At the same time he wrote his treatise Die Wibelungen , Weltgeschichte aus der Sage , a preliminary stage to his main work The Ring of the Nibelung , the conception of which arose at the same time as Siegfried , as well as the conception of a musical drama Jesus of Nazareth , where he saw Jesus primarily as a social revolutionary .

In the spring of 1849 he took an active part in the Dresden May Uprising . After the suppression of the popular unrest, the police wanted him, like his friends Gottfried Semper and August Röckel , and was forced to flee. In the circle of friends and employees, he downplayed his participation in the Dresden uprising. His later colleague Hermann Zumpe (active in Bayreuth from 1873 to 1875) quotes the following description of Wagner's role: “From his (Wagner's) mouth at a garden party in Wahnfried: Semper was speaking on the balcony, Wagner was terrified among the people, jumps up to tear Semper from the balcony - you see him there and -: Trapped with, etc. "

Zurich years (1849-1858)

Watercolor by Clementine Stockar-Escher, 1853

Wagner fled with false passport first to Switzerland and stayed for a short stay in Paris until 1858 permanently in Zurich in exile . In the years that followed, the Zürcher Kunstschriften were created there , including The Art and the Revolution , The Artwork of the Future and his great music-theoretical work Opera and Drama , as well as the inflammatory book Das Judentum in der Musik . In a lively exchange of letters with his friends Franz Liszt, August Röckel and Theodor Uhlig, he developed and explained his future artistic ambitions. With his new opera draft Wieland the blacksmith , Wagner tried his luck again in Paris, but in vain. He got to know the young Jessie Laussot, who was bound in an unhappy marriage, and followed her to Bordeaux, intending to leave his previous life behind and flee with her to Greece. After a few weeks he ended the affair and returned to his wife in Zurich. In Weimar , on August 28, 1850, in Wagner's absence, the world premiere of Lohengrin took place under the direction of Franz Liszt.

Mathilde Wesendonck, 1860, after a portrait by C. Dorner

Wagner met Otto and Mathilde Wesendonck in 1852 and, after taking a cure in the Albisbrunn hydropathic institute, south of Zurich, began writing the poetry of the Ring of the Nibelung . He got to know Georg Herwegh , a companion of Karl Marx , who became a lively discussion partner and hiking friend. Wagner undertook extensive mountain tours, including a several-week hike to Italy. In the solitude of the high mountain landscapes and lofty glaciers, he saw the ideal scenes for his ring . On February 16, 1853, Wagner read his complete ring poetry publicly for the first time on four evenings in the Hotel Baur au Lac in Zurich.

In May 1853 Wagner gave enthusiastically received concerts with excerpts from his own works in Zurich. Liszt visited him in July; on this occasion there was a brotherhood drink with Liszt and Herwegh. In September Wagner traveled again to Italy, where he was half asleep in a hotel in La Spezia and came up with the original idea for the musical beginning of the Ring des Nibelungen , and designed the Rheingold prelude. On October 10th, Wagner was with Liszt in Paris and saw his daughter Cosima for the first time , who was 15 years old at the time. In the autumn of 1854 Wagner completed the Rheingold composition, which he had been working on with numerous interruptions since October 1851.

Richard Wagner read in 1854 on the recommendation of Herwegh Schopenhauer's main work The World as Will and Idea . In the same year he started the conception of Tristan and Isolde . The opera was fundamentally influenced by Schopenhauer's philosophy. In 1855 Wagner gave several concerts in London, in 1856 he addressed a petition for clemency to the King of Saxony . In the meantime he lived on the so-called "Green Hill" next to the Villa Wesendonck in Zurich, worked on Siegfried and later on Tristan and Isolde and set  five poems by Mathilde Wesendonck ( Wesendonck songs ) to music as musical studies for Tristan . On August 18, 1857, Hans von Bülow and Cosima were married in Berlin and went on their honeymoon to Wagner in Zurich. Wagner's affair with Mathilde Wesendonck came to a head in 1858: after Minna had discovered her husband's relationship with the married Mathilde Wesendonck and had provoked a scandal , Wagner separated from his wife. He traveled to Venice, where he composed the second act of Tristan . His wife moved to Dresden.

Years of traveling (1859-1865)

In the spring of 1859, Wagner had to leave Venice, which was then under Austrian administration, for political reasons. He went to Lucerne and completed the Tristan in the Hotel Schweizerhof Lucerne . Then he went back to Paris, where Minna followed him. In Princess Pauline von Metternich and Marie von Kalergis (later Princess Muchanoff) he found new patrons who made concerts in Paris and Brussels possible. In August 1860, after a partial amnesty from the Saxon king , Wagner was able to set foot on German soil again.

Portrait of Caesar Willich , around 1862 ( Leipzig City History Museum )

In 1861 Wagner studied a new, French version of his Tannhauser at the Opéra Garnier in Paris , for which he had newly composed the first scene and added a ballet. Nevertheless, the result did not meet the preconceived expectations of some Paris public clubs, so that the Tannhauser scandal broke out. In Wagner's opinion , the conductor of the performance, Pierre-Louis Dietsch , had sabotaged the production. After the third performance, which was disturbed by heckling, Wagner withdrew his work. He left Paris and stayed in Karlsruhe , Venice and Vienna, then returned to Paris a few weeks later to begin his new work, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, on behalf of the music publisher Franz Schott from Mainz . At the beginning of 1862 he moved to Biebrich to compose the music for the Meistersinger .

A new meeting with Minna at the beginning of 1862 in Biebrich led to the final separation of the couple. In the same year the King of Saxony issued a full amnesty, whereupon Wagner's friend and patron Wendelin Weißheimer made it possible for him to give a concert in Leipzig, his hometown, for the first time. Wagner saw Franz Liszt again in Weimar. In July he met the Bülows, after which he stayed in Vienna and lived in Penzing for a few months in order to attend the planned premiere of his Tristan , which, however, did not take place due to numerous difficulties. In the Vienna Musikverein he gave several acclaimed concerts in the presence of Empress Elisabeth , for the first time with excerpts from his ring . In 1863 Wagner gave concerts in Saint Petersburg , Moscow , Budapest , Prague and Karlsruhe, which were artistically successful, but did not bring the expected income. On November 28th, Wagner and Cosima declared their love for each other in Berlin. In the spring of 1864 Wagner escaped from tax investigations and creditors from Vienna and visited Eliza Wille in Mariafeld near Zurich.

The young King Ludwig II of Bavaria

The last salvation from the greatest financial hardship and personal despair arose for Wagner indirectly through the fact that he was received on May 4, 1864 by King Ludwig II in Munich , who had taken over the reign of his late father Maximilian a few weeks earlier at the age of 18 . Wagner was not only the king's favorite composer, but also became his “fatherly” friend and advisor. The king remained his patron until Wagner's death . In this exposed position, Wagner influenced the young king's political decisions and wrote various political writings. In June and July of the same year Cosima stayed with Wagner in the Pellet house on Lake Starnberg , where they sealed their love affair. The king made a house available to him as a place of residence on Brienner Strasse in Munich. Isolde was born on April 10, 1865 in Munich , the first child of Cosima (still a married von Bülow ) and Richard Wagner. The world premiere of Tristan und Isolde took place in Munich on June 10th . On July 17th Wagner began to dictate his autobiography Mein Leben . Because of violent protests by the population and the government, which Wagner and Ludwig II accused of extravagance, Wagner left Bavaria for Switzerland in December. He temporarily rented a country house near Geneva, where he began to set up and continue composing the first act of the Mastersingers . In search of permanent residence, he traveled to Toulon, Lyon and Marseille in early 1866.

Asylum in Tribschen (1866–1871)

In the meantime his wife Minna had died in Dresden on January 25, 1866. At the end of March Wagner rented the Landhaus Tribschen near Lucerne and moved there on April 15th. The annual rent was transferred from Ludwig II from Munich. Wagner resumed his interrupted composition work on the Mastersingers .

Wagner's house in Tribschen
Wagner and Ludwig II. (Painting by Kurt von Rozynski, 1890)

On May 22nd, he received a surprising visit from King Ludwig and his wing adjutant Paul von Thurn und Taxis . In view of the impending German-German war, Ludwig wanted to abdicate as king and retreat to Richard Wagner. With the help of Paul, who then traveled incognito to Tribschen several times, the king was persuaded to return to Munich and to refrain from his intention to resign. A few months later, Cosima von Bülow moved in with him with her two Bülow children Daniela and Blandine and the Wagner daughter Isolde . Richard and Cosima's second child, Eva , was born there on February 17, 1867. The first performance of the Meistersinger von Nürnberg took place on June 21, 1868 in Munich at the court theater . The first encounter with Nietzsche took place in Leipzig on November 8th . From November 16, Cosima finally lived with Wagner and began to write her diary on January 1, 1869. Friedrich Nietzsche, who recently became a professor in Basel, now came regularly (a total of 23 times) as a guest to Tribschen and was also present when Siegfried , Cosima's and Richard's third child was born on June 6, 1869 . On September 22nd, at the instigation of King Ludwig, but against Wagner's will, the world premiere of Das Rheingold took place in Munich . The first performance of the Walküre also took place without Wagner's consent, who only wanted to perform the ring in full, on June 26, 1870 in Munich.

On July 18, 1870, Cosima and Hans von Bülow's marriage was divorced, and on August 25, Cosima and Richard Wagner were married in the Protestant church in Lucerne. On December 25, 1870, the Siegfried Idyll was premiered as a birthday present for Cosima on the stairs in Wagner's house in Tribschen. In 1871, Wagner chose Bayreuth as the festival location and announced the first festival for the performance of the Ring of the Nibelung . In April he traveled with Cosima via Bayreuth to Berlin, where they were received by Otto von Bismarck . Wagner was unable to obtain financial support for the planned festival from the German Empire. To finance the festival, wagner clubs were founded from 1872 and patronage certificates were sold; Marie Countess Schleinitz , who had met Wagner in 1863 and who enthusiastically supported him throughout his life, played a key role .

The Bayreuth Years (1872–1881)

Photograph with Cosima Wagner, taken by Fritz Luckhardt , Vienna 1872

Wagner left Tribschen in spring 1872 with Cosima and the children to move to Bayreuth , at the end of April first to the Hotel Fantaisie next to the castle of the same name in Donndorf , about seven kilometers west of Bayreuth, then on September 24th to a city apartment (Dammallee 7) . On May 22nd, he was able to lay the foundation stone for his festival hall . In 1873 he was often on concert tours to raise money for his Festival Foundation. Bruckner and Nietzsche were visiting Bayreuth. The topping-out ceremony for the Festspielhaus took place on August 2, 1873 . In that year Friedrich Nietzsche had his first serious attacks of illness. Wagner, too, was increasingly attacked by the various stresses and strains of his work and had suffered regular heart attacks in the last ten years of his life.

In December 1873 he was awarded the Royal Maximilian Order for Art and Science , which was intended for him as early as 1864 and which he had not accepted at the time for political and personal considerations.

Villa Wahnfried in Bayreuth
The Richard Wagner Festival Theater in Bayreuth

On April 28, 1874 Cosima and Richard Wagner moved into the Wahnfried house . The score of the Ring des Nibelungen was finished on November 21, 1874 and dedicated to King Ludwig, who - after a long hesitation - saved the festival company with additional financial support when Wagner's own funds and incoming donations threatened to run dry.

The Festspielhaus was completed in 1875 to the point that rehearsals could begin. In the Bayreuth Festival Hall, Wagner had an “invisible orchestra” built by shielding the orchestra pit from the audience with a cover (“ mystical abyss ”). As a result, the audience could concentrate solely on the dramatic action and the acoustic perception of the music, without the sound generation becoming visible. As it turned out, however, a special sound quality had also been achieved through this facility. The unique acoustics of the house are also based on the fact that the room is a wooden structure and the auditorium has no boxes on the sides. The seats are not upholstered so that less sound is swallowed. The idea for this system of the Festspielhaus goes back to the theater in Riga, where Wagner had to conduct in a kind of barn , which was divided by a board wall, but he was enthusiastic about the acoustics.

Cosima Wagner, portrayed by Lenbach in 1879
Portrait of Franz von Lenbach , around 1882/83 ( Lenbachhaus , Munich)

In the presence of Kaiser Wilhelm I , the first Bayreuth Festival began on August 13, 1876, with the complete performance of the Ring des Nibelungen . In September Wagner traveled to Italy and had one last encounter with Nietzsche in Sorrento . From 1877 to 1879 Wagner worked in his house Wahnfried am Parsifal . During a stay in London, he was received by Queen Victoria of Great Britain. On December 31, 1879, Wagner traveled again to Italy and spent the following year mainly in Naples , Ravello , Siena and Venice. It was there that his so-called “Regenerationsschriften” ( religion and art ) were created, which were published in the Bayreuth papers edited by Hans von Wolehmen .

Portrait after Franz Lenbach ( The Gazebo , 1880)

After experiencing a financial disaster with his performance of the Ring at the first festival in 1876, Wagner for a time had plans to emigrate to the United States , which he combined with unrealistic economic expectations. His American dentist Newell Sill Jenkins , who practiced in Dresden between 1866 and 1909 and was friends with Wagner, had told him about the conditions in the States. Wagner intended to give the Americans the Parsifal as a gift of thanks for the new beginning that he thought was definitely successful: "I do not think it is impossible that I will decide to immigrate to America forever with my whole family and my last work." He discussed his plans with Jenkins, who also visited him in Italy, and in a three-page letter formulated economic conditions that were supposed to secure his existence on the other side of the ocean. However, Jenkins tried to talk him out of these plans together with other friends and family members.

Ultimately, Wagner did not implement his emigration plans out of consideration for his age and possibly also his children, who were attached to Bayreuth. In November 1881 he traveled in poor health, due to the favorable climate with his family to Sicily and completed on 13 January 1882 in Palermo to Parsifal , who at the second Bayreuth Festival on July 26, 1882 in Bayreuth premiere was. Before that there was a private performance of the Parsifal prelude for King Ludwig in Munich; it was their last meeting.

Death in Venice 1883

On September 16, 1882, Wagner traveled again with his family to Venice, where he was with Franz Liszt for several weeks. On December 25th, as a birthday present for Cosima, he gave a concert together at the Teatro La Fenice for the last time ; he conducted his youth symphony in C major.

On the eve of his death, drawing by Paul von Joukowsky
Richard Wagner's death mask (Reuter Villa, Eisenach)

On February 13, 1883, he stayed in the side wing of the Palazzo Vendramin-Calergi, which he and his family lived in. At around 3 p.m. the family waited at the table for Wagner, who, despite heart cramps, was writing an essay on the feminine in the human in his study . The housemaid found him slumped at his desk over the words “Nevertheless, the process of emancipation of women only goes on with ecstatic convulsions. Love - tragedy ”. He said: "My wife and the doctor" before he passed out and died around 3:30 pm in Cosima's arms.

The sculptor Augusto Benvenuti removed the death mask on February 14th. On February 16, Wagner's embalmed body, accompanied by his family and some friends, was transferred to Bayreuth via Munich in two special wagons that were attached to the train from Venice . After arriving in Bayreuth on Sunday, February 18, the coffin was led from the train station to the Villa Wahnfried to the sounds of the funeral march from Götterdämmerung with the sympathy of the Bayreuth population and buried in the prepared crypt in the garden.

Reception and effect of work and personality

Wagner's intention

Posthumous portrait by Franz von Lenbach , 1895 ( Alte Nationalgalerie , Berlin)

Wagner wanted to reform what he saw as “decadent” theaters, with the help of his art contribute to a better education of the people and thus improve the world. Already at a young age he was dominated by the idea of ​​combining music and drama ( the work of art of the future , opera and drama ) and, based on the tradition of Greek tragedies, to found a new art direction. In his writings he has repeatedly described how dramatic acts can be turned into “messages” by means of music and how music (the feminine “child-bearing element”) gives poetry (the masculine “procreative seed”) additional expressiveness.

“Science has revealed to us the organism of language; but what she showed us was a dead organism, which only the greatest poetic distress can revive, namely by closing the wounds cut by the anatomical dissecting knife on the body of language and breathing its breath into it inspire him to move himself. But this breath is: - the music! "

- Richard Wagner : opera and drama

He defended his concept with vehemence and worked determinedly to realize his ideal of art (in the form of a festival in a place of leisure). In King Ludwig II he found a like-minded person, so that both wanted to realize their artistic ideals (festival hall, music school, art education) in Munich. However, this project failed and could only be realized later in Bayreuth. There, Wagner's festival concept developed into a “ substitute for religion” through art ( religion and art ) , especially with his Parsifal stage dedication festival .


Wagner's works are a high point of romantic music and influenced many contemporaries and later composers considerably. Especially the Tristan brought the musical language of the 19th century well underway and many is the starting point of modern music .

The so-called Tristan chord

This applies above all to the harmony . With Tristan , the first act of which was composed in 1857, Wagner took it far beyond the level on which Brahms remained in his late piano pieces op. 117 to 119 in 1892. It is the area in which Wagner's imagination unfolds, develops a characteristic personal style and is kept within bounds by the respective dramatic situation of the event, i.e. not lost in infinity. Wagner's influence on music history can be seen, for example, in the fact that more than 100 years after the composition of the work the complex harmonic progressions of the Tristan chord were analyzed and interpreted in different ways, and there was talk of the crisis in modern harmony theory. Many contemporary composers saw it that way too. A particular admirer of Wagner was z. B. Anton Bruckner , who was inspired by Wagner's death for the mourning replacement for his Seventh Symphony . From Wagner, however, he only took over the harmony and the extreme length of his compositions, while his shapes, with their clear edges, are in great contrast to Wagner's flowing transitions. Only the new century brought real further development with Arnold Schönberg's twelve-tone technique .

This assessment is occasionally contradicted by the fact that even before Wagner, composers had introduced significant harmonic innovations into music. This applies, for example, to Frédéric Chopin , whose daring chromatics and harmonics - for example in some preludes and nocturnes  - surprised his contemporaries.

Tristan and Isolde - prelude

With Wagner's influence, which many tried to evade, one cannot speak of a continuous, uniform development. Composers such as Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and Antonín Dvořák still moved in “traditional” harmonic paths, while Richard Strauss and Gustav Mahler adopted the Wagnerian tonal language.

In terms of genre history, Wagner's importance lies in the further development of the so-called number opera into a musical drama. While Weber's Freischütz, for example, is a sequence of individual numbers (arias, duets, choirs, etc.) that are connected to one another by spoken recitatives, Wagner's so-called "infinite melody" prevails, especially in his mature works. The orchestra starts playing at the beginning of an act and stops at the end; is not spoken. There are no more arias, but rather - sung - narratives or monologues, dialogues, etc. They are not isolated next to one another or one after the other, but are interwoven with each other through the orchestral music. In doing so, Wagner uses the leitmotif technique , i. H. He assigns a certain musical motif to a certain person, an object or a feeling (love, longing, anger), which can always be heard when the person, the object or the feeling appears.

Wagner wanted to express “thought” and “felt” musically and with such “deliberate music” produced a previously unknown “psychological effect” on the listener. With the leitmotif technique in the Ring of the Nibelung and with Tristan and Isolde , he succeeded in this impressively.

In two cases, Wagner's music is said to have triggered emotions that led to death - in 1911 with the death of Felix Mottl during the 2nd act of Tristan and in 1968 with the cardiac death of the conductor Josef Keilberth , also in the 2nd act of Tristan .

Wagner as a conductor

Silhouette by W. Bithorn

Wagner had a lasting influence on the conducting style. He conducted by heart and underlined the emotionality of the music through facial expressions and gestures, which was not customary until then. The performance of Beethoven's 9th Symphony , which he conducted on Palm Sunday 1846 in Dresden after many rehearsals, was very effective . To better understand the music, Wagner had a program printed for this concert with passages from Goethe's Faust . As in Dresden, it was Wagner's interpretations of Beethoven's symphonies in Zurich or London that identified him as an expert in Beethoven conducting. The sculptor Gustav Adolph Kietz , younger brother of the portrait painter and Wagner friend Ernst Benedikt Kietz , reports in his memoirs:

“Head raised, upper body motionless, left hand resting on the side, the baton in the right, directing not with his arm but with the wrist - this is how Wagner stands in front of the orchestra in the performance. His passion seems tamed outwardly, but it discharges in the facial play and above all in the gaze of the eye, which he describes as the most important means of transferring will. By conducting by heart - which critics interpreted as coquetry - he keeps an eye on the musicians and everyone feels addressed by him. He temporarily pauses the beat in order to give a melodic line that 'speaks'. But then he knows how to banish the musicians with his staff and to carry them away to the tenderest pianissimo, to outbursts of despair, of enthusiasm. "

Wagner as a personality

Portrait of Wagner by Pierre-Auguste Renoir , 1882

Wagner was convinced early on that he was a genius. "In fifty years I will be the ruler of the musical world," he prophesied. With a body size of 1.66 meters, he was not tall (at the time, however, this was an average height in Saxony), but had a strong charisma, as even one of his greatest critics, the Viennese reviewer Eduard Hanslick , had to state:

“He spoke incredibly much and quickly, in the monotonously singing Saxon dialect; he kept talking about himself, about his works, his reforms, his plans. He was egoism personified, restlessly active for himself, indifferent, inconsiderate towards others. He was practicing the incomprehensible spell of making friends and holding onto them. The mesmerizing violence that Wagner exercised not only through his music but also through his personality is sufficient to mark him as one of the most important phenomena, a phenomenon of energy and talent. "

- Eduard Hanslick : From my life. Berlin 1911.

Wagner had "his heart on his tongue" and made many friends who stood up for him and his art, for example Franz Liszt, Otto von Wesendonck and Julie Ritter. He could be charming and claimed for himself and his art to be supported by “society” (at that time there were no royalties for the revival of works of art). He saw his financial problems as “ridiculous debts” which could be compared with considerably larger “assets” in the future. Only through King Ludwig II could this “claim” be fulfilled, whereby Wagner always considered it a priority to be able to realize his festival idea.

Cosima Wagner knew how to put her idol and her future husband "in the right light", for example through the "house biographer" Carl Friedrich Glasenapp , who began to write a multi-volume biography while Wagner was still alive. Wagner dictated his autobiography to his wife Cosima and gave the first private print to his "friend" King Ludwig II. It was not until 1911 that the autobiography was published. Wagner has been portrayed by various painters, including Franz von Lenbach and Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1882).

Reception and criticism

Wagner polarized like hardly any other artist, and interpreters from different disciplines have been working on his multi-layered oeuvre to the present day. In addition to composers who rejected Wagner, such as Brahms and Tchaikovsky , there were critics such as Nietzsche - and later Adorno - who not only pointed out the dangers of “intoxicating intoxication”, but also concerned themselves with the effects of Wagner on the music of the future, yes deal with the entire culture.

Friedrich Nietzsche

Friedrich Nietzsche, 1882

Initially, Friedrich Nietzsche had celebrated Wagner as a renewer of German culture in his early work The Birth of Tragedy from the Spirit of Music and dedicated an essay to Richard Wagner in Bayreuth in his Untimely Reflections . After he had gradually detached himself from his earlier idol in Human, All Too Human (1878–1880), he later published several critical, even malicious writings, in which Wagner, especially after his Parsifal, also described decadence, the “un-German” being and the Accused meaning fogging and ridiculed the intellectual level of the so-called Wagnerians in Bayreuth. Nietzsche admitted, however, half ironically, that for psychological reasons one could not do without Wagner, even though Georges Bizet's bright, southern and this worldly world was preferable to the heavy and sultry atmosphere of Wagner.

Nietzsche's criticism of Wagner is multi-layered, and although it was sparked primarily by his later work ( Parsifal ), he now also applied it to earlier works and the Ring , which he had celebrated in the Untimely Reflections . As a former “student” of Schopenhauer ( Schopenhauer as an educator ), who later opposed his teacher's pessimism, Nietzsche analyzed his influence on Wagner. While Wagner, as a revolutionary thinker, first saw the evil of the world in contracts, laws and institutions - the contract  motif in the ring - his view of the world later changed and the Christian motive of redemption took center stage. Many of Wagner's characters were to be “redeemed” from then on. After the “Götterdämmerung of old morality”, Wagner's “ship” ran “merrily on this path” (of optimism) for a long time until it hit the “reef” of Schopenhauer's philosophy. He then translated the ring into Schopenhauer's: Everything in the world is going wrong and everything is perishing. So only the nothingness, the extinction, the “ Götterdämmerung ” the redemption - and this nothingness will now be celebrated by Wagner ceaselessly.

Shortly before his collapse in January 1889, Nietzsche drew a burning glass-like balance sheet of his thinking in his late works Ecce homo , Götzen-Twilight and Der Fall Wagner . In his last work, Nietzsche contra Wagner , which he published for Christmas 1888, he relentlessly dealt with Wagner, the Germans and their décadence .

“Because Parsifal is a work of malice, vengeance, secret poisoning against the prerequisites of life, a bad work. - The sermon of chastity remains an incitement to anti-nature: I despise everyone who does not perceive Parsifal as an assassination attempt on sensuality. "

- Friedrich Nietzsche : Nietzsche contra Wagner , Wagner as the apostle of chastity, 3.

In Ecce Homo Nietzsche wrote about Wagner, his anti-Semitism and Bayreuth:

“In truth, a hair-raising company! Nohl , Pohl , Kohl with grace in infinitum. No freak is missing, not even the anti-Semite. - poor Wagner! Where had he got to? - If only he would have run into the swine! But among Germans! […] Finally, to educate posterity, one should stuff a real Bayreuth man, better still put it in alcohol , because there is no alcohol - with the signature: this is what the “spirit” on which the empire was founded looked like. .. "

Franz Liszt

The relationship between Franz Liszt and Wagner was not without tension. With “age wisdom” they found each other again. After Wagner's sudden death, Liszt wrote to Olga von Meyendorff:

“The newspapers are full of notes on the death of the great poet-composer […], the unsurpassable creator of an ideal that had not been realized before him in art, poetry, music and theater performance […]. To see Wagner only as a famous or distinguished personality seems to me to be a foolish delusion, however little it may be. The ramifications of his mind emerge from the deepest roots. In Him the superhuman prevails. "

Thomas Mann

Thomas Mann, 1937, photo by Carl van Vechten

Thomas Mann repeatedly dealt with Wagner in essays, lectures and his epic work. On the one hand, he could not escape the intoxication of his music; on the other hand, he repeatedly analyzed Wagner's weaknesses in many treatises and letters:

"Wagner, the pumping genius, the revolutionary in need of luxury, the namelessly immodest, only self-fulfilling, eternally monologizing, rodomonting, propagandist and actor of himself who teaches the world above all else ..."

“The passion for Wagner's magical work has accompanied my life since I first became aware of it and began to conquer it, to penetrate it with knowledge. I can never forget what I owe to him as an enjoyer and learner, never the hours of deep, lonely happiness in the midst of the theater crowd, hours full of shivers and delights of nerves and intellect, of insights into touching and great significance, just like this art she granted. My curiosity about her is never tired; I am not tired of eavesdropping, admiring, monitoring them - not without suspicion, I admit it. "

- Thomas Mann : The suffering and greatness of Richard Wagner .

In his lecture Suffering and Greatness of Richard Wagner , which he gave in 1933 on the 50th anniversary of Wagner's death in Munich, which later appeared as an essay , he analyzed Wagner's life's work and dealt so critically with Wagner's personality and music that it became a staged protest came against the writer. This “Protest of the Richard Wagner City of Munich”, which took place on 16./17. April 1933 appeared in the Munich Latest News and among other things. signed by Hans Knappertsbusch , Richard Strauss and Hans Pfitzner , Thomas Mann confirmed his decision not to return to Germany. The authors accused Thomas Mann of having moved away from the ideals of contemplating an apolitical , insulting the “deepest German feeling” with “aesthetic snobbery” and denigrating the “great German master”.

Thomas Mann said in the lecture Richard Wagner and the Ring of the Nibelung in 1938 in the auditorium of the University of Zurich:

“The tremendous one; one can say the planetary success that the bourgeois world, the international bourgeoisie, prepared for this art thanks to certain sensual, nervous and intellectual stimuli that it offered, is a tragicomic paradox and must not make us forget that it is intended for a completely different audience socially and morally aims far beyond any capitalist-bourgeois order into a fraternal human world, freed from mania for power and the rule of money, based on justice and love. "

Theodor W. Adorno

Theodor W. Adorno , the social philosopher and music theorist of the Second Viennese School , dealt among other things. in his book attempt on Wagner with the work of the composer:

“His music behaves as if you do not strike an hour, while it merely denies the hours of their duration by leading them back to the beginning. The dynamic of permanent regression has given Wagner's work something puzzling, and today, in contrast to almost every other music, the indissoluble of the blind spot remains for the listener despite all its familiarity. Wagner refuses the fixed determination to the hearing that accompanies him and leaves it in doubt as to whether the sense of form of every moment is correctly understood. "

Marcel Prawy

Marcel Prawy , the Viennese dramaturge, Wagner biographer and theater and music critic, sums up in his Wagner homage:

“You have to show understanding for this life, a life that has only served one goal: the theater of your vision. Wagner's life and work are the fantastic fairy tale of the Thousand and Second Nights [...] he was born on May 22nd, 1813 [...] and never died. "

- Marcel Prawy : “Now thank you”. My Richard Wagner book. Munich 1982, ISBN 3-442-10191-3 .

More critics

In his novel The Man Without Qualities, Robert Musil speaks in connection with Wagner of the “surging spinal cord music of the Saxon magician”. Martin Heidegger describes Wagner in the black books as "lower body music".

Richard Wagner memorials

Memorial plaque in the 6th arrondissement of Paris , 14 rue Jacob
Commemorative plaque for Wagner's stay in Munich

Wagner and anti-Semitism

Anti-Semitism in the Wagner environment

The assessment of Richard Wagner's anti-Semitism is still shaped today by the question of the extent to which his anti-Semitic statements and works reflect his own ambivalent relationship to Judaism , religion in general and the political landscape of his time or were triggered by impulses from his environment. Wagner took up anti-Judaist and early anti- Semitic stereotypes and reflexes that he found. They are also traced back to Martin Luther's writings on Jews . Anti-Semitism was "good form" in Wagner's environment, especially during the time with Cosima, who had an extreme anti-Semitic attitude. Wagner not only reproduced anti-Semitic stereotypes, but also defended them offensively and actively developed them in writings such as Das Judenthum in der Musik .

Wagner's anti-Semitism

Richard Wagner in the Wahnfried house , at the piano Franz Liszt

Wagner's worldview, in which artistic and political-agitational ambitions were mixed, was characterized by a general longing for new beginnings, upheaval and revolution, for a mostly unspecified new art and society that was to arise from the decline of the existing (see: The Art and the Revolution ). His motivation was a constantly changing mixture of humanistic-enlightenment pathos of the revolution against the aristocracy , romantic aspects such as the longing for a return to nature and the rejection of industrialization as well as nationalistic dreams of total identification and unity of a "race" or a people .

For Wagner, resentments against German Jews were a welcome outlet for a pronounced inferiority complex, as some biographers believe, for example the depth psychologist Josef Rattner , who explains Wagner's anti-Semitism in a "psychogram" as follows:

“Anyone who revolves around an ideology of hate so stubbornly needs it and apparently cannot live without it. Therefore, the anti-Semitic and racist element in Wagner's personality must be seen in a larger context. "

- Josef Rattner : Richard Wagner in the light of depth psychology. Berlin 1984.
Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy at the age of 30. Watercolor by James Warren Childe (detail), 1839

Rattner goes on to say that Wagner's anti-Semitism - including that of Cosima Wagner - was an aid to integration into the “noble world”. With the constant excitement about Judaism, "the Wagner couple performed a ritual ". Both would have assured each other of their “well-being”, their “Germanness” and at least their “racial aristocracy”. Two ambitious, perfectionist characters would have united in anti-Semitism for mutual and absolute self-affirmation.

Richard Wagner's obsession for fame, often described by friends and acquaintances, his penchant for luxury, waste and delusion were precisely the qualities that he often accused of the Jews. Like his siblings, Richard Wagner belonged to the theater milieu, which at that time sought to emancipate itself from the traveling people and gain civic recognition. The Jewish emancipation , which was basically welcomed by contemporary liberalism , which went hand in hand with the freedom of trade and the lifting of professional bans and guilds, was often viewed by other underprivileged as threatening competition.

If there was no financial success and recognition, Wagner often imagined himself to be a victim of alleged Jewish opponents and machinations. He tried to justify his disapproving disdain and defamation of Jewish composers such as Giacomo Meyerbeer and Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy with writings such as Das Judenthum in der Musik and the letter to Countess Muchanow based on it with more general theories in order to - as critics suspect - the personal motives behind them cover up.

In this context, Mendelssohn's musical influence on Wagner is also discussed. Some of Wagner's early works, such as the Columbus Overture , were partly inspired by compositions by Mendelssohn. Despite his personal reservations, Wagner praised Mendelssohn's music and described his Hebridean overture in the Bayreuth papers in 1879 as “one of the most beautiful musical works we have”.

Original paperback 1869

Wagner's writings and statements about and against Jews cover a wide spectrum. This ranges from the lowest, affective tirades to sophisticated theories to almost conciliatory tones and - as some historians and music critics believe - to identify Wagner with the outsider role of the Jews, as he often felt himself to be an outsider.

In his brochure Das Judenthum in der Musik (1869), Richard Wagner wrote, without any real music theory reference, of the “natural aversion to the Jewish being” and said: “According to the current state of affairs in this world, the Jew is really already more than emancipated: he rules, and will rule as long as money remains the power before which everything we do and do loses its power ”. Addressing the Jews, he concluded with the words: “But consider that only one thing can be your redemption from the curse that weighs on you: the redemption of Ahasver , - the ineffectiveness ! “( Blocked in the original).

Richard Wagner had this text already in 1850 in the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik under the pseudonym “K. Freedank “published. He went public again in 1869, this time under his own name and supplemented by an appendix (pp. 31-57), which even surpasses the original article in spite and demagoguery. Towards the end there is the apparently resigned appeal: "Whether the decay of our culture can be stopped by a violent expulsion of the corrosive alien element, I am unable to judge, because this would have to include forces whose existence is unknown to me."

When, in the wake of the Berlin anti-Semitism dispute in 1880/81, an aggressive, anti-Jewish mood spread rapidly across Germany, the core idea of ​​which was the idea that Jews were a foreign body that could not be integrated in Germany and that after their emancipation would have a disproportionate and destructive influence on German culture, Shortly before his death, Wagner once again took the side of the anti-Semitic agitators and wrote in a letter to King Ludwig II on November 22, 1881 that he thought:

“... the Jewish race for the born enemy of humanity and everything noble in it: it is certain that we Germans in particular will perish from them, and perhaps I will be the last German to stand up as an artistic person against Judaism, which is already ruling everything knew."

On the question of the anti-Semite petition 1880/1881, Cosima Wagner reported in her diary on June 16, 1880 about Richard Wagner:

"He is asked to sign a petition to the Reich Chancellor for exceptional laws against the Jews, he does not sign them, 1. Has he done his part 2. He does not like to turn to Bismarck , whom he has recognized as reckless in following his caprices 3. There is nothing more to be done about the matter. "

From this episode, according to Micha Brumlik , it emerges that Bayreuth “was seen by the otherwise competing and intriguing various anti-Semitic milieus and organizations as the spiritual and political place where their motives, intentions and self-understanding were ideally articulated "; it became "for decades a stronghold of anti-Semitism associated with educational requirements".

Anti-Semitic echoes can even be found in Wagner's commitment to animal welfare at the end of his life. Based on Schopenhauer , he considered slaughter and vivisection to be “two sides of the same coin” and viewed them as an expression of “Jewish medicine”.

In conversations with Cosima Wagner, Wagner often emphasized that “the Jews had been amalgamated at least 50 years too early ” before they were culturally emancipated themselves. As a result, the Jews "intervened too early in our cultural conditions" and prevented "the general human, which should have developed from the German being (...) also benefiting the Jewish". Wagner added:

"If I wrote again about the Jews, I would say that there was nothing wrong with them, only that they came to us Germans too early, we weren't firm enough to be able to absorb this element in us."

Wagner personally cultivated friendships with Jewish compatriots such as his helper Carl Tausig , Joseph Rubinstein , Angelo Neumann and the famous singer Lilli Lehmann . It is also noteworthy that at the end of his life he entrusted the premiere of Parsifal to Hermann Levi , the son of a rabbi who was part of Wagner's circle of friends and with whom he had an ambivalent relationship. Levi was later rejected as a Jew by Wagner's circle of supporters and was hostile to anti-Semitism.

According to Dieter Borchmeyer, Wagner "despite all personal sympathy and admiration" for the racial theorist Arthur de Gobineau distinguished himself from him in that there is an " antidote " for Wagner against the inequality of the "races" claimed by Gobineau , the "blood of Christ" . According to Wagner in Heldentum und Christianentum (1881), this could not flow as the “divine sublimate” of the “entire suffering human species (...) for the interests of a race, however preferred; rather, it is donated to the whole human race ”. According to Borchmeyer, Wagner felt confirmed on the one hand by the anti-Semitic movement of his time; on the other hand, this movement contradicted his conviction of the unity of the human race and the mere 'provisionality' of the 'racial antagonism' ”. In this sense Wagner also understood his music. Therefore Wagner was "an anti-Semite, but not a racist, while Gobineau was a racist, but not an anti-Semite".

The philosopher and anti-Semite Eugen Dühring criticized Wagner in his book Die Judenfrage als Racen-, Sitten- und Culturfrage (1881). He wrote that “what even Christ had not achieved”, Wagner would certainly not succeed: “to redeem the Jews from themselves”. Also in 1881, the writer Berthold Auerbach judged that Wagner was the first to deny the Jews “the right and the ability” to “show themselves to be creative” in art. Others followed his example. Never before had “an artist stained his name with absolute hatred of Jews, and as certain as Richard Wagner will be in the history of art (...), the sad art that goes with it, reason and humanity, will certainly be associated with his name slap in the face ”.

There is disagreement among scholars and critics as to whether and to what extent Wagner's anti-Semitic attitudes have found their way into his music-dramatic works. While the music critic Joachim Kaiser repeatedly affirmed that no anti-Semitic statements could be detected in Wagner's works, Theodor W. Adorno , among others, was convinced that the characters negatively drawn by Wagner, such as Mime or Alberich from the Ring, were Jewish caricatures . In West Germany , the debate about anti-Semitic topics and characters in Wagner's operas has been promoted since the 1970s by several writings by Hartmut Zelinsky , who portrayed Richard Wagner as a proto-National Socialist and which many Wagnerians vehemently contradicted. In the GDR was Leipziger literary scholar Bernd Leistner 1989 Adorno considers also the carping was created as anti-Jewish caricature. Although he rejected Zelinsky's theses, the Wagner biographer Barry Millington also took this view in 1992 in his answer to the question whether Die Meistersinger contained an anti-Semitic topic. He was contradicted by, among others, Hans Rudolf Vaget and Dieter Borchmeyer . The thesis advocated by the American anti-Semitism researcher Paul Lawrence Rose in 1995 that anti-Semitic ideas were already being conveyed in the Flying Dutchman also met with broad opposition . Linguists such as Ludger Hoffmann or theater makers such as Barrie Kosky adhere to the embedding of the ring figures in Wagner's anti-Jewish way of thinking and also to Beckmesser as a bearer of anti-Jewish stereotypes . Saul Friedländer took on a mediating position in 1999, but also sees anti-Jewish tendencies in Wagner's musical dramas.

A congress with the aim of a scholarly study of the subject of Wagner and the Jews took place for the first time in the 1998 summer festival in Bayreuth with the participation of Wagner researchers from Germany, Israel and the USA; the contributions and z. Some very controversial discussions took place under the editorship of Dieter Borchmeyer et al. published.

The Wagner movement in the empire

Houston Stewart Chamberlain (1895)

The “Bayreuth Circle” around Cosima Wagner , who met in the Villa Wahnfried , tied in with Wagner's anti-Semitism . This included both racial theorists such as Arthur de Gobineau (for whose work attempt on the inequality of human races Wagner suggested the translation into German) and Houston Stewart Chamberlain as well as artists and right-wing activists. For example, the painter Hans Thoma and the writer Julius Langbehn were active in the area around the district . By denouncing hostility to Jewish artists such as Hermann Levi , Alexander Kipnis or Ottilie Metzger-Lattermann , the Bayreuth Circle contributed to spreading anti-Semitic resentment among intellectuals. The commitment of the Wahnfried Circle triggered a kind of Wagner movement in the empire, which was reflected in the founding of numerous cultural associations. Here enthusiasm for Wagner was combined with hostility towards Jews and nationalism. Under the influence of the court preacher Adolf Stoecker and Philipp zu Eulenburgs , Cosima Wagner and Chamberlains, Kaiser Wilhelm II was also won over to support the Wagner movement.

Wagner and Chamberlain

Wagner had a great influence on the Anglo-German writer Houston Stewart Chamberlain, author of the Foundations of the Nineteenth Century (1899), a work with over 1200 pages, whose enthusiastic German cult is permeated by anti-Semitic and racist ideas. He wrote it directly after his Wagner biography (1895), in which he tried to develop the deeper motivations and political-philosophical ideas of Richard Wagner, whom he admired. Chamberlain had been part of the Wahnfried circle around Wagner's wife Cosima since the late 1880s and married Wagner's second daughter Eva in 1908 after other Wagner daughters had rejected his advances. From 1909 he lived permanently in Bayreuth. He is considered an important ideological pioneer of the theory of racial struggle and a pioneer of racial anti-Semitism of the National Socialist character and saw himself and his understanding of the racial question as being in continuity with Wagner and in line with Wagner's approach.

Wagner and Hitler

Silent voices in Richard-Wagner-Park in Bayreuth

In the traditional reception of Wagner it was often soothingly noted that Wagner's journalistic anti-Semitism would probably have remained a mere marginal note had the Nazi regime under Adolf Hitler not appropriated it for itself. National Socialism stylized Wagner as the German composer par excellence and misused Wagner's music theater propagandistically even for doom scenarios towards the end of World War II in the sense of an inhuman cult of death and end times.

During his time in Vienna, Hitler went to the opera regularly and dealt intensively with Wagner. As a model for his own visions of life, Wagner was an idolized idol for him. As Joachim Fest describes, the imaginary successor made clear the "seduction by the romantic concept of genius", which found its fulfillment and derailment in Wagner. The escapist dreams of the failing artist Hitler, who lives in the men's home, sparked off Wagner's genius. Hitler later declared that, with the exception of Wagner, he had no forerunners and described Wagner as the "greatest prophetic figure possessed by the German people".

In an essay on Hitler and Wagner in 2000 , the historian Saul Friedländer drew attention to the fact that there is not a single written or guaranteed oral communication from Hitler in which he invokes Wagner's anti-Semitism. It is therefore unclear whether Hitler knew Wagner's work Das Judenthum in der Musik , in which he prophesied the “downfall” of Judaism. In any case, the failed artist Hitler, who was addicted to the “mass shaker and grandmaster of music theater” (Thomas Mann), made himself the “executor of his prophet” (Joachim Köhler).

Hitler became known to the “Bayreuth Circle” in 1919 through the music critic Dietrich Eckart . Thanks to him, Hitler got to know Cosima and Winifred Wagner as well as Houston Stewart Chamberlain personally in Bayreuth in 1923 and later, as a “Führer”, he exerted an influence on the festival with regard to the program and direction, e.g. B. at Parsifal . It gave Hitler personal satisfaction and the feeling of recognition among the German bourgeoisie that he, as a former postcard painter, was allowed to contribute ideas to the set design of one of the highest-ranking music festivals in Germany.

The subject of Wagner and Hitler has been dealt with in journalism for decades, for example by Hartmut Zelinsky and Joachim Köhler. In his book Wagner's Hitler , he tried to demonstrate the influence of Wagner's thoughts on Hitler and his actions. Thomas Mann also repeatedly dealt with the topic: "There is a lot of Hitler in Wagner."

In 2012 the traveling exhibition “ Silent Voices . The Bayreuth Festival and the Jews 1876 to 1945 ”in the Bayreuth Town Hall and in the park in front of the Festival Hall in Bayreuth next to the Wagner bust. The exhibition commemorates former Jewish participants at the Wagner Festival, who were expelled or murdered by the National Socialists.

Wagner and Israel

Wagner is highly controversial in Israel . The public performance of Wagner's works is still practically impossible. In July 2001, Daniel Barenboim's prelude from Tristan and Isolde, performed as an encore at the Israel Festival in Jerusalem with the Berlin Staatskapelle, caused a scandal and drew criticism from the mayor of Jerusalem at the time, Ehud Olmert, and a call for a boycott by the Simon Wiesenthal Center , although the majority of the audience spontaneously spoke out in favor of the performance. Protests by Holocaust survivors had already prevented Wagner from being performed. According to the Israeli lawyer Jonathan Livny, who founded the first Wagner society in Israel on November 14, 2010, there is no reliable historical evidence for the frequently cited reason that Wagner music was played over loudspeakers to prisoners in National Socialist extermination camps .

In July 2011 , the Israel Chamber Orchestra under the direction of the Viennese conductor Roberto Paternostro played the Siegfried Idyll in the town hall of the Wagner Festival City of Bayreuth . Here, too, the breaking of the taboo that an Israeli orchestra would play Wagner's music provoked divided reactions. The university canceled a concert evening with works by Wagner planned for June 18, 2012 at Tel Aviv University, as the event crossed “a red line” and “hurts the feelings of the Israeli public in general and of Holocaust survivors in particular “Could.


Richard Wagner heads at the Dalí fountain in the garden of Castell Púbol
Wagner's grave in Bayreuth: “The world has to know who is lying here” RW

According to the Wagner Works Directory ( WWV ), including all occasional compositions and dedication sheets, but without Wagner's writings, 113 works are listed.

Musical dramatic works

Wagner only selected the following ten works for performances in the Festspielhaus on the Green Hill in Bayreuth:

  • The Flying Dutchman WWV 63 (1840–1841). Revised in 1852 (Zurich) and 1864 (Munich). Premiere: January 2nd, 1843 Royal Saxon Court Theater Dresden
  • Tannhäuser and the Singers' War on Wartburg WWV 70 (1842–1845). Revised 1847, 1860 (first printing of the score, so-called "Dresden version"), 1861 (Paris, in French), 1875 (Vienna, so-called "Paris version"). Premiere: October 19, 1845 Royal Saxon Court Theater Dresden
  • Lohengrin WWV 75 (1845-1848). Premiere: August 28, 1850, Grand Ducal Court Theater Weimar
  • The Ring of the Nibelung (emphasizes: N i belungen) WWV 86, with four parts:
    • Eve: Das Rheingold (1851–1854). Premiere: September 22nd, 1869 Royal Court and National Theater Munich
    • Day one: Die Walküre (emphasized: W a lküre) (1851–1856). Premiere: June 26th 1870 Royal Court and National Theater Munich
    • Second day: Siegfried (1851–1871). Premiere: August 16, 1876 Bayreuth Festival Hall
    • Third day: Götterdämmerung (1848–1874). Premiere: August 17th, 1876 Bayreuth Festival Hall
  • Tristan and Isolde WWV 90 (1856-1859). Premiere: June 10, 1865 Royal Court and National Theater Munich
  • The Mastersingers of Nuremberg WWV 96 (1845–1867). Premiere: June 21, 1868 Royal Court and National Theater Munich
  • Parsifal WWV 111 (1865–1882) - "Stage Festival". Premiere: July 26th, 1882 Festspielhaus Bayreuth

Music and dramatic works not carried out

Much of the material Wagner intended for operas or musical dramas remained in the draft or libretto stage.

Other musical works (selection)

The love supper of the apostles. Autograph from 1843
  • Symphony in C major (1832)
  • Symphony in E major (unfinished, there are only 2 movements)
  • The Love Supper of the Apostles , a Biblical Scene for Male Voices and a Large Orchestra (1843)
  • Fantasy for piano in F sharp minor (1831)
  • 3 piano sonatas
    • Piano Sonata in B flat major (1831)
    • Piano Sonata in A major (1832)
    • Piano Sonata in A Flat Major (1853)
  • Zurich Vielliebchen Waltz for piano in E flat major (1854)
  • Wesendonck songs (1857/58)
  • Siegfried Idyll for small orchestra (1870)
  • King Enzio Overture (1832)


In addition to drafting the content, text versions and analyzes of his music dramas, Wagner wrote numerous music-theoretical , philosophical , political and fictional writings and published them with his music dramas from 1871 in his collection of all writings and poems (Leipzig, B & H), which - including the autobiography Mein Life  - includes 16 volumes. Wagner was more productive as a writer than most other composers, and in his literary oeuvre he processed ideas and impressions from his wide-ranging reading. His written certificates show that "Wagner was a water heater with the aim of creative adaptation and ruthless appropriation". He also wrote thousands of letters.

Most of his writings are considered to be stylistically unsuccessful and are not characterized by a stringent line of thought. In addition to dry, deductive style and office prose, there are anthemic episodes and flashes of thought. Gregor-Dellin judges in his Wagner biography that the writings are “riddled with tacks, an indigestible pulp, office pink”, and Ludwig Reiners repeatedly resorted to Wagner's texts for examples of bad prose. Richard Strauss was different , who found Wagner's thoughts “irrefutably convincing” and recommended that his main script, opera and drama, “should be read and explained as an annual college at every university, in every conservatory”. For the equally critical and enthusiastic admirer Thomas Mann , the writings contain “very truths and falsities intertwined” and “the highest level of expertise alongside embarrassing participation”. One could not learn much about the author from Wagner's writings. "Wagner's victorious work does not prove his theory, but only himself."

However one judges the writings, they can be regarded as the breeding ground from which his music-dramatic works emerged. At the same time, they make their intellectual background understandable.

Title page of the first print

His most important writings are:

  • A pilgrimage to Beethoven (1840)
  • On Beethoven's Ninth Symphony (1846)
  • The Nibelung myth as a draft for a drama (1848)
  • The Wibelungen . World history from the legend (1849)
  • The Revolution (1849) - the first of several Art Revolution publications
  • Man and the Existing Society (1849)
  • Art and the Revolution (1849)
  • The work of art of the future (1850) ( digitized and full text in the German text archive )
  • Art and Climate (1850)
  • Judaism in Music (1850, considerably expanded in 1869)
  • Opera and Drama (1851) - an essay on the theory of opera
  • A message to my friends (1851) - preliminary stage to Wagner's autobiography
  • On State and Religion (1864) - a theoretical treatise for King Ludwig II.
  • German Art and German Politics (1868)
  • About conducting (1869)
  • Beethoven (1870)
  • The Bayreuth Theater Festival Theater (1873)
  • What is German? (1878)
  • Shall we hope? (1879)
  • Religion and Art (1880) with addendum: What use is this knowledge?
  • Heroism and Christianity (1881)
  • The stage dedication festival in Bayreuth (1882)

Wagner's autobiography Mein Leben , about 25 copies of which was only privately printed for close friends during his lifetime, is considered a cultural-historical document of the 19th century, as is Cosima Wagner's diary, which she kept from 1869 until her husband's death. It contains a lot of private and “irrelevant” information, but also numerous sayings and conversations from Wagner through to his dreams.


German 10 euro coin (2013)

In 1872 the Italian city of Bologna made Wagner an honorary citizen .

On the occasion of Richard Wagner's 200th birthday in 2013, a 10 euro commemorative coin and a 58 euro cents stamp were issued, each with his portrait. and in 2013 the Richard Wagner monument created by the sculptor Stephan Balkenhol was inaugurated in Leipzig.

Numerous places pay tribute to Wagner by naming a street after him, see Richard-Wagner-Straße and Richard-Wagner-Platz . The Wagner Piedmont Glacier in Antarctica also bears his name.


  • 2012/2013: Wagner 2013. Artist positions , Akademie der Künste Berlin , Hanseatenweg, Berlin-Tiergarten. Solution.
  • 2013: Small anniversary exhibition with holdings from the Jehle Music History Collection, Stauffenberg-Schloss Albstadt-Lautlingen

See also


About Richard Wagner

Biographical articles in encyclopedias

About Wagner's works

  • Peter Ackermann: Richard Wagner's "Ring des Nibelungen" and the dialectic of the Enlightenment. Tutzing 1981, ISBN 3-7952-0310-4 .
  • Udo Bermbach: Blooming suffering. Politics and society in Richard Wagner's musical dramas. Stuttgart / Weimar 2003, ISBN 3-476-01847-4 .
  • Udo Bermbach: Richard Wagner in Germany. Reception - falsifications . Stuttgart / Weimar 2011, ISBN 978-3-476-01884-7 .
  • David Boakye-Ansah: Music-dramatic constructions of religion in Richard Wagner's ring tetralogy . Publishing house Dr. Kovac, Hamburg 2010, ISBN 978-3-8300-4895-4 .
  • Dieter Borchmeyer , Ami Maayani, Susanne Vill (eds.): Richard Wagner and the Jews. J. B. Metzler, Stuttgart / Weimar 2000, ISBN 3-476-01754-0 .
  • Lothar Bornscheuer: Richard Wagner: The Ring of the Nibelung. A masterpiece of anarchism . (PDF; 1.6 MB). Reception of the Nibelung material, , 2005.
  • Walter Bronnenmeyer: From temple to workshop . Niehrenheim, Bayreuth 1970.
  • John Deathridge, Martin Geck, Egon Voss (eds.): Wagner catalog raisonné. (WWV). Schott, Mainz 1986, ISBN 3-7957-2201-2 .
  • Johanna Dombois, Richard Klein: Richard Wagner and his media. For a critical practice in music theater. Stuttgart 2012, ISBN 978-3-608-94740-3 .
  • Jan Drehel, Kristina Jaspers, Steffen Vogt (eds.): Richard Wagner and the cinema of decadence. Lectures: Elisabeth Bronfen, Jörg Buttergereit, Bernd Kiefer, Peter Moormann, Andreas Urs Sommer, Marcus Stiglegger . Turia + Kant, Vienna / Berlin 2014, ISBN 978-3-85132-735-9 .
  • Jens Malte Fischer : Richard Wagner's 'Judaism in Music'. A critical documentation as a contribution to the history of European anti-Semitism. Insel, Frankfurt am Main 2000, ISBN 3-458-34317-2 .
  • Jens Malte Fischer: Richard Wagner and its effect . Zsolnay Verlag, Vienna 2013, ISBN 978-3-552-05614-5 .
  • Sven Friedrich: Richard Wagner, interpretation and effect. Würzburg 2004, ISBN 3-8260-2851-1 .
  • Sven Friedrich: The classic (seducer): special volume Wagner's ring motifs. Auricula, Berlin 2004, ISBN 3-936196-02-8 .
  • Sven Friedrich (Ed.): Richard Wagner; Works, writings and letters. Digital library, Berlin 2004.
  • Martin Geck: Richard Wagner's preoccupation with sacred music during his time in Dresden. In: Matthias Herrmann (ed.): The Dresden church music in the 19th and 20th centuries. (= Music in Dresden. 3). Laaber 1998, ISBN 3-89007-331-X , pp. 121-132.
  • Arkadi Junold: The grand opera with Berlioz, Verdi and Wagner. Arcadia, Berlin 2011, ISBN 978-3-940863-31-7 .
  • Markus Kiesel (Ed.): The Richard Wagner Festspielhaus Bayreuth. nettpress, Cologne 2007, ISBN 978-3-00-020809-6 .
  • Richard Klein (Ed.): Scars of the total work of art. Wagner's Ring of the Nibelung. Munich 2001, ISBN 3-7705-3565-0 .
  • Josef Lehmkuhl: “Do you know exactly the RING?” A trip to Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen. Würzburg 2006, ISBN 3-8260-3347-7 .
  • Josef Lehmkuhl: God and Grail An excursion with Parsifal and Richard Wagner. Würzburg 2007, ISBN 978-3-8260-3690-3 .
  • Josef Lehmkuhl: The Art Messiah; Richard Wagner's legacy in his writings. Würzburg 2009, ISBN 978-3-8260-4113-6 .
  • Robert Maschka: Wagner - Tristan and Isolde. Henschel, Leipzig 2013, ISBN 978-3-89487-924-2 .
  • Volker Mertens: Wagner - The Ring of the Nibelung. Henschel, Leipzig 2013, ISBN 978-3-89487-907-5 .
  • Peter Petersen : Isolde and Tristan. On the musical identity of the main characters in Richard Wagner's "plot" Tristan and Isolde. Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg 2019, ISBN 978-3-8260-6796-9 .
  • Luca Sala (Ed.): The Legacy of Richard Wagner. Convergences and Dissonances in Aesthetics and Reception. Brepols Publishers, Turnhout 2012, ISBN 978-2-503-54613-1 , pp. 13, 452.
  • Stefan Seiler: The offense as an element of action in Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen. (= Legal series. Volume 150). Verlag Österreich, Vienna 1998, ISBN 3-7046-1257-X .
  • George Bernard Shaw: Wagner Breviary . Suhrkamp, ISBN 3-518-01337-8 .
  • Stefan Lorenz Sorgner, H. James Birx, Nikolaus Knoepffler (eds.): Wagner and Nietzsche: Culture - Work - Effect. A manual. Rowohlt, Reinbek 2008, ISBN 978-3-499-55691-3 .
  • Benedikt Stegemann: Orpheus, the sounding opera guide. Episode 4: Richard Wagner. Ricordi, Munich, 2008, ISBN 978-3-938809-54-9 .
  • Rolf Stemmle: Richard Wagner's multi-layered operas told in a catchy way :
    • 1. Dutchman - Tannhauser - Lohengrin. Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg 2007, ISBN 978-3-8260-3686-6 .
    • 2. The Ring of the Nibelung. Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg 2005, ISBN 3-8260-3134-2 .
    • 3. Tristan - Meistersinger - Parsifal. Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg 2006, ISBN 3-8260-3372-8 .
    • 4. Fairies, prohibition of love, Rienzi. Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg 2009, ISBN 978-3-8260-4080-1 .
  • Erik M. Vogt: Aesthetic-Political Readings on the 'Wagner Case: Adorno - Lacoue-Labarthe - Zizek - Badiou. Turia + Kant, Vienna / Berlin 2015, ISBN 978-3-85132-789-2 .
  • Chris Walton: Lies and Enlightenments, Composers and Their Inspiration from Wagner to Berg ; Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg 2017; 183 pp., Ill .; ISBN 978-3-8260-6340-4 ; about RW especially pp. 21–40.
  • Marc A. Weiner: Anti-Semitic Fantasies. Richard Wagner's musical dramas. Translated by Henning Thies. Henschel, Berlin 2000, ISBN 3-89487-358-2 . (Original title: Richard Wagner and the Anti-Semitic Imagination. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln / London 1995, ISBN 0-8032-4775-3 .)

About Wagner performances

  • Adolphe Appia: La mise en scene du Drame Wagnerien. Paris 1895.
  • Adolphe Appia: The music and the staging. 1899.
  • Rolf Badenhausen , Harald Zielske (Ed.): Stage forms, stage spaces, stage decorations. Contributions to the development of the venue. Berlin 1974, ISBN 3-503-00783-0 .
  • Herbert Barth (ed.): The festival hill. Richard Wagner's work in Bayreuth 1876–1976. Munich 1976, ISBN 3-471-77144-1 .
  • Michael Jahn : Verdi and Wagner in Vienna . The apple, Vienna 2012ff.
  • Detta and Michael Petzet: The Richard Wagner stage of King Ludwig II. Munich 1970, DNB 457797053 .
  • Günther Schöne: The stage design in the 19th century. In: Catalog of the Theater Museum in Munich. Munich 1959, pp. 5-20.
  • Siegmund Skraup: 1924–1944. The language of Bayreuth and the language of time. In: Theater of Our Time. Volume 2: The Bayreuth Case. Basel / Stuttgart 1962.
  • Dietrich Steinbeck: Richard Wagner's Tannhauser scenario. The role model for the premieres and the decoration plans. (= Writings of the Society for Theater History. Volume 64). Berlin 1968, pp. 6-12.
  • Dietrich Steinbeck: Forms of staging of "Tannhäuser" (1845–1904). (= Research contributions to musicology. Volume XIV). Gustav-Bosse-Verlag, Regensburg 1964, pp. 70-73, 103-107, 111-112.
  • Katharina Wagner , Holger von Berg, Marie Luise Maintz (Eds.): The Fall of the Arts? Richard Wagner, National Socialism and the Consequences. (= Discourse Bayreuth. Volume 1, ). Bärenreiter Verlag, Kassel 2018, ISBN 978-3-7618-2465-8 .
  • Richard Wagner: writings and poems. Nine volumes. Leipzig 1872. Volume 3: The work of art of the future. Pp. 147-148, 152-153. Volume 5: About the performance of "Tannhäuser". Pp. 164-165. Comments on the performance of the opera Der Fliegende Holländer. Pp. 207-208.
  • Wieland Wagner (Ed.): Richard Wagner and the New Bayreuth. Munich 1962.

Web links

Wagner bust at the Schwanenteich in Leipzig
Wagner monument Leipzig by Stephan Balkenhol on the base by Max Klinger
Commons : Richard Wagner  - album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Richard Wagner  - Sources and full texts
Wikisource: Wagner Parodies  - Sources and Full Texts
Sheet music and audio samples
Topic anti-Semitism

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Richard Wagner's anti-Semitism , Federal Agency for Political Education . Retrieved September 5, 2017.
  2. ^ Richard Wagner Museum: Johanna Rosine Pätz .
  3. Marcel Prawy, Karin Werner-Jensen: Richard Wagner. Life and work. Wilhelm Goldmann, Munich 1982, p. 319.
  4. ^ Church Archives Leipzig (KAL): Taufbuch Thomas 1811-1817, p. 156.
  5. Dieter David Scholz: A German Misunderstanding. Richard Wagner between barricade and Valhalla. Parthas Verlag, 1997, p. 22.
  6. See the photograph by Albert Wagner in Dieter David Scholz: A German Misunderstanding. Richard Wagner between barricade and Valhalla. Parthas Verlag, 1997, p. 12.
  7. Marcel Prawy, Karin Werner-Jensen: Richard Wagner. Life and work. Wilhelm Goldmann, Munich 1982, p. 319.
  8. Marcel Prawy, Karin Werner-Jensen: Richard Wagner. Life and work. Wilhelm Goldmann, Munich 1982, p. 319.
  9. Marcel Prawy, Karin Werner-Jensen: Richard Wagner. Life and work. Wilhelm Goldmann, Munich 1982, p. 319.
  10. Autobiography My Life and Burkhard Zemlin: City Guide Lutherstadt Eisleben. Bindlach 1996, ISBN 3-8112-0833-0 .
  11. ^ Franz Schnorr von CarolsfeldSillig, Julius . In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Volume 34, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1892, p. 329 f.
  12. Marcel Prawy, Karin Werner-Jensen: Richard Wagner. Life and work. Wilhelm Goldmann, Munich 1982, p. 319.
  13. In the spring of 1827 he emigrated to Prague with Rudolf Böhme. See Marcel Prawy, Karin Werner-Jensen, p. 319.
  14. Marcel Prawy, Karin Werner-Jensen: Richard Wagner. Life and work. Wilhelm Goldmann, Munich 1982, p. 319.
  15. Marcel Prawy: Richard Wagner. Life and work. P. 319.
  16. ^ Martin Geck : Richard Wagner , biography. Siedler, Munich 2012, ISBN 978-3-88680-927-1 , p. 19.
  17. Marcel Prawy: Richard Wagner. Life and work. P. 319.
  18. Marcel Prawy, Karin Werner-Jensen: Richard Wagner. Life and work. P. 319.
  19. ^ "Paukenschlag Overture" in B flat major (performed in Leipzig on December 24, 1830), Overture in D major and on the bride of Messina .
  20. Marcel Prawy, Karin Werner-Jensen: Richard Wagner. Life and work. P. 319.
  21. In the spring of 1826 Wagner had already written a knight tragedy, which he burned. Compare Marcel Prawy: Richard Wagner. Life and work. P. 319.
  22. Horst Grimm, Leo Besser-Walzel: The corporations. Frankfurt am Main, 1986; Richard Wagner, Gregor-Dellin (ed.): My life. Munich 1983, p. 51 ff. On this also Ferdinand Kurz: Richard Wagner. Commentary and criticism of what he himself tells about his time in the corps . In: Deutsche Corpszeitung 31 (1914/15), pp. 239–250 and 279–285; Huss: Richard Wagner as a corps student. In: Studenten-Kurier 4/2006, p. 16, with clarification by Weiß: Richard Wagner's failed contrahages. In: Student Courier. 1/2007, pp. 3, 4.
  23. Willi Dürrnagel: Boards that mean the world . In: Dear Neighbors - the new city magazine from Würzburg , October 19, 2015.
  24. Stephanie Schwarz: Fairies and Wine. Richard Wagner. In: Kurt Illing (Ed.): In the footsteps of the poets in Würzburg. Self-published (print: Max Schimmel Verlag), Würzburg 1992, pp. 53-64.
  25. Ulrich Konrad : Guest article Where Wagner really lived in Würzburg . In: Main-Post. December 13, 2013.
  26. Michael Sachs: 'Prince Bishop and Vagabond'. The story of a friendship between the Prince-Bishop of Breslau Heinrich Förster (1799–1881) and the writer and actor Karl von Holtei (1798–1880). Edited textually based on the original Holteis manuscript. In: Medical historical messages. Journal for the history of science and specialist prose research. Volume 35, 2016 (2018), pp. 223–291, here: p. 282.
  27. Quoted from Martin Gregor-Dellin: Richard Wagner. His life, his work, his century. An artist wakes up in the pre-march.
  28. Wagner Association Minden: life data (PDF)
  29. Marcel Prawy, Karin Werner-Jensen: Richard Wagner. Life and work. Wilhelm Goldmann, Munich 1982, p. 319.
  30. ^ Text field , accessed on July 4, 2013.
  31. A new source-based processing of Wagner's ambivalent relationship to Paul von Thurn and Taxis can be found in Sylvia Alphéus, Lothar Jegensdorf: Fürst Paul von Thurn und Taxis. a stubborn life. Munich 2017 ; cf. in more detail chap. 7 "In the wheelwork between Ludwig II. And Richard Wagner", pp. 146–189.
  32. Correspondence between King Ludwig and Richard Wagner.
  33. ^ W. Bronnenmeyer: Richard Wagner. Citizens in Bayreuth . Ellwanger, Bayreuth 1983, p. 57 .
  34. JM Hyson, SD Swank: Dr. Newell Sill Jenkins: progenitor of cosmetic dentistry. In: Journal of the California Dental Association. Volume 31, Number 8, August 2003, pp. 626-629, PMID 13677405 .
  35. Cosima Wagner: The diaries. Piper, Munich 1977, Volume 2, p. 509. ISBN 3-492-02199-9 .
  36. Martin Gregor-Dellin : Richard Wagner - His life, his work, his century. Piper, Munich 1980–2012, ISBN 3-492-02527-7 , Piper ebooks ISBN 978-3-492-95991-9 .
  37. Diether de la Motte: Harmony. Bärenreiter, Kassel 1985, p. 212.
  38. Martin Vogel: The Tristan chord and the crisis of modern harmony theory. Düsseldorf 1962.
  39. Altug Ünlü: The 'Tristan chord' in the context of a traditional sequence formula . (PDF; 184 kB) In: Music Theory. Issue 2, 2003.
  40. ^ On the road to industrialization: nutritional status in Saxony, 1690-1850
  41. ^ Friedrich Nietzsche: The case of Wagner . Section 4.
  42. Micha Brumlik : Anti-Semitism. 100 pages. Reclam, Ditzingen 2020, p. 57 f.
  43. The prelude to Richard Wagner's opera Tristan und Isolde already plays an important role in Thomas Mann's famous novel Die Buddenbrooks in characterizing various characters in the novel, and later Th. M. even wrote his own novella Tristan .
  44. Quoted from Thomas Mann: Attention Europe! Volume 4, edited by Hermann Kurzke , Frankfurt am Main, 1995, p. 342.
  45. Klaus Schröter : Thomas Mann in the judgment of his time. Retrieved November 26, 2008 .
  46. Marcel Prawy, Karin Werner-Jensen: Richard Wagner. Life and work. Wilhelm Goldmann, Munich 1982.
  47. Robert Musil: The Man Without Qualities, 2, 615.
  48. Martin Heidegger, Complete Edition, Volume 95, p. 109.
  49. Ernst Klee : The culture lexicon for the Third Reich. Who was what before and after 1945. S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2007, ISBN 978-3-10-039326-5 , p. 636.
  50. Micha Brumlik : Anti-Semitism. 100 pages. Reclam, Ditzingen 2020, p. 56.
  51. Brumlik, p. 56 f.
  52. A. Arluke, as Sax: Understanding Nazi Animal Protection and the Holocaust. In: Anthrozoic. 1992 H. 5, P. 6–31: Wagner supported, among other things, concerns of the animal protection movement in the empire in an open letter ( open letter to Mr. Ernst von Weber author of the text Die Tortterkammern der Wissenschaft , 1879, in: R. Wagner, Gesammelte Werke , Leipzig 1888). Wagner emphasized that mankind could achieve a higher moral existence by renouncing meat consumption, but did not become vegetarian himself.
  53. a b c Dieter Borchmeyer: Richard Wagner's Antisemitismus, May 14, 2013
  54. a b Barrie Kosky's Bayreuth “Meistersinger” acclaimed . In: Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger , July 26, 2017; accessed on November 21, 2017.
  55. a b Jan Schleusener: Is the Beckmesser a Jew? In: Die Welt , July 26, 1999, accessed November 20, 2017.
  56. a b c Derrick Everett: Wasn't Wagner anti-Semitic? (from the FAQ of the newsgroup []).
  57. Derrick Everett: Was Beckmesser based on Eduard Hanslick? (from the FAQ of the newsgroup []).
  58. Ludger Hoffmann : Richard Wagner, Judaism in Music. Anti-Semitism between Kulturkampf and Annihilation (PDF; 228 kB). In: Peter Conrady (Ed.): Fascism in Texts and Media: Yesterday - Today - Tomorrow? Athena Verlag, Oberhausen 2004, p.?
  59. Dieter Borchmeyer, Ami Maayani, Susanne Vill (ed.): Richard Wagner and the Jews. JB Metzler Verlag, Stuttgart / Weimar 2000, ISBN 978-3-476-01754-3 (see Perlentaucher review notes ).
  60. ^ German medicine in the Third Reich. Careers before and after 1945. S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2001, ISBN 3-10-039310-4 , p. 17 f.
  61. ^ An essay volume shows how the Bayreuther Kreis wrote German history ( Memento from August 24, 2013 in the Internet Archive ). North Bavarian Courier, August 22, 2013.
  62. The mistress of Bayreuth . Deutsche Welle, July 25, 2013.
  63. Picture of the month: "Train of the Gods to Valhalla" by Hans Thoma . Städel blog, September 20, 2013.
  64. ^ The dark corners of the villa »Wahnfried« ( Memento from November 29, 2014 in the Internet Archive ). Sunday paper Bavaria, July 22, 2012.
  65. ↑ Pop stars of the 19th century . ( Memento from November 26, 2014 in the Internet Archive ), accessed November 14, 2014.
  66. No reason to celebrate . In: Jüdische Allgemeine ; accessed January 4, 2013.
  67. Joachim Fest: Hitler. A biography . Ullstein, Berlin new edition 2002, licensed edition by Spiegel Verlag, Hamburg 2007, p. 94.
  68. Quoted from Joachim Fest: Hitler. A biography . Ullstein, Berlin new edition 2002, licensed edition by Spiegel-Verlag, Hamburg 2007, p. 96.
  69. Saul Friedländer, Hitler and Wagner, in: ders./Jörn Rüsen (ed.), Richard Wagner in the Third Reich, CH Beck, Munich 2000, ISBN 3-406-42156-3 , pp. 165–179.
  70. ^ Joachim Koehler: Wagner's Hitler. The prophet and his executor. K. Blessing, Munich 1997.
  71. ^ Hitler between Bayreuth and Mariafeld . Neue Zürcher Zeitung , May 19, 2002.
  72. Hans Rudolf Vaget : In the shadow of Wagner; Thomas Mann on R. Wagner, texts and testimonials.
  73. ^ Army over Wagner as Hitler's pioneer. Model boys of the chase machinery . In: Kulturvollzug. The digital feuilleton for Munich. October 8, 2012.
  74. "We want to leave the Jews out" . , July 10, 2012.
  75. a b c Wagner is still a hot topic in Israel . In: Handelsblatt , May 20, 2013; accessed on September 17, 2016.
  76. ↑ The Berlin orchestra played Wagner . Spiegel Online ; Retrieved June 5, 2012.
  77. ^ First Wagner society founded in Israel . , November 17, 2010.
  78. ^ Shared echo in Israel on Wagner concert. In: dpa / Lausitzer Rundschau , July 28, 2011; Naumburger Tageblatt ( Memento from November 16, 2012 in the Internet Archive ), July 27, 2011; Julia Spinola: Israel Chamber Orchestra in Bayreuth: Building bridges, one-sided . In: FAZ , July 27, 2011
  79. Wagner concert in Israel canceled . Spiegel Online ; Retrieved June 5, 2012.
  80. List of men larger than list of women. Event entry. In: Retrieved September 20, 2019 .
  81. List of men larger than list of women. Production entry. Pocket Opera Company, accessed September 20, 2019 .
  82. Maschka, p. 17.
  83. Richard Wagner, The Artwork of the Future. In: Kindlers New Literature Lexicon . Munich 1992.
  84. ^ Richard Strauss : Documents . Reclam, Leipzig 1980, p. 42.
  85. ^ W. Bronnenmeyer: Richard Wagner. Citizens in Bayreuth , p. 58.
  86. Coin and postage stamp for Wagner's 200th birthday. In: Welt Online . Retrieved April 9, 2015 .