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A dictionary of music and musicians (A.D. 1450-1889) by eminent writers, English and foreign : with illustrations and woodcuts (Volume 4) online

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ate her childish version of the words of operas,
e appeared at six as Salome in the 'Donau-
ibchen.' In 1843 her uncle heard her sing
! partof Myrrha in Winter's ' Unterbrochene
ferfest,' and in May 1S44 obtained a temporary
jagement for her at the Eoyal Opera at Dres-
1, where he was preparing the first performance

• Present • State of Music in Germany,' p. 239.



WAGNER.



345



of his ' Eienzi.' Though but sixteen she had such
success as Irma in ' Maurer und Schlosser,' and
Agathe in the ' Ereischiitz,' that she was not
only engaged for three years, but the manage-
ment paid the fine necessary to release her from
her contract at the Ducal Theatre at Bernburg.
She spent the summer with her uncle near
Dresden, studying his Tannhauser, scene by
scene, as he composed it, and had the honour of
creating the part of Elizabeth when only seven-
teen. Her uncle had intended the first perform-
ance to take place on her seventeenth birthday,
but the illness of a singer postponed it until
Oct. 21, 1845. However, when his friends as-
sembled at his house for supper that night,
Johanna found, hidden under her napkin, a little
gold bracelet engraved with her name and the
date, a proof of his satisfaction with her per-
formance which will always be her greatest
treasure. Such hopes were founded upon the
talents of the young singer that the King of
Saxony sent her to Paris to study under Garcia.
She left Dresden Feb. i, 1S47, accompanied by
her father, who until then had been her in-
structor. Eeturning in six months she appeared
as Norma, singing in Italian, her uncle conducting.
She now added to her repertoire FideUo, Valen-
tine, Adriano, Susanna, Eeiza, Favorita, Donna
Anna, Eecha, Euryanthe, Ernani, Sextus, Weisse
Dame, etc. Her uncle's part in the revolutionary
troubles of 1849, ^^'^ consequent exile, making it
unpleasant for her to remain in Dresden, she
accepted an engagement at Hamburg ; there
she created the first German Fides in the ' Pro-
phfete,' and sang it fifty times in succession. In
1850 she was permanently engaged at the Eoyal
Opera House in Berlin, with an exceptional con-
tract giving her six months leave each year. King
Frederick William IV. and his Queen thoroughly
appreciated her talent, and she frequently sang
for them in private, accompanied by Meyerbeer,
whose faithful friendsliip she enjoyed &om the
day he first heard her sing.

In 1852 she came to England, but owing to
a lawsuit concerning her contract, she was pre-
cluded from singing at either of the opera-houses.
In 1856 she appeai-ed at Her Majesty's Theatre,
as Tancredi, Lucrezia Borgia, and Romeo. Of the
latter, Mr. Lumley, in his ' Eeminiscences,' writes:
— ' Was it possible to listen and not feel every
hostile feeling crushed ? Gifted with a voice com-
bining the resources of soprano and contralto in
one — or rather with two voices (wrote one able
critic) ; a well-accentuated style of declamation ;
endowed with a grace which made every attitude
a pictorial study, no wonder that Mile. Johanna
W^agner took the house by storm.'

In 1859 ^^^ married Herr Landrath Jach-
mann, and two years later had the misfortune to
lose her voice suddenly and completely. She then
bravely entered upon a second artistic career,
as an actress, her very exceptional gifts en-
abling her to do so with biiUiant success. This
lasted for eleven years, at the same Theatre at
Berlin. Her new repertoire included Marie
Stuart,Queen Elizabeth, Lady Macbeth, Antigone,



346



WAGNER.



Phfedra, Isabella (Bride of Messina), Maid of
Orleans, Hermione, Medea, ISappho, etc. In
1870-71, at the request of Griifinn von Roon,
wife of the Minister for War, she joined the
Eed Cross Society, and spent nine months in
tending the wounded in the State Hospitals at
Berlin. In 1S72 she took leave of the stage as
Iphigenia, amidst many honours ; the Emperor
ill person presenting her with the Gold Medal
for Arts and Sciences. Meantime her voice had
returned to a great extent, and on May 22, 1872,
at her uncle's request, she went to Bayreuth,
to take part in the performance of Beethoven's
Ninth Symphony, which he gave to celebrate the
laying of the first stone to his theatre there. Slie
sang the solo alto part, as she had done on Palm
Sunday twenty-six years before, at his perform-
ance of the same Symphony at Dresden. In
1S76, at the opening at the Wagner Theatre at
Bayreuth, she took the minor parts of Walkiire
and Norn, only regretting she was not able to
serve her uncle in a greater part.

However, in 1882 a new sphere of artistic use-
fulness was opened to her. Baron von Perfall,
Intendant of the Royal Opera at Munich, offered
her the Professorship of Dramatic Singing, in the
Royal School of Music there. This appointment
she accepted (to quote her own words) ' in the
hope of training young artists in the spirit and
traditions of her uncle, to be worthy interpreters
of his works.' LM.B.]

WAGNER, WiLiiELM Richard, born May
22, 1S13, at Leipzig; died Feb. 13, 1883, at
Venice; interred Feb. 18, 1S83, at Bayreuth.

The materials of the following article have
been thus arranged : I. Biographical, personal.
II. Literary, III. Musical. IV. Chronological
Lists.

I. Wagner's ancestors were natives of Saxony,
fairly well educated and fairly well to do. The
grandfather, Gottlob Friedrich Wagner, who
died in 1795, was Accisassixtent, and later on
Kurfiirstlich Sdchsischcr Generalacciseinnehmcr
(Receiver-general of excise), in plain words
Tliorsclireiber (clerk at the town-gates of Leip-
zig); he married in 1 769 Johanna Sophia Eichel,
daughter of Gottlob Friedrich Eichel, Schnlhalter
(keeper of a school). Of their children, two
sons and a daughter, the eldest son, Carl Fried-
rich Wilhelm Wagner, born 1770 at Leipzig,
was the father of the ]ioet-composer. He is
described as Actuarhis bei den Stadtrjerichten
<clerk to the city police-courts) ; a ready linguist,
whose command of French stood him in good
stead during the occupation of Leipzig, when
Davoust made him chief of police ; fond of
poetry, and of theatricals, in which he occasion-
ally took an active part — as, for instance, in the
])r;vate performance of Goethe's ' Die Mitschul-
digen,' given by Leipzig dilettanti in Thome's
house, near the famous Auerbach's Keller, facing
the Marktplatz. He married in 1798 Johanna
liosina Bertz (born at Weissenfels, died Feb.
1848), by whom between 1799 and 181 1 he had
nine children.



WAGNER.

1. Albert "Wagner, 1709-1874, studied medicine at tl M

University of Leipzig; actor and singer at WUrzbu: j
and Dresden ; finally stage manager at Berlii
father of Johanna Jachmann-Wagner the wel
known singer.

2. Carl Gustav Wagner, 1801, died early.

3. Johanna Kosalie "Wagner, distinguished actress (Frilj

Dr. Gotthard Oswald Marbach), 1S0;;-1837.

4. Carl Julius Wagner, 1S04, became a goldsmith, dii

at Dresden.

5. Luise Constanze Wagner (Frau Friedrich Broc

liaus), 1805-1870.
G. Clara Wilhelmine Wagner (Frau Wolfram), a singe
1807-1875.

7. Blaria Theresia Wagner 1809, died 1814.

8. Wilhelmine Cfttilie Wagner (Frau Professor H<

mann Brockhaus'), lSll-1883. '

0. WiLUKLM ElcuARD Wag.ner, May 22, 1813,



iin



DC



The last of these dates' is inscribed on
white marble slab between the first and secot
stories of a quaint old house, Der weisse w;
rothe Loive, in the Briihl at Leipzig, now No. 8
where the poet-composer was born. After tl
battle of Leipzig, October 16, 18, and 19, 181
an epidemic fever, attributed to the carnag
fell upon the town, and just five months afti
Richard's birth, on November 22, the 'Hei
Actuarius' died of it. His widow was left 1
sad straits. The eldest son was but 14; el
had no private means, and her pension wi
small. In 1815 she became the wife of Lu«
wigGeyer (born January 21, 1780, at Eisleben
actor, play^vright, and amateur portrait- painte:
He had formerly been a member of ' Seconda
troupe,' which used to give theatrical perfom
ances alternately at Dresden and Leij)zig. A
the time of the marriage he was a member t
the Konigl.-Siichs-Hoftheater, and according!
the family removed to Dresden.^ Richard Wa|
ner frequently spoke of him with affectional
reverence, treasured his portrait by the side (
that of his mother, and was delighted at the su
prise performance of one of Geyer's little play
'Der Bethlehemitische Kindermord,' which wt
privately got up at Bayreuth in celebration (
his 60th birthday, 1873. 'My schoolbooka i
the Dresden Kreuzschule,' Wagner said to tb
writer, ' were marked Richard Geyer, and I wf
entered under that name,'

Geyer * wanted to make a painter of me, but I w)
very unhandy at drawing ; I had learnt to play ' Ue'
immer TreuundKedlichkeit ' and the ' Jungfernkranii
(FreyscblUz) which was then quite new. The da
before his death (30th Sept., 1821) I had to play these I
him in an adjoining room, and I heard him faint)
saying to my mother, 'Do you think he might have
gift for music ? '

In Dec. 1822 (ast. 9) Richard had begun t
attend the Kreuzschule, a ' classical school.' H
did well there, and became the favourite of Hei
Sillig, the professor of Greek, to whose deligli
(aet. 13) he translated the first twelve books of th
Odyssey outof school hours. His progress in Lati

1 Hermann Brockhaus, the well-known orientalist and translator
Soraa-deva, etc.

2 At Wagner's birth Beethoven was 42 years old, Spnhr 29. Webi
27. Marschner 17, Spontini 3S, Rossini 21, Auber 29. Meyerbeer i
Bellini 11, Berlioz 10, Mendelssulin and Chopin 4, Schumann
Liszt 2.

3 There was also a child of the second marriage, Caecllle Geje
who appears as Frau Avenarius in Wagner's correspondence.

4 Autubiographische Skizze, 1S42.



WAGNER.

I to have been comparatively slow, still his
ittracted attention. ' I was considered good
:eris.' At German verses he was unusually
. The boys were asked to write commemora-
rerses on the death of a schoolfellow, and
the removal of much bombast Richard's
printed (set. 1 1). 'I was now bent upon be-
ig a poet ; I sketched tragedies in Greek form
litation of Apel's ' Polyeidos,' ' Die Aeto-
etc. I attempted a metrical translation of
;o's monologue, by way of learning English,
German versions of Shakespeare were then,
w, much read. The boy's fancy was excited,
le secretly began a grand tragedy (tet. 14).
,s made up ot Hamlet and Lear, forty-two
lied in the course of it, and some of them
o return as ghosts so as to keep the fifth act
■. Weber's music also took hold of him.
new the airs from Der Ereyschiitz by heart,
)layed the overture ' with atrocious finger-
— 'When Weber passed our house on his
to the theatre, I used to watch him with
thing akin to religious awe,'
appears that Weber now and then stepped
have a chat with the delicate-featured and
igent Erau Geyer. ' Her sweet ways and
' disposition had a special charm for artists.'
ihe pleasant life at Dresden was not to last
Geyer's salary had been a small one,
soon after his decease pecuniary troubles
. Three of the grown-up children took to
heatre, and when the elder sister Rosalie

good engagement as ' erste Liebhaberin' at
'Ag, the mother followed with the younger
bers of the family. Richard attended the
izschule till the autumn of 1827, and entered
licolaischule at Leipzig early in the following
(set, 15). The change proved unfortunate.
lad sat in ' Secunda ' at Dresden, and was
put back to ' Tertia ' ; his feelings were

and he came to dislike the school and
nasters. ' I grew negligent, and scamped
?ork ; nothing interested me except my big
idy,' At the Gewandhaus Concerts he first
i Beethoven's symphonies, and tlie impres-
upon him ' was overwhelming.' Music such
liat to Egmont appeared to be the very
J needful for the tragedy. He found a copy
lOgier's ' Thorough-bass ' at a circulating
ry, and studied it assiduously ; but some-

the 'System' could not be turned to
lint. At length a master was engaged,
lieb Miiller, subsequently organist at Alten-
; Richard composed a quartet, a sonata,
an aria, under his guidance ; but it does not
ar how far Miiller was reaHy responsible
hese pieces. The lessons did not last long,
ler thought his pupil wilful and eccentric,
in return was accounted a stupid pedant.

ferment in Richard's mind now took a
ary direction. The writings of E. T, A.
mann engrossed his attention, and it is
)us to note that so early as in his i6tli year
ecame acquainted with some of the subjects
h he treated later on. Thus, Hoffmann's
apions Briider,' in vol. ii., contains a story



WAGNER.



347



about the legendary contest of ' Meistersin-
ger' (Hoffman's misnomer for 'Minnesinger') at
Wartburg (2nd Act of Tannhauser) ; and sundry
germs of Wagner's ' Meistersinger ' are to be
found in HoSinann's ' Meister Martin der Kiifer
von Niirnbeig.' — LudwigTieck's narrative poem
'Tannhauser' was read at the same time. —
A performance of Beethoven's Pastoral Sym-
phony led to an attempt at a musical pastoral,
the dramatic aspect of which was suggested by
Goethe's 'Laune dcs Verliebten.' — In 1829-30
Richard attended the 'Thomasschule' with re-
sults little more satisfactory than at the 'Nicolai.'
Practically his philological studies went no
further ; ' I chose to write overtures for grand
orchestra, and to bluster about politics with
young litterati like Heinrich Laube.' An over-
ture (in Bb, 6-8) was performed under H. Dorn
at the theatre between the acts of a play
(1830, set. 17). ' This was the culminating point
of my absurdities. The public was fairly puzzled
by the persistence of the drum-player, who had
to give a tap fortissimo every four bars from be-
ginning to end ; people grew impatient, and
finally thought the thing a joke.''

When he matriculated at the University of
Leipzig (1830), Wagner had the good luck to
find a proper master, Theodor Weinlig, Cantor
at the Thomasschule, an admirable musician
and a kindly intelligent man, who at once
gained his pupil's confidence and led him in the
right direction. Wagner felt deeply indebteil
to Weinlig, and held his memory in great
esteem. In 1877 he spoke at length about the
lessons : —

Weinlig had no special method, but he was clear-
headed and practical. Indeed you cannot teach com-
position, you may show how music gradually came to
be what it is, and thus guide a young man's judgment,
but this is historical criticism, and cannot directly
result in practice. All you can do is, to point to some
working example, some particular piece, set a task in
that direction, and correct the pupil's work. This is
what Weinlig did with me. He chose a piece, gener-
ally something of Mozart's, drew attention to its con-
struction, relative length and balance of sections, prin-
cipal modulations, number and quality of themes, and
general character of the movement. Then he set the
task :— you shall write about so many bars, divide into
so many sections with modulations to correspond so and
so, the themes shall be so many, and of such and such
a character. Similarly he would set contrapuntal ex-
ercises, canons, fugues — he analysed an example mi-
nutely and then gave simple directions how I was to go
to work. But the true lesson consisted in his patient
and careful inspection of what had been written. With
infinite kindness he would put his finger on some
defective bit and explain the why and wherefore of the
alterations he thought desirable. I readily saw what
he was aiming at, and soon managed to please him.
He dismissed me, saying, you have learnt to stand on
your own legs. My experience of young musicians
these forty years has led me to think tliat music should
be taught all round on such a simple plan. With
singing, playing, composing, take it at whatever stage
you like, there is nothing so good as a proper example,
and careful correction of the pupil's attempts to follow
that example. I made this the basis of my plan for the
reorganisation of the Music-school at Munich, etc.^

The course with Weinlig lasted barely si.\

1 Autobiographische Skizze.

2 These and other words of Wagner's, printed In small type, and
not otherwise authenticated, were uttered in conversation with the
writer in the spring and summer of lt77, and are here first made
public.



\



348



WAGNER.



months. A Sonata in 4 movements Bb, op. l,
and a Polonaise for 4 Lands in D, op. 2, were
printed at Bi-eitkopf & Hartel's — straightfor-
ward music, solid sclioolwork, without a trace
of Wagner. A Fantasia in Fj minor, where
Weinlig's controlling hand is less visible,
remains in MS.

Whilst this musical work was going on, philo-
logy and cesthetics, for which his name was set
down at the University, were neglected. He
plunged into the gulf of German students'
dissipations (curious details are given in the
privately printed 'Lebenserinnerungen'),but soon
felt disgusted, and worked all the more steadily
at music. In the course of 1830 he made a
pianoforte transcription of Beethoven's Ninth
Symphony, which was offered to Messrs. Schott
in a letter dated Oct. 6. In 1S31, feeling sure of
his competency to do such work, he addressed a
letter in very modest terms to the Bureau de
Musique (Peters) offering his services as 'cor-
rector for the press and arranger.' * Dorn (in a
contribution to Schumann's ' Neue Zeitschrift,'
1838, No. 7) gives a pleasant account of his en-
thusiasm for Beethoven in those early days. ' I
doubt whether there ever was a young musician
who knew Beethoven's works more thoroughly
than Wagner in his iSth year. The master's
overtures and larger instrumental compositions
he had copied for himself in score. He went to
sleep with the quartets, he sang the songs and
whistled the concertos (for his pianoforte-playing
vpas never of the best) ; in short he was possessed
with & furor teutonicus, which, added to a good
education and a rare mental activity, promised
to bring forth rich fruit.' A * Concert-overture
mit Fuge' in C (MS.) was written in 1831 ; and
another MS. Overture in D minor (Sept. 26,
•amended Nov. 4) was performed Dec. 25, 1831.

In 1832 (tet. 19) he wrote a Symphony in 4
movements (C major). ' Beethoven,' he says of it,
'and particular sections of Mozart's major
Symphony were my models, and in spite of sun-
dry aberrations, I strove for clearness and power.'
In the summer of this year, he took the scores
of the Symphony and the Overture in C to the
"* Music-town,' Vienna — probably with a view to
some small post. He found Herold's ' Zampa ' and
Strauss's ' Potpourris * from ' Zampa ' rampant
there, and beat a hasty retreat. On the way home
he stopped at Prague, and made the acquaint-
ance of Dionys Weber, director of the Conserva-
torium, whose pupils rehearsed the Symphony.
The score was then submitted to the Directors
of the Gewandhaus Concerts at Leipzig. The
managing director, Hofrath Rochlitz, editor of
the 'Allgemeine Musicalische Zeitung,' an au-
thority in musical matters, invited the composer
to call. ' When I presented myself to him, the
stately old gentleman raised his spectacles, saying,
■"You are a young man indeed! I expected an
older and experienced composer." He proposed
a trial performance at the meetings of a junior in-
stitution, the " Euterpe," and a fortnight after-

* Herr Tappert, in his admirable brochure 'Richard Wagner, sein
Leben und seine Werke,' gives tlie entire letter (Aug. 6, 1831).



^



WAGNER.

wards (Jan. 10,1833) my Symphony figured in-
programme of a Gewandhaus Concert.' 1
sequel of the story of the work is as folio
In 1834-35, Wagner being on a visit to Leip:
presented the score to Mendelssohn,^ who y
then conducting the Gewandhaus Concerts;
rather, he forced it upon him in the hope
getting a critical opinion, and perhaps anot
performance. JNIendelssohn, though repeate
meeting Wagner later on, never mentioned
score, and Wagner did not care to ask him ab
it. After Mendelssohn's decease the MS. appe
to have been lost, and inquiries proved fruitl;
In 1S72 an old trunk was discovered at Dresi
which had been left by Wagner during the (
turbances of 1849. It contained musical o
and ends, together with a set of orchestral pj
almost complete, which proved to be those
the missing Symphony in the handwriting c
Prague copyist of 1832. A new score was c(
piled from these parts, and after nearly 1
a century a private performance of the wi
was given by the orchestra of the Liceo Marc
at Venice on Christmas Eve 1S82, Wagner c
ducting. Apart from its biographical intei
the symphony has few claims to attention.
1883, 'for the benefit of the curious,' Wag;
quoted a fragment of the Andante, and tl
dismissed the whole as ' an old-fashioned ouvn
dejeunesse.'^

Whilst at Prague (summer of 1 83 2) he wrote
first libretto for an opera, ' Die Hochzeit.' ' It ^
of tragic import. An infuriated lover climbs to
window of the bedroom of his beloved, who is
friend's bride. She is awaiting the arrival of
bridegroom. The bride wrestles with the madm
and precipitates him into the courtyard beli
At the funeral rites the bride, with a wild c
falls dead over the corpse.' On his return
Leipzig he began writing the music. There t
a grand septet, which pleased Weinlig ; 1
Wagner's sister Rosalie disapproved of the sto
and the verses were destroyed. An autogrf
presentation copy to the ' Wiirzburger Mm
verein ' consisting of the introduction, chorus s
septet (not sextet), 36 pages, is extant.

With the yeariS33 (set. 20) begins Wagn<
career as a professional musician. The el
brother Albert, who had a high tenor voi
was engaged at the theatre of Wiirzburg as acl
singer, and stage-manager, Richard paid bir
visit in the summer, and was glad to take
place of chorus-master with a pittance of
florins per month. Albert's experience of th
trical matters proved useful; the Musikver
performed several of Richard's compositions ;
duties at the theatre were light, and he 1
ample leisure to write the words and music to
opera in 3 acts, ' Die Feen.' The plot of this op
is constructed on the lines of *Gozzi's 'La doi

2 Details in 'Ges. Schriften,' vol. x. 'Bericht fiber die Wie •
auffiihruiig eines JuRendwerkes.' pp. 399-405.

3 ' Bericht uber die Wiederauffiihrung eines Jugendwerkes,'
399-405. . ,

4 Carlo liozzi (1722-1S06) Venetian playwright ; his pieces, b i
on fairy tales, were admired by Goethe, Schiller, Sismondi. .
■ Re Turandotte ' was translated and adapted for the Weimar s i
by Schiller; Weber wrote music to it in 1609.






WAGNER.



WAGNER.



349



jnte, Fiaba teatrale in tre atti,' with a
acteTisticchskugemthedenouernent. In Gozzi's

a fairy is ready to forgo her immortality for a
ai lover, but she can do so only under certain
itions. The lover shall not disown her, no
;er how unworthy she may happen to appear.

fairy is turned into a snake, which the lover
lageously kisses. Wagner alters this : the
• is not changed into a snake, but into a
3, and she is disenchanted by the power of
ic. ' Beethoven, Weber, and Marschner were
models. The ensemble pieces contained a
i deal that seemed satisfactory, and the finale
Jie second act especially promised to be
tive.' Excerpts were tried at Wiirzburg in
^ On his return to Leipzig Wagner offered

opera to Ringelhardt, the director of the
tre, who accepted but never performed it.

autograph score is now in the possession of
King of Bavaria.

1 the spring of 1 834 Wilhelmine Schroeder-
rient appeared at Leipzig. Her performances
I as actress and as singer gave a powerful
alse to Wagner's talents. Her rare gifts
■ar to have suggested to him that intimate
•n of music witli the drama which he after-
is achieved. During six important years
12-48 and 49), when she was engaged as prin-
1 singer and he as Kapellmeister at Dresden,
vas in almost daily communication with her.
ate as 1872 he stated that her example had
.tantly been before him : ' whenever I con-
ed a character I saw hei:' In 1S34 ^^^
; the part of Romeo in Bellini's 'Mon-
hi e Capuletti.' The young enthusiast for
tboven perceived the weakness of Bellini's
ic clearly enough, yet the impression SIme.
rient made upon him was powerful and
stic. The Leipzig theatre next brought out
)er's 'La Muette de Portici' (Masaniello).
his astonishment Wagner found that the
cing scenes and rapid action of this opera
red effective and entertaining from beginning
nd, even without the aid of a great artist

Mme. Devrient. This set him thinking.
was ambitious, and longed for an immediate

palpable success ; — could he not take hints
a Bellini and Auber, and endeavour to com-



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