Wagner, Liszt and Tannhäuser

Signed by Richard Wagner

Item: 21660
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WAGNER, RICHARD. (1813-1883). German opera composer of Götterdämmerung, Tristan und Isolde, Der Fliegende Holländer, and other monumental stage works. AQS. (“Richard Wagner”). 1p. Oblong 12mo. N.p., N.d. In German with translation. A remarkable quotation that appears in Wagner’s 1851 book Eine Mitteilung an meine Freunde (A Communication to My Friends), celebrating Wagner’s reaction when he first heard Franz Liszt’s interpretation of Tannhäuser.

“What I felt as I was composing this music is what he felt as he was performing it; what I was trying to say as I was writing it down, he said as he was bringing it to life. Marvelous!”

Richard Wagner and Franz Liszt

In October, 1842, after years of struggle and deprivation, Wagner’s opera, Rienzi, was produced at Saxony’s Royal Court Theater in Dresden, the success of which led to the theater’s production of Der fliegende Holländer the following year. Wagner chose to settle in Dresden where he became one of the Court Theater’s conductors and where his romantic opera, Tannhäuser, premiered in 1845. The work, with innovations in structure and technique, perplexed audiences accustomed to the more conventional opera of the day and elicited a storm of criticism. Nevertheless, three years later in Weimar, the Hungarian-born composer and pianist Franz Liszt (1811-1886) produced Tannhäuser and became an enthusiastic proponent of Wagnerian musical dramas. Liszt and Wagner’s meeting in 1848 led to a lifelong friendship, with Liszt conducting the premiere of Lohengrin in Weimar in 1850. In 1870, Wagner married Liszt’s daughter, Cosima.

Wagner’s participation in the Dresden Uprising of May 1849 led to a warrant for his arrest and precipitated his exile to Zurich, where he received financial support to work on Der Ring des Nibelungen. During the same period, Wagner wrote several essays outlining his musical philosophy, among which was the 1851 A Communication to My Friends, which explained how his artistic ideas had evolved since his early works and the new techniques he planned to employ in future operas, culminating in the completion of his Ring cycle. Our quotation is taken from that work and highlights Wagner’s faith in Liszt’s interpretation.

Some light staining and traces of previous mounting on the verso; otherwise fine and a remarkable association item.

Wagner, Liszt and Tannhäuser

Signed by Richard Wagner

$7500 • item #21660

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