Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 4.djvu/369

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WAGNER.

of the Hollander to the managers at Munich and Leipzig; they refused it as unfit for Ger- many. I had fondly hoped it would touch chords that respond quickest with Germans ! ' At Berlin a word from Meyerbeer sufficed to get it ' accepted,' but without prospect of imme- diate performance.

After the composition of the ' Hollander ' he cast about for other subjects. During a course of historical reading he met with the story of the conquest of Apulia and Sicily by Manfred, son of the Emperor Friedrich II. The picturesque semi-oriental circumstances of the story attracted him, and he sketched a libretto, 'Die Sarazener,' in which a prophetess, Manfred's half-sister by an Arabian mother, kindles the enthusiasm of the Saracens and leads to victory and to Man- fred's coronation. Mme. Devrient, to whom some years later he submitted the fully deve- loped plan, objected to the denouement, and it was dropped altogether.

By a lucky chance, the popular version (Volks- buch) of the story of Tannhauser now came into his hands and took possession of his fancy. It has already been said that he was familiar with the subject; in early youth he had read Tieck's rhymed 'Erzahlung' of Tannhauser, and Hoffmann's novel 'Der Sangerkrieg'; he was also aware that Weber had planned an opera on the legend of Tannhauser. ' When I re-read Tieck's altogether modern poem, I saw clearly why its mystical coquetry and frivolous Catho- licism had formerly repelled me. The Volks- buch and the plain Tannhauser-Lied l present the figure of Tannhauser in far clearer and simpler outlines.' He was especially struck by the connection of Tannhauser with the contest of Minnesanger at Wartburg, which the Volks- buch establishes in a loose sort of way. There- upon, he endeavoured to trace the story of the ' Sangerkrieg ' to its source. A German philo- logist of his acquaintance happened to possess a copy of the mediaeval German poem. It in- terested him greatly, and he was tempted to pursue the subject further. One of the MS. copies of the 'Wartburgkrieg' 2 introduces the poem of ' Loherangrin.' 3 Wagner was led to the study of Wolfram von Eschenbach's * Parzi- val' and 'Titurel'; 'and thus an entirely new world of poetical matter suddenly opened before me/

DRESDEN (1842-49, set. 29-36). Before the ensemble rehearsals for ' Kienzi ' began in July, Wagner made an excursion to the Bohemian hills, and at Teplitz completed the sketches for the book of 'Tannhauser.* Kienzi' had found friends in the person of Herr Fischer the chorusmaster, and of Josef Tichatschek the tenor, who felt sure that his 'trumpet tones' would tell in the title-r6le. Mme. Schroeder- Devrient, in spite of her contours tant soit pen

1 For the original ' TannhSuserlled ' see Uhland's ' Alte hoch- und nleder-deutsche Volkslieder,' Bk. v, p. 287.

2 See Simrock's edition of ' Der Wartburgkrieg ' (1*58) and his version Into modern German of Wolfram von Eschenbach's ' Farziral Und Titurel ' (xvl. Loherangrin, 3rd edit. 1857).

> Printed by GOrres in 1813, and in 1858 again edited by Rttckert. VOL. IV, PT. 3.

��WAGNER.

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��matemeh,* would make the most of Adriano. There was ample opportunity for novel scenic effects, dumb show, and the display of choral masses. The chorus-master and the stage-mana- ger were ready to make special efforts; Reissiger, the conductor, was well disposed, and had a good orchestra ; in short, the night of Oct. 20, 1842, proved a memorable one. The perform- ance began at 6, and came to an end just before midnight, amid immense applause. ' We ought all to have gone to bed,' relates a witness, ' but we did nothing of the kind.' Early next morn- ing Wagner appeared in the band-room to make excisions. In the afternoon he re-appeared to see whether they had been properly indicated in the parts ; the copyist excused himself on the plea that the singers objected ! ' Ich lasse mir nichts streichen,' said Tichatsehek, ' es war zu himmlisch ! ' During the next ten days two repetitions were given to crowded houses at in- creased prices. When Reissiger, after the third performance, offered Wagner the baton, the enthusiasm redoubled. Wagner was the hero of the day. By and by Rienzi came to occupy two evenings : acts i and 2 and 3, 4, 5. The attraction at Dresden has continued more or less ever since. But it was five years before the work was performed at Berlin, Oct. 26, 1847; it was produced at Hamburg, 1 844 ; at Kb'nigs- berg, 1845; at Munich and Cassel, 1870; at Vienna, i87r.

Nov. 26, 1842, a soiree 5 was given at the Gewandhaus, Leipzig, by Sophie Schroeder, the tragedian (Mme. Devrient's mother), at which Tichatschek sang Rienzi's prayer and Mme. Devrient the air of Adriano. Wagner's lite- rary friend Laube ('Der sich gar nichts daraus machte wie etwas klang ') mistook a duet from Marschner's 'Templer und Jiidin' for another extract from 'Rienzi,' and reported that the three pieces 'were rather dry and poor in thought.' Laube was about to assume the editorship of the 'Zeitung fur die elegante Welt,' and asked Wagner for materials towards a biographical article. This was the origin of the ' Autobio- graphische Skizze,' repeatedly quoted above, and reprinted in vol. i. of Wagner's collected writ- ings. It was printed verbatim in the 5th and 6th numbers of that journal, Feb. i and 8, 1843, and was accompanied by a portrait ' after Kie'tz.'

The managers of the Dresden theatre were now eager to bring out 'Der fliegende Hollander.' The opera was hastily prepared, and Wagner conducted the first performance on Jan. 2, 1843 ^Senta, Madame Schroeder-Devrient). 'I had aimed at presenting the action in its simplest iraits, and at avoiding needless details and every- thing that might flavour of intrigue; the inci- dents of the story were to tell their own tale.' The public had expected a second 'Rienzi,' and were disappointed. It was by no means a failure, nor was it a succbs d'estime : some

< Berlioz, M<5molres, 274.

Mendelssohn (who conducted his overture to 'Buy Bias') wrote about it to his mother, Nov. 28.

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