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Correspondence of Wagner and Liszt, Volume 1 by Francis Hueffer (translator)

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the world for a man like me! If nothing else will answer, you
might perhaps give a concert "for an artist in distress."
Consider everything, dear Liszt, and before all manage to send me
soon some--some money. I want firewood, and a warm overcoat,
because my wife has not brought my old one on account of its
shabbiness. Consider!

From Belloni I soon expect an invitation to Paris, so as to get
my "Tannhauser" overture performed at the Conservatoire, to begin
with. Well, dear friend, give one of your much-occupied days to
the serious and sympathetic consideration of what you might do
for me. Your loving nature, free from all prejudice and only
occupied with the artist in me, will suggest to you a great work
of love which will be my salvation. Believe me, I speak sincerely
and openly; believe me that in you lies my only hope.

Farewell. Receive, together with mine, the most ardent wishes of
my good wife. Remember me, as one cordially devoted to her, to
Princess Wittgenstein, and thank her in my name if she should
think of me now and then.

Farewell, you good man, and let me soon hear from you.

Wholly yours,


ZURICH, October 14th, 1849 (Am Zeltwege, in den hinteren
Escherhausern, 182.)



For more than a month I have been detained here by the serious
illness of the young Princess M. W. My return to Weymar is in
consequence forcibly postponed for at least another month, and
before returning there it is impossible for me to think of
serving you with any efficiency. You propose to me to find you a
purchaser for "Lohengrin" and "Siegfried." This will certainly
not be an easy matter, for these operas, being essentially--I
might say exclusively--German, can at most be represented in five
or six German towns. You know, moreover, that since the Dresden
affair OFFICIAL Germany is not favourable to your name. Dresden,
Berlin, and Vienna are well-nigh impossible fields for your works
for some time to come. If, as is not unlikely, I go to Berlin for
a few days this winter, I shall try to interest the King in your
genius and your future; perhaps I shall succeed in gaining his
sympathy for you and in managing through that means your return
by way of Berlin, which would certainly be your best chance. But
I need not tell you how delicate such a step is, and how
difficult to lead to a good end. As to the "confederation of
princes" which you mention again in your letter, I must
unfortunately repeat to you that I believe in its realization
about as much as in mythology.

Nevertheless I shall not omit to sound the disposition of H.H.
the Duke of Coburg during the visit I shall probably have the
honour of paying him at the beginning of January. By his superior
intelligence and personal love of music, access to him will be
made easier. But as to the other thirty-eight sovereigns of
Germany (excepting Weymar, Gotha, and Berlin), I confess that I
do not know how I shall manage to instill into them so subtle an
idea as would be the positive encouragement and the active
protection of an artist of your stamp.

As to the dedication of "Tannhauser," the Hereditary Grand Duke,
while graciously receiving your intention, has sent me word that
it would be more convenient to defer the publication for a few
months, so that I have not been in a hurry to make the necessary
arrangements for the engraving of the dedication plate.

Try, my dear friend, to get on as best you can till Christmas. My
purse is completely dry at this moment; and you are aware, no
doubt, that the fortune of the Princess has been for a year
without an administrator, and may be completely confiscated any
day. Towards the end of the year I reckon upon money coming in,
and shall then certainly not fail to let you have some, as far as
my very limited means will go; you know what heavy charges are
weighing upon me. Before thinking of myself I must provide for
the comfortable existence of my mother and my dear children in
Paris, and I can also not avoid paying Belloni a modest salary
for the services he renders me, although he has always shown
himself most nobly disinterested on my behalf. My concert career,
as you know, has been closed for more than two years past, and I
cannot resume it imprudently without serious damage to my present
position and still more to my future.

However, on my way through Hamburg I have yielded to numerous
solicitations to conduct in April a grand "Musical Festival," the
greater part of the receipts of which will be devoted to the
"Pension Fund of Musicians," which I founded about seven years

Your "Tannhauser" overture will of course figure in the
programme, and perhaps also, if we have sufficient time and
means, the finale of the first or second act,--unless you have
some other pieces to propose. Kindly write on this subject to
your niece, who is engaged for the whole winter at Hamburg, and
ask her to come to our assistance on this occasion. For it is my
firm intention (not AVOWED or DIVULGED, you understand, for there
would be much inconvenience and no advantage in confiding it to
friends or the public) to set aside part of the receipts for you.
Could not you, on your part, arrange some concerts at Zurich, the
proceeds of which would enable you to get through the winter
tolerably? Why should you not undertake this? Your personal
dignity, it seems to me, would not in the least suffer by it.

Yet another thing, another string to your bow. Should you think
it inconvenient to publish a book of vocal compositions,--lieder
or ballads, melodies or lyrical effusions, anything? For a work
of this class signed with your name I can easily find a publisher
and insist upon a decent honorarium, and there is surely nothing
derogatory in continuing in a path which Mozart, Beethoven,
Schubert, and Rossini have not disdained. I quite understand what
you say of my compositions in the "Goethe Album," and only regret
you did not hear my "Tasso" overture, which, I flatter myself,
would not have displeased you. In consequence of the good opinion
which you kindly express of my talent as a composer, I am going
to ask you a favour if the idea meets with your approval. While
recently glancing through the volume of Lord Byron which has
scarcely ever quitted me on my travels, I came again upon the
mystery "Heaven and Earth," and on reading it once more felt
persuaded that one might turn it to good account by preserving
the difference of character between the two women Anah and
Aholibamah and by keeping of course the Deluge as a purely
instrumental piece for the denouement. If in your free moments
you could think of cutting out of this an oratorio of moderate
length, as in Byron, I should be truly obliged to you.

Read over the Mystery, and tell me whether you like my plan. In
the course of the summer my "Sardanapalus" (in Italian) will be
completely finished, and I shall be delighted to undertake
another work at once.

If you reply before the end of November, address Buckeburg, for I
shall not return to Weymar, for the rest of the winter, till the
beginning of December.

Remember me very kindly to Madame Wagner, and in all
circumstances rely upon my devoted friendship and admiration.


BOCKEBURG, October 28th, 1849



God knows, the more I look into my future, the more I feel what I
possess in you. Such as I am and such as you are, I come to
understand better and better what a rare degree of friendship and
kindness you must have towards me to show me the most active
sympathy of all my friends, in spite of many sides of my nature
which cannot possibly be agreeable to you. You resemble in this
the true poet who, with perfect impartiality, takes every
phenomenon of life as it is according to its essence. As regards
your anxiety about me, I can assure you that if you had sent me
some assistance in answer to my last request, I should not have
been more touched than I was in feeling with you your sorrow at
having to confess that for the time being you could not send me
anything. I helped myself as well as I could by applying to my
friends here. If I had not a wife, and a wife who has already
gone with me through such hard times, I should be much less
anxious about the future; but for her sake I frequently sink into
deep dejection. But that dejection does not help me on; and,
thanks to my healthy nature, I always nerve myself to renewed
courage. Having lately expressed my whole view of art in a work
entitled "The Art-work of the Future," I am now free from all
theoretic hankerings, and have got so far as to care about
nothing but doing art-work. I should have liked best to complete
my "Siegfried," but this wish I could realize only in
exceptionally favourable circumstances, namely if I could look
forward to a year free from material care. This is not the case,
and the care for my future makes it my duty altogether to think
more seriously of my appointed tasks than has hitherto been
possible amidst the most conflicting impressions. Listen, dear
friend: the reason why for a long time I could not warm to the
idea of writing an opera for Paris was a certain artistic dislike
of the French language which is peculiar to me. You will not
understand this, being at home in all Europe, while I came into
the world in a specifically Teutonic manner. But this dislike I
have conquered in favour of an important artistic undertaking.
The next question was the poem and a subject, and here I must
confess that it would be absolutely impossible for me simply to
write music to another man's poems, not because I consider this
beneath me, but because I know, and know by experience, that my
music would be bad and meaningless. What operatic subjects I had
in my head would not have done for Paris, and this was the cause
of my hesitation in the whole affair which you had initiated so
well. Since then I have clearly discovered what task I have in
reality to perform in Paris, so as to remain true to myself and
yet keep Paris always in my mind's eye. As to this, dear friend,
we shall perhaps understand each other perfectly, and you will
agree with me when I determine not to become a Frenchman (in
which I should never succeed, and which the French do not want
from a German), but to remain as I am and in my own character to
speak to the French comprehensibly. Well, in this sense the
subject for a poem has quite recently occurred to me, which I
shall immediately work out and communicate to Gustave Vaez; it is
highly original and suitable to all conditions. More I will tell
you as soon as I have finished the scenario. Belloni has asked me
for the scores of my overtures to "Tannhauser" and "Rienzi," the
first for a concert at the Conservatoire; I believe it is to be
performed next January, and at that time I shall go to Paris
myself to conduct the overture, to settle everything with Gustave
Vaez, and to co-operate with him in obtaining a commission for an
opera. One thing more: I cannot allow my "Lohengrin" to lie by
and decay. Latterly I have accustomed myself to the notion of
giving it to the world at first in a foreign language, and I now
take up your own former idea of having it translated into
English, so as to make its production in London possible. I am
not afraid that this opera would not be understood by the
English, and for a slight alteration I should be quite prepared.
As yet, however, I do not know a single person in London. With
the publisher Beal I made acquaintance par distance when he
printed the overture to "Rienzi," but apart from this I have no
connection with London. Could you manage, dear friend, to write
to London and to introduce my undertaking, and could you also let
me know to whom to apply further? From Paris I should then go to
London, in order to settle the matter if possible.

You perceive that I am only intent on carrying out the scheme
originally suggested by you. Do not be angry with me for taking
it in hand so late. At first it was your plan exclusively, and I
had to make it mine; my awkwardness in this you must kindly
attribute to my extraordinary position and mental trouble.

But now it is important, dear Liszt, to provide me with means for
this definite object. That you alone cannot support me I realized
long ago; and knowing as I do your position, it is altogether
with a heavy heart that I ask you for further sacrifices. I have
therefore applied to a friend at Dresden (himself poor), and have
asked him to see if he could get me some money from my other
friends, so as to help me, in conjunction with you, over my
immediate and greatest difficulties. His news so far does not
lead me to expect any great success from his efforts, and in any
case it will not amount to much. You were kind enough to promise
me some assistance from your own means towards the end of the
year. Do not be angry if I assure you that I shall be compelled
to count upon your kind fulfillment of this promise.

I trust in no one else, and do not indulge in any further
illusions. Of a concert in Zurich I have thought myself. The
local concert society have asked me to study with their
orchestra, which is feeble, a symphony by Beethoven and one of my
compositions, in return for which they would arrange a benefit
concert lor me. The necessary increase of the strings, which I
had to demand as a point of honour, has delayed the matter up
till now, and it will be probably the beginning of January before
the subscription concert takes place which is to be, so to speak,
the captatio benevolentioe for my benefit concert. It is
therefore not unlikely that I shall not be able to wait for the
favourable moment, as I expect to be summoned to Paris by Belloni
towards the beginning of next year. Any assistance from that
quarter is therefore very problematic. Your thought of me in
wishing to set aside part of the receipts of an intended concert
at Hamburg has touched me deeply. You are a good man; and every
day, alas! I feel more sure that I have no friend like you. In
any case my niece shall interest herself in the concert; that
small errand I willingly undertake.

All I want is to provide my poor wife during my absence with the
money necessary for her subsistence, which will not amount to
much, also to enable me to pay for my journeys and my stay in
Paris and London. Belloni must get me a small, cheap room, and I
promise to be as careful as possible in every way. I trust you
and the above-mentioned friends will be able to provide me with
the necessary means. Let us hope that success will reward your
beautiful and rare sympathy.

Farewell, dear and valued friend! Remember me and my wife
cordially to Princess Wittgenstein, and be assured at all times
of my enthusiastic recognition of your rare and beautiful nature.

Always your deeply obliged friend,


ZURICH, December 5th, 1849 The subject from Byron I shall
certainly consider. As yet I do not know it, nor have had time to
make myself acquainted with it, for which you must pardon me. I
should be too glad to be of any service to you, and am thankful
to you for showing me the way to do it. Let me only finish my
opera sketch for Paris first.

My address is "Am Zeltweg, in den hinteren Escherhausern," No.



I have just returned to Weymar, and hasten to send you a bill on
Rothschild for five hundred francs. According to what you tell
me, I hope it will be of service to you in Paris, where, I am
convinced, you will find the best field for your activity and
your genius.

I quite agree with your decision "to remain thoroughly faithful
to yourself and yet always to have Paris before your eyes in the
conception and execution of your designs." I anticipate soon the
most excellent and satisfactory results. You are quite right in
not wishing to become a Frenchman; apart from the fact that you
would scarcely succeed, your task is a different and even a
contrary one, viz., to Germanize the French in your sense of the
word, or rather to inspire them and fill them with enthusiasm for
more general, more comprehensive, more elevated, dramatic art-

I should be delighted to learn what operatic subject you have
selected, and my earnest desire is that you will use all your
time in hastening the representation. In actual circumstances it
is almost impossible for you to think of a speedy return to
Germany where, moreover, you would find nothing but disagreeable
things, envy, and enmity. Paris and perhaps London are absolutely
necessary for your present and future career. Whatever the
annoyances and sufferings may be which you will have to go
through during the period of transition in which you are
unhappily placed, take courage and have full confidence in the
star of your genius. The day after your first performance in
Paris you will be "as one new-born and content like a Greek god."

Regarding London, it will be somewhat difficult to place your
"Lohengrin" there. It depends very much upon the chance of a good
opportunity, which I hope will turn up. I shortly expect M. Ernst
on his return from London, and he will give me some details as to
the actual situation and the personnel of the London theatres.
Italian opera not being suitable to you in any form, you will
have to attach yourself to one of the ephemeral enterprises of
the English stage, ensuring, of course, every possible precaution
and guarantee. I shall one of these days write direct to Mr.
Chorley, an excellent friend of mine, who will give me the
necessary information and help you during your stay in London.
Before the spring I shall perhaps be able to give you some
favourable news. You on your part must strike every iron while it
is hot, and before all "stick to our Paris plans." For the fete
of the Grand Duchess I shall conduct "Iphigenia in Aulis," which
Herr von Zigesar has got for me from Dresden, and this in spite
of the opposition, from want of intelligence or evil intention,
which I shall have to encounter. Herr von Luttichau has declined
all responsibility for the loan of your score, and I have boldly
undertaken to be answerable to you for it.

At the end of the week we shall repeat "Tannhauser," which, by
some miracle of taste, the Weymar public and many people from the
surrounding towns have demanded ever since the beginning of the
theatrical season, and which has been postponed only on account
of my absence.

Let me hear from you soon, dear friend, and continue to dispose
of me as of your sincerely devoted friend,


WEYMAR, January 14th, 1850

P.S.--Kindly give my best remembrances and compliments to Madame



You will know by this time how I have fared in Paris. The
performance of my overture came to nothing, and all your trouble
about it has been in vain. Poor man!

In my life some decisive events have happened; the last shackles
have fallen that tied me to a world in which I must have perished
soon, not only mentally, but physically. Through the eternal
compulsion imposed upon me by my immediate surroundings, I have
lost my health, and my nerves are shattered. In the immediate
future I must live only for my recovery; my existence is provided
for; you shall hear from me from time to time.

Dear friend, I have just been looking through the score of my
"Lohengrin." I very seldom read my own works. An immense desire
has sprung up in me to have this work performed. I address this
wish to your heart:--

Perform my "Lohengrin"! You are the only one to whom I could
address this prayer; to none but you I should entrust the
creation of this opera; to you I give it with perfect and joyous
confidence. Perform it where you like, even if only in Weimar; I
feel certain you will procure every possible and necessary means,
and they will refuse you nothing. Perform "Lohengrin," and let
its existence be your work. There is a correct score of the opera
at Dresden. Herr von Luttichau has bought it of me for the price
of the copying (thirty-six thalers). As he is not going to
perform it--against which I should protest, considering the
musical, direction in that city--it is possible that he will let
you have the copy on repayment of the thirty--six thalers, or
else he will in any case have it copied out for you. This letter
may be your authority for receiving it,

If you comply with my wish, I shall send you soon a complete
libretto, with exact indications of my view as to the mise-en-
scene, etc.

Do what you can and what you like. You shall soon hear from me

Belloni tells me that you have promised him to get me an
additional five hundred francs for the score of "Iphigenia." If
you succeed in this, remit the money for me to Belloni; I shall
in my thoughts dispose of it.

Farewell, dear friend and brother. Remember me to my few friends.
If the Grand Duchess and the Hereditary Grand Duke will accept a
greeting, greet them most cordially from me.

Farewell, and think well of

Your faithful and grateful


PARIS, April 21st, 1850



I herewith send you the promised directions for the performance
of "Lohengrin." Pardon me if they come too late. I heard only
recently with what amiable and speedy readiness you have complied
with my wish for the performance of this opera. When we meet
again, I shall have many things to tell you. Of my immediate past
I only say that my intended journey to Greece has come to
nothing; there were too many impediments, which I found it
impossible to overcome. Better than anything else I should have
liked to get out of the world altogether. Of this more later on.

As I understand that you are going to perform "Lohengrin" as
early as August 28th, I must not delay my instructions any
longer, leaving other matters for a later communication.

First of all, I have in the enclosed treated of scenery and
decorations. My drawings made for that purpose will give you
great delight; I count them amongst the most successful creations
of my genius. Where my technique forsook me, you must be
satisfied with the good intention, which will be clear to you
from the literary explanation attached to it. The trees
especially presented me with insuperable difficulties, and if
every painter has to perspire over perspective as I have done,
his art is by no means an easy calling. As to the rest, I have in
my notes always referred to the full score, in which I have
indicated--much more fully and clearly than in the libretto--the
scenic action in conjunction with the music. The stage-manager
will have to go exactly by the score, or at least an arrangement
of it.

As to the orchestra, I have also put down some remarks for you.

But now I have first of all a great wish to address to you:

Give the opera as it is; cut nothing!

One single cut I will indicate to you myself, and I even insist
upon the omission of the passage, viz., the second part of
Lohengrin's tale in the final scene of the third act. After the
words of Lohengrin--"Sein Ritter ich bin Lohengrin ge"--[nannt
fifty-six bars must be omitted] "Wo ihr mit Gott mich landen"
["saht" therefore,--"nannt" instead of "saht"].

I have frequently sung it to myself, and have come to the
conclusion that this second part of the tale must produce a
depressing effect. The passage is therefore to be omitted in the
libretto as well.

As to the rest, I must request you urgently, Let me for once do
as I like. I have been intent upon establishing so unfailing, so
plastic, a connection between the music and the poem and action,
that I feel quite certain as to the result. Rely upon me, and do
not attribute it to my being in love with my own work. If you
should feel compelled to make cuts on account of excessive
difficulty, I should ask you to consider whether it would not be
better to leave the performance alone on account of insufficiency
of means. I assume, however, that all possible means will be
readily placed at your disposal, and also that you will succeed
in conquering every difficulty if you are fully determined to do
so. If you make up your mind that it must be, then I am sure that
it will be, or else that you would rather give up the whole
thing. As to this, I think, we agree.

Concerning the chief thing, the cast of vocalists, I rely upon
you with perfect confidence. You will not undertake impossible
things. Our friend Gotze, to whom I am in any case much indebted
for his Tannhauser, will find more difficulties in Lohengrin,
because he lacks in external appearance and voice that
resplendent quality which, where nature has vouchsafed it, must
make the part easy. Let him supply that resplendence as far as
possible by means of art. To look at him ought to make one's eyes
smart. A newly revised libretto intended for the printer I send
at the same time with this. It will arrive by the ordinary mail.
As to this libretto, I have the following wish to express: Sell
it, or if you can get nothing for it, give it to a publisher who
will undertake to bring it out beautifully, at least as well as
the libretto of "Tannhauser"; the Weimar theatre then gets as
many copies from the publisher as it wants for sale in the house,
allowing a certain commission. This is exactly what we did with
"Tannhauser." As I should like you to dispose of the pianoforte
score, made by Uhlig in Dresden, to a music-publisher, the best
way would be to offer the libretto to the same man whom you have
in your eye for the pianoforte arrangement. That libretto, if
sold at a moderate price, is, however, by no means a bad
business. Of "Tannhauser" we sold over two thousand copies. One
thing more: tell me, dear Liszt, how could we make it possible
that I could attend the first performance in Weimar incognito?
This is a desperate question, especially as at this moment it is
no longer, as it recently was, a matter of indifference to me
whether I am to dwell in a royal Saxon prison or not. Listen: I
hold the Grand Duchess in high regard; would not this lady, to
whom I attribute real nobility, at your suggestion be inclined
for the stroke of genius of duping the police of united Germany,
and of getting me a safe conduct under an assumed name from
Switzerland to Weimar and back again to Zurich? I promise
faithfully to preserve my incognito in the most stoical manner,
to lie perdu in Weimar for a little time, and to go straight
back, guaranteeing all the time the strictest secrecy from abroad
also. Or would this be more easily achievable through the Duke of
Coburg? Of him I hear many things that delight me. Anyhow look
into this; you would give a poor devil like me real joy, and
perhaps a new stimulus and much-needed encouragement.

If it is possible, or even if it is impossible, I ask further,
Would you like to pay me a short visit in Zurich soon? You are
devilish quick at such things. If I could see you again now, I
should go half mad through joy, therefore wholly mad, as people
have surely taken me for half mad a long time since. I would sing
"Lohengrin" to you from A to Z; that would be a real pleasure!
Enough for today. I shall soon write again. Whether I have got
any money from Weimar for "Iphigenia" I cannot tell yet; there
has latterly been much confusion around me. I am about to crush
some most absurd rumours which have been spread abroad concerning
me by returning to Zurich. Address to me there "Enge, Sterngasse,
Hirzel's Haus, Zurich."

Farewell, old, dear, only friend! I know you love me. Believe
that I respond from my fullest heart.

Ever thine,


THUN, July 2nd, 1850



Would you be kind enough to answer the following simple question
briefly by "Yes" or "No"? Did the management of the Weimar
theatre intend to pay me five hundred francs for my version of
"Iphigenia," as Belloni told me after his return to Weimar?
Further, have these five hundred francs been sent anywhere for
me, and to whom and where should I in that case have to apply? or
if they have not been sent, may I still count on them? Lastly, if
the latter should be the case, will you ask Herr von Zigesar to
send three hundred francs of the sum to Belloni in Paris, in
settlement of a tailor's bill falling due July 15th, and remit
the balance of two hundred francs to me at Zurich as soon as

My question has become more complicated than I thought, as
complicated, indeed, as is the demand on Herr von Zigesar to pay
me five hundred francs for a mere arrangement. That you have
managed to insist upon this demand I must in any case look upon
as one of your miracles.

Dearest friend, you have, I hope, received my long letter from
Thun. Shall I soon hear from you, or could you really manage to
pay me a flying visit?

Best greetings from your most faithful


ZURICH, July l0th, 1850

(Bei Frau Hirzel, Sterngasse, Enge.)



Believe me, you have not for a moment ceased to be very near to
my heart. The serious, enthusiastic admiration I have for your
genius would not be satisfied with sleepy habits and barren
sentiments. All that I can possibly do, either in the interest of
your reputation and glory or in that of your person, you may feel
perfectly certain will in no circumstances remain undone. Only a
friend like you is not always quite easy and convenient to serve,
for those who understand you must wish, before all, to serve you
in an intelligent and dignified manner. I hope that so far I have
not been wanting in these two essential conditions, and I do not
mean to depart from them for the future. You may therefore have
full confidence in me, and listen to me, and believe me as one
who is frankly and without restriction devoted to you. But let us
speak definitely of your affairs, which, for some time at least,
I have made seriously my own.

1. I found it impossible to get the five hundred francs for
"Iphigenia" from the management. Nevertheless, you shall not be
disappointed, for at the same time with this letter I forward to
Belloni in Paris three hundred francs from my private purse,
which he will hold at your disposal, and pay at your order either
to your tailor or to any other person you may indicate. Apart
from this, I have good hope that Herr von Zigesar, from whom I
enclose a few lines, will be able to send you in a few days one
hundred thalers, independently of the honorarium for "Lohengrin,"
which will be about thirty louis d'or.

2. Your "Lohengrin" will be given under exceptional conditions,
which are most favourable to its success. The management for this
occasion spends about 2,000 thalers, a thing that has not been
done in Weymar within the memory of man. The press will not be
forgotten, and suitable and seriously conceived articles will
appear successively in several papers. All the personnel will be
put on its mettle. The number of violins will be slightly
increased (from sixteen to eighteen), and a bass clarinet has
been purchased. Nothing essential will be wanting in the musical
material or design. I undertake all the rehearsals with
pianoforte, chorus, strings, and orchestra. Genast will follow
your indications for the mise-en-scene with zeal and energy. It
is understood that we shall not cut a note, not an iota, of your
work, and that we shall give it in its absolute beauty, as far as
is in our power. The special date of August 28th, on which
"Lohengrin" will be performed, cannot be but favourable to it. To
speak truth, I should not be allowed to put so extraordinary a.
work on the stage in the ordinary course of the theatrical
season. Herr von Zigesar has fully realized that "Lohengrin" must
be an event. For that reason they have curtailed the theatrical
holidays by one-half, and have asked my friend Dingelstedt to
write a prologue ad hoc, which he will bring us himself towards
the middle of August, the first performance being fixed for
August 28th, the anniversary of Goethe's birth, and three days
after the inauguration of the Herder monument, which will take
place on the 25th. In connection with that Herder monument we
shall have a great concourse of people here; and besides that,
for the 28th the delegates of the Goethe foundation are convoked
to settle the definite programme of that foundation at Weymar.

After two consecutive performances of "Lohengrin" the theatre
will close again for another month, and "Lohengrin" will not be
resumed till some time in the course of the winter.

3. With regard to the sale of the score, the matter is not quite
so simple, and I need not enumerate and explain to you the
commercial difficulties. Nevertheless, if you charge me with this
matter, I shall be to bring it to a good end; but a little time
will be necessary. If, as I have no doubt, the success of
"Lohengrin" is once firmly established at Weymar, you will
perhaps find means to influence the B.'s so that they may have it
done at Leipsic. In that case Tichatschek would be required for
the principal part, and your most devoted capellmeister would, if
you should think it necessary, take care of the rest on certain

If the work succeeds at Leipzig, a publisher will easily be
found; but I must not conceal from you that the success of
"Lohengrin" seems to me somewhat doubtful, unless the necessary
preliminary precautions with regard to study, rehearsals, and the
press are taken. In leaving it to its fate--although, no doubt,
it deserves a propitious fate--I have serious apprehensions from
the ill-will which attaches to you personally and from the envy
and stupidity which still combat your genius. Consider therefore
carefully what plan you had better adopt in this matter. In the
meantime I thank you cordially for the indications and hints
which you give me about the score. I shall obey them with respect
and friendship. Kindly write two words to Herr Uhlig in Dresden
so as to prevent him from making difficulties about sending me
the pianoforte score, which will be very useful to me.

I come to a point which pains me much, but which it is my duty
not to conceal from you. Your return to Germany and visit to
Weymar for the performance of "Lohengrin" is an absolute
impossibility. When we meet again, I can give you verbally the
details, which it would be too long and useless to write. Once
more, it is necessary that you should be served with intelligence
and dignity, and you would not be served in that manner by
hazarding steps which must infallibly lead to an unfavourable
result. What I think of most, and what, with God's help, may
bring about "a turn in your situation," is the success of
"Lohengrin"; and if that is once well established, I shall
propose to their Highnesses to authorize me to write to you or to
let Herr von Zigesar write to you commissioning you to finish
your "Siegfried" as soon as possible, and sending you for that
purpose a suitable honorarium in advance, so that you may be able
to work for some six months at the completion of that opera free
from material care.

Speak to no one of this plan, which I hope to carry out in due

Till then keep your head and your health in good condition, and
count entirely upon your sincerely devoted and affectionate


Herr von Zigesar will write to you direct about the sale of the
libretto of "Lohengrin." The best thing would be if Brockhaus
would undertake the edition, and Z. has written to him on the
subject. You, on your part, might write to him to the same
effect, which would be a good beginning of the plan which I shall
submit to your ultimate decision. Yet another and quite different
question: Should you be inclined to undertake in connection with
"Alceste," "Orphee," "Armide," and "Iphigenia en Tauride," by
Gluck, a similar task to that which you have already performed
for "Iphigenie en Aulide," and what sum would you expect by way
of honorarium? Write to me on this subject when you have time;
there is no hurry about it, but perhaps I might be able to
suggest the idea of such a commission to the proper person.



I must say, You are a friend. Let me say no more to you, for
although I always recognized in friendship between men the
noblest and highest human relation, it was you who embodied this
idea in its fullest reality by letting me no longer imagine, but
feel and grasp, what a friend is.

I do not thank you, for you alone have the power to thank
yourself by your joy in being what you are. It is noble to have a
friend, but still nobler to be a friend.

Having found you, I can put up with my banishment from Germany,
and I must look upon it almost as fortunate, for I could not have
possibly been of such use to myself in Germany as you can be. But
then I wanted you of all others. I cannot write your praise, but
when we meet I will tell it you. Kindly and considerately as you
treat me, you may feel sure that I as fully understand and
appreciate the manner of your care of me. I know that you must
act as you act, and not otherwise; and for the manner of your
taking care of me I am especially thankful. One thing gives me
anxiety: you forget yourself over me, and I cannot replace what
you lose of yourself in this. Consider this well.

Your letter has in many respects made a great impression on me. I
have convictions which perhaps you will never share, but which
you will not think it necessary to combat when I tell you that
they in no manner interfere with my artistic activity. I have
felt the pulse of our modern art, and know that it must die, but
this does not make me melancholy, but rather joyful, because I
know that not art, but only our art, standing as it does outside
of real existence, must perish, while the true, imperishable,
ever-new art has still to be born. The monumental character of
our art will disappear; the clinging and sticking to the past,
the selfish care for continuity and possible immortality, we
shall cast off; the Past will be Past, the Future will be Future,
to us, and we shall live and create only in the Today, in the
full Present. Remember that I used to call you happy in your
particular art, because you were an immediate artist, actually
present, and appealing to the senses at every moment. That you
could do so only by means of an instrument was not your fault,
but that of the inevitable conditions of our time, which reduces
the individual man wholly to himself, and in which association,
enabling the single artist to expend his power in the common and
immediately present work of art, is an impossible thing. It was
not my purpose to flatter you. I only expressed half consciously
my knowledge that the representative alone is the true artist.
Our creations as poets and composers are in reality volition, not
power; representation only is power--art. [Footnote: In the
German original there is here a play upon the word "konnen" and
its derivative, "kunst," which cannot be translated.] Believe me,
I should be ten times happier if I were a dramatic representative
instead of a dramatic poet and composer. With this conviction
which I have gained, I am naturally not desirous to create works
for which I should have to resign a life in the present in order
to give them some flattering, fictitious immortality. What cannot
be made true today will remain untrue in the future. The vain
desire of creating beyond the present for the future I abandon,
but if I am to create for the present, that present must appear
to me in a less disgusting form than it actually does. I renounce
fame, and more especially the ridiculous spectre of posthumous
fame, because I love my fellow-men too much to condemn them, for
the sake of my vanity, to the poverty in which alone the
posthumous fame of dead people finds its nourishment.

As things are, I am incited to artistic creativeness, not by
ambition, but by the desire to hold communion with my friends and
the wish to give them joy; where I know this desire and this wish
to be satisfied I am happy and perfectly content. If you in
little Weimar give my "Lohengrin" with zeal and love, joy and
success, and were it only for the two performances of which you
write, I shall be happy in the thought that my purpose has been
perfectly accomplished, that my anxiety about this work is wholly
at an end, and that now I may begin another effort at offering
something new in a similar manner. Judge then, can you blame my
conviction which rids me of all egoism, of all the small passions
of ambition? Surely not. Ah, that I might be able to communicate
to all of you some of the blissful strength of my convictions!

Hear now what effect your letter has had upon me.

Last May I sent the poem of my "Siegfried" to a book-seller to be
published, such as it is. In a short preface I explained that the
completion and the performance of my work were beyond hope, and
that I therefore communicated my intention to my friends. In
fact, I shall not compose my "Siegfried" on the mere chance for
the reasons I have just told you. Now, you offer to me the
artistic association which might bring "Siegfried" to light. I
demand representatives of heroes such as our stage has not yet
seen; where are they to come from? Not from the air, but from the
earth, for I believe you are in a good way to make them grow from
the earth by dint of your inspiring care. Although our theatrical
muddle is hopelessly confused, the best soil for all art is still
to be found in our foolish actors and singers; their nature, if
they have kept their hearts at all, is incorruptible; by means of
enthusiasm you can make anything of them. Well then, as soon as
you have produced Lohengrin to your own satisfaction I shall also
produce my "Siegfried," but only for you and for Weimar. Two days
ago I should not have believed that I should come to this
resolution; I owe it to you.

My dear Liszt, from what I have told you you will see that,
according to my view of the thing, your amiable anxiety for the
further promulgation of my "Lohengrin" has my sympathy almost
alone on account of its material advantages--for I must live--but
not with a view to my fame. I might have the desire to
communicate myself to a larger circle, but is he likely to be
listened to who intrudes? I cannot and will not intrude. You
surely have done enough to attract the attention of people
towards me; shall I too buttonhole them and ask them for a
hearing? Dear friend, these people are flabby and cowardly; they
have no heart. Leave them alone! If I am to succeed, it must be
through people who care about the matter. Where I must offer
myself I lose all my power. How can I care about a "Leipsic
representation"? It would have to be a good representation, and
how is that to be achieved unless some one like you undertook the
thing? Do not forget that Weimar also would not exist for me if
you did not happen to exist in Weimar. Good Lord! All depends
upon one man in our days; the rest must be dragged along anyhow;
nothing will go of itself. Even money considerations could not
determine me to arrange performances which would of necessity be
bad. Lord knows, although I have no money, I do not trouble about
it excessively, for I have a notion that somehow I shall not
starve. Just when I have nothing at all something always turns
up, as, for instance, your last news, and then I feel suddenly
calm and free of care. You see, dear friend, as long as you
remain true to me I do not despair. As to your excellent proposal
with regard to the treatment of Gluck's operas, which has given
me great pleasure, I shall soon write more definitely.

Although I have many more things to tell you, I think it better
to conclude on this page. You say so many things to me that I
become quite confused when I have to think of a detailed answer.
I know that I am safe with you as a child in its mother's bosom.
What more is required beyond gratitude and love? Farewell, and
let me press you to my heart.

Your friend, happy through you,


Herr von Zigesar will have a letter very soon; for the present I
send him my best thanks for his valuable letter and his touching
sympathy with my work. One more thing: a certain conductor, Abt,
from this place will be at Weimar on August 28th to hear
"Lohengrin." Kindly reserve a seat for him.

My best remembrances to Genast and my brave singers. I rejoice
when I think of these good people. A whole family, Ritter by
name, will come from Dresden to Switzerland next year, to settle
near me; they also will be at Weimar. I am writing to Uhlig.



I have been asked to forward to you the enclosed bill for one
hundred thalers. Do not thank me, and do not thank Herr von
Zigesar either, who has signed the bill. You will perhaps
remember that about a year ago I sent you the same amount; this
time it comes again from the same source, which, for official
reasons, desires to remain hidden.

We float in the full ether of your "Lohengrin." I flatter myself
that we shall succeed in giving it according to your intentions.
We rehearse every day for two or three hours, and the solo parts
as well as the strings are in tolerable order. Tomorrow and
afterwards I shall separately rehearse the wind, which will be
complete, in accordance with the demands of your score. We have
ordered a bass clarinet, which will be excellently played by Herr
Wahlbrul. Our violoncellos will be strengthened by the arrival
from Paris of Cossmann, who will join our orchestra on August
15th. This is an excellent acquisition, which will, I hope, be
followed by some others of the same sort, etc., etc. In short,
all that it is humanly possible to do in Weimar in the year of
grace 1850, you may be sure, will be done for your "Lohengrin,"
which, in spite of much stupid talk, some false anxiety, and some
too real impediments, will, you may take my promise, be very
decently performed on the 28th inst., after which I have invited
myself to supper at Zigesar's, who is fire and flame for
Lohengrin. When he sends you your honorarium of from twenty-five
to thirty louis d'or, towards the end of the month, kindly write
to him a fairly long and friendly letter, for he fully shares my
sympathy and admiration for your genius, and is the only person
who can assist me in giving external significance to those
sentiments. At his last stay in Berlin he spoke of Tannhauser to
the King and the Prince of Prussia, so as to let them know in
Berlin how the matter stands. Two or three days later please
write also a few lines to Genast, who has behaved extremely well
in all the transactions preceding "Lohengrin," and who will
zealously execute your indications as to the mise-en-scene.

If you will do me a service, dear friend, send me, if possible by
return of post, some metronomical indications for the
introduction and several other important pieces, the duet between
Lohengrin and Elsa in the third act amongst others. I believe I
am not mistaken as to your wishes and intentions, but should
still prefer to have conviction in figures as to this matter.

There will be no cut, no curtailment, in your score, and I shall
do my best to have no lack of < fp. ffp. >, and especially of . .
.--, which is the most difficult thing for the string

Farewell, dear friend! I think your work is sublime, and am your
sincerely devoted




Many thanks for your letter received yesterday; also convey my
cordial thanks to the donor. Dear friend, we all know who it is.
Why this official secrecy? I must confess that formerly I thought
it more desirable to have an honorarium for my version of
"Iphigenia in Aulis" than a present, but on second consideration
I find that such an honorarium would have been little more than a
present. Who knows better than myself that in our dear world of
the Mine and Thine, of work and payment, I am a pure luxury? He
who gives anything to me receives something quite superfluous and
unnecessary in return. What do you think, who have taken such
infinite pains to dispose of my works? Much as I think of my
"Lohengrin," which you are bringing to light, I think as much and
almost more of you and your terrible exertions. I know what these
exertions are. When I saw you conduct a rehearsal of
"Tannhauser," I knew at once what you were to me. What curious
creatures we are! We can be happy only by the complete
annihilation of our whole being; to be happy means with us to
lose consciousness of ourselves. Stupid as it may sound, I call
to you, Reserve yourself--as much as you can.

The arrival of a letter from you is always a feast to me, and all
my friends are invited to it. If possible, let me have a few
lines now and then as to the success of the rehearsals. I control
myself violently, and let no one see it, but to you I must
confess my sorrow is great not to hear my work under your
direction. But I have to bear so many things, and shall bear this
also. I think of myself as if I were dead. Whenever I have news
of you, I am filled with new desire to commence some large
artistic work; for literary work I have no longer any great
inclination. Upon the whole, I preach to deaf ears; only he whom
artistic experience has taught to find the right thing can
understand what I mean; so it is better that every one should
arrive by the aid of experience and do for himself what he can
do. But I still feel enthusiasm for the work of art itself; the
music of my Siegfried vibrates through all my nerves; it all
depends upon a favourable mood, and that you, dear friend, will
procure for me.

To Zigesar I shall write according to your wish. I have every
reason to feel friendly towards him, and do so in very deed. To
Genast I shall write tomorrow.

Another young friend of mine goes specially from Zurich to Weimar
for the two performances of my opera; I shall give him a few
lines of introduction to you. For the present I only ask you to
get him a good seat for the two performances; please do not
forget it. For a Herr Abt, from here, I asked the same favour
last time.

You forgot in your last letter to reply as to the book of words.
I wrote to you that I should like to see a proof; it would be too
late now, and therefore useless, to repeat that wish; therefore I
ask you to see that the proof is read as carefully as possible.
Perhaps Professor Wolff, whom I greet cordially a thousand times,
would be kind enough to correct a proof. This reminds me that I
have corrected a mistake in the manuscript of the libretto, but
not in the score. In the last words of Lohengrin's leave-taking
of Elsa it should be, instead of--

"mein zurnt der Gral wenn ich noch bleib," "mir zurnt," etc.,

You ask me also for a few metronomical indications of the tempo.
I consider this quite unnecessary, because I rely in all things
on your artistic sympathy so thoroughly as to know that you need
only be in a good humour with my work to find out the right thing
everywhere; for the right thing consists in this only: that the
effect corresponds with the intention. But, as you wish it, I
send you the following, in confirmation, no doubt, of your own

Instrumental Introduction.

[score excerpt]

(The triplets molto moderato.)

Act I., Scene 2, Elsa's Song (page 35).

[score excerpt]

Later on--e.g., in the finale--this theme of course grows

[score excerpt]

(At the arrival of Lohengrin (A major) perhaps a little piu
moderato.) The slow movement in E flat 3-4 (ensemble) in the
finale of the first act you will, I presume, not take too slow,
but with solemn emotion. The last bar of the orchestral ritornel
must be played a good deal ritardando, so as to make the tempo of
this postlude even more majestic where the trumpets enter, by
which means also the violins will be enabled to bring out the
lively staccato figures strongly and clearly.

Act II., Scene I.

[score excerpt]

Scene 3 (page 197).

[score excerpt]

Act III., Scene 2 (page 291).

[score excerpt]

Elsa: Fuhl' ich zu Dir so susz mein Herz entbrennen.

Grand and perfect repose is here the chief thing. In singing the
passage, I found that I paused a little on the second and fourth
part of the bar, but of course in such a manner as to be scarcely
perceptible in a rhythmical sense, only as a matter of

[score excerpt]

Lohengrin: Ath-mest Du nicht mit mir die suss-en. Page 39.

[score excerpt]

Dein Lie-ben muss mir hoch ent - gel - - ten.

(Here the tempo becomes a little slower.)

But enough, perhaps too much already. With all these indications,
I appear mean before you. You will do it all right, perhaps
better than I should. Only see that we soon meet again; I long to
be with you. Or do you find me too effusive? No! Farewell, my
dear, good Liszt. Write to me soon.



ZURICH, August 16th, 1850. (Abendstern-Enge, Zurich.)


At this moment, dearest friend, after having closed the letter
already, I begin to feel a doubt whether you have received my
last letter, which I sent you about eighteen days ago. I am
uncertain because you make no mention of its contents, which

1. A letter from me to Zigesar.

2. One bar of music (full score), which was to be added at the
end of Lohengrin's tale in Act III. (the cut which I want in this
scene--omission of the second part of Lohengrin's tale--you also
do not mention; I assume that you agree).

3. My asking you to send me a proof of the libretto (now too

If you have not received this letter, kindly let me know at once,
because in that case I should like to send you the aforementioned
additional bar, which might still arrive in time for the general

R. W.



The bearer of this greeting is my young friend Karl Ritter, whose
visit I announced to you in my last letter. His family has
migrated from Russia, where they formerly lived, to Dresden; and
their intention is later on to settle in Switzerland near me.
Karl has preceded them in any case, and will stay for the summer
with me. He is thoroughly cultured and full of talent, and his
musical gift especially is considerable. He was unable to resist
the desire to hear my Lohengrin, the score of which he knows
thoroughly, under your direction; and therefore he has journeyed
to Weimar, to return to me after the second representation. I
need scarcely ask you to be kind to him, for I know that it is
your nature to be amiable. Please take him with you to the
general rehearsal and see that he gets a good place at the
performances, which his family from Dresden also will attend. I
thank you in advance for this kindness.

I shall spend the day and evening of the 28th with my wife alone
on the Righi. This little trip to the Alps, which has been made
possible by your kindly care, will, I hope, benefit my bodily and
mental condition, especially in these days, when I am naturally
moved by many feelings. Farewell, dear friend. Write soon, and be
always sure of my most devoted love.



ZURICH, August 22nd, 1850.



Your "Lohengrin" is a sublime work from one end to the other. The
tears rose from my heart in more than one place. The whole opera
being one indivisible wonder, I cannot stop to point out any
particular passage, combination, or effect. A pious ecclesiastic
once underlined word for word the whole "Imitatio Christi;" in
the same way I might underline your "Lohengrin" note for note. In
that case, however, I should like to begin at the end; that is,
at the duet between Elsa and Lohengrin in the third act, which to
my thinking is the acme of the beautiful and true in art.

Our first representation was, comparatively speaking,
satisfactory. Herr von B., who will see you soon, will bring you
very accurate news. The second performance cannot take place
before ten or twelve days. The court and the few intelligent
persons in Weymar are full of sympathy and admiration for your
work; and as to the public at large, they will think themselves
in honour bound to admire and applaud what they cannot
understand. As soon as I have a little rest I shall begin the
article which will probably appear in the "Debats"; in the
meantime Raff, about whom B. will speak to you, will write two
notices in the journal of Brockhaus and in the "Leipzig
Illustrirte Zeitung". Uhlig will look after Brendel's paper, etc.

If you have a moment, do not forget to write to Genast, who has
very warmly interested himself in the success of "Lohengrin". You
may be quite assured of the fate of the masterpiece in Weymar,
which is, no doubt, a little surprised at being able to produce
such things. Before the end of the winter "Lohengrin" will
certainly become a "draw."

When shall we have "Siegfried"? Write to me soon, and always
count on your devoted friend and servant,


WEYMAR, September 2nd.



I can no longer delay writing to you, although I should have
preferred to wait for another letter from you, so as to answer
any possible questions of yours. As far as I can at present form
an opinion of the character of the "Lohengrin" performance at
Weimar from the accounts that have reached me, there is one thing
that stands forth in the surest and most indubitable manner,
viz., your unprecedented efforts and sacrifices in favour of my
work, your touching love for me, and your marvelous faculty of
making the impossible possible. I can see after the event quite
clearly what a gigantic task you have undertaken and performed.
How can I ever reward you? I should scarcely have anything to
communicate to you beyond these exclamations of gratitude if I
had not discovered in Herr von Zigesar's letter (received the day
before yesterday, together with the honorarium) a certain
disappointment--the disappointment involuntarily expressed by one
who does not see his warmest zeal for a beloved cause crowned by
the desired success, and who therefore assumes a certain pensive
and doubtful attitude. Zigesar is doubtful whether the success of
my opera is certain; he professes the warmest desire to work for
that certainty with all his might, but appears to hesitate as to
the best means for the purpose. Knowing that your zeal in the
same cause is more active and energetic than that of any one
else, I must turn to you alone in considering the means which may
bring about our common desire.

So much is certain: that the performance has caused fatigue by
the length of its duration. I confess I was horrorstruck when I
heard that the opera had lasted until close upon eleven at night.
When I had finished the opera, I timed it exactly, and according
to my calculation the first act would last not much over an hour,
the second an hour and a quarter, the third again a little more
than an hour, so that, counting the entr'actes, I calculated the
duration of the opera from six o'clock to a quarter to ten at the
latest. I should have been doubtful whether you had taken the
tempi according to my calculation if musical friends, well
acquainted with the opera, had not assured me particularly that
you had taken the tempi throughout as they knew them from me, and
now and then rather a little quicker than slower. I must
therefore assume that the dragging took place where you, as
conductor, lost your immediate power, viz., in the recitatives. I
have been assured that the recitatives were not attacked by the
singers as I had performed them to my friends at the piano. Allow
me to explain myself a little more particularly, and forgive my
mistake of not having done so before.

Owing to the deplorable fact that at our German theatres scarcely
anything but operas translated from a foreign language is given,
our dramatic singers have been most thoroughly demoralized. The
translations of French and Italian operas are generally made by
blunderers, or at least scarcely ever by people who would be able
to effect between the music and the translation a similar
concordance to that which existed in the original version, as,
for example, I tried to do in the most important parts of Gluck's
"Iphigenia". The result has been in the course of time that the
singers got into the way of neglecting altogether the connection
between word and tone, of pronouncing an unimportant syllable to
an accentuated note of the melody, and of putting the important
word to a weak part of the bar. In this way they gradually became
accustomed to the most absolute nonsense, to such an extent that
it was frequently quite indifferent whether they pronounced at
all or not. It is most amusing to hear German critics boast that
only Germans understand dramatic music, while experience teaches
that every bad Italian singer in the worst Italian opera declaims
more naturally and expressively than the best Germans can do. The
recitative has fared worst; in it singers have become accustomed
to see only a certain conventional sequence of tonal phrases,
which they can pull about and draw out according to their sweet
will. When in opera the recitative commences, it means to them,
"The Lord be praised, here is an end to that cursed tempo, which
off and on compels us to a kind of rational rendering; we can now
float about in all directions, dwell on any note we like until
the prompter has supplied us with the next phrase; the conductor
has now no power over us, and we can take revenge for his
pretensions by commanding him to give us the beat when it suits
us," etc. Although perhaps not all singers are conscious of this
privilege of their genius, they, as a rule, involuntarily adopt
this free-and-easy method, which confirms them in a certain
natural laziness and flabbiness. A composer writing for German
singers has therefore to take every care in opposing an artistic
necessity to this lazy thoughtlessness. Nowhere in the score of
my "Lohengrin" have I written above a vocal phrase the word
"recitative;" the singers ought not to know that there are any
recitatives in it; on the other hand, I have been intent upon
weighing and indicating the verbal emphasis of speech so surely
and so distinctly that the singers need only sing the notes,
exactly according to their value in the given tempo, in order to
get purely by that means the declamatory expression. I therefore
request the singers particularly to sing all declamatory passages
in my operas at first in strict tempo, as they are written. By
pronouncing them throughout vividly and distinctly much is
gained. If, proceeding from this basis with reasonable liberty
and accelerating rather than holding back, they manage to
obliterate the painful effect of the tempo altogether, and
produce an emotional and poetic mode of speech, then all is

Dingelstedt's sympathetic and clever notice of the performance of
my "Lohengrin" has impressed me very much. He owns that
previously he had known nothing by me, and chiefly attributes to
this circumstance a certain puzzled feeling which the first
performance of "Lohengrin" has produced in him. That puzzled
feeling he transfers to the character of the work itself,
speaking of numberless intentions crossing each other, with which
he supplies me, but never guessing, as far as I can see, the only
intention which guided me--I mean the simple and bare intention
of the drama. He speaks of the impression which flutes, violins,
kettledrums, and trumpets made on him, but nowhere of the
dramatic representatives in whose stead, as he puts it, those
instruments spoke. From this I conclude that at the performance
the purely musical execution preponderated, that the orchestra--
as connoisseurs have also told me--was excellent, and that friend
Liszt, together with all that immediately depended on him, was
the real hero of the performance. If we consider honestly and
unselfishly the essence of music, we must own that it is in large
measure a means to an end, that end being in rational opera the
drama, which is most emphatically placed in the hands of the
representatives on the stage. That these representatives
disappeared for Dingelstedt, that in their stead he only heard
the utterance of orchestral instruments, grieves me, for I see
that, as regards fire and expression, the singers remained behind
the support of the orchestra. I own that a singer supported by
the orchestra in such a manner as is here the case must be of the
very highest and best quality, and I fully believe that such
singers could not easily be found in Weimar, and in Germany
generally. But what is really the essential and principal thing
here? Is it voice only? Surely not. It is life and fire, and in
addition to that earnest endeavour and a strong and powerful
will. In Dresden I made the experience with our best singers
that, although they had the most laudable intentions and the
greatest love for their tasks, they were unable to master a
certain flabby laziness, which in our actual artistic muddle
appears to be the characteristic trait of all our operatic
heroes. I there caused all the remarks in the score of
"Tannhauser" to be inserted in the parts of the singers with the
utmost accuracy--I mean the remarks which had reference to the
meaning of the situation and the dramatic action. At the
performance I perceived with dismay that all these had remained
unnoticed, and I had to see--imagine my horror!--for example,
that my Tannhauser in the contest of the singers shouted the hymn
of Venus--

"Wer dich mit Gluth in seine Arme geschlossen, Was Liebe ist,
weiss der, nur der allein!"

at Elizabeth, the chastest of virgins, before a whole assembly of
people. The only possible result could be that the public was, to
say the least, confounded, and did not know what to make of it.
Indeed, I heard at Dresden that the public became acquainted with
the dramatic meaning of the opera only by reading the book in
extenso; in other words, they understood the performance by
disregarding the visible performance and making additions from
their own imagination. Are your singers at Weimar more advanced
than our famous people of Dresden? I think not. Probably they
also will, in the first instance, be satisfied with getting over
the difficulty of hitting the notes and committing their parts to
memory, and on the stage they will at best take notice only of
what the stage-manager tells them in the most general way.
Genast, however, was always one of those artists who do not rely
upon the stage-manager for the comprehension of their parts; he
who has heard him and seen him knows so much. Being now a stage-
manager himself, he probably thinks it unnecessary to play for
the singers the schoolmaster, whom he, as a singer, never wanted.
In this, however, he is mistaken; the present generation has run
wild from its birth. I also can understand too well that, in his
friendly zeal for my work, he remained entirely on the proper
standpoint of the stage-manager, who arranges things in a general
way, and justly leaves it to the individual actors to find out
for themselves what concerns them only. In spite of this, I ask
him now to interfere even there, where the power and the natural
activity of the stage-manager ceases; let him be the trustee of
infant actors. At the rehearsal of my "Tannhauser" in Weimar I
had occasion to point out the neglect of some scenic indications
on the part of individual singers. Elizabeth, for example, during
the postlude of the duet with Tannhauser in the second act, has
to justify the re-entry of the tender theme in the clarinet in
slower tempo by looking--as is indicated in the score--after
Tannhauser in the court of the castle and by beckoning to him. By
neglecting this and merely standing in front, waiting for the
conclusion of the music, she naturally produces an unbearable
feeling of tedium. Every bar of dramatic music is justified only
by the fact that it explains something in the action or in the
character of the actor. That reminiscence of the clarinet theme
is not there for its own sake as a purely musical effect, which
Elizabeth might have to accompany by her action, but the beckoned
greeting of Elizabeth is the chief thing I had in my eye, and
that reminiscence I selected in order to accompany suitably this
action of Elizabeth. The relations of music and action must
therefore be deplorably perverted where, as in this instance, the
principal thing--i.e., the dramatic motive--is left out, while
the lesser thing--i.e., the accompaniment of that motive--alone
remains. Of the performance of "Lohengrin" one fact has been
related to me which, although it may appear of little
consequence, must serve me to show how important, nay decisive,
for a proper understanding such individual cases may be.

When I conceived and wrote the second act, it had not escaped me
how important it would be for the proper mood of the spectator to
show that Elsa's contentment at the last words of Lohengrin is
not really complete and genuine; the public should feel that Elsa
violently forces herself to conquer her doubt, and we should in
reality fear that, having once indulged in brooding over
Lohengrin, she will finally succumb and ask the prohibited
question. In the production of this general feeling of fear lies
the only necessity for a third act in which that fear is
realized; without it the opera should end here, for the chief
problem would not only have been mooted, but satisfactorily
solved. In order to produce this feeling very distinctly and
tangibly, I invented the following dramatic point: Elsa is led by
Lohengrin up the steps on the minster; on the topmost step she
looks downwards with timid apprehension; her eye involuntarily
seeks Frederick, of whom she is still thinking; at that moment
her glance falls on Ortrud, who stands below, and raises her hand
in a threatening manner. At this moment I introduce in the
orchestra in F minor ff. the warning of Lohengrin, the
significance of which has by this time been distinctly impressed
upon us, and which, accompanied by Ortrud's impressive gesture,
here indicates with absolute certainty, "Whatever happens, you
will disobey the command in spite of all." Elsa then turns away
in terror, and only when the king, after this interruption, once
more proceeds towards the entrance of the minster with the bridal
pair, does the curtain drop. What a pity then that that dramatic
point was not made on the stage, and that the curtain dropped
before the entry of the reminiscence in F minor! This not
unimportant mistake was, no doubt, caused by the probably
accidental neglect of a remark in the full score which, according
to my previous wish, should, like similar other remarks, have
been extracted for the benefit of the actors. I must fear that
several other things have also remained unnoticed and unexecuted,
and nothing confirms me so much in this fear as the account of
Dingelstedt, who, in spite of his unmistakable goodwill, has
evidently not taken in my opera because of the music.

Dearest Liszt, was I right when in the preface of my "Kunstwerk
der Zukunft" I wrote that not the individual, but the community
alone, could create genuine works of art? You have done the
impossible, but, believe me, all must nowadays do the impossible
in order to achieve what is really possible. What delights me
more than all is to hear that you have not lost courage, and are
going to try everything in order to support the opera, in spite
of a certain disappointment around you, and even to put it on its
legs. To assist you in this most laudable zeal I give you the
following advice: Let Genast, whom I cordially thank for his
friendship, before the resumption of "Lohengrin", call the whole
personnel to a reading rehearsal; let the singers read their
parts in connection, distinctly and expressively, from the
printed libretto, in which there are unfortunately many
misprints. Let Genast take the score, and from the remarks
therein inserted explain to the singers the meaning of the
situations and their connection with the music bar by bar. The
devil must be in it if the matter could not then be put right,
provided the intentions of the actors are good. Once more, let
Genast go beyond his position as stage-manager, which, no doubt,
he fills as well as any one, and let him become the guardian of
the infants and the neglected.

By these words I by no means wish to express a definite doubt as
to your singers in general or their achievements in this
particular case. The fact that in a purely musical sense they
took such care of their parts that you ventured with them upon
the performance of this enormously difficult, because unfamiliar
music is an excellent testimony in their favour. In the above I
asked them for something which perhaps they have never been asked
for before. I hope Genast will find it worth his while to explain
this most specially to them, and that he will succeed in making
them do justice to my demand. In that case he may boast of having
been the chief participant in a revolution which will lift our
theatrical routine out of its grooves.

The representative of Lohengrin alone appears, according to all
accounts, really incapable. Would it not be possible to make in
this instance a change of persons? To my mind everybody ought to
be glad when Lohengrin enters, instead of which it appears that
people were more pleased when he left the stage. At this moment I
receive your letter, assuring me of your joy and friendship. What
good spirits you are in!

I will close this long letter, which must have bored you very
much, by comprising all the single points I have mentioned to you
in a final and weighty bundle of prayers.

1. Arrange by the intervention of Genast that before the second
performance the singers have another rehearsal according to the
above indications. Let no scenic remark remain unnoticed.

2. Insist firmly and sharply that the singers perform in decisive
and lively tempo what they take to be recitatives in my opera. By
this means the duration of the opera will, according to my
experience, be shortened by nearly an hour.

3. Further, I desire that, with the exception of the second part
of Lohengrin's tale, which I determined from the beginning to
cut, my opera should be given as it is, without any omissions.

If cuts are made, the chain of comprehension will be torn
asunder, and my style, which the public are only just beginning
to take in, so far from being made more accessible, will be
further removed from the public and the actors. To capitulate to
the enemy is not to conquer; the enemy himself must surrender;
and that enemy is the laziness and flabbiness of our actors, who
must be forcibly driven to feel and think. If I do not gain the
victory, and have to capitulate in spite of my powerful ally, I
shall go into no further battles. If my "Lohengrin" can be
preserved only by tearing its well-calculated and artistic
context to pieces, in other words if it has to be cut owing to
the laziness of the actors, I shall abandon opera altogether.
Weimar in that case will have no more interest for me, and I
shall have written my last opera. With you, dear Liszt, who have
so bravely accepted my battle, it lies to gain a complete victory
for me. I do not know what more I could say; to you I have said
enough. To Genast, for whom also this letter is intended, I shall
write separately as soon as I know that my demand has not
offended him. To Zigesar I write tomorrow.

In the meantime I post this letter in order not to incur the
reproach of delay.

Farewell, then, dearest, splendid friend. You are as good as
refreshing summer rain. Farewell. Be thanked, and greet my

Always your most obliged


ZURICH, September 8th, 1850

One thing more: as you have no organ and no harmonium
(physharmonika), I want you to let the short organ-passage at the
end of the second act be played by wind instruments behind the

Lohengrin should sing the words "Heil dir, Elsa! nun lass vor
Gott uns gehen!" with tender emotion.




On my return from a little trip to the Alps, I find the copies of
the libretto of "Lohengrin" which you have kindly sent to me, and
have every reason to rejoice heartily at the remarkable care with
which you have had it done. This is another ocular proof of the
sympathy with which you have gone to work in everything
concerning my last opera, and I must not omit to express my
warmest thanks to you. Your last letter, in which you kindly
enclosed the honorarium for my "Lohengrin," tells me of the
success of all your extraordinary exertions for the performance
of the opera, and I see with regret from your friendly
communication that satisfaction, in the measure desired by you,
has not been the result, and that a permanent success appears
doubtful to you. As with this statement you combine no objection
to the work itself, but, on the contrary, assure me that to the
best of your intention and power you will try to secure that
desired success for my opera, I feel bound to add to the
expression of my gratitude for your kind feeling my opinion as to
how our mutual wishes might be realized.

Most esteemed Herr Intendant, with full knowledge of the matter
at stake, you have undertaken by its performance at your theatre
to give life to a dramatic work the essence of which is that it
is in all its parts a continuous whole, and not something
incongruous, made up of many different parts. The author of this
work does not wish to shine by the effect of single musical
pieces; music to him is altogether no more than the most exalted
and most comprehensive mode of expression of what he desired to
express--the drama. Even where music became a mere ornament I
remained conscious of having acted in accordance with a certain
artistic necessity, and each necessary effect was brought about
only by the fact that, like the link of a well-forged chain, it
derived its significance from the preceding links. If this chain
were torn asunder by the removal of the whole, or a half, or a
quarter of a link, the whole context would be torn along with it,
and my intention would be destroyed. You admitted to me yourself
that in certain cases about which at first you had doubts you had
been finally convinced of the necessity of this concatenation,
but the impression made upon you by the performance has again
renewed this doubt, to the extent, at least, that you think it
advisable, in consideration of the public, to consent to certain
omissions in my opera. Permit me to think a little better of the
public. An audience which assembles in a fair mood is satisfied
as soon as it distinctly understands what is going forward, and
it is a great mistake to think that a theatrical audience must
have a special knowledge of music in order to receive the right
impression of a musical drama. To this entirely erroneous opinion
we have been brought by the fact that in opera music has wrongly
been made the aim, while the drama was merely a means for the
display of the music. Music, on the contrary, should do no more
than contribute its full share towards making the drama clearly
and quickly comprehensible at every moment. While listening to a
good--that is, rational--opera, people should, so to speak, not
think of the music at all, but only feel it in an unconscious
manner, while their fullest sympathy should be wholly occupied by
the action represented. Every audience which has an uncorrupted
sense and a human heart is therefore welcome to me as long as I
may be certain that the dramatic action is made more immediately
comprehensible and moving by the music, instead of being hidden
by it. In this respect the performance of my "Lohengrin" at
Weimar does not as yet seem to have been adequate, in so far as
the purely musical part was much more perfect than the dramatic,
properly so called, and the fault I attribute solely to the
general state of our opera, which from the outset has the most
confusing and damaging influence on all our singers. If during
the performance of my "Lohengrin" the music only was noticed, yea
almost only the orchestra, you may be sure that the actors
remained far behind their task. Yesterday I wrote at length to my
incomparable friend Liszt about this, and explained to him my
views as to how the matter might be managed so as to place the
performance in the right light. If in future the so-called
recitatives are sung as I have asked Liszt to insist upon their
being sung, the halting and freezing impression of whole, long
passages will disappear, and the duration of the performance will
be considerably shortened. If cuts were resorted to, you would
gain comparatively little time, and would sacrifice to our modern
theatrical routine every possibility of thorough reform. I can
imagine, for instance, that the speeches of the king and the
herald may have made a fatiguing impression, but if this was the
case because the singers sang them in a lackadaisical, lazy, and
slovenly manner, without real utterance, is then the interest of
art benefited by curtailing or omitting these speeches? Surely
not. Art and artists will be equally benefited only if those
singers are earnestly requested to pronounce those speeches with
energy, fire, and determined expression. Where no effect is made
no impression can be produced, and where no impression is
produced people are bored; but is it right, in order to shorten
that boredom, to remove what with a proper expression would
produce the necessary effect? In that case it would be better to
drop the whole work, which, for want of proper expression, would
be in danger of failing to produce the necessary effect. For if
we yield in small and single things, if we make concessions to
laziness and incompetence, we may be sure that we shall soon be
obliged to do the same throughout; in other words, that we must
give up every attempt at making a work like the present succeed.
It appears to me preferable to find out with the utmost care
where the real cause of the existing evil lies, and then to
attack the enemy in his own camp with perseverance and power. You
will see from this, most esteemed Herr Intendant, how important
it is for me not to gain toleration for my Lohengrin by
accommodating it to existing evils, but to secure for it a
decisive success by making it conquer existing evils. Otherwise I
confess openly that the future chances of this opera would have
no value for me; in that case I should only regret the amount of
exertion, trouble, and sympathy which you have kindly wasted on
this work. Fame I do not seek, gain I had to renounce long ago,
and if now I have at last to experience that even my most
energetic friends and patrons think themselves obliged to make
concessions for my benefit where a real victory can alone be of
value, I shall lose every wish and every power to be further
active in my art. If you can keep my "Lohengrin" going only by
truncating its healthy organism, and not by operating to the best
of your power on the diseased organism of our truncated operatic
body, then I shall be cordially glad if you are rewarded for your
pains according to circumstances, but I must ask you not to be
angry with me if I look upon such a success with indifference.
What to you is a matter of benevolence towards me is for me,
unfortunately, a vital question of my whole mental existence in
art, to which my being clings with bleeding fibres.

May Heaven grant that you, highly esteemed sir and patron, will
take the contents and expression of these lines in good part, and
that you will not for a moment doubt that always and in all
circumstances I shall look upon you as one of the most
sympathetic phenomena that have entered my existence. In all
respects I owe you love and unbounded gratitude. If I should
never be able to show this to you, as from my whole heart I
desire, I ask you fervently to attribute it, not to the wish of
my inmost soul, but to the position which I, as an artist with a
passionate heart, must, according to my firm conviction, take
towards the state of deep depravity of our public art-life.

With the highest esteem and veneration, I remain yours


ZURICH, September 9th, 1850



I must today write you a few additional lines with reference to
my recent long letter.

Karl Ritter arrived here last night from his journey; and from
his account I see that in my surmises as to certain points in the
performance of "Lohengrin," founded chiefly on some striking
remarks in Dingelstedt's notes, I have not hit the right thing.
Ritter tells me that, contrary to what I thought, you have kept
up the tempo of the recitatives according to my indications, and
that therefore the dreaded caprice of the singers, as far, at
least, as the tempo was concerned, had no license. For this also
I must thank you, but am a little perplexed as to the advice I
recently gave you. By keeping up the tempi of the recitatives I
had chiefly intended to shorten the duration of the performance,
but I see now that you had already done the right thing, and
therefore remain astounded at my own error as to the length of
the opera, which is certainly detrimental. My opinion is that if,
as I much desire, the higher context is not to be destroyed by
cuts, the public must be deceived as to the duration of the
performance by your making the singers pronounce the recitatives
as vividly and as speakingly as possible; it is quite possible
for them to sing them in the proper tempo without giving interest
to them by warmth and truth of declamation. Moreover, the
performance will, of its own accord, become more compact as time
goes on. I have made this experience at the performances of my
operas which I conducted myself, the first performances always
lasting a little longer than the subsequent ones, although
nothing had been cut in these. This will probably be the case
with the performance of "Lohengrin" in Weimar, which only now
that I have been able to ask about many difficult details I can
appreciate in its excellence and perfection as regards the
musical portion.

I now come to the principal thing. You cannot believe how
delighted I was to hear some particulars of your music to
"Prometheus." Our friend Uhlig, to whom I attribute excellent
judgment, sends me word that he values this single overture more
than the whole of Mendelssohn. My desire to make its acquaintance
is raised to the highest pitch. Dearest friend, will you be kind
enough to let me have a copy soon, if I ask you particularly? You
would please me immensely, and I already contemplate the
possibility of having it played to me at a concert here in
Zurich. Now and then I shall take an interest in the local
musical performances, and I promise you that your work will not
be heard otherwise than in the most adequate conditions that can
be obtained. Could I also have your overture to Tasso? When I
look upon your whole life and contemplate the energetic turn
which you have given to it of late years, when I further
anticipate your achievements, you may easily imagine how happy I
shall be to give my sincerest and most joyous sympathy to your
works. You extraordinary and amiable man, send me soon what I ask

Enough for today.

I am always and wholly yours,


ZURICH, September 11th, 1850



The second performance of your masterpiece has answered my
expectations, and the third and fourth will bring home to every
one the opinion I expressed as soon as we began rehearsing
"Lohengrin," namely, that this work will confer on a public
making itself worthy of understanding and enjoying it more honour
than that public could confer upon the work by any amount of

"Perish all theatrical mud!" I exclaimed when we tried for the
first time the first scenes of "Lohengrin." "Perish all critical
mud and the routine of artists and the public!" I have added a
hundred times during the last six weeks. At last, and very much
at last, I have the satisfaction to be able to assure you very
positively that your work will be better executed and better
heard and understood from performance to performance. This last
point is, in my opinion, the most important of all, for it is not
only the singers and the orchestras that must be brought up to
the mark to serve as instruments in the dramatic revolution,
which you so eloquently describe in your letter to Zigesar, but
also, and before all, the public, which must be elevated to a
level where it becomes capable of associating itself by sympathy
and intelligent comprehension with conceptions of a higher order
than that of the lazy amusements with which it feeds its
imagination and sensibility at our theatres every day. This must
be done, if need be, by violence, for, as the Gospel tells us,
the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and only those who use
violence will take it.

I fully understand the motive which has made you speak with
diplomatic reserve of the audiences of "Lohengrin" in your letter
to Zigesar, and I approve of it. At the same time, it is certain
that, in order to realize completely the drama which you
conceive, and of which you give us such magnificent examples in
"Tannhauser" and "Lohengrin," it is absolutely necessary to make
a breach in the old routine of criticism, the long ears and short
sight of "Philistia," as well as the stupid arrogance of that
self-sufficient fraction of the public which believes itself the
destined judge of works of art by dint of birthright.

The enemy to whom, as you, my great art-hero, rightly put it, one
should not capitulate--that enemy is not only in the throats of
the singers, but also very essentially in the lazy and at the
same time tyrannical habits of the hearers. On these as well as
on the others one must make an impression if necessary by a good
beating. This you understand better than I could tell you.

In accordance with your desire, we have at the second performance
of Lohengrin not omitted a single syllable, for after your letter
it would, in my opinion, have been a crime to venture upon the
slightest cut. As I took occasion to tell those of my friends who
were here on August 28th, the performance of your works, as long
as you entrust me with their absolute direction, is with me a
question of principle and of honour. In these two things one must
never make a concession; and, as far as I am personally
concerned, you may rest perfectly assured that I shall not fail
in anything which you have a right to expect from me. In spite of
this, both Herr von Zigesar and Genast feel bound, in the
interest of your work, to address you some observations, which I,
for my part, have declined to submit to you, although I think
them somewhat justified by the limits of our theatre and of our
public, which are as yet far behind my wishes and even my hopes.
If you think it advisable to agree to some cuts, kindly let me
know your resolution as to this subject. Whether you accept those
proposed by Genast, or whether you determine upon others, or
whether, which is probable, you prefer to keep your work such as
we have given it twice, I promise you on my honour that your wish
shall be strictly carried out, with all the respect and all the
submission which you have a right to demand by reason of your
genius and of your achievements.

Whatever determination you come to in this regard, be certain
that in all circumstances you will find in me zeal equal to my
admiration and my devotion.

Wholly yours,


September 16th, 1850.

P.S.--Remember me kindly to Herr Ritter. I am very thankful to
him for not having spoken too ill of our first performance of
"Lohengrin;" the second has been much more satisfactory, and the
third and fourth will no doubt be still more so. Herr Beck, who
takes the principal part, endeavours in the most laudable manner
not to be below the task allotted to him. What is more, he begins
to feel enthusiasm for his part and for the composer. If one
considers fairly the enormous difficulty of mounting such a work
at Weymar, I can tell you sincerely that there is no reason for
dissatisfaction with the result which has so far been attained,
and which beyond a doubt will go on improving with every

I do not know whether the sublimity of the work blinds me to the
imperfection of the execution, but I fancy that if you could be
present at one of our next representations you would not be too
hard upon us.



In a week or so I shall send you a very long article of mine
about "Lohengrin." If personal reasons of your own do not prevent
it, it will appear in Paris in the course of October. You are
sufficiently acquainted with the habits of the Paris press to
know how reluctantly it admits the entire and absolute eulogium
of a work by a foreign composer, especially while he is still
living. In spite of this, I shall try to overcome this great
obstacle, for I make it a point of honour to publish my opinion
of your work; and if you were fairly satisfied with my article,
you might perhaps give me a pleasure which would not cost you
more than a day or two of tedium. This would be to make a
translation, revised, corrected, augmented, and authenticated,
which, by the help of your and my friends, could be inserted in
two or three numbers of the Augsburg Allgemeine Zeitung or the
journal of Brockhaus, signed with my name.

If you should prefer to have it printed separately as a little
pamphlet by Weber, of Leipzig, I should not object; and if you
would say a word to Weber, I feel convinced that he would
willingly undertake it. But before all you must be acquainted
with my article, and tell me very frankly whether or not you
would like to have it published in Germany. In France I will
manage it a little sooner or a little later, but in case of a
German publication I should make it an absolute condition that
you undertook the trouble of translating it and of having it
copied under your eyes, so that I should not be charged with the
blunders of the translator, etc., etc. You will see that the
style is carefully French, and it would therefore be very
important not to destroy the nuances of sentiment and thought in
their passage to another language.

Always and wholly yours,


WEYMAR, September 25th, 1850.



I have little to tell you unless I write to you about all the
things which we two need scarcely discuss any more. After your
last letter, which has given me great and genuine joy, such as
few things could, we are almost so absolutely near each other on
the most important questions that we may truly say, we are one. I
only long for the pleasure of your company, for the delight of
being united with you for a season, so that we may mutually no
longer say, but do to each other what we cannot express in
writing. In fact, to do something is always better and leads to
the goal much quicker than the cleverest discussion. Cannot you
get free for a little time and have a look round Switzerland? or
cannot you at least send me your scores, for which I recently
asked you? You ignore my request in your letter; why is that?

I have again many things to think about--alas! to think about
only. I have once more arrived at a point where retreat is
impossible; I must think out my thoughts before becoming once
more a naive and confident artist, although I shall be that
again, and look forward with pleasure to reaping the richest
benefit. You lay stress in your letter upon the fact that the
enemy whom we have to fight is not only in the throats of our
singers, but in the lazy Philistinism of our public and in the
donkeydom of our critics. Dearest friend, I agree with you so
fully that I did not even mention it to you. What I object to are
the perverse demands which are made on the public. I will not
allow that the public is charged with want of artistic
intelligence, and that the salvation of art is expected from the
process of grafting artistic intelligence on the public from
above; ever since the existence of connoisseurs art has gone to
the devil. By drilling artistic intelligence into it we only make
the public perfectly stupid. What I said was this: that I wanted
nothing of the public beyond a healthy sense and a human heart.
This does not sound much, but it is so much that the whole world
would have to be turned upside down to bring it about. The noble-
minded, the refined, those who have the courage of their
feelings, believe themselves at the top of the tree; they are
mistaken! In our actual order of things the Philistine, the
vulgar, common, flabby, and at the same time cruel man of
routine, reigns supreme. He, and no one else, is the prop of
existing things, and against him we all fight in vain, however
noble our courage may be; for unfortunately all things are in
this slavery of leathern custom, and only fright and trouble of
all kinds can turn the Philistine into a man by thoroughly
upsetting him. Pending an entirely new order of things, we must,
dearest friend, be satisfied with ourselves and with those who,
like ourselves, know but one enemy--the Philistine. Let us show
each other what we can do, and let us feel highly rewarded if we
can give joy to each other. "A healthy sense and a human heart!"-
-we ask nothing more, and yet all, if we realize the bottomless
corruption of that sense, the wicked cowardliness of the heart of
the so-called public. Confess, a deluge would be necessary to
correct this little fault. To remedy these ills I fear our most
ardent endeavour will do nothing that is efficacious. All we can
do--while we exist, and with the best will in the world cannot
exist at any other time but the present--is to think of
preserving our dignity and freedom as artists and as men. Let us
show to one another in ourselves that there is worth in man.

In the same sense I was intent, in connection with my
"Lohengrin," upon considering only the thing in itself; that is,
its adequate embodiment on the part of the actors. Of the public
I thought only in so far as I contemplated the one possibility of
leading the half-unconscious, healthy sense of that public
towards the real kernel of the thing--the drama--by means of the
dramatic perfection of the performance. That otherwise this
kernel is overlooked by the most aesthetic and most intelligent
hearers I have unfortunately again been shown by the clearest
evidence, and I confess that in this respect Dingelstedt's
account of my opera is present to my mind, causing me deep grief.
You, best of friends, have taken such infinite care of me in
every respect that I can only sincerely regret that your efforts
are sometimes responded to in so perverse a manner. In
Dingelstedt's account I recognize two things: his friendly
disposition towards me, with which he has been inspired by you,
and his most absolute incapability, with all his aestheticism, of
conceiving the slightest notion of what had to be conceived. The
total confusion engendered in him by listening to my opera he
transfers with bold self-reliance to my intentions and to the
work itself. He, who apparently can see in opera nothing but
kettledrums, trombones, and double-basses, naturally in my opera
did not see the wood for the trees; but, being a clever and glib-
penned litterateur, he produces a witty and many-coloured set of
variorum notes which he could not have done better if it had been
his intention to make fun of me, and this stuff he sends to the
newspaper with the largest circulation in the German language. If
I cared in the least to be in a certain sense recognized, I
should have to perceive that Dingelstedt has thoroughly injured
me. I read in some papers notices of my opera, evidently founded
upon that of Dingelstedt, somewhat to this effect: "Wagner has
written another opera, in which he seems to have surpassed the
coarse noise of his 'Rienzi'," etc. I am grieved that this
happened in the same Allgemeine Zeitung where five years ago Dr.
Hermann Franck discoursed on my "Tannhauser" in an intelligent,
calm, and lucid manner. If it should interest you, please read
this article. It is printed in the A.A.Z., No. 311, November 7th,
1845. You can imagine how I must feel when I compare the two

If you have not given up the hope of being useful to me in wider
circles, I should make bold to ask you whether you could manage

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