Part 6 out of 6
May 21st, 1859.
Send Tausig to me; I hear he is disengaged. My wife has even
written to me that he wished to come to me. Otherwise I have
nothing rational to tell you today. I feel miserable; you will
soon hear more. A thousand cordial thanks for your letter.
My excellent friend, Felix Draseke, is on his way to you. Receive
him kindly as one of "ours," and reveal to him your "Nibelungen"
treasure, on which he is worthy of gazing with heart and soul.
I hope to be with you at the end of August; let me know where I
shall find you then.
WEYMAR, July 19th, 1859.
WEYMAR, August 9th.
TO RICHARD WAGNER,
On the completion of "Tristan" the most cordial congratulations
of your invariably faithful
LUCERNE, August 19th, 1859.
I should like to thank Princess M. for the news contained in her
last letter, and to congratulate her cordially on her impending
marriage, but I am ill, and a feverish cold has suppressed all
rational thoughts in me. But as I wanted to give you some news of
me without delay, I ask you, for the present, to be the very
eloquent interpreter of my sincere feelings to our amiable Child.
The effort thus made, in spite of my indisposition, enables me to
add that, although the disappointed hope of your visit, which
would have been most welcome just now, fills me with grief, I
fully understand that the sacrifice in my favour would have been
too great. On the other hand, I lay the sacrifice made by me at
the feet of the happy Child with joyful pride.
As to my fate I can tell you nothing, not knowing myself whither
I shall direct my steps. I should like to live in Paris in
absolute retirement, but the French Minister refuses to give me
his vise for my passport. In answer to my remonstrances, he wrote
to Paris a fortnight ago, but has had no answer. I am probably
taken for an obstinate conspirator, an opinion which the
treatment I receive at the hands of Germany seems to countenance.
I wait for my fate in my little room here, neither longing for
Paris nor attracted by any other place that is open to me.
Draseke is still with me, and I enjoy his visit. Soon he will go
Excuse me from writing any more. Even the effort of these few
lines has put me in a perspiration.
Continue to love me, and greet Altenburg a thousand times from
"Tristan" has received your welcome with pride and joy.
Your letter, received today, has increased my grief at not being
able to be with you. Although I am not much worth as a sick
nurse, I should nurse you well, and assist you in passing the
time with more ease. Alas! we are miserable creatures, and the
few who have penetrated the deepest secrets of life are the most
miserable of all. That snarling old cur, Schopenhauer, is quite
right in saying that we are ridiculous in addressing each other
as MONSIEUR or citizen. Compagnon de misere et de souffrance, or
fellow-sufferers, and worse we are, TUTTI QUANTI, and nothing we
can do can make any essential change in this. The worst is that
we know it quite well, and yet never like to believe it.
What is this about the vise of your passport? Probably the
impediment has been removed by this time; otherwise make
inquiries as to the quarter from which it arises, whether from
the Saxon embassy in Paris, or from the French police. Steps must
be taken accordingly. It is understood that I am quite at your
service in this matter, but I should not like to make a faux pas,
and it is necessary, therefore, that I should be more accurately
informed by you, in order to apply at once to the right people.
In my opinion Paris is the most comfortable, most appropriate and
cheapest place for you while things in Germany remain in their
wretched state. Although you may not agree with the artistic
doings there, you will find many diverting and stimulating
things, which will do you more good than your walks in
Switzerland, beautiful though the Alpine landscape may be. I am
surprised, it is true, at your speaking of a permanent settlement
in Paris at this moment. I thought that your relations to
Carlsruhe had reached such a point as to secure to you an asylum
in the Grand Duchy of Baden (perhaps at Heidelberg, unless the
PROFESSORS should frighten you there). How about the first
performance of "Tristan" at Carlsruhe? Devrient informed me, with
tolerable certainty, that the intention was to give the work on
the birthday of the Grand Duchess in December, and that you would
be invited to conduct it. I hope no change has taken place in
this. Let me have particulars. Perhaps I shall be able to assist
you in simplifying the matter.
Do you know what I did a few days ago? Looking at your portrait,
which you had signed "Santo Spirito Cavaliere", it occurred to me
to write a "Rienzi fantasia" for pianoforte. If it should amuse
you for a moment my time will have been well employed. I should
tell you that your little bust adorns my writing desk. You are of
course without the company of any other celebrities--no Mozart,
no Beethoven, no Goethe, or whatever their names may be. To this
room, which is the heart of the house, none of them is admitted.
What a beautiful day it will be when I see you here.
M. will leave us soon, probably in October; until then I cannot
get away from here. If you should happen to remain in Switzerland
till after that, I shall visit you in the late autumn. Otherwise
I shall see you at Carlsruhe or Paris.
Remember me cordially to Draseke. I am very glad you have taken a
liking to him. He is a splendid fellow. In our small circle of
most intimate friends he is called the "hero." Has he shown you
his ballad, "Konig Helge?" It is a glorious thing.
Be good enough to tell him that _I_ INVITE HIM SPECIALLY to stay
with me on his return journey, and that I should think it very
shabby of him if he played me the trick of flying past me under
my very nose.
Try to get well again as soon as possible, dearest friend, and
continue to love
WEYMAR, August 22nd, 1859.
PARIS, October 20th, 1859.
I hope, dear Franz, these lines will reach you exactly on the
Accept my cordial wishes for your birthday. It is of great
significance to me that just at present, while I am seriously and
deeply considering our mutual relations, I should come upon this
day which Nature herself, no doubt, counts amongst her most
fortunate days. For what she succeeded in creating on this day
has borne such rich fruit that, without this gift of your
existence, there would be a chasm in the essence of things, of
the depth of which he only can judge who loves you as I love you,
and who might suddenly imagine that you existed no longer. Gazing
down this terrible chasm, such as my imagination pictured it, I
turned my eyes to you as one awaking from a terrible dream, and
was so sincerely delighted, so deeply moved by your real
existence, that you appeared to me as one newborn. In this spirit
I greet you on this, to me, highly important birthday. Your
friendship is an absolute necessity to me; I cling to it with my
last vital strength.
When shall I see you at last?
Have you an idea of the position in which I am, of the miracles
of faith and love which I require in order to gain new courage
and patience? Think this out for yourself, without my telling
you. You MUST know me sufficiently to understand this, although
we have not lived much together.
I ask you, once more, when shall we meet again? Carlsruhe is more
than uncertain. "Tristan", altogether, has become a shadowy and
half impossible thing. Do not wait for an external occasion which
may bring me to you. In the most favourable case the "Tristan"
period, with its desperate and terrible exertions, would not be
fit for our meeting again for the first time. Be guided to me by
your innermost heart, and may it impel you to come to me soon. By
the middle of November I expect my wife. Could I not have you
BEFORE? It is bad enough for me that I have to call you, and that
you do not come of your own accord. I heard of the marriage of
Princess M. through B. yesterday; he does not inform me where she
is going to live. Kindly tell me where I am to write in order to
convey my wishes to her.
Farewell; I am just on the point of moving into my new lodgings.
So I am "settled" once more, without faith, love, or hope.
Farewell, and accept my wishes kindly; in congratulating you I
16, RUE NEWTON, CHAMPS ELYSEES. 299.
PARIS, November 23rd, 1859,
16, RUE NEWTON.
Believe me, dear Franz, I find it very difficult to give you news
of myself. We live too little together, and must necessarily
become strangers in one important aspect of friendship. You wrote
to me to Venice and Lucerne that you liked my migration to Paris
for the reason that you would be able to visit me more
frequently. I have often assured you that I desired an amnesty
particularly because I should be able to pay you more frequent
and longer visits, and I informed you again that your promise
induced me to look upon my Paris settlement in a more favourable
light. In spite of this, my first request for your visit
addressed to you from here has met with a refusal. You say you
cannot come to Paris, and propose a two days' meeting at
Strassburg instead. What will be the use of these Strassburg days
to us; what to me? I have nothing to tell you in a hurry, no
plans that we need discuss. I want to enjoy you, to live with you
for some time, as we have hitherto seen so little of each other.
Why do you all of a sudden object to Paris, where, if you do not
wish it, no one need know of your presence? I can get you rooms
near me in a very remote quarter. We shall spend the days at my
lodging, where you can see whom you like. Why need you always be
a public man apart from the private friend? I cannot understand
this. My poor deserted life has made me incapable of
comprehending an existence which casts a side glance at the whole
world at every step. You must pardon me for declining the
Strassburg meeting, greatly as I appreciate the sacrifice which
you offer me. It is just this sacrifice which appears to me too
great at the price of a few hurried days in a Strassburg hotel.
I am extremely sorry that the Princess was unable to find me; her
very valuable letter I fail to understand. By the spontaneous joy
and cordiality with which I should have received her, she would
have recognized what she is to me. She has often experienced
this, and surely does not suspect me of affectation. I do not
know what to say to all this, and remain silent.
My silence extends to everything else that otherwise I might have
told you about myself. If one has to tell such things at all, it
is better to be silent about them. As to the Carlsruhe plan you
are probably sufficiently enlightened. Devrient has thought it
desirable to make an excuse for the bungling and neglectful way
in which he has taken up the idea of a first performance of
"Tristan" at his theatre, by saying that it is impossible to
execute the work. To that ALSO I do not reply. Why should I
speak? _I_ know my fate and my position, and remain silent. It is
more serious to think of the consequences which the wiping out of
my new work from the list of living things will have for my means
of subsistence. However, why should I point out those
consequences? He who is endowed with five senses must know what
my position is. I can complain no longer, for that would mean to
accuse, and I do not even want to accuse friend Devrient. I have
not said a word to him. You know enough now, and more than will
My wife has arrived here. She is a little better, and I hope
things will go on tolerably well. She told me, without
complaining, that you had been at Dresden without paying her a
visit. I tried to comfort her as well as I could.
Farewell, my dear Franz. Do not misunderstand me; I wanted to
write to you, and for a long time did not know how to set about
it. Heaven only knows whether I have done it in the proper way.
Be always assured that you are dear to me above all else, even if
I fail to comprehend many things which determine your action.
Farewell. Greet the Princess, and tell her that her letter
pleased me, although I failed to understand it. Greet also
Princess H--. May you all think ot me in a friendly spirit.
BRUSSELS, March 29th, 1860.
Once more I give you a sign of life. That one lives at all is
perhaps the most wonderful case in point, and when one arrives at
the end of things, one need not care any longer. Death, which at
this moment mows down men so recklessly, leaves us standing in a
bare field by a mere whim. One is astonished and a little
thoughtful for awhile.
My fate is very odd. While the real thing for which alone I care
remains enveloped in the most German mist of impossibility. H.'s
diplomatic skill has arranged for me all manner of Paris glories,
which float before me mockingly like a "Fata Morgana." Heaven
only knows what will come of this "Tannhauser" scheme. In my
heart I do not yet believe in it, and for good reasons. It is of
more importance to me to perform "Tristan" in Germany, and I am
determined to set that old Dresden matter right if any decent
concessions are made to me. If I succeed in this, I shall look to
Vienna as the theatre which has the best singers, and presents
the unique phenomenon of being conducted by a competent musician,
with whom one can come to an understanding. This, as you know,
cannot be found in the rest of Germany.
Of you, dearest friend, I have heard nothing for a long time, for
even H. was unable to tell me anything. The comfort of your
visits in Paris, which at one time you promised me so
confidently, will not, it appears, be vouchsafed to me. Be not
offended, therefore, if today I send you a visitor in order to
give you some news of myself on the same occasion. I have been
brought here by the absurd illusion of being able, by repeating
my Paris concerts at Brussels, to recover some of the money which
those Paris excesses had cost me. But of course the only results
of this excursion were new expenses and a little propaganda.
Amongst the most valuable conquests I have made here is first
Herr A. Samuel, who is starting for Germany, and would like to be
introduced to you. He has been very amiable towards me, both in
deed and word. You will like him, too, and in that belief I
recommend him to your welcome.
You also introduced some one to me here. Frau Agnes Street--
Klindworth brought me a letter from you which you had given to
her five years ago for London. I have to thank you for the most
pleasant acquaintance which you procure to me so unexpectedly and
after all that time. I was soon at home with her and Papa
Klindworth, and owe the most pleasant memories to these two
people. The old man amused me greatly by his incredible wealth of
I return to Paris today in order to have a closer view of my
brilliant misery. M. Royer wants a large ballet for the second
act of "Tannhauser"; you may imagine how I relish the idea. My
only refuge in the face of such demands is Princess Metternich,
who is highly esteemed by Fould, etc. I must see whether I can
get rid of this ballet, otherwise I shall of course withdraw
Well, you have now a good insight into the joy of my existence.
Do not delay communicating to me a fragment of your life. The
only thing that makes our position towards this misery of world
and life tolerable is the growing contempt for world and life;
and if one can arrive at that in a good humour, things are all
right for a little while. But when one perceives how few things
hold water, when one observes the terrible superficiality, the
incredible thoughtlessness, the selfish desire for pleasure,
which inspire every one, one's own earnestness appears often in a
very comic light. This consideration is to me, at least, the only
one which sometimes puts me in a tolerable mood.
A thousand cordial greetings to you, my dearest Franz; with Mamma
I get on very well. The old lady quite touches me by her love and
sympathetic insight. Farewell, and remember lovingly,
WEYMAR, le 22 Mai.
Deposee sous le no. 93 a 12 heures 31 minutes s. Expediee a
domicile le 22 a 2 heures 15 minutes soir.
RUE NEWTON, 16, CHAMPS ELYSEES,
CHEMIN DE VERSAILLES, PARIS.
Cordial wishes for your birthday from your
Your letter, dearest, unique friend, is to me more beautiful than
the most beautiful balmy May day. May you rejoice in the joy
which it has given to me.
I wish I could telegraph myself to Paris. Where could I be more
happy than with you, in the magic circle of "Rhinegold", the
"Valkyrie", "Siegfried", "Tristan" and "Isolde"--all of them the
objects of my longing? But I must not think of this for the
present, although I shall certainly come as soon as I can.
Your photograph has been announced to me by an amiable hand, but
has not made its appearance so far. I told you before that your
little bust stands on my writing-desk as UNICUM. The photograph
will find its place in the same room, which otherwise contains
nothing ARTISTIC. Beethoven, Weber, Schubert, and others of that
stamp keep company to your portrait (that with the motto, "Du
weisst wie das wird") in the ante-room. HERE I want to have you
alone together with my St. Francis, whom Steinly has designed for
me splendidly. He stands on heaving ocean-waves, his outspread
cloak on, firmly, unmovedly. In his left hand he calmly holds
burning coals; the right is extended in the act of blessing; his
gaze is turned upwards, where the word "charitas" glows,
surrounded by an aureole.
The great life-question of the Princess has been finally and
favourably settled. All the villainous and subtle intrigues which
were spun for a number of years have been dispelled.
After the return of the Princess from Rome (where she arrived
last Sunday, and will probably stay till the end of July) all
will be arranged. I wish I could soon have the pleasure of seeing
you CHEZ NOUS.
Through Fraulein Hundt (whom, together with her friend Ingeborg
Stark, you received so amiably) I heard a good many things about
your way of life in Paris. "Tannhauser", with ballet, and a
contest of translators as well as of minstrels, are immediately
before you. It will be a tough piece of work for you, and I
advise as many walks and cooling baths as possible. Fips should
teach you a little philosophic patience during the rehearsals.
Frau Burde-Ney told me lately when she was "starring" here, that
she intended to go to Paris for a few days, in order to study
Isolde with you. She has the necessary stuff ("Wupptich" they say
at Dresden) for it.
A thousand thanks for the score which Hartel has sent me. You
know best how all this is sung from my very soul. Let me know
when convenient what you consider most desirable in regard to the
performance of "Tristan." At Carlsruhe it seems impossible, and
Devrient was inclined to bet that "Tristan" could not be
performed anywhere else either, unless you consented to
considerable alterations. This is by no means my opinion, and as
often as Devrient said NO, I replied YES. His stage experience
is, no doubt, older than mine, but nevertheless I have perfect
confidence in my opinion of such things. You know for what
reasons I did not, at the time, beg "Tristan" for Weymar, and you
will approve of my passive attitude. If, as I should not like to
think, no favourable chances for the speedy performance of this
marvellous work turn up, and if, for the present, you will be
satisfied with a performance here, I firmly believe that I can
arrange it for next season (1861). Let me know your views when
you write again. Meanwhile I remain, with all my heart,
WEYMAR, May 31st, 1860.
I shall remain here till the return of the Princess. Whether
Berlioz will reply to your letter, couched in the barbarous
French of Genius, in OUR sense, appears somewhat doubtful. The
more's the pity.
PARIS, June 15th, 1860.
Can you induce Herr D. to send me a prompt reply to my last
letter? The question at stake is whether or not I shall be able
to do something for the health of my wife this summer in
accordance with the doctor's prescription. I MUST know this. At
the same time I must declare that I shall not accept less than
I do not want to encroach upon you, but what you can do without
injuring yourself, do please, as soon as possible.
If they think me worth that sum at Weimar I shall expect the bill
of exchange by return of post.
16, RUE NEWTON, CHAMPS ELYSEES.
According to a letter just received, D. thinks it necessary to
refuse me the thousand francs I had asked for, and offers me
thirty louis d'or instead.
This puts me in an awkward position. On the one hand I am, as
usual, greatly in want of money, and shall decidedly not be able
to send my wife to Loden for a cure, unless I receive the
subvention I had hoped for. On the other hand, I must despair of
ever prospering if, compelled by necessity, I have to yield on
every occasion. I have explained my view of the question of
honorarium to D. quite openly and without any brusqueness, and
have finally insisted upon my first demand.
I should like to let my wife start as soon as possible. The worst
turn which this affair could take at Weimar would be, if my
demand were simply refused, and if I had nothing at all to give
to my wife.
You now know my position exactly. If your diplomatic genius could
find a middle course (in case my demand cannot be carried) you
would oblige me greatly. I suppose that you are on sufficiently
good terms with D., and hope that, at the worst, you will
discover such a middle course. Therefore kindly look after this
trumpery matter. I am unfortunately surrounded by nothing but
Let me hear from you soon.
Concerning the "Rienzi" honorarium, I could effect nothing beyond
what D. had offered to you. Pardon me, dearest friend, for not
having written to you at once, but I am very tired this week and
as unwell as the normal state of my health will allow me to be.
It is not of any consequence, and a few days' rest will set me
right again. In the meanwhile I must unfortunately advise you to
accept D.'s proposal. The G. D. is not here, and no other course
is open until the performance actually takes place. After that I
hope to get you a few hundred francs more. D. tells me that
"Rienzi" is to take the place of the "Prophet" next season. Five
(say 5) new decorations have been ordered, and are in
preparation. Meffert will sing the title part, and the other
characters will be decently represented, while the chorus will be
increased by soldiers. Let it therefore take its course until we
can do something better. Patience, says Byron, is the virtue of
mules, but he who does not possess it remains a miserable ass.
I shall write to you in a few days about several things not
connected with business. Most cordially
June 24th (birthday of the Grand Duke, who is not expected back
here before eight or ten days. From Baden he has gone to
Switzerland with his wife).
Your photograph has arrived at last, and lights up my room.
MOST UNIQUE OF MEN,
Madame Kalergi's intercession in your concert affair gives me
great joy. Beautiful and noble traits of that kind are,
unfortunately, seldom met with. Will you kindly forward the
enclosed lines to my gracious lady protectress? I do not know her
present address. You are once more in the old "Tannhauser" birth
throes. Much luck! You will have to suffer much at the
rehearsals, and have perhaps never undergone so hard a trial of
patience as the re-writing and studying of this work, which to
you is partly "ein uberwundener Standpunkt," as friend Brendel
says. Through means of the "Presse Theatrale", which is kindly
sent to me, I remain au courant of your exertions. Be not too
much annoyed at being an immortal poet and composer; there is
nothing worse in this world to which one should apply the
following modified version of Leibnitz's well-known axiom: Tout
est pour le mieux, dans un des plus mauvais mondes possible!
Alas! I lately again had a great misfortune. One of my few
friends, the bravest and most self-sacrificing of all, is dead.
Her name was Clara Riese, and she lived as pianoforte teacher at
Leipzig, where, on Tuesday, I accompanied her to her last place
of rest in the old Johannes cemetery.
Up to the last day I was in hopes that her incredible strength of
character would keep her alive; but in vain.
Excuse this mournful message, but I am still so full of her death
that I cannot help thinking of it.
Nothing is happening here. D. showed me your letter about
"Rienzi", and I am thankful to you for having behaved in so
accommodating and generous a manner. The opera will be taken in
hand at the commencement of the season (September), and after the
first performance I intend to have some conversation with His
Serene Highness. Before that it would be useless.
Have you heard anything from Seebach? Madame Kalergi will be the
best and most useful intercessor you could employ in this matter.
May everything succeed to your heart's desire.
From the Princess I continue to have very good news; she will
probably remain in Rome for some time to come.
In October Hartel will publish the last two of my twelve
Symphonic Poems, "Hamlet", and "The Battle of the Huns." As soon
as I have an opportunity I shall send you my medley of songs to
MY DEAR RICHARD,
It will be quite right and proper for you to pay a call of thanks
to the Princess Regent at Baden-Baden. Considering the well-known
favour in which you stand with the Princess, and the sterling
quality of her sympathy, she will not fail to have a favourable
influence on the course your circumstances will take in the
immediate future. Your presenting yourself personally to her is
most likely to increase, if possible, her interest in your works.
All this is right, and as it should be; on the other hand, it is
a pity that I shall not be able to come to Baden. Excuse me from
mentioning my reasons; you would perhaps think them miserable,
but they determine me categorically. Although I do not think that
you will return to Paris as early as Saturday, the hurried
character of our meeting, especially in the landscape
surroundings of Baden, would be painful. I had made arrangements
to start to-night, and the resolution of resigning the pleasure
of seeing you again costs me much. Nevertheless, I think it
preferable to wait for an opportunity more favourable to both of
us, which, I hope, will occur soon.
B. was with me when your letter of August 10th arrived. He came
from Wiesbaden, where they were expecting you for a performance
of "Lohengrin" (with Niemann). By-the-bye, there will be no lack
of "Tannhauser" and "Lohengrin" performances in these regions. Be
a little lenient and longsuffering with regard to their defects.
Do not misinterpret my stopping at home for the present; there is
not an atom of laziness or egoism in it--mats tout bien considere
je dois faire ainsi, parceque cela vaut mieux pour vous--and I
feel convinced that, later on, you will agree with me.
WEYMAR, August 14th, 1860.
My gracious master, the Grand Duke, spoke of you lately with the
most lively interest, and expressed his wish to see you here, to
which I replied, that for that a SPECIAL occasion would be
necessary. You should not forget, however, that he has more than
once interceded for you with the King of Saxony by word and by
PARIS, September 13th, 1860.
At last I find time and the proper mood for writing to you in a
more collected manner than is usually the case. My late brief
letters left a debt to you unpaid.
The letter I received from you at Baden quite satisfied me, and I
felt quite ashamed at having proposed so hurried, and to you so
inconvenient, a meeting. The matter simply came to this:--
A longer excursion to Germany was on my part quite out of the
question, and I had to abandon all hope of the long-desired
proper visit to you for this year. A brief interruption of my
anything but pleasant stay in Paris was, on the other hand, very
desirable to me. I had promised my wife to fetch her, if
possible, from Loden. The Rhine I had never seen. I was told at
the Prussian Embassy that the Princess of Prussia would shortly
arrive on the Rhine, and the Saxon ambassador told me that he
would be very pleased, and that it would be agreeable to the King
of Saxony also, if I were to thank the Princess for the interest
she had taken in the decision finally made in my favour. These
various motives I developed into the plan of a very short tour to
the Rhine, such as suited my limited finances. One or two days
more would have caused the most painful embarrassment to me. I
could of course not have thought of staying a day in Frankfort
without thinking of the possibility of embracing you, but as you
were unable to come, I was unable to wait at Frankfort; you
understand why. Therefore, I ventured to ask you to follow me to
Baden, where my narrow financial circumstances compelled me to
go. I fully understand the reasons which prevented you from
coming there. Pardon me for having attempted to smuggle, so to
speak, our meeting into another plan. The temptation to such an
attempt was too great.
You are quite mistaken, however, in thinking that a "special
occasion" would be necessary for inducing me to pay a visit to
Weimar. Believe me that I abide by what I told the Grand Duke at
Lucerne years ago, when he asked me whether I should be inclined,
in case of an amnesty, to stay at Weimar now and then. I told him
that the chief reason which would attract me to Weimar would be
your society, and that, therefore, I should pay frequent visits
to Weimar as long as you were there. You will understand that in
my relations to Weimar no change whatever has, fortunately, taken
place; on the contrary, I may hope that I shall no longer be
obliged to pay for the boon of your society by my participation
in insufficient artistic doings (I am speaking of the opera). Be
assured that I am joyfully looking forward to the day when I may
set sail for Altenburg.
My position in Germany is still far from satisfactory. As you
know, I am neither amnestied nor has my sentence been remitted.
All I have obtained is the promise that the claim to extradition
will be abandoned whenever, for the purpose of performing my
works, I wish to enter a German territory, the government of
which has given its consent, and asked permission of the Saxon
Government. Even my six days' journey to the Rhine I could not
have extended to Weimar without previously complying with those
conditions, for otherwise I should have offended the Saxon
Government at the very outset. Our German potentates cannot enter
into direct communication with me, for I am still a political
outlaw, neither must I hope for important or sufficient measures
in my favour at any court, and the plans for the performances of
my last works have not been advanced much. This is all the more
evident, as the condition of our largest operatic theatres is
most disappointing. Of Berlin I could not think at all without
first contemplating the possibility of a complete revolution of
affairs, both as regards the theatre and the management. I was
not bold enough to approach the Princess of Prussia with any hope
of producing a profound impression in that sense. I was quite
satisfied with meeting in her the SPIRITUELLE, intellectual,
lively woman I had pictured to myself, and I limited myself to
acknowledging and thanking her for the uninterrupted sympathy she
had shown for my works without being in the least tempted to
communicate to her any plan or wish of mine.
It remains therefore a perfect mystery where my "Tristan" is to
see the light of the world. The birth would probably be most easy
if I were to trust the King of Hanover with the delivery. Niemann
declares that the King would engage any singer, male or female,
whom I should require for the model performance of my work as
long as that performance took place at Hanover. This might lead
to something; that King appears liberal and magnificent in his
passion for art, and nothing else will suit me. Let us hope that
my political situation will be no obstacle.
For the present my Paris enterprise occupies me altogether, and
mercifully obscures my view of future German misery. I do not
know what rumours are current with you as to the difficulties
placed in my way. They may be well intended, but they are false.
NEVER YET HAS THE MATERIAL OF AN EXCELLENT PERFORMANCE BEEN
PLACED AT MY DISPOSAL SO FULLY AND UNCONDITIONALLY as has been
done at Paris for the performance of "Tannhauser" at the Grand
Opera, and I can only wish that some German prince would do the
same for my new works. This is the first triumph of my art which
I personally witness. I owe it to the success of my works in
Germany, which has gained me such warm admirers, that the
Emperor, on the strength of their word, has issued a truly
imperial COMMAND, which makes me master of the whole material,
and protects me from all intrigues. A translation, as excellent
as could have possibly been expected, is another earnest of
general success. I have secured the best singers that are to be
had, and the preparations in every department are made with a
zeal and a care to which Germany has little accustomed me. All
the leading people go with pleasure to a task which offers them a
more interesting occupation than is usual. I also take the
matter seriously. I am removing such weak points as I have
discovered in the score. I take great delight in the re-writing
of the great Venus scene, and hope to improve the effect thereby.
The ballet scene also will be executed on the larger scale
designed by me.
Unfortunately I have not yet been able to begin this necessary
work in the proper way. Before my journey to the Rhine the
translation occupied me exclusively, and on my return here I had,
first of all, to complete a little piece of literary work which
has only just been finished. M. Frederic Villot, about whom H.
has probably spoken to you, asked me to publish an edition of my
operatic poems in a prose-translation, and to add a preface
explaining my ideas. This I have done, and I hope that the opus
will appear about the beginning of October at the latest. The
rehearsals are in full swing, but unfortunately I had to object
to the baritone at the last moment. Fould had at once to give
orders for the engagement of a new singer, but we have not yet
found the right man, and this has caused a slight delay. There
has, however, been no trace of ill-will on the part of any one.
M., who is working here in his underhand way, will not, after
all, be able to do anything against the Emperor and the cause; he
is trying, however, to secure the good engagements which have
been made for me for his own benefit later on. Well, I do not
grudge him this; the man has no real initiative.
You have now, dearest friend, an approximate view of my life and
work. That I should be happy you can scarcely expect, but I feel
the calm of the fatalist who surrenders himself to his fate,
astonished perhaps a little at the often curious manner in which
it disposes of me and leads me into unexpected paths, and saying
to myself: "So it was to be."
With real horror I think of Germany and of my future enterprises
in that country. God forgive me, but I discover nothing but mean
and miserable things, conceit and a pretence of solid work
without any real foundation; half-heartedness in everything.
After all I prefer to see "Le Pardon de Ploermel" in Paris than
under the shadow of the famous, glorious German oak tree. I must
also confess to you that my treading once more German soil did
not produce the slightest impression upon me, except in so far as
I was astonished at the insipidity and impertinence of the
language I had to listen to. Believe me, we have no Fatherland,
and if I am "German" it is because I carry my Germany along with
me. This is fortunate, because the Mayence garrison has certainly
not inspired me with enthusiasm.
X. seems to be angry with me; I at last got annoyed with him
because his optimism irritated me.
I cannot understand a good many things, and allowance ought to be
made for me on account of my curious life. X., it seems to me,
fritters himself away; he undertakes too much, and by that means
loses the compact, concentric quality which a true man needs. I
cannot look on without being painfully affected. On the other
hand, I am, no doubt, very wrong in not accepting so true a
friend as he is; and I have much reason to acknowledge X.'s
friendship. He must not be angry with me and do as he likes; but
he should be sometimes a little more punctual with his letters.
Believe me, that in spite of my Paris surroundings I feel awfully
lonely, while of you I can never think except as of some one who
is surrounded by people, even at Weimar. Perhaps I have a good
many erroneous notions in that respect; at least Madame Street
gave me to understand as much when she described her visit to
you. She said that you had been very sad, although in very good
health. Well, I certainly cannot see why you should be
particularly joyous; at the same time this news has struck me
very much, and Madame W., to whom I spoke about it, was quite
frightened. There is something about you which causes you to
appear surrounded by splendour and light, and makes it difficult
for us to understand what could make you sad. Least of all am I
inclined to discover the cause of your irritation in the stupid
reception which your works have met with now and then, for it
seems to me that no one ought to know better than you that this
animosity is caused not by your works, but by the false light in
which you appear to the multitude. That light which reveals you
as so exceptional a phenomenon, that a misconception of it is
only too easily accounted for, is now and then too powerful,
especially for German eyes. I think, therefore, you are right in
withdrawing yourself from that illumination as much as possible,
and in letting your works take their own course for a time
without the least anxiety about them. One thing you will gain,
the avoidance of personal contact. In that, everything is misery,
and believe me that while we try to "do violence to the kingdom
of heaven," we only stir up the nether mud. No, the kingdom of
heaven comes to us in our sleep. But enough of this vague talk!
Let us soon meet, when we shall see how we can ward off all
sadness. I shall soon make a long stay with you.
God bless you, my Franz! Pardon this long talk to my desire of
being near you once more.
A thousand greetings from
WEYMAR, September 21st, 1860.
Your glorious letter, dearest Richard, made me breathe the pure
atmosphere of high mountains once more. You know what I require,
and offer it to me in abundance. I was almost afraid that you
might have misunderstood my non-appearance at Soden or Baden, and
I am cordially delighted at being set right by you as to this. As
I wrote to you before, it was IMPOSSIBLE for me to get away from
here before Thursday, August 16th. Well, all is over now, and you
have pardoned me. Let us talk of something else. How proud I
should be of your visit here, and how beneficial and
strengthening prolonged intercourse with you would be to me, I
need not tell you. I think it more probable, however, that I
shall pay you a visit in Paris first. The exact date I shall not
be able to determine until the continued uncertainty and wavering
of all my circumstances here have ceased, which must happen
shortly. As regards your visit here, I repeat what I have said to
you and others. Weymar owes you a special distinction, and it is
necessary that an appropriate and adequate opportunity of
presenting yourself here should be offered to you. It is
extremely amiable of you to mean principally me when you
pronounce the name of Weymar. I wish that this SYNONYM (in an
artistic sense) were a little more pronounced; that my advice
were followed, and my reasonable wishes complied with a little
more readily. But this can scarcely be expected, and I must in
this, as in other matters, show myself resigned, determined, and
consistent. I quite agree with what you say of the "INSUFFICIENT
artistic doings" here; however, many things COULD and SHOULD be
done, especially for you and your works. You will understand that
I cannot abandon this view, and that I shall do all in my power
to realise it. The impending performance of "Rienzi" may do
something towards it.
I consider Hanover a well-chosen ground for the first performance
of "Tristan." The King works magnificently for his theatre, and
if the matter is placed before him in the proper way, it may be
expected that he will carry out your wishes and intentions.
Unfortunately I cannot be of service to you, for to the
particular influence of some of my "FRIENDS" I owe a distinctly
pronounced dislike on the part of His Majesty. All I can do in
the face of this is to wait quietly and resignedly, until the
King condescends to adopt a more correct view. Fortunately
Niemann is devoted to you, body and soul, chest-voice and head-
voice. He will, no doubt, do all in his power to bring about the
Berlin and Vienna will probably hold back a little in existing
circumstances, and the rest of Germany, which is united at least
in the spirit of NEGATION, will probably wait prudently until the
camel comes walking along, after which it will consult no end of
folios in order to describe and appreciate it properly. Oh! lazy
abomination, your name is--artistic conditions.
At Wiesbaden, Frankfort, and I know not where else, they were
waiting for Wagner, and wanted to see him conduct, or at least
listen to, "Tannhauser", "Lohengrin", etc., and there would
certainly have been no lack of enthusiastic demonstrations; but
from a work like "Tristan", at the very first sight of the score
of which every one must exclaim: "This is something unheard of,
marvellous, sublime," they run away, and hide themselves like
I have taken the liberty of making use of the passage of your
letter referring to the ready assistance you receive from the
artists, and the management of the Grand Opera in Paris by
Imperial command; and in the next number of Brendel's paper you
will read something corresponding to your letter in the form of
an original correspondence. We had, of course, to adapt some
things too true in themselves to our laudable habits here. As I
have named Brendel I should like to mention a request, viz., that
you should publish the preface to the French translation of your
dramas in Germany, simultaneously with the Paris edition, and
that you should for that purpose send the ORIGINAL, probably
written in German, either to Brendel or some publisher. A
translation of that preface will, no doubt, appear, unless you
forestall it by the original itself, and thus prevent the
travesty of your ideas, or at least of your style. If no German
sketch should be in existence, my request of course falls to the
ground, for it would be asking you too much to do the work twice
Then you are satisfied with the translation of "Tannhauser?" I am
extremely pleased, for I confess that I think it no easy task to
Frenchify your works in your sense. I am very curious to see the
new version of the Venus scene and the ballet. When you have
finished it quite, and a copy has been made, you might perhaps
lend me the sketch of the new version for a few days, but I hope
that this will be made unnecessary by my visit to you.
Truly, dear Richard, we belong together and must come together at
last. Cordial thanks for your kind letter, which in these dreary
days has been a great and noble joy to me. Amongst other things
you have taken a fine and strikingly correct view of the totally
passive attitude with regard to the reception and promulgation of
my works which I shall observe for the future. Other people have
somewhat misunderstood my conduct. What a blessing it is to be
able to dispense with the explanation and discussion of certain
God bless you, dearest Richard; keep fresh and brave and upright.
I shall write to X. today, and give him news of you. 310.
PARIS, November 24th, 1860,
3, RUE D'AUMALE.
Forgive me for writing but a few lines. I have been severely ill
these four weeks, and my recovery is scarcely noticeable. I am
still extremely weak.
I have an urgent request to make. Fancy! I do not possess a
SINGLE copy of my poem of "The Ring of the Nibelung." I want to
publish it, and do not know where to get a copy for the printer.
I remember that at the time I sent a great number of copies to
Weimar, and there was such abundance there that (as I think
Draseke told me) the book was to be had secondhand. Be kind
enough to get me one copy in consideration of my urgent need, and
send it me as quickly as possible. If there should not be a
single possessor who could make up his mind to part with his copy
in spite of the author's great difficulty, I promise to restore
to him the identical copy after the completion of the reprint. I
may therefore fairly ask even the most ardent admirer of my poem
to make this sacrifice on my behalf.
Alas! I begin to perspire, and can write no more.
Come to Paris as you promised, and make me happy!
I have managed to get a copy of your "Nibelungen." Counsellor
Muller was kind enough to give me his for you; it was taken
yesterday to Paris by the courier of the French Embassy here,
together with the volume "Wagner und das Musik-Drama," by Franz
Muller, which has just been published. You will receive the
little parcel from Monsieur Leree, chef de bureau des departs au
ministere des affaires etrangeres. It is not customary for the
ministry to transmit private messages, and you therefore must
either call on M. Leree personally, or send him a few lines.
I was in bed a whole week at the same time as you. There are
moods and conditions in which we bear physical illness better
than the uninterrupted sequence of every-day cares and
When will the French edition of your three operatic poems appear,
and what publisher undertakes the edition of the "Nibelungen?"
Have you arranged with Schott about the publication of the full
scores of "Rhinegold" and the "Valkyrie?" Send me word as to
these three things.
The first performance of "Rienzi" is announced for Boxing-day. I
have conducted several rehearsals, and have undertaken the others
as well, but I have declined most positively to conduct the
performance. That performance will be a brilliant one according
to the circumstances here, and will probably realise D.'s
expectations as to pecuniary success. Capellmeister Stor, who has
conducted your three other operas ever since I left the theatre
definitely, will undertake the direction of "Rienzi." Our artists
are full of enthusiasm.
As a trifle I may mention to you that Muller of Dresden (Messrs.
Meser) will shortly publish two transcriptions by me,--the
"Spinning Song" ("Dutchman"), and "Santo Spirito Cavaliere"
("Rienzi"). I shall not talk to you about my coming to Paris
until I am able to tell you the exact date; it will be before
WEYMAR, December 2nd, 1860
PARIS, December 15th, 1860.
I am very slowly regaining my strength. What impedes my recovery,
and indeed makes it impossible for the present, are the
extraordinary exertions and excitements to which I have to expose
my health, which is gradually coming back to me. My daily
occupation is this, that by the utmost care and by abstaining
from any other kind of activity, however slight, I manage to
attend the rehearsals at the opera. The proofs of "Rhinegold",
which Messrs. Schott would have liked so much to have published
at Christmas, have been lying on my table for seven weeks without
my being able to make any progress with them. Guess at my
condition from this fact, and forgive me anything that I may have
done to shock you.
Pardon, for example, my not having thanked you before for sending
me Muller's copy of my "Nibelungen." Good Lord! I wanted so much
to hasten the publication, and hurried you in consequence. Now I
possess the copy, and have not been able even to look at it. I
also found it impossible to send you the book before this; I have
a horror of undertaking anything, and apart from this, the Paris
publishers treat one with abominable negligence. The German
original of my letter to Villot you have probably seen. I have
not been able yet to address a single line to my Leipzig
publisher in connection with this matter.
For "Tannhauser" I have still to score the grand new scene for
Venus, and to compose the whole of the Venusberg dance music. How
this is to get done in time without a miracle I fail to perceive.
I wish YOU would at last come to Paris.
But no more of this. I cannot speak of anything at greater
length, firstly, because I know too little, and secondly, because
I must absolutely conclude these lines.
Farewell, and a thousand greetings.
3, RUE D'AUMALE.
MY GREAT FRIEND,
How it is that we live for weeks and months BY THE SIDE OF EACH
OTHER while I know all the time that we are cordially united and,
so to speak, welded together in spirit, I will not explain to you
today. You have probably heard of the painful circumstances which
prevented me from visiting you in Paris at the end of February.
God be thanked, my anxiety is now slightly diminished, and I
intend to arrive at Paris between May 7th and 9th. But I do not
want to have it talked about because the many impediments which
have so far frustrated my travelling schemes have made me a
With your permission I should like to advocate the offer made to
you by Brendel, concerning the performance of the second act
of "Tristan," at the meeting of musicians (August 7th). Schnorr
and his wife have undertaken to sing, and the other parts will be
decently filled here. Of course, this fragmentary performance
ought not in the least to disturb or interfere with your original
and further plans concerning this work. I hope that you will
credit me with sufficient knowledge of the circumstance to
understand your hesitation at sanctioning this proceeding. Be
good enough to tell me simply what you think about it. If you do
not send us packing, and look favourably on our request, the
proper steps will be taken.
Write to me, if possible, by return of post, because I leave here
on the 29th inst.
WEYMAR, April 18th, 1861.
A thousand thanks, dearest Richard, for your kind letter. May the
treacherous fate which has hitherto kept us apart soon be
vanquished for ever. No one can understand better than I that a
fragmentary performance of "Tristan" must appear quite absurd to
you. I thank you for the gentle manner in which you reply to my
proposal, and take into account the narrow circumstances and
resources which impede my activity. You cannot believe how
painful it is to me not to be able to do anything PROPER for your
honour, benefit, and use. For several years all my steps and
efforts in that direction have been in vain; otherwise, not only
"Tristan" but "The Ring of the Nibelung" would be in existence
and do wonders. I was told several times, and positively assured,
that everything would be done here to further your efforts, and
especially to effect the performance of "The Nibelungen" and of
"Tristan." I, for my part, have clearly demonstrated, by word of
mouth and by letter, what they would have to do, viz., to invite
you here for the purpose of mounting and conducting those works
in accordance with your instructions and wishes. But the whole
plan was always wrecked on the score of expenses.
I will not trouble you with the details of this affair, the
failure of which, between ourselves, was my chief reason for
giving up my connection with our theatre altogether.
The Carlsruhe performance of "Tristan" in September will be a
great joy to me. The Grand Duke of Baden be praised and thanked
for it. You will reward his kindness and grace in a glorious
What will become of me in the course of this year is quite
uncertain. First of all I shall see you in Paris.
WEYMAR, April 26th, 1861.
An answer would be too late to find me here.
PARIS, June 15th, 1861.
A few days ago I received a telegram from Leipzig for Tausig, in
which he was requested to send his address. Today followed a
letter for him, accompanied by one to me, in which I am asked
for information as to Tausig and his whereabouts. I think it
unnecessary to give that information, because I assume that
Tausig has either seen the person in question at Leipzig or given
news of himself. I therefore ask you to transmit to our young
friend these facts, and also the enclosed letter intended for
him, as I do not know what to do with the latter.
Beyond this I have nothing to tell you, dearest Franz--no event,
no plan, no hope--for not the slightest change has taken place in
Farewell, and, if possible, make me happy soon by news of your
3, RUE D'AUMALE.
A letter from my daughter, Mdme. Ollivier, informs me that your
wife will go to Soden by the middle of this week, and that you
intend to come to Weymar by the end of the month.
Your presence here, coming as it does at the end of my too much
prolonged stay, will be a beautiful spiritual ray of sunlight;
let me urgently pray you not to refuse me this joy. On August
15th I intend to leave Weymar for a longer period, and have made
the necessary preparations for my removal.
You will, of course, stay with me at Altenburg, where H. and T.
also have quarters. To the Grand Duke I have announced your
visit, and I expect that your personal relations to him will be
of a most pleasant and satisfactory kind.
How about your settling at Carlsruhe? Have your pecuniary affairs
been arranged in Paris, and how? Let me know something about
As to myself I know nothing definite, except that I am going away
from Weymar. Many objections have of course been raised, which,
however, have not been able to alter my resolution. Between this
and the beginning of August I shall fix on my next place of
abode, which will, in any case, not for the present be a large
town, because I want retirement and work above all. Briefly
speaking, my situation is indicated by this dilemma: Either my
marriage takes place, and that soon--or not. In the former case,
Germany later on, and especially Weymar, may still be possible
for me. Otherwise no!
For the moment I am plagued with all kinds of business matters.
Excuse me, dearest Richard, for writing you so little, and
vouchsafe soon the great joy of your presence to
Your sincerely devoted
P.S.--My daughter writes to say that she will arrive here with
Ollivier on August 3rd. The performance of the "Prometheus" and
"Faust" symphonies will be on August 6th.
END OF VOL II.
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