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Title: Correspondence of Wagner and Liszt — Volume 1
Author: Liszt, Franz, Wagner, Richard
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Correspondence of Wagner and Liszt — Volume 1" ***

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Correspondence of Wagner and Liszt, Volume 1 (1889)

By Richard Wagner; Franz Liszt; Francis Hueffer (translator)




The German musical genius Richard Wagner (1811-1883) could be
considered to be one of the ideological fathers of early 20th
century German nationalism. He was well-suited for this role.
Highly intelligent, sophisticated, complex, capable of imagining
whole systems of humanistic philosophy, and with an intense need
to communicate his ideas, he created great operas which, in
addition to their artistic merits, served the peculiar role of
promoting a jingoistic, chauvenistic kind of Germanism. There are
things in his operas that only a German can fully understand,
especially if he would like to see his country closed off to
outsiders. It is unlikely, however, that Wagner expected these
ideas to achieve any popularity. Time and again he rails against
philistines, irrational people and politicians in his letters.
With great exasperation and often depression he expressed little
hope that his country would ever emerge out of its "philistinism"
and embrace "rational" ideas such as he propagated. Add to this
the great difficulties he had in getting his works performed, and
one might assume that he felt himself to be composing, most of
the time, to audiences of bricks. Yes, his great, intensely
beloved friend Liszt believed in, fully understood, and greatly
appreciated Wagner's works, but Liszt was just one in a million,
and even he, as Wagner suggested, associated with a base coterie
incapable of assimilating Wagnerian messages. Considering the
sorry state of music and intellectualism in Wagner's time and
setting, he surely would have been surprised if his operas and
his ideas achieved any wide currency. That he continued to work
with intense energy to develop his ideas, to fix them into
musical form and to propagate them, while knowing that probably
no sizeable population would ever likely take note of them, and
while believing that his existence as an underappreciated,
rational individual in an irrational world was absurd and futile,
is a testimony to the enormous will-power of this "ubermensch."


The best introduction to this important correspondence of the two
great musicians will be found in the following extract from an
autobiographical sketch written by Wagner in 1851. It has been
frequently quoted, but cannot be quoted too often, describing, as
it does, the beginning and the development of a friendship which
is unique in the history of art.

"Again I was thoroughly disheartened from undertaking any new
artistic scheme. Only recently I had had proofs of the
impossibility of making my art intelligible to the public, and
all this deterred me from beginning new dramatic works. Indeed, I
thought everything was at an end with my artistic creativeness.
From this state of mental dejection I was raised by a friend. By
the most evident and undeniable proofs he made me feel that I was
not deserted, but, on the contrary, understood deeply by those
even who were otherwise most distant from me; in this way he gave
me back my full artistic confidence.

"This wonderful friend has been to me Franz Liszt. I must enter a
little more deeply into the character of this friendship, which,
to many, has seemed paradoxical.

"I met Liszt for the first time during my earliest stay in Paris,
and at a period when I had renounced the hope, nay, even the wish
of a Paris reputation, and, indeed, was in a state of internal
revolt against the artistic life I found there. At our meeting
Liszt appeared. to me the most perfect contrast to my own being
and situation. In this world, to which it had been my desire to
fly from my narrow circumstances, Liszt had grown up from his
earliest age, so as to be the object of general love and
admiration at a time when I was repulsed by general coldness and
want of sympathy. In consequence, I looked upon him with
suspicion. I had no opportunity of disclosing my being and
working to m, and, therefore, the reception I met with on his
part was altogether of a superficial kind, as was indeed quite
natural in a man to whom every day the most divergent impressions
claimed access. My repeated expression of this feeling was
afterwards reported to Liszt, just at the time when my "Rienzi"
at Dresden attracted general attention. He was surprised to find
himself misunderstood with such violence by a man whom he had
scarcely known, and whose acquaintance now seemed not without
value to him. I am still touched at recollecting the repeated and
eager attempts he made to change my opinion of him, even before
he knew any of my works. He acted not from any artistic sympathy,
but was led by the purely human wish of discontinuing a casual
disharmony between himself and another being; perhaps he also
felt an infinitely tender misgiving of having really hurt me
unconsciously. He who knows the terrible selfishness and
insensibility in our social life, and especially in the relations
of modern artists to each other, cannot but be struck with
wonder, nay, delight, by the treatment I experienced from this
extraordinary man.

"This happened at a time when it became more and more evident
that my dramatic works would have no outward success. But just
when the case seemed desperate Liszt succeeded by his own energy
in opening a hopeful refuge to my art. He ceased his wanderings,
settled down at the small, modest Weimar, and took up the
conductor's baton, after having been at home so long in the
splendour of the greatest cities of Europe. At Weimar I saw him
for the last time, when I rested a few days in Thuringia, not yet
certain whether the threatening prosecution would compel me to
continue my flight from Germany. The very day when my personal
danger became a certainty, I saw Liszt conduct a rehearsal of my
"Tannhauser", and was astonished at recognizing my second-self in
his achievement. What I had felt in inventing this music he felt
in performing it; what I wanted to express in writing it down he
proclaimed in making it sound. Strange to say, through the love
of this rarest friend, I gained, at the moment of becoming
homeless, the real home for my art, which I had longed for and
sought for always in the wrong place.

"At the end of my last stay in Paris, when ill, miserable, and
despairing, I sat brooding over my fate, my eye fell on the score
of my "Lohengrin", totally forgotten by me. Suddenly I felt
something like compassion that this music should never sound from
off the death-pale paper. Two words I wrote to Liszt; his answer
was the news that preparations for the performance were being
made on the largest scale the limited means of Weimar would
permit. Everything that men and circumstances could do was done
in order to make the work understood. Success was his reward, and
with this success he now approaches me, saying, 'Behold we have
come so far; now create us a new work that we may go still

Wagner's words, as above quoted, may have seemed an exaggerated
tribute of gratitude to many. After reading these letters one
comes to the conclusion that they are the expression of a plain
fact. It is a well-known French saying that in every love affair
there is one person who adores while the other allows himself to
be adored, and that saying may, with equal justice, be applied to
the many literary and artistic friendships of which, pace the
elder D'Israeli, history knows so many examples. Petrarch and
Boccaccio, Schiller and Goethe, Byron and Shelley immediately
occur to the mind in such a connection; but in none of these is
the mutual position of giver and receiver of worshipper and
worshipped so distinctly marked as in the case under discussion.

Nature itself, or, at least, external circumstances, had indeed
almost settled the matter. In the earlier stages of this
friendship the worldly position of the two men was a widely
different one. Liszt was at the time perhaps the most famous
musician alive, and although he had voluntarily abandoned an
active career, he remained the friend of kings and ecclesiastic
potentates, and the head and centre of an admiring school of

Wagner at the same period was, in familiar language--nobody. He
had lost his position at the Royal Opera at Dresden through his
participation in the revolutionary rising of 1849, and he was an
exile from his country. As an artist his antecedents were not
very glorious. He had written three operas, all of which had met
with fair success, but none of which had taken real hold of the
public, and the Court theatres of Germany were naturally not very
prone to favour the interests of an outlawed rebel. In spite of
this disparity of fortune, it is curious to see how the two men,
almost from the first, assume the mutual position already
indicated. Liszt, from the beginning, realizes, with a self-
abnegation and a freedom from vanity almost unique in history,
that he is dealing with a man infinitely greater than himself,
and to serve the artistic and personal purposes of that man he
regards as a sacred duty.

Wagner's attitude in the matter will be judged differently by
different people, according to the opinion they have of the
permanent and supreme value of his work. He simply accepts the
position as he finds it. "Here am I," he may have said to
himself, "with a brain teeming with art work of a high and
lasting kind; my resources are nil, and if the world, or at least
the friends who believe in me, wish me to do my allotted task,
they must free me from the sordid anxieties of existence." The
words, here placed in quotation marks, do not actually occur in
any of the letters, but they may be read between the lines of
many of them. The naivete with which Wagner expresses himself on
this subject is indeed almost touching, and it must be owned that
his demands for help are, according to English notions at least,
extremely modest. A pension of 300 thalers, or about,œ45 of our
money, which he expects from the Grand Duke of Weimar for the
performing right of his operas, is mentioned on one occasion as
the summit of his desire. Unfortunately, even this small sum was
not forthcoming, and Wagner accordingly for a long time depended
upon the kindness of his friends and the stray sums which the
royalties on his operas brought him as his sole support. He for
himself, as he more than once declares, would not have feared
poverty, and with the touch of the dramatic element in his
nature, which was peculiar to him, would perhaps have found a
certain pleasure in going through the world, an artistic
Belisarius asking the lovers of his art for their obolus. But he
had a wife (his first wife), weak in health, and anxious of mind,
and to protect her from every care is his chief desire--a desire
which has something beautiful and pathetic in it, and is the
redeeming feature of the many appeals for a loan, and sometimes
for a present, which occur in these letters.

Liszt was only too willing to give, but his means were extremely
limited. He had realized large sums during his artistic career;
but he was liberal almost to a fault, and poor artists, inundated
Hungarian peasants, and the Beethoven monument at Bonn profited a
great deal more by his successes than he did himself. What little
remained of his savings had been settled upon his aged mother and
his three children, and at the time here alluded to his only
fixed income was the salary of less than [pounds] 200, which he
derived from the Weimar Theatre. This explanation he himself
gives to Wagner, in answer to the following remarkable sentence
in one of that master's letters:--"I once more return to the
question, can you let me have the 1,000 francs as a gift, and
would it be possible for you to guarantee me the same annual sum
for the next two years?" The 1,000 francs was forthcoming soon
afterwards, but poor Liszt had to decline the additional
obligation for two other years.

The above passage is quoted as an instance of many others, and
one must admire the candour of Wagner's widow, who has not
suppressed a single touch in the picture of this beautiful
friendship. But Liszt's help was not limited to material things.
What was infinitely more valuable to Wagner, and what excited his
gratitude to even more superlative utterance, was the confidence
which Liszt showed in his genius, and without which, it is no
exaggeration to say, Wagner's greatest works would probably have
remained unwritten.

The first performance of "Lohengrin" at Weimar, which was really
the starting-point of his fame, has already been alluded to.
Every further step in his career was watched and encouraged by
the loving sympathy of Liszt, and when Wagner, overpowered by the
grandeur and difficulties of his "Nibelungen" scheme, was on the
point of laying down the pen, it was Liszt who urged him to
continue in his arduous task, and to go on in spite of all

It must not, however, be thought that Wagner alone derived
benefits from this remarkable friendship. Not only did he in his
turn encourage Liszt in the career of a composer of great and
novel works, but he distinctly raised the intellectual and
artistic level of his friend. Liszt's nature was of a noble, one
may say, ideal kind, but he had lived in dangerous surroundings,
and the influence of the great world and of the glaring publicity
in which a virtuoso moves, had left its trace on his
individuality. Here, then, the uncompromising idealism, the
world-defying artistic conviction of Wagner, served as a tonic to
his character. If the reader will refer to Letter 21, or at least
to that portion of it which has been vouchsafed by Madame Wagner,
he will see how necessary the administration of such a tonic was
to a man who even at that time could think it necessary to
deprecate the "superideal" character of "Lohengrin", and to
advise in a scarcely disguised manner that the Knight of the
Grail should be brought a little more within the comprehension of
ordinary people. All the more beautiful is it to see how Liszt is
ultimately carried away by the enthusiasm of his great friend,
how he also defies the world, and adopts the device "L'art pour
l'art" as his guiding principle. Altogether the two friends might
have said to each other in the words of Juliet:--

"My bounty is as boundless as the sea, My love as deep; the more
I give to thee, The more I have, for both are infinite." A few
words should be said of the spirit in which the translator has
undertaken his extremely difficult task. There are in these pages
many things which are of comparatively little interest to the
English reader,--allusions to circumstances and persons with
which he cannot be expected to be familiar, especially as the
latter are frequently veiled by initials. There is no doubt that
judicious omissions might have made these pages more readable and
more amusing. But then such a book as this is not meant to amuse.
It is almost of a monumental character, and his deep respect for
that character has induced the translator to produce its every
feature,--a remark which applies to manner no less than to
matter. In consequence, not a line has been omitted, and the
manners and mannerisms of the writers have been preserved as far
as the difference of the two languages would allow. Such
effusions of German enthusiasm as "dearest, best, most unique of
friends," "glorious, great man," and the italics which both
Wagner and Liszt employ with a profusion of which any lady might
be proud, have been scrupulously preserved. These slight touches
give a racy flavour to the letters; and although they may
occasionally call forth a smile, they will, no doubt, be
appreciated by those who with Sterne "can see the precise and
distinguishing marks of national character more in these
nonsensical minutiae than in the most important matters of

That the task of reproducing these minutiae without doing too
much violence to the English idiom was an extremely difficult
one, the experienced reader need not be told. Liszt, it is true,
writes generally in a simple and straightforward manner, and his
letters, especially those written in French, present no very
great obstacles; but with Wagner the case is different. He also
is plain and lucid enough where the ordinary affairs of life are
concerned, but as soon as he comes upon a topic that really
interests him, be it music or Buddhism, metaphysics or the
iniquities of the Jews, his brain gets on fire, and his pen
courses over the paper with the swiftness and recklessness of a
race-horse, regardless of the obstacles of style and
construction, and sometimes of grammar. His meaning is always
deep, but to arrive at that meaning in such terrible letters, for
example, as those numbered 27, 35, 107, 255, and many others,
sometimes seems to set human ingenuity at defiance. It would of
course have been possible, by disentangling dove-tailed sentences
and by giving the approximate meaning where the literal was
impossible, to turn all this into fairly smooth English. But in
such a process all the strength and individual character of the
original would inevitably have been lost. What I have endeavoured
to do is to indicate the diction which a man of Wagner's peculiar
turn of mind would have used, if he had written in English
instead of in German.

To sum up, this translation of the correspondence is intended to
be an exact facsimile of the German original. To supply notes and
a serviceable index, to give a clue to the various persons who
are hidden under initials--all this must be left to another
occasion, provided always that the Wagner family consents to such
a course, and that the interest shown by English readers in the
work as it stands holds out sufficient inducement to so toilsome
a piece of work.





If I take the liberty to trouble you with these lines, I must in
the first instance rely solely on the great kindness with which
you received me during your last short stay in Paris in the late
autumn of last year, when Herr Schlesinger casually introduced me
to you. There is, however, still another circumstance which
encourages me to this step: My friend Heinrich Laube, the author,
wrote to me last summer from Carlsbad that he had there made the
acquaintance of one of your countrymen, who boasted of being your
friend; that he had spoken to that gentleman of me and my plans,
and engaged his interest in me to such an extent that he (the
gentleman) of his own accord promised to introduce me to YOU, as
he was on the point of starting for another watering-place, where
he would be sure to meet you.

You observe, dear sir, with what remote and uncertain
contingencies I am obliged to connect my great hope; you observe
how anxiously I cling to feeble possibilities to attain a
priceless boon. Was that promise ever fulfilled, and could it
have been? My eternally unlucky star almost forbids me to believe
it. The question, however, I owed to myself, and all I ask for at
present is the honour of a Yes or a No!

With full admiration, your most devoted


25, RUE DU HELDER, PARIS, March 24th, 1841.



At last you are within safe reach of me, and I take this long-
desired opportunity to gain you, as far as is in my power, for
our scheme of celebrating Weber's memory by a worthy monument to
be erected in Dresden. You are just on the point of crowning your
important participation in the erection of the Beethoven
monument; you are for that purpose surrounded by the most
important musicians of our time, and in consequence are in the
very element most favourable to the enterprise which of late has
been resumed chiefly through my means. As no doubt you heard at
the time, we have transferred Weber's remains to the earth of his
German home. We have had a site for the intended monument
assigned to us close to our beautiful Dresden theatre, and a
commencement towards the necessary funds has been made by the
benefit performances at the Dresden, Berlin, and Munich theatres.
These funds, however, I need scarcely mention, have to be
increased considerably if something worthy is to be achieved, and
we must work with all our strength to rouse enthusiasm wherever
something may still be done. A good deal of this care I should
like to leave to you, not, you may believe me, from idleness, but
because I feel convinced that the voice of a poor German composer
of operas, compelled to devote his lifelong labour to the
spreading of his works a little beyond the limits of his
province, is much too feeble to be counted of importance for
anything in the world. Dear Herr Liszt, take it well to heart
when I ask you to relieve me of the load which would probably be
heaped on me by the reproach that I had compromised our dear
Weber's memory, because it was none other than I, weak and
unimportant as I am, who had first mooted this celebration. Pray,
do what you can in order to be helpful to our enterprise, for
gradually, as I observe the vulgar indifference of our theatres,
which owe so much to Weber, I begin to fear that our fund might
easily remain such as it is at present, and that would be
tantamount to our having to commence with very inadequate means
the erection of a monument which doubtless would have turned out
better if a more important personality had started the idea.

I add no more words, for to you I have probably said enough. The
committee of which I am a member will apply to you with proper
formality. Would that you could let us have a gratifying answer,
and that my application might have contributed a little towards

With true esteem and devotion, I am yours,


MARIENBAD, August 5th, 1845



On and off I hear that you remember me very kindly and are intent
upon gaining friends for me; and I could have wished that, by
staying in Dresden a little longer, you had given me an
opportunity of thanking you personally and enjoying your company.
As I perceive more and more that I and my works, which as yet
have scarcely begun to spread abroad, are not likely to prosper
very much, I slowly familiarize myself with the thought of
turning to account your friendly feeling towards me a little,
and, much as I generally detest the seeking and making of
opportunities, I proceed with perfect openness to rouse you up in
my favour. There is at Vienna, where you happen to be staying, a
theatrical manager, P.; the man came to me a year ago, and
invited me to produce "Rienzi" at his theatre in the present
spring. Since then I have not been able to hear again from him,
but as our "Tichatschek" goes to his theatre in May for an
extensive starring engagement, and thereby the possibility of a
good representation of "Rienzi" would be given, the backing out
on the part of this P. begins to make me angry. I presume that
he, who is personally stupid, has been subsequently set against
my opera by his conductor, N. For this Capellmeister N. has
himself written an opera, which, because our King had heard it
and disliked it elsewhere, was not produced at Dresden, and the
wretched man probably thinks he owes me a grudge for it, although
I had no influence whatever in the matter. However trivial such
considerations may be in themselves, they and similar ones
largely furnish the real cause why works like mine occasionally
die in Germany; and as Vienna for pecuniary reasons, apart from
anything else, is of importance to me, I go straight to you, most
esteemed friend, to ask that you will set Manager P.'s head
right, in favour of an early performance of my "Rienzi" at his
theatre. Pray do not be angry with me.

I have ventured to send you through Meser the scores of my
"Rienzi" and "Tannhauser," and wish and hope that the latter will
please you better than the former.

Let me thank you sincerely for the great kindnesses you have
shown me. May your sentiments remain always the same towards

Your faithfully devoted


DRESDEN, March 22nd, 1846



Herr Halbert tells me you want my overture to Goethe's "Faust."
As I know of no reason to withhold it from you except that it
does not please me any longer, I send it to you, because I think
that in this matter the only important question is whether the
overture pleases you. If the latter should be the case, dispose
of my work; only I should like occasionally to have the
manuscript back again.

You will now have to go through capellmeister agonies of the
first quality; so I can imagine, and my opera is just the kind of
thing for that to one who takes a loving interest in it. Learn to
know these sufferings; they are the daily bread I eat. May God
give you strength and joy in your hard work.

From my heart yours,


DRESDEN, January 30th, 1848



You told me lately that you had closed your piano for some time,
and I presume that for the present you have turned banker. I am
in a bad state, and like lightning the thought comes to me that
you might help me. The edition of my three operas has been
undertaken by myself; the capital I have borrowed in various
quarters; I have now received notice to repay all the money, and
I cannot hold out another week, for every attempt to sell my
copyrights, even for the bare outlay, has in these difficult
times proved unsuccessful. From several other causes the matter
begins to look very alarming to me, and I ask myself secretly
what is to become of me. The sum in question is 5,000 thalers;
after deducting the proceeds that have already come in and
without claim to royalties, this is the money that has been
invested in the publication of my operas. Can you get me such a
sum? Have you got it yourself, or has some one else who would pay
it for the love of you? Would it not be interesting if you were
to become the owner of the copyright of my operas? My friend
Meser would continue the business on your account as honestly as
he has done on mine; and a lawyer could easily put the thing in
order. And do you know what would be the result? I should once
more be a HUMAN BEING, a man for whom existence would be
possible, an artist who would never again in his life ask for a
shilling, and would only do his work bravely and gladly. Dear
Liszt, with this money you will buy me out of slavery! Do you
think I am worth that sum as a serf? Let that be known soon to

Your most devoted


DRESDEN, June 23rd, 1848



Here am I fighting for death or life, and do not know what the
end will be. I have written to my lawyer to tell him of my last
hope: that by your energetic interference my affairs may possibly
be arranged. Your name will go far in the transaction, but your
person still farther; let me have the latter for a day, but very
soon. According to news which has reached me here, I shall next
Wednesday or Thursday have to undertake a journey which will keep
me away from Dresden for a fortnight. Performances of my operas I
cannot, for that and other reasons, offer you. Could you make up
your mind to come here very quickly even without the expectation
of one of my operas? If I offer you no performances, you shall,
on the other hand (that is my most ardent wish), possess all my
operas as your hereditary property. Do come! Your personality
will do much good, more than my personality will be able to do
all my life; for I cannot help myself.

Best greetings, excellent friend!

Wholly yours,


DRESDEN, July 1st, 1848



Last night I wrote to Herr von Villen and asked him to talk over
and arrange with your lawyer and Herr Meser the affair of the
scores, and then to let me have a positive and precise answer. I
cannot possibly come to Dresden for the present. May God grant
that the state of your affairs turn out to be such as to enable
me to offer you my small and much-enfeebled services, being, as I

Your sincere and devoted admirer and friend,


WEYMAR, July 4th, 1848



Cordial greetings, and best thanks for the many and manifold
troubles you have taken on my behalf.

I had promised Princess Wittgenstein news as to the performance
of my "Tannhauser;" but I cannot for the present give you any
other than that the opera will not be performed either Sunday or
Monday, as I had promised, owing chiefly to the indisposition of
Tichatschek. Even if he were well, it could not take place, as we
have first of all to satisfy a "star," Formes. Probably
"Tannhauser" will not be possible till about a week later.

In any case I hope soon to see you again, and am glad
accordingly. May I ask you to remember me to the Princess?

I am wholly yours,


DRESDEN, September 6th, 1848



Although I dare scarcely hope that you can act upon it, I hasten
to let you know that "Tannhauser" is announced for performance
here on Sunday next, September 24th.

On Friday, 22nd, there will be a jubilee concert of our orchestra
in celebration of its existence for three hundred years, and on
that occasion a piece of my latest opera, "Lohengrin," will,
amongst other things, be heard. According to a previous
arrangement, I consider it my duty to let you know this, and
should certainly be very glad to welcome you, and perhaps
Princess Wittgenstein (to whom please give my best compliments),
on these occasions, although I must fear that my news may come at
an inconvenient moment.

Yours with all my heart,


DRESDEN, September 19th, 1848



Cordial greetings, and best thanks for the kind remembrance in
which you hold me. For a long time I have felt it my duty to
write to you. Lord knows why I have never done so. May it not be
too late even today.

Will you really in this evil time undergo the nuisance of
tackling my "Tannhauser"? Have you not yet lost your courage in
this arduous labour, which only in the luckiest case can be
grateful? "In the luckiest case," I say, for only if the actors,
especially of the principal parts, are equal to their most
difficult task, if the unaccustomed nature of that task does not
frighten them and cripple their good intentions, only then the
lucky case can happen of the performance being comprehensible and
effective. If one circumstance gives me hope of success, it is
that you have undertaken the task. You can do many, many things;
of that I am persuaded.

I am very glad you are settled in Weimar, and I hope that not
only Weimar, but you, will profit by it. At least, we shall
remain near each other.

I live in a very humbled condition and without much hope. I
depend on the goodwill of certain people. Every thought of
enjoying life I have abandoned, but--let me tell you this for
your comfort--I am alive in spite of it all, and do not mean to
let any one kill me so easily.

Remember me kindly to Herr von Zigesar, who has written to me
very courteously. The points mentioned in his letter have, I
hope, been settled verbally by Herr Genast, especially that about
the honorarium, which I am willing to give up altogether. Please
remember me also to Herr Genast, and let me soon have some news
of you.

I remain in cordial devotion yours,


DRESDEN, January 14th, 1849




Accept my most hearty thanks for your kind letter, which has
given me much joy. I confess that I scarcely thought this the
time to gain sympathy for my works, less on account of the
present political commotion, than because of the absence of all
real earnestness, which has long ago disappeared from the public
interest in the theatre, giving way to the most shallow desire
for entertainment. You yourself are anxious about the reception
of my opera at the hands of the Weimar public, but as at the same
time you evince your sympathy for that work so cordially, you
will, I may hope, agree with me when I openly charge your
excellent predecessors with the responsibility for your being
obliged to suspect the public of an ill-regulated and shallow
taste. For as we educate a child, so he grows up, and a
theatrical audience is equally subject to the effects of
training. But I am unjust in accusing Weimar of a fault which
during the last generation has invaded all the theatres in the
world, the more so as I lay myself open to the suspicion of doing
so in the self-conceited interest of a work which perhaps for
different reasons, derivable from intrinsic faults, may be
exposed to the displeasure of the public. However that may be,
your care for my work is in the circumstances all the more
gratifying and meritorious, and I offer you my most cordial
thanks. The pleasure of a visit to you at Weimar I am compelled,
for reasons connected with my local affairs, to leave to another
time. That the performance of my opera would not answer my
expectations is the least thing I fear; for from firm conviction
I have the most favourable opinion of what diligence and good-
will can do, while I know, on the other hand, how little without
these two the amplest resources can achieve for true art. As I
can be certain of these chief requirements at your theatre, I
feel justified in offering to you, all others concerned, and
especially my friend Liszt, my best thanks in advance; and no
excessive anxiety shall trouble me. I sincerely wish that the
exalted lady whose birthday is to be celebrated will think the
success of your labour worthy of acknowledgment.

With much esteem, I have the honour to remain

Yours most sincerely,


DRESDEN, February 8th, 1849



Herr von Zigesar has lately written to you to say with how much
zeal and with what ever-increasing admiration and sympathy we are
studying your "Tannhauser." If you could make it possible to come
over for the last rehearsal on the 15th and attend the
performance on the 16th, we should all be truly delighted. Let me
know the day before, because of engaging a room, etc.

Cordial thanks for sending me the "Faust" overture.

Hoping to see you soon,

Your sincerely devoted


February 9th, 1849



From all I hear you have recently added to the unequalled
successes of your former life and artistic activity a new one,
which probably is not inferior to the foremost of its
predecessors, and in many respects perhaps surpasses them all. Do
you suppose I cannot judge of this from a distance? Hear if I

No theatre in the world has so far thought it advisable to
perform my opera "Tannhauser" four years after its production; it
was left to you to settle down for a time from your world-wide
travels at a small court theatre, and at once to set to work so
that your much-tried friend might at last get on a little. You
did not talk or fuss; you yourself undertook the unaccustomed
task of teaching my work to the people. Be sure that no one knows
as well as I what it means to bring such a work to light in
existing circumstances. Who the deuce does not conduct operatic
rehearsals nowadays? You were intent not only upon giving the
opera, but upon making it understood and received with applause.
That meant to throw yourself into the work body and soul, to
sacrifice body and soul, to press and exert every fibre of the
body, every faculty of the soul, towards the one aim of not only
producing your friend's work, but of producing it splendidly and
to his advantage. You had to be sure that it would succeed, for
only with a view to success had you begun the work; and therein
lies the force of your character and of your ability--you have
succeeded. If I have judged your beautiful action rightly, if I
have understood you, I hope you will understand me too when, in
words as brief and precise as was your action, I say to you,

I THANK you, dear friend!

You, however, wished not only to benefit my work, but to benefit
me as well; you know that my position is that of a somewhat
hemmed-in, forsaken, solitary man. You desired to make friends
for me, and had a sufficiently good opinion of my work to think
that the spreading of it abroad would gain friends for me. Dear
friend, by that very means you have at this moment lifted me up
as by a charm. It is not to complain, but merely to convince you
of the force of that impression, when I tell you that just now,
in the very week when you gave my "Tannhauser" at Weimar, our
manager insulted me in so gross a manner that for several days I
was discussing with myself whether I should bear any longer to be
exposed to such infamous treatment for the bite of bread that my
service here gives me to eat, and whether I should not rather
throw up art and earn my bread as a labourer, to be at least free
from the despotism of malignant ignorance. Thank God! The news
from Weimar and Tichatschek's greetings and accounts have again
strengthened me. I once more have courage to suffer.

This also I owe to you!

D.V.--I shall soon see you again, dear, worthy, helpful friend.
Last week it was impossible to ask my tormentor for a short leave
of absence; otherwise I should have liked to come, if only to
spend a few cheerful and animated hours with you and to tell you
the delight I feel in you. In the meantime be satisfied with
this. It comes from my fullest heart, and tears are in my eyes.

From Herren von Zigesar, Biedenfeld, and Genast I simultaneously
received letters of joyfullest and friendliest import; I answer
them all at once by making you my interpreter, and through you
greet those gentlemen with all my heart. Hold me dear as before.
I give to you in return what is in me, and what therefore I call
my own.

God bless you, dear Liszt.



DRESDEN, February 20th, 1849



So much do I owe to your bold and high genius, to the fiery and
magnificent pages of your "Tannhauser," that I feel quite awkward
in accepting the gratitude you are good enough to express with
regard to the two performances I had the honour and happiness to
conduct. However that may be, your letter has given me the
liveliest pleasure of friendship. I thank you with all my heart
for the thanks you proffer me. Once for all, number me in future
amongst your most zealous and devoted admirers; far or near,
count on me and dispose of me.

Herren Zigesar, Genast, and Biedenfeld have described to you in
detail the impression which your masterpiece has made on our
public. In the Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung you will find a few
lines I have sent to Brockhaus by his demand. Biedenfeld has put
the little article into shape. I shall send you by post the
article that appeared in our Gemeindeblatt, where is also printed
the prologue of Schober, who had the sense to turn "Tannhauser"
to good account. Talking of people with good sense, do you know
what I mean to do? No more nor less than to appropriate for the
piano, after my fashion, the overture of "Tannhauser and" the
whole scene "O du mein holder Abendstern" of the third act. As to
the former, I believe that it will meet with few executants
capable of mastering its technical difficulties, but the scene of
the "Abendstern" should be within easy reach of second-class

If you will propose to Meser to have it engraved, or if you will
allow me to dispose of it for the benefit of H. or Sch., I should
like to have it published soon. Perhaps, if you have no
objection, I should dispose of it in favour of an album for which
my assistance has been asked for the last two months--the album
published by the "Ladies' Society for the German Fleet." In vain
I told them that I suffered from a drought of both manuscripts
and ideas; they would not leave me alone; and I have just
received another letter from a nice lady, who gives it me nicely.

Write to me as to the destination you prefer for your
"Abendstern;" and when we meet, I shall have the impertinence to
play you with my two hands your overture, such as I have prepared
it for my particular use.

Remember me very affectionately to Tichatschek; he has been an
admirable artist and a charming comrade and friend. It will be a
true pleasure to me to see him here again in the month of May,
according to his promise. If you could on the same occasion
dispose of a few days, we should be only too happy to see you. In
the meantime, dearest friend, believe me from my heart and soul
your devoted admirer and friend,


February 26th, 1849

P.S.--A very beautiful and accomplished hand wishes to add a few
lines to this letter; if you have found if tedious to read me,
you could have no better compensation.


Allow me, dear sir, to add another voice to the chorus of
admiration which sings "Gloria" to the author of the double poem
of "Tannhauser." If others have more right than I to speak to you
of the sublime artistic expression which you have given to such
deep emotions, I yet venture to tell you how souls lost in the
crowd who chant to themselves your "Sangerkrieg" are penetrated
by your harmonies, which contain all the fine and delicate shades
of idea, sentiment, and passion.

We had hoped to see you for a moment at Weimar, and I clung to
that hope all the more as I wanted to express to you my thanks
for the kindness you showed me during my stay at Dresden. Let me
add to these the other thanks which I owe you for the wonderful
moments during which I listened to your melodies, expressive of
the fascinating charms of the sirens who dwell on the banks of
our imagination, and of those piercing cries wrung from us by the
extinction of the perfumes of their enchanted home,--for those
thoughts which elevate us in their humility, that despair which
throws us "without fear against swords, when the soul is pierced
by a very different sword of grief," those elegies which one
whispers only to the evening star, those prayers which bear away
the soul on their wings.

Grant, sir, that the thoughts which so much passion and beauty
awake in hearts knowing what strange secrets lie hidden in
passion, and adoring splendour and beauty, may reach you and tell
you how deep is the admiration which this master work will excite
at all times and everywhere in those who have once visited these
resplendent and dolorous regions of the soul.

Believe, above all, in the admiration which has been given to you
here, and which we should be so happy to express to you
personally. I am amongst those most desirous of seeing you, sir,
and of repeating from mouth to mouth the expression of the
admiring and devoted sentiments of which I ask you to be a
thousand times assured.


February 25th, 1849



A thousand thanks for your letter! We are going on nicely
together. If the world belonged to us, I believe we should do
something to give pleasure to the people living therein. I hope
we two at least shall agree with each other; let those who will
not go with us remain behind,--and thus be our alliance sealed!

What shall I do with the beautiful letter I received together
with your own? Have I really so pleased your esteemed friend with
my feeble work that she thought it worth while to give me such
great and unexpected joy in return? She indeed has fully effected
her purpose, but I can scarcely credit that my work alone should
have produced a similar impression upon the spirituelle Princess;
and I am probably right in surmising that here also my friend
Liszt has wooed for me with his wondrous fire. However that may
be, I feel too silly today to thank your esteemed friend
otherwise than through your medium, through your mouth, and
therefore I pray you with all my power to express my gratitude to
her as fervently, as joyfully, as you are able. Will you grant me
this favour?

Before I knew anything about your intention, several years ago,
when I was writing the overture, I wondered whether I should ever
hear it played by you. I should never have mentioned it to you,
for in such matters one must not be too forward, but now that I
hear you are employed in making this piece your own, after your
own fashion, I must tell you that I feel as if a wonderful dream
were realized. Is it possible? Why not? All is possible to you.
About the "Abendstern," dear friend, do exactly as you like. I
have spoken to Meser about it, and he will write to you at once
to place himself at your disposal; but if you prefer another way
of publication, do exactly as you like. In any case I feel highly
flattered by your proposal.

Today I read the account of my opera in the Deutsche Allgemeine
Zeitung of which you speak; by its tenor Herr von Biedenfeld has
once more obliged me very, very much; express to him my best
thanks, dearest friend! I must also beg to convey my great and
deeply felt gratitude to the artists who have deserved well of me
by their successful zeal. To how many and how deeply have I
reason to be grateful! I am looking forward to May, when I shall
be with you in any case; I will then speak from my full heart as
loudly as my breast will let me. Till May, then!

God bless you, dearest, best, of friends! Best remembrances to
Zigesar and Genast. I throw myself at the feet of the Princess.

For ever your most grateful


DRESDEN, March lst, 1849




It was impossible for me to write to you from Rorschach (where I
arrived only yesterday) and to return your passport. Half an hour
after the arrival of the steamer the express coach started for
Zurich; and I felt bound to take advantage of it, as I had made
up my mind to cut this journey as short as possible by avoiding
unnecessary delay. Unfortunately I got on but slowly. From Coburg
I could not start for Lichtenfels till early on Saturday, but
fortunately I got through everywhere without notice, at Lindau
only, where I arrived at midnight, they asked for my passport at
the gate. The next morning I received it back without difficulty,
but unfortunately it had on it a vise for Switzerland, adorned
with which I am compelled to return it to Dr. Widmann. I hope
that his political experience will understand this addition to
his passport.

Luckily then I am in Switzerland. To your counsel and your active
aid, dear friends, I owe my safety. The four days' journey in a
frightful heat had, however, brought my blood to such a state of
excitement, that I found it impossible to go on without risking a
stroke of apoplexy. Moreover, I hope to employ my stay at Zurich
in obtaining a passport for France. One of my early friends has
been residing here for a long time; today I expect him back from
a pleasure trip, and I hope he will do what is necessary to save
me the long detour by Geneva.

To my wife I write at length, and my request to you to
communicate this news to my friends is therefore for the present
limited to our Liszt. Greet my preserver and sovereign liege many
thousand times, and assure him of my firm resolution to do all
that is in my power to please him. The journey has freshened and
roused my artistic courage, and I have quite made up my mind as
to what I have to accomplish in Paris. I do not think much of
fate, but I feel that my late adventures have thrown me into a
path where I must do the most important and significant things
which my nature can produce. Even four weeks ago I had no idea of
that which now I recognize to be my highest task; my deep-rooted
friendship for Liszt supplies me with strength from within and
without to perform that task; it is to be our common work. More
of this soon!

Liszt will shortly receive a parcel of scores, etc., from my
wife; let him open it. The score of "Lohengrin" I want him to try
at some leisure; it is my last and ripest work. As yet I have not
shown it to any artist, and therefore have not been able to learn
from any one what impression it produces. How curious I am to
hear Liszt about it! As soon as he has finished looking through
it, I want him to forward it at once to Paris, along with the
other scores and books of words. Perhaps some acquaintance going
to Paris will take them. The copy of the score of the "Flying
Dutchman" is meant for the Weimar theatre; this and the book of
words let Liszt therefore take from the parcel and keep back.

That wonderful man must also look after my poor wife. I am
particularly anxious to get her out of Saxony, and especially out
of that d----d Dresden. Therefore I have hit upon the idea of
finding for her and her family a modest but cheerful refuge
somewhere in the Weimar territory, perhaps on one of the grand-
ducal estates, where, with the remainder of what is saved of our
goods and chattels, she might prepare a new home for herself, and
perhaps for me also--in the future. May my friend succeed in

Thanks, cordial thanks, to you for the great kindness you have
shown to me! My memorials of it are so numerous that I cannot put
my hand in my pocket without being reminded of the thoughtfulness
and sympathy of friend Wolff. May my future be your reward!

Cordial greetings to Dr. Widmann, as whose double I have acted
for four days; I return him to himself in his integrity, which I
hope will not a little conduce to his perfect well-being. Best
thanks to him!

And thanks, thanks also, to your dear wife and mother! The
blessings of one saved are with them. Farewell, dear friend!

You will soon hear more from your


ZURICH, March 20th, 1849



To you [In this and all the subsequent letters the familiar "Du"
("Thou") instead of the formal "Sie" ("You") is adopted.-TR.] I
must turn if my heart is once more to open itself, and I am in
need of such heart-comfortings; that I cannot deny. Like a
spoiled child of my homeland, I exclaim, "Were I only home again
in a little house by the wood and might leave the devil to look
after his great world, which at the best I should not even care
to conquer, because its possession would be even more loathsome
than is its mere aspect!"

Your friendship--if you could understand what it is to me! My
only longing is to live with my wife always near you. Not Paris
nor London--you alone would be able to hammer out what good there
may be in me, for you fire me to the best efforts.

From Zurich you had news of me through Wolff. Switzerland did me
good, and there I found an old friend of my youth, to whom I
could talk much about you. It was Alexander Mueller, whom you too
know, a worthy and amiable man and artist. At Zurich also I read
your article on "Tannhauser" in the Journal des Debats. What have
you done in it? You wished to describe my opera to the people,
and instead of that you have yourself produced a true work of
art. Just as you conducted the opera, so have you written about
it: new, all new, and from your inner self. When I put the
article down, my first thoughts were these: "This wonderful man
can do or undertake nothing without producing his own self from
his inner fullness he can never be merely reproductive; no other
action than the purely productive is possible to him; all in him
tends to absolute, pure production, and yet he has never yet
concentrated his whole power of will on the production of a great
work. Is he, with all his individuality, too little of an egoist?
Is he too full of love, and does he resemble Jesus on the Cross,
Who helps every one but Himself? "

Ah, dear friend, my thoughts of you and my love of you are still
too enthusiastic; I can only exclaim and rejoice when I think of
you. Soon I hope to grow stronger, so that my selfish enthusiasm
may allow me to give utterance to my anxiety for you. May Heaven
grant me the power to do full justice to the love I have for you;
as yet I live too much on your love for me, and mine vents itself
in useless exclamations. I hope soon to gather the necessary
strength from the intercourse with those who love you as I do;
and truly you have friends!

I arrived in Paris soon after the publication of your article. We
know better than any one that this was an accident, of which you
had not in the least thought when you wrote and dispatched the
article. But this accident has at once given a distinct colour to
my position in Paris, and--our friend M. considers that colour as
black as possible. Dear Liszt, you ought to clear your mind as to
this man. But why do I talk? Should not you have found out long
ago that natures like that of M. are strictly opposed to yours
and mine? Should not you have found out long ago that the only
tie possible between you and M. was effected by magnanimity on
your side and by prudence on his? Where the two threads of this
woof met, there deception was possible for a time, but I believe
that you gave way to that magnanimous deception with amiable
intent. M. is thoroughly little, and unfortunately I do not meet
a man who has the slightest doubt about it.

Honestly speaking, I am unable to engage in a drama of intrigue a
la Verre d'Eau; if this were the only way open to me, I should
pack my bundle tomorrow and settle down in a German village; work
I will as much as I can, but to sell my ware in this market is
impossible to me. Artistic affairs here are in so vile a
condition, so rotten, so fit for decay, that only a bold
scytheman is required who understands the right cut. Dearest
friend, apart from all political speculation, I am compelled to
say openly that in the soil of the anti-Revolution no art can
grow, neither perhaps could it for the present in the soil of the
Revolution, unless care were taken--in time. To speak briefly,
tomorrow I shall begin a searching article on the theatre of the
future for some important, political journal. I promise you to
leave politics on one side as much as possible, and therefore
shall not compromise you or any one else; but as far as art and
the theatre are concerned you must, with a good grace, allow me
to be as red as possible, for a very determined colour is the
only one of use to us. This, I think, is my most prudent course
to adopt, and he who advises it for prudential reasons as the
most effective one is none other than your representative
Belloni. He tells me that here I want money as much as M. or
really more than M., or else I must make myself feared. Well,
money I have not, but a tremendous desire to practice a little
artistic terrorism. Give me your blessing, or, better still, give
me your assistance. Come here and lead the great hunt; we will
shoot, and the hares shall fall right and left.

I do not expect to reach the goal here so very soon but must
prepare myself. A libretto of Scribe or Dumas I cannot set to
music. If I ever do reach the right goal in this Parisian hunt, I
shall not compass it in the common way; I must in that case
create something new, and that I can achieve only by doing it all
myself. I am on the look-out for a young French poet sufficiently
congenial to give himself up to my idea. My subject I shall
arrange myself, and he must then write his French verses as
spontaneously as possible; to anything else I could not agree.

During these slow preparations I shall have to occupy my leisure
with London; I am ready to go there as soon as possible to do all
in my power for the performance of my works. As to this I expect
your friendly command.

I thank you from all my heart for Belloni; he is an able, honest,
and very active man; every day he calls for me to show me the
proper way to Parisian glory.

This is the cheerful part of my news; otherwise this horrible
Paris presses on me with a hundredweight. Often I bleat like a
calf for its stable and for the udder of its life-giving mother.
How lonely I am amongst these people! My poor wife! I have had no
news as yet, and I feel deathly soft and flabby at every
remembrance. Let me soon have good news of my wife! With all my
courage, I am often the most miserable coward. In spite of your
generous offers, I frequently consider with a deadly terror the
shrinking of my cash after my doubly prolonged journey to Paris.
I feel again as I did when I came here ten years ago, and when
thievish longings would often get hold of me on watching the dawn
of the hot days that were to shine on my empty stomach. Ah, how
this vulgarest of cares degrades man!

But one piece of news will rouse everything in me again,
especially if the little Weimar has remained faithful to me. One
single piece of good news, and I float once more on the top of
the ocean waves.

My dear, glorious friend, take me such as this abominableParis
has excited me today. I do not thank you; I call you blessed.
Greet the dear Princess, greet the small knot of my friends, and
tell them that you hope I shall do well. Soon you will hear more
of me. Be happy and remember me.



PARIS, June 5th, 1849

(Have you received the scores, and shall I see some of them here

I have been with your mother, and she has given me uncommon
pleasure; she is a healthy woman! I shall call on her again. She
sends you best greetings.



It is nearly four weeks since my wife left me, and I have not yet
had the least news of her. My grief and depression are great. I
must gain another home and hearth; otherwise all is over with me.
My heart is greater than my sense. With Belloni I have been in
close consultation, and we have formed the following opinion and
the resolution derived therefrom:--

In Paris I can do no good at present; my business is to write an
opera for Paris; for anything else I am unfit. This object cannot
be attained by storm; in the most favourable case I shall achieve
the poem in half a year, and the performance in a year and a
half. In Paris without a home, or--which is the same--peace of
heart, I can do no work; I must find a new place where I am at
home and can make up my mind to remain at home. For such a place
I have selected Zurich. I have written to my wife to come there
with her youngest sister, with the remnants of our household
goods, so as once more to be united to me. I have a friend there,
Alexander Mueller, who will assist me in furnishing as cheap a
home as is to be had. As soon as I can, I shall go there from
this place. When I have my wife again, I shall forthwith and
gladly set to work. The sketch of a subject for Paris I shall
send from there to Belloni, who will arrange about a French
version by Gustave Vaez. In October he may have finished his
work, and then I shall for a short time leave my wife for Paris,
and shall try every possible means to obtain a commission for the
setting of the said subject. I may perhaps on the same occasion
perform some of my music, and after that shall return to Zurich
to set about the composition. Meanwhile I shall employ my time in
setting to music my latest German drama, "The Death of
Siegfried." Within half a year I shall send you the opera

I must commence some genuine work, or else perish; but in order
to work I want quiet and a home. With my wife and in pleasant
Zurich I shall find both. I have one thing in view, and one thing
I shall always do with joy and pleasure--work, i.e., write
operas. For anything else I am unfit; play a part or occupy a
position I cannot, and I should deceive those whom I promised to
undertake any other task.

You friends must get me some small yearly allowance, just
sufficient to secure for me and my wife a quiet existence in
Zurich, as for the present I am not allowed to be near you in
Germany. I talked to you in Weimar of a salary of three hundred
thalers which I should wish to ask of the Grand Duchess for my
operas, alterations of the same, and the like. If perhaps the
Duke of Coburg and possibly even the Princess of Prussia were to
add something, I would willingly surrender my whole artistic
activity to these three protectors as a kind of equivalent, and
they would have the satisfaction of having kept me free and ready
for my art. I cannot ask for myself nor find the proper form for
the necessary agreement, but you can, and you and your
intercession will succeed. Possible revenues from the opera I
shall write for Paris I might then entirely devote to the payment
of the debts I left in Dresden.

Dear Liszt, have I spoken plainly enough?

With the confidence of one entirely helpless, I further ask, Make
it possible to let me have some money soon, so that I may leave
here, go to Zurich, and exist there till I receive the desired
salary. You are the best judge as to what I want for this.
Whether my wife when, in accordance with my ardent prayer, she
thinks of starting for Zurich, will be able to raise the
necessary funds, I unfortunately cannot tell. Would you kindly
ask her soon whether she wants anything? Write to her care of
Eduard Avenarius, Marienstrasse, Leipzig.

Goodness, how I always try not to weep! My poor wife!

The best I can bring forth, I will bring forth,--all, all! But to
battle about in this great world is impossible for me. Let me
once more be at home somewhere!

I was unable to write more today; do not be angry on that
account. But I know your kindness, and trust in it implicitly.

Take a thousand greetings from your


(The scores my wife could bring to me at Zurich, could she not?)

(I had hoped to get some money from Berlin through Tichatschek;
unfortunately nothing has arrived, and I cannot in any way
relieve you, although I do not know where you are to get the



Excuse me for applying to you again so soon. At last I received a
letter from my wife, and many pangs of conscience were again
roused by it. More than all, it lies heavy on my heart today that
I have asked you to intercede with several royal personages for a
salary for me. I had forgotten--to say nothing of my immediate
past--that my sufficiently public participation in the Dresden
rising has placed me towards those royal personages in a position
which must make them think of me as one opposed to them on
principle, and this perhaps will make it appear strange that now,
when the collapse of that rising has reduced me to poverty, I
turn for help to them of all others. My position is all the more
painful because I can take no steps to free myself from the
suspicion of such sentiments without incurring the worse
suspicion of meanness and cowardice. You personally I may assure
that the feeling manifested by my undisguised sympathy with the
Dresden rising was very far from the ridiculously fanatical
notion that every prince is an object of active hatred. If I
concurred in this strange fanaticism, I should naturally have had
scruples in approaching the Grand Duchess at Weimar with perfect
openness. Before you, I trust, I need not defend myself; you know
the bitter source of my discontent, which sprang from the
condition of my beloved art, which I nourished with passion, and
which finally I transferred to every other field, the connection
of which with the ground of my deep dissatisfaction I had to
acknowledge. From this feeling came the violent longing which
finds its expression in the words, "There must be a change; thus
it cannot remain." That now, taught by the experience of my
participation in that rising, I could never again mix myself up
with a political catastrophe, I need not say; every reasonable
person must know it. What rejoices me, and what I may safely
affirm, is that in all my aims I have once more become entirely
an artist. But this I cannot possibly tell the princes at the
moment when I am about to claim their assistance. What would they
think of me! A general and public declaration also would bring me
nothing but disgrace. It would have to appear as an apology, and
an apology in the only correct sense time and my life alone can
tender, not a public declaration, which in the present
threatening circumstances and in my helplessness must needs
appear cowardly and low.

I am sure you will agree with my view of the matter, and I
surmise that already you have found yourself in a very awkward
position towards the Grand Duchess on my account. My wife, who
still thinks it necessary to live on amongst the dregs of Dresden
vulgarity, tells me a thousand unpleasant things which in the
eyes of miserable creatures make me appear much more compromised
by the revolution than I really am. This feeling towards me is
probably spread far and wide, and therefore may have affected the
Weimar court. I can well imagine that you think it at present
inadvisable to raise your voice for me at a court which, with a
natural prejudice, at first sight recognizes in me only the
political revolutionary, and forgets the artistic revolutionary
whom at bottom it has learnt to love.

How far you will think it good to comply with my application of
yesterday in such circumstances you will best decide for
yourself. Is it possible that our princes nowadays should be
magnanimous enough to exercise a beautiful, old privilege,
unmoved by the currents of the time and without weighing
conditions? Think this over; perhaps you have more confidence
than I.

My wife suffers, and is embittered; for her I hope everything
from time. I asked you yesterday to inquire of her as to the
pecuniary aid she may need; I ask you today not to do so-not now.
If you will do me a kindness, send me a little money, so that I
can get away,--anywhere, perhaps after all to Zurich, to my old
friend Mueller. I should like to be at rest, so as to write the
scenario for Paris; I don't feel up to much just now. What should
I do in London? I am good for nothing, except perhaps writing
operas, and that I cannot do in London.

Best greetings to any one who will accept them from me; there
will not be many. Farewell, dear, much-troubled friend. Could I
but make you returns!

Your most faithful


REUIL, June 19th, 1849



With the contents of your letter No. 2 I agree more than with No.
1. For the present it would not be very diplomatic to knock at
battered doors. Later on, when you stand revealed as a made
fellow, even as you are a created one, protectors will easily be
found; and if I can serve you then as a connecting and convenient
instrument, I shall be quite at your disposal with my whole heart
and with a certain slight savoir-faire. But a period of
transition you cannot avoid, and Paris is for everything and
before everything a necessity to you. Try to make it possible
that your "Rienzi" (with a few modifications intended for the
Paris public) is performed in the course of next winter. Pay a
little court to Roger and Madame Viardot. Roger is an amiably
intelligent man, who will probably fall in love with the part. I
think, however, that in any case you will have to spare him a
little more than Tichatschek, and will have to ease his task by
some abbreviations. Also do not neglect Janin, who, I feel sure,
will give you a helping hand, and whose influence in the press
can secure the early performance of the opera.

In a word, very dear and very great friend, make yourself
possible in possible conditions, and success will assuredly not
fail you. Vaez and A. Royer will be of great assistance to you
both for the translation and rearrangement of "Rienzi" and for
the design of your new work. Associate and concur with them
strictly for the realization of that plan from which you must not

1. To give "Rienzi" during the winter of 1850 at the Paris Opera,
whence it will take its flight to all the theatres of Germany,
and perhaps of Italy. For Europe wants an opera which for our new
revolutionary epoch will be what "La Muette de Portici" was for
the July revolution, and "Rienzi" is conceived and written for
those conditions. If you succeed in introducing into it a slight
element of relief, were it only by means of stage machinery or of
the ballet, success is certain.

2. To write a new work for the winter of '51 in collaboration
with Vaez and A. Royer, who know all the mysteries of success. In
the interval you cannot do better than take a good position in
the musical press. Forgive me for this suggestion, and manage so
that you are not of necessity placed in a hostile position
towards things and people likely to bar your road to success and
fame. A truce to political commonplaces, socialistic stuff, and
personal hatreds! On the other hand, good courage, strong
patience, and flaming fire, which latter it will not be difficult
for you to provide, with the volcanoes you have in your brain!
Your idea of retiring to Zurich for some time in order to work
more at ease seems good, and I have charged Belloni to remit to
you three hundred francs for traveling expenses. I hope that
Madame Wagner will be able to join you, and before the autumn I
shall let you have a small sum which will keep you afloat.

Kindly let me know whether I shall send your works to Madame
Wagner, and at what address.

The admirable score of "Lohengrin" has interested me profoundly;
nevertheless I fear at the performance the superideal colour
which you have maintained throughout. Perhaps you will think me
an awful Philistine, dear friend, but I cannot help it, and my
sincere friendship for you may authorize me to tell you. . . .
[The letter breaks off here in the original edition.-TR.]



Thanks to your intercession, I have been able to fly to the
friendly place from which I write to you today. I should trouble
you unnecessarily were I to tell you all that latterly has passed
through my heart; perhaps you will guess it. Belloni has taken
care of me with the greatest kindness and consideration; there
are, however, things in which no friend in the world can be of
assistance. One thing more by way of explanation: during my
journey through Switzerland and on my arrival in Paris, I met
with some Saxon refugees in a position which induced me to assist
them in your name. I shall not be tempted again.

I hope to find some rest and collectedness for the completion of
my intended Paris work in the intimate intercourse with a dear
friend who is also a friend of yours--Alexander Mueller. About
"Rienzi" and the plans which you have commended to us regarding
that opera, Belloni will give you details in so far as the purely
practical part of the matter is concerned. He thinks it
impossible, especially at first, to place it at the Grand Opera.
I, as an artist and man, have not the heart for the
reconstruction of that to my taste superannuated work, which, in
consequence of its immoderate dimensions, I have had to remodel
more than once. I have no longer the heart for it, and desire
from all my soul soon to do something new instead. Besides, the
erection of an operatic theatre in Paris is imminent where only
foreign works are to be produced; that would be the place for
Rienzi, especially if some one else would occupy himself with it.
I want you to decide about this as soon as you have heard our
reasons. I have settled everything with Gustave Vaez as regards
the external part of our common enterprise. The work, which I
shall now take in hand at once, will, I hope, soon open to him
and to you my inner view of the matter. Heaven grant that in this
also we may understand each other or at least come to an
understanding. Only from the one deep conviction which is the
essence of my mental being can I draw inspiration and courage for
my art, for only through this conviction can I love it; if this
conviction were to separate me from my friends, I should bid
farewell to art--and probably turn clodhopper.

By all accounts I am in fine repute with you! The other day, I
hear, I was accused, together with another person, of having set
fire to the old Dresden opera house. All right. My dear wife
lives in the midst of this slough of civic excellence and
magnanimity. One thing grieves me deeply; it wounds me to the
very bone: I mean the reproach frequently made to me that I have
been ungrateful to the King of Saxony. I am wholly made of
sentiment, and could never understand, in the face of such a
reproach, why I felt no pangs of conscience at this supposed
ingratitude. I have at last asked myself whether the King of
Saxony has committed a punishable wrong by conferring upon me
undeserved favours, in which case I should certainly have owed
him gratitude for his infringement of justice. Fortunately my
consciousness acquits him of any such guilt. The payment of 1,500
thalers for my conducting, at his intendant's command, a certain
number of bad operas every year, was indeed excessive; but this
was to me no reason for gratitude, but rather for dissatisfaction
with my appointment. That he paid me nothing for the best I could
do does not oblige me to gratitude; that when he had an
opportunity of helping me thoroughly he could not or dared not
help me, but calmly discussed my dismissal with his intendant,
quieted me as to the dependence of my position on any act of
grace. Finally, I am conscious that, even if there had been cause
for any particular gratitude towards the King of Saxony, I have
not knowingly done anything ungrateful towards him; proof of this
I should be able to furnish. Pardon, dear friend, this unpleasant
deviation; unfortunately I am not yet again in that stage of
creating which shuts out anything but the present and the future
from my cognizance. My spirit still writhes too violently under
the impression of a past which, alas! continues wholly to occupy
my present. I am still bent on justification, and that I wish to
address to no one but you.

As soon as I have anything ready I shall send it to you. For the
present I must urgently ask you to forward me here at once the
scores and other literary tools which my wife has sent to you. I
want to get into some kind of swing again so that the bell may
ring. Be good enough to give the parcel to a carrier to be
forwarded here by express conveyance (care of Alexander Muller,

Muller greets you most cordially. He will write to you soon to
inform you of the success of Herr Eck, the instrument-maker,
whose company is doing very well.

Dear Liszt, do not cease to be my friend; have patience with me,
and take me as I am. A thousand compliments to the Princess, and
thank her in my name for the kind memory she has preserved of me;
she may find it difficult to remain my friend.

Be healthy and happy, and let me soon hear some of your works,
even as I promise you on my part. Farewell, and take my cordial
thanks for your constancy and friendship.



ZURICH, July 9th, 1849



Are you in a good temper? Probably not, as you are just opening a
letter from your plaguing spirit. And yet it is all the world to
me that you should be in a good temper just today, at this
moment! Fancy yourself at the most beautiful moment of your life,
and thence look upon me cheerfully and benevolently, for I have
to proffer an ardent prayer. I receive today a letter from my
wife, unfortunately much delayed in the post. It touches me more
than anything in the world; she wants to come to me, and stay
with me, and suffer with me once more all the ills of life. Of a
return to Germany, as you know well yourself, I must not for the
present think; therefore our reunion must take place abroad. I
had already told her that the hoped-for assistance from Weimar
would come to nothing; this she will easily understand and bear.
But in order to carry out her idea to come to me, she and I lack
no less than all. To get away from Dresden in the most difficult
circumstances she wants money; quite lately she told me she had
to pay sixty-two thalers without knowing where to get it. She
will now have to pack and send to me the few things we have
saved; she must leave something for the immediate wants of her
parents, whom formerly I kept entirely. She then has to travel to
Zurich with her sister, and I must at least be able to offer her
the bare necessaries of life for the beginning. At this moment I
can offer her nothing in the world. I live at present only on the
remainder of the money which I received from you through Belloni
before my departure from Paris. But, dear friend, I take care not
to be a burden to you alone, and this care is partly the reason
why I have not yet thoroughly set to work, although the anxiety
about my wife is chiefly to blame. I have again tried hard to get
paying work and assistance, so that I might ease your burden, and
in the worst case need only ask you to assist me again for my
journey to Paris in the autumn. But now in this moment of the
most painful joy at the imminent return of my wife--now I know of
no one but you to whom to apply with the firm hope of seeing my
wishes speedily accomplished. You therefore I implore by all that
is dear to you to raise and collect as much as you possibly can,
and to send it, not to me, but to my wife, so that she may have
enough to get away and to join me with the assurance of being
able to live with me free from care for some time at least.
Dearest friend, you care for my welfare, my soul, my art. Once
more restore me to my art! I do not cling to a home, but I cling
to this poor, good, faithful woman, to whom as yet I have caused
almost nothing but grief, who is of a careful, serious
disposition, without enthusiasm, and who feels herself chained
for ever to such a reckless devil as myself. Restore her to me;
by doing so you will give me all you can wish for me, and,
believe me, for that I shall be grateful to you, yea grateful!

You will see how quickly I shall turn out things. My preparations
for Paris, the pamphlet, and even two sketches for subjects will
be ready and on their way next month. Where I cannot agree with
you I shall win you over to me; that I promise, so that we may
always go hand in hand and never separate. I will obey you, but
give me my poor wife; arrange it so that she may come cheerfully,
with some confidence, soon and quickly. Alas! this, in the
language of our dear nineteenth century, means, Send her as much
money as you can possibly get. Yes, such is my nature; I can beg,
I could steal, to cheer up my wife, were it only for a little
while. Dear, good Liszt, see what you can do! Help me, help me,
dear Liszt. Farewell, and--help me!

Your grateful


Write straight to my wife: Minna Wagner, Friedrich-strasse No.
20, Dresden.



In answer to your letter, I have remitted one hundred thalers to
your wife at Dresden. This sum has been handed to me by an
admirer of "Tannhauser", whom you do not know, and who has
specially asked me not to name him to you.

With Y. B., who paid me a visit yesterday, I talked over your
position at length. I hope his family will take an active
interest in your affairs.

All the scores (excepting the overture to "Faust") I sent to
Zurich last week. The separation from your "Lohengrin" was
difficult to me. The more I enter into its conception and
masterly execution, the higher rises my enthusiasm for this
extraordinary work. Forgive my wretched pusillanimity if I still
have some doubt as to the wholly satisfactory result of the

Permit me one question: Do you not think it advisable to add to
"Tannhauser" a dedication (post scriptum) to the Lord of
Wartburg, H.R.H. Carl Alexander, Hereditary Grand Duke of Saxe-

If you agree to this, have a very simple plate to that effect
engraved, and send me in advance, together with your next letter,
a few lines to the Hereditary Grand Duke, which I shall hand to
him at once. For the present you must expect no special donation
in return, but the sympathy of the prince for your masterpiece
fully justifies this attention.

Friendly greetings to Alexander Muller, to whom I am still very
grateful for his friendly reception at Zurich. If you should see
J. E., assure him of my sincere interest in his further welfare.
He is an honest, able, excellent man.

Hold me in kind remembrance, even as I am cordially devoted to


WEYMAR, July 29th, 1849

P.S.--Be careful in your articles in the newspapers to omit all
political allusions to Germany, and leave royal princes alone. In
case there should be an opportunity of paying Weymar a modest
compliment en passant, give free vent to your reminiscences with
the necessary kid gloves.



I herewith send you my last finished work; it is a new version of
the original article which I sent to Paris last week to have it
translated for the feuilleton of the National. Whether you will
be pleased with it I do not know, but I feel certain that your
nature is at one with me. I hope you will find in it nothing of
the political commonplaces, socialistic balderdash, or personal
animosities, against which you warned me; but that, in the
deepest depth of things, I see what I see, is entirely owing to
the circumstance that my own artistic nature and the sufferings
it has to go through have opened my eyes in such a manner that
death alone can close them again. I look forward either to an
entirely useless existence, or to an activity which responds to
my inmost being, even if I have to exercise it afar from all
external splendour. In the former case I should have to think of
abbreviating that existence.

Please address and send the manuscript, together with the
enclosed letter, to the publisher Otto Wigand in Leipzig. Perhaps
I shall succeed in drawing from my inferior literary faculty some
small support for my existence. Since my last letter, which I
posted at the same time with my stormy petition to you, I have
had no news from my wife, and am slightly tortured accordingly.

From a letter written by Baron Schober to Eck at Zurich, I see
with great pleasure that your prospects are cheerful, and that
you are resolved to settle in Weimar. I presume that the
excellent Princess is also happy and well. Heaven be thanked!
Whether you ought to show her my manuscript I am not quite
certain; in it I am so much of a Greek that I have not been able
quite to convert myself to Christianity. But what nonsense I
talk! As if you were not the right people! Pardon me.

Farewell, dear, unique friend! Remember me in kindness.



ZURICH, August 4th, 1849

Have you been good enough to see about the forwarding to me of my
scores and writings? I am anxious at not having seen anything of



A thousand thanks for your letter, and for kindly taking care of
my wife. The unknown donor is wrong in wishing to be hidden from
me. Thank him in my name.

The day before yesterday I sent you a long article; probably you
have read it. I am glad that I can agree to your wish to dedicate
"Tannhauser" to the Grand Duke without the slightest abnegation
of my principles, for I hope you will see that I care for
something else than the stupid political questions of the day.

It would be best if you could have the dedication page and the
special copy done through Meser, in which case you might also, if
necessary, promise to bear the trifling expense, for of that
copyright not a single note is mine. I hope you like the verses.
Will you put the letter to the Grand Duke in an addressed

Oh, my friends, if you would only give me the wages of a middling
mechanic, you would have pleasure in my undisturbed work, which
should all be yours.

Thanks for sending the scores. "Lohengrin" will be especially
useful to me, for I hope to pawn the score here for some hundreds
of florins, so as to have money for myself and my wife for the
next few months.

Your doubts as to a satisfactory effect of the performance of the
opera have frequently occurred to me. I think, however, that if
the performance is quite according to my colour, the work--
including even the end--will be all right. One must dare.

Muller and Eck were delighted by your greetings, and return them
with enthusiasm.

Dear, good Liszt, I also thank you most cordially for all the
care you take of me. Consider that I can give you nothing better
in return than the best I can accomplish. Give me perfect peace,
and you shall be satisfied. I hope my wife will be here soon;
then you shall soon have good news of me.

Farewell, and continue to be my friend.



ZURICH, August 7th, 1849



After a silence of several months, I cannot address you without
first of all thanking you once more with all my heart for the
friendly assistance which enabled me to have my poor wife back
again. By this assistance my wife made it possible to preserve
and bring with her some favourite trifles of our former household
and, before all, my grand piano. We are settled here as well as
possible; and after a long interruption, full of pain and unrest,
I am once more able to think of the execution of my great
artistic plans for the future.

After this final reunion with my much-tried wife, nothing could
have given me greater pleasure than to learn about the produce of
your artistic activity. The pieces written by you for the
centenary of Goethe's birth I have now seen in the pianoforte
score, and have occupied myself with them attentively. With all
my heart I bid you welcome, and am glad--especially also in
sympathy with your friend--that you behave so valiantly in this
field of honour, selected by you with glorious consistency. What
I felt most vividly, after my acquaintance with these
compositions, was the desire to know that you were writing an
opera or finishing one already begun. The aphoristic nature of
such tasks as those set you by this Goethe celebration must
involuntarily be transferred to the artistic production, which
therefore cannot attain to perfect warmth. Creative power in
music appears to me like a bell, which the larger it is is the
less able to give forth its full tone, unless an adequate power
has set it in motion. This power is internal, and where it does
not exist internally it does not exist at all. The purely
internal, however, cannot operate unless it is stimulated by
something external, related to it and yet different. Creative
power in music surely requires this stimulus no less than does
any other great artistic power; a great incitement alone can make
it effective. As I have every reason to deem your power great, I
desire for it the corresponding great incitement; for nothing
here can be arbitrarily substituted or added: genuine strength
can only create from necessity. Wherever in the series of your
pieces Goethe himself incites your strength, the bell resounds
with its natural full tone, and the clapper beats in it as the
heart does in the body. If you had been able to ring the whole
"Faust"-bell (I know this was impossible), if the detached pieces
had had reference to a great whole, then that great whole would
have thrown on the single pieces a reflex which is exactly the
certain something that may be gained from the great whole, but
not from the single piece. In single, aphoristic things we never
attain repose; only in a great whole is great power self-
contained, strong, and therefore, in spite of all excitement,
reposeful. Unrest in what we do is a proof that our activity is
not perfectly self-contained, that not our whole power, but only
a detached particle of that power, is in action. This unrest I
have found in your compositions, even as you must have found it
too often in mine without better cause. With this unrest I was,
however, better pleased than if comfortable self-contentment had
been their prominent feature. I compare it to the claw by which I
recognize the lion; but now I call out to you, Show us the
complete lion: in other words, write or finish soon an opera.

Dear friend, look upon me with an earnest but kind glance! All
the ills that have happened to me were the natural and necessary
consequences of the discord of my own being. The power which is
mine is quite unyielding and indivisible. By its nature it takes
violent revenge when I try to turn or divide it by external
force. To be wholly what I can be, and therefore, no doubt,
should be, is only possible for me if I renounce all those
external things which I could gain by dint of the aforesaid
external force. That force would always make me fritter away my
genuine power, would always conjure up the same evils. In all I
do and think I am only artist, nothing but artist. If I am to
throw myself into our modern publicity, I cannot conquer it as an
artist, and God preserve me from dealing with it as a politician.
Poor and without means for bare life, without goods or heritage,
as I am, I should be compelled to think only of acquisition; but
I have learnt nothing but my art, and that I cannot possibly use
for the purpose of acquiring nowadays; I cannot seek publicity,
and my artistic salvation could be brought about one day only by
publicity seeking me. The publicity for which alone I can work is
a small nucleus of individuals who constitute my whole publicity
at present. To these individuals, therefore, I must turn, and put
the question to them whether they love me and my art-work
sufficiently to make it possible for me, as far as in them lies,
to be myself, and to develop my activity without disturbance.
These individuals are not many, and they live far from each
other, but the character of their sympathy is an energetic one.
Dear friend, the question with me is bare life. You have opened
Paris to me, and I most certainly do not refuse it; but what I
have to choose and to design for that place cannot be chosen and
designed in a moment; I must there be some one else and yet
necessarily remain the same. All my numerous sketches are adapted
only to treatment by myself, and in the German language. Subjects
which I should have been prepared to execute for Paris (such as
"Jesus of Nazareth") turn out to be impossible for manifold
reasons when I come to consider closely the practical bearings of
the thing, and I must therefore have time and leisure to wait for
inspiration, which I can expect only from some remote region of
my nature. On the other hand, the poem of my "Siegfried" lies
before me. After not having composed a note for two years, my
whole artistic man is impelled towards writing the music for it.
What I could possibly hope for from a Paris success would not
even be able to keep me alive; for, without being thoroughly
dishonest, I should have to hand it over to my creditors.

The question, then, is, How and whence shall I get enough to
live? Is my finished work "Lohengrin" worth nothing? Is the opera
which I am longing to complete worth nothing? It is true that to
the present generation and to publicity as it is these must
appear as a useless luxury. But how about the few who love these
works? Should not they be allowed to offer to the poor suffering
creator--not a remuneration, but the bare possibility of
continuing to create?

To the tradesmen I cannot apply, nor to the existing nobility--
not to human princes, but to princely men. To work my best, my
inmost salvation, I am not in a position to rely on merit, but on
grace. If we few in this villainous trading age are not gracious
towards each other, how can we live in the name and for the
honour of art?

Dear friend, you, I believe, are the only one on whom I can
implicitly rely. Do not be frightened! I have tried to relieve
you of the burden of this exclusive reliance; I have turned
elsewhere, but in vain. From H. B., about whom you wrote to me, I
have heard nothing, and am glad from my heart that I have not.
Dear Liszt, let us leave the TRADESMEN alone once for all. They
are human and even love art, but only as far as BUSINESS will

Tell me; advise me! Hitherto my wife and I have kept ourselves
alive by the help of a friend here. By the end of this month of
October our last florins will be gone, and a wide, beautiful
world lies before me, in which I have nothing to eat, nothing to
warm myself with. Think of what you can do for me, dear, princely
man! Let some one buy my "Lohengrin," skin and bones; let some
one commission my "Siegfried." I will do it cheaply! Leaving our
old plan of a confederation of princes out of the question, can
you not find some other individuals who would join together to
help me, if YOU were to ask them in the proper manner? Shall I
put in the newspaper "I have nothing to live on; let him who
loves me give me something"? I cannot do it because of my wife;
she would die of shame. Oh the trouble it is to find a place in
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
to have another and more appropriate notice of my "Lohengrin"
inserted in the A.A.Z. It has, as I said before, the largest

How glad, on the other hand, was I to see your indications and
hints worked up into an intelligent sketch by a Frenchman who is
so much further removed from me. This has been done by Nerval, in
the feuilleton of the Presse. Many mistakes occur, but that does
not matter. The man has formed for himself from your utterances a
picture of me which at least indicates clearly and distinctly my
intention. The most terrible of all things is a German aesthetic

But to return once more to you. I should like almost for your
sake to gain a widespread reputation. You blow up a hundred
mines, and wherever I look I come upon you and your more than
friendly care for me; it is touching, and almost without example.
Remember me very kindly to Herr Raff, and thank him most
cordially in my name. Some of my friends thought it would have
been better if he had spoken of my "faults as a man" rather than
of my "faults as a subject;" but that, surely, does not matter,
and every one must have understood it in that sense. A better
intention to serve me I can look for in none except you.

To Genast I wrote a few days ago. This nasty bargaining about
twopence-halfpenny in the matter of cuts is repulsive to me; but
Genast remains a fine, brave fellow.

Behold, my paper is at an end, and I have done nothing but
gabble. I have many and more important things to write to you
about. Lord, forgive me! I am not in a mood for it today. I shall
soon write again. My best greetings to Zigesar. Truly this warm,
true heart does me much good. Farewell for today, noblest and
best of men.




October 2nd, 1850



You make me blush! without a blush I can scarcely read what you
are going to tell the world of me; and now you want me to
interpret it. Only if you earnestly desire it will I grant your
prayer, a prayer which flatters me too much to call it a
"prayer." Would that I could be of use to you! My last letter
must have appeared dissonant to you. I do not know what moved me
to speak bitterly of newspaper notices. One reason, however, I
may tell you: many things have determined me at last to speak in
a literary way once more. I am occupied with a work the title of
which is to be "The Essence of Opera." In it I mean to speak
clearly and definitely about opera as a type of art, and to
indicate as plainly as possible what should be done to it in
order to develop the hidden germs to full bloom. I should have
liked to dedicate this book to you, because in it I announce the
salvation and justification of the musician qua musician. I
should do this if I did not think it better not to drag you into
this address to the musical world. In that manner I shall
preserve greater liberty to you. The book therefore shall be a
surprise to you. As in this book I intend to explain my view of
the essence of the musical drama, I can find nothing more
annoying than to see the most contradictory opinions of me spread
amongst the public by witty litterateurs. The world must take me
for a muddle-headed and false priest if I preach the drama in
words while it is said of my works that musical confusion and
noise reign in them. But enough of this.

Your letter to B.'s mother was another noble thing of yours. Best

I once more go to battle with my deadly enemy the winter. I must
think a great deal of the preservation of my health, and before
the spring I cannot work at "Siegfried" with a will, but in the
summer it shall be ready. Let me soon hear something of your

One word more in confidence: at the end of this month I shall
have spent all my money; Zigesar has sent me less than you made
me hope. Towards the new year I again hope for some assistance
from Frau R. in D., but that also is uncertain. Can you--but how
shall I express it? If you have to do something beneath your or
my dignity, you cannot; that I know. The rest will be all right.
God bless you. I think the devil will not get hold of me just

Farewell, best of men. Send me your scores. Farewell, and remain
kind to me.



ZURICH, October 8th, 1850




Your kind letter has, as you may imagine, made a great
impression. I see, to my genuine joy, that I may count you
amongst the small number of the friends who by the weight of
their sympathy richly compensate me for the absence of popular
acclamation. That you have remained faithful to me is more
important to me than perhaps you know yourself. Accept my cordial
thanks for the friendship you have preserved for me.

You ask me about my "Wiland." I have more designs than I have the
power to execute. Therefore I want a helper, yea more than a
helper, an artistic bosom friend, who works in the same spirit,
and, I hope, better than I could work myself. I request you to
persuade Liszt to undertake the musical execution of "Wiland" in
my stead. The poem in its present condition, such as herewith I
send it to you, is the result of sorrowful and deeply emotional
enthusiasm, which has stirred me up to imaginings on which as an
artist I may, I think, congratulate myself. But it takes me back
to a time to which I do not want to be taken back. I cannot
finish the poem now, either in words or music. If later on I
could gain sufficient repose for the purpose, I should be afraid
of having cooled towards it. In consequence I have lately become
accustomed to the thought of giving up the poem altogether.

But if this "Wiland," when Liszt makes its first acquaintance,
should inspire him as I was once inspired by it, I ask him to
consider it as his property. The design is quite complete; all
that remains to be done is simple versification, which every
fairly skilful writer of verse might execute: Liszt will easily
find one. In the more important places, I have written the verses
myself. To do more is at present impossible to me; even the
copying out gave me much trouble.

I hope, dear madam, you will not think my poem unworthy of your
warm recommendation to the friend whom, as you tell me to my
great joy, you will soon make happy by calling your own.

With sincere thanks for your kindness, and with cordial esteem, I
remain, dear madam, Your obedient servant,


ZURICH, October 8th, 1850



I really do not know how to thank you; for the only equivalent I
could offer you would evidently be to send you a masterpiece in
exchange; and this kind of return is difficult to make even with
the best intention in the world. Allow me to look upon your
manuscript of Wiland as a sacred trust, which I shall hold at
your disposal till the time you reclaim it. My very numerous
engagements will prevent me from occupying myself with it for a
year or eighteen months; and if after that time you still think
that I am capable of undertaking the composition, we can easily
arrange the matter either verbally or by letter. Today I send you
by post a fair copy of my article on "Lohengrin." As this is the
only one I possess, I must ask you kindly to return it to me at
Eilsen (Buckeburg), where I shall spend the months of November
and December. I foresee the difficulties I shall have to
encounter in publishing through the Paris press an article so
extensive and so sincerely in praise of a German opera by a
German composer, in whose success no one has an interest, rather
the reverse. Nevertheless I do not absolutely despair of having
it inserted some day in some review, and consequently want the

If in the meantime you think my article worthy of publication in
Germany, I repeat the request already made that you undertake to
translate it freely, and improve it by completing it.

In the quotations it would naturally be better to reproduce
exactly the verses of your poem, and perhaps one might make the
comprehension of your work easier by adding two plates of music
type showing the five or six principal themes,

[Figure: musical example]

and two or three details of orchestration.

However, as regards both the translation and the publication, I
attach value to them only in so far as you approve; for this
article has been written solely with the intention of serving, as
far as in me lay, the great and beautiful cause of art with the
French public, such as it is in 1850. If you think that I have
not succeeded, I ask you not to hesitate for a moment in telling
me so frankly. In this, any more than in other things, you will
not find in me any stupid amour-propre, but only the very modest
and sincere desire to suit my words and actions to my sentiments.
I have just received a letter from Seghers, director of the Union
Musicale, Paris, who tells me that your Tannhauser overture will
be performed at the first concert of the Society (November 24th).
You may rely upon his zeal and intelligence in preparing a good

By the way, have you heard of an intended performance of
"Lohengrin" at Dresden? I do not know how far this Dresden
performance would benefit you in actual circumstances, while you
are forcibly prevented from looking after the rehearsals, etc.

Uhlig has probably told you that Tichatschek will study the part
of Lohengrin with him. Soon after my return Herr von Zigesar
intends to give the fourth performance, and for the fifth we
shall have Tichatschek.

I am really much obliged to you for taking interest in my
overtures, and must ask you to forgive me for not having thanked
you before; but the fact is, the greater part of my time is
occupied with other things than me and my works.

Unfortunately I possess only a single copy of "Prometheus" and
"Tasso," and of that I cannot dispose, as it belongs to the
theatre. If, as I am in hopes, next summer I can at last make a
trip to the Rhine, we must meet somewhere, possibly at Basle, and
then I shall unpack my sac de nuit, full of obscure scores.

In the meantime I am very happy to learn that you have not lost
hold of your "Siegfried," which is sure to be una gran bella
cosa, as the Italians say. I thank you for it in advance.

The day after tomorrow I start for Eilsen, where please address
me until further notice. Do not fail to return the manuscript of
my "Lohengrin" article, of which, if necessary, you might have a
copy made at Zurich. I shall want it between the 5th and l0th of

Once more be thanked cordially for your "Wiland," and rest
assured that, with or without the welded wings of genius, I
always remain

Your truly devoted friend,


WEYMAR, October 18th, 1850



Do not be angry with me because I am so late in answering your
last letter. I had to see to the return of the manuscript,
entrusted to me, and this I was unable to do sooner. Your letter
of October 22nd, together with the manuscript, did not reach me
here till November 8th, via Berlin. As you wanted your manuscript
back by November l0th, I must assume that some delay had taken
place which you had not foreseen. I return herewith the French
original, and in a few days I shall send the translation, which
by then will have received its proper form.

Dear friend, your article has impressed me in a grand, elevating,
stirring manner. That I have succeeded in thus acting upon you by
my artistic work, that you are inclined to devote no small part
of your extraordinary gift to opening, not only an external, but
an internal, path to my movement--this fills me with the deepest
and most joyous emotion. I feel as if in us two men had met who
had proceeded from the two most distant points in order to
penetrate to the core of art, and who now, in the joy of their
discovery, fraternally clasped hands. This joy alone enables me
to accept your admiring exclamations without bashfulness; for I
feel that when you praise my gifts and my achievements you
express thereby only your joy at having met me at the core of
art. Be thanked for the pleasure you have thus given me.

I shall say something more about the translation when I send it
to you, which, as I mentioned before, will be in a few days.

I have also read your feuilleton in the Journal des Debats. Your
restless energy in serving me I can only compare with the spirit
in which you do it. Indeed, dear, good Liszt, I owe it to you
that soon I shall be able once more to be entirely an artist. I
look upon this final resumption of my artistic plans to which I
now shall turn as one of the most decisive moments in my life.
Between the musical execution of my "Lohengrin" and that of my
"Siegfried" there lies for me a stormy, but, I feel convinced, a
fruitful, world. I had to abandon the entire life lying behind
me, to bring into full consciousness everything dawning in it, to
conquer any rising reflection by its own means--that is, by the
most thorough entering into its subject--in order to throw myself
once more with clear and cheerful consciousness into the
beautiful unconsciousness of artistic creation. The winter I
shall spend in completing this abandonment. I want to enter a new
world unburdened, free, and happy, bringing nothing with me but a
glad artistic conscience. My work on "The Essence of Opera," the
last fruit of my contemplation, takes larger dimensions than I at
first expected. If I show that music, the woman, becomes co-
parent with the poet, the man, I must take care that this
splendid woman is not given over to the first comer who desires
her, but only to the man who longs for woman with true,
irresistible love. The necessity of this union with the full
power of music desired by the poet himself I was unable to prove
by abstract aesthetic definitions alone, which generally are not
understood and remain without effect. I had to derive that
necessity with tangible distinctness from the state of modern
dramatic poetry, and I hope I shall fully succeed. When I have
finished this book, I intend, provided I can find a publisher, to
bring out my three romantic opera-poems, with a preface
introducing them and explaining their genesis. After that, to
clear off all remains, I should collect the best of my Paris
writings of ten years ago (including my Beethoven novelette) in a
perhaps not unamusing volume; in it those who take an interest in
me might study the beginning of my movement. In this manner I
should get to the spring pleasantly and in an easy frame of mind,
and should then work at my "Siegfried" without interruption and
complete it. Give your blessing to this.

I recently had a letter from a friend in Paris who witnessed
several rehearsals of the "Tannhauser" overture under Seghers's
direction. He has completely satisfied me that the performance is
carefully prepared, and that the understanding of the public will
be aided as much as possible by a programme taken from your
article upon my opera. In spite of this, I am very doubtful
whether in the most favourable case I shall derive any benefit
from it.

My request to you to accept my poem of "Wiland," you apparently
have not quite understood. It is a sincere wish and request. Your
present and imminent occupations might delay the fulfillment of
my wish, which, however, would become impossible only if my
sketch did not inspire you with the desire to complete it. In
that case please be frank with me. If you intend, however late,
to finish "Wiland," I will undertake its proper versification.

For the present, dearest friend, I must take leave of you; I do
so with cordial wishes for your well-being. Commend me to the
Princess in the best way you can, so that she also may keep me in
friendly remembrance.

Farewell, and be greeted from the full heart of Your grateful


ZURICH, November 25th, 1850



Quite against my custom, I have just spent about ten days in bed
fighting with a violent fever. As it is a very long time since I
heard from you, I begin to be somewhat anxious as to the fate of
my "Lohengrin" article, which, before leaving Weymar, I gave to
Raff, asking him to send it to you as soon as he had read it. In
case you have received it, write me a few lines to reassure me
with regard to it, and at the same time tell me frankly, and
without compliments of any kind, whether the analysis has pleased
or displeased you, whether you think it worth publishing, and
what I had better do with it.

My whole correspondence has fallen into the most lamentable
arrears through the sad condition I have lived in for more than a
fortnight. I owe an answer especially to Herr Ritter, who has
made me a most courteous offer, the value of which I quite
appreciate. Be good enough, dear friend, to thank him in my name
(before I can do so myself) for his friendly conduct, for which I
shall prove myself grateful, as far as lies in my power, on all

How far have you got with "Siegfried"? Have you continued your
volume about the opera, and when will it appear?

Send me soon one of those long letters which you write so
beautifully. It will serve excellently well to relieve of his
grief and sorrow.

Your affectionate and devoted friend,


EILSEN, November 26th, 1850

Address Eilsen (Buckeburg) till December 30th. In the first week
of the new year I shall be back in Weymar.



At last I am able to send you the translation of your article. As
you probably cannot understand why it has been delayed so long,
and may perhaps even suspect that I was indifferent to your more
than kind intention, I must tell you first of all how it has

I was so moved by your work that I at once felt one thing
distinctly, viz., that in something so encouraging and deeply
touching I could not myself collaborate. I felt as shy and
bashful as possible when I thought of writing with my own hand
the praise which you dictated to me in your extremely brilliant
article. I hesitated and wavered, and did not know how to begin.
Then my young friend Ritter came to my aid, and asked me to let
him do the translation. I consented, and reserved to myself the
right of revising it afterwards, so as to set forth less my
praise than the animation of your original style. R. and B.
translated it between them, and I looked through it together with
them. R. then went to work again, and the result of these careful
endeavours I now lay before you, asking you to explain to
yourself from these indications why the whole thing has been
delayed so long. Of the actual version I can assure you with a
good conscience that, according to my firm conviction, it is not
unworthy of your original, which it renders adequately in the
sense that one does not suspect a laborious translation, but
might let it pass without hesitation for the German original of a
not unaccomplished German author. I can advise you, therefore,
without scruple to give your signature to this version, and leave
it to you whether you will announce it to be a translation. In
all you have said about the work and its author, the version
contains nothing but an absolutely faithful translation of the
original, every conceivable care having been taken to render its
very brilliant, novel, and thoroughly artistic language as
adequately as its individual flavour and fullness would allow. In
places, however, where you indicate the subject matter and the
material aspect of situations and scenes, the translator has made
bold to use a little more liberty. He considered that in these
respects the German original of the poem was nearer to him than
to the author of the French description. The situations are
therefore treated a little more exhaustively, and the German text
has been immediately drawn upon, as was indeed your own wish.
Perhaps the scenes have now and then been given a little too
fully; but as in print the verses will appear in smaller type, I
hope that this also will upon the whole add to the comprehension
of the dramatic situations. Therefore I live in good hope that
you will not be dissatisfied with the work; and if you still
intend to give me an almost excessive proof of your love of my
artistic being and to supply my friends with an important means
of realizing what they love in my art, I shall feel highly
honoured and pleased by the publication of this version, which I
think had best take the form of an independent pamphlet,
especially because in that way the important musical supplement
suggested by you would be possible.

If I were to tell you what I felt while reading this article
repeatedly and most carefully, I should scarcely be able to find
words. Let this suffice: I feel more than fully rewarded for my
efforts, my sacrifices, and my artistic struggles by recognizing
the impression I have made upon you of all others. To be so fully
understood was my only longing, and to have been understood is
the most blissful satisfaction of that longing.

Truly, dear friend, you have turned the little Weimar into a very
focus of my fame. When I read the numerous, comprehensive, and
often very brilliant articles about "Lohengrin" which now come
from Weimar, and compare them with the jealous enmity with which,
for example, the Dresden critics used constantly to attack me,
working with sad consistency for the systematic confusion of the
public, I look upon Weimar as a blessed asylum where at last I
can breathe freely and ease my troubled heart. Thank Lobe very
cordially in my name; his judgment has surprised and delighted
me. Also tell Biedenfeld and the author of the article in the
"Frankfort Conversationsblatt" that I still hope to thank them by
endeavouring with all my power to justify by new works their
great opinion of me. Greet them kindly, also Raff, and Genast,
and Zigesar, without forgetting the brave artists to whom I owe
so much gratitude.

I am deep in my work on "Opera and Drama;" it is, as I told you,
of the greatest importance to me, and I hope it will not be
without importance to others. But it will be a great, stout
volume. Ah, would it were spring, and that I might be once more a
full-blooded, poetizing musician! I am not very well off; care,
care, nothing but care, is the funereal chant which I have to
sing to every young day.

You also have been in a very pitiable plight. Your serious
indisposition and the depressed mood it left behind were strange
things to you, and have affected me very much. For my comfort I
assume that your illness is quite gone; but was I not right, dear
friend, when I warned you and expressed to you my anxiety for
your health, because I knew what unheard-of exertions you had
made for my sake? Please set my fear at rest soon and comfort me

Finally, I ask you to transmit my sincerest and most cordial
respects to your faithful, highly esteemed friend. May you two
extraordinary people be happy! Farewell, and accept my heartfelt
thanks for your friendship, which is now the richest source of my


R. W.

ZURICH, December 24th, 1850



I have just received a letter from Brussels, sent by desire of
the management of the Royal Theatre there. In consequence of the
brilliant success--so they write--which my opera "Lohengrin" has
recently obtained, and seeing that the subject of the opera
belongs to Belgian history, they contemplate translating the work
into good French, if that should be possible, and producing it
forthwith at the Royal Theatre. They therefore want at once a
copy of the score and of the libretto.

Dear friend, I place the whole matter at your feet. If you wish
that it should come to something, and if you think that it may
come to something, then acquire the further merit of taking this
thing in hand, which, in your position as protector and generally
speaking, you are infinitely more capable of doing than I. You
are sure to know Brussels. If you will undertake this, I should
ask you before all to see about a score. Luttichau claims his
copy as his property, and Zigesar was obliged to have another
copy made. Seeing that Luttichau, as I hear positively from
Dresden, does not intend to give the opera at least just yet, one
might hope that he would give back the score for a time, if you
were to ask him. Of course _I_ cannot apply to him.

To send my own original score so far away, I should not like at
all; it is all the little property I have. To have a copy made
here would exceed my limited means, and would also take too long,
as they are pressing at Brussels. A libretto I shall send them
direct from here.

See what you can and will do, dear friend. If it should succeed,
and some good come of it, I should like to owe it entirely to
you, as you have altogether assumed the paternal responsibility
for this opera with the care attaching to it. I shall ask them at
Brussels to apply to you, as you have full power to act in the
matter. Farewell for today; a thousand blessings in return for
your love

from your sincerely grateful


ZURICH, December 27th, 1850

I have to reply to "M. Charles Hanssens jeune, chef d'orchestre
et directeur du Theatre Royal a Bruxelles."



I have just received your letter addressed Weymar, and hasten to
place my humble services gladly at your disposal as regards the
score of "Lohengrin" and the correspondence with Herr von
Luttichau. Probably his Excellency will not be very willing to
lend the work a second time; but I hope for a favourable result
all the same.

In your place (forgive my friendly impertinence) I should
certainly accept the Brussels offer, but with the one condition--
conditio sine qua non--that they let you revise the translation
and attend the general rehearsals. The performance and the
success will have quite a different chance if you go to Brussels,
and I am afraid that in your absence your "Lohengrin" might be a
little compromised. The actual state of the Brussels theatre I do
not know; some years ago it was somewhat in a muddle and very
little adapted to serious work. Some time will in any case be
required for the translation and rehearsals, but I advise you to
make the condition of your presence at once and firmly. The
traveling expenses are so small that the management can easily
bear them; and if you agree, I shall answer the gentlemen in that
sense as soon as they write to me.

Herr von Zigesar wrote to me urgently some days ago not to delay
my return to Weymar any longer. Unfortunately I shall be detained
here for about another fortnight by the serious illness of
Princess M. About January 20th "Tannhauser" and "Lohengrin" will
again be given, and towards the end of the season Tichatschek
will probably be there and take the part.

By repeated desire, I have determined to publish my article on
the Herder festival, together with the analysis of "Lohengrin,"
in a separate form. If you want to add some further remarks on
it, let it be soon, so that I may be able to make use of them.

I enclose a few lines to Ritter. Kindly excuse me to him, and
allow me to restore to you the possession and absolute disposal
of your property after my return to Weymar. Great as is the
temptation to weld at your "Wiland," I must abide by my
resolution never to write a German opera.

I feel no vocation for it, and I lack the necessary patience to
bother myself with German theatrical affairs. Altogether I think
it more appropriate and easier to risk my first dramatic work on
the Italian stage (which probably may happen in the spring of
next year--1852--in Paris or London), and to stick there if I
should succeed.

Germany is your property, and you her glory. Complete your
"Siegfried" soon. Of power and genius you have plenty; only do
not lose patience. Perhaps we shall soon see you again in
Germany; then you will reap what you have so nobly sown.

Your sincerely devoted


EILSEN, January 3rd, 1851

Have you made much progress with your book on the opera? I am
very curious to see this work.



Have you all forgotten me? I have felt so lonely of late that I
am often afraid. Should you be angry with me about anything?
perhaps about the absurd misunderstanding with B.? He wrote to me
that he had heard that I was annoyed at his great article on
"Lohengrin." I was quite confounded, and thought that some
misapprehension of an expression in one of my letters might have
led you and B. after you to a completely erroneous opinion about
me. Therefore I requested him to ask you in my name to let him
explain to you the passage in my letter, because I was anxious,
not only for his sake, but for yours, to dispel so ugly an error.
Has any unpleasantness resulted from it?

From Brussels I have heard nothing. Could you give me some news,
or are you angry that I have troubled you with this affair?
Anyhow I have no illusions as to Brussels.

My very stout book is ready. Its title is "Oper und Drama." I
have not yet a publisher; and as I must take care to get a little
money for it, I am a little anxious about the matter.

Next month I shall devote to the edition of my three romantic
opera-poems. A longish introduction will explain the origin of
these poems and their position towards music.

At the beginning of spring I hope to commence the composition of
"Siegfried," and to continue the work without interruption.

As to the rest, my pleasure in life is not great. All is quiet
and lonely around me, and I frequently feel as if I were dead and

But how are you? Have you quite recovered? I frequently dream of
Weimar and of you--wild, confused things.

Let us say nothing more about "Wiland"; I am heartily sorry
that--you are right.

Have you still courage? Are you in good spirits? Do you really
still care to live amongst the majestic people of the Philistines
who rule the world nowadays? Ah! as long as we possess fancy we
can pull along somehow.

My poor dear little parrot is also dead! He was my spiritus
familiaris, the good brownie of my house.

Farewell, and forgive me.

Always and wholly thine,


ENGE, ZURICH, February 18th, 1851.



By the date of these lines you will sufficiently see in what
grief and sorrow I have been living for months. I was, it is
true, in Weymar for three weeks, but immediately after the
birthday of the Grand Duchess (February 16th) I returned here,
where unfortunately I found the Princess still very ailing and in
bed. On the 7th I have to be back in Weymar to conduct Raff's
opera; the work is too important for Raff's career for me to
neglect it. But the thought of that journey, while my whole soul,
my whole faith, and all my love must remain here at the sick-bed,
is terrible to me. Let us talk of you.

I could never think of forgetting you, and, if possible, still
less of being angry with you. Forgive me that I did not sooner
thank you cordially for B. and R.'s German version of my
"Lohengrin" article. Your letter especially has pleased and
flattered me highly. That you are satisfied with my conception of
that splendid masterpiece of heart and soul "Lohengrin" is my
exceeding rich reward. Immediately after my return to Weymar I
shall have it printed (perhaps the "Illustrirte Zeitung" will
publish it in one number), and shall send you the proof, which I
must ask you to correct and return straight to Weber as quickly
as possible.

R. can carefully read the article in one day, and send it to
Leipzig by return of post.

As to the French original, I shall probably publish it as a
separate pamphlet, together with my article on the Herder
festival, and without the alterations and omissions made by Janin
in the "Journal des Debats" of October 22nd. The title will be
"Fetes de Herder et Goethe a Weymar, 25 et 28 Aout, 1850."

From Brussels not a line! Without repudiating altogether the
musical soil of Belgium, barren though hitherto it has been, with
the exception of some individual talents, I can only advise you
again to protest absolutely against a performance of your works
under any direction but your own. The first condition you should
impose on the management of the theatre is that they call you to
Brussels. In that sense I shall answer in case they apply to me.

About B. I could tell you many things in a half-and-half way, but
you had better think them out for yourself. Let me speak French,
and don't repeat it.

B. is a nobleman who has spent long years in becoming a literary
good-for-nothing. If he had possessed or acquired the necessary
talent, he would in that direction have made himself a position
as a nobleman. As it is, he is an amphibious creature, living in
bogs on one side and getting dry in his water on the other. He
has shown me the letter you wrote to him, but with this kind of
people little is gained by explanation. They are not wanting in
the good where the better would be required, and it is generally
more advisable to be cautious with them than to complain, or
correct their opinions. I think you might have been satisfied
with thanking him simply for his article about "Lohengrin,"
however awkward and badly argued certain passages may have been.
Apropos of this, have you read the articles on "Lohengrin" in the
"Frankfort Conversationsblatt"? They are certainly better meant
and better written; and as you have thanked B., you might, I
think, appropriately write a few lines to the author, who is a
very decent man and one of your sincere and enthusiastic
proselytes. Enclose the lines to him in the first letter you
address to me at Weymar, and I will forward them to him at once.

"Wiland" is still imprisoned at Weymar, together with my
manuscripts and scores. As soon as my valet returns I shall send
you "Wiland" at once, but I am not going to call in a common,
prosaic locksmith to set him at liberty.

I am looking forward to your book. Perhaps I may try on this
occasion to comprehend your ideas a little better, which in your
book "Kunst und Revolution" I could not manage very well, and in
that case I shall cook a French sauce to it.

Brockhaus published a few days ago my pamphlet on the Goethe
foundation ("De la Fondation Goethe a Weymar"). I shall send it
you on the first opportunity. Of my articles on Chopin in the
"France Musicale," which I am likely to spin out through fifteen
numbers, you have probably not heard at Zurich. B. read the
original at Weymar. Farewell, be happier than I, and write soon

Your truly devoted friend,


EILSEN, March 1st, 1851.



Cordial thanks for your letter, which was a sure sign of your
continued interest in me. Your domestic troubles have alarmed me
very much; be assured of my genuine sympathy with any grief that
may befall you. I hope this letter will find you in an easier
state of mind with regard to the health of your very dear friend.
If only my wish could contribute to this! But necessity compels
me to gain some certainty as to my own position through your
means. Listen, and do not be angry.

The communication of your plans in my favour last summer roused
in me a hope as to which I must now know whether I am to look for
its fulfillment or to abandon it altogether. You told me that in
case of the desired success of my "Lohengrin" you intended to
make use of the presumably friendly disposition of the Grand
Duchess, with a view to inducing her to allow me the necessary
means of subsistence during the composition of my "Siegfried."
Just at that time I had given up all thoughts of setting the
opera to music, and had sent the poem of "Siegfried" to the
printer in order to place it before the public in the form of an
intention never carried out. Your communication changed my mind,
as I acknowledged to you at the time in the most joyous and
grateful manner. I cancelled the order for printing the poem, and
prepared myself for the composition instead. For the commencement
of the work I fixed upon the coming spring, partly in order,
first, to get rid of my always depressed winter humour, and
partly to give you time for carrying out your kind intention
without hurry. For the winter I chose a literary work, for which
I had plenty of material, and which I took in hand at once,
hoping that I might make something by it. This work, a book of
four hundred to five hundred pages, small octavo, entitled "Oper
und Drama," has been ready these six weeks; but as yet none of
the publishers to whom I wrote about it has replied, and my
expectations at least of gain from this work are therefore very
small. During the whole of six months, after spending the
honorarium for the production of "Lohengrin" at Weimar, I have
lived entirely by the assistance of Frau R. in D., because
latterly I have not been able to earn anything beyond a small fee
for conducting two of Beethoven's symphonies at the miserable
concerts here. I know that my Dresden friend has for the present
exhausted herself, because the family is not wealthy, but has
only just a sufficient income, which, moreover, owing to some
awkward complications with Russia, is at present placed in
jeopardy. I am therefore compelled to try and make money at any
price, and should have to abandon a task like the composition of
"Siegfried," which in a pecuniary sense is useless. If I were to
have any inclination for a task undertaken for the sake of money,
it would have to be so-called "aesthetic literature," and in
order to get money for such literature I should have to spend all
my time in writing for magazines at so much "per sheet." The
thought is very humiliating.

If I am to undertake an important artistic task, my immediate
future--say for the current year, at least--must be secured;
otherwise I shall lack the necessary cheerfulness and
collectedness. If I am to have peace of mind for devoting myself
to artistic labour without interruption, I must, as I said
before, be without anxiety for my immediate subsistence.
Necessity, as the proverb says, breaks iron, and therefore I put
this question to you once more simply, so as to be sure as to my
position. I am aware that everything has turned out unfavourably
for your plan of helping me. The Grand Duchess was ill, and could
attend only the third performance of "Lohengrin;" soon afterwards
you left Weimar, and therefore had no opportunity of preparing
the Grand Duchess for your plan in a proper and dignified manner.
All this I know, and therefore no blame attaches to you in the
remotest degree. Only I must know now where I am. For that reason
I pray you with all my heart to tell me plainly and definitely
whether, as things are, I still may hope for something or not, so
that I may make all my arrangements accordingly; uncertainty is
the worst of tortures. One request I further make without
hesitation. If you are compelled by the state of affairs to tell
me that your plan cannot now be realized, and that therefore I
must not hope for any further assistance in favour of the
composition of my "Siegfried," then kindly see at least whether
you cannot get me at once SOME money, were it only as much as my
immediate difficulty requires, in order to gain me some time for
settling to my altered plan. It is very sad that I have to
trouble you with this ugly request.

But enough of this.

May Heaven grant that you will soon be relieved from your
domestic troubles. I wish the Princess a quick and perfect
recovery with all my heart.

Farewell, dear friend. Good luck and the best success to Herr

Farewell, and be happy.

Your sincerely devoted


ENGE BEI ZURICH, March 9th, 1851.



I passed the whole of March in such trouble and distress, that I
could not write to you. Since April 4th I have been back here.
"Lohengrin" was to be given on the 8th, but Beck's hoarseness
compelled us to postpone the performance till next Saturday. In
any case the opera will be given twice more during this season.

By today's post I send you my "Lohengrin" article, which in the
first instance will appear in German in the "Illustrirte
Zeitung." Be kind enough to read the proof quickly and to return
it direct to Weber, Leipzig. It will probably be published in the
next number. About the French edition I shall arrange soon
afterwards; it will be the same size and type as my pamphlet on
the Goethe foundation, of which also I send you a copy today.
Brockhaus will be the publisher.

Have you received the hundred thalers? Your last letter has made
me very sad, but I do not relinquish all hope of leading the
somewhat difficult diplomatic transaction concerning your
"Siegfried" to a successful issue. Perhaps I shall succeed in
settling the matter by the middle of May. Tell me in round
figures what sum you require, and (quite entre nous, for I must
ask you specially to let nobody know) write me a full letter
which I can show to Z. You must excuse me for troubling you with
such things, and I am grieved, deeply grieved, that the matter
cannot be brought more simply to a good result; but, in my
opinion, it will be necessary for you to explain by letter your
position as well as the plan of the work and the artistic hopes
which may justly be founded upon it. I need not tell you that I
do not want this for myself. You know me, and are aware that you
can have implicit confidence in me.

Muller's letter I sent yesterday, after thinking from day to day
that I should return. He will doubtless soon write to you, and
you will find him a trustworthy, prudent friend, who genuinely
esteems you.

Can you tell me, under the seal of the most absolute secrecy,
whether the famous article on the Jews in music ("Das Judenthum
in der Musik") in Brendel's paper is by you?

The Princess has remained in Eilsen, still confined to her bed;
and I do not expect her till the end of this month. You may
imagine how deeply her long illness has grieved me.

Write soon, and do not forget to correct the proofs of the
"Illustrirte Zeitung" at once.



April 9th, 1851. P.S.--The "Lohengrin" article must be signed
thus: "From the French of F. Liszt." Request the printer's reader
kindly not to omit this and to call the editor's special
attention to it.



I did not write to you at once in order to write to you more at
length and more calmly on a favourable day. Then came the number
of the "Illustrirte Zeitung" of April 12th, and once more I read
your printed article from beginning to end. It is difficult for
me to describe the impression your work of friendship has made on
me just at this time. I was once more cold and diffident, and
looked with something like bitter irony on the thought of having
to begin a new artistic labour. The artistic misery far and wide
around me was so great, my mood so hopeless, that I felt inclined
to laugh at myself when I thought, for example, of the
composition of my "Siegfried;" and this mood I transferred to all
my other works. Recently I glanced through my score of
"Lohengrin;" it filled me absolutely with disgust, and my
intermittent fits of laughter were not of a cheerful kind. Then
you approached me once more, and moved, delighted, warmed,
inspired me in such a manner that the bright tears welled forth,
and that once more I knew no greater delight than that of being
an artist and of creating works. I have no name for the effect
you have produced upon me. Everywhere around me I see nothing but
the most beautiful spring life, full of germs and blossoms, and
together with it such voluptuous pain, such painfully
intoxicating joy, such delight in being a man, in having a
beating heart--although it feel nothing but sorrow--that I regret
only to have to write all this to you.

And how strangely everything happens with you! Would I could
describe my love for you! There is no torture, but, on the other
hand, no joy, which does not vibrate in this love. One day
jealousy, fear of what is strange to me in your particular
nature, grieve me; I feel anxiety, trouble, yea doubt; and then
again something breaks forth in me like a fire in a wood, and
everything is devoured by this conflagration, which nothing but a
stream of the most blissful tears can extinguish at last. You are
a wonderful man, and wonderful is our love. If we had not loved,
we might have terribly hated, one another. All that I wanted to
write to you with well-balanced composure must now come out just
as it happens to strike me at the moment. My "Siegfried" I shall
begin at the commencement of May, happen what will. Perish all
guarantee of my existence! I shall not starve. For my book I have
at last a publisher, Avenarius, in Leipzig; he pays me one
hundred thalers; it is very little, but I don't think I can get
any more. Now and then you will put a groat by for me; and when
my necessity grows breast-high, you will help me with as much as
you may happen to have for a poor friend. Frau R. in D. will also
do her part off and on, and in the winter I shall earn again a
few louis d'or by conducting symphonies, so that I shall not go
to the devil after all if only my wife will keep calm. So let us
leave the Grand Duchess alone; I can and will not ask her for
anything even in the most indirect manner. If she made me an
offer of her own free will, it would touch and delight me, all
the more coming from a princess, but this possibility, even if it
never should happen, I must not turn into an impossibility by
asking her for a proof of her kindness. Away with all business
transactions as to this question! Up till now the sympathy of
that princely lady has made so beautiful an impression upon me,
that I do not wish to spoil it. Are we agreed? I think so.

You ask me about the "Judenthum." You must know that the article
is by me. Why do you ask? Not from fear, but only to avoid that
the Jews should drag this question into bare personality, I
appear in a pseudonymous capacity. I felt a long-repressed hatred
for this Jewry, and this hatred is as necessary to my nature as
gall is to the blood. An opportunity arose when their damnable
scribbling annoyed me most, and so I broke forth at last. It
seems to have made a tremendous impression, and that pleases me,
for I really wanted only to frighten them in this manner; that
they will remain the masters is as certain as that not our
princes, but the bankers and the Philistines, are nowadays our
masters. Towards Meyerbeer my position is a peculiar one. I do
not hate him, but he disgusts me beyond measure. This eternally
amiable and pleasant man reminds me of the most turbid, not to
say most vicious, period of my life, when he pretended to be my
protector; that was a period of connections and back stairs when
we are made fools of by our protectors, whom in our inmost heart
we do not like. This is a relation of the most perfect
dishonesty; neither party is sincere towards the other; one and
the other assume the appearance of affection, and both make use
of each other as long as their mutual interest requires it. For
the intentional impotence of his politeness towards me I do not
find fault with Meyerbeer; on the contrary, I am glad not to be
his debtor as deeply as, for example, B. But it was quite time
that I should free myself perfectly from this dishonest relation
towards him. Externally there was not the least occasion for it,
for even the experience that he was not sincere towards me would
not have surprised me, neither did it give me a right to be
angry, because at bottom I had to own that I had intentionally
deceived myself about him. But from inner causes arose the
necessity to relinquish all considerations of common prudence
with regard to him. As an artist I cannot exist before myself and
my friends, I cannot think or feel, without realizing and
confessing my absolute antagonism to Meyerbeer, and to this I am
driven with genuine desperation when I meet with the erroneous
opinion even amongst my friends that I have anything in common
with Meyerbeer. Before none of my friends I can appear in clear
and definite form, with all that I desire and feel, unless I
separate myself entirely from the nebulous outline in which many
see me. This is an act necessary for the perfect birth of my
matured nature; and if God wills, I hope to be of service to many
by performing this act so zealously.

What you will think of this--that--just imagine--I do not as yet
know exactly. I know who you are and perfectly feel what you are,
and yet it must appear to me as if in this point you could not as
yet be entirely your own self. But enough of this. There are
earthly things on which we may occasionally be of different
opinion without ever parting from each other in divine things. If
you don't approve of something here, shut your eyes to it.

Let me at last have some good news of you. In your most intimate
relations you seem to me so sadly placed that I am quite
melancholy about it. Is the illness of the Princess so serious
that, apart from its long duration, it inspires you with real
anxiety? I must almost fear this unless you reassure me about it.
Do this as soon as you can, and tell the highly esteemed lady how
cordially I sympathize with her sufferings.

Dear, dear Liszt, arrange that we soon may see each other.
Perhaps the Princess would benefit by Swiss air; send her here
and come with her.

I cannot go on today. I wanted to write to you about your Goethe
foundation, but must wait for a calmer hour to meet your splendid
idea with dignity.

Farewell, and be pressed to the heart of your


ENGE, ZURICH, April 18th, 1851.

I doubt whether the correction of the proof will still be
necessary, but have sent it to Leipzig nevertheless.


Then we are to have "Young Siegfried"! You are truly a most
incredible fellow, to whom one must doff hat and bonnet three
times. The satisfactory settlement of this matter rejoices me
cordially; and, as you may imagine, I have perfect faith in your
work. But let us say nothing about it until you send in "Young
Siegfried" (July 1st, 1852), so as to avoid the useless
preliminary talk of people. Here nobody knows about it, excepting
Zigesar; and we are anxious to keep it from the public.
"Lohengrin" at its last performance (the fifth) on Sunday was
appreciated more than ever, and actors and orchestra also came
nearer to the understanding and the interpretation of the work.
The house was filled for the greater part, it is true, by
Erfurters, Naumburgers, and other curious people from the
neighbourhood, for, to speak candidly, our Weymar public, with
the exception of about a dozen persons, are not yet sufficiently
advanced to be in real sympathy with so extraordinary a work.
That "Lohengrin" has reached its fifth performance in one season
is a kind of miracle which must be attributed to the Court. The
Hereditary Grand Duchess had especially asked for this
performance on the occasion of her first visit to the theatre
after her confinement. From Leipzig came David and Moscheles,
from Halle Robert Franz, from Eisenach Kuhnstedt. Professor
Stahr, who has become a dear friend, and Fanny Lewald have been
here about a fortnight.

Stahr is going to write about "Lohengrin" in the National Zeitung
or Kolnische Zeitung. If after reading his article you feel
inclined to write him a few lines, send them to Weymar (Hotel Zum
Erbprinzen). Muller has written another "Lohengrin" article in
the Weimar Zeitung, which he has probably sent to you. After the
performance of "Lohengrin" I received your letter about the
Goethe foundation, and I thank you cordially for it. I may
mention, however, that perhaps no less than two years' time and
trouble will be required to make the idea of the Goethe
foundation a reality. I am prepared to devote that time to it,
because I am firmly convinced that without my activity the thing
here will simply come to nothing, as has already happened at

Should you not be inclined to publish your letter in its actual
form of a letter to me in some newspaper which is open to you? I
will send it back to you in a few days for that purpose, asking
you, however, to return it to me at Weymar as soon as you have
done with it.

The day after tomorrow I have to go to Eilsen for the third time,
but hope to be back here at Whitsuntide. At the close of the
theatrical season we shall have either "Tannhauser" or
"Lohengrin" once more. The direction of the former work I think I
may now leave to Gotze.

If possible, send me a copy of your autobiography direct to
Eilsen (Buckeburg). I can make good use of it in connection with
the pamphlet which is to be published (in French) in June by
Brockhaus. If your article on the Zurich theatre has appeared,
send it also to me at Eilsen, where I shall employ my time in
reading and working. I am most curious to know your views and
practical proposals with regard to theatrical matters, and I
shall be most ready to adopt your ideas as far as possible.

Draw up occasionally for me a repertory of earlier and modern
works which appear to you most adapted to further the cause of
art. At present I cannot help thinking it advisable to make some
eclectic concessions (alas! alas!) to the existing state of our
theatrical institutions.

Be well and active, dear, splendid friend, and soon give news to


WEYMAR, May 17th, 1851.



I must reply to you at once about a few things which you ask me
in your letter received yesterday, so as to let you know how
matters stand. First of all (as is always the case when I have to
deal with you), I must wipe a blush of shame off my face before
answering you. Your wishes always concern me, and that in a sense
which must flatter me to the very core. You want a copy of my
autobiography in order to make use of it for your pamphlet. What
can I say to that? I will say nothing, but only reply that in
this instance my vanity is not sufficiently great to make me
carry my biography about with me. I do not possess it, and do not
know where to get it. If you really want to see it, you might
perhaps get it more easily from Weimar, if I told you exactly
where it is to be found. It appeared in the "Zeitung fur die
elegante Welt" in the year 1843, first quarterly issue, month of
February, I believe. But I can scarcely think that you will find
much in it beyond the confirmation of the fact that I too have
erred much in my artistic efforts, not being one of the elect
who, like Mendelssohn, received the only true, infallible,
"solid" food of art, like heavenly manna in their mouths, and who
therefore were able to say, "I have never erred." We poor earthly
worms can get only through error to a knowledge of truth, which
therefore we love passionately, like a conquered bride, and not
with the genteel approval with which we look upon a spouse
selected for us beforehand by the dear parents. At that time when
I wrote my autobiography by Laube's desire, I had, it is true,
finished my "Flying Dutchman" and sketched the poem of
"Tannhauser", but only through my completed "Tannhauser" and my
completed "Lohengrin" did I gain perfect clearness as to the
direction in which I had been impelled by unconscious instinct.
Later on, in connection with the edition of my operatic poems, I
shall take occasion to explain the process of development
observed in me; certain it is that nothing of this can be
contained in my autobiography. All the more interesting will it
be for me to see that direction judged from his own observation
by some one else, i.e., some one like you.

Concerning my last letter to you, I must ask you to be assured
that I wrote it without ostensible object. To you alone I wanted
to speak on a topic started by yourself, because I did not desire
to support an opinion in a general way, but to effect something
real, viz., the foundation of an original theatre. I therefore
did not want to address the public--which qua public is quite
useless for that purpose--but some one who has the intellect and
before all the energy to view distinctly the accomplishment of
such an object in given circumstances. If in the actual condition
of generally accepted opinion something is to be undertaken which
combats and denies that opinion as detrimental to art, this can
of course only be done by individuals. We cannot expect a better
general condition until the individual has become perfectly
strong in itself, for the general must proceed from individuals,
and for the present therefore we must be intent upon being ready
ourselves and communicating with none but those nearest akin to
us. In this spirit I look upon the theatre. If we want to work
for a rational condition of the theatre in all Germany, we shall
never achieve anything in the slightest degree rational unless we
begin at some given point, even the smallest. That point I
imagine I have found where an embodiment of genius and energy is
already acting in the right sense. Where else can you find such
things as are done at Weimar? But through whom is this done?
Through you alone! The Court may have the best possible
intention; it is not an artist to realize its intention or even
to conceive a distinct intention, for that in this case none but
an artist can do. This is the reason why I have applied to you
alone. I had no other intention. If you think it useful and
appropriate to make a wider use of my communication, you are
quite at liberty to do so. If you think that a totally
independent word of mine as to the position of poetry and the
fine arts, especially in reference to a given object, may not be
wholly without beneficial influence on many of those concerned,
before all if you think that the object in question may be
furthered by it, I ask you to dispose of my letter as your
property. I, however, cannot undertake its publication. I should
defeat my original purpose in doing so, besides which no journals
are open to me. In the "Deutsche Monatsschrift", to which I am
now and then asked to contribute, I do not like on principle to
treat the question in this form; our object would not be
furthered by it. Act therefore entirely according to your
judgment. If you think it useless, leave it alone. If, however,
you print the letter, omit what you think unfit for publicity. I
should not willingly make additions, because they would of
necessity have reference to the "original theatre," and about
that I should have to say a great deal to make my idea
comprehensible to the general public.

You have probably received my little pamphlet "Ein Theater in
Zurich." Much, yea most, in it will not suit you, for the
conditions here are too different from those of Weimar; but my
idea of the essence of the activity of the "original theatre" the
little work will make tolerably clear. In case you ask "whether I
wish to exclude altogether everything extraneous" I reply in
advance, Yes, for the present, and until the main object is
attained, but not for the future. The main object is this: that
the theatre imagined by me should, by the originality of its
work, gain perfect individual independence, should educate itself
to be a conscious individual. This object once attained, this
individual independence achieved, then, and then only, should it
exchange its achievements with those of other equally independent
theatrical individualities, and by means of this exchange be
fructified to ever greater capability and variety, extending in
this manner to wider and generally human circles. This
fructifying exchange can be successfully accomplished only when
receiving means at the same time giving; only he who can give can
receive with benefit to himself. At present our theatres are so
wholly dependent, so entirely without individuality, that they
can do nothing but receive, without having the power of really
appropriating what they receive. Our theatres are undeveloped
beings, pulpy, pappy molluscs, which can never bring forth a man.

I must refrain from saying any more on this head; it might easily
lead me to writing another book of four hundred pages, and the
writing of books I am determined to abandon in preference to
producing a work of art. Only this much I must add: through you
Weimar is already in a good way; proceed on that way of original
achievement with conscious principle, express that principle
distinctly, and by that means gain more and more participants in
your consciousness; by that means you can easily show how an
intention may gradually become a reality. Raff's opera has
pleased me immensely; that is right, and now onwards! or, to
speak plainly, it is your turn now,

Write an opera for Weimar, I entreat you; write it exactly for
the artists who are there, and who through your work will be
elevated, made more noble, more universal. Continue, if you like,
your plans for the Italians; there also, I feel sure, you can do
famous and useful things, but at the same time abide by what is
nearest to you, by what is your present home; where you are in
bodily presence, and with your whole mental energy, be there also
with your productive will; do not trouble yourself about the
other German theatres and their conditions. You do not want them
in order to achieve something beautiful and at the same time
useful. Candidly speaking, what do you seek just now, and with
your present activity amongst the Italians, otherwise than an
increase of your fame? Very well, but will that make you happy?
For that you no longer care! Other conditions are necessary to
give you happiness. Do something for your Weimar.

Well, I will not entreat you anymore for the present; you must
find out for yourself what you have to do.

One thing more, however: work thoroughly for the culture of your
theatrical people. You will get the desired artists from nowhere
unless you create them for yourself. Be careful to make your
singers first of all good actors; how is he to sing who cannot
speak and declaim well? Nothing can here be done in a casual
manner; you must proceed on principle and with expressed
intention. (For that reason think of the Goethe foundation!) To
speak plainly, you want a good stage-manager. Genast is a
splendid fellow, but he has grown old in routine; he does not
know, and will never understand, what has to be done. A man like
Eduard Devrient would be of excellent effect for the training of
your actors, for he knows what has to be done. (I admit the
difficulty of getting such a man.) You must further have an able
singing master. I believe that Gotze has good qualities for the
post, but he ought to have power as well; people ought to be
compelled to learn from him.

I am aware that a man does not become an artist by mere training,
but he can never become an artist unless his organic faculties
are healthily developed, and that is what is wanting amongst us
almost everywhere. Other things will be easily set right if you
are more careful in the choice of works selected for performance
than is generally the case amongst us. The coarse mixture of all
genres and all styles is the evil which prevents our actors from
gaining any kind of artistic consciousness. Gluck today,
Donizetti tomorrow, Weber today, Rossini or Auber tomorrow,
serious today, frivolous tomorrow--what is the result? That the
people can do neither Gluck nor Donizetti, neither the serious
nor the frivolous. How terrible also are the translations! People
get systematically accustomed to the absolute senselessness of
scenic representations; look therefore to a rational treatment of
the translated librettos. Before all, accustom your singers to
looking upon their work in the first instance as a dramatic task;
the accomplishment of their lyrical task will after that be an
easy matter. Works of the earlier French school are most adapted
to the purpose, because in them a natural dramatic intention is
most perceptible. Singers who cannot execute well and effectively
the "Water-carrier," by Cherubini, or "Joseph," by Mehul--how are
they to be able to master the (in that case) enormous
difficulties of, for example, one of my operas? The chief thing,
however, will always be new works and such works as are adapted
to our set of artists and have been written specially for this
theatre. But enough of preaching! If I have been almost
impertinent, you must forgive me. Today is my birthday, and you
could not have sent me a better present than your letter of

As yet Heaven has not given us fine weather, but I wait for the
first bright, sunny day to commence the poem of my "Young
Siegfried" with the pen. In my head it is ready. In July I hope
to send you the poem.

Your last news has once more made me desirous to write to the
Hereditary Grand Duchess. The contact with a sympathetic, noble
female nature is to me an infinitely joyful feeling, and that
feeling I should like to gain as a blessing for my impending
work. If you think that I might permit myself a slight deviation
from the ordinary official style towards this lady, I should ask
you one of these days to forward a letter from me to her. The
official style I cannot manage. Our dear, foolish Zigesar always
writes to me, "Ew. Wohlgeboren," etc. I wish he would leave that
alone. I am sorry when, in his kindness towards me, I stumble
over this kind of powder and pigtail business.

May God bless you, not the "god of Buckeburg." You are right in
retiring into solitude now and then; without that men like us
cannot exist. Greet the Princess most cordially. I hope she will
soon be well again.

Farewell, dearest of friends. I press you to my heart!



ENGE, ZURICH, May 22nd, 1851.



Short news from me today.

I have quite finished the poem of my "Young Siegfried". It has
given me great joy; it is certainly what I was bound to do, and
the best thing that I have done so far. I am really glad about
it. With my violent way of working, I am always considerably
tired at the end. I must take some time to recover. I cannot just
yet make up my mind to copy it out for you, for many reasons, too
long to tell. I feel also some bashfulness in submitting my poem
to you without further explanation--a bashfulness which has its
reason in me, not in you. I therefore ask you whether there is
not a chance of my seeing you soon. Some time ago you made me
think so. How is it now? Can you visit me, or at least appoint a
place, accessible to me, for meeting? Please answer this question
at once. My longing to see you, dear, splendid friend, again
after two years, during which you have been more to me than I can
describe, and to spend a few days with you, is greater than I am
able to express. Can you fulfill this longing? If we could meet
shortly, I should keep my "Young Siegfried", in order to read it
to you. This would add to my peace of mind considerably. The
written word is, I fear, insufficient for my intention; but if I
could read it to you viva voce, indicating how I want to have it
interpreted, I should be quite satisfied as to the desired
impression of my poem upon you. Write to me at once what my
chances are. If, alas! you cannot come, I shall have a copy made
at once and send it you.

One thing more: in my last letters I entirely forgot to mention
the Hartel affair to you. By a certain impulse, I applied to
Breitkopf and Hartel about "Lohengrin". I owed them from of old
two hundred thalers for a grand pianoforte, and proposed to them
to wipe out this debt and to take the copyright of "Lohengrin" in
return. At first they entertained my offer as to the pianoforte
score, but I insisted again on the full score being engraved,
telling them that something might be done by subscription, and
referring them to your influential help. For a long time I heard
nothing, but today I have a letter from the H.'s, saying that
they accede to my wish and are prepared to print the full score.
How has this happened? Now that my demand has been granted, it
almost appears fabulous to me that they should publish the full
score of an opera which has only been given at Weimar.

What do you think? Can I expect this of them? This, in my
opinion, is a nobility of conduct which makes me feel ashamed. I
should almost like not to accept the H.'s offer for "Lohengrin"
on condition that they engrave the full score of my "Young
Siegfried". This child, which I have engendered and should like
to give to the world, is naturally even nearer to my heart than
"Lohengrin", for I want it to be stronger and healthier than he.
If the H.'s publish the score of "Lohengrin", it may be assumed
to a certainty that the sale will be so small as to make them
wholly disinclined for the engraving of the full score of "Young
Siegfried"; and this latter is of course of much greater
importance to me. What do you think? Advise me, dear Liszt! Shall
I hold their offer over for "Siegfried" and give up "Lohengrin"
instead? To get both appears almost impossible to me. Advise me!

Farewell for today. My pen will not obey me any longer; I am too
excited by many things.

Farewell, and write to me how you are and whether I shall see
you. Are you well? Greet the Princess! Farewell.



ENGE, ZURICH, June 29th, 1851.



The news of the happy birth of "Siegfried" pleases me much, and I
thank you for letting me know at once. How I should like to hear
you read it and to visit you at Zurich! But, alas! this year it
is quite impossible for me to think of any journey whatever. At
the end of this month I hope that the health of the Princess will
allow her to start; and in order to make the journey less
fatiguing, we shall return slowly by Dusseldorf, Cologne,
Frankfort, and Eisenach. You, dear friend, must need rest and a
little country life after the completion of your work. Please do
not trouble yourself on my account by making at once a copy of
"Siegfried"; you will send it me on occasion later on at Weymar,
where, locked up, still remains "Wiland", which, to my regret, I
have not been able to send you, not having the necessary keys at
hand. I have explained this to Uhlig. If he is with you, remember
me kindly to him, and excuse me to him once more for my
involuntary negligence.

The Hartels are quite comme il faut in their personal and
business relations. Dr. Hartel came to Weymar to hear
"Lohengrin", and I am delighted to hear that his impression has
been confirmed by an imprimatur. As you ask my advice about what
you had better do, accept his proposition or hold it over till
"Siegfried", so as to make him publish the score of a new work
for you, I have no hesitation in saying that, for all manner of
reasons, I should think it preferable to publish now only the
pianoforte score of "Lohengrin", and to make arrangements with
Hartel that the pianoforte score and full score of "Siegfried"
should appear soon after the Weymar performance, which probably,
and at the latest, will take place in February, 1853, for the
fete of H.R.H. the Grand Duchess. "Lohengrin" will lose nothing
by waiting chez nous.

As I wrote to you before, it will take some time before this
glorious work meets with the swans which are to draw its barque
to the banks of the Spree and the Elbe. Ganders and turkeys would
like to lead it to shipwreck, but do not lose patience, and have
confidence in the moderate amount of practical knowledge which
your friend places loyally at your service and disposal. In the
early days of August my pamphlet "Lohengrin et Tannhauser" will
appear; it was written for a purpose which neither you nor your
friends have hitherto been able to guess, and which it will take
me some time to attain. I am far, however, from despairing of
that attainment, but shall not let you know till the moment of
success, in order to avoid unnecessary words--a habit which is
growing upon me more and more. If you follow my advice, dear
friend, write to H. in the sense indicated by you; that is, ask
him to keep his good intentions for the engraving of one of your
full scores till after the first performance of "Siegfried", and
to publish for the present only the pianoforte score of
"Lohengrin". Send to me here, please, if you possess them, the
numbers of the "Monatsschrift" of Kollatschek containing your and
Uhlig's articles. Heine in the same number has thought it
necessary to make some of his rhymed jokes at my expense with his
usual spirit. More than a fortnight ago I subscribed to that
magazine through my bookseller, but as yet it has not reached me.
Farewell, dearest friend. Believe me that I am truly vexed at not
being able to attend the rendezvous which you propose, and which
would have given me great pleasure--the pleasure of seeing you
again and of having plenty of talk with you.

Always rely upon your


EILSEN, July 3d, 1851.



I had just come down from the Alps when I found your letter,
which again has given me the greatest joy. I thank you with my
whole heart for your advice, so speedily given. You agree with me
as to Hartel's offer; I expected so much, and it is a
confirmation of my right sense in the matter. The full score of
"Siegfried" it is to be, then. I feel as safe with you as a child
in the mother's bosom; you take such care of me, dearest friend.

Uhlig is here. He has taken every trouble and made every
sacrifice to save enough for a visit to me in Switzerland.
Considering his cool, quiet, and passionless nature, the faithful
attachment and friendship of this young man are of great value to
me. As a very young musician he attracted my attention in the
Dresden orchestra by his uncommon musical certainty and
circumspection. Being struck by traits of unusual force of
character and of a firm, manly disposition, I admitted him to
intimate intercourse, and found a man who in the poorest
circumstances had developed himself entirely out of himself. Thus
I gained a friend who subsequently from a distance made it the
task of his life, as far as his power extended, to serve me in a
manner which,--the inclination being equal in both cases,--has
been surpassed only by your brilliant genius.

You wanted to have some numbers of the Deutsche Monatsschrift. I
happen to possess them, and send them to you, although I do not
quite see of what use they can be to you. My book "Oper und
Drama," in which I certainly express myself in a decisive, firm,
and detailed manner, is passing through the press very slowly,
and will probably not be ready before two months. Out of this
book I have, by special desire, communicated some articles about
modern dramatic poetry to the Monatsschrift, but am now sorry for
it, for, torn out of their context, they are not particularly
clear. I send them to you all the same, although I should almost
like to ask you to ignore them. As you will not get the
Monatsschrift, because it will be discontinued, I send you
another number with an article entitled "Wir," by Solger; it is
written so prettily that I should almost like you to read it. So
many stupid things have appeared in that Monatsschrift that the
detached good bits really deserve attention. As to Heine's stupid
joke you will probably not be in need of comfort. Lord, how
delighted I am with my "Young Siegfried"; he will deliver me once
for all from all literature and journalism. This month I require
fully to recover my health in order to rush at the music next
month. The copy of the poem I shall send you by Uhlig, if not

May the god who dwells in both of us keep you healthy and happy.
With pleasure I see from your letter that the Princess also is
recovering. I hope you will both get safely back to Weimar, which
is more and more becoming my real spiritual home.

Farewell, and be greeted from the full heart of your


ENGE, ZURICH, July 11th, 1851.


I am much obliged, dearest friend, for your sending me the
Monatsschrift of Kollatschek, which I had been unable to get
previously. As soon as I have read the articles which interest me
I shall return them to you, and perhaps you might send me the
numbers which contain the continuation of Uhlig's articles on
instrumental music.

To my regret, I shall probably miss Uhlig's visit to Weymar, for
I shall not be able to leave here till between the 26th and 30th
of this month, and shall travel very slowly by Dusseldorf,
Cologne, Frankfort, to Weymar, which I shall not reach till about
the 10th of August. But in any case I shall go to see Uhlig at
Dresden in the course of the autumn, for I attach real value to
the continuance of my friendly relations with him, and I ask you
to assure him of this as well as of my sincere and loyal

I send you today the letter of M. Philipront, of Brussels, and
the draft of my answer, by which you can regulate your subsequent
correspondence with those gentlemen. For many reasons, I ask you
specially not to give way on the two conditions of your
collaboration in the adjustment of the French words to the music
and of your presence at the general rehearsals, which I have
mentioned distinctly to M. Philipront as necessary, and without
which, entre nous, "Lohengrin" would run a great risk of being
abominably cut and slashed.

I am delighted that you agree with my opinion about the
publication of the score of "Lohengrin." In this, as in other
matters, the Hartels have behaved with a tact and good taste for
which one ought to be truly thankful, and I feel convinced that
the scores of both "Siegfried" and "Lohengrin" will appear at
short intervals, and in the course of two years. But, all things
considered, I think it advisable to begin with the pianoforte
score of "Lohengrin", to be followed by the full score of
"Siegfried", and finally that of "Lohengrin", in 1853 or perhaps

If Uhlig leaves you before the end of the month, he might inquire
at Buckeburg whether I have left Eilsen, for he is obliged to
pass through Buckeburg if he takes the railway from Cologne or
Dusseldorf, which will be the shortest route to return to
Dresden. I have written this to him in my last letter, which
should have reached him. I should like very much to see him here,
and you will oblige me by giving him a pressing invitation on my
account. What has become of your disciple Ritter? Remember me to
him when you see him. The manuscript of "Wiland", which is still
locked up in a chest at Weymar, will be sent on demand to Uhlig
immediately after my return there.

The Princess, who, God be thanked, has been perceptibly better
these last days, charges me with her admiration for you, to which
I add only the simple expression of my friendship and true

F. L.

Draft of my answer to M. Philipront, which, I hope, will draw the
question of the "Lohengrin" performance at Brussels out of

"Sir,--As your letter of July 6th did not find me at Weymar, you
will kindly excuse the delay of my answer. When Herr Wagner
informed me of the proposal of M. Hanssens to perform "Lohengrin"
at the Brussels theatre and asked my opinion of the matter, I
advised him to thank M. Hanssens for the hospitality he had
offered to that beautiful work and to accept it on two
conditions, which seem to me indispensable for its full success.
They are that the author should collaborate in the adjustment of
the French words to the music, and that the last two rehearsals
should take place in his presence. "Lohengrin" belongs by no
means to the ordinary run of operas, but is in all respects an
exceptional and sublime work; and it would therefore, in my
opinion, be dangerous to attempt a performance which would not be
completely identified with the ideas and intentions of the poet-
composer. In another fortnight I shall have an opportunity of
sending you a copy of my pamphlet on "Lohengrin", which will
appear at the beginning of August (in French, Brockhaus,
Leipzig). If, after having read it, you continue in your
intention of giving "Lohengrin" at the Brussels theatre and of
rendering a double service to dramatic art and the author, you
can easily communicate direct with Herr Wagner as to the
arrangements for carrying out the two conditions made and
insisted upon by him.

"I am, Sir, etc.,


"EILSEN, July 16th

"The theatre of Weymar not being able to part with its one copy
of the score of "Lohengrin", in consequence of the frequent
performances of that work, it is out of my power to send it to
you; but Herr Wagner will, no doubt, send you either the original
manuscript or a copy, specially made for Brussels.

"The address of Herr Wagner is 'Abendstern, Enge, Zurich.'"



Two words only. You have understood "Lohengrin" aright; Stahr has
not. I withdraw my consent to his opinion; it was given in haste.
You will soon hear more from me, best of all men!



August 23rd, 1851



At last I am able to break my long silence. The contents of this
letter will show you with regard to how many and comparatively
important matters I had to come to a clear decision before I
could write to you in the definite manner which has now become

My silence was to a large extent caused by my weak state of
health. For more than two months I have been using a water cure,
and during that time I found it quite impossible to write to you
at such length as I felt more and more every day that I ought to
do. A most cogent reason for writing to you arose to me from
reading your pamphlet on my two operas, which I received at the
hydropathic establishment. Your rare friendship for me, your
energetic love of my works, your restless zeal in making
propaganda for those works, and, before all, the splendid
enthusiasm, the spirit, the subtlety, and boldness with which
your zeal inspired you, moved me too deeply and powerfully to
allow me to express my gratitude in the excited state in which I
was. I had to leave this to a time when better health and a more
collected mind would make it possible for me to communicate with
you at greater length. I hope now to have got so far, and must
tell you first of all that the sacrifice of the most beautiful
affection which you have again offered me has moved me to the
heart and has made me very glad and happy. You have moved me most
deeply in all those parts where you had come to a perfect
agreement with me, for the reason that this agreement was not a
ready-made thing, but a discovery new to both of us. Most
specially were my attention, sympathy, and eagerness awakened
when I saw my original intention newly reflected in the mirror of
your individual conception; for here I was able to realize fully
the impression I had been fortunate enough to produce on your
fertile artistic receptivity.

What you have been to me I tried recently to explain in a public
manner, and having to write for publicity, I did so as soberly as
possible, limiting myself entirely to the facts of our relations
which I wanted to explain to those who perhaps could not
understand such a friendship nowadays. I did this, being
irresistibly impelled by my heart, in a "Mittheilung an meine
Freunde," which I prefixed as an introduction to my three
operatic poems. In the same place I stated plainly that I had
despaired of ever again undertaking an artistic task, and that to
you and your active sympathy it was solely due if I once more had
gathered sufficient courage and energy for an artistic
enterprise, which I should dedicate to you and to those of my
friends comprised in "the local idea: Weimar." The timidity of
Messrs. Hartel, the publishers of the book, has taken exception
to certain passages in that preface to which I did not wish to
have any demonstrative intention attributed, and which I might
have expressed just as well in a different way; and the
appearance of the book has in consequence been much retarded, to
my great annoyance, for special reasons.

For the public declaration as to the intended destiny of my next
dramatic work would, owing to my latest resolution, require an
essential modification if it were to be quite in accordance with
actual circumstances. But, although the preface, written at the
beginning of last August, appears in the present circumstances
too late, the aforesaid declaration will be given to the public
without any change; and if I cannot fulfill the promise given in
it in the manner there stated, it may at least serve you and my
Weimar friends as a proof of the genuine sincerity of the
intention then held by me. I should also be glad to think that in
that public declaration I have furnished a sign of my gratitude
for the sympathy they have shown to me, even if, as I said
before, I cannot prove that gratitude in the exact manner there

To you, my dear Liszt, I am now compelled to confess that my
resolution of writing a new opera for Weimar has been so
essentially modified as scarcely to exist any longer in that

Hear then the strictly veracious account of the artistic
enterprise in which I have been engaged for some time, and the
turn it had of necessity to take.

In the autumn of 1848 I sketched for the first time the complete
myth of the "Nibelungen", such as it henceforth belongs to me as
my poetic property. My next attempt at dramatizing the chief
catastrophe of that great action for our theatre was "Siegfried's
Death". After much wavering I was at last, in the autumn of 1850,
on the point of sketching the musical execution of this drama,
when again the obvious impossibility of having it adequately
performed anywhere prevented me in the first instance from
beginning the work. To get rid of this desperate mood, I wrote
the book "Oper und Drama." Last spring your article on
"Lohengrin" inspired me to such a degree that for your sake I
resumed the execution of a drama quickly and joyously; this I
wrote to you at the time: but "Siegfried's Death"--that, I knew
for certain, was in the first instance impossible. I found that I
should have to prepare it by another drama, and therefore took up
the long-cherished idea of making the young Siegfried the subject
of a poem. In it everything that in "Siegfried's Death" was
either narrated or more or less taken for granted was to be shown
in bold and vivid outline by means of actual representation. This
poem was soon sketched and completed. When I was going to send it
to you, I for the first time felt a peculiar anxiety. It seemed
as if I could not possibly send it to you without explanation, as
if I had many things to tell you, partly as to the manner of
representation and partly as to the necessary comprehension of
the poem itself. In the first instance it occurred to me that I
still had many and various things to communicate previous to my
coming before my friends with this poem. It was for that reason
that I wrote the long preface to my three earlier operatic poems,
of which mention has already been made. After this I was going to
begin the composition, and found, to my joy, that the music
adapted itself to these verses quite naturally and easily, as of
its own accord. But the very commencement of the work reminded me
that I should ruin my health entirely if I did not take care of
it thoroughly before yielding to my impulse and finishing the
work at a stretch and probably without interruption. When I went
to the hydropathic establishment, I felt compelled at last to
send you the poem; but, strangely enough, something always seemed
to restrain me. I was led to hesitate, because I felt as if your
acquaintance with this poem would place you in a certain awkward
position, as if you would not exactly know what to make of it,
whether to receive it with hope or diffidence. At last, on mature
consideration, my plan in its logical sequence became clear to
me. Listen to me:--

This "Young Siegfried" also is no more than a fragment, and as a
separate entity it cannot produce its proper and sure impression
until it occupies its necessary place in a complete whole, a
place which I now assign to it, together with "Siegfried's
Death," in my newly designed plan. In these two dramas a number
of necessary relations were left to the narrative or even to the
sagacity of the hearer. Everything that gave to the action and
the character of these two dramas their infinitely touching and
widely spreading significance had to be omitted in the
representation, and could be communicated to the mind alone. But,
according to my inmost conviction since formed, a work of art,
and especially a drama, can have its true effect only when the
poetic intention in all its more important motives speaks fully
to the senses, and I cannot and dare not sin against this truth
which I have recognized. I am compelled therefore to communicate
my entire myth in its deepest and widest significance with the
greatest artistic precision, so as to be fully understood.
Nothing in it must in any sense be left to be supplied by thought
or reflection; the unsophisticated human mind must be enabled by
its artistic receptivity to comprehend the whole, because by that
means only may the most detached parts be rightly understood.

Two principal motives of my myth therefore remain to be
represented, both of which are hinted at in "Young Siegfried",
the first in the long narrative of Brynhild after her awakening
(Act III.), the second in the scene between Alberich and the
Wanderer in the second act and between the Wanderer and Mime in
the first. That to this I was led not only by artistic
reflection, but by the splendid and, for the purpose of
representation, extremely rich material of these motives, you
will readily understand when you consider the subject more
closely. Think then of the wondrously fatal love of Siegmund and
Siegelinde, of Wotan in his deep, mysterious relation to that
love, in his dispute with Fricka, in his terrible self-contention
when, for the sake of custom, he decrees the death of Siegmund,
finally of the glorious Valkyrie Brynhild, as, divining the
innermost thought of Wotan, she disobeys the god, and is punished
by him; consider this wealth of motive indicated in the scene
between the Wanderer and the Wala, and at greater length in the
above-mentioned tale of Brynhild, as the material of a drama
which precedes the two Siegfrieds; and you will understand that
it was not reflection, but rather enthusiasm, which inspired my
latest plan.

That plan extends to three dramas: (l) "The Valkyrie"; (2) "Young
Siegfried"; (3) "Siegfried's Death". In order to give everything
completely, these three dramas must be preceded by a grand
introductory play: "The Rape of the Rhinegold". The object is the
complete representation of everything in regard to this rape: the
origin of the Nibelung treasure, the possession of that treasure
by Wotan, and the curse of Alberich, which in "Young Siegfried"
occur in the form of a narrative. By the distinctness of
representation which is thus made possible, and which at the same
time does away with everything of the nature of a lengthy
narration, or at least condenses it in a few pregnant moments, I
gain sufficient space to intensify the wealth of relations, while
in the previous semi-epical mode of treatment I was compelled to
cut down and enfeeble all this. I mention only one thing:--

Alberich ascends from the depth of the earth to the three
daughters of the Rhine; he persecutes them with his loathsome
wooing; rejected by one, he turns to the other; laughing and
teasing, they all refuse the gnome. Then the Rhinegold begins to
glow; Alberich is attracted; he inquires as to its meaning; the
girls tell him that they use it as a bright plaything, and that
its splendour lights up the depth of the waves with blissful
glow, but that he might work many wonders, might gain power and
strength, wealth and dominion, through means of the gold, who
could weld it to a ring. But only he who renounces love can do
this. They tell him that to prevent any one from robbing the gold
they have been appointed its warders, for he who approaches them
would certainly not desire the gold; Alberich at least is not
likely to do this, as he is so much in love with them. Again they
laugh at him. Then the Nibelung grows furious, he robs the gold,
and takes it with him into the depths.

But enough of these particulars. Let me tell you my plan for the
practical execution of the whole.

Of a separation of the materials of this great whole I cannot
think without destroying my object at the outset. The entire
cycle of dramas must be represented in rapid sequence, and their
external embodiment can be thought of only in the following
favourable circumstances. The performance of my Nibelung dramas
will have to take place at a great festival, to be arranged
perhaps especially for the purpose of this performance. It will
have to extend over three consecutive days, the introductory
drama to be given on the previous evening. If a performance in
such circumstances has been accomplished, the whole may in the
first instance be repeated on another occasion, and after that
the single dramas, being complete in themselves, may be given
separately ad libitum; but in any case the impression of a
continuous performance must have gone before.

Where and in what circumstances such a performance may become
possible I must not for the present consider, for first of all I
have to complete my great work, and that will take me at least
three years if I have any regard for my health.

A fortunate turn in the affairs of my intimate friends the R.
family has had the effect that for that time and for the rest of
my life I may attend to my artistic creations quietly and
undisturbed by material cares. When once I have finished my great
work, means will, I hope, be found of having it performed
according to my design. If Weimar is still standing then, and if
your efforts at doing something fine there have been more
fortunate than at present, alas! seems likely, and more than
likely, we shall see how the matter can be managed.

However bold, extraordinary, and perhaps fantastic my plan may
appear to you, be convinced that it is not the outgrowth of a
mere passing whim, but has been imposed upon me by the necessary
consequences of the essence and being of the subject which
occupies me wholly and impels me towards its complete execution.
To execute it according to my power as a poet and musician is the
only thing that stands before my eyes; anything else must not
trouble me for the present. Knowing your way of thinking, I do
not doubt for a moment that you will agree with me and encourage
my purpose, although it will frustrate for the moment your
flattering wish soon to produce another work of mine.

After this I may confess that the definite alteration of my plan
relieves me of an almost painful difficulty: the difficulty of
having to demand the performance of "Young Siegfried" of the
Weimar theatre. Only now, together with this explanation, do I
send you the poem of "Young Siegfried" with a light heart, for I
know that now you will read it without the anxiety which the
thought of its completion and of its performance at the Weimar
theatre, such as it is and cannot help being, would necessarily
have caused in you. Let us have no illusions on this subject.
What you, and you alone, have done for me at Weimar, is
astonishing, and was all the more important for me, as without
you I should have been entirely forgotten. Instead of this you
have used all the means which you alone could have brought
together in drawing towards me the public attention of lovers of
art with such energy and such success that your efforts on behalf
of me and my reputation are the only thing which enables me even
to think of the execution of such plans as the one I have just
communicated to you. This I see with perfect clearness, and I
call you openly the creator of my actual position, which may
perhaps lead to great things in the future.

I further ask, What expectations have you still of Weimar? With
sad candour I must tell you that, after all, I consider your
trouble about Weimar to be fruitless. Your experience is that as
soon as you turn your back the most perfect vulgarity springs
luxuriantly from the soil in which you had laboured to plant the
noblest things; you return, and have just ploughed up once more
half of the soil, when the tares begin to sprout even more
impertinently. Truly I watch you with sadness. On every side of
you I see the stupidity, the narrow-mindedness, the vulgarity,
and the empty vanity of jealous courtiers, who are only too sadly
justified in envying the success of genius.

But enough of this disgusting matter. For my sake I care no
longer about it, for I have quite made up my mind as to it, but I
care about it for your sake. I hope you will arrive at my opinion
before it is too late for your good humour.

It is quite touching to me to have in a manner to take leave of
our amiable Zigesar; I must write to him and at the same time pay
my debt to him. This last is one of the most painful features of
the explanation which will be necessary.

You are aware that I had determined upon writing a new work for
you before the pecuniary arrangement between Zigesar and me was
made. That such an arrangement was made and was offered to me by
our friend with such obvious pleasure and satisfaction was of the
greatest value to me.

This I have confessed to him candidly. It would appear almost
trivial, mean, and in a certain sense offensive on my part to
repay the sum already received on account of that agreement, for
it was given to me, not in order to place me under any
"obligation" towards you and Zigesar, but with the friendly
desire to relieve me as far as possible of domestic cares during
the composition of an opera. Nevertheless this agreement has
still another meaning, which appears all the more serious at this
moment because Zigesar has, temporarily at least, a successor in
the management of the theatre. Towards this successor I am simply
in the position of a debtor; and as I am not able to execute the
commission I had accepted, I am bound formally and materially to
dissolve a contract which cannot exist any longer. Fortunately I
am in a position not to cause you any disagreeable difficulty as
to this point.

After all these explanations, I send you, my dear friend and
brother, the poem of my "Young Siegfried", such as I designed and
executed it when I still thought of its separate performance. In
connection with the other dramas it will naturally have to
undergo many alterations, and especially some beneficial
abbreviations in the narrative portion. Many things will strike
you in it, notably its great simplicity and the few characters
amongst whom the action is distributed; but if you think of this
piece as placed between the "Valkyrie" and "Siegfried's Death",
both of which dramas have a much more complicated action, you
will, I have little doubt, in accordance with my intention,
receive a peculiar and sympathetic impression from this forest
scene, with its youthful, fearless solitude. As I told you
before, I can now send you this poem willingly and without fear,
for you are no longer required to glance from it anxiously
towards your public. You need, for example, no longer trouble
about what will be thought of the "woman" by people who see in
"woman" only their own wives, or at the outside some girl, etc.,
etc. From this anxiety also I know you to be free, and am glad
that I can disclose to you my artistic intention without fear of
a real misunderstanding. Could I but succeed in engaging your
favour and sympathy for my plan whenever and wherever it may be
accomplished! I firmly hope for a future realization, for there
is too much creative impulse in me not to nourish hope along with
it. My previous continual anxiety about my health has also now
been relieved by the conviction I have since gained of the all-
healing power of water and of nature's medicine; I am in the way
of becoming and, if I choose, of remaining a perfectly healthy
man. If you wretched people would only get a good digestion, you
would find that life suddenly assumes a very different appearance
from what you saw through the medium of your digestive troubles.
In fact, all our politics, diplomacy, ambition, impotence,
science, and, what is worst, our whole modern art, in which the
palate, at the expense of the stomach, is alone satisfied,
tickled, and flattered, until at last a corpse is unwittingly
galvanized--all this parasite growth of our actual existence has
no soil to thrive in but a ruined digestion. I wish that those
could and would understand me to whom I exclaim these almost
ridiculously sounding but terribly true words!

But I notice that I am straying from one thing to another, and
therefore will conclude at last. I ask you fervently, my dear
Liszt, to write me soon and fully what you think of this letter
and parcel. May I always find in you the kind friend and
protector that you have been and are to me, and whom at all times
I shall embrace with grateful, fraternal love.

Your deeply obliged


ALBISBRUNN, November 20th, 1851.

When you receive these lines, I shall be back in Zurich, where my
address will be "Zeltweg, Zurich."


Your letter, my glorious friend, has given me great joy. You have
reached an extraordinary goal in your extraordinary way. The task
of developing to a dramatic trilogy and of setting to music the
Nibelung epic is worthy of you, and I have not the slightest
doubt as to the monumental success of your work. My sincerest
interest, my warmest sympathy, are so fully secured to you that
no further words are needed. The term of three years which you
give to yourself may bring many favourable changes in your
external circumstances. Perhaps, as some papers state, you will
soon return to Germany; perhaps by the time you finish your
"Siegfried" I shall have other resources at my disposal. Go on
then and do your work without care. Your programme should be the
same which the Chapter of Seville gave to its architect in
connection with the building of the cathedral: "Build us such a
temple that future generations will be obliged to say, 'The
Chapter was mad to undertake so extraordinary a thing.'" And yet
the cathedral is standing there at the present day.

I enclose a letter from Herr von Zigesar, the contents of which I
know, but have by no means inspired. Zigesar is a sure,
excellent, sterling character, and you may always count upon his
friendship in that capacity. I hope that as soon as his painful
disease of the eyes will allow him he will resume the management,
probably by next spring.

Your well-accounted-for and justified fears as to my Weymar
activity I pass by without reply; they will be proved or
disproved by facts during the few years that you dwell amongst
your Nibelungs. In any case I am prepared for better or worse,
and hope to continue quietly in my modest way. Raff has finished
a thick volume of preparatory studies for the composition of his
new Biblical opera "Simson" (pronounce Schimmeschon), The opera
itself will be finished next year. Cordial thanks, dear friend,
for sending me "Young Siegfried". Unfortunately I was last week
in such a turmoil of business that I could not find a quiet hour
to read the book. Can you let me keep it till Christmas? When
will your three dramas "Flying Dutchman", "Tannhauser", and
"Lohengrin" appear? Have you rewritten the preface? H. promised
it to me, but up till now I have received nothing. Have you
perhaps changed your publisher? Let me know about it on occasion
through B., who is writing to you at the same time with this.
Farewell, and live, if possible, in peace with the upper world
and with your lower stomach, to which in your letter you
attribute many things not quite pertaining to it. People may
think as they like, I cannot get rid of the definition "L'homme
est une intelligence servie par des organes," and that your
organs serve you excellently well is proved by your writing the
Nibelung trilogy with prologue.

May the living God bless you and have you in His keeping!

Your cordially devoted friend,


WEYMAR, December 1st, 1851.



Today only a few lines of thanks for your last letter, which has
rejoiced me unspeakably. I showed it to every one who is in the
least near to me, and told them, "Behold, I have such a friend!"

The full and unconditional approbation with which you receive my
new plan is the best proof to my mind that I have hit upon the
right thing. To be understood by you, and in the peculiar
circumstances, in an undertaking which, besides thwarting your
personal wish, can, on account of its unmeasured boldness, be
understood by almost no one but him who is impelled to it by
inward necessity--this, my dearest Liszt, makes me as happy as if
my plan had been successfully accomplished. To Herr von Zigesar
also I ask you to express my most cordial thanks for the very
kind manner in which he has received and replied to my last
communication. He has by that means laid me under a new
obligation, and I can only wish that I may be able to show my

As far as I am concerned, I am still occupied in resting from the
finally somewhat powerful effect of my cure. I shall not
undertake much this winter, but shall get everything out of the
way, so that the whole poem may be ready by the beginning of

How could you think that I had sent you "Young Siegfried" only to
look at? The copy which you have has been made specially by me
for you, and I ask you to accept it, although it is not written
as beautifully as might be. One thing I must ask you to do for
me: send me your medallion, so that I may give it to myself as a
Christmas present. I had wanted a long time to ask you for this;
and now that, after a prolonged fugitive state, I begin to be a
little settled in my small but cheerful dwelling, I want you
amongst my Penates in one form or another. If you have a really
good portrait, I should like to have that too. You need not be
ashamed of hanging on my wall; at present I have there only
Beethoven, besides the Nibelung design by Cornelius.

"Oper und Drama" has long been published, as you probably know.
The three operatic poems, with a communication to my friends,
will appear at the end of this month, together with the
pianoforte score of "Lohengrin." Please order a copy at once; you
are nearer to it than I. I bet that the preface will interest you
very much. The conclusion I have recently altered a little, but
in such a manner that everything referring to Weimar remains

Farewell, dear friend, and let me very soon again hear from you.



ZURICH (ZELTWEG), December 14th, 1851.



I am very late in telling you how we have all been delighted and
enlivened by your splendid work. How can we thank you for it? How
can I more especially express my gratitude? B. and Br. have
written to you that the sixth performance of your "Lohengrin" has
been, comparatively speaking, a satisfactory one. What I wrote to
you at once after the very feeble and faulty first performance
has actually happened. The comprehension and interest of the
actors, together with those of the public, have increased with
every performance; and I feel convinced that the seventh
performance on Saturday, January 24th, will be even more
successful. Next season we shall without delay attack your
"Flying Dutchman," which, for local reasons explained to B., I
did not propose this winter. We shall then probably be able to
add and improve several things in regard to the scenery, etc., of
your "Lohengrin." You may firmly rely upon me for bringing your
works at Weymar more and more up to the mark, in the same measure
as our theatre in the course of time gets over divers economic
considerations, and effects the necessary improvements and
additions in chorus, orchestra, scenery, etc. Excuse my bad
German style; I am better at doing a thing than at writing about

Cordial thanks for your splendid gift of "Siegfried." I took the
liberty of arranging a recital of it for the Hereditary Grand
Duke and his wife at Zigesar's. Zigesar, who had previously read
your poem, is in a state of enthusiasm about it, and the small
circle of about fifteen persons whom he assembled on that evening
was selected exclusively from the most zealous Wagnerites--the
real creme de la creme. I am very curious as to how you are going
to execute the work musically, what proportions the movements
will have, etc.

Go at it as soon as possible. Perhaps you will be able to
complete the whole work in less than three years. As regards the
performance, we shall manage to arrange it somewhere by strictly
observing your orders and indications. With all the genius of
your fancy, you are so eminently experienced and practical that
you will of a certainty write nothing unpractical. Difficulties
are necessary--in order to be overcome. If, as I do not suppose,
you should not be back in Germany by that time, I charge myself
with the whole thing, and shall only trouble you to give me an
exhaustive programme of all that you desire and expect in the
performance of this gigantic work. To that I shall strictly
adhere. Persons and things shall be provided somehow. But I look
forward to the pleasure of enjoying your Nibelung trilogy more
quietly from a stall or a seat in the balcony, and I invite you
for four consecutive days to supper after the performance at the
Hotel de Saxe, Dresden, or the Hotel de Russie, Berlin, in case
you are able to eat and drink after all your exertions.

Of the conclusion of the preface to the three operatic poems I
say nothing. It has hit me in my heart of hearts, and I have shed
a manly tear over it.

My portrait I shall send you through H.; the medallion I must
order from Paris, as there are only galvanoplastic copies in

The Princess has written a few words to you after the performance
of "Lohengrin," which I enclose.

Farewell, and live as tranquilly as possible, my glorious friend.
Let me soon hear something of you.



WEYMAR, January 15th, 1852.


Just returned home, with my eyes still moistened by the tears
brought to them by the moving scenes of "Lohengrin," to whom
should my thought turn at this moment but to you, sir, with the
desire that you could have witnessed the effect produced by your
beautiful work, better understood as it is every day by
executants and spectators? I cannot tell you with how much zeal
the former endeavour to respond to the efforts of Liszt for the
worthy interpretation of your drama. Having been ill and absent
from Weymar for a year, I was this evening able to judge how
indefatigable Liszt has been in his instruction, recommenced
again and again, and becoming ever more fruitful. You would
certainly be satisfied with the progress they all make at each
new representation.

Fraulein Fastlinger having left our theatre, Frau Knopp Fehringer
takes the part of Ortrud. The former having been generally
successful, both as a singer and an actress, opinions are divided
as to the latter; and you, as the creator of the part, can alone
decide which of them is really preferable. The former had the
undoubted advantage of eighteen years, a pretty face, a slim,
tall figure, which qualities, as they placed her in age and in
beauty near to Elsa, suggested the idea of secret rivalry between
woman and woman. One thought that she not only desired to win the
throne of Brabant, but was also jealous of Frederick and of the
charms of her from whom she had torn him away. The timidity
natural to so young an artist gave to her movements the restraint
which is characteristic of youth and of the instinct of a rival.
Frau Knopp has over Fraulein Fastlinger the advantage of
consummate and very impressive dramatic talent, but she is not
very beautiful, in spite of regular features, and not in her
first youth, besides which her figure is rather thickset. Her
action indicated every nuance with admirable eloquence; she
rendered the disdain, the hatred, the rage, which alternately
inspire her with gestures and pantomimic actions of such striking
reality that she might be compared to the greatest artists in the
most famous parts. But she could not be more than an ambitious
woman. Between her and Elsa the spectator's mind could not see
any comparison or rivalry, and this has no doubt put out many of
the audience without their being able to account for the reason,
for nothing could have been more admirable than the acting of
Frau Knopp, infinitely more energetic, more richly coloured, more
living, more certain, more bold, than that of Fraulein

It is then for you, sir, to say whether in general it is better
to give the part to a young and beautiful artist, whose acting is
naturally less experienced and more subdued, or to a woman of
mature talent, who gives us an Ortrud less young, but more
inflamed and devoured by the secret flames of the hatred of one
who is vanquished and the revenge of one who is oppressed. As to
myself, I cannot say which of these two conceptions produces the
greater impression; the second has certainly something more
sombre, more inexorable, about it. One trembles in advance for
Elsa on seeing that such hands will fashion her destiny; one is
inclined to say that the premeditation of a whole life gives more
grandeur to the struggle between ambition and innocence.

Pardon, sir, this long digression; it will show to you how much
your poetic conceptions occupy us here. I must not close these
lines without telling you how I have been touched by the manner
in which you speak of him whose glorious name I am soon to bear.
Who could fail to speak of his spirit, of his genius, of his
intelligence? But one must have a high-toned and delicate soul to
understand the infinite tenderness of his soul, which so few can
feel or divine. He will, no doubt, write to you soon. This
evening, after the close of the performance, he accompanied some
people who had come from Leipzig to hear your "Lohengrin". Good-
bye, dear sir. Permit me to thank you for all the rare pleasures
we owe to you by the contemplation of your beautiful works, and
accept the expression of my distinguished esteem.


WEYMAR, January 4th, 1852.



Accept my cordial thanks for your last kind letter, and for the
beautiful performance of "Lohengrin" which you have again
accomplished; according to all accounts, it must have realized my
wishes in a high degree. In such circumstances my longing
increases to enjoy my work, of which hitherto I have only felt
the pains of giving birth to it; and my grief at being condemned
to the fate of a blind and deaf man towards my own artistic
creations begins to have a more and more depressing effect upon
me. The existing impossibility of seeing and hearing my works
makes the inspiration for new creations so grievously difficult,
that I can only think with sorrow and with an unspeakably bitter
feeling of the execution of new works. I tell you this for the
sake of truth, and without accompanying my complaint by wishes
which, as no one knows better than I, must remain unfulfilled.

As regards my "Nibelung" drama, you, my good, sympathetic friend,
regard my future in too rosy a light. I do not expect its
performance, not at least during my lifetime, and least of all at
Berlin or Dresden. These and similar large towns, with their
public, do not exist for me at all. As an audience I can only
imagine an assembly of friends who have come together for the
purpose of knowing my works somewhere or other, best of all in
some beautiful solitude, far from the smoke and pestilential
business odour of our town civilization. Such a solitude I might
find in Weimar, but certainly not in a larger city. If I now turn
to my great work, it is done for the purpose of seeking salvation
from my misery, forgetfulness of my life. I have no other aim,
and shall think myself happy when I am no longer conscious of my
existence. In such circumstances my only joy is to know at least
that I may benefit my friends by my art; in their sympathy with
my works lies the only enjoyment I find in them. For that reason
I am very pleased that you are thinking of performing the "Flying
Dutchman", and I hope that those who love me will reward you for
your trouble. As to the representation, and especially the
scenery, I shall come to an agreement with you in due time; in
Kassel it is said to have been not unsatisfactory, and some
communication with the scenic artist there as to the arrangement
of the ships, etc., would therefore seem desirable. Do not begin
the copying of the orchestral parts until I have sent to you from
here a copy of the score, in which, in accordance with my more
recent experiences of orchestral effect, I have revised the
instrumental parts.

As regards "Tannhauser", I am glad to learn that you think of
complying with my wish to have it given in the form on which I
have fixed as the best. On that condition only a permanent
success of that opera at Weimar can be of interest to me. I had
not the slightest fault to find with you for thinking certain
omissions necessary when you first rehearsed "Tannhauser" at
Weimar. You did not do this because you objected to the omitted
parts, but because the artistic resources which were then at your
disposal filled you with natural diffidence. I know in particular
that in this manner arose the large cut in the finale of the
second act which displeased me so much when I attended the
rehearsal at Weimar. This is the scene where Elizabeth throws
herself in front of the knights to protect Tannhauser. In scenes
of this kind, before all others, my feeling for the perfect truth
and nature of things impels me to use all the means of art which
are within my grasp, and the grandeur of the situation can only
be rendered if not the slightest of its essential parts is
wanting. In this scene it is necessary that those who rush at
Tannhauser should not be driven away from him like children.
Their wrath, their fury, which impels them to the immediate
murder of the outlaw, should not be quelled in the turning of a
hand, but Elizabeth has to employ the highest force of despair to
quiet this roused sea of men, and finally to move their hearts to
pity. Only then both fury and love prove themselves to be true
and great; and just in the very gradual calming down of the
highest excitement, as represented in this scene, I discover my
greatest merit in the interest of dramatic truth. After you have
in "Lohengrin" solved much more difficult problems of
representation, it becomes--I tell you so openly, dear friend--
your duty to give this scene completely, and I know that success
will reward you. It is the same with all other things. In
Tannhauser's narration (Act III.) the trombones in the
reminiscence of Rome cannot produce the right impression unless
this theme has before been heard completely and in fullest
splendour, as I give it in the instrumental introduction to the
last act, etc. I ask you therefore to adhere strictly to the full
score which I had sent to you from Dresden with all my marks; and
I will only add that the song of Tannhauser in the first act
should be sung in its entirety (the three verses): the real
climax, especially in its effect upon Venus, is otherwise totally

Concerning the new conclusion of the last act, I was very angry
that it was not given at Weimar from the first, as I assumed at
the time that it would be. Even then I did not want a new public
to know the first version, which was caused by a misapprehension
on my part of the essence of the scene, as to which unfortunately
only the first performance at Dresden enlightened me. Nothing
that lies within the possibilities of representation on the stage
should be only thought or indicated, but everything should be
actually shown. The magical illumination of the Venusberg was,
however, no more than an indication; the magic event becomes
reality only if Venus herself appears and is heard. This is so
true that the afterthought of this situation brought me great
wealth of music; consider the scene with Venus in the last act,
and you will agree with me that the previous version stands to it
in the relation of an engraving to an oil picture. It is just the
same with the appearance of the body of Elizabeth. When
Tannhauser sinks down by the side of that body, and sighs, "Holy
Elizabeth, pray for me!" that is realized which was formerly only

As I said before, if the performance of "Tannhauser" in Weimar
cannot be a complete one, it loses all value for me, for in that
case I shall not have drawn the public up to me, but shall have
accommodated myself to the public, and that I do not care to do
any longer.

Through B. I hear that the "Liebesmahl der Apostel" is on
occasion to be given at Weimar. I call your attention to the fact
that the orchestration of this work was designed for a vast space
(the Frauenkirche of Dresden) and for a chorus of a thousand men.
For a smaller room and a less numerous chorus the brass orchestra
should be reduced to the usual limits, and especially the four
trumpets should be reduced to two. That reduction will have no
great difficulties, and B., if I ask him, will be quite able to
perform the task well.

To Princees Wittgenstein, who has delighted me with a very
friendly letter, I ask you to express my best thanks for her
kindness. The deep interest which she has again shown in my
"Lohengrin", particularly at the last representation, is of
priceless value to me. Her intelligent remarks on the character
of Ortrud attracted me especially, as well as the comparison she
makes between the efforts of the previous and the actual
representative of that part. To which side of the question I
incline your valued friend will recognize at once when I explain
to her my view of the character by simply saying that Ortrud is a
woman who does not know love. By this everything that is most
terrible is expressed. Politics are her essence. A political man
is repulsive, but a political woman is horrible. This horror I
had to represent. There is a kind of love in this woman, the love
of the past, of dead generations, the terribly insane love of
ancestral pride which finds its expression in the hatred of
everything living and actually existing. In man this love is
ludicrous, but in woman it is terrible, because a woman, with her
strong natural desire for love, must love something; and
ancestral pride, the longing after the past, turns in consequence
to murderous fanaticism. In history there are no more cruel
phenomena than political women. It is not therefore jealousy of
Elsa perhaps for the sake of Frederick which inspires Ortrud, but
her whole passion is revealed only in the scene of the second act
where, after Elsa's disappearance from the balcony, she rises
from the steps of the minster, and invokes her old, long-
forgotten gods. She is a reactionary person who thinks only of
the old and hates everything new in the most ferocious meaning of
the word; she would exterminate the world and nature to give new
life to her decayed gods. But this is not merely an obstinate,
morbid mood in Ortrud; her passion holds her with the full weight
of a misguided, undeveloped, objectless feminine desire for love:
for that reason she is terribly grand. No littleness of any kind
must occur in this representation; she must never appear simply
malicious or annoyed; every utterance of her irony, her
treachery, must transparently show the full force of the terrible
madness which can be satisfied alone by the destruction of others
or by her own destruction.

She of the two actresses who approaches this intention most
nearly must therefore be thought the better of the two.

Once more, dear friend, my best compliments to the Princess, and
my warmest thanks for her communication. Permit me to recall to
your memory the medallion I asked you for; it will give great
pleasure to me.

Farewell, best of friends, and make me soon happy again by a few
lines from you.

Wholly thine,


ZURICH, January 30th, 1852.



I send you enclosed an explanation of my "Tannhauser" overture,
written for our public here, which, I have reason to hope, will
soon hear a very good performance of that composition. When I had
finished this programme, I read over once more what you have
written about this overture, and had again to give way to the
utmost astonishment. Herwegh has had the same experience with
regard to your work. Only he can fail to understand your style
who does not understand the music either; to see how you express
precisely and keenly in words the feelings which music alone can
evoke in us fills every one with delight who himself experiences
those feelings without finding words for them. This perusal,
which really filled me with astonishment, has once more roused in
me the wish, expressed to you some years ago, that you might
become your own poet. You have the necessary qualities as much as
any one. Write French or Italian verse; in that direction you
might produce something quite new and cause a great revolution.
Let me hear about this from you, dearest friend.

Of my health B. probably gives you news occasionally; he writes
to me more frequently now, and I always reply to him. That B.'s
article about the S. has caused such a disastrous sensation
amongst you confirms my opinion of the deep decay of our artistic
and public conditions.

One thing grieves me: that the Goethe foundation had applied to
the S.; and one thing pleases me: that her assistance came to
nothing, and that a complete breach with the spurious element was
thus effected.

My letter to you about the Goethe foundation will, with your
permission, be published; many things are said in it which had to
be said at this moment, and which, if I had wished to say them in
a new and different form, would have withdrawn me again from my
artistic projects. I will have nothing more to do with
literature. As soon as the air grows a little warm and clear the
poem will be begun.

Let me hear from you again.

Wholly thine,


ZURICH, March 4th, 1852.


How are you, most excellent of men? It is too long since I heard
from you. The rehearsals of Cellini, many visits from abroad,
several pieces and transcriptions for the pianoforte, have much
occupied my time during the last month. Of the performance of
Berlioz's opera H. gives a most detailed account in Brendel's
paper. This much I may add: that the motives which made me select
this opera proved to be right and favourable to the further
progress of my work here. "Why Cellini at Weymar?" is a question
which I need not answer to the first comer, but the practical
solution of which will be such that we may be satisfied with it.
Perhaps you yourself did not at first look upon the thing in the
practical light in which it will appear to you later on. In any
case I believe that you will agree with me, unless you are
inclined to aim at thin air. I have just been positively informed
that you have handed in your petition for a free pardon at
Dresden. How is this? Write to me as to this point, in perfect
reliance on my discretion. I might possibly be of service to you
in the matter.

A few days ago I saw here Madame B. D. She looks very well; and
her husband is a handsome, decent gentleman. Amongst other
things, she told me that she had been unable to understand the
part of your preface which referred to her, and that her husband,
after reading the passage several times, had remained in the same
state of ignorance. As to the rest, she speaks well of you, and
wishes very much to see "Lohengrin" here. Unfortunately Fraulein
Fastlinger has left for Dresden, and Frau Knopp is continually
ill, so that there is little hope of an immediate performance of
that opera, for which even those are longing who formerly were of
the opposition. Moreover, the deep court mourning in consequence
of the death of Duchess Bernhard leaves me little hope that a
performance of "Lohengrin" will be given by command. For next
season, in February at the latest, the "Flying Dutchman" is set

It would be a beautiful and gladsome thing if by that time you
were back in Germany. We should then sing your finale of
"Tannhauser", "Er kehrt zuruck," with seven times seventy-seven
throats and hearts. Have you any particular instructions for your
"Liebesmahl der Apostel"? I think of producing it here in the
course of the summer. At the next concert of the Gesangverein we
shall have your "Faust" overture.

Farewell. Be as much as possible at peace with yourself and
others, and write soon to your cordial and devoted friend,


WEYMAR, April 7th, 1852.


My best thanks, dearest friend, for your last letter, which came
to me quite unexpectedly, for you have weaned me from expecting
letters from you, so seldom do you write to me. H. also has again
been owing me an answer some time.

I feel so-so; the beautiful spring weather cheers me after a
somewhat dreary winter, and I shall begin my poem again. If I
lived in Naples, or Andalusia, or one of the Antilles, I should
write a great deal more poetry and music than in our grey, misty
climate, which disposes one only to abstraction. I am in the
midst of rehearsing my "Flying Dutchman". Some of my friends here
would not leave me in peace; having heard my "Tannhauser"
overture, they wanted absolutely to have a taste of one of my
operas. I allowed myself at last to be talked over, and am now
about to introduce to the imagination of my friends a travesty of
my opera, as closely resembling it as possible. Everything as
regards scenery and orchestra is done to help that resemblance;
the singers are not a bit better or worse than everywhere else;
so I shall find out what can be done by the best intentions and a
fabulous faith in me. So much I am confident in saying, that the
performance would not be uninteresting to you, and therefore I
invite you quite seriously, after receipt of this letter, to get
leave for a week, trust yourself to the railway, and visit me at
Zurich. The first performance takes place Wednesday, April 21st,
and between that and May 1st there will be two repetitions. Are
you no longer capable of this piece of folly? I am sure that you
can if you will, and you would rejoice in the joy which your
visit would give to me. Nothing else you could do in these days
would compensate you for it. Do come! To Germany I shall not
return; I have no hope and no wish for it. There are too few
people whom I should care to see again, and those few I should
like to see anywhere but in Germany. You, my dearest friend, for
example, I should like to see in Switzerland. Please contradict
most positively the rumour that I have pleaded for grace; if it
were to spread and to be seriously believed, I should feel
compelled to make a public declaration, which, for every reason,
I should like to avoid.

Leave this matter alone; if the return to Germany were open to
me, I should certainly use it only to make perhaps an incognito
visit to you at Weimar.

Apropos! Ernst was here, and gave concerts, and he told me that
the hope of seeing the "Flying Dutchman" had induced him to
remain in Switzerland till the end of this month. You would
therefore see him too.

Bring the Hereditary Grand Duchess along with you. As you are
going to give the "Flying Dutchman" at Weimar, you would be
interested to see the scenic arrangements which I have made for a
small stage.

What is this you have heard about me in connection with your
performance of "Cellini"? You seem to suppose that I am hostile
to it. Of this error I want you to get rid. I look upon your
undertaking as a purely personal matter, inspired by your liking
for Berlioz; what a beast I should be if I were to criticize that
liking and that undertaking! If every one would follow the inner
voice of his heart as you do, or, better still, if every one had
a heart for such a voice as you have, things would soon be
changed. Here again I must rejoice in you. But where a pure
matter of the heart is submitted to speculative reason, I must
find that mistakes creep in which a third person can perceive. In
the consequences which, as I am told, you expect from the
performance of "Cellini", I cannot believe; that is all. But can
this my unbelief in any way modify my judgment of your action?
Not in the least. With my whole heart I say, you have acted
rightly, and I wish that I could say as much to many people.

I am sorry that you have not produced "Lohengrin" again; you were
in the right swing with it this season. What a pity that only a
single performance should have been possible! This shows of what
use half a year may be.

That Madame D. and her husband were unable to understand the
passage in my preface proves their exceedingly fine tact. This
was, no doubt, the best way for them of saving themselves a
painful impression, and I am glad that they were able to do this,
for it was really and truly far from my mind to annoy them. Ah, I
wish I could this summer make at last a beautiful journey, and
that I knew how to set about it! To this sigh only my own voice
replies as echo from the wall of leather which surrounds me. This
longing for a journey is so great in me that it has already
inspired me with thoughts of robbery and murder against
Rothschild and Co. We sedentary animals scarcely deserve to be
called men. How many things we might enjoy if we did not always
sacrifice them to that damnable "organ of sitting still."

Alas! this "organ of sitting still" is the real lawgiver of all
civilized humanity. We are to sit or at best to stand, never to
walk, much less to run for once in a while. My hero is the "bold
runner Achilles." I would rather run to death than sit still and
get sick. That is your opinion also, is it not? and therefore I
may expect you for the Flying, not the lying-down, Dutchman.

We shall see. Live gloriously and well! Wholly thine,


ZURICH, April 13th, 1852.


That I was unable to fly to your "Flying Dutchman" was not my
fault; how genuinely glad I should be to see you again, and what
beautiful enjoyment your splendid work would give me, I need not
tell you, most excellent friend. The news I received from various
sides as to the performances of the "Flying Dutchman" could not
but greatly please me. Next winter you shall have news of our
performance at Weymar, for we must not delay it any longer, and
hope that it will be a success on the part of the artists, for as
to the work itself there can be no question. Be kind enough to
let me have as soon as possible the exact alterations, additions,
and omissions you have made in the score, for I want to have the
copies made at once. Quite lately I again expressed the principle
that our first and greatest task in Weymar is to give the operas
of Wagner exactly selon le bon plaisir de l'auteur [according to
the good pleasure of the author]. With this you will, no doubt,
agree, and in consequence we shall, as before, be bound to give
"Lohengrin" without cut and to study the whole finale of the
second act of "Tannhauser," with the exception of the little cut
in the adagio. This will be done at our next representation. Send
me therefore the necessary instructions about the study of the
"Flying Dutchman," and be assured that I shall not deviate from
them by a hair's breadth.

For your kind offer of the designs I thank you, and accept it
eagerly. Send them to me soon; we have here a very clever young
scene-painter and engineer, Herr Handel, late of the Hamburg
theatre, who will take every care to comply with your demands. I
have advised Baron von Beaulieu-Marconnay, the intendant, of the
impending arrival of your designs, and the honorarium (five louis
d'or) will be sent to you by the end of August. If you would
rather have this small sum at once, I will remit it by return.

I have asked B. to tell you of the crime committed by me during
the visit of his Majesty the Emperor of Russia. "Tannhauser" had
been announced for the evening, when it was hoped that his
Majesty would visit the theatre. Knopp and Milde wereunable to
sing a note, and Frau von Milde also was hoarse. It was
impossible to give a whole opera, so I coolly took the first act
of "Tannhauser" as far as the end of the Pilgrims' Chorus,
closing in G major, then after a pause commenced again in G major
with the prelude to the third act of "Lohengrin," and so
continued with the whole act to the end of the duet, winding up
the performance with the overture "Carneval Romain" and the
second act of "Benvenuto Cellini," omitting the baritone air.

Fraulein Fromann was present, and has probably written to you
about it.

By the end of this month the Empress of Russia is expected, and
"Tannhauser" is again announced for the 31st. Beck takes the part
of "Tannhauser," and the entire finale of the second act will be
sung. The new close, however, must unfortunately wait till next
season, for a new scene is being painted for it, which cannot be
finished; everything else is ready and copied out.

For next season we have Spohr's "Faust," with new recitatives,
and shall give Schumann's "Manfred" at the beginning of June. Of
the Ballenstedt Musical Festival, with the "Tannhauser" overture,
and the "Liebesmahl der Apostel," you have probably heard.

Your "Faust" overture made a sensation, and went well.

Farewell, and have a go at "Siegfried."


F. L.



Today I write only a few hurried lines in order to avoid a
misunderstanding. Herr C. has made the sketches for the "Flying
Dutchman;" but, as I look at his work, it weighs heavily on my
heart that you are to pay five louis d'or for it, which,
according to my inmost conviction, it is not worth. (The man is
altogether extremely mediocre, and the only thing that attracted
my attention towards him was that he became acquainted with the
subject under my own extremely painstaking direction, and in
accordance with my most special intentions.) I have told him that
the management at Weimar had a good scene-painter, and that you
would only make occasional use of his sketches; if he would send
them to you, you could offer him no more than the small
remuneration of fifty francs.

If he sends the sketches, please make Herr von Beaulieu
acquainted with this arrangement, so that he may reply to him in
the sense above indicated and send him the honorarium to his own

Pardon me, but I could not make up my mind to allow you to pay
five louis d'or for this trifle. About everything else I shall
write to you at greater length within the next few days.




ZURICH, May 25th, 1852



In addition to my last hurried lines, I write to you today a
little more comprehensively. First of all, I must thank you for
the news of the continued activity which you employ in the
propaganda of my works. Expressions of praise on that account I
omit once for all, for you are far above praise. Of the
performance of the "Faust" overture I had heard nothing beyond
your own brief notice. I cannot be angry with this composition,
although many detached things in it would not now flow from my
pen; especially the somewhat too plentiful brass is no longer to
my mind. If I knew that the Hartels would pay me a nice sum for
it, I should be almost inclined to publish the full score,
together with a pianoforte arrangement, which H. would have to
make; but I should like to be warmly persuaded to this, for on my
own account I do not care to propose such things. Am I really
going to figure at the next Musical Festival? People say that I
am a famous "made" man; if that is true, who is the maker? Do not
forget to add to the programme the explanation of the
"Tannhauser" overture which I wrote last winter for the Zurich
performance, and which I consider indispensable, because it gives
briefly a condensed picture of the poetic subject, which is
conceived in the overture quite differently from what it is in
the opera itself. (In that sense you are quite right in saying
that this overture is altogether a work by itself.) A copy of my
explanation you probably possess; if not, Uhlig has plenty.

I really cannot understand why our numberless male choir
festivals, etc., have never yet produced the "Liebesmahl der
Apostel." But so many things are now to me inconceivable and yet
quite conceivable. In a large room, and with a strong chorus, you
may leave the instrumentation as it is; but I call your attention
to the fact that at Dresden I was compelled, after certain
important divisions of the composition, to have the key indicated
by two harps: the larger the chorus, the more inevitable is the
dropping of the pitch from time to time; but of this you would
probably have thought yourself.

Concerning the (future) complete performance of "Tannhauser" I
have still many things on my heart, of which I do not find it
easy to unburden myself. First, certain minor matters. I do not
know exactly whether Walther von der Vogelweide in the contest of
the minstrels sang his song with you in the original B flat major
or in C major. There is here some inconsistency. I am aware that
B flat does not agree with the rest of the somewhat high-lying
part, and a singer who has the voice for the whole part cannot
make much effect in B flat, for which reason I was compelled at
Dresden to transpose the piece to C. But this C major is
altogether out of relation to the other songs of the singers'
contest, and more especially it destroys the transition to the
bright tone of the ensuing song of "Tannhauser," who, with his C
major, is supposed to go beyond Walther. Apart from this, the
song of Walther loses by means of this higher C major much of the
calm dignity which is its character. The dilemma can be solved
only by the part of Walther being sung by a low tenor and that of
Heinrich der Schreiber by a high tenor. The two parts therefore
must be rewritten, and in all the ensembles Walther should sing
the notes which in the score are assigned to Heinrich der
Schreiber, and vice versa. Only in the first finale Walther
retains all the solo passages. This is what I should like. I
further hope that you will give the scene between Venus and
Tannhauser in its entirety. The necessity of three verses of the
"Tannhauser" song I have, I believe, already pointed out to you.

But now comes the principal thing; i.e., the great adagio of the
second finale. When at Dresden, after the first performance of
"Tannhauser," I made the cut in this adagio, I was in complete
despair, and in my heart cut every hope of "Tannhauser" as well,
because I saw that T. could not understand, and therefore much
less represent, the part. That I had to make this cut was to me
tantamount to abandoning altogether the purpose of making my
"Tannhauser" really understood. Kindly look at the omitted
passage, dearest friend, and realize what it contains. While
previously everything was grouped round Elizabeth, the
peacemaker, she being the centre, and all the others listening to
her and repeating what she said and sang, "Tannhauser" here
recognizes his terrible crime, and breaks down in the most
terrible repentance. When he once more finds words for his
emotion, which he can scarcely utter, because he lies on the
ground in a state of semi-consciousness, he suddenly becomes the
principal person, and the whole scene is grouped round him, just
as before it was round Elizabeth. All else is thrown into the
background, and in a manner only accompanies him as he sings:--

"Zum Heil den Sundigen zu fuhren, Die Gottgesandte nahte mir:
Doch ach! sie frevelnd zu beruhren Hob ich den Lasterblick zu
ihr! O! du, hoch uber diesen Erdengrunden, Die mir den Engel
meines Heil's gesandt: Erbarm' dich mein, der ach! so tief in
Sunden Schmachvoll des Himmels Mittlerin verkannt!" In this
stanza and in this song lies the whole significance of the
catastrophe of Tannhauser, and indeed of the whole essence of
Tannhauser; all that to me makes him a touching phenomenon is
expressed here alone. His grief, his sad pilgrimage of grace--all
this springs forth from the meaning of these lines; without
hearing them, and hearing them in this place, the spectator sees
in Tannhauser an inconceivable, arbitrary, wavering, miserable
creature. (The commencement of his tale in the last act comes too
late to make up for that which here must penetrate our mind like
a thunderstorm.) Not only the close of the second act, but the
entire third act, and in a sense the whole drama, receive their
true significance only when the centre of the whole drama, round
which it develops itself, as round its kernel, becomes perfectly
clear and lucid in that particular passage. And that passage, the
keynote of my whole work, I was compelled to cut at Dresden.

This I declare: no representation of "Tannhauser" answers my
purpose if that passage has to be omitted. For its sake I will,
if need be, consent to the cut in the allegro of the finale,
which contains what is really the continuation of that passage--I
mean the place where Elizabeth takes up the B major theme as
canto fermo, while Tannhauser at the same time gives passionate
vent to his wild despair. If at some future time a performance of
this opera were wholly to satisfy me, Tannhauser would have to
sing this passage also in such a manner that it would not appear

You will ask me, "What are we to do? How can we expect a minor
singer to do what T. failed to accomplish?" I reply that T., in
spite of his voice, failed to accomplish many things that were
not beyond much less gifted singers. At the Tannhauser rehearsal
which I attended at Weimar the invalided Gotze brought out
passages and interpreted intentions in respect of which T.
remained my debtor. This latter has nothing but either brilliancy
or tenderness in his voice; not a single true accent of sorrow.
The singer of the "Flying Dutchman" here did a great deal more
than those at Dresden and Berlin, although they had better
voices. Try what you can do with Herr Beck, and explain to him
what is the important part. Only in case this passage comes out
well the Weimar public will see what the whole is about. (I add a
technical remark: If the singer in this passage is quite sure,
let him take the tempo freely; all the others must go with him:
he rules alone.)

If a performance of Tannhauser were to be quite perfect, the last
finale of the opera would have to be given as it stands in the
new edition of the pianoforte score, including the song of the
younger pilgrims. Your score of the Flying Dutchman you can send
to Uhlig, who possesses a newly revised score, and will arrange
yours in strict accordance with it.

When the time for the rehearsals comes, I will let you have some
further details. For the present I shall be satisfied if the
parts are copied in accordance with Uhlig's score and if the
scenery is painted after the sketches which I hope C. will send

The "Flying Dutchman" has made an indescribable impression here.
Philistines who never go to a theatre or concert attended each of
the four performances in one week, and are supposed to have gone
mad. With the women I have made a great hit. The pianoforte
scores sell by the half-dozen. I am now in the country, and feel
tolerably cheerful. My work also pleases me again; my Nibelung
tetralogy is completely designed, and in a few months the verse
also will be finished. After that I shall be wholly and entirely
a "music-maker," for this work will be my last poem, and a
litterateur I hope I shall never be again. Then I shall have
nothing but plans for performances in my head; no more writing,
only performing. I hope you will help me.

Are you going to make a trip this year? How about the rendezvous
which you made me look for as long ago as last summer? Are we
never to meet again?

H. also ought to write to me again. Is he so busy with his
compositions? Of the Imperial Russian "Tannhauser"-"Lohengrin"-
"Cellini" theatre bill he told me nothing.

Are you going to have "Tannhauser" the day after tomorrow? Good
luck to you! Make my compliments to the sovereign lady of all the
Russias. I hope she will send me an order, or at least traveling
money for Italy, where I should like to roam beyond anything.
Tell her so. I hear those people throw plenty of ducats out of
window just now. I am sorry to think that you will not be able to
manage "Lohengrin" for such a long time; the pause is too long.
As a punishment I shall dedicate the score to you when it appears
in print. I do not ask you whether you accept the dedication or
not, for punishment there must be. I must ask you to send me the
score of my "Faust" overture; I do not possess a copy.

Farewell, and be greeted with all my heart.





I have a favour to ask.

I am hard at work and eager to finish the poem of my "Valkyrie"
in a fortnight. Some recreation after that will be a necessity; I
want the change of traveling, and should especially dislike to
finish my last poetic work, the great introductory play, here,
where the monotony of my accustomed surroundings oppresses me,
and where troublesome visitors put me generally in a bad temper.
I want to go to the Alps, and should like at least to have a
taste of the frontier of Italy, and to make a short sojourn
there. Such extravagances I cannot afford from my ordinary
income. For next winter I expect some extraordinary incomings
("Tannhauser" at Leipzig and presumably at Breslau). But, before
all, I reckon upon the money which you will get me for the
"Flying Dutchman" at Weimar. This latter I may calculate at
something like twenty to twenty-five louis d'or. Could you get
any one to advance me that sum?

Unless Zigesar is again at the head of affairs, I should think it
inadvisable to apply to the theatrical exchequer for this advance
of honorarium, but perhaps some benevolent private person might
be found who would not refuse to disburse this sum for me. You
would at the same time furnish the best guarantee that the money
would really be forthcoming, for your zeal secures the
performance of the "Flying Dutchman" at Weimar during the winter.
This advance would give me great satisfaction, but I should want
the money by the end of June at the latest. Kindly see how you
can arrange this.

My "Valkyrie" (first drama) turns out terribly beautiful. I hope
to submit to you the whole poem of the tetralogy before the end
of the summer. The music will be easily and quickly done, for it
is only the execution of something practically ready.

Farewell, and let me soon have news of you. Did the Imperial
Russian "Tannhauser" come off? You are in the midst of great
Musical Festival troubles, are you not? Much luck and joy to it!

Wholly thine,


June 16th, 1852

Do you know anything about "Tannhauser" being contemplated for
Munich next autumn? I know nothing. It would be nice of Herr
Dingelstedt to think of such a thing.


Herewith I send you a bill for one hundred thalers, and cordially
wish you good luck and a good mood, fine weather externally and
internally, for your Alpine trip. Let all be well with you, my
glorious friend, and proceed bravely with the completion of your
tetralogy. When do you think it will be ready? Is there a
possibility of thinking of its performance in the months of
August and September, 1854? Do not allow other undertakings or
claims to detract or detain you from this great enterprise, the
task of your life.

For the dedication of "Lohengrin" I thank you most cordially; I
am delighted with it.

The "Flying Dutchman" will most certainly be performed here next
February. Send me the designs soon, so that all may be prepared
in good time. Zigesar will probably resume the management before
long, at which I am very glad.

Beaulieu has taken leave officially, and is gone to Kreuznach.

The "Liebesmahl der Apostel" was satisfactorily given by the
Pauliner choir of Leipzig, under the direction of its conductor,
Langer. I was truly delighted with it, and mean to repeat the
splendid work as soon as there is a good opportunity. Although
external success and a certain (very uncertain) pleasing quality
are a secondary consideration with me in the case of works which
are decidedly above the public, it was agreeable all the same to
see that success and that pleasing quality as fully confirmed as
one could have desired.

The chorus was not very numerous (about a hundred and twenty),
but well balanced, and the whole sounded beautifully. Milde and
his wife sang the duet from the "Flying Dutchman", which was much
applauded, and the "Tannhauser" overture went splendidly, and was
repeated by desire at the close of the Musical Festival on the
second day. The orchestra and the public were unanimous in their
enthusiasm, as indeed must be the case wherever the performance
is adequate.

Long accounts of the Musical Festival you will find in Brendel's
"Neue Zeitschrift" (Brendel himself was at Ballenstedt), the
"Signale", "Rheinische Musikzeitung", and "Berlin Echo".



June 26th, 1852

Perhaps you can spare a few minutes before starting on your
journey to write a few friendly lines to Langer about the
performance of the "Liebesmahl" at Ballenstedt. He has behaved as
excellently as might have been expected, and the chorus of
students is splendid. Without it the performance would have been
impossible, because the other singers were only just sufficient
to strengthen the chorus. Send your letter to Brendel, who will
give it to Langer, and let me have without delay the designs for
the "Flying Dutchman".


Cordial thanks, best of friends, for sending me the money, in
connection with which I am troubled by one thing only: you do not
tell me that the hundred thalers have been advanced on account of
the honorarium for the "Flying Dutchman". I asked for the sum on
that understanding, and no other, and only if I may assume that
no one has been inconvenienced in this manner will it give me
pleasure to spend the money on a trip of recreation. That trip,
on which I start tomorrow, has come just in time; uninterrupted
work has again strongly affected me, and the nerves of my brain
are so overwrought that even these few lines put me in a state of
violent excitement, wherefore I must ask you not to be angry if I
make them very short. I feel that I am still capable of doing
good things, but only by keeping very strict diet, and especially
by frequently interrupting my work and entirely diverting my
thoughts before going on again. The "Valkyrie", the poem of which
I finished on July lst, I wrote in four weeks; if I had spent
eight weeks over it, I should now feel better. In future I must
adopt this course, and cannot therefore fix a term for the
completion of the whole, although I have reason to suppose that
the music will not give me much trouble.

I am surprised that you ask me for the designs for the "Flying
Dutchman," because I have left the whole matter to the designer,
Herr C. This man, with whom I do not care to have any further
dealings, because he has a passion for borrowing from a poor
devil like me, wrote to me lately to say that he had applied by
letter to Weimar in this matter, but had as yet had no reply. If
you care to have the designs, all that is necessary will be for
the management to reply to C.'s letter, and I ask you therefore
to see that this is done.

Uhlig will arrange the score for you as soon as he receives your

A thousand thanks for all you have again done for my works
lately. I was not able to read the account of the Ballenstedt
Musical Festival with anything but deep emotion. I am sure that
by these performances you have again won many new friends for me,
and I have no doubt that if ever I come to the fore it will be
your doing.

Farewell, and be happy!





You have once more given me real, God-sent joy by your dedication
of "Lohengrin". Accept my most cordial, most fervent thanks in
return, and be convinced that it will be the task of my life to
be worthy of your friendship. The little that so far I have been
able to do for you and through you for the honour of art has
chiefly this merit: that it encourages me to do still better and
more decisive things for your works in the future. But what do
you mean by occupying yourself with the bad jokes which have been
circulating in a few newspapers, and by even accusing me of
having been the cause of them? The latter is quite impossible,
and H, has probably told you already that the manuscript of
"Siegfried" has not been out of his hands for months. Some time
ago I lent it, by your desire, to Fraulein Fromann alone, and the
reading that took place at Zigesar's at the beginning of last
year for the Hereditary Grand Duke cannot very well have
originated the bad joke in the "Kreuzzeitung". However, that joke
is quite harmless and insignificant, and I ask you urgently to
ignore totally this kind of gossip once for all.

What can it matter to you whether people indulge their silliness
in connection with you and your works? You have other cats to
flog--"d'autres chats a fouetter," as the French proverb has it.
Do not therefore hesitate on your account or on my account to
publish the "Nibelung" tetralogy as soon as it is finished.
Hartel spoke to me about your letter in connection with this
affair about two months ago; and, in my opinion, you cannot do
better than give the poem to the public while you finish the
score. As to the definite performance of the three operas we must
have a good talk when the time comes. If in the worst case you
are not then back in Germany (and I need not tell you how I wish
that this worst case should not happen), I shall stir in every
possible way for the production of your work. You may rely on my
practical talents for that purpose and have implicit confidence
in me. If Weymar should prove too mean and poor, we shall try
somewhere else; and even if all our strings snap (which is not to
be expected), we may still go on playing if you give me full
power to organize an unheard of music or drama festival, or
whatever the thing may be called in any given place, and to
launch your "Nibelungen" there.

You finish your score! and in the meantime let Hartel or some one
else publish the poem as a forerunner.

How about the performance of "Tannhauser" at Berlin? I quite
approve of your exceptional demand of 1,000 thalers for the same
reasons which induced you to make that demand, and I thank you
cordially for the artistic confidence with regard to the
preparations which you have placed in me. Although a journey of
Berlin would in existing circumstances be somewhat inconvenient,
I am quite at your disposal, with the sole condition--which alone
would make my journey useful and serviceable to "Tannhauser"--
that the Royal management asks me to come to Berlin by your
desire and to settle with that management and with the other
persons concerned the necessary preparations for the best
possible success of your work. In any other circumstances I
should be in an awkward and useless position at Berlin, without
achieving the slightest thing. If you consider the matter, you
will certainly agree with me, and see that this is the only way
in which I perhaps might be of use to you.

As you know already, the "Flying Dutchman" is announced for the
next birthday of H.I.H. the Grand Duchess: February 16th, 1853.
Care will be taken that the opera is properly mounted. Zigesar is
full of enthusiasm for your genius, and will work with a will.
The corrected score has been sent at once to the copyists, and in
six weeks the work will be rehearsed comme il faut.

The theatrical season begins with Verdi's "Hernani," after which
Spohr's "Faust," with new recitatives, will follow soon. By the
middle of November I expect Berlioz, whose "Cellini" (with a
considerable cut) must not be shelved, for, in spite of all the
stupid things that have been set going about it, "Cellini" is and
remains a remarkable and highly estimable work. I am sure you
would like many things in it.

Raff has made great changes in the instrumentation and
arrangement of his "Alfred," and probably the opera in its new
form will have better effect even than before, although the three
or four first performances were much applauded. Altogether I look
upon this opera as the ablest work that has been written by a
German composer these ten years. You of course are not included;
you stand alone, and can be compared with no one but yourself.

I am very glad you have taken this trip. The glaciers are
splendid fellows, and in the years of my youth I, too, had struck
up a friendship with them. The tour round Mont Blanc I recommend
you for next year; I made it partly in the year 1835, but my
traveling companion was soon fatigued, and fatigued me still

Farewell. Be at peace with yourself, and soon publish your
"Nibelung" poem, in order to prepare the public and put it in the
proper mood. Leave all manner of "Grenzboten", "Wohlbekannte",
"Kreuzseitungen", and "Gazettes Musicales" on one side, and do
not bother yourself with these miserable scribblings. Rather
drink a good bottle of wine, and work onwards, up to eternal,
immortal life.

Your cordially grateful and truly devoted


WEYMAR, August 23rd, 1852



A thousand thanks for your last letter. Unfortunately I cannot
reply to it as I should like to do; the nerves of my brain are
once more in a state of great suffering, and for some time I
ought to give up all writing and reading, I might say all mental
existence. Even the shortest letter wearies me terribly, and only
the most perfect quiet (where and how shall I find that?) may or
might restore me. But I do not wish to complain, only to explain
to you why it is that today I must limit my communication to
stating briefly what is absolutely necessary. Do not be angry
with me for not writing with that joyful expansion which is
intended to make up for the impossibility of personal
intercourse. As to Berlin nothing is settled yet. Hulsen
considered my demand as a vote of want of confidence in his
personal intentions, and this error I had to dispel by laying my
most perfect confidence as a weight on his conscience. All I want
him to do now is to acknowledge in a few words that he perfectly
understands my difficult position with regard to "Tannhauser" at
Berlin, and that he undertakes the performance with the desire of
conquering that difficult position. The whole subject of
honoraria I leave to him. One thing has recently calmed my
anxiety: I have written tolerably comprehensive instructions for
the performance of "Tannhauser", and have had them printed as a
pamphlet and sent a sufficient number of copies to the theatres
which had bought the score. I hope this will be of use. I send
you herewith half-a-dozen copies. There will not be much that is
new to you in the pamphlet, because I have discussed most things
with you by letter; still it might be useful to you, because it
will materially assist you in your purpose of restudying
"Tannhauser" if you will give it to the stage-manager and the
singers. This therefore I would ask you to do. The work has been
a perfect torture to me. This eternal communication by letter and
in print is terrible to me, especially when it is about things
the significance of which has for a long time lain far behind me.
In fact, if I still trouble myself about these earlier operas, it
is only from the necessity of circumstances, not from any desire
to hark back. This leads me to Berlioz and Raff. Candidly
speaking, I am sorry to hear that Berlioz thinks of recasting his
"Cellini". If I am not mistaken, this work is more than twelve
years old. Has not Berlioz developed in the meantime so that he
might do something quite different? It shows poor confidence in
himself to have to return to this earlier work. B. has shown
quite correctly where the failure of "Cellini" lies, viz., in the
poem and in the unnatural position in which the musician was
forcibly placed by being expected to disguise by purely musical
intentions a want which the poet alone could have made good.

This "Cellini" Berlioz will never put on its legs. But which of
the two after all is of more importance, "Cellini" or Berlioz?
Leave the former alone, and help the second. To me there is
something horrible in witnessing this attempt at galvanizing and
resuscitating. For heaven's sake let Berlioz write a new opera;
it will be his greatest misfortune if he fails to do this, for
only one thing can save him, the drama, and one thing must lead
him to ever deeper ruin, his obstinate avoidance of this sole
refuge: and in this latter he will be confirmed by occupying
himself again with an old attempt, in which he has been deserted
by the poet, for whose faults he will try once more to make up by
his music.

Believe me, I love Berlioz, although he keeps apart from me in
his distrust and obstinacy; he does not know me, but I know him.
If I have expectations of any one, it is of Berlioz, but not in
the direction in which he has arrived at the absurdities of his
"Faust". If he proceeds further in that direction, he must become
perfectly ridiculous. If ever a musician wanted the poet, it is
Berlioz, and his misfortune is that he always prepares this poet
for himself, according to his musical whim, arbitrarily handling
now Shakespeare, now Goethe. He wants a poet who would completely
penetrate him, who would conquer him by delight, who would be to
him what man is to woman. I see with dismay that this exceedingly
gifted artist is perishing in his egotistic solitude. Can I save

You do not want to have "Wiland." I believe it to be a beautiful
poem, but am no longer able to execute it for myself. Will you
offer it to Berlioz? Perhaps Henri Blaze would be the man to
treat it in French.

How about Raff? I thought he was writing a new work, but no; he
is remodeling an old one. Is there no LIFE in these people? Out
of what can the artist create if he does not create out of life,
and how can this life contain an artistically productive essence
unless it impels the artist continually to creations which
correspond to life? Is this artificial remodeling of old motives
of life real artistic creativeness? How about the source of all
art unless new things flow forth from it irresistibly, unless it
is wholly absorbed in new creations? Oh, ye creatures of God, do
not think that this making is artistic creating. It betrays no
end of self-complacency, combined with poverty, if we try to prop
up these earlier attempts. If Raff's opera, as you tell me, has
pleased, he ought to be satisfied; in any case he had a better
reward than I had for my "Feen," which was never performed at
all, or for my "Liebesverbot," which had one abominable
performance, or for my "Rienzi," of the revival of which I think
so little that I should not permit it if it were contemplated
anywhere. About the "Dutchman," "Tannhauser," and "Lohengrin" I
trouble myself with disgust, and only for the reason that I know
that, on account of imperfect representations, they have never
been perfectly understood. If they had had their due anywhere, I
should care devilishly little about things that I have outlived.

Good people, do something new, new, and once more new. If you
stick to the old, the devil of barrenness holds you in thrall,
and you are the most miserable of artists.

Well, this is off my heart; he who charges me with insincerity
will have to answer Heaven; he who charges me with arrogance is

I can write no more; do not be angry; my head is bursting. Only
let me say the warmest farewell that is in my heart. Love me as
before, and write soon to



ZURICH, September 8th, 1852



After my last letter you will think that I am quite mad. Lord
knows how I wrote myself into such a fury. Today follows
something very sober, a troublesome thing for you.

Frau Rockel sent me the letter of her poor husband, without
giving me his address. I ask you therefore to forward her the
enclosed letter, also two parcels, which I have posted to you
today--(l) two little pamphlets; (2) a score of "Lohengrin"--both
meant for Rockel, and to be sent through his wife. H. was really
to have the score, but must resign it to the poor prisoner. He
must do this for the love of both of us, and Heaven will find him
another copy sooner or later. As I have once begun asking
favours, I go on. Be kind enough to send me two things:--

1. My "Faust" overture. I hope that, if you want it still, you
have had a copy made. I have a mind to rewrite it a little and to
publish it through H. Perhaps I shall get a little money for it.
B. must do the pianoforte arrangement, according to his promise
to me.

2. My instructions as to the performance of "Lohengrin" which I
sent to you from Thun by letter in the summer of 1850. I want
particularly to have my beautiful designs of the scenery. I
intend to have new designs for the scenery, according to my
indications made by a Dresden friend or through his intercession,
so as to have them in readiness for such theatres as want to
undertake "Lohengrin" in future. If the Weimar management or any
other persons desire to keep my originals, they shall be
faithfully restored to its or their possession.

Have I troubled you enough? When are you going to send me some of
your compositions? I see nothing of them here, and, in fact,
learn scarcely anything about music. Think of me occasionally.

H. also is once again reticent. Uhlig complains of him and of a
hostile feeling on his part. What is the meaning of this? Let
each go his own way without snarling at the other who goes a
different way.

Shall I soon hear from you again? How delighted I should be!

Farewell, and think of me lovingly.

Wholly thine,


ZURICH, September 12th, 1852

The parcel will probably arrive a day after this.

At Berlin things now tend towards the non-performance of
"Tannhauser." The performance has been postponed. As, according
to my calculation, it could not have been produced before the end
of January, and as my niece Johanna leaves Berlin at the end of
February, I was compelled to stipulate that ten performances of
the opera should be guaranteed for this winter. Otherwise there
was the danger that this opera too would have disappeared after
three or four performances, as was the case with the "Flying
Dutchman" and "Rienzi," which for that reason were cried down as
failures. If this guarantee is refused, I have given instructions
that the score shall be withdrawn.



Set my mind at rest by a few lines telling me that I did not
offend you some time ago. I live at such a distance from my
friends, that I always have a thousand anxieties, especially when
I do not receive news from them for long. Tell me, for heaven's
sake, have I written to you anything about Berlioz or Raff which
you might have misunderstood in the sense that I had something
against them? I have spoken as best I could from a distance; and,
especially with regard to Berlioz, my intentions are the best.
Therefore--a few lines, please! About Berlin everything is now
settled, but "Tannhauser" will not be fully rehearsed till about
December. Considering this delay of the matter, I do not want to
trouble Herr von Hullsen with new conditions just yet; but when
the time comes, I shall ask you to let me know once more whether
you can afford the sacrifice of going to Berlin.

Belloni, as you know, is here; he has again talked much to me
about Paris, and, to my astonishment, I hear that you still have
plans of world-conquest for me in your head. You are
indefatigable indeed! To the translation of Tannhauser I have no
particular objection, especially as in Roger I might expect the
best Tannhauser that I could think of. In addition to this,
Johanna-I confess it would not be amiss. Herwegh also is doing
something for the Paris performance. He proposes to make a richly
coloured prose translation of the poem; however, I cannot yet
think seriously of it.

My instructions as to the performance of Tannhauser have already
induced the Leipzig people to abandon the opera-a very modest
sign of acknowledgment of ill-will on their part. I am pleased to
hear, on the other hand, that Schindelmeisser in Wiesbaden, after
reading my pamphlet, has again begun the rehearsals from the
beginning. Did you like the pamphlet? As you think of studying
Tannhauser again, I assume that it will be useful to you for that
purpose with the stage-manager; the singers also may derive
excellent and much-needed service from it. But why has B. become
silent once more?

Gradually my solitude here is becoming unbearable; and if I can
afford it, I shall go to Paris for the winter. How delighted I
should be to hear something from my Lohengrin played to me by a
good orchestra! Confess that I know how to bear much.

My nerves are not in the best condition, but I have begun again
to work at my poem for an hour or so every day. I can find no
rest till it is ready, and I hope it will be soon.

Farewell, best of all men. Let me hear from you soon, and before
all that you still love me. Farewell.

Wholly thine,


ZURICH, October 3rd, 1852

About the "Dutchman" I must write to you at length some day. Have
you forgotten the "Faust" overture and the designs for
"Lohengrin" for which I asked you?


You are quite right, dearest friend, if you attribute the
weakness of Berlioz's mode of working to the poem, and my opinion
perfectly coincides with yours on this point; but you have been
erroneously led to believe that Berlioz is rewriting his
"Cellini." This is not the case; the question at issue is simply
as to a very considerable cut--nearly a whole tableau--which I
have proposed to Berlioz, and which he has approved of, so that
at the next performance "Cellini" will be given in three tableaux
instead of four. If it interests you, I will send you the new
libretto together with the old, and I think you will approve of
the change and of the combination of the two last tableaux in
one. I thank you cordially for your offer to let Berlioz have
"Wiland," and shall talk to him about it on the occasion of his
presence in Weymar. Unfortunately it must be feared that the
Parisians will not relish it, and Henri Blaze is in any case not
the man who could treat such a subject in a poetic manner and do
justice to it. Above all, dearest, best friend, do not imagine
that I could place a bad construction on any utterance of yours
about one man or the other. My sympathy for you and my admiration
of your divine genius are surely too earnest and genuine to let
me overlook their necessary consequences. You can and must not be
different from what you are; and such as you are, I esteem,
understand, and love you with my whole heart.

Your "Faust" overture you will receive by today's post. A copy of
it exists here, and I shall probably give it again in the course
of this winter. The work is quite worthy of you; but if you will
allow me to make a remark, I must confess that I should like
either a second middle part (at letter E or F) or else a quieter
and more agreeably coloured treatment of the present middle

[score excerpt]

The brass is a little too massive there, and--forgive my opinion-
-the motive in F is not satisfactory; it wants grace in a certain
sense, and is a kind of hybrid thing, neither fish nor flesh,
which stands in no proper relation or contrast to what has gone
before and what follows, and in consequence impedes the interest.
If instead of this you introduced a soft, tender, melodious part,
modulated a la Gretchen, I think I can assure you that your work
would gain very much. Think this over, and do not be angry in
case I have said something stupid. Lohengrin was given last night
in honour of the Prince and Princess of Prussia. The theatre was
again crowded, and Fraulein Fromann, who had been specially
invited by the Princess, has probably written to you about it.
Our further performances of Lohengrin and of "Tannhauser" will
greatly benefit by the influence of our new artistic director,
Herr Marr. I have given him your pamphlet about the performance
of Tannhauser, and we shall both do our best to satisfy your
demands. I am very glad you have published that pamphlet, and
advise you strongly to do the same thing for "Lohengrin" and the
"Flying Dutchman." I have not yet succeeded in discovering your
designs and instructions for "Lohengrin"; I gave them at the time
to Genast, and they made the round of the theatre here. If
possible, I shall send them to you, but I can make no definite
promise, for the rage for autographs may have gone so far that I
shall not be able to get them back again.

Concerning Berlin, I repeat to you what I said before, viz.:-

If you are convinced that I can be of service to the public and
still more to your works by my presence in Berlin, I am prepared
to perform this duty of art and of friendship. My efforts,
however, can lead to a good result only if Herr von Hulsen gives
me his perfect confidence and asks me to settle the necessary
steps for the rehearsals and performance of "Tannhauser." As
mouche du cache I cannot go to Berlin, and should in that
capacity be of little service to you. Your works, it is true, are
above success as at present understood, but I will bet ten to one
that "Tannhauser" or "Lohengrin," rehearsed and placed before the
public in a proper manner, will have the most decided success.
Wherever this does not happen the fault lies exclusively with the
inadequate performance. If, therefore, you wish to send me to
Berlin as your plenipotentiary, I am at your disposal, and give
you my word that the whole world, with the exception of envious
and inimical persons, who will be reduced to a small minority,
shall be content. But before I consent to this it is absolutely
necessary that Herr von Hiilsen should give me an invitation to
Berlin black on white, and also invest me with the powers which
my responsibility will make possible and desirable. In my
opinion, it behoves Berlin to find room for your three works
"Tannhauser," "Lohengrin," and the "Flying Dutchman," and I have
not the slightest doubt of a complete success if the thing is
managed properly. Herr von Hulsen will, no doubt, be of the same
opinion soon; but in the ordinary way and with the old theatrical
routine an extraordinary thing of this kind cannot be done.

Send me soon your instructions for the "Flying Dutchman." I
should like you to write a few lines to Marr, so as to gain his
goodwill completely for your cause and to induce him to undertake
the stage-management of the "Flying Dutchman." Eduard Devrient
paid me a visit last month. We talked a great deal about you, and
I hope he will do something useful in Carlsruhe later on.

You are good enough to ask for some of my compositions, but you
must allow me to delay this communication till we meet. I hope to
visit you, unless you visit Weymar next summer, and shall then
play many things to you. Of my orchestral pieces I might sooner
or later send you "Prometheus," but would rather not think of it
till I have done other things. Unfortunately I have been much
detained from working latterly, but I shall not tell you of my
pains and sorrows; you have more than enough of your own. Let us
stand bolt upright and trust in God. When shall I have your
poems? How long do you think that the four scores will
approximately occupy you? Can you expect to be ready by the end
of 1854?

Of a Paris performance of "Tannhauser" we must not think for the
present; and extraordinary as is my confidence in your
extraordinary work (although personally like "Lohengrin" still
better), I cannot fail to take into account my experience of
operatic performances in Paris and to think that the
incompatibility of "Tannhauser" with the operatic tricks now in
vogue might interfere with its success. Germany, first of all,
must take the lead, for you have the advantage and the misfortune
of being an arch-German poet and composer. As far as I know your
works, I still think that "Rienzi" would be most adapted for a
French version, but do not vainly trouble your mind about it.
Write your "Nibelungen," and care about nothing else. All other
things will arrange themselves of their own accord when the time

Farewell, and be as happy as I wish you to be with all my heart.



WEYMAR, October 7th, 1852



For your last letter, and especially for your remark about the
"Faust" overture (which has delighted me!), I owe you a regular
long letter, and must wait till I am in a good mood for it; for I
know that only in that case my answer can give you real pleasure.
Today I write you two hurried lines to say that I have accepted
your generous offer and, relying upon your kindness, have asked
Herr von Hulsen in a decided manner that you should be invited to
Berlin to take my place at the performance of "Tannhauser". I
have, I think, left nothing untried in order to induce Hulsen to
get over any possible difficulties in connection with his own
conductors there; I have made it a matter of personal feeling
between him and me, just as it is between you and me. I hope that
if Hulsen consents, his invitation will find you in a good and
favourable mood. I know how great this new sacrifice is which I
expect of you and how difficult you will find it to make but your
friendship makes me venture upon anything Hulsen, who probably
will not write to me himself, is to answer me through you; and
you also must tell me that you do it willingly for my sake.

Of the great success of "Tannhauser" at Breslau you have probably

But no more today. Weary as I am, I should only produce halting

Soon I shall write better and more.

My best regards to H. Farewell, and do not lose your temper with

Your old plague,


ZURICH, October 13th, 1852



I have to write to you, and am so annoyed about what I have to
write to you that I would rather not take pen in hand any more.
Hulsen has declined; I enclose his letter. He has no notion of
what the matter is about, and it will never be possible to give
him a notion of it. This Hulsen is personally a well-disposed
man, but without any knowledge of the business under his care. He
treats with me about "Tannhauser" just as he might with Flotow
about "Martha." It is too disgusting. I see fully that I have
made a great mistake. From the beginning I ought to have made it
the first and sole condition that everything concerning the
performance of "Tannhauser" should be left wholly and entirely to
you. I can explain to myself how it happened that I did not hit
upon this simple method: The first news from Berlin about
"Tannhauser" only frightened me. I had no confidence in anything
there, and my instinct advised me to decline the thing
altogether. It is true that you occurred to me at once as my only
guarantee, but I had first to secure your consent to undertake
"Tannhauser" in Berlin. In order, as it were, to gain time, I
sent to Berlin the demand for 1,000 thalers, so as to keep them
going, and at the same time I applied to you, with the urgent,
impetuous question whether you would see to this matter.
Simultaneously with your answer in the affirmative I received
from Berlin the news of the delay and postponement of
"Tannhauser" till the new year. Being under the impression that
my niece would leave Berlin at the beginning of February, I
thought the "Tannhauser" performance would have to be given up
altogether, and instructed my brother to get the score back
unless Hulsen could guarantee me ten performances this winter. I
thought the matter ended, when I was told in reply that my niece
would stay till the end of May and that Hulsen would undertake to
announce the opera six times during the first month. Thus the
possibility of a performance of "Tannhauser" at Berlin, wholly
given up by me, was once more restored.

From all the letters of Hulsen and my brother I could in the
meantime see perfectly well that these people were without any
understanding of what was to me essential and important in this
matter; that in all their views they were so totally incapable of
leaving the grooves of routine that I should have to fear they
would never understand my desire to invite you to Berlin. I
confess that I had some anxiety on the point, but at last I wrote
to Hulsen myself as clearly, warmly, cordially, and persuasively
as was in my power; I at once called his attention to the fact
that the hostility of the very insignificant Berlin conductors
would be as nothing compared with the favourable influence which
you would exercise on every side; in short, I wrote in such a
manner that I could not believe in the possibility of an
unfavourable answer. Read that answer, and take notice that I
have once more met with my usual fate: the fate of calling out to
the world with my whole soul and of having my calls echoed by
walls of leather. I am now discussing with myself what I shall
do. To give up everything and simply demand my score back--that
would be most agreeable to me. As yet I have not replied with a
line to either Hulsen or X. What do you think? Or shall I look on
indifferently, amuse myself when I can make a hundred thalers,
buy champagne, and turn my back upon the world? It is a misery.

I am going from bad to worse every day, and lead an indescribably
worthless life. Of real enjoyment of life I know nothing; to me
"enjoyment of life, of love," is a matter of imagination, not of
experience. In this manner my heart has to go to my brain, and my
life becomes an artificial one; only as an "artist" I can live;
in the artist my whole "man" has been sunk.

If I could visit you in Weimar and see a performance of my operas
now and then, I might perhaps still hope to recover. I should
there find an element of incitement, of attraction for my
artistic being; perhaps a word of love would meet me now and
then;--but here! Here I must perish in the very shortest space of
time, and everything--everything will come too late, too late! So
it will be.

No news can give me pleasure any more; if I were vain and
ambitious, it would be all right; as I am, nothing "written" can
attract me. All this comes--too late!

What shall I do? Shall I implore the King of Saxony, or perhaps
his ministers, for mercy, humble myself, and confess my
repentance? Who can expect that of me?

You, my only one, the dearest whom I have, you who are to me
prince and world, everything together, have mercy on me.

But calm! calm! I must write to you about the "Faust" overture.
You beautifully spotted the lie when I tried to make myself
believe that I had written an "Overture to 'Faust'." You have
felt quite justly what is wanting; the woman is wanting. Perhaps
you would at once understand my tone-poem if I called it "Faust
in Solitude".

At that time I intended to write an entire "Faust" symphony; the
first movement, that which is ready, was this "solitary Faust,"
longing, despairing, cursing. The "feminine" floats around him as
an object of his longing, but not in its divine reality, and it
is just this insufficient image of his longing which he destroys
in his despair. The second movement was to introduce Gretchen,
the woman. I had a theme for her, but it was only a theme. The
whole remained unfinished. I wrote my "Flying Dutchman" instead.
This is the whole explanation. If now, from a last remnant of
weakness and vanity, I hesitate to abandon this "Faust" work
altogether, I shall certainly have to remodel it, but only as
regards instrumental modulation. The theme which you desire I
cannot introduce; this would naturally involve an entirely new
composition, for which I have no inclination. If I publish it, I
shall give it its proper title, "Faust in Solitude", or "The
Solitary Faust", "a tone-poem for orchestra."

My new poems for the two "Siegfrieds" I finished last week, but I
have still to rewrite the two earlier dramas, "Young Siegfried"
and "Siegfried's Death", as very considerable alterations have
become necessary. I shall not have finished entirely before the
end of the year. The complete title will be "The Ring of the
Nibelung", "a festival stage-play in three days and one previous
evening: previous evening, "The Rhinegold"; first day, "The
Valkyrie"; second day, "Young Siegfried"; third day, "Siegfried's
Death." What fate this poem, the poem of my life and of all that
I am and feel, will have I cannot as yet determine. So much,
however, is certain: that if Germany is not very soon opened to
me, and if I am compelled to drag on my artistic existence
without nourishment and attraction, my animal instinct of life
will soon lead me to abandon art altogether. What I shall do then
to support my life I do not know, but I shall not write the music
of the "Nibelungen", and no person with human feelings can ask me
to remain the slave of my art any longer.

Alas! I always relapse into the miserable keynote of this letter.
Perhaps I commit a great brutality in this manner, for perhaps
you are in need of being cheered up by me. Pardon me if today I
bring nothing but sorrow. I can dissemble no longer; and, let who
will despise me, I shall cry out my sorrow to the world, and
shall not conceal my misfortune any longer. What use would it be
if I were to lie to you? But of one thing you must think, if
nothing else is possible: we must see each other next summer.
Consider that this is a necessity; that it must be; that no god
shall prevent you from coming to me, as the police (make a low
bow!) prevent me from coming to you. Promise me for quite certain
in your next letter that you will come. Promise me!

We must see how I shall be able to exist till then. Farewell.
Bear with me. Greet H., and be of good cheer. Perhaps you will
soon be rid of me. Farewell, and write soon to



ZURICH, November 9th, 1852



I wait with great longing for a letter from you.

For today one urgent request. Send at once the scores of the
"Dutchman" after which that of Weimar was corrected to Uhlig at
Dresden. In Breslau they have very long been waiting for a copy
to be arranged in the same manner. Please, please see to this at
once. Next week you will receive my remarks on the performance of
the "Flying Dutchman". Farewell, and remember lovingly



December 22nd, 1852



If through any delay the model score of the "Flying Dutchman" has
not yet been sent to Dresden, these lines may serve to inform you
of the great difficulty in which I have today been placed towards
a second theatre--that of Schwerin--because I cannot supply it
with the score which they urgently demand. I am truly sorry that
I have to plague you with such "business matters;" but who else
is there in Weimar?

I wait with indescribable longing for a letter from you.

Wholly thine,


December 24th, 1852


December 27th, 1852

Pardon me, dearest friend, for my long silence. That I can be so
little to you and to your interests is a great grief to me. Your
last letter, of about six weeks ago, has made your whole sorrow
and misery clear to me. I have wept bitter tears over your pains
and wounds. Suffering and patience are unfortunately the only
remedies open to you. How sad for a friend to be able to say no
more than this. Of all the sad and disagreeable things which I
have to suffer I shall not speak to you; do not think of them
either. Today I will, before all, tell you something pleasant,
viz., that I shall visit you in the course of next summer,
probably in June. I shall not be able to stay in Zurich long,
where there is nothing but you to attract me. It is possible--but
this must not yet be spoken of--that on my way back I may conduct
a kind of festival at Carlsruhe. Can you by that time prepare an
orchestral work for the purpose?--perhaps your "Faust" overture--
for I should like to produce a new work by you besides the
"Tannhauser" overture.

Eduard Devrient wrote to me some days ago that the Court Marshal,
Count Leiningen, who is a friend of mine, had spoken to him of
the plan for a musical festival, to be conducted by me. It may be
predicted that considerable means will be at hand in Carlsruhe,
but as yet the public and the papers are to know nothing of it.
Write to me when convenient about some pieces which you could
recommend for the programme. I think, amongst other things, of
the "Missa Solemnis" (D major) by Beethoven, but should not like
to have again the ninth symphony, so as not to repeat the
Ballenstedt programme in extenso.

The rumour reported by several papers that I am about to leave
Weymar and settle in Paris is quite unfounded. I stay here, and
can do nothing but stay here. You will easily guess what has
brought me to this maturely considered resolution. In the first
instance I have faithfully to fulfill a serious duty. Together
with this feeling of the most profound and constant love which
occupies the faith of my whole soul, my external life must either
rise or sink. May God protect my loyal intention.

How far have you got with your "Nibelungen"? It will be a great
joy to me to grasp your creation through your immediate aid. For
heaven's sake, let nothing distract you from this, and continue
to weld your wings with steadfast courage!

All is perishable, only God's word remains for ever, and God's
word is revealed in the creations of genius.

Yesterday your "Tannhauser" was given apart from the subscription
nights, before an overcrowded house. A new scene had been painted
for the revised conclusion of the piece, and for the first time
we have given the entire finale of the second act (a splendid,
masterly finale!) and the entire prayer of Elizabeth in the third
act without any cut. The effect was extraordinary, and I think
you, would have been pleased with the whole performance. I
celebrated on this occasion a perfect triumph in your cause, for
now that the success has been so decided, I may tell you candidly
that no one here cared for the troublesome study of the finale or
for the execution of the revised close, and that the talking
backwards and forwards about the change lasted several months.
"Why," it was said, "do we want a different "Tannhauser" from the
one we are accustomed to?" Several people who had seen
"Tannhauser" in Dresden declared decidedly that our performance
was much better, and that it would lose by the new close and by
the restoration of the entire finale, etc., etc. To all these
excellent arguments I had but one answer: "For Weymar it is a
duty to give Wagner's works when and as far as it is possible in
accordance with the wishes and intentions of the composer."

And, behold! in spite of all the previous chatter, the decisive
success of yesterday has been wholly in favour of my assertion.

Herr von Zigesar has today written to Tichatschek to ask him to
sing "Lohengrin" here on February 26th, and has offered him a fee
of fifty louis d'or, an unheard-of sum for Weymar. I sent
Tichatschek the part soon after the first performance of
"Lohengrin" here, and hope that he will give us the pleasure of
complying with our request. I wish you could write to him direct
on this matter, or else induce him to come here through Uhlig or
Fischer. With the performance of "Lohengrin" I am in parts still
very much dissatisfied. The chief evil lies, as you say, in the
as yet unborn representative of the chief part. For the
performance of February 26th a new scene is being prepared for
the second act, for the one hitherto used is miserable. The
question of cuts, as you know, arose only in connection with the
second performance; at the third I again produced the entire work
unmutilated. With Heine and Fischer, who attended the last
performance, I had much talk about this glorious drama, to me the
highest and most perfect work of art. If Herr von Hulsen had
invited me to Berlin, I should probably have persuaded him to
give "Lohengrin" first; and I repeat that in Berlin I will lay
any wager on the colossal success of "Lohengrin", provided it is
given faithfully and enthusiastically, to do which would not be
excessively difficult in Berlin with goodwill and true

That Herr von Hulsen hesitates to call me to Berlin does not
surprise me, but as you have honoured me with your confidence, I
am sorry I cannot justify it in a brilliant manner. During his
last visit here the Prince of Prussia spoke to me about my
participation in the study of "Lohengrin" at Berlin. The Prince
has a high opinion of you as a poet and musician, and seems to
take an interest in the success of your works at Berlin. Beyond
this I can unfortunately have no influence in the matter, and
must quietly wait to see how they are going to cook up
"Tannhauser" there. In any case do not trouble yourself about the
future and contemplate the course of events in an objective mood.
When you hear particulars about the "Tannhauser" performances at
Berlin, write to me, for I hear from time to time the most
contradictory rumours of pourparlers.

Have you received the book about "Tannhauser" by X.? The
dedication was quite unexpected to me, because for several months
I have not had the old friendly intercourse with the author. I
shall, however, call on him tomorrow, and am quite willing to
forget many disagreeable things which he has caused me for your
sake. The "Flying Dutchman" will go to Uhlig tomorrow. I was
unable to send it sooner, because the copying here is done with
the most troublesome slowness. It is therefore no fault of mine
that this return has been delayed so long, for I have pushed it
on every day. The two first pianoforte rehearsals of the "Flying
Dutchman" I have already held, and can guarantee a successful
performance on February 16th. After the second on the 20th
"Tannhauser" is to be given, and on the 26th "Lohengrin" will
follow. Let me ask you once more to persuade Tichatschek not to
leave us in the lurch at the latter. I have special hopes for
this performance of "Lohengrin", and should not like to let it be
spoiled on account of our small means. I can assure you, however,
that the interest of the public in "Lohengrin" is in the
ascendant; at every performance the strangers in our theatre
increase in number, and you are very popular at the various
hotels in Weymar, for on the days when one of your operas is
performed it is not easy to find a room.

One other favour. I have recently made a pianoforte arrangement
of the "Tannhauser" march and of the wedding procession (I don't
know how to name the piece) in the second act of "Lohengrin" (E
flat major), and should like to publish these two pieces. Tell me
whether Meser has still the copyright of the melodies of
"Tannhauser", and whether I must ask his permission to publish
this piece, together with the other from "Lohengrin", with
Hartel. As Kistner has already printed the "Evening Star", I do
not anticipate any particular difficulty in letting Hartel
publish the "Tannhauser" march; at the same time, I should like
to be safe from any possible discussion afterwards, and therefore
inquire of you how the matter stands.

Joachim goes on the lst of January to Hanover as concert-master.
A very able violinist, Ferdinand Laub, has been engaged for our

I am glad that my marginal notes to your "Faust" overture have
not displeased you. In my opinion, the work would gain by a few

Hartel will willingly undertake the printing; and if you will
give me particular pleasure, make me a present of the manuscript
when it is no longer wanted for the engraving. This overture has
lain with me so long, and I have taken a great fancy to it. If,
however, you have disposed of it otherwise, do not mind me in the
least, and give me some day another manuscript.

Au revoir then in a few months! I look forward to the moment with
joy. My pen is getting too horribly blunt to write to you. One
single chord brings us nearer to each other than any number of

[score excerpt] Continue to love me, even as I am cordially
devoted to you.

F. L.

Your pamphlet on the rendering of "Lohengrin" I have read with
much interest, and, let us hope, with some benefit for our
representations. I am glad to see that in several indications of
tempo I had guessed your meaning, and that many of your
intentions had been realized here in advance. H. will soon write
to you about yesterday's performance.



Have not in your version the overture and the close of the last
finale of the "Flying Dutchman" been rearranged in accordance
with a special score written by me last year? The close of the
overture especially has been entirely changed in the
instrumentation. The score containing this change I sent a year
ago to Uhlig, and he wrote to me that he had sent it to Weimar,
together with a second score containing the changes in the
remainder of the instrumentation. Please ask H. B.; you must have
received two scores. Look also in your score at the theatre. If
in that the close of the overture has been considerably changed,
and if especially at page 43 a new bar has been inserted, then
your score must have been arranged after that second one sent to
you, and the model copy must still be with you, for in the
Dresden score the close of the overture had been only very
slightly changed (a little in the violins). Two things I have to
ask you: if the second score is with you, send it at once to
Dresden, addressed to Choir director W. Fischer; if it does not
exist at Weimar, Uhlig having forgotten to send it to you, and if
therefore in your score at the theatre the close of the overture
has not been changed much (in the instrumentation), and no new
bar inserted at page 43, then let Fischer know at once, so that
he may send you the materials for making this important
alteration. I shall send him the score which is at the theatre
here, and in which I hope the matter has been corrected.

To your most important kind letter recently received I shall soon
send an answer which, I hope, will please you. Today only this
business in great haste.


Ever thine,


ZURICH, January 8th, 1853



After many inquiries, thoughts, and searches the affair of the
"Flying Dutchman" scores has turned out to be as follows:--

The score containing the corrected close of the overture and of
the finale of the opera is the same which you left me here as a
present. I never thought of using it for our performance, and
therefore wrote to Uhlig (whose death has affected H. and me
painfully) shortly before his death that he had made a mistake in
demanding back two theatre scores, as one of them we necessarily
required here, while the other had already been returned to him.
Uhlig does not seem to have known that one of the three scores
which were here for some time was my personal property; and I, on
my part, could not admit his justification in describing my copy
as a score belonging to the theatre. The confusion which had
previously happened in connection with the "Dutchman" score, sent
from and returned to Dresden, made me assume that Uhlig had made
a second mistake. Your letter today explains the matter; and I
promise you that by tomorrow evening the theatre score shall be
carefully corrected after my copy, and that my copy, containing
the newly corrected close of the overture, etc., will be sent to
Fischer the day after tomorrow. You need not trouble yourself
about it, and may dispose of this score as you like.

Kindly excuse these delays. Musikdirektor Gotze, who had to make
these alterations in the score, has been much detained from his
work, and only your letter explained the matter to me in the
sense that you wish to dispose of my copy, which is cordially at
your service. Nunc et semper.

Your truly devoted


January 12th, 1853

Your remarks about the rendering of the "Flying Dutchman" have
safely reached me, and I have already communicated them to the
singers. Farewell, and be God's blessing upon you.



The real answer to your last great letter you do not receive
today; I hold it over for a good reason. But I must tell you
something at once. Yesterday I heard from my niece at Berlin that
"Tannhauser" there could not be thought of for the present,
because the "Feensee" and Flotow's "Indra" had first to be given.
(The last thing that Hulsen had said was that "Tannhauser" should
be put in rehearsal after the Queen's birthday, November 13th,
1852.) I have let them know that I look upon this cavalier
treatment as an insult, and consider all previous transactions
finished, demanding at the same time the immediate return of my
score. This has eased my heart, and by Hulsen's fault I have been
released from all previous concessions.

Now, dearest friend, comes the principal thing. I accept your
generous offer, and place all my further relations with Berlin in
your hands. Hulsen may reply to me what he likes; he may offer to
produce "Tannhauser" at once. I am determined to answer that in
my present condition I am unable to take a leading part in so
important a matter as the performance of my operas at Berlin, and
that therefore I refer him once for all, and concerning
everything in connection with the performance of my works at
Berlin, to you, who have unlimited power to do or leave undone in
my name what seems good to you. Let it be settled in this way,
and I ask you to act in the matter quite according to your own
opinion. I should think it most advisable if you had nothing
further to do with Hulsen, who is merely an instrument without a
will of his own. You will, I think, prefer to keep up
communication solely with the Prince and Princess of Prussia. I
was very glad to learn that even the Prince of Prussia understood
at once that your personal direction was inseparable from an
important performance of my operas.

This then is the only basis on which a performance, be it of
"Tannhauser" or of "Lohengrin", will henceforth be possible in
Berlin. Without your direction I should not consent to such a
performance, even if you were to ask me. Our motto therefore must
be "Patience!"

It is true that the hope of good receipts for next Easter had
made me a little soft towards the Berlin project. Lord knows, I
poor devil, should have liked to have a few thousand francs in my
pocket, so as to divert my thoughts and cure myself of my
terrible melancholy by a journey to Paris or Italy. However, I
must bear this and remain in my old state of resignation and
want. For all that I thus remain in want of, the unspeakable joy
of seeing you at last in the summer will compensate me; believe
me, that will make up for all.

But let us stick to the point. Time will be needed, but perhaps
you will succeed in obtaining through the Prince and Princess for
next winter the invitation and commission to perform my two last
operas in Berlin. You will then probably begin with "Tannhauser".
This would appear to me a more natural order of things: perhaps
in the first half of the season "Tannhauser" and soon afterwards
"Lohengrin". It is true that you cannot count upon my niece, who
will be in Paris next winter. But there is little harm in this,
for Elizabeth is not of the first importance, and as regards
"Lohengrin" I am in a dilemma which it would perhaps be difficult
to solve. Six years ago I intended Elsa for my niece; now she
would have served me better as Ortrud.

Therefore--just as you decide; I am content with everything. From
this day I shall have no further transactions with Berlin.

The Leipzig people also have eaten humble-pie; they have
capitulated to me through Hartel. The performance there will
probably take place soon. Could you occasionally look after it a

At Frankfort they will begin next Saturday. The conductor writes
to me that he hopes for a good success. We shall see.

I have written to Luttichau and asked him not to perform
"Lohengrin" at present, because I have not sufficient confidence
in any of his conductors.

I am sorry to say I cannot write to T. He is very angry with me
on account of my instructions for the rendering of "Tannhauser."
Of course he cannot understand me.

Do arrange that about the close of the overture to the "Flying
Dutchman." In case the one score should have been lost (a rather
serious loss to me), let Fischer know, and he will send the new
close to you; but do not give the overture without this change.

Herewith I send you another alteration; you will see where it
belongs. The effect of the brass and the kettledrums was too
coarse, too material; the spectator should be terror-struck by
the cry of Senta on seeing the Dutchman, not by kettledrum and
brass. God bless you. You will soon have news from me again.

Farewell, and remember kindly your


ZURICH. January 13th, 1853



I cannot thank you for your more than royal present otherwise
than by accepting it with the deepest, most heartfelt joy. You
are best able to feel yourself how I was affected by the receipt
of your splendid presents, how I greeted the three scores with
plentiful tears. The Florentines carried the Madonna of Cimabue
round the city in triumphal procession, amidst the ringing of
bells. I wish it were given to me to arrange a similar festival
for your works. In the meantime the three scores will repose in a
particular niche near me; and when I come to see you, I will tell
you more.

First of all, the three works must be performed here in a proper
manner. All the changes in the score of the "Flying Dutchman"
have been carefully copied into the parts, and I shall not forget
the pizzicato you sent last.

[A musical score illustration appears here.]

Tichatschek has accepted Zigesar's offer, but Luttichau cannot
give him leave for the end of February. In consequence we must
wait for another opportunity, and Beck will sing "Lohengrin" and
"Tannhauser." Brendel and some other papers will probably notice
these performances. The "Flying" Dutchman presents no great
difficulties to our well-drilled artists, and I look forward to a
better performance, comparatively speaking, than of either
"Tannhauser" or "Lohengrin." The latter, however, goes much
better than at the four first performances, and upon the whole
one need not be dissatisfied. By the middle of May the newly
engaged tenor, Dr. Lieber, will arrive here, and I shall not fail
to study the three parts properly with him and to sing them to
him. I hear that he has a splendid voice and the best intention
to join in our movement.

Till the end of May I must in any case remain in Weymar, much as
I long to see you again. The wedding festivities for the marriage
of Princess Amalie (daughter of Duke Bernhard, brother of our
Grand Duke) with Prince Henry of the Netherlands (brother of the
reigning King of Holland and of our Hereditary Grand Duchess) are
to take place in May, when probably "Lohengrin" or "Tannhauser"
will be given again, besides a grand orchestral concert in the
hall of the castle.

The honorarium for the "Flying Dutchman" you will receive
immediately after the first performance (about February 20th).
How about Berlin? Has Hulsen replied to your last letter, and to
what effect? In case the whole matter is settled, as you indicate
to me, you may wholly rely and count upon me. Your annoyance at
the delay of the performance of "Tannhauser" is quite
comprehensible; and, in my opinion, you were right in demanding
back the score. Whether they will comply with your demand is a
different question. We must now see how we can achieve our
purpose in the quietest and safest manner. I need not repeat to
you that I desire with all my heart to justify the honour of your
confidence, but I earnestly hope that I shall be able to prove
this practically as soon as possible. Once more I thank you with
all my soul, and remain immutably

Your sincerely devoted


WEYMAR, January 23rd, 1853.



Herewith you receive a whole heap of new stuff. You perceive that
my poem is ready, and although not yet set to music, at least set
in type, and printed at my own expense, and in a few copies only,
which I shall present to my friends, so that they may have my
legacy in advance in case I should die during the work. He who
knows my position will again think me very extravagant in the
face of this luxurious edition; let it be so; the world, properly
so called, is so stingy towards me, that I do not care to imitate
it. Therefore, with a kind of anxious pleasure, I have secretly
(in order not to be prevented by prudent counsel) prepared this
edition the particular tendency of which you will find stated in
an introductory notice. Only a few copies have been struck off,
and I send you herewith a parcel of them, asking you to dispose
of them in the following manner. Of the three copies in a de luxe
binding you must accept the first as a present from me. The
second I have destined for the Grand Duchess on her birthday.
Tell her I have heard that she is indisposed and will probably be
unable to appear on her birthday in public. As therefore she will
not hear the "Flying Dutchman" at the theatre, I ask her to cast
a glance at my latest work. Tell her that, if it did not please
her throughout, I still thought I might assure her that woman had
never yet received such a tribute as every one who understood it
must find in my poem. The third copy de luxe forward to the
Princess of Prussia. Fortunately I have been able to get the
type, printing, and binding done in good time, and I assume
therefore that you will be in a position to present the gift on
the 16th. Of the other copies sent herewith, I ask you to keep
two in your own possession to lend them out according to your
discretion, and you will oblige me particularly by thinking soon
of A. Stahr, to whom I wish to be kindly remembered. He was the
first litterateur who ever paid attention to me as a poet. A
third copy please to forward in my name, with cordial greeting,
to Herr von Zigesar. Apart from this I send the following

1. For B., containing two copies: one for himself, the other for
my poor friend Roeckel.

2. For Herr F. M., whose title I have unfortunately forgotten,
and my answer to whom, in return for his kind present, I have
held over till today.

3. For A. F., who has just written to me that she is going to
Weimar for the festival; kindly give the parcel to her as to the

If you further find that you can dispose of some other copies
where they will be well and thankfully received, kindly let me
know soon; for that and similar emergencies I have kept back a
small number of copies.

About the poem itself I cannot, and do not care to, say anything
more to you; when you find leisure to read it sympathetically,
you will say to yourself all that I could tell you. I shall never
again write poetry. But I am looking forward with much delight to
setting all this to music. As to form, it is quite ready in my
mind, and I was never before so determined as to musical
execution as I am now and with regard to this poem. All I want is
sufficient charm of life to get into the indispensable cheerful
mood from which motives spring forth gladly and spontaneously. As
to this I once before made bitter moan to you; I desired
salvation from the killing circumstances in which I am placed at
Zurich; I inquired as to the possibility of being permitted to
make a trip to Germany now and then, so as to witness a
performance of my works, because otherwise I should perish here
for want of encouragement. To your great grief, your answer had
to be in the negative, and you admonished me to have--patience.

Dear, noble friend, consider that patience is only just
sufficient to preserve bare life, but that the vigour and
fullness which enable one to enrich life and employ it creatively
no man has ever yet drawn from patience, i.e., from absolute
want. Neither can I succeed in this. Listen to me! You are very
reticent as to the point in question. Let me know whether
anything has been done from Weimar in order to obtain for me at
Dresden permission to return to Germany, also what impediments
have been found in the way. If everything has not already been
tried, I should make the following suggestion: The Weimar court
invites me to visit Weimar for a few weeks, and sends me a
passport for four weeks; it then inquires, through its minister
at Dresden, whether they object, and would be likely to demand my
extradition to Saxony. If the answer were satisfactory--somewhat
to this effect: that the prosecution instituted against me four
years ago would be suspended for that short time--I might be with
you very quickly, hear my "Lohengrin", and then return straight
to Switzerland and wait for your visit (I might also read my poem
at court). See what can be done in this. I must hear "Lohengrin";
I will not and cannot write music before.

The German theatres do not cause me much delight; there is a
hitch everywhere, and I confess candidly that I often feel great
repentance at having consented to any performance outside Weimar.
Even two years ago I was conscious of myself, clear, and firm,
while I allowed myself no thought of the further expansion of my
work. Now I am torn to pieces, wavering, uncertain, and exposed
to every breath of wind, because I have to read now one thing,
now another, but never an intelligent judgment about my works in
the newspapers. I am much lowered in my own eyes. How
disgustingly dirty was again this Leipzig affair! The manager
makes sacrifices, enlarges the orchestra, reconstructs the same,
etc.; he hopes soon to recover his outlay, and raises the prices
as for an extraordinary thing; the enthusiastic public--stops
away and leaves the second performance empty. Oh, how different I
am from such canaille! But what a bad, disgusting scandal this
is! I am never to enjoy my life again.

You thought the score would not be returned to me from Berlin at
my demand; this time you were mistaken. The score was returned at
once, and neither from Hulsen nor from any one else have I had a
line about it. Disgusting as such conduct is, showing as it does
how they felt in Berlin towards "Tannhauser", I must yet be glad
at this issue, first because it proves that in such circumstances
the opera, if it had been performed, would have been lost, and
second because now tabula rasa has been made, and everything has
been committed to your faithful care. The Berlin affair has
herewith taken an entirely new form; no obligation exists, and
your hand is henceforth perfectly free, provided that I may place
the matter once for all in your hands, while I have no longer
anything to concede or refuse, and am towards Berlin as one of
the dead. Cassel has asked for the score of "Tannhauser", and
there, I presume, the matter ends; I do not count upon any other
theatre. I can now therefore sum up my gain from this glorious
undertaking; very slender it is, and I must thank God that the R.
family continue to assist me. Otherwise I should (after buying a
few commodities for house and body, of which we were very short)
have reached once more the bare rock of my existence, and this
through the noble sympathy of that splendid Germany.

I have no hopes at all for the further spreading of my operas. To
theatres like those of Munich and others I should have to refuse
them, because the conductors there would have nothing better to
do than to ruin me thoroughly. Once more I have to regret that I
yielded to a sanguine hope.

How long I shall endure this terrible joylessness I cannot tell.
About the middle of last month, I was on the point of succumbing,
and thought that I should soon have to follow my poor Uhlig. I
was persuaded to call in a doctor, and he, a careful,
considerate, and conscientious man, takes much trouble with me.
He visits me nearly every other day, and I cannot but approve of
his treatment. Certain it is that if I do not recover, it will
not be his fault. The isolation of my position is too great; all
my social intercourse has died away; I was fated to survive and
cast from me everything. I stand in a desert, and feed on my own
vitals; I must perish. Some people will be sorry for this one
day, perhaps even the King of Saxony.

What nonsense am I talking! Let us leave it alone; we cannot
alter it; it has always been so.

Much luck to the "Flying Dutchman"! This melancholy hero is never
out of my head. I always hear

[score excerpt] "Ach moch-test Du, blei-cher See-mann sie fin-

With the

[Score excerpt] "Doch kann dem blei-chen Manne Er-lo-sung ein-
sten noch wer-den!"

all is over. For me there is no salvation but death. Would that
it found me in a storm at sea, not on a sick-bed! Yea, in the
fire of Valhall I should like to perish. Consider well my new
poem; it contains the beginning and the end of the world.

I shall have to set it to music, after all, for the Jews of
Frankfort and Leipzig; it will just suit them.

But stop; my epistle is getting wild and wilder; therefore I must
conclude. Adieu, my Franciscus, the first and only one who stands
before me like the heart of a giant! You indefatigable one,
farewell. When they play the ballad tomorrow, think of me. I am
sitting alone on the sofa, staring at the lamp and brooding over
my good fortune in having gained you from this miserable world.
Yes, yes, it is that which supports me.

Farewell, my friend. My affectionate regards to you!



ZURICH, February 11th, 1853.



H. sent you yesterday a long account of the first performance of
the "Flying Dutchman". The rendering was satisfactory, and the
reception such as I had reason to expect--decidedly warm and
sympathetic. The two Mildes did their very best to give to the
parts of the Dutchman and of Senta their full significance, and
they were completely successful. The overture raged and crashed
superbly, so that, in spite of the usual custom not to applaud on
the fete-day of the Grand Duchess, they clapped their hands and
called "Bravo!" with enthusiasm. Our orchestra is now on a good
footing; and as soon as the five or six new engagements which I
have proposed have been made, it may boast of being one of the
most excellent in Germany.

Enclosed I send you the honorarium for the score of the "Flying
Dutchman", about which Herr von Zigesar has also written to you
yesterday. At the performance of the day before yesterday the
following princely personages, strangers here, were present: the
Duke of Coburg, the Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and his wife,
Prince Charles of Prussia, the Hereditary Prince of Meiningen and
his wife, Princess Charlotte of Prussia, the son of the Prince of
Prussia, heir-presumptive to the throne, the Prince of
Sondershausen; also several ambassadors from Dresden, General
Wrangel, and Prince Pukler-Muskau.

In a few weeks the King of Saxony is expected here.

Write to me soon what titles I am to give to the "Tannhauser"
march and the "Lohengrin" procession (E flat, Act II.), which I
have arranged for H. for drawing-room use. H. has forwarded you
two letters: one from Count Tichkiewitz, who is said to be a
passionate admirer of your genius (he wrote to me soon after the
appearance of my "Lohengrin" article a very enthusiastic letter,
and has now caused the "Tannhauser" overture to be played at
Posen; his family belongs to the higher aristocracy of Poland);
the other letter, from S. in H., I merely wanted to communicate
to you without wishing to influence your decision in this matter.
I made the acquaintance of S. in Weymar in a very casual
manner... and... so on....

I call your special attention to the postscript with regard to
Gotha which H. has added to his letter of yesterday by my desire.

The time has not yet come for explaining the details of this
matter to you, and probably nothing further will come of it. In
any case I ask you, if they should apply to you direct from
Coburg-Gotha, to give me exclusive power to carry on this little
transaction, without troubling you with it.

My most cordial thanks to you, best of friends, for all the
pleasure your "Dutchman" gives me; this summer we will have
another chat about it. Write soon to

Your faithful


WEYMAR, February 18th, 1853.



I have just received the incredible news from the Prague manager
that, after the censorship had authorized the performance of
"Tannhauser", permission was suddenly withdrawn by a higher
personage, in other words that the opera was forbidden. There
must surely be some personal stupidity at work here. I should
like to assist the man; and thinking it over, I hit--as I always
do when there is need--on you. You have influence everywhere,
and, as far as I know, can say a word to some very influential
persons at Vienna. Kindly consider to whom you could apply, so as
to win over some one who would interest himself in the withdrawal
of this absurd prohibition. If it is not too much trouble, I ask
you specially to arrange this also for me. You can do so many
things. Adieu, dearest! Shall I soon hear from you?



February 19th, 1853.

At Riga, in Russia, the performance has been permitted.


You are truly a wonderful man, and your "Nibelungen" poem is
surely the most incredible thing which you have ever done. As
soon as the three performances of the "Flying Dutchman",
"Tannhauser", and "Lohengrin" are over I shall lock myself in for
a few days to read the four poems; as yet I have been unable to
get a free hour for it. Excuse me therefore for not saying more
today than that I rejoice in the joy which the printed copies
have given to you.

The one intended for the Grand Duchess I have presented to her,
and that for the Princess of Prussia I have given to her brother,
the Hereditary Grand Duke. The others also have been forwarded to
their respective owners. If it is possible, send me about three
copies more; I can make good use of them.

Your letter I have not put on the shelf, and hope to be able in
about six weeks to give you a definite and (D.V.) a favourable
answer concerning your return. I am extremely sorry that hitherto
I have had to be so "reticent," but you may be sure that I have
not omitted to do all that appeared to me opportune and was in my
power. Unfortunately I have nothing but very timid hopes; still
they are hopes, and all timidity and lukewarmness must be far
from me in my endeavour to gain you back for yourself. Rely upon
my warmest friendly love in this as in other matters.

The Berlin affair you have arranged in the best possible manner,
and it is probable that, if henceforth you leave it entirely to
me, you will be satisfied with the final result. Whether
"Tannhauser" and "Lohengrin" are given in Berlin a year sooner or
later matters little to you; the chief question is how and in
what manner they are given: and as long as you are not back in
Germany, I believe that in our actual musical circumstances I can
offer you the only perfect security on this point. Moreover,
Berlin is the most important field for your works, and on the
success of those works there your whole position depends in the
most decisive manner. However, the performances at Frankfort,
Breslau, Schwerin, Leipzig, etc., are in themselves very
desirable, because they keep the matter warm and facilitate the
conquest of Berlin. They have also tended to place the artistic
question which has arisen through your means in a clearer light
than was previously possible.

Before all, regain your health, dearest friend. We shall soon
take some walks together, for which you will want good steady
legs. I do not mean to drink tisane with you at Zurich; therefore
you must take care that I do not find you a hospital patient. The
Prague affair can, I hope, be arranged, and I am willingly at
your service. A very reasonable and intelligent man, whom I used
to know very well at Lemberg, Herr von Sacher, is now commandant
of Prague, and I shall apply to him in this matter. Write to me
at once, by return of post, from what quarter and when the
prohibition of the "Tannhauser" performance was issued, and send
me the letter of the Prague manager, so that I may be able to
explain the matter properly. Apart from this, I can knock at
another door in Prague.

But, before all, I must be more accurately informed of the actual
state of things.



WEYMAR, February 20th, 1853

The Princess read your "Ring of the Nibelung" the first day from
beginning to end, and is full of enthusiasm for it.



Please let me have two words to say whether you have received a
parcel, sent from here on February 11th, and containing several
copies of my new poem, "The Ring of the Nibelung."

I had hoped that it would reach you before the 16th, but your
letter makes no mention of it. I am very anxious about this,
because it has spoiled a great pleasure to me. Therefore one
word, please! If it has not arrived, I must apply for it at the
post-office. All the rest I shall answer later on.


R. W.

ZURICH, February 28th, 1853.



I send you today, immediately on receipt of your kind letter, the
epistle from the Prague manager announcing the prohibition of my
"Tannhauser". This is all I know of the matter. It would be an
excellent thing if you could succeed in having this interdict
withdrawn. It annoys me specially on account of the manager, who
in the whole affair has behaved energetically and charmingly. We
should both be very grateful to you.

In order not to forget your question as to the titles, I will
answer it at once, as best I can. Nothing occurs to me but "Two
Pieces from "Tannhauser" and "Lohengrin"."

1. Entrance of the guests at Wartburg.

2. Elsa's bridal progress to the minster.

This, in my opinion, would best indicate the character of the
pieces in accordance with the events represented. I am looking
forward to your pianoforte arrangement of these pieces in the
ingenious manner peculiar to you; and, above all, I am most
agreeably flattered by it. I myself nurse the plan of calling a
good orchestra together here next May in order to give to the
people who would like to hear some of my music a characteristic
selection (not dramatic, but purely lyrical) of pieces from my
operas. I have composed the following programme. By way of

The March of Peace from "Rienzi". After that--

I. "Flying Dutchman".

A. Ballad of Senta.

B. Sailors' song (in C).

C. Overture.

II. "Tannhauser".

A. Entrance of the guests at the Wartburg.

B. Tannhauser's pilgrimage (i.e., introduction to the third act
complete and with programme); then, joining on immediately, the
song of the returning pilgrims (E flat major).

C. Overture. III. "Lohengrin".

A. Instrumental prelude.

B. The whole scene for male chorus commencing with the song of
the watchman on the tower, which enters in D major immediately
after the great prelude in A major, and thus leads from the
heights to the earth. This is followed (after a transition
specially written) by Elsa's bridal progress (with a close,
specially written in E flat).

C. Wedding music (introduction to Act III.); bridal song; then
wedding music in G major repeated. This makes the conclusion.

I undertake the whole thing only to hear something out of
"Lohengrin", and would willingly abandon this substitute if I
could once hear the real "Lohengrin".

Well, you have at least hopes. I sigh on your and my own account
when I hear you say so.

But all this leads me beyond the purpose of these hasty lines.

To Zigesar I hope to write tomorrow; I have to thank him for his
unusually rich gift for the "Dutchman". To my disgrace, I must
confess that it came very conveniently, although it curiously
reminded me of the fact that last year I visited the islands of
the Lago Maggiore at the expense of friend Liszt. Lord knows, I
shall always remain a disreputable fellow. Why do you have
anything to do with me? (In the spectre scene of the third act of
the "Flying Dutchman" you might have made cuts without

I am much obliged to the Princess for her zeal in making
acquaintance with my new poem; if I could only read it to you
both, I should have no fear.

The three copies I shall send you before long.

Farewell for today, you dear, good friend.



ZURICH, March 3d, 1853.



As to one thing I must ask you seriously not to misunderstand me.

If your gigantic perseverance of friendship should succeed in
opening my return to Germany, be assured that the only use I
should make of this favour would be to visit Weimar now and then,
take part for a short time in your activity, and witness an
important performance of my operas from time to time. This I
want; it is a necessary of life to me, and it is this which I
miss so cruelly. I should derive no other benefit from it; I
should never permanently settle in Germany, but should retain as
the scene of my life, or rather work, calm, beautiful
Switzerland, endeared to me by nature. How little I am able to
endure the permanent excitement which would be involved in my
frequent public appearances I know full well; after each
explosion, such as I want them now and then, I should require the
most perfect quietude for my productive labour; and this I can
have here without stint. A permanent position I therefore could
never resume in Germany, and it would not fall in with my views
and experiences. On the other hand, temporary outings for the
purposes already indicated are, as I said before, indispensable
to me; they are to me the rain which I require unless my plant is
to wither and to die; I can only live in extremes--great activity
and excitement and--most perfect calm.

I have already contemplated what my position would be, for
example, towards Berlin in case my return were granted, and have,
after mature consideration, come to the conclusion that even then
I should ask you earnestly to undertake the performances of my
operas there.

Twice I have produced an opera of my own at Berlin, and have been
unfortunate each time; this time I should therefore prefer to
leave the undertaking wholly to you; at the utmost I should enjoy
your doings incognito. In any case you alone would be able to
influence in my favour the circumstances and personal relations
which are indispensable; I should again spoil everything. This
therefore is prudence. Moreover, I cannot express to you how my
heart rejoices at the thought that I might look on from a hidden
corner while you instilled my work into the Berliners; this
satisfaction to my feelings I must live to see!

But enough for today. Of your visit to Zurich I dream every day,
and make earnest preparations for being able to dispense with my
tisane. Don't come too late.

Write to me soon how you like my poem; in the summer I shall read
it to you. If all goes well, there will also be musical sketches,
but before the middle of May I cannot really set to work.

A thousand warm greetings from your

R. W.

March 4th, 1853.


Bach's "Passion Music" will be performed this evening, which will
account for my extraordinary notepaper.

I have forwarded your letter to the D. of C, and he has replied
in a very friendly and amiable manner. Finally he says to me, "On
verra ce qu'on pourra faire pour lui plus tard," and this point I
shall not fail to discuss with the D. on occasion. You have of
course not the slightest doubt as to my view of this matter;
otherwise, my dearest friend, I should have to think that you had
gone out of your mind. Excuse the word! You could not have
possibly seen the matter in any other light from what you have
done, and for the same reason I had to remain perfectly passive
and neutral. For heaven's sake, keep as well as you can, and do
not be annoyed by the inevitable stupidity and malice which are
opposed to you so frequently from different quarters.

The affair at Prague appears to me somewhat complicated. Laub,
who has taken Joachim's place in our orchestra, wrote to me from
Prague yesterday that the prohibition of "Tannhauser" must be a
theatrical trick of St.'s, the director of police (President
Sacher) having informed him that he knew nothing of that
prohibition. I have asked Laub in consequence to ferret out the
matter carefully and to ask St. to write to you or me plainly and
precisely. Before taking an official step, one must know by whom
and in what manner the prohibition has been issued, and on whom
the withdrawal thereof depends. I mentioned to you President
Sacher as the director of police in Prague because in the
Austrian monarchy similar orders are made by that official. If he
declares that "he knows nothing about it," I know still less
where the difficulty lies and at what door I should have to
knock. On April 4th the "Tannhauser" overture will be played at
Prague, and until then I wait for further information from Laub.
In the meantime I think it advisable that you should write a
friendly letter to St., asking him in what manner Tannhauser has
been prohibited at Prague, and to whom one would have to apply in
order to get rid of this difficulty. It is of course far from my
wish to inspire you with suspicion against St.; but it is
necessary for us to sift the matter thoroughly, and after so many
experiences it may be permitted to anticipate different and even
contradictory possibilities.



LEIPZIG, March 25th, 1853.



I hear much too little of you. This is not a reproach, but merely
a complaint. That you work for me daily and always, I know; in
return I live almost entirely with you, and from my place of
abode here I am always absent. I live here a perfect dream life;
when I awake, it is with pain. Nothing attracts or holds me, or
rather what attracts and holds me, is in the distance. How can I
avoid being deeply melancholy? It is only the post that keeps me
alive; with the most passionate impatience I expect the postman
every morning about eleven. If he brings nothing or brings
something unsatisfactory, my whole day is a desert of
resignation. Such is my life! Why do I live? Often I make
unheard-of efforts to get something from abroad; lately, for
instance, I had my new poem printed, to give a strong sign of
life. I sent it to all the friends who, I might assume, would
take an interest in me, and in this manner I hoped to have
compelled people to vouchsafe me a sign. What is the result?
Franz Muller in Weimar and Karl Ritter have written to me; no one
else has thought it worth while even to acknowledge receipt.

If it had not been for a few enthusiastic women at Weimar, I
should have heard nothing of the third opera week. Even the most
unheard-of efforts which you make on my behalf become an empty
breath of air to me. I am condemned to perish amidst leather and
oppressive dullness.

Would it not be possible to leave all this and begin an entirely
new life? How absurd it is on your part to worry yourself in
order to help me! Alas! no, you cannot help me in this manner,
only my "fame," and that is something entirely different from me.
Nothing on paper can be of any use to me, and yet my whole
intercourse with the world is entirely through paper. What can
help me? My nights are mostly sleepless; weary and miserable, I
rise from my bed to see a day before me which will bring me not
one joy. Intercourse with people who torture me, and from whom I
withdraw to torture myself! I feel disgust at whatever I
undertake. This cannot go on; I cannot bear life much longer.

I ask you with the greatest urgency and decision to induce the
Weimar court to take a definite step, in order to ascertain once
for all whether I have sure and immediate expectations of having
the return to Germany opened to me. I must know this soon and for
certain. Be perfectly open with me. Tell me whether the Weimar
court will take this step; and if it takes it, and takes it soon,
let me know the result. I am not inclined to make the slightest
concession for the sake of this wish; I can assure you that I
shall take no part whatever in politics, and any one who is not
absolutely silly must see that I am not a demagogue with whom one
must deal by police measures. (If they wish it, they may place me
under police supervision as much as they like.) But they must not
expect of me the disgrace of making a confession of repentance of
any kind. If on such conditions a temporary return could be
granted to me, I do not deny that it would be a lift to me. If,
however, it is not possible, and if a definite negative answer is
given, let me know at once and without any prevarication; then I
shall know where I am. Then I shall begin a different life. Then
I shall get money how and where I can; I shall borrow and steal,
if necessary, in order to travel. The beautiful parts of Italy
are closed to me unless I am amnestied. So I shall go to Spain,
to Andalusia, and make friends, and try once more to live as well
as I can. I should like to fare round the world. If I can get no
money, or if the journey does not help me to a new breath of
life, there is an end of it, and I shall then seek death by my
own hand rather than live on in this manner.

I must forge myself artificial wings, because everything round me
is artificial, and nature everywhere is torn and broken.
Therefore hear and grant my prayer. Let me know soon, and know
for certain, whether I may come back to Germany or not. I must
take my decision accordingly.

After this language of despair, I cannot find the tone which I
should have to assume in writing to you about other matters which
I might wish to communicate to you. Most of these would be
effusions of thanks, as you know. Good Lord, that also drives me
wild: that I always have to write this to you. My impatience to
see you grows into a most violent passion; I can scarcely wait
for the day of your arrival. "Write" to me definitely about what
date you will be here. Let it not be too late. Can you come in
May? On May 22nd I shall be forty. Then I shall have myself
rebaptised; would you not like to be my godfather? I wish we two
could start straight from here to go into the wide world. I wish
you, too, would leave these German Philistines and Jews. Have you
anything else around you? Add the Jesuits, and then you have all.
"Philistines, Jews, and Jesuits," that is it; no human beings.
They write, write, and write; and when they have "written" a
great deal, they think they have done something wonderful. Stupid
fools! do you think our heart can beat for you? What do these
wretched people know about it? Leave them alone, give them a kick
with your foot, and come with me into the wide world, were it
only to perish bravely, to die with a light heart in some abyss.

Let me soon have news of you; and, before all, let me know when
you are coming. Farewell, farewell, longingly waited for by



ZURICH, March 30th, 1853



Your letters are sad; your life is still sadder. You want to go
into the wide world to live, to enjoy, to luxuriate. I should be
only too glad if you could, but do you not feel that the sting
and the wound you have in your own heart will leave you nowhere
and can never be cured? Your greatness is your misery; both are
inseparably connected, and must pain and torture you until you
kneel down and let both be merged in faith!

"Lass zu dem Glauben Dich neu bekehren, es gibt ein Gluck;" this
is the only thing that is true and eternal. I cannot preach to
you, nor explain it to you; but I will pray to God that He may
powerfully illumine your heart through His faith and His love.
You may scoff at this feeling as bitterly as you like. I cannot
fail to see and desire in it the only salvation. Through Christ
alone, through resigned suffering in God, salvation and rescue
come to us.

I had already indicated to you that I did not expect an answer
from Dresden before my departure from here. If you accuse me of
negligence and lukewarmness, you are unjust to me, but I can
forgive you. If, in accordance with your desire, I made your
affair dependent on an immediate "Yes" or "No," I should greatly
compromise it. Our court here is very favourably inclined towards
you, and you may feel sure that every possible step is being
taken to open your return to Germany. A few days ago I spoke
about it to our Hereditary Grand Duke, who positively assured me
that he would actively intercede for you. This you must not
mention anywhere; but it would be well if you were to write a
letter to the Hereditary Grand Duke, telling him that you have
been informed through me of his magnanimous disposition and
asking him not to forget you altogether. Do not write too
diplomatically, but give vent to the feelings of your heart, and
send me the letter, which I will hand him at once. In spite of
all, I hope to find you in a good mental and physical condition
when I visit you at the end of May. By then you must turn out
your whole hospital, and I promise you to leave mine en route to
take it up again on my way back. As the wedding festivities of
Princess Amalie and Prince Henry of the Netherlands will not take
place till after the middle of May, I shall not be with you
before the first days of June. Seven or eight weeks must
therefore still elapse.

The "Tannhauser" overture was received with enthusiasm and
encored at Prague, as Laub told me, who was present at the

As regards the performance of "Tannhauser," the real state is
very nearly what I wrote to you. The tenor St., brother of the
manager, will shortly leave Prague, and there will then be no
singer for the principal part. I also hear that there is no
Elizabeth, and until you give me further information in the
matter I am not inclined to put down the non-performance of
Tannhauser to a fictitious order of the police while such real
theatrical impediments are in the way. Has St. replied to you?

From Laub I hear that the supposed difficulties have been
discussed in high circles (Count Nostitz, Princess Taxis, etc.)
in a manner not favourable to St, I should, however, not like to
accuse St. till we have sufficient proof of his bad conduct. If
you write to him in the sense indicated in my letter to you from
Leipzig, we shall soon get to the bottom of the matter. Kittl is
at present at Frankfort-On-Main, where his "operatic wants" are
being supplied by "Die Franzosen bei Nizza." The work is to be
given on April 11th. Probably he will stay here for a day on his
way back, and through him I mean to get more accurate information
as to the Prague complications.

Kossak's critique of "Indra" has amused me. If you have not read
it, I shall send it to you.

Brendel has grand schemes, which he will probably communicate to
you. He is coming here for the next performance of Raff's opera
"King Alfred," in order to talk to me about the new paper which
he would like to bring out in the course of the summer. The
enterprise is in itself good enough, but I have still my doubts
as to the means at disposal. What do you mean by Raff's
confidential letter against the "Tannhauser" notice in the

Do not be offended, dearest friend, because I have not yet
written to you about the "Ring of the Nibelung" at greater
length. It is not my business to criticize and expound so
extraordinary a work, for which later on I am resolved to do
everything in my power in order to gain a proper place for it. I
have always entreated you not to abandon the work, and am
delighted by the perfection of your poetic workmanship. Almost
every day the Princess greets me with the words--

"Nicht Gut, nicht Geld,--noch gottliche Pracht; Nicht Haus, nicht
Hof,--noch herrischer Prunk; Nicht truber Vertrage trugender
Bund, Noch heuchelnder Sitte hartes Gesetz: Selig in Lust und
Leid, lasst--die Liebe nur sein!"

Counsellor Scholl will shortly read the four dramas at the
Altenburg to a small circle which I shall invite for the purpose;
and when I come to Zurich, you must be good enough to go through
the whole with me, so that we may exchange heart and soul on the

S. wrote me a longish letter, in which he plainly says that the
poem is a total mistake, etc. I have not sent you this letter,
because I think it useless, and shall never be of his opinion. By
word of mouth I shall let you know about various opinions which
in the meantime I listen to without comment or discussion.

Your truly devoted


WEYMAR, April 8th, 1853


Herewith, dearest, best of friends, I send you the answer of the
Prague manager, containing particulars as to the prohibition of
"Tannhauser." If you have time and care to do so, co-operate in
this affair also, in accordance with the love you bear me.

I long for a letter from you, and am curious to hear from
yourself what truth there is in your rumoured breach with Weimar.

I live in the expectation of your visit; surely you have not
abandoned it.

Adieu. A thousand greetings from your

R. W.

ZURICH, April 11th, 1853



How ever could you think that I should "scoff" at any of your
magnanimous effusions? The forms in which we endeavour to gain
comfort in our miserable circumstances depend wholly upon our
nature, our wants, the character of our culture and of our more
or less artistic sensations. Who could be heartless enough to
believe that to him alone the true form has been revealed? Only
he could think so who has never fashioned for himself such a form
of his hope and faith, but into whose dull mind it has been
instilled from outside as some one else's formula, who therefore
does not possess sufficient inner power to preserve his own empty
existence by dint of vital instinct, and who thus again
communicates the formula received from others as a formula for
others. He who himself longs and hopes and believes will surely
rejoice in the hope and faith of others; all contention about the
true form is mere empty self-assertion. Dear friend, I also have
a strong faith, on account of which I have been bitterly scoffed
at by our politicians and sages of the law. I have faith in the
future of the human race, and that faith I draw simply from my
inner necessity. I have succeeded in observing the phenomena of
nature and of history with love and without prejudice, and the
only evil I have discovered in their true essence is
lovelessness. But this lovelessness also I explain to myself as
an error, an error which must lead us from the state of natural
unconsciousness to the knowledge of the solely beautiful
necessity of love. To gain that knowledge is the task of history;
and the scene on which that knowledge will be practically shown
is none other than our earth, than nature, in which there are all
the germs tending to this blissful knowledge. The state of
lovelessness is the state of suffering for the human race; the
fullness of this suffering surrounds us now, and tortures your
friend with a thousand burning wounds; but, behold, in it we
recognize the glorious necessity of love: we call to each other
and greet each other with the power of love, which would be
impossible without this painful recognition. In this manner we
gain a power of which man in his natural state has no idea, and
this power, expanded to the power of all humanity, will in the
future create on this earth a state of things from which no one
will long to fly to a hereafter henceforth become unnecessary;
for all will be happy, will live and love. Who longs to fly from
this life while he loves?

Well, well, we suffer now. We now should despair and go mad
without faith in a hereafter; I also believe in a hereafter, and
have just shown you this hereafter. If it lies beyond my life, it
does not lie beyond that which I can feel, think, conceive, and
comprehend; for I believe in mankind, and require nothing

I now ask you, Who at the bottom of his heart shares my faith
more than do you, who believe in me, who know and demonstrate
love as no one else has proved and practiced it yet? You realize
your faith in every moment of your life; I know deeply and inly
what you believe; how then could I scoff at the form from which
such a miracle springs? I should not be as much of an artist as I
am if I did not joyfully understand you.

Let us bravely fight and struggle; then all whims will disappear.
That I must remain so far from my battlefield is what makes me
complain so often.

Well, my highest hope will be fulfilled:

I shall see you again.

This implies everything that can give joy to me; and I am sure
that at your arrival, and through means of it, you will find me
so elated that you will take my present and past complaints for
pure hypocrisy. My nerves, it is true, suffer a great deal, and
for a very natural reason. But I am now in hopes of strengthening
them thoroughly; for that I shall want a little "life:" the
medical cure alone will not be sufficient. That "life" you will
bring to me, and I promise you that you will find me hale and

I am almost glad that you are not coming to my musical
performances here, which will take place May 18th, 20th, and
22nd; we shall afterwards be more by ourselves, belong to each
other more. Oh, how I rejoice in the thought!

You will find everything comfortable with me; the devil of luxury
has taken hold of me, and I have arranged my house as pleasantly
as possible. When the real thing is wanting, one does what one
can to help one's self. Well, come; you will find me half mad;
you, you, you, and no one else!

What further shall I say in reply? I find I have taken to
chatting on the main thing.

S.'s judgment of my poem satisfies my vanity--I mean, because it
proves my judgment. In spite of all, I took S. from the beginning
for a confirmed litterateur whom you for a moment had carried
away with you, but only for a moment. A litterateur cannot
understand me; only a complete man or a true artist can. Leave it
alone; it will be all right. When once I have cast everything
aside to dive up to the ears into the fount of music, it will
sound so well that people shall hear what they cannot see. We
must have a long talk about my further practical plans as to the

All scribbled things are absolutely distasteful to me, and it is
the greatest effort to me to read the musical paper. I wish that
all this had no reference to me; let the people do for their own
sakes what they think they ought not to omit; what was necessary
for me you have done. Dearest, dearest friend, do not think that
I meant to reproach you when recently again I wrote with furious
impatience about my return to Germany. I do this quite at random;
I call out when I am in pain, but I accuse no one, certainly you
least of all. You are unfortunate in being so near to my heart;
for that reason you hear everything that I sigh and complain of
violently and painfully. Be not angry, and forgive me cordially.
I will write to the Hereditary Grand Duke, because it gives me

Enough for today; my fingers are becoming cramped. But how many,
many things I shall have to say to you. I keep everything for
that occasion, and have really not written to you once about your
performance of my operas, of which quite recently again I heard
such wonders. All that will come by word of mouth, if only I do
not go mad!

Farewell. Greet the Princess. A thousand kisses from



April 13th, 1853


Bravo, Schoneck! Long live Kroll's theatre! Those people have
rational ideas, and work bravely. The fact that you are friendly
with Schoneck, and can count upon his goodwill and musical
intelligence, gives a favourable turn to the performance of
"Tannhauser" at Kroll's theatre, and I, for my part, do not
advise you against it, the less so as you seem to like it. Your
citing Mirabeau as marchand de draps is quite applicable to
"Tannhauser" at Kroll's theatre; and if Schoneck manages to fill
the parts moderately well, the thing will, no doubt, hugely amuse

Simultaneously with this I write, by your desire, to Schoneck to
compliment him on the impending performances. I have advised him
to go to work prudently, as the whole matter is in his hands. We
may anticipate a very good result, which will cordially please



I shall write to Prague tomorrow, to President Sacher; this
matter will probably drag on for some time.



In the most frightful turmoil of business, I must send you a few
words of enthusiasm. I have been writing an explanatory programme
for my musical performance here, and was led on that occasion to
look once more through your pamphlet on my opera. How can I
describe my feelings? When has an artist, a friend, ever done for
another what you have done for me? Truly, when I should be
inclined to despair of the whole world, one single glance at you
raises me again high and higher, fills me with faith and hope; I
cannot conceive what I should have done without you these last
four years. Oh, and how much you have made of me; it has been
indescribably beautiful for me to observe you during that space
of time. The idea and the word "gratitude" cannot contain my

You say that you do not yet expect to get your leave of absence!
Do not frighten me, and tell me by return that you are coming,
and coming soon.

I have engaged Damm. It was a mad undertaking to find an
orchestra of seventy men when there were only fourteen competent
musicians in the place. I have plundered all Switzerland, and all
the neighbouring states as far as Nassau. It was necessary to
raise the guarantee fund to 7,000 francs in order to cover
expenses, and all this that I might hear the orchestral prelude
to "Lohengrin."

I expect you for certain in the first days of June. If only the
joy of seeing you again does not drive me mad! Adieu. Come to


R. W.

ZURICH, May 9th, 1853


Your splendid programme for the musical performances at Zurich,
May 18th, 20th, and 22nd, has made me quite sad, dearest friend.
Why can I not be present to make some returns to you for all I
owe you? But what is the good of questioning, brooding, and
sorrowing? I cannot get away from here before the end of June.
Tomorrow (the 20th) we have a grand court concert (the programme
is of no interest to you), and ten days afterwards the
performance of "Moses" by Marx, which I have to conduct. On June
15th takes place the jubilee of the Grand Duke, for which his
Majesty the King of Saxony will probably come here, and the 20th
is the birthday of the Hereditary Grand Duke. On the 26th or 28th
I accompany my mother, who is still half lame, to Paris; and by
the middle of July at the latest I shall be with you in Zurich.
Till then I must have patience, and need not give you any further

I talked some time ago with the Princess of Prussia about you.
The performance of "Tannhauser" at Kroll's is variously commented
upon. I am still of opinion that the personal influence and
ability of Schoneck are in this matter decisive. Since my last
letter to Schoneck I have heard nothing from him, but I believe I
told you of an offer that was made to me to take the Leipzig
opera to Berlin and to conduct "Tannhauser" at the Konigsstadt
Theatre. I have naturally declined this offer.

I hope Schoneck will keep his word and bear the responsibility of
an adequate performance of "Tannhauser" honourably, thus
justifying your confidence. When you hear further particulars,
ask him to communicate them to me, as I have been questioned on
various sides about this matter, and have warmly defended
Schoneck's undertaking against the wavering portion of your
friends and the public.

Alwine Fromann was here for some days. I have learnt to love her
through you. Your "Nibelungen" has been read excellently on four
evenings at the Altenburg by Counsellor Sauppe, director of the
Grammar School, who formerly lived for some years at Zurich. The
whole subject of the "Nibelungen" I shall work out with you in
conversation; in the meantime only this: that I am wholly in
favour of it, and ask you urgently to take the musical part
seriously in hand.

I hear from Prague that "Tannhauser" is being prepared there for
next autumn. If this is confirmed, the other step which I
contemplated will become useless. In any case I shall wait a
little while to gain better ground for the matter.

"Lohengrin" will be given at Wiesbaden, and at Schwerin the
"Dutchman" is heaving in sight. Have you finished the "Faust"
overture? Damm has probably told you that we have given it here
several times fairly well. Apropos of Damm, tell him that he can
stop as long as he likes. I envy the fellow his good time with

This afternoon Louis Kohler, from Konigsberg, will arrive here to
hear your "Lohengrin." Alas! alas! "Indra," by Flotow, absorbs
all the delicate attentions of our artistic direction; and this
wretched medley will be given the day after tomorrow as festival
opera. Did you formerly have intercourse with Kohler? I only know
him through some very amiable notices of a few of my pianoforte
works. His last letter is a kind of dithyramb about "Lohengrin,"
which naturally predisposes me favourably towards the man.

Farewell, you unique man! and may we soon be together.


F. L.

Let me soon have news of your performances at Zurich, and do not
forget to send Brendel a notice of them for his paper. About
Brendel, who recently visited me here, I have several things to
tell you.

Please God, I may have good news to bring you from Dresden; it is
that which keeps me here till the end of June.



I feel beaten down and weary. Damm has probably written to you
about my musical performances. Everything went off right well,
and Zurich was astonished that such a thing could have happened.
The Philistines almost carry me on their hands; and if I cared
for external success, the effect of my performances would more
than satisfy me. But, as you know, my chief object was to hear
something from "Lohengrin," and especially the orchestral
prelude, which interested me uncommonly. The impression was most
powerful, and I had to make every effort not to break down. So
much is certain: I fully share your predilection for "Lohengrin";
it is the best thing I have done so far. On the public also it
had the same effect. In spite of the "Tannhauser" overture,
preceding them, the pieces from "Lohengrin" made such an
impression, that they were unanimously declared to be the best
thing. For the "Bridal Procession" I had specially written a very
effective new close, which I must communicate to you; following
upon the "Bridal Song," I repeated the G major prelude (wedding
music), after a short transition, and gave a new conclusion to
this also. These pieces have had a tremendous popular success;
everybody was delighted. It was a real feast for the world around
me. All the women are in my favour.

I might have repeated the concerts six times, and they would have
been full on every occasion, but I stuck to three performances,
because I had enough of it, and was afraid of getting tired.
Besides this, I could not have retained the orchestra any longer;
many had to go home, especially eight musicians from Wiesbaden,
the best of the orchestra there, who had given me great pleasure
by coming. I had almost nothing but concert-masters and musical
directors--twenty most excellent violins, eight tenors, eight
splendid violin-cellos, and five double-basses. All had brought
their best instruments; and in the acoustical orchestra,
constructed according to my indication, the tone of the
instruments was most bright and beautiful. It is true that the
whole cost 9,000 francs.

What do you think of our citizens raising all that money? I
believe that in time I shall be able to do unheard-of things
here, but for the present it has cost me unheard-of trouble.
During the week preceding the performances, I read in my way,
which you will hear later on, my three operatic poems before a
very large audience in public and gratis, and was delighted by
the powerful impression they produced on my hearers. In the
intervals I studied my choruses with amateurs, and these tame,
four-part people at last sang as if they had swallowed the devil.
Well, I am a little lame and weary in consequence. It is hard
that you will have to leave me in my loneliness for the whole
month of June.

Why have your festivities been suddenly postponed? Not till the
middle of July? Just now you would have been of infinite benefit
to me; I am very lonely.

For the present I must try to pick up a little by a wandering
life; perhaps I shall go for a few weeks to Brunnen, on the lake
of Lucerne, and try to settle down to work. I shall make
excursions from there to the Bernese Oberland and thus pass the
time till your much-desired arrival. How long shall you be able
to stay? In the second half of July I am to go to St. Moritz, in
the Grisons, to go through a cure there from which they promise
great benefit for my health. Will you follow me to that
beautiful, wild solitude? That would be splendid! By the end of
August, when you have to leave me again, I shall go to Italy, as
far as it is accessible to me. (I wish it could be to Naples! The
King of Saxony might manage that!) The means I must get somehow,
if I were to steal them.

In other respects "business" with me is flat. You have probably
heard that the manager of the Berlin court opera has procured an
order which prevents the smaller theatres of Berlin, and
especially Kroll's theatre, from performing such operas as
"Tannhauser." From this we see how powerfully even a threat acts
upon these people; they are of course ashamed of themselves, and
do not wish to incur open disgrace. I have authorized Schoneck to
announce "Tannhauser" as a "Singspiel," but he himself is
doubtful whether the thing can be managed. He loses in this
manner a fine opportunity of making himself favourably known and
of raising himself above his hole-and-corner circumstances. I
lose a nice income for this summer, for the undertaking would
have brought me in a few thousand francs. But God's, or rather
Herr von Hulsen's, will be done. It is quite plain that in our
excellent states the "other thing" has nowadays the upper hand;
the Princess of Prussia may wish and desire what she likes, she
will not be able to conquer that, nor Herr von Hulsen either.
Good Lord, I know the thing.

However, I was peculiarly pleased that you from the first looked
upon this Berlin experiment just as I did, and that we quite
understood each other. I can quite imagine how the Philistine
must have shaken his head. It was equally clear that you were
unable to accept the proposal for the Konigsstadt Theatre with
the Leipzig troupe, and I am only annoyed at their impudence in
offering you such a thing. It implies indeed a gross insult, for
which one must pardon our dull-headed theatrical mob. "Lord,
forgive them, for they know not what they do."

Dearest friend, have you not yet had enough of Weimar? I must own
that I frequently grieve to see how you waste your strength
there. Was there any truth in the recent rumour of your leaving
Weimar? Have they given in?

But all this is idle talk. My brain is a wilderness, and I thirst
for a long, long sleep, to awake only when my arms are around
you. Write to me very precisely, also whether you are inclined,
after a little stay at Zurich, to go with me to the solitude of
the Grisons; St. Moritz might, after all, do you good, dearest
friend; we shall there be five thousand feet high, and enjoy the
most nerve-strengthening air, together with the mineral water,
which is said to be of beneficial effect on the digestive organs.
Think this over, consult your health and your circumstances, and
let me know very soon what I may hope for.

Farewell, best and dearest of friends. Have my eternal thanks for
your divine friendship, and be assured of my steadfast and
warmest love.



ZURICH, May 30th, 1853



I have just received the enclosed letter, programme, and
newspaper from Prague. If you will write a few lines to Apt, you
will please him very much. Also be kind enough to send a copy of
your "Nibelungen" to Louis Kohler in Konigsberg (care of Pfitzer
and Heimann, music-publishers). He deserves this attention from
you, and I promised it him during his stay here, when he
cordially joined your banner. From Leipzig, after the performance
of "Tannhauser," he wrote me a letter which I could sign myself,
and you are sure to find in Kohler a very zealous, able, and
honest champion of your cause in the press.

A little book by him on the melody of speech will shortly appear.
As a composer for the pianoforte he has done some excellent
things. Several years ago an opera of his composition was
produced at Brunswick. Kohler is about thirty-two years old, and

Marx was here recently. We have become friends, and shall
probably approach each other still more closely. His oratorio
"Moses" was given fairly well under my direction.

A little court concert was given the day before yesterday in
honour of their Majesties the King and Queen of Saxony. Further
details I shall tell you when I see you. Unfortunately I must
doubt that the steps taken so far will lead to the desired
result, but there is yet another hope before my departure, for
which I must wait. The Hereditary Grand Duke will soon go to
Dresden, and has promised me his intercession in this matter.

In ten or twelve days I shall give you an exact plan of my
journey. It is very possible and almost probable that Joachim and
Robert Franz will accompany me to Zurich. It is quite understood
that I go with you wherever you like, but I shall not be able to
stay with you longer than ten days altogether. Whether it will be
at the beginning or the middle of July I cannot say for certain,
because this journey depends on another much longer one.

Damm has told us wonderful things of your three performances. The
poetic indications which I read in the programme, especially
those of the introduction to "Lohengrin" and the overture of the
"Flying Dutchman," interested me very much. Before long I may
send you a little article about the "Flying Dutchman"; and if you
approve of it, it shall be published.

I have been much depressed these last few days by many and
various things. These are the days of thunderstorms. With all my
heart and soul I shall rejoice on seeing you again. Let us be
faithful to one another, though the world go to ruin.

F. L.

June 8th, 1853


I have nothing to write to you, dearest, except that I await you
longingly. You might come before the middle of July, seeing that
you will not be able to give me more than ten days in all. This
of course determines me not to expect that you should go to the
watering-place in the Grisons with me for a few days only. It
would have been different if you could have stayed with me there
for some length of time. I suppose you will not be here this
month, and I may, without fear of missing you, go next week to
Interlaken in the Oberland to visit part of the R. family. At the
beginning of July I shall be back again, and expect you daily.

That Franz and Joachim intend to come too is famous. Franz had
already half promised me. I shall be delighted to make their
acquaintance. Prague and Konigsberg (Kohler) will be attended to.

I read today in the "Neue Zeitschrift fur Musik" the article by
T. in Posen, in which there is a stupid thing, viz., an
exaggeration, where he says that I consider "Schoneck one of my
most gifted disciples." Schoneck as a musician is quite
insignificant, and as a man without particular culture; he is
simply a theatrical conductor--at least as far as I know him. I
was struck, however, by his uncommon and specific talent as a
conductor, as well as by his nervous, restless, and very active
temperament, combined with a strong turn for enthusiasm. He once
saw me study Beethoven's music with an orchestra, and conduct it,
and devoured what could be acquired with genuine astonishment,
making it his own with so much cleverness that later on at
Freiburg he produced the music to "Egmont," which he had heard me
do, with very great success, as competent witnesses have assured
me. It was the same afterwards with the "Flying Dutchman," which
he grasped completely as a conductor. But beyond his specific
gift as a conductor, I do not think that I have influenced him
particularly, and should certainly not like him to be considered
my representative, although I may count upon his devotion. If the
Berlin plan at Kroll's is, after all, realized--and there is
again strong opposition to it now-I must think of having my
intentions more specially represented, and have young Ritter in
view for that purpose. As to this also we must have a talk.
However, the success of "Tannhauser" at Posen, under Schoneck's
direction, is again a striking incident. Within six days they
gave it four times, with the largest receipts. Only think what
trouble I had at the time with this opera at Dresden.

But enough. That you, like me, do not seem to be in good spirits,
grieves me very much, but I become more and more convinced that
people like us must always be uncomfortable, except in the
moments, hours, and days of productive excitement; but then we
enjoy and luxuriate during that time more than any other man. So
it is! Soon we shall talk! I am almost afraid of this joy! You
will write, will you not?

Adieu, dearest friend.


R. W.

ZURICH, June 14th, 1853



Today week--Thursday, June 28th--I start from here. At Carlsruhe
I shall have to stop till July 1st, in order to look at the
localities, and to make some preparations for the impending
Musical Festival there. On July 2nd I shall therefore hope to be
with you at Zurich. My time will be very short, but it will be an
unspeakable pleasure to live with you for a few days.

I enclose a few disappointing lines concerning your affair, which
have been sent to me by an unknown hand. I hope to be able to
tell you better news when I see you. I shall go straight from the
mail office to you at Zeltweg, to ask you about the hotel where I
shall stop. Probably Joachim and Franz will come with me. If it
is not too much trouble, notify my arrival at Winterthur to
Kirchner and Eschmann, whose personal acquaintance I should like
to make.

I have just received from Hartel your portrait, which seems to me
more like than the previous one. If there is a decent sculptor at
Zurich, you must oblige me by giving him a few sittings, for him
to model a large medallion in relief of you. I cannot bear
lithographed portraits; to me they have always a somewhat
bourgeois appearance, while sculpture represents a man in a very
different way.

In ten days, dearest friend, we shall wholly possess each other.
If you like to write to me, address Poste restante, Carlsruhe,
where I shall be till July 1st.



June 23rd, 1853


If I venture to trouble you with a few lines, my motive, I hope,
will gain me your kind forgiveness. In today's number of the
"Freimuthige Sachsen-Zeitung" the old Steckbrief (order of
arrest) (v. 49) against Capellmeister Richard Wagner has been
copied, with the remark "that it is said that he intends to
return to Germany, and therefore the police are requested to keep
a watchful eye on him, and, in case he is found in Germany, to
arrest him and deliver him here."

Although I know Capellmeister R. Wagner from of old, I do not
know how to communicate this news to him, because it is said that
most of the letters sent to refugees in Switzerland are either
opened or never delivered; and I am not acquainted with any other
safe way.

A consultation which I had with some of Richard Wagner's friends
led us to determine, as the only means, upon asking Court-
Capellmeister Dr. Liszt, one of the most faithful and best-known
friends of the great composer, "to acquaint Capellmeister R.
Wagner with the above by some sure ways and means."

Asking you once more to pardon me for the trouble I give you, I
remain, with the greatest esteem and veneration,




I have just returned from a trip, and find your letter. Thank
God, I have not much to write in answer beyond expressing my joy
that you are coming so soon. Saturday, July 2nd, in the morning,
or at the latest in the evening, I shall await you at the mail
office. You might stay with me, but I am afraid you would not be
comfortable, especially if you come with Joachim and Franz. All
this we shall settle at once at the office. There is a good
hotel, Hotel Baur. I shall let Kirchner and Eschmann know. Good
Lord, how glad I am. Not another word by letter!

Au revoir.



Could you let me know by telegram exactly when you are coming?

We have beautiful weather.


You see, dear friend, that I am approaching; and unless official
impediments delay me one day, I start the day after tomorrow-
Friday, July 1st--by the afternoon train for Basle, and arrive at
Zurich by the mail-coach on Saturday, early in the morning. At
the latest, I shall be there on Sunday at the same hour. Joachim
I expect here; Franz, I am sorry to say, will not be able to come
till later on.



CARLSRUHE, June 29th


FRANKFORT, Tuesday, July 12th, 1853, 6 p.m.


The Musical Festival at Carlsruhe will take place on September
20th, and I write you these few lines in haste to ask you to send
me the altered passage in the score of "Lohengrin" at Weymar.

If not inconvenient to you, I should be glad if you could lend me
for six weeks your Zurich parts of the overture to "Tannhauser"
and the pieces from "Lohengrin" for use at the Carlsruhe
festival; send them straight to Devrient. As the Hartels have not
printed the parts, it will not injure their interests; and we
shall at least be sure that the parts are correctly copied, as
you have already used them at Zurich. From Weymar I shall bring
the parts of the "Tannhauser" overture with me. At the two
concerts of the Carlsruhe festival the orchestras and artists of
the Darmstadt, Mannheim, and Carlsruhe theatres will co-operate.
As the performances take place at the theatre, the trebling of
the parts will be quite sufficient, for the house does not hold
more than fourteen or fifteen hundred people, and an orchestra of
a hundred and ninety and a chorus of something like a hundred and
sixty will consequently have a good effect. As soon as the
programme is settled I shall send it to you; for the present I
tell you only that the "Tannhauser" overture will make the
commencement of the first concert and the "Lohengrin" pieces the
close of the second. In addition to this, there will be two
pieces by Berlioz, the finale of Mendelssohn's "Loreley," the
Ninth Symphony, etc. Frau Heim will, I hope, on this occasion be
the reporter for Zurich, and I shall do my best to put her in a
good temper. Johanna sings this evening at a concert in the
theatre for the benefit of a local actress. "Tannhauser" will not
be given tomorrow. After the concert I shall see Schmidt, and
shall inquire as to particulars. . . . In case J. is still here
tomorrow, I shall pay my most humble respects to her. She
appeared first as Romeo, and yesterday sang Fides for the benefit
of the Pension Fund. With E. Devrient I spent a few hours
yesterday at Badenweiler. He is going to visit you at Zurich, but
can make no certain plans for the present, as he expects the
Prince Regent at Badenweiler. His daughter suffers a great deal,
and his wife also appeared to me in very weak health. Frau
Meyerbeer also I met at Badenweiler. With Schindelmeisser I shall
communicate by telegraph early tomorrow morning; and in case
"Lohengrin" is given on Thursday, I shall run over to see it, and
return home to Weymar on Friday.

Through your hat I nearly got into difficulties with the police
at Carlsruhe, because its species and colour are considered
specially suspicious, being accounted red, although grey. I was
accidentally advised of this; nevertheless I have got on well so
far, and shall always maintain that the hat is well-conditioned
and loyal, because you have given it to me.

Apropos, neither of the two persons to whom I have hitherto
talked about it was inclined to believe in your wholly
unpolitical position and mode of feeling. It will certainly take
some time before a more correct opinion of your circumstances and
your whole individuality is arrived at.

My best compliments to your wife, and many thanks for the
kindness and love she showed me during my stay at Zurich.

Do not forget either my most "well-conditioned" homages to Frau
Kumner and her sister. To our Grutly brother and his wife say all
the friendly and true things which I feel for them, and to
Baumgartner give a good "shake-hand" (translated into musical
Swiss) in my name. The days at the Zeltweg remain bright, sunny
days for me. God grant that we may soon be able to repeat them.


DOPPEL PEPS, alias "Double Extract de Peps," or "Double Stout
Peps con doppio movimento sempre crescendo al fffff," which
latter we shall live to witness at the performance of the

Once more I ask you if possible to grant the "Tannhauser" and
"Lohengrin" parts to the Carlsruhe festival, and kindly to write
a few words to that effect to Devrient. I am off to the concert.

Johanna sings three songs by Schubert ("Wanderer," "Trockne
Blumen," and "Ungeduld"), and I sing

[Figure: a musical score]

Pardon me if I have put the bars in the wrong places, and whistle
it better for yourself. Address Weymar.



Here I am in the capital of the Grisons; all is grey, grey. I
must take rose-coloured paper to get out of this grey, just as a
certain tinge of red glimmers through your grey hat. You see I am
compelled to take to bad jokes, and may therefore guess at my
mood. Solitude, solitude, nothing but horrible grey solitude,
since you went away! Wednesday evening my Zurich people tried to
dispel this grey solitude with their torches; it was very pretty
and solemn, and nothing like it had happened to me in my life
before. They had built an orchestra in front of my house in the
Zeltweg, and at first I thought they were erecting a scaffold for
me. They played and sang, we exchanged speeches, and I was
cheered by an innumerable multitude. I almost wish you had heard
the speech of the evening; it was very naive and sincere; I was
celebrated as a perfect saviour. The next morning I left in
company with St. George; since then rain has fallen incessantly.
Last night we found the only mail-coach from Coire to St. Moritz
full, and had to make up our minds to stop here for another two
nights and one day. Before leaving Zurich I fetched your
Frankfort letter from the post-office; alas! it was the last joy
which I took with me from deserted Zurich. Be cordially thanked
for it, you dear, departed joy!

Today I inaugurate your new writing-case with a first "written"
communication to you. Let me talk of business; all else has
become too terrible for my pen and ink since I possessed you
wholly, heard your noble voice, pressed your divine hand.
Therefore to--business!

You shall have the parts; each of them is in a book which
contains all the pieces of my Zurich concert; you will therefore
have "Tannhauser" as well as "Lohengrin." But as your orchestra
will be larger than mine, you will have to have them copied out;
still I think they will arrive in time if I send them to Devrient
not before the middle of August, after my return from St. Moritz;
let me know whether you think the same. If you also want the
voice parts and think the chorus ought to begin studying before
the middle of August, I will send you them through my wife before
the others; as to this also I want your instructions. The newly
written score of the "Lohengrin" pieces, containing all the
alterations, will be ready in four weeks at the latest. I
therefore prefer to wait till then rather than send you the
alterations on detached slips of paper, which would be of little
use to you. About the middle of August the entire and properly
arranged score will be sent to you at Weimar; but if you insist
upon having the alterations separately at an earlier date, write
to me, and I will obey. So, so, so, so! this is the business.

And now what remains? Sadness! sadness! After you had been taken
from us I did not say a single word to George. Silently I
returned home; silence reigned everywhere. Thus we celebrated
your leave-taking, you dear man; all the splendour had departed.
Oh, come back soon, and stay with us for a long time. If you only
knew what divine traces you have left behind you! Everything has
grown nobler and milder; greatness lives in narrow minds; and
sadness covers all.

Farewell, my Franz, my holy Franz. Think of the wild solitude of
St. Moritz, and send a ray of your life there soon.

My wife read your letter with me, and was delighted--She greets
you cordially. George asks me to greet you, and thanks you for
remembering him. He will soon be a poet for your sake. Farewell,
dear, dear Franz.



COIRE, July 15th, 1853.


X. is going to sing in "Tannhauser" at R. in about a fortnight.
She had to leave at once after the concert on July 12th, in order
to attend to some starring engagements. I saw her first in her
dressing-room at the theatre, where she had kindly invited me to
visit her for a quarter of an hour after the concert. That
quarter of an hour I employed in doing my duty as a doctor and
apothecary in the "well-conditioned" line. I told her many and
sundry things which she was able to understand. Before taking
leave X. promised me to sing Ortrud and Elizabeth at Weymar in
the course of next winter, which I accepted very thankfully. Papa
X. has some plans for a German opera in London, and opines that
your operas would have a fine effect there. I replied that the
needful and indispensable would first have to be done for them in
Germany. There is no hurry about London, and perfect success
there is only possible when the ground in Germany has been firmly

To S. and M. I repeated once more that it would be scandalous not
to give "Tannhauser" on this occasion, and S. went so far as to
promise me that, in case of difficulties, he would announce
"Tannhauser" with Frau Anschutz-Capitain in the intervals of the
starring engagement.

Has Schindelmeisser sent you our Wiesbaden "Lohengrin" snuffbox?
As Ortrud was ill, "Lohengrin" could not be given this week. Frau
Moritz is a very amiable and excellent woman and artist. She is
studying Elsa and Senta, and is quite determined to make active
propaganda for your operas. Moritz is going to read your "Ring of
the Nibelung" this month at Wiesbaden.

When I go to Carlsruhe, I shall again visit Moritz at Wiesbaden.

Your letter to C. A. reached me this morning early; excellent and
worthy of you! This afternoon I drive to Ettersburg to pay my
respects to the young gentleman, and shall hand him your letter
at once.

The Princess of Prussia is here with her mother, and will
probably remain till the end of July. Whether the etiquette of
court mourning will permit me to have a talk with her I do not

Be happy in the Grisons, you godlike man. When you work at the
"Nibelungen," let me be with you, and keep me within you even as
you have received me--in truth and love.


F. L.

WEYMAR, July 17th, 1853.

Enclosed I send you a letter from Kohler, which you may on
occasion return to me. Have you read his pamphlet "The Melody of
Speech"? Perhaps you might write a few words to him.

Do not forget the Carlsruhe scores, and, if possible, the parts.
Address always Weymar.



This is my book. Do not expect to find anything in it, lest I
should have the misfortune of incurring your censure.

I have sent the book to Wagner, and it makes me anxious to think
that it might displease him; I wish I knew something definite.
Wagner has given me infinitely great pleasure by sending me his
"Nibelungen." I owe this to you; you were my intercessor.

I am still reading the book. At first it was strange to me, but
attracted me as something strange does attract us. Unconsciously,
however, I lost myself in it, and now feel quite at home in it,
with the true joy of Valhall. The work strikes me with a power
which is of a peculiar kind, and I do not care to vex my spirit
with reflections. It is such a fine thing if they do not occur of
themselves, although, no doubt, the after-effect of the book will
lead to reflections. I do not think that for centuries so truly
sublime a piece of poetry has been created, so powerful, so full
of simplicity--simple in diction--there is marrow in every word.
Everything in it appears great, even in an optic sense; the forms
of the gods I see before me large, but endowed with the ideal
beauty of force; I hear their voices resound afar, and when they
move, the air is stirred. This language is in itself true music,
and therefore cannot be "set to music." I have a distinct idea of
the actual representation of this work and of its perfection; and
I discover a kind of speech melody in the forcibly phrased and
vividly grouped verses of Wagner, such as I imagined as the
ultimate ideal of dramatic tone-speech when I wrote my book;
perhaps you hold a similar opinion, or rather you know, as you
have been with Wagner. To him I should like to write every day,
if only two lines; but Heaven preserve so much occupied a man
from my very superfluous words. If Wagner would only let me know
ten vocal notes from his "Nibelungen," my mind would be at rest.
Wotan is sublime, like a statue in bronze, and yet so humanly
conceivable at the same time. The close of the first act of the
"Valkyrie" is overpowering. Oh! how I felt with Siegmund. When I
read, my soul seemed to expand as if I were looking from a high
point upon a large, new world.

Let me have two brief words about Wagner's intention; I shall be
eternally grateful to you. I shall always think with delight of
my journey and my stay at Weimar. The Altenburg stands
daguerreotyped on my soul.

I still smoke your "Plantages" cigars when I want to reward
myself after much working. Your arrangement of the Ninth Symphony
for two pianos has filled me with the greatest enthusiasm; it is
a marvelous work, which I shall shortly notice in print.

How about new editions? Let me write about them all!

In the feuilleton of our newspaper here I wrote three articles
about you and Wagner; now, after all, comes S. and writes too,
upsetting so many things which I had built up. He is a terribly
confused spirit, and the humour of it is that he thinks everybody
else confused.

Is Raff working busily at his Samson? I hope we shall soon hear
something of him. Remember me to him very kindly.

And now I take my leave of you, asking for your forbearance with

Your wholly devoted


KONIGSBERG, July 3rd, 1853.


Your splendid letter on rosy paper has cheered me up. The air
here feels so thick, so buttery (so like rancid butter). Well,
let it be as it may, I do not care; you write your "Nibelungen"
and "Delenda Philisterium!"

To the young Grand Duke I gave your letter, and I can assure you
that he has fully understood your noble language, your high-toned
feeling. I had the honour yesterday of seeing the Princess of
Prussia; she is staying here at Belvedere without chamberlain or
dame d'honneur, simply as the loving and very lovable daughter of
her mother, "the Frau Grossherzogin-Grossfurstin" (this is now
the official denomination of the Grand Duchess Maria Paulowna).
Zigesar, who remains with the latter as acting chamberlain and
house-marshal, tells me wonders of the grace and amiability of
the Princess of Prussia. I have of course told her many and
various things about you.

The Zurich people have acted very well, and we at Weymar have
taken cordial interest in your serenade and the torchlight
procession. What a pity "Double Peps" was there no longer! He
would have drummed and torched with a will.

The day after tomorrow I must start for Carlsbad, and shall stay
there till August 15th, wherefore address Carlsbad till middle of
August, after that Weymar. The 28th of August (anniversary of
Goethe's birthday and of the first performance of "Lohengrin") is
fixed for the "Huldigung" (taking the oath of allegiance to the
new Grand Duke). I shall probably be there, and must write a
march of about two hundred bars by command. Raff is to write a Te
Deum for the church ceremony.

For your kind loan of "Tannhauser" and "Lohengrin" to Carlsruhe I
am very thankful to you. You save us time and trouble, and I feel
quite safe now.

I expect then that between the 15th and 18th of August (please,
not later) all the orchestral and choral parts as well as the
scores will be in the hands of Devrient at Carlsruhe, and I shall
advise him as to their arrival. A correct and spirited
performance of the "Tannhauser" overture and the pieces from
"Lohengrin" I guarantee, and you shall have satisfactory accounts
of it.

If not inconvenient, please arrange that I, with several others,
may meet you after the Carlsruhe festival (about 24th or 25th
September) at Basle. I should like to revive in your company for
a few days, which shall be called "Lohengrin days." By that time
I suppose you will be back from your journey, and a meeting will
do good to both of us.

Live happy in the enjoyment of your power, my great, splendid

Remember me very kindly to George, and let me soon hear from you.



WEYMAR, July 25th, 1853.

Till August 15th address Carlsbad, then again Weymar.


Cordial thanks, dearest friend, for your cheerful letter. I am
half ashamed of the dismal mood which prevented me so long from
writing to you. I lead here an unbearable, solitary life, in
grand but terribly charmless surroundings. At the beginning I
made excursions with George to the glaciers and neighbouring
valleys, but as this did not agree with my cure, I remained
confined to this wretched little place, which, fortunately, I
leave the day after tomorrow. Whether the cure has been of use to
me the future must show, but upon the whole I am not inclined to
repeat it. I am too restless to give up all activity for such a
long time. In brief, I am not a fit subject for a cure; that I
perceive. I am now all ablaze to go to Italy, but do not intend
to start before the end of August, for they say that only in
September Italy becomes comfortable for us. For how long I shall
roam about there, Lord only knows. Perhaps I shall not be able to
bear it long alone, but the thought of returning to Switzerland
so very soon is unpleasant to me. Tell me, dearest Franz, have
you quite given up your idea of going to Paris? Our meeting there
would be much pleasanter than at the commonplace Basle. Are you
so much tied by time and space? Of course the hope of seeing you
once more this year regulates all my plans; and if you offer me
an opportunity for the end of September, I should be a precious
fool not to make use of it. See you again therefore I shall in
any case; but I venture to ask that you should make it possible
to come to Paris, where I should like to divert my thoughts for a
little time before permanently returning to my honest
Switzerland. The distance from Carlsruhe to Paris is not greater
than to Basle. You get there in one day from Strassburg. Pardon
me for pressing this caprice upon you.

The Wiesbaden "Lohengrin snuffbox" has had a great effect upon
me; it was forwarded to me here by my wife. Your humour seems to
have been excellent, so that Schindelmeisser was no doubt unable
to understand it. This snuffbox also shall one day figure in my
collection of rarities.

Have you received an invitation from Leipzig? Wirsing wrote to me
about Lohengrin, but I, on my part, wrote to Raymund Hartel
asking him to take the matter in hand and to communicate to
Wirsing my conditio sine qua non. You perceive that, on the
strength of your friendly promise, I have freely taken to

I hear that at Berlin the scheme of "Tannhauser" at Kroll's is to
be taken seriously in hand in September or October. Schaffer also
wrote to me about it.

Young T. wrote to me from Posen that his father had at last
permitted him to devote himself to music entirely, and he now
prays on his bended knees that I should allow him to live near me
at Zurich. This somewhat embarrasses me, for I know that the
young man is mistaken in me and Zurich; so I have written to tell
him that I am starting on a journey, and that, as he wanted to
leave Posen at once, he might first visit you at Weimar, where I
would announce him to you. After that he might go with you to
Carlsruhe and from there proceed to Zurich, where I should be
willing to be of service to him as long as he could stand the
place. Do not be angry with me for having put him too on your
shoulders; you will soon get rid of him.

I always have an anxious feeling that I might have lost something
in your eyes since our meeting, probably because I feel how much
you have gained in mine--gained as if there had been anything
left for you to gain! What a fool I am!

The parts, etc., I shall send next week to Carlsruhe.

St. George is still very lazy, but he shall work. He sends best
regards. Farewell. I must not write more. Tell me soon whether
you have not yet had enough of me.

Give my best respects to the Princess. We shall soon meet again!

Farewell, farewell, best of human beings.


R. W.


P.S.--The Kroll-Berlin "Tannhauser" has fallen through after all.
Schoneck has just written to me that he has broken with the
director, Wallner, because the latter refused to carry out his
undertaking as to the excellence of the ensemble.


As usual, dearest friend, you have had an excellent idea. It is
settled then that we go to Paris, and there have a meeting at the
end of September, after the Carlsruhe performances. As before
then your chief purpose is to see the Mediterranean, I advise you
to go to Genoa and Marseilles, and thence to Paris. Napoleon
says, "La Mediterranee est un lac francais," so you may go from
your Swiss lakes to the French lake for a few weeks and then come
to me in Paris.

By the middle of October I must be back at Weymar, but a
fortnight of Paris will be quite enough for us.

Therefore this is settled.

T. will be very welcome at Weymar. He wrote to me once or twice
before, and, between ourselves, I have heard several things about
him which make me think that his character is not oversolid. But
that does not matter, and may be left to Meser. A few days ago I
received a letter from Berlioz, in answer to my last, in which I
had said several things about you.

I quote the following lines:--

"Our art, as we understand it, is an art of millionaires; it
requires millions. As soon as these millions are found every
difficulty disappears; every dark intellect is illumined; moles
and foxes are driven back into the earth; the marble block
becomes a god, and the public human: without these millions we
remain clodhoppers after thirty years' exertion.

"And yet there is not a sovereign, not a Rothschild, who will
understand this. Is it not possible that, after all, we, with our
secret pretensions, should simply be stupid and insolent fools?

"I am, like yourself, convinced of the ease with which Wagner and
I should fit each other if only he would grease his wheels a
little. As to the few lines of which you speak, I have never read
them, and therefore feel not the slightest resentment on their
account. I have fired too many pistol-shots at the legs of
passers-by to be astonished at receiving a few pellets myself."

In Paris we shall continue the subject; material and good fun
will not be wanting.

At Leipzig I hope to find a few lines from you, and by the end of
this month I shall write to you from Weymar when and how long I
can be in Paris. If in the meantime I should have to write to
you, I shall address to Zurich, as you must to Weymar.

Farewell, and be cheerful, and do not talk nonsense about what
you might have lost in my eyes. At Leipzig I shall attend to the
"Lohengrin" affair; so far I have heard nothing about it.




Let me today, dear Franz, thank you by a few lines for your last
letter. I cannot get on with "writing" to you any longer; nothing
occurs to me but my sorrow at your disappearance and my desire to
have you again soon and for long. All else scarcely moves me, and
"business" relations between us have very little charm for me.
The only thing I can think of is seeing you again in the present
year. Give me a rendezvous in Paris after the Carlsruhe festival.
In any case I shall send my wife to Carlsruhe, so that she may
bring back a taste of you.

Almost my only object in "writing" to you is to ask you to
forward the enclosed letter to L. Kohler. I know neither his
title, nor his address. You might also apologize to him for this
very letter, which, I believe, is written in a terribly bad and
confused style. The foolish man wants to hear something from me
about his book, but as soon as I bend my head a little towards
theory the nerves of my brain begin to ache violently, and I feel
quite ill. I can and will theorize no longer, and he is not my
friend who would lure me back to that cursed ground. Pereant all
X. and X. if they know of nothing better than this eternal
confused speculating about--art!

Here I live in a wild solitude, ice and snow around me. The day
before yesterday we roamed for half a day over glaciers. Herwegh
must put up with it. I shall not release him from my net; he must
work. He swore yesterday that he had the poem for you in his
head. Good luck!

Get me your medallion, you wicked man. I must have it at once. As
to the rest, do with me what you like. About the sending of the
parts and score to Carlsruhe I await your instructions. I assume
that you received my letter from Coire.

I am almost annoyed that you have had intercourse with X.; these
people are not worth looking after. Be sure that nothing
satisfactory will come of it; we must have whole men or none at
all, no half ones; they drag us down: we shall never drag them
up. I should be proud if this "man of talent" would decline to
assist me altogether.

However, in this matter also you must do as you like. Before all,
take care that you continue to love me, and that we see each
other soon.

Farewell, dearest friend.


R. W.

Many greetings from St. George.

ST. MORITZ, CANTON GRISONS, July 26th, 1853.


Truly, writing is a misery, and men of our sort should not write
at all. However, your rosy paper and your luminous letters, which
looked like Spanish grandees, gave me real pleasure. While you
are at Coire, intent upon your water-cure, I sit here in Carlsbad
looking at nothing but puffed-up faces, excepting one which
shines on me like a bright, comforting sun. Till the 16th I must
remain here, and on the 22nd I shall be back at Weymar.

By way of entertainment I enjoy Labitzki and his water-cure
orchestra, Aldridge, the black Roscius, who plays beautifully
Othello, Macbeth, and Fiesco; also spurious Arabs and genuine
Chinese, who howl and tinkle to make one run away.

Passing through Leipzig, I saw B. His new book will appear soon,
in which there is a separate chapter entitled "Criticism of R.
Wagner." We must see whether he has brewed digestible stuff. At
Dresden I visited the R.'s. Frau Kummer and her sister had gained
my affection at Zurich, and C., who was summoned specially from
Pillnitz to meet me, pleased me very well this time. On my
journey back I shall again look up the R.'s, for I like to remain
in communication with people who prove real friends of yours. We
form a little Church of our own, and edify each other by singing
your praises. Take note, dear Richard, and make up your mind to
it, for it cannot be otherwise. You are now, and will be still
more, the concentric focus of every high endeavour, high feeling,
and honest effort in art. This is my true conviction, without
pedantry and charlatanism, both of which I abhor. Do not fail to
use your powerful influence with C., so that he may exert his
faculties with some consistency and regularity. I spoke to him of
B.'s plan of an Art Review. If you set him tasks, he may do good
service to the cause and himself. How about the "leading
programme" which you and H. are to sketch together? This is the
corner-stone of the whole enterprise. Do not be deterred; I think
it necessary that you should submit to some trouble and tedium
for the purpose. Before going to Weymar I shall have some
definite talk with B. about the matter. If you want to
communicate with me on the subject, address Poste restante,
Leipzig, or, better still, to the care of Y., so that the letter
arrive in Leipzig on the 19th inst. Perhaps by that time you will
have been able to settle the chief heads of the programme of
"Blatter fur Gegenwart und Zukunft der Gesammt-Kunst" and to draw
the outline of the whole scheme.

I repeat it once more, without you and your direct and indirect
influence nothing, or something much worse than nothing, will be
done. Therefore be patient and help as and where you can.

Do not forget that E. D. expects the "Tannhauser" and "Lohengrin"
scores and parts for the Carlsruhe festival on August 15th. You
are always so careful and punctual in fulfilling your promises
that I am under no anxiety, and only tell you that they wish to
begin studying your pieces in Carlsruhe as soon as possible.

B. will probably come to Carlsruhe, and will be at Weymar at the
end of this month. I have spoken to Meser at Dresden and warmly
recommended to him H. as the most suitable musician to entrust
with the four-hand pianoforte arrangement of "Tannhauser." If
Meser should write to you about it, be good enough to propose H.
to him for this work in preference to other arrangers and
derangers. Give my best remembrances to G., and abide with me.


F. L.

CARLSBAD, August 7th, 1853.

P.S.--Our friend Kohler has latterly been severely attacked by
several individuals who have the arrogance to think that they
stand in opposition to you, while in reality they move in a low
and bottomless region. As you probably do not read similar
newspapers, I tell you of the fact, and ask you to take account
of it in your intercourse with Kohler, whom you should keep in
kindly remembrance as one of the loyal.

Kohler will visit you next year; you will be satisfied with him.
I forwarded your letter to him at once.

P.S.--Try, if possible, to be back from your intended journeys by
the end of September, so that we may meet after Carlsruhe. I hope
to be quite free on September 24th.



I returned from St. Moritz a little sooner than I had thought; of
my intention to that effect, I believe I wrote to you before.
Your last letter was forwarded to me punctually. What pleased me
most in it was your good humour and the fact that you spent your
day at Dresden with the R.'s, of which they had already informed
me in great triumph. Reading their accounts, I felt as if I had
been there myself, and as if that evening had only been a
continuation of the Zeltweg days. It was splendid and kind of
you. As to K. I must wait; we shall see later on. George promised
me yesterday that he also would write to you today. From what he
says, he is well inclined towards the matter; I shall be glad if
it is taken in hand seriously, for then I shall have hope for a
possible success of the enterprise even without me.

My dear Franz, once for all do not reckon upon me for any
critico-literary enterprise; I cannot go in for that kind of
thing. Just as some time ago it was an absolute necessity to me
to express my revolution in the fields of art and of life in
perfect continuity, even so, and for that very reason, I have at
present no inclination for such manifestations, which are no
longer a necessity to me. Of this you must be aware, for you know
and prove by your own deeds that "quand on agit, on ne s'explique
pas;" and I am at present disposed only for action, no longer for
explanation. You seem to be of opinion, however, that for the
sake of the cause I might conquer my inclination a little and in
my own way exert myself. It is just this point which I have made
clear to myself: my faculties, taken separately, are not great,
and I can only be and do something good when I concentrate all
those faculties on one impulse and recklessly consume them and
myself for its sake. Whatever part that impulse leads me to
adopt, that I am as long as necessary, be it musician, poet,
conductor, author, reciter, or what not. In that manner I at one
time became a speculative art philosopher. But apart from this
main current I can create and do nothing except under extreme
compulsion, and in that case I should do something very bad and
expose the smallness of my special faculties in a deplorable
manner. What you want of me, or rather, as I know very well, what
X. wants of me, there is no longer any need for my doing. I have
spoken about the theme in question so often and at such length
that I am conscious of having done quite enough. X. and his
friends and enemies have not even read my writings as they should
be read in order to be understood. Otherwise it would be quite
impossible that this wretched "separate art" and "universal art"
should be the upshot of all my disquisitions. Honestly speaking,
I am sick of discussing with stupid people things which they can
never take in, because there is in them not a trace of artistic
or really human stuff. If I were to take up the cudgels once
more, it would be rather against these unfortunate enlightened
people than against the intentionally retrograde Jesuits of
literature, with whom one need not trouble one's self unless one
wants to talk for victory as a litterateur, which has never
entered my mind. Certainly, most certainly, I should be very glad
to know that I had been rightly understood by many people, glad
to see and to hear that clever, instructive, and enlightening
things were written and laid down in a journal devoted to such an
object; this, indeed, would be the reward of my sacrifices. But,
good heavens! there is surely no need that I should write, that I
should help, again; these things should come to me from another
quarter. It cannot possibly suit me to write the same thing over
and over again on the chance of being at last understood, besides
which I should probably only puzzle people worse and worse.

Therefore if, in your opinion, the review cannot be started
without me, I simply say, Very well then; leave it alone, for in
that case it has no object and no value. I still have hopes of
G.; he is certainly lazy, but, at any rate, I know that he knows
what is at stake and what should be done. Moreover, his whole
nature at present impels him to discharge his inner being in the
direction necessary for us; if he once is in the proper swing, I
hope he will persevere. It is of course understood that my
advice, my views, and my opinions are always at his disposal, and
in very special cases I may go to work myself; but I must first
see that others commence and initiate the work.

Before all, keep that unfortunate "Universal Art" out of the

Enough of this!

I am in a miserable condition, and have great difficulty in
persuading myself that it must go on like this, and that it would
not really be more moral to put an end to this disgraceful kind
of life. Solitude and disconsolate loneliness from morning till
night--such are the days that follow each other and make up life.
To cure my sick brain the doctor has prevailed upon me to give up
taking snuff altogether; for the last six days I have not taken a
single pinch, which only he can appreciate who is himself as
passionate a snuff-taker as I was. Only now I begin to perceive
that snuff was the solitary real enjoyment that I had
occasionally, and now I give that up too. My torture is
indescribable, but I shall persevere; that is settled. Therefore
no more snuff-boxes; in future I accept only orders of merit.

My journey is settled in this manner: August 24th I start from
here, and arrive in Turin on the 29th at the latest. You can
address Poste restante, unless you write to me here first, from
where all my letters will be forwarded to me. Genoa, Spezzia,
Nice, will detain me till I hear from you for certain when and
where our meeting is to be. In the "Carlsruhe Gazette" it was
announced that the Musical Festival had been postponed till
October; will our meeting have to be postponed too? If you cannot
come to Paris, I will of course come to Basle; that is
understood. As you happen to be in Leipzig, very kindly remember
me to Brendel; I wish he could have visited me, and think that we
should have got further in many ways. (Devrient was here when I
and my wife too were absent!) Frau Steche recently wrote to me;
she shall have an answer before I start. Could you lend her a
copy of the "Nibelungen"? B. is not to read it out. Altogether I
am very sorry that I ever had the poem printed; it is not to be
pulled about like this; it still is mine.

Have you received any communication as to "Lohengrin" at Leipzig?
Hartel has left me without an answer for ever so long. I hope I
shall hear soon how the matter stands.

Farewell; ah, farewell. How I envy you your whole existence.
Greet your esteemed friend from me, and arrange so that you both
come to Switzerland soon; in that case something may still become
of me. Adieu, dear, unique friend.


R. W.

ZURICH, August 16th, 1853.


"Sancte Franzisce! ora pro nobis!"

I write to you today from the very first stage of my Italian
journey, because, as fate would have it, I was unable to answer
your last letter from Carlsbad before this. Everything else is
thrown into the shade by our rendezvous in Paris, to which you
have given your consent in so splendid a manner. But now you must
do all in your power to assist me in making it possible. Listen.

The French minister has refused to give me his vise for my
passport to Paris, and today I called on M. Salignac-Fenelon at
Berne and had a long talk with him about it. Here again you must
help me. Salignac, after having become better acquainted with me,
promised that he would write at once to his Government in Paris,
setting forth that, in his opinion, I have been calumniated, that
personally I have inspired him with confidence, etc. He wishes
that you should talk to the French minister at Weimar about this
matter, so that he too might write to Paris and put in a good
word for me. Salignac thinks it would be of good effect if the
Grand Duke himself would say a few words in my favour to the
minister. As I have told them the true object of my journey to
Paris and mentioned Berlioz as one who is to take part in our
meeting, it would be well if you could let Berlioz know at once,
for it is very possible that inquiries may be made of him as to
the truth of my statements. Do get me this vise for Paris. I am
too delighted to think of our meeting. I was in hopes of getting
a few lines from you from Leipzig before my departure, but shall
probably not receive them till I reach Geneva. From the
"Carlsruhe Gazette" I see that the festival is fixed for October
3rd to 5th; to me this delay does not matter, and I hope it does
not to you either. The Hartels recently forwarded to me some
louis d'or on the part of Wirsing, without informing me that you
had been invited to superintend "Lohengrin" at Leipzig or that
you had accepted the invitation. I hope soon to get particulars
from you. I suppose you received my letter at Leipzig. The lazy
H. informs me that he has not yet written to you. What is one to
do? I am on my way to Turin, dearest Franz, where I shall stay a
little time; and if you answer at once, your next letter will
find me there Poste restante. (In any case address Turin until
further notice.) I am out of sorts, and suffer from
sleeplessness. The French vise worries me very much. I should
like so much to meet you in Paris; it would be splendid.

Greet Berlioz for me; he is a funny customer; he has not yet
arrived at the point where millionaires only could be of use to
him. But he is a noble fellow, and all will be right in the end.

Adieu, you best and dearest of all men; continue to love me.



BERNE, August 25th, 1853.



I am back again in Zurich, unwell, low-spirited, ready to die. At
Genoa I became ill, and was terror-struck by my solitary
condition, but I was determined to do Italy, and went on to
Spezzia. My indisposition increased; enjoyment was out of the
question; so I turned back to die or to compose, one or the
other; nothing else remains to me.

Here you have the whole story of my journey, my "Italian

I am anxious because I have had no letter from you for so long.
You received a letter from me at Leipzig; has it annoyed you?
From Berne I wrote to you about the vise of my passport for
France, and you were to send your answer to Turin. If that has
been done, the letter will be forwarded to me. But why is it that
I hear nothing else of you? Has the Carlsruhe festival been
postponed, and will it be too late for you to come to Paris? I
must be content; I want to see you, wherever it may be; if Zurich
is too far for you, I will come to Basle. Paris begins almost to
be unpleasant to me in my imagination; I am afraid of Berlioz.
With my bad French, I am simply lost.

I have found many silly letters here, amongst others the enclosed
from Director Engel, of Kroll's establishment, Berlin. It seems
to me as if I could scarcely accept his proposition. May I leave
the matter to you, and will you kindly take the decision upon
yourself? In order to know what may be useful or detrimental, one
must have a local knowledge, which I cannot possibly acquire
here. Could you through Kroll, SchafFer, and others make
inquiries which would enable you to judge of the effect of such
an undertaking as that projected by Engel? To me this
"Tannhauser" on the concert platform is horrible, in spite of the
six louis d'or for each performance. Of course I cannot tell
whether, apart from the absurdity of the thing, it would not be
well to keep the fire alight in Berlin. It seems certain that in
the higher regions there everything is as dull as possible, and
that no decisive step in my favour will be made in that quarter.
I wish you would simply say "Yes" or "No." How about Leipzig? I
can get no real information from there. It is very long since I
heard anything of you!

Alas! I am out of sorts and God-forsaken. I feel so lonely, and
yet do not want to see any one. What a miserable existence! I
cannot help smiling when I read in B.'s paper the articles by R.
F.'s brother-in-law; the man thinks he is going thoroughly to the
bottom of the thing, because he is so moderate and cautious; he
knows very little of me. Formerly I was very sensitive to being
fumbled about in this manner; at present I am quite indifferent,
because I know that this kind of thing does not touch me at all.
If these people would but know that I wish to be entirely happy
only once, and after that should not care to exist any more! Oh
for the leathern immortality of india-rubber, which these people
think it necessary to attribute to one by way of reward!

Adieu, dearest and best. See that we soon possess each other
again, otherwise I shall go from bad to worse.

Adieu, dear Franz.



ZURICH, September 12th, 1853.



There is a young Frenchman here who lives at Florence, and wants
to become acquainted with my music, in which your pamphlet has
interested him. His journey is arranged chiefly with a view to
hearing my operas, and in order to reward his zeal I thought I
could not very well decline his request of a few lines to you; so
I commend him to your kindness.



ZURICH, September 13th, 1853.


CARLSRUHE, September 19th, 1853.

At last, dearest, unique friend, I am again nearer you, and in a
fortnight or eighteen days we shall meet either at Basle or
Paris. As soon as I know myself I shall send you particulars.
Today I only ask you to send me your passport by return of post,
so that I may transact the affair with the French minister here
in case you have not yet received a definite answer from Berne.
The French minister at Weymar, Baron de Talleyrand, is
unfortunately at present in Scotland, but I think it will require
no special patronage to get the necessary vise. Send me your
passport by return of post, and I will take care of the rest.

At Dresden I stayed lately for more than a fortnight. About
Tichatschek, Fischer (now operatic stage-manager), and the
theatrical affairs there I must tell you several things when I
see you, also about matters at Leipzig. I have settled with Rietz
that I shall be present at the final rehearsals and the first
performance of "Lohengrin," and shall give you an accurate
account of it. When I came to Leipzig, I found a good deal of
gossip about the "Lohengrin" performance current there. But now
it has probably ceased, and you will hear no more of it.

The opera is to be given in the course of November, and, in my
opinion, a very warm reception of your work on the part of the
public may be expected. The fortress of Leipzig has been
conquered for your name and your cause, and even the
"Wohlbekannte" informed me that he had been moved to tears by the
"Lohengrin" finale. If things go on in this way, Leipzig will
soon "Lohengrinize." If there should be a delay of the
performance, it will do no harm; au contraire, and in that
respect even the aforesaid town gossip was not unfavourable. I
shall tell you about all this at length. The matter concerning
Engel I shall settle tomorrow, and shall write to you at once; I
am still a little doubtful whether one ought to accept or not.
Conradi, the Capellmeister, is a friend of mine; and if anything
comes of the matter, I shall put myself in communication with
him. He has known "Tannhauser" ever since the year 1849, when he
was staying at Weymar. Such an undertaking depends largely upon
the manner of execution. For the present I am of opinion that we
ought to be in no hurry about giving our consent; a concert
performance of "Tannhauser" at Kroll's establishment has much
against it, and might probably interfere with the stage
performance which must of necessity follow. Leave the whole
matter to me. H. has a good idea; he thinks that if E. is so
favourably inclined towards spreading your works in Berlin, or
rather towards making money by them, he might arrange a
repetition of your Zurich concerts with the identical programme.
But about this also there is no hurry. On certain conditions I
should be prepared to go to Berlin and undertake the direction of
the three Zurich concerts. I should probably employ the Male
Choir Association which Wieprecht conducts, and of which I have
had the honour of being honorary conductor ever since the year

More about this on an early occasion. In the meantime I think you
will do well to write to E. that you cannot accustom yourself to
the idea of a concert performance of your drama.

Enough for the present.


F. L.

CARLSRUHE, September 20th, 1853.



Very angry as I am with you for having left me without news so
long, you shall have a rose-coloured sheet today in return for
the excellent news of your proximity and of our early meeting. By
return of post I was unable to answer you, because your letter
had to be forwarded to me at Baden, where I stay at intervals
with my wife, who is undergoing a cure there. Enclosed is the
passport. Salignac-Fenelon, the French minister at Berne, has
sent me no news up to date, and it will therefore be well if you
can settle the matter with the minister at Carlsruhe. Even if
Paris had to be given up for the present, which must entirely
depend on you, it will be of importance to me to have the French
vise, so as not to be shut out from Paris and France for the
future. You may safely offer every possible guarantee, and
promise that I shall not mix myself up with any political
matters. I know that this will satisfy the French Government.
They may, moreover, be certain that I shall not permanently stay
in France, but without fail return to Switzerland. For your
communications about Leipzig and Berlin I thank you cordially; as
to Berlin it shall be exactly as you say.

What will happen at Carlsruhe? D. again left me recently without
an answer, probably because I asked him to advance me the
honorarium for "Tannhauser," as I had reason to be anxious about
my income.

By the way, concerning the rendering of the very difficult male
chorus "Im Fruh'n versammelt uns der Ruf," I must ask you to
choose the best singers for it.

For the piano passage (A major, E in the bass) it would be well
if eight soloists were to sing about eight bars by themselves;
the neat, elegant piano cannot be done by a large chorus. (This
is a minor matter.)

You appear to be well and in good spirits; you are a happy man.
From Dresden Julia wrote to me in ecstasy about you; you must
have been very comfortable; a good thing I was not there and
remained alone instead.

Child, I have much to tell you. If matters are to go well, you
must frequently stay in Switzerland; then all will be right.
About this and similar things we shall talk. In the meantime let
me have news from Carlsruhe now and then.

My real life lies always abroad.

God bless you. Take my most joyful greeting and kiss.



ZURICH, September 22nd, 1853.


I have at last hit upon a way of settling your passport affair
which will make it unnecessary for me to have your passport here.
When all is settled, I will let you know how it has been done. I
herewith return your passport and ask you to apply to Fenelon
again, either by letter or personally, when probably he will not
hesitate to affix his vise to your passport. Tell him that you
intend to start for Paris on October 5th at the latest, and that
we two are to meet at Basle. Concerning this meeting I ask you
particularly to be at Basle on the evening of the 6th without
fail. J., Pohl, and probably several others are longing to see
you, and I have promised to take them to you at Basle. I should
like to come again to Zurich, but am too much pressed for time.
At Basle, then, either at the "Storch" or at the "Drei Konige,"
as you prefer. I hope that by that time you will have received
your passport, and we can then at once concoct our journey to

Answer "Yes" without fail, and do not mind the somewhat tedious
journey from Zurich to Basle. Today my rehearsals begin here, and
I shall again have to go to Darmstadt and Mannheim to have
separate rehearsals, till we return here next Saturday for the
general rehearsals. In addition to this, I have to pay my
respects to a number of known and unknown people of all sorts.

Are not your wife and Madame Heim coming to the festival? Let me
know in case they have that intention, for at the last moment it
will be difficult to get tickets.

I am obliged to you for your instruction as to the eight singers
in the A major passage (E in the bass) of the "Lohengrin" chorus,
and shall act upon it. Do not be angry, dearest friend, on
account of my long silence and my insignificant letters. You know
that my whole soul is devoted to you, because I love you
sincerely, and that I always try to serve you as well as I can.



Sunday, September 25th, 1853.

P.S.--It would be the simplest thing if you could go to Berne
yourself; but this is not absolutely necessary, and it will be
sufficient if you write to his Excellency, enclosing your
passport and asking him to return it to you at Zurich by October
3rd. Perhaps it would be better if you were to write, so that he
may forward your letter to Paris. Consider this, and do not
forget that we are to meet at Basle on the evening of October


Best thanks, my dearest Franz. I have just written to M. Fenelon,
enclosing my passport once more. Candidly speaking, the matter
suddenly begins to annoy me very much, and I do not expect a good
result. My wish quite coincides with your plan. I fully
anticipated that Basle could not be avoided altogether; it is
adapted for a meeting with the friends who have come to
Carlsruhe. The excursion to Paris after that concerns us two
alone; so our thoughts have once more been the same.

As to the rest, I am longing to get to work at last. My ordinary
life is unbearable unless I, so to speak, devour myself.
Moreover, I cannot keep my peace, as I particularly want to do,
unless I devote myself to this music.

After your visit, everything came to nothing with me this summer;
no other hope was fulfilled, all went wrong, and--well, we shall
see whether I get this passport.

The day after tomorrow week, we shall meet! (I wish it were the
day after tomorrow.) Will you, or shall I, engage the hotel? Let
it be the "Drei Konige;" they have nice rooms there and a balcony
looking over the Rhine; let us engage some of those. You are once
more in the middle of your exertions, and I must almost envy you;
I at least realize by such exertions alone that I am alive. Rest
is death to me; and if sometimes I go in quest of it,--I mean
that other rest; the beautiful, the joyful,--I feel that in
reality it must be nothing but death, but real, noble, perfect
death, not this death in life which I die from day to day.

Adieu, dearest friend.

What a blessing that you have no double!

Au revoir soon! Your


ZURICH, September 29th, 1853.



It just occurs to me that in "Lohengrin" I have forgotten to mark
the tempo in one place, which I discovered only when I conducted
it here--I mean in the "Bridal Song" in D major, after the second
solo passage of the eight women, the last eight bars before the
tempo primo.

[Figure: a musical score]

Here the tempo is to be considerably slower even than at the
first entry of the D major; the impression must be one of solemn
emotion, or else the intention is lost.

How are you?

Today week!


R. W.

September 29th, 1853.

In the "Bridal Procession" (E flat), where the first tempo
reappears in the woodwind,

[Figure: a musical score]

that woodwind ought to be doubled.


I have promised the concert score of the "Lohengrin" pieces to
Apt, director of the "Cacilienverein," Prague; therefore kindly
leave word at Carlsruhe that this score is to be sent immediately
after the last concert to Apt in Prague; the parts to go back

Yesterday you had the general rehearsal; I am always with you.

The day after tomorrow! I say, "The day after tomorrow!"



R. W.

ZURICH. October 2nd, 1853.


Here I stand and stare after you; my whole being is silence; let
me not seek words, even for you. Speech seems to exist only to do
violence to feeling. Therefore no violence, but silence!

I have not much news for you from the "world." Tomorrow I start
for home, but shall see your children before I go. Madame Kalergy
I did not find at home and am doubtful whether I shall see her.
Make my excuses to her.

From Zurich I shall write to you again. Be thanked for your
blissful love! Greet the Princess and the Child! Can I write
more? Ah, I am all feeling. My intellect is within my heart, but
from my heart I cannot write to you.

Farewell, farewell, you dear beloved ones.



PARIS October 26th, 1853.


I suppose you have nothing to write to me, dear Franz, or else
you would have sent me a few lines.

Your children told me that they had had a letter from you,
telling them that you had quickly got to Weimar and had lived
there quietly till your birthday without seeing anybody. On your
birthday I made some music in Paris; I had at last to offer
something to my two or three old Paris friends, one of whom you

Erard sent me a grand pianoforte, which has filled me with a
fanatical desire to perform some flights on it, even if I had
still to learn fingering. So then I began to "Tannhauser" and to
"Lohengrin" on the Boulevard des Italiens as if you were with us.
The poor devils could not understand why I was beside myself.
However, it went better than at Madame Kalergy's, although you
were present then. Why?--Madame Kalergy I did not see again, but
I hope the few lines I sent her have made my excuses. Apart from
this, I received a visit from an agent de police, who, after I
had passed my examination satisfactorily, assured me that I might
stay in Paris a whole month. My answer that I should leave sooner
astonished him, and he repeated that I might stop a whole month.
The good man! dear Paris!, The Emperor also I saw. What more can
one desire?

The day before yesterday I arrived here. Peps received me
joyfully at the carriage, and in return I gave him a beautiful
collar, engraved with his name, which has become sacred to me. He
never leaves my side; in the morning he comes to my bed to awake
me. He is a dear, good animal. The minster of Strassburg I saw
again; my good wife stood with me in front of it. It was dull,
rainy weather. The divine point of the tower we could not see; it
was covered by mist. How different from that other day, the
sacred Sunday before the minster!

Let it be night; the stars shine then. I look upwards and behold;
for me also there shines a star.

Farewell, and greet the dear ones. Today the Rhinegold was
coursing through my veins; if it is to be, if it cannot be
otherwise, you shall have a work of art that will give you

Dear, unique friend, remember your poor



The "pale mariner" has once more gone across the stage here, and
in his honour I yesterday occupied the conductor's seat again,
after an interval of eight months.

With the "Flying Dutchman" I left the orchestra for a time at the
beginning of last March, and with the same work I resume my
connection with the theatre for this season.

You may assume that my passion for your tone and word-poems is
the only reason why I do not give up my activity as a conductor.
Small as may be the result that I can achieve, it is not, I
think, altogether illusory. We have arranged a Wagner week; and
the "Flying Dutchman," "Tannhauser," and "Lohengrin" have taken
firm ground and cast deep roots here. All the rest is moonshine
to me with the sole exception of Berlioz's "Cellini." For this
work I retain my great predilection, which you will not think
uncalled for when you know it better.

Next week I shall have to rehearse "Tell," and the opera will be
given in a fortnight. "Tannhauser" will follow immediately
afterwards. As our new tenor, Dr. Liebert, a very willing,
industrious, and gifted singer, has never sung the part, I shall
go through it with him separately once or twice. In all
probability the performance this year will be better than the
previous ones. The "Flying Dutchman" was given yesterday, to the
increased satisfaction of the public. Milde and his wife acted
and sang beautifully, and I may assume that you would have
witnessed the performance without grumbling, although our weak
chorus is a fatal evil. Four or five new engagements have been
made for the chorus, but that of course is by no means

Immediately after my return, I proposed to Zigesar to give
"Lohengrin," with Tichatschek and Johanna, on the evening when
the court visits the theatre again. (The strict mourning will
last several months still, and during that time the court box
remains empty and dark.) If no special impediments arise, that
performance will take place. Up till then I shall conduct only
your two operas, "Tell" and Dorn's "Nibelungen."

Of my personal affairs I say nothing. The poor Princess sends her
friendliest greetings. She is troubled with a large mass of
correspondence of the most unpleasant kind. May God grant that
next summer we enter a new stage of the status quo, and that our
Zurich trip need not be delayed after the end of June. Your
"Rhinegold" is ready, is it not? Bestir yourself, dearest friend.
Work is the only salvation on this earth. Sing and write,
therefore, and get rid of your brain abscess by that means.
Perhaps your sleep will become a little more reposeful in the
same manner. Kind remembrances to your wife from your


October 31 1853.

Do you remember a Herr Friedrich Schmitt, professor of singing at
Munich? Have you read his pamphlet, and what do you think of it?
Write me two words about it. How about Tyszkiewiz? Did you see
him at Paris several times after I had left?



My threat that I should once more lay you under contribution in
an impudent manner must today be realized. Listen to me! I feel
so hale and hearty at my work that I may expect everything--not
only the success of my music, but better health as well--if I can
only stick to it without interruption and yield to my splendid
mood without anxiety. If I had to get up in the morning without
taking at once to my music, I should be unhappy. This is the
first day I break into in order, if possible, to get rid once for
all of this fear which follows me like a treacherous spectre. For
that reason I must arrange my money affairs so as not to be
molested by them any longer. This I can do by selling my
theatrical royalties on Lohengrin. By the peculiar character of
this income I am kept in a state of strange and most painful
excitement. Although it is tolerably certain that my two last
operas will be given at all German theatres, as "Tannhauser" has
already been at most of them, the time when they may be asked for
and paid for is so uncertain that I, being largely dependent upon
this income, often get into a fatally unsettled state of mind, in
which my sanguine temperament is apt to suggest to me that the
royalties to be expected are nearer than they really are. By that
means I overrate my immediate income, and consequently spend
considerably more than I possess. By the occasional and illusory
character of these theatrical royalties and by my certainly
indefensible liking for a pleasanter way of life than I have led
these last years, I have been placed in the position of having to
pay large sums next Christmas without being able to reckon upon
any income whatever with certainty. Even if the case were not as
urgent as it is, this eternal waiting upon chance, this continual
expectation of the postman, whether he is going to bring me an
offer or a favourable answer, are so troublesome, so humiliating
and disturbing to me, that I am compelled to think of a radical
cure, and for that purpose I want you to assist me with the
Hartels. I propose to sell to the Hartels the copyright of the
score of "Lohengrin," including the right of selling it to
theatrical managers, with the following exceptions only:--

1. The court theatres of Berlin, Vienna, and Munich, which will
have to acquire the performing rights of "Lohengrin" from me.

2. The theatres of Weimar, Dresden, Wiesbaden, and Leipzig, which
have already obtained those performing rights from me. A list of
the theatres which will have to apply to the new proprietor will
be found on the enclosed sheet. It includes all those theatres
which have already successfully produced "Tannhauser" or will
produce it soon, as may be safely predicted from these
precedents. In the case of the twenty-two theatres to which I
have already sold "Tannhauser" the amount of the honorarium
received has been indicated; and for the correctness of these
indications, as well as for the fact that I am not going to let
the other fifteen theatres have it cheaper than is in each case
stated, I pledge my word of honour. The aggregate income from the
twenty-two and from the fifteen theatres I calculate, as the
enclosure shows, at six hundred and thirty-two louis d'or; and
the question is now what sum I can demand of the purchaser of
"Lohengrin," including the theatrical rights, on condition that
he pays me in cash by Christmas of the present year; that is, by
December 20th, 1853.

I should prefer to apply to Messrs. Hartel in this matter--(1)
because they would be the most respectable purchasers; (2)
because they are the publishers of the score and pianoforte
arrangements, and are therefore interested in the success of the
whole; and (3) because this would at last give me an opportunity
of coming to terms with them as to a proper honorarium for the
copyright of "Lohengrin."

If Messrs. Hartel remember in what circumstances I at that time
offered them the publication of "Lohengrin"; if they call to mind
that I expressly told them that I did not believe in the success
of my operas, at least during my lifetime, and that therefore I
looked upon their undertaking the publication simply as a
sacrifice, which they made in the interest of a hopeless but
respectable cause; if they bear me out in saying that I myself
acknowledged the wiping out of an old debt (of the settlement of
which they had, on account of my position, the very remotest
chance) to be in these hopeless circumstances a sacrifice on
their part, but that at the same time I expressed my conviction
that in case, against all expectation, "Lohengrin" should turn
out a success, and its publication a good speculation, they would
think of me in a generous manner--in case of all this these
gentlemen will not consider it unfair or inopportune if I look
upon the circumstances as changed to such an extent that I may
now think of some profit for myself. In the first instance it is
a fact confirmed to me by repeated observations and experiences
that even before there was a sign of a further spreading of these
operas by means of theatrical and concert performances the
publication of my works had developed into an exceptionally good
business, entirely through means of Weimar and of your efforts,
dearest friend. In consequence of some concerts, and recently the
incredibly successful performance at Wiesbaden, this has become
more and more certain, and nothing similar has perhaps ever
happened to an opera before it had been made known by the leading
theatres. It has also been shown that wherever parts of it were
performed the music of "Lohengrin" was much more attractive even
than that of "Tannhauser", although the latter also occupies the
theatres and the public to such a degree that it everywhere
prepares the way for "Lohengrin". It may therefore be confidently
assumed that "Lohengrin", after the example of "Tannhauser", will
make the round of all the theatres and secure the favour of the
public even more lastingly than the latter, which has been the
saving of more than one manager. In such circumstances, while
thanking the Messrs. Hartel for undertaking the publication in
the first instance, I venture to remind them of a debt of honour
in the sense that they should allow me to have my share in this
success of the business. If, in accordance with their generous
turn of mind, I may expect Messrs. Hartel to be favourably
inclined towards this--especially as at the time they undertook
the matter less for the sake of gain than of honour--the question
would only be in what manner they should assign to me my share of
the profits. Perhaps they would be very willing to let me have a
certain portion of the money accruing from the sale of detached
parts of the opera. I remember that when, ten years ago, I
proposed to them the publication of the "Flying Dutchman," they
offered me the profits of the sale of the large pianoforte score
after fifty or a hundred copies had been disposed of. Lucrative
as my share might turn out in this manner, yet this kind of
income would show the same unsatisfactory and painful features
already complained of in connection with the uncertain theatrical
royalties, which therefore I should like to sell outright. I
should then prefer a sum payable at once, and all that we need
find out is the price, fair to both parties. For that purpose I
may first mention the step which I have fixed upon taking in
order to make the copyright of "Lohengrin" much more valuable
than otherwise it would be--I mean the publication of separate
vocal and pianoforte pieces. We all know that the so-called
morceaux detaches are the chief source of profit in the case of
operas; to publish such would in the case of "Lohengrin" be
impossible on account of the peculiar character of the opera, in
which there are no single vocal pieces that in a manner detach
themselves from the context. I alone, being the composer, was
able to separate a number of the most attractive vocal pieces
from the whole by means of rearranging and cutting them and
writing an introduction and a close to them, etc. Nine such
pieces, short, easy, and even popular, I gave you some time ago,
asking you to keep them till further order and then send them to
Messrs. Hartel; they may be published as arranged by me. In
addition to this, I indicated to B. five numbers, arranged in a
similar manner as the vocal pieces, only longer, which he is to
transfer to the pianoforte as independent and melodious pieces.
By that manner the bad impression of the pianoforte scores
without words, arranged without my concurrence, and perfectly
useless, would be obviated.

Apart from adding in this way to the value of the copyright, I
have opened to my publishers an unexpected source of income by
transferring to them the right of printing the librettos for the
theatres. How very lucrative this generally acknowledged right is
may be seen from the fact that in one winter six thousand copies
of the libretto of "Tannhauser" were ordered for Breslau alone.
Messrs. Hartel offered to share the profits of the sale of
librettos with me, but in this case also I prefer to take at once
a lump sum, to be settled upon. After having stated in this
manner what I offer to my publishers for sale, I think it
appropriate to name the lump sum which I think I may ask.

The receipts from the theatres (with the exception of those
specified) I have in the above calculated at six hundred and
thirty-two louis d'or. This is a minimum which, no doubt, could
be considerably increased. I have already announced to the
theatres that they will have to pay more for "Lohengrin" than for
"Tannhauser." Breslau, for example, would certainly have to pay
at the least twenty-five louis d'or, as they did for the "Flying
Dutchman," instead of twenty; I might even insist on thirty.
Apart from this, I have not mentioned all the theatres; I have,
for example, omitted Ratisbon, Innsbruck, and others, although
even the smallest theatres have attempted "Tannhauser;" Zurich
also I have not mentioned. In addition to this, I place at the
disposal of the purchasers the non-German theatres abroad, such
as Petersburg, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, etc., with the
exception, however, of London and Paris. All this and everything
accruing from the copyright I should cede to the Messrs. Hartel
for the sum of 15,000 francs (I have calculated the theatrical
receipts at a minimum of 13,000 francs), payable in full at
Zurich on December 20th.

I wish very much that this or something similar could be brought
about, so that I might be able to dispose of the next few years--
those most important working years--and to keep them clear of all
mean anxieties. If you consider, dearest Franz, that I do not
offer rubbish for sale, that in the future this opera and
"Tannhauser" alone are likely to yield me an income--I do not
wish, even in my thoughts, to soil the "Nibelungen" with Jewish
calculations, so as to keep them, if possible, quite clean in
this respect also--if you, finally, go through my general, but I
think accurate and by no means chimerical, calculations, you will
perhaps find my demand fair enough and--now I am coming to it--

support it with the Hartels.

This I ask you fervently to do.

An opportunity will be offered to you by the impending
performance of "Lohengrin" at Leipzig. No one of course can
compel the Hartels to undertake the purchase, even for a smaller
sum; but if any one can, it is you, and therefore I had to apply
to you.

Perish all this Jewish business! Today has been a bad, musicless
day; out of doors also it is grey and misty; let us hope tomorrow
will be better.

Farewell, my most unique, my dearest friend.



ZURICH, November 16th, 1853.



I returned last night from Leipzig with a bad cold; and the
enclosed letter from Hartel, which I found here, has made my cold
and my temper worse. When I went to Leipzig on December 1st, I
spoke to the Hartels about your proposal, and showed them your
letter, because that document explains the matter clearly and
comprehensively. I have known the Hartels for years to be
respectable and comme il faut, and therefore flattered myself
that they would meet your wish in one way or another. Such,
however, is unfortunately not the case; and I am in the
unpleasant position of having to forward you a refusal. It is
just possible that they were a little riled by your dislike of
the pianoforte arrangement for four hands, which I think quite
justified and natural on your part. I was unable to conceal this
detail from them, because I think it of some importance for all
further copyright transactions. The Hartels belong to the
"moderate party of progress," and are influenced by several
friends of the so-called historic school. Jahn especially is a
great friend of Dr. Hartel's; and your and my friends Pohl,
Ritter, Brendel, etc., are a little in their bad books.

Tomorrow week (December 21st) "Lohengrin" is announced at
Leipzig, but probably the first performance will be delayed till
the 26th (Boxing Day). In any case I shall go over for the two
last general rehearsals and for the first performance, and shall
send you an accurate account. Rietz is said to be very careful
with the orchestral rehearsals, taking the woodwind, the brass,
and the strings separately. Altogether the "Lohengrin"
performance at Leipzig has been very well prepared, and a
decisive and permanent success of the work may be anticipated
with certainty.

Berlioz has had his revanche for his previous appearance at the
Gewandhaus by the two performances of his works which took place
at the Gewandhaus December lst and nth, under his own direction.
I was present on both occasions, and shall tell you more about it
when we meet. Today he returns to Paris, and at the end of April
he is coming to Dresden, where Luttichau has offered him the
chance of conducting two concerts at the theatre. There is also
some talk of a musical festival under Berlioz's direction at
Brunswick next summer, where his Requiem and Te Deum are to be

"Tannhauser" will be given here next Sunday. I have studied the
part with Liebert, and think that he will do it well. The whole
finale of the second act will be given, also the new close with
the reappearance of Venus, and on an early occasion I mean to
restore the sixteen bars in the adagio of the finale of the
second act which I believe T. had cut; that is, if you agree. It,
however, always requires some prudence and caution to make
similar changes here, especially as the theatre is to be
conducted more than ever on economic principles, etc.

How is Herwegh? I shall write to him this week for certain. Since
my return to Weymar I have been plagued in many ways; my chief
business is almost in a worse state than before, but there is not
as yet any definite result. Pardon me, dearest Richard, if I pass
this over in silence; you know that generally it is my way if I
can say nothing good....

I should have liked much to send you a different answer from the
Hartels; but, alas! it cannot be helped. Be of good courage,
nevertheless, and work at your Rhinegold. Next summer I hope to
visit you and to stay with you for some time. My best
remembrances to your wife. The honey she sent me is splendid, and
I am always rejoiced to look at it when it is put on the table in
the morning with my coffee.

Farewell, dearest Richard, and write soon to


F. L.

WEYMAR. December 13th, 1853.

Hoplit's pamphlet about the Carlsruhe Musical Festival you have
probably received. At Christmas I shall send you the Kunstler
chorus, which is being autographed in full score.



Two words today in great haste. I am angry with myself for having
burdened an overpatient friend like you with this Hartel affair.
Pardon me. It is all over now, and (D.V.) you will hear nothing
more about this Jewish business. I am, it is true, for the moment
in an awkward position, but you must not mind that. Are you out
of temper?

But you are composing. The Princess has written to me about it.
You must surprise me soon!

I spin myself in like a cocoon, but I also spin something out of
myself. For five years I had written no music; now I am in
Nibelheim. Mime made his complaint today. Unfortunately I was
last month taken ill with a feverish cold, which disabled me for
ten days; otherwise the sketch would have been ready this year.
At times also my somewhat cloudy situation disturbs me; there is
at present an ominous calm around me. But by the end of January I
must be ready. Enough for today. I have many things to tell you,
but my head is burning. There is something wrong with me; and
sometimes, with lightning-like rapidity, the thought flashes
through me that it would be better, after all, if I died. But
that has nothing to do with my writing music. Adieu. Greet the
Princess and the Child many times. Soon more from



ZURICH, December 17th, 1853.

P.S.--You will have another letter very soon.


Many thanks, you dear bringer of Christmas cheer. You come like a
true saviour to me, and I have placed you on my work-table, as on
an altar. Thanks, a thousand thanks, to you for coming. I was
very lonely.

If I had a sweetheart, I think I should never write to her, and
to you also I must write little--I mean writing apart from
relating external events. The events I experience within me I can
write of all the less, because I could not even tell them, so
necessary is it to me to feel or--to act.

I know that I shall have another letter from you soon, because
you have something to relate to me; so I am proud, and rely upon
it, and keep my peace, telling you thereby that I love you
sincerely with all my heart.


R. W.

ZURICH, December 25th, 1853.


Thursday, December 29th, 1853.

WEYMAR,--just returned from Leipzig.

After waiting in vain yesterday and the day before at Leipzig for
"Lohengrin," I returned here today. Probably the performance will
not take place for a few days; at present nothing can be settled,
because now Elsa, now the King or Telramund, is ill, or because
the bass clarinet ordered from Erfurt has not arrived; and when
it does arrive at Leipzig, it is not certain whether the
clarinet-player there will be able to play it, etc., etc.

David and Pohl had informed me Monday evening that the general
rehearsal would take place on Tuesday. I had to conduct
"Tannhauser" here on Monday, December 26th. This was the second
performance with Liebert as "Tannhauser;" the first took place on
the preceding Sunday (December 18th), the subscription being on
both occasions suspended--an unprecedented fact at Weymar in
connection with an opera which had reached its fifteenth
performance. House crowded, so that on the first occasion many
people had to be refused admission. Performance upon the whole
satisfactory; Liebert in places excellent. The tempi were slower
than Tichatschek takes them, just as I had studied them with
Liebert; for I had been obliged again to have five or six
rehearsals of "Tannhauser." Your metronomical indications I
naturally accepted as my rule, which formerly I had not been able
to do--69 for the song of "Tannhauser," 70 or thereabouts for the
D major passage of Wolfram, etc. The impression on the whole
public was striking and inspiriting. The Mildes were called
Liebert was called, and even my nose had to show itself at the
end. In brief, the two evenings gave me a degree of pleasure
which only my fear that you, glorious, dearest, best of friends,
might be in trouble, could impair.

But to continue. Tuesday, at 3 a.m., with the thermometer at
twenty degrees below zero, I and Cornelius took the train in
order to be at Leipzig in time for the "Lohengrin" rehearsal at
8.30 a.m. I at once sent word to David, who informed me that the
rehearsal would not take place, on account of the indisposition
of Herr Schott (King Henry). David soon afterwards called on me,
and gave me hopes for another day. Yesterday they sent a telegram
here to summon the Mildes, for Brassin and Frau Meyer also had
been taken ill, but Zigesar would not permit the Mildes to go to
Leipzig, because the "Flying Dutchman" is announced here for New
Year's Day. At last this morning I am credibly informed that some
days must elapse before "Lohengrin" is given at Leipzig. They
promised to let me know by telegram as soon as anything was
settled; and if I can possibly manage, I shall again go to
Leipzig, in order to give you an account of the performance.

In the meanwhile I have handed the nine pieces from "Lohengrin,"
which H. had recently sent me, to the Hartels; and you will have
a letter about them together with these lines, as Dr. Hartel
assured me yesterday that he would write to you direct and
without delay. En fin de compte: The Hartels are very
trustworthy; and if you will permit me, I advise you to make use
of their excellent and well-deserved reputation as publishers,
because I feel convinced that later on your relations with them
will turn out very satisfactory. As you have appointed me your
humble court-counsellor, I add the remark that you will be well
advised in insisting upon H.'s name being inserted in the title-
page of the Lohengrin pieces, for there is no rational cause for
refusing H. this satisfaction, which he has fully deserved by his
faithful and energetic adherence to you as well as by his actual

The Hartels will finally agree to this, and I have spoken to them
in that sense. Of course in similar affairs I have to take the
mild position of a mediator, which now and then is a little
troublesome. However, so it must be; and side issues must not be
allowed to impede or endanger the principal question. If
therefore you reply to the Hartels, write to them that you
specially desire to have the name of H., as the author of the
pianoforte arrangement of your "Lohengrin" pieces, inserted in
their edition, and that if you write other operas later on you
intend to entrust H. with the pianoforte arrangement. H. is
devoted to you heart and soul, and you may feel sure that he will
do the work to your satisfaction. However, if you like, I will
revise the arrangement and after that send it to you, so that not
a single note may remain which does not please you and is not in
accordance with the design of the composition as well as with the
requirements of the pianoforte. On New Year's Day we shall have
the "Flying Dutchman" here. The two last performances of
"Tannhauser" have made Weymar your official "Moniteur" amongst
theatres; and, without flattering myself, I venture to doubt
whether your works have been performed anywhere else in an
equally satisfactory manner all round. For next year, for
example, a new hall of Castle Wartburg is being painted, also a
bridal chamber for the third act of "Lohengrin," etc. Several a
little more expensive dresses have been ordered, and in May
Tichatschek and probably Johanna will play Lohengrin and Ortrud.
All that is possible has been done. The impossible you will
provide in the "Rhinegold." How far have you got with it? Shall I
have the score in May, according to promise? Go on with it
bravely! As soon as you have finished, the rest will follow.

Forget all about Philistia and Jewry, but remember cordially



I presume you have received the medallion which the Princess sent
you. In the first week of the new year I shall send you the score
of my "Kunstler" chorus, which I have had autographed here.
Devote a quarter of an hour to it, and tell me plainly your
opinion of the composition, which of course I look upon only as a
stepping-stone to other things. If you find it bad, bombastic,
mistaken, tell me so without hesitation. You may be convinced
that I am not in the least vain of my works; and if I do not
produce anything good and beautiful all my life, I shall none the
less continue to feel genuine and cordial pleasure in the
beautiful and good things which I recognize and admire in others.

Farewell, and God be with you.




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