Wagner as Man & Artist

Wagner as Man & Artist
Title: Wagner as Man & Artist
Release Date: 2018-10-10
Type book: Text
Copyright Status: Public domain in the USA.
Date added: 27 March 2019
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WAGNER AS MAN AND ARTIST

[i]

BY THE SAME AUTHOR

GLUCK AND THE OPERA.

A STUDY OF WAGNER.

WAGNER (The Music of the Masters).

MUSICAL STUDIES.

ELGAR (The Music of the Masters).

HUGO WOLF.

RICHARD STRAUSS (Living Masters of Music).

&c., &c.

wagner-cosima
RICHARD AND COSIMA WAGNER.

WAGNER
AS MAN & ARTIST

BY

ERNEST NEWMAN

ilo-tp

MCMXIV
LONDON & TORONTO
J. M. DENT AND SONS LTD.

All rights reserved

TO

MRS. BERKELEY OF SPETCHLEY

PREFACE

Some apology is perhaps needed from an author for writing threebooks on the same subject. I can only plead in extenuation thatthe subject of Wagner is inexhaustible; and I am defiant enoughto refuse to pledge myself not to repeat the offence in anotherten years or so. It is possible that readers who have done me thehonour to make themselves familiar with my Study of Wagner(1899) may discover that in the present book I express myselfdifferently upon one or two points. My defence is that even amusical critic may be allowed to learn something in the course offifteen years; and I can only hope that if here and there I havechanged sides since then, the side I am now on is that of theangels.

In spite of the size of this volume, many readers will no doubtfeel that it either discusses inadequately several aspects ofWagner's work and personality, or that it passes them over altogether.Again I plead guilty; but to have followed Wagner upin every one of his many-sided activities,—in all his political,ethical, economic, ethnical, sociological and other speculations—wouldhave necessitated not one book but four. I have tried tokeep within the limits of my title—first of all to study Wagneras a man, and then his theory and practice as a musician. Hisoperas are now so universally known that I could afford todispense with detailed accounts of them; in any case the readerwill find them fully described in a hundred books, and best ofall in Mr. Runciman's admirable Richard Wagner, Composer ofOperas—though I must dissent from Mr. Runciman's views onParsifal. Nor could I bring myself to attempt a biography ofWagner. A new biography, incorporating all the material thatthe last ten years have placed at our disposal, is urgently needed.The work of Glasenapp is copious enough and fairly accurate,[viii]but it is hopelessly uncritical of Wagner either as man or artist,—tosay nothing of its occasional lapses into the disingenuous.But even if I had felt that I were qualified for a new biographyof Wagner I should have shrunk appalled from the magnitudeof the task. I have preferred to give the reader a chronologicaldigest of Wagner's life in the Synthetic Table at the conclusionof the present volume, and for the rest to try to reconstructhim as man and musician from his own letters, his autobiography,the letters and reminiscences of others, his prose works, and hismusic. As the book is going to press I learn that a new editionof his correspondence, containing some two thousand hithertounpublished letters, is to appear under the editorship of that indefatigableWagner researcher Dr. Julius Kapp. But it ought tobe possible to reconstruct the man from the 2700 letters of his thatwe already have, though the picture will no doubt need somefilling-in and perhaps some corrections in detail when Dr. Kapp'sedition is available. With the expiration of the Wagner copyrights,and the passing of the control of his letters out of thehands of Villa Wahnfried, we may hope for a higher standardof literary rectitude in these matters than we have been accustomedto in the past. The earlier, and even some of the later,editions of the letters have been so manipulated as to be thoroughlymisleading. I have drawn attention to one or two of these manipulationsin the following pages.

I have made all translations from the prose works, the letters,the autobiography, &c., direct from the originals. This has necessitatedreferring to them throughout in the German editions;but no one who has the current English versions will have anydifficulty in tracing any particular passage by means of dates andindices. I cannot hope that with prose so involved as that ofWagner's I have always been able to achieve perfect accuracy;but I am consoled by the consciousness that native Germanscholars to whom I have referred a few passages have been aspuzzled over them as myself.

I have used Wagner's prose works in the latest edition (thefifth) of the Gesammelte Schriften und Dichtungen (always referredto in the following pages as G.S.), the Wagner-Liszt correspondencein the new and expanded and more conscientiously edited[ix]third edition, and all the other letters in the latest editions available.The operas are always referred to in the new Breitkopfedition.

I have to express my thanks to several friends for help of onekind and another,—to Mr. Bertram Dobell, the publisher of myearlier Study of Wagner, for allowing me to make whatever use Iliked of that book for the present one; to Messrs. Breitkopf andHärtel for placing at my disposal a set of proofs of the full scoresof Wagner's earliest unpublished operas, Die Hochzeit and DieFeen, and proofs of a number of other unpublished compositionsof his; and, above all, for lending me the manuscript score of thestill unpublished opera Das Liebesverbot. I am indebted also toProfessor H. G. Fiedler, Mr. R. A. Streatfeild, and other friendsfor assistance of various sorts.

Some of the matter of the book has already appeared in theFortnightly Review, the Contemporary Review, the Nation, theNew Music Review (New York), the International (New York),the Musical Times, and the Harvard Musical Review. My thanksare due to the editors of these journals for permission to reproducesuch portions of the articles as I desired to make use of here.

E. N.

CONTENTS

 INTRODUCTION 
  PAGE
 General Credibility of "Mein Leben"1
 The Hornstein Case6
 The Lachner Case12
 The Hanslick Case19
 CHAPTER I 
 THE MAN 
I. Childhood24
II. The Apel Correspondence26
III. Dislike of Critics28
IV. Asperities of Temper33
V. Minna and the Wagnerians: The Case of Fips36
VI. Wagner and Minna42
VII. The Jessie Laussot Episode45
VIII. In Love with Minna57
IX. After Marriage67
X. The Mathilde Wesendonck Affair84
XI. His Dual Nature100
XII. Later Loves106
XIII. Cosima von Bülow114
XIV. Contrarieties of Character: Love of Luxury120
XV. Egoism in Friendship128
XVI. General Characteristics137
 CHAPTER II 
 THE ARTIST IN THEORY 
I. His Early Italianism146
II. Coming to Himself150
III. The Awakening in Paris155
IV. Æsthetic Principles157
V. Essay on the Overture163
VI. Fermentation in Dresden172
VII. Political and Artistic Ideals174
VIII. "Art and Revolution"176
IX. "The Art-Work of the Future"180
X. "Opera and Drama"185
XI. His Insensitiveness to the Other Arts203
XII. The Musician dominating the Poet208
XIII. Wagner and Beethoven212
XIV. Beethoven a Tone-Poet215
XV. Symphonic and Dramatic Form220
XVI. Wagner's Symphonic Lineage223
XVII. Poetic Music and the Programme228
XVIII. Contradictions between Theory and Practice230
 CHAPTER III 
 THE ARTIST IN PRACTICE 
I. The Early Miscellaneous Works238
II. The Earliest Operas246
III. The Operas of the Second Period257
IV. The Mature Artist: 
1. The "Philosophy" of the Operas266
2. The New Style of the "Ring"270
3. The Early Leit-Motive272
4. The Leit-Motive in the "Ring"274
5. The Later Condensation of the Leit-Motive277
6. Singularities in his Use of the Leit-Motive282
7. The Voice and the Orchestra288
8. Poetry, Drama, and Music292
9. The Pregnancy of his Themes301
10. His Power of Dramatic Characterisation302
11. The Pictorial Element in his Music307
12. Some General Characteristics of his Style312
13. "Parsifal"315
14. His Lineage and Posterity321
 Appendix A. The Racial Origin of Wagner326
          "          B. Wagner and Super-Wagner335
 Synthetic Table of Wagner's Life and Works and
Synchronous Events
 
359
 Index381

ILLUSTRATIONS

RICHARD AND COSIMA WAGNERFrontispiece
(From Chamberlain, "Richard Wagner," published by
F. Bruckmann, Munich.
)
WAGNER'S MOTHERface page 26
(From Chamberlain, "Richard Wagner," published by
F. Bruckmann, Munich.
)
MINNA WAGNER "     "      56
(From Chamberlain, "Richard Wagner" published by
F. Bruckmann, Munich.
)
WAGNER.From a photograph taken in Paris in 1861,with facsimile of signature "     "     106
(From Chamberlain, "Richard Wagner," published by
F. Bruckmann, Munich.
)
WAGNER IN THE TRISTAN PERIOD "     "     144
(By permission, F. Bruckmann, Munich.)
RICHARD WAGNER, 1877 "     "     236
(From Chamberlain, "Richard Wagner," published by
F. Bruckmann, Munich.
)
RICHARD WAGNER "     "     278
(From the painting by H. Herkomer at Bayreuth.)
WAGNER: THE LAST PHOTOGRAPH "     "     320
(From Chamberlain, "Richard Wagner," published by
F. Bruckmann, Munich.
)
LUDWIG GEYER "     "     326
(From Chamberlain, "Richard Wagner," published by
F. Bruckmann, Munich.
)

[xvi]

WAGNER
AS MAN AND ARTIST

INTRODUCTION

While there is at present no adequate Life of Wagner, there isprobably more biographical material available in connection withhim than with any other artist who has ever lived; and on thebasis of this material it seems justifiable now to attempt—whatwas impossible until the publication of Mein Leben in 1911—acomplete and impartial psychological estimate of him. Therehas probably never been a more complex artist, and certainly neveranything like so complex a musician. A soul and a character somultiform as this are an unending joy to the student of humannature. It has been Wagner's peculiar misfortune to have beentaken, willy-nilly, under the protection of a number of worthypeople who combine the maximum of good intentions with theminimum of critical insight. They have painted for us a Wagnerso impeccable in all his dealings with men and women—especiallywomen—a Wagner so invariably wise of speech, a Wagner sobrutally sinned against and so pathetically incapable of sinning,that one needs not to have read a line of his at first hand to knowthat the portrait is a parody—that no such figure could ever haveexisted outside a stained-glass window, or, if it had, could everhave had the energy to impress itself upon the imagination ofmankind even for a day. The real Wagner may be hard enoughto disentangle from the complications and contradictions presentedby his life, his letters, his prose works, his music, his autobiography,and the testimonies of his friends and enemies; but in the case ofno man is the attempt better worth making. For the enduringinterest of his character, with its perpetual challenge to construc[2]tivepsychology, is in the manysidedness of it. The well-meaningthurifers who try to impose him upon

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