Richard Wagner and Festival Theatre

By Simon Williams | Go to book overview

Chapter 7
The Master of Bayreuth

Wagner's decision to build a theatre specifically for production of The Ring of the Nibelung arose from two immediate causes. First, there was no doubt that his credibility with the king had been severely damaged. The Rhinegold and The Valkyrie had been staged over Wagner's objections, and there were clear signs that the moment the score of Siegfried was completed, it would suffer the same fate. If he wished to see the tetralogy performed under conditions he considered ideal, Wagner would need to establish himself on a more independent basis. The second and more positive incentive to build the theatre might have arisen in December 1870, when he read in draft form a small book to be entitled Die Geburt der Tragödie ( The Birth of Tragedy) by the young classical philologist Friedrich .

Although the friendship of Wagner and Nietzsche was to end in hostility, its early years were considered by both men to be among the most fulfilling experiences of their lives. They met in November 1868 during one of Wagner's rare visits to his family in Leipzig. Soon after, Nietzsche was appointed professor of classical philology at Basel University, so he lived within easy reach of Tribschen. From May 1869 up through the departure of the Wagners for Bayreuth in April 1872, he was such a regular visitor that he had his own room at their home. At this stage in their relationship, the two men were entirely at one in their intense idealism and their vision of the capacity of art to save a society corrupted by materialism. "Your life, your writings, and your music," Nietzsche wrote to Wagner soon after their meeting, "are permeated . . . [with] that serious

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Richard Wagner and Festival Theatre
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Foreword xi
  • Preface xiii
  • Abbreviations xvii
  • Chapter 1 - The Fiery Conformist 1
  • Notes 17
  • Chapter 2 Bohemian in Paris 19
  • Notes 29
  • Chapter 3 - Kapellmeister in Dresden 31
  • Notes 52
  • Chapter 4 - Revolutionary in Exile 53
  • Notes 75
  • Chapter 5 - Romantic in Exile 77
  • Notes 90
  • Chapter 6 - The King's Friend 91
  • Notes 109
  • Chapter 7 - The Master of Bayreuth 111
  • Notes 131
  • Chapter 8 - The Dying Magus 133
  • Notes 145
  • Chapter 9 - Wagner's Theatrical Legacy 147
  • Notes 161
  • Chronology of Wagner's Life 163
  • Further Reading 171
  • Index 177
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