Cosima Wagner

Cosima Wagner

Cosima Wagner

Cosima Wagner

Excerpt

Three times during my childhood did I meet Franz Liszt. The first time was at Munich, in the garden of the Hotel Marienbad, where he was sitting waiting on a seat. The unique personality of this remarkable man, with its suggestion of something hardly of this world, exerted an instinctive attraction over the boy not yet six years old. I began playing about the bench, and, by a variety of skilful evolutions, I managed to have a good look at his face from behind. "You are a pretty little fellow," he said, stroking my hair. "What is your name?" "Richard," was my reply. "A fine name. And who is your godfather?" "Richard Wagner." Upon this he picked me up in his arms, and, recognizing my mother, who had meanwhile come out into the garden, he carried me towards her. It was my parents for whom he had been waiting. Shortly afterwards my father appeared with an extraordinary little lady on his arm, who made a strange and positively terrifying impression upon me, quite different from that produced by the appearance of Franz Liszt. This was the Princess Carolyne Wittgenstein. My father had been to call upon Liszt, who had, however, meanwhile come to see us.

When I next met him, I was somewhat older. It was at the Beethoven Festival organized by my father, at which he directed a performance ofLiszt's Beethoven Cantata. Liszt sat in our box, and when a symphonic poem of my father's, dedicated to the memory of Beethoven, was performed, he took me upon his knee and said that I must pay attention now, for I was listening . . .

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