Wydawca: Ludwig Nohl Kategoria: Literatura faktu, reportaże, biografie Język: angielski Rok wydania: 2016

Uzyskaj dostęp do tej
i ponad 25000 książek
od 6,99 zł miesięcznie.

Wypróbuj przez
7 dni za darmo

Ebooka przeczytasz w aplikacjach Legimi na:

e-czytniku kup za 1 zł
tablecie  
smartfonie  
komputerze  
Czytaj w chmurze®
w aplikacjach Legimi.
Dlaczego warto?
Czytaj i słuchaj w chmurze®
w aplikacjach Legimi.
Dlaczego warto?
Liczba stron: 168

Odsłuch ebooka (TTS) dostępny w abonamencie „ebooki+audiobooki bez limitu” w aplikacji Legimi na:

Androida
iOS
Czytaj i słuchaj w chmurze®
w aplikacjach Legimi.
Dlaczego warto?

Ebooka przeczytasz na:

e-czytniku EPUB kup za 1 zł
tablecie EPUB
smartfonie EPUB
komputerze EPUB
Czytaj w chmurze®
w aplikacjach Legimi.
Dlaczego warto?
Czytaj i słuchaj w chmurze®
w aplikacjach Legimi.
Dlaczego warto?

Pobierz fragment dostosowany na:

Zabezpieczenie: watermark

Opis ebooka Life of Wagner - Ludwig Nohl

The masters of music, Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, advanced this art beyond the limits of their predecessors by identifying themselves more closely with the development of active life itself. By their creative power they invested the life of the nation and mankind with profounder thought, culminating at last in the most sublime of our possessions—religion. No artist has followed in their course with more determined energy than Richard Wagner, as well he might, for with equal intellectual capacity, the foundation of his education was broader and deeper than that of the classic masters; while on the other hand the development of our national character during his long active career, became more vigorous and diversified as the ideas of the poets and thinkers were more and more realized and reflected in our life. Wagner’s development was as harmonious as that of the three classic masters, and all his struggles, however violent at times, only cleared his way to that high goal where we stand with him today and behold the free unfolding of all our powers. This goal is the entire combination of all the phases of art into one great work: the music-drama, in which is mirrored every form of human existence up to the highest ideal life.

Opinie o ebooku Life of Wagner - Ludwig Nohl

Fragment ebooka Life of Wagner - Ludwig Nohl

Ludwig Nohl

UUID: f1f70ea8-8880-11e6-bb85-0f7870795abd
This ebook was created with StreetLib Write (http://write.streetlib.com)by Simplicissimus Book Farm

Table of contents

PREFACE.

CHAPTER I.

CHAPTER II.

CHAPTER III.

CHAPTER IV.

CHAPTER V.

CHAPTER VI.

CHAPTER VII.

PREFACE.

The masters of music, Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, advanced this art beyond the limits of their predecessors by identifying themselves more closely with the development of active life itself. By their creative power they invested the life of the nation and mankind with profounder thought, culminating at last in the most sublime of our possessions—religion. No artist has followed in their course with more determined energy than Richard Wagner, as well he might, for with equal intellectual capacity, the foundation of his education was broader and deeper than that of the classic masters; while on the other hand the development of our national character during his long active career, became more vigorous and diversified as the ideas of the poets and thinkers were more and more realized and reflected in our life. Wagner’s development was as harmonious as that of the three classic masters, and all his struggles, however violent at times, only cleared his way to that high goal where we stand with him today and behold the free unfolding of all our powers. This goal is the entire combination of all the phases of art into one great work: the music-drama, in which is mirrored every form of human existence up to the highest ideal life. As this music-drama rests historically upon the opera it is but natural that the second triumvirate of German music should be composed of the founder of German opera, C. M. von Weber, the reformer of the old opera, Christoph Wilibald Gluck, and Richard Wagner. To trace therefore the development of the youngest of these masters, will lead us to consider theirs as well, and in doing this the knowledge of what he is will disclose itself to us.

CHAPTER I.

1813-1831.WAGNER’S EARLY YOUTH.His Birth—The Father’s Death—His Mother Remarries—Removal to Dresden—Theatre and Music—At School—Translation of Homer—Through Poetry to Music—Returning to Leipzig—Beethoven’s Symphonies—Resolution to be a Musician—Conceals this Resolution—Composes Music and Poetry—His Family Distrusts his Talent—“Romantic” Influences—Studies of Thoroughbass—Overture in B major—Theodor Weinlig—Full Understanding of Mozart—Beethoven’s Influence—The Genius of German Art—Preparatory Studies ended. “I resolved to be a musician.”—Wagner.Richard Wilhelm Wagner was born in Leipzig, May 22, 1813. His father at that time was superintendent of police—a post which, owing to the constant movement of troops during the French war, was one of special importance. He soon fell a victim to an epidemic which broke out among the troops passing through. The mother, a woman of a very refined and spiritual nature, then married the highly gifted actor, Ludwig Geyer, who had been an intimate friend of the family, and removed with him to Dresden, where he held a position at the court theatre and was highly esteemed. There Wagner spent his childhood and early youth. Besides the great patriotic uprising of the German people, artistic impressions were the first to stir his soul. His father had taken an active interest in the amateur theatricals of the Leipzig of his day, and now the family virtually identified themselves with the practical side of the art. His brother Albert and sister Rosalie subsequently joined the theatre, and two other sisters diligently devoted themselves to the piano. Richard himself satisfied his childish tendency by playing comedy in his own room and his piano-playing was confined to the repetition of melodies which he had heard. His step-father, during the sickness which also overtook him, heard Richard play two melodies, the “Ueb’ immer Treu und Redlichkeit” and the “Jungfernkranz” from “Der Freischuetz,” which was just becoming known at that time. The boy heard him say to his mother in an undertone: “Can it be that he has a talent for music?” He had destined him to be an artist, being himself as good a portrait painter as he was actor. He died, however, before the boy had reached his seventh year, bequeathing to him only the information imparted to his mother, that he “would have made something out of him.” Wagner in the first sketch of his life, (1842) relates that for a long time he dwelt upon this utterance of his step-father; and that it impelled him to aspire to greatness.His inclinations however did not at first turn to music. He was rather disposed to study and was sent to the celebrated Kreuzschule. Music was only cultivated indifferently. A private teacher was engaged to give him piano lessons, but, as in drawing, he was averse to the technicalities of the art, and preferred to play by ear, and in this way mastered the overture to “Der Freischuetz.” His teacher upon hearing this expressed the opinion that nothing would become of him. It is true, he could not in this way acquire fingering and scales, but he gained a peculiar intonation arising from his own deep feeling, that has been rarely possessed by any other artist. He was very partial to the overture to “The Magic Flute,” but “Don Juan” made no impression on him.All this, however, was only of secondary importance. The study of Greek, Latin, mythology, and ancient history so completely captivated the active mind of the boy, that his teacher advised him seriously to devote himself to philological studies. As he had played music by imitation so he now tried to imitate poetry. A poem, dedicated to a dead schoolmate, even won a prize, although considerable fustian had to be eliminated. His richness of imagination and feeling displayed itself in early youth. In his eleventh year he would be a poet! A Saxon poet, Apel, imitated the Greek tragedies, why should he not do the same? He had already translated the first twelve books of Homer’s “Odyssey,” and had made a metrical version of Romeo’s monologue, after having, simply to understand Shakspeare, thoroughly acquired a knowledge of English. Thus at an early age he mastered the language which “thinks and meditates for us,” and Shakspeare became his favorite model. A grand tragedy based on the themes of Hamlet and King Lear was immediately undertaken, and although in its progress he killed off forty-two of the dramatis personae and was compelled in the denouement, for want of characters to let their ghosts reappear, we can not but regard it as a proof of the superabundance of his inborn power.One advantage was secured by this absurd attempt at poetry: it led him to music, and in its intense earnestness he first learned to appreciate the seriousness of art, which until then had appeared to him of such small importance in contrast with his other studies, that he regarded “Don Juan” for instance as silly, because of its Italian text and “painted acting,” as disgusting. At this time he had grown familiar with “Der Freischuetz,” and whenever he saw Weber pass his house, he looked up to him with reverential awe. The patriotic songs sung in those early days of resurrected Germany appealed to his sensitive nature. They fascinated him and filled his earnest soul with enthusiasm. “Grander than emperor or king, is it to stand there and rule!” he said to himself, as he saw Weber enchant and sway the souls of his auditors with his “Freischuetz” melodies. He now returned with the family to Leipzig. Did he, while at work on his grand tragedy, occupying him fully two years, neglect his studies? In the Nicolai school, where he now attended, he was put back one class, and this so disheartened him, that he lost all interest in his studies. Besides, now for the first time, the actual spirit of music illumined his intellectual horizon. In the Gewandhaus concerts he heard Beethoven’s symphonies. “Their impression on me was very powerful,” he says, speaking of his deep agitation, though only in his fifteenth year, and it was still further intensified when he was informed that the great master had died the year previous, in pitiful seclusion from all the world. “I knew not what I really was intended for,” he puts in the mouth of a young musician in his story, “A Pilgrimage to Beethoven,” written many years after. “I only remember, that I heard a symphony of Beethoven one evening. After that I fell sick with a fever, and when I recovered, I was a musician.” He grew lazy and negligent in school, having only his tragedy at heart, but the music of Beethoven induced him to devote himself passionately to the art. Indeed while listening to the Egmont music, it so affected him that he would not for all the world, “launch” his tragedy without such music. He had perfect confidence that he could compose it, but nevertheless thought it advisable to acquaint himself with some of the rules of the art. To accomplish this at once, he borrowed for a week, an easy system of thoroughbass. The study did not seem to bear fruit as quickly as he had expected, but its difficulties allured his energetic and active mind. “I resolved to be a musician,” he said. Two strong forces of modern society, general education and music, thus in early youth made an impression upon his nature. Music conquered, but in a form which includes the other, in the presentation of the poetic idea as it first found its full expression in Beethoven’s symphonies. Let us now see how this somewhat arbitrary and selfwilled temperament urged the stormy young soul on to the real path of his development.The family discovered his “grand tragedy.” They were much grieved, for it disclosed the neglect of his school studies. Under the circumstances he concealed his consciousness of his inner call to music, secretly continuing, however, his efforts at composition. It is noticeable that the impulse to adapt poetry never forsook him, but it was made subordinate to the musical faculty. In fact the former was brought into requisition only to gratify the latter, so completely did musical composition control him. Beethoven’s Pastoral symphony prompted him at one time to write a shepherd play, which owed its dramatic construction on the other hand to Goethe’s vaudeville, “A Lover’s Humor,” to which he wrote the music and the verses at the same time, so that the action and movement of the play grew out of the making of the verses and the music. He was likewise prompted to compose in the prevailing forms of music, and produced a sonata, a string quartet, and an aria.These works may not have had faults as far as form is concerned, but very likely they were without any intrinsic value. His mind was still engrossed with other things than the real poesy of music. Notwithstanding this, under cover of such performances as these, he believed he could announce himself to the family as a musician. They regarded such efforts at composition however as a mere transitory passion, which would disappear like others especially so as he was not proficient on even one instrument, and could not therefore assume to do the work of a practical musician with any degree of assurance. At this time a strange and confused impression was made upon the young mind, which had already absorbed so much of importance. The so called “romantic writers” who then reigned supreme, particularly the mystic Hoffmann, who was both poet and musician, and who wrote the most beautiful poetic arrangements of the works of Gluck, Mozart, and Beethoven, along with the absurdest notions of music, tended to completely disturb his poetic ideas and mode of expression in music. This youth of scarce sixteen was in danger of losing his wits. “I had visions both waking and sleeping, in which the key note, third and quint appeared bodily and demonstrated their importance to me, but whatever I wrote on the subject was full of nonsense,” he says himself.It was high time to overcome and settle these disturbing elements. His imperfect understanding of the science of music, which had given rise to these fancies and apparitions, now gave place to its real nature, its fixed rules and laws. The skilled musician, Mueller, who subsequently became organist at Altenburg, taught him to evolve from those strange forms of an overwrought imagination the simple musical intervals and accords, thus giving his ideas a secure foundation even in these musical inspirations and fantasies. Corresponding success however, had not yet been attained in the practical groundwork of the art. The impetuous young fellow and enthusiast continued inattentive and careless in this study. His intellectual nature was too restless and aggressive to be brought back easily to the study of dry technical rules, and yet its progress was not far-reaching enough, for even in art their acquisition is essential.One of the grand overtures for orchestra which he chose to write at that time instead of giving himself to the study of music as an independent language, he called himself the “culmination of his absurdities.” And yet in this composition, in B major, there was something, which, when it was performed at the Leipzig Gewandhaus, commanded the attention of so thorough a musician as Heinrich Dorn, then a friend of Wagner, and who became later Oberhofkapellmeister at Berlin. This was the poetic idea which Wagner by the aid of his mental culture was enabled to produce in music, and which gives to a composition its inner and organic completeness. Dorn could thus sincerely console the young author with the hope of future success for his composition, which, instead of a favorable reception, met only with indignation and derision.The revolution which broke out in France in July, 1830, greatly excited him as it did others and he even contemplated writing a political overture. The fantastic ideas prevalent at that time among the students at the university, which in the meantime he had entered to complete his general education, and fit himself thoroughly for the vocation of a musician, tended still further to divert his mind from the serious task before him. At this juncture, both for his own welfare and that of art, a kind Providence sent him a man, who, sternly yet kindly, as the storm subsided, directed the awakening impulse for order and system in his musical studies. This was Theodore Weinlig, who had been cantor at the Thomasschule in Leipzig, since 1823 and was therefore, so to speak, bred in the spirit and genius of the great Sebastian Bach. He possessed that attribute of a good teacher which leads the scholar imperceptibly into the very heart of his study. In less than a year the young scholar had mastered the most difficult problems of counterpoint, and was dismissed by his teacher as perfectly competent in his art. How highly Wagner esteemed him is shown by the fact that his “Liebesmahl der Apostel,” his only work in the nature of an oratorio, is dedicated to “Frau Charlotte Weinlig, the widow of my never-to-be-forgotten teacher.” During this time he also composed a sonata and a polonaise, both of which were free from bombast and simple and natural in their musical form. More important than all, Wagner now began to understand Mozart and learned to admire him. He was at last on the path which subsequently was to lead him, even nearer than Beethoven came, to that mighty cantor of Leipzig, who by his art has disclosed for all time the depths of our inner life and sanctified them.For the present it was Beethoven, whose art unfolded itself before him, and now that his own knowledge was firmly grounded, aided him to become a composer. “I doubt whether there has ever been a young musician more familiar with Beethoven’s works than was Wagner, then eighteen years of age,” says Dorn of this period. Wagner himself says in his “Deutscher Musiker in Paris:” “I knew no greater pleasure than that of throwing myself so completely into the depths of this genius that I imagined I had become a part of him.” He copied the master’s overtures and the Ninth symphony, the latter causing him to sob violently, but at the same time rousing his highest enthusiasm. He now also fully comprehended Mozart, especially his Jupiter symphony. “In the genius of our fatherland, pure in feeling and chaste in inspiration, he saw the sacred heritage wherewith the German, under any skies and whatever language he might speak, would be certain to preserve the innate grandeur of his race,” is his opinion of Mozart expressed in Paris a few years afterward. “I strove for clearness and power,” he says of this period of his youth, and an overture and a symphony soon demonstrated that he had really grasped the models. After twenty years of personal activity in this high school of art, he succeeded in thoroughly understanding the great Sebastian Bach, and reared on this solid foundation-stone of music the majestic edifice of German art, which embraces all the capabilities and ideals of the soul, and created at last a national drama, complete in every sense.The school period was passed. He now entered active life with firm and secure step, armed only with his knowledge and his power of will. In his struggles and disappointments the former was to be put to the test and the latter to be strengthened. We shall meet with him again, when by the exercise of these two powers he has gained his first permanent victories.

CHAPTER II.

1832-1841.STORM AND STRESS.In Vienna—His Symphony Performed—Modern Ideas—“The Fairies,”—“Das Liebesverbot”—Becomes Kapellmeister—Mina Planer—Hard Times—Experiences and Studies—“Rienzi”—Paris—First Disappointments—A Faust Overture—Revival of the German Genius—Struggle for Existence—“The Flying Dutchman”—Historical Studies—Returning to Germany.The God who in my breast resides,He cannot change external forces.—Goethe.Beethoven’s life has acquainted us with the pre-eminence of Vienna as a musical centre. In the summer of 1832 Wagner visited the city, but found himself greatly disappointed as he heard on all sides nothing but “Zampa,” and the potpourris of Strauss. He was not to see the imperial city again until late in life and as the master, crowned with fame. In music and the opera Paris had the precedence. The Conservatory in Prague however performed his symphony, though right here he was destined to feel that the reign of his beloved Beethoven had but scarcely begun.In the succeeding winter the same symphony was performed in Leipzig. “There is a resistless and audacious energy in the thoughts, a stormy bold progression, and yet withal a maidenly artlessness in the expression of the main motives that lead me to hope for much from the composer;” so wrote Laube, with whom Wagner had shortly before become acquainted. Here again we recognize the stormy, restless activity of the time, which thenceforth did not cease, and brought about the unity of the nation and of art. The ideas which prevailed among the students’ clubs, the theories of St. Simon and would-be reformers generally had captivated the young artist’s mind. In the “Young Europe,” Laube advocated the liberal thoughts of the new century, the intoxication of love, and all the pleasures of material life. Wagner’s head was full of them and Heine’s writings and the sensual “Ardinghello” of Heinse helped to intensify them.For a time however his better nature retained the mastery. Beethoven and Weber remained his good genii. In 1833 he composed an opera, “The Fairies,” modelled after their works, the text of which displayed the earnest tendency of his nature. A fairy falls in love with a mortal but can acquire human life only on condition that her lover shall not lose faith and desert her, however wicked and cruel she may appear. She transforms herself into a stone from which condition the yearning songs of her lover release her. It is a characteristic feature of Wagner’s ideal conception of love that the lover then is admitted to the perpetual joys of the fairy world, as a reward for his faith in the object of his love. The work was never performed. Bellini, Adam, and their associates controlled the stage in Germany, and he was greatly disappointed. That grand artiste, Schroeder-Devrient, who afterwards was to become so essential to Wagner, had achieved unusual success in these light operas, especially in the role of Romeo. He observed this and comparing the sparkling music of these French and Italians with the German Kapellmeister-music which was then coming into vogue, it seemed indeed tedious and tormenting. Why should not he then, this youth of twenty-one, ready for any deed and every pleasure, earnestly longing for success, enter upon the same course? Beethoven appeared to him as the keystone of a great epoch to be followed by something new and different. The fruit of this restless seething struggle was “Das Liebesverbot oder die Novize von Palermo,” his first opera which reached a performance.The material was taken from Shakspeare’s “Measure for Measure,” not however without making its earnestness conform to the ideas of “Young Europe,” and leaving the victory to sensualism. Isabella, the novice, begs of the puritanical governor her brother’s life, who has forfeited it through some love affair. The governor agrees to grant the pardon, on condition that she shall yield to his desires. A carnival occurs, and, as in “Masaniello,” a young man who loves the maiden, incites a revolution, exposes the governor, and receives Isabella’s hand. The spirit which pervades this tempestuous carnival pleasure is sufficiently characterized by a verse in the only chorus-number, which has appeared in print from this opera: “Who does not rejoice in our pleasure plunge the knife into his breast!”There were, it will be observed, two radically different possibilities of development. The “sacred fervor of his sensitive soul,” which he had nourished with the German instrumental music, had encountered the tendency to sensualism, and, as we find so often in Wagner’s works, these two elements of our nature were powerfully portrayed, with the victory ever remaining to the judicious and serious conception of life. Struggles and sorrows of various kinds were to bring this “sacred earnestness” again into the foreground, to remain there forever afterward.