Richard Wagner


May 22: Born in Leipzig at the Brühl the house at the "Rot und Weißen Löwen". Parents: Carl Friedrich Wilhelm Wagner (1770 - 1813), "Erster Aktuarius im Kgl. Polizeyamte" (police official) and Johanna Rosine Pätz (1774 - 1848, a baker's daughter).  August 16: Baptised in the Thomaskirche;  November 23: Death of his father (broken out due to the battle against Napoleon  [Oct 16-19]).

Johanna Rosine Wagner

Ludwig Geyer


August 28:  Johanna Rosine Wagners marries the painter and actor Ludwig Geyer (1779 - 1821), a friend of the family. (Geyer's fatherhood of Wagners can not be ruled out.) Move to Dresden, Geyer's place of employment  at the Court Theatre.


Wagner as pupil of the Royal Vice Cantor to the Court, Carl Fr. Schmidt. Geyer wants to make a painter out of him.


Richard Wagner stays with Pastor Wetzel in Possendorf.


Ludwig Geyer dies in Dresden on September 30.  In October, Geyer's brother Carl Fr. W. Geyer of Eisleben takes Wagner in.


December: Under the name of Wilhelm Richard Geyer, Wagner becomes a pupil of the Dresden Kreuzschule. His first brief and irregular instructions at the piano take place. Wagner becomes familiar with Weber's "Freischütz".

The Dresden Kreuzschule


Translation of a few songs of the Odyssee, epic poem, "Die Schlacht am Parnassos" (the battle at the Parnassos, all lost). His career goal: writer.


Confirmation at theKreuzkirche in Dresden, still under the name of Geyer. Move to Leipzig at the end of the year.


January: Wagner changes over to the Nicolai School in Leipzig.

Writing of the tragic play Leubald und Adelaide. Study of the compositional theory of Johann Bernhard Logier, in order to acquire the technical skills to set this text to music.

Fall: Secret lessons in harmony with Gottlieb Müller, a composer and member of the Gewandhaus orchestra. Deep impressions of the works of  Mozart and Beethoven.


April: Wagner sees Wilhelmine Schröder-Devrient as "Leonore" in Beethoven's "Fidelio".

Summer: He interrupts his lessons with Müller, self-study. Compositions: Two sonatas, a string quartet, and other works (everything lost).

The Leipzig Thomasschule


Copy and Piano Reduction of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. June: Change to the Thomasschule. Summer: Violin lessons with Robert Slipp, a Gewandhaus violinist. Compositions: Overture  in B major, Overture to Schiller's "Braut von Messina", Overture in C major (everything lost).  December 24: Performance of the Overture in B major at the Leipzig Theater, without his name being mentioned.


February: Wagner leaves the Thomasschule without any final exam and enters the University of Leipzig as music sutdent on February 23. He also joins the student association "Saxonia".

The University of Leipzig

Compositions: "Sieben Kompositionen zu Goethes Faust". Sonata in B major for Piano, four hands and instrumention of the sonata. Fall: He becomes a student of the Thomas Cantor Christian Theodor Weinlig. Further compositions: Concert overture in d minor, piano sonata in B major, piano fantasy in  F-sharp minor, polonaise in D major. On December 25, the Concert Overture in d minor is performed at the Leipzig Theater.

The Gewandhaus in Leipzig


Composition of a piano sonata in A major, of a scene and aria for soprano, an overture to Raupach's  "König Enzio" (this drama premiered at the Leipzig Theatre) and of a Concert Overture in C major. February:  The Concert Overture in d minor is performed at the Gewandhaus. Wagner composes a symphony in C major and ends his lessons with Weinlig.  Summer: Journey to Vienna. Fall: Wagner stays with friends in Pravonin near Prague. Writing of the first text book to an opera, Die Hochzeit and the begin of its composition. December 5th: His sister Rosalie does not like the just begun opera compositon, so that he destroys everything.


Wagner writes his second text book: that to the romantic opera Die Feen (after Carlo Gozzi's "La donna serpente") and becomes acquainted with Heinrich Laube.  On January 10, the C major symphony is performed at the Gewandhaus In February, Wagner visits his brother Albert, a singer at the Würzburg Theater and receives through him the position of a choir instruction, for a year.  He also begins with the composition of the Feen. September: He writes an aria to be inserted into Marschner's opera "Der Vampyr" (for his brother). In fall, some pieces of his Feen are performed in a concert in Würzburg. 

Textbook to the "Feen"

Minna Planer


January:  Completion of the Feen and return to  Leipzig on January 21.  Failed attempt to stage the Feen.   Guest performance of Wilhelmine  Schröder-Devrient as Romeo in Bellinis opera "I Capuleti e i Montecchi".  June 10: Wagner's  essay Die Deutsche Oper is published in Laube's Zeitung für die elegante Welt.  June/July: Stay in Teplitz, draft of a compical opera, Das Liebesverbot after Shakespeares "Measure for Measure".   End of July: Wagner becomes Music director of Bethmann's acting and opera company in Magdeburg. Debut with Mozart's "Don Giovanni" in Lauchstädt.  First acquaintance with the actress Schauspielerin  Minna Planer. August-September:  Draft of a  symphony in E major, stopped in the 2nd movement.  Fall:  Textbook to the Liebesverbot.  October: Begin of his activity as music director in Magdeburg. December:  Composition of the Festive Play Beim Antritt des neuen Jahres.


January: Composition of the Overture to the drama "Christoph Columbus" (by Wagner's friend Theodor Apel, for the staging of the work at the Magdeburg Theater). Begin of the composition of the Liebesverbot am the 23rd of January. Summer: Stay in Bohemia and souther Germany in search of singers for the Magdeburg Theater, with his first visit in Bayreuth. Begin of his notes to his autobiography.


Completion of the score of the Liebesverbot. 29th of  March: Premiere under Wagner's direction. (Unsatisfactory rehearsals; the second performance is interrupted due to a brawl between the performers; not further performances). Disbanding of Bethmann's company. May: Wagner in Berlin for negotiations regarding the staging of his Liebesverbot at the Königstädter Theater, without success.  There, also composition of the Overture Polonia in a late celebration of the Polish fight for independence of 1830/31. July: Wagner in Königsberg, since Minna Planer is engaged there. Guest conducting, but no firm position. Summer: Prose draft of the opera "Die hohe Braut", sending of the same to Eugene Scribe in the hope for its staging at the Paris "Grande Opera". 24th of November: Wagner marries Minna Planer in Königsberg-Tragheim.


Composition of the Overture Rule Britannia for the English national song by the same name.  1st of April:  Wagner becomes music director at the Königsberg Theater.  Textbook and begin of the comical opera Die Lustige Bärenfamilie (from the 'Arabian Nights', perhaps also as late as 1838 in Riga).  31st of  May:  With a businessman by the name of Dietrich, Minna secretly travels to Dresden.  Wagner follows her.  Minna, however, leaves him again and only returns to him in October.  June, Berlin:  Closing of a contract for employment as music director in Riga.  During his stay in Dresden in search of Minna, he reads Bulwer's novel, "Rienzi - the Last of the Roman Tribunes".  End of July:  Wagner's prose sketch to it is written.  Journey to Riga via the Baltic Sea.  Further compositions:  Arias for the opera "Marie, Max und Michel" by K.L. Blum and "Die Schweizerfamilie" by Jos. Fr. Weigl., and Nicolay, a national hymn in honor of the Czar of Russia.


At the beginning of August:  Completion of the textbook to Rienzi.  7th of August:  begin of his compositon of Rienzi.  15th of November:  first concert of a new concert series.  In it, Wagner brings (until May, 1839) Beethoven's Symphonies No. 3 to 8, orchestral works by Mozart, Weber, Cherubini, Mendelssohn, but also some compositions of his own.


March: Wagner loses his position.  April: Minna earns their livelihood by guest performances at the theater.  June: Wagner takes lessons in the French language. Translation of the text to  Rienzi  into French. 10th of July: Wagner leaves for Paris. Minna has a miscarriage due to a travel accident. Adventurous continuation of their journey on board of the ship "Thetis" from Pilla to Sandwiken (Norway) and London, from the 19th of Juli the 12th of August. Continuation of the journey across the channel to Boulogne-sur-Mer. There, Wagner visits  Giacomo Meyerbeer auf. 12th of September: Completion of the score to the 2nd act of Rienzi,  September 16 und 17: Journey to Paris. failed attempts at trying to gain a foothold, in spite of the protection given to him by Meyerbeer. Composition of songs to French texts  (i.e. Dors mon enfant, Attente, Les deux grenadiers, Adieux de Marie Stuart), in order to gain the favor of famous singers through their dedication(s) to them. Composition of an aria for insertion into Bellini's "Norma" (for the singer Lablache). Translation of the  Liebesverbots into French for a possible staging at the Renaissance-Theater. Acquaintance with Heinrich Heine, Renewing of his acquaintance with Heinrich Laube. Beginning of December: Plans to a Faust-Symphony and sketch of the first movement. 

Title Page to the song
"Les deux grenadiers"
after the poem by Heinrich Heine


Score of the 1st movement to the Faust-Symphoniy (later known as  Faust-Overture).  15th of February:  Continuation of his compositional work of Rienzi (3rd act).  March:  The Renaissance-Theater accepts the Liebesverbot, goes bankrupt, however, in April.  Prose sketch to the  Flying Dutchman, composition of Senta's ballad, of the sond of the  Norwegischen sailors and of the song of the crew of the Dutchman.  No introduction of the pieces in the hope of a commission from the  "Grande Opera" takes place.  First meeting with Franz Liszt.  12th of July:  The "Revue et Gazette musicale" brings Wagner's essay, Über deutsche Musik.  19th of November:  completion of the score to Rienzi.  To earn a living, Wagner takes on correction and arrangement work for the musical publisher Maurice Schlesinger.  December:  Petition to the King of Saxony for the acceptance of the staing of  Rienzi at the Dresden Court Theater.


February 4: The "Columbus"-Overture is staged without success.  Reports from Paris for the Dresden newspaper "Abend-Zeitung".  29th of April:   Wagners moves to Meudon near Paris.  May:  Textbook to the Flying Dutchman.  June:  Rienzi is accepted in Dresden.  2nd of July:  Sale of the sketch to the Dutchman to  the Grande Opera (for a composition by Louis Dietsch).  July to November:  Composition of the Flying Dutchman.  30th of October:  Return to Paris.  End of the year:  draft of the  Hohenstaufen opera on Manfred, the son of Friedrich II., Die Sarazenin.


Theater announcement of the staging in Dresden
on October 20, 1842


5th of March: Completion of the prose sketch to the opera based on nach E.T.A. Hoffman's "Die Bergwerke von Falun". 7th of April: Departure from Paris, return to Germany, in order to see the premier of Rienzi. June: Stay in Teplitz. Two prose sketches to the Tannhäuser. 20th of October: Premier of  Rienzi in Dresden. Conductor: Carl Gottlieb Reißiger; Adriano: Wilhelmine Schröder- Devrient. Rienzi: Joseph Tichatschek.


2nd of January: Premiere of the  Flying Dutchman at the Dresden Court Theater. Conductor: Richard Wagner; Senta: Wilhelmine Schröder-Devrient. Wagner takes up a loan of  1000 Taler, in order to satisfy creditors from his Magdeburg days. February: Wagner's Autobiographische Skizze appears Laube's Zeitung für die elegante Welt. 2nd of February: Wagner is hired as Hofkapellmeister in Dresden next to C.G. Reißiger. Textbook to Tannhäuser. May-June: Work on the Liebesmahl der Apostel. 7th of July: Premiere of this work. July: Stay in Teplitz. Wagner reads Grimm's "Deutsche Mythologie". Begin of the composition of Tannhäuser. October: move into an apartment in Dresden, building up of his own library, also containing many works of German medieval literature.

Theater announcement of the premiere of the Flying Dutchman
in Dresden on January 2, 1843.


7th of January: Wagner conducts the premiere of the Flying Dutchman in Berlin. Meeting with Felix Mendelssohn. 21st of March: Wagner conducts the premiere of Rienzi in Hamburg. Compositional work on Tannhäuser. For the transfer of the remains of Carl Maria von Weber from London, Wagner writes a funeral song for male voices and funeral music for wind instruments and drums, based on motives from Weber's "Euryanthe". On the 15th of December, Wagner holds a funeral speech at the side of von Weber's grave in Dresden.

Wilhelmine Schröder-Devrient as Venus
and Joseph Tichatschek as Tannhäuser
in the 1st act (sepia drawing by Tischbein, based on the premiere production).


In April,Wagner completes the score to Tannhäuser.   Summer stay in Marienbad. In July, he begins the first prose draft to the   Meistersinger von Nürnberg, namely as "Satyrspiel" (satyre) to "Tannhäuser und der Sängerkrieg auf der Wartburg". Prose sketch to Lohengrin, which he completes on the  3rd of August, followed by the textbook to Lohengrin. 19th of Oktober: Premiere of the  Tannhäuser in Dresden with  Wagner conducting. Wilhelmine Schröder-Devrient peforms in it as Venus. 17th of November: Wagner reads the Lohengrin textbook in the "Engelklub", a Dresdner literary club, receives criticism and makes major changes to it until the end of November. December: In Berlin, Wagner sees Jenny Lind in "Don Giovanni" and "Norma".


In February, the Tannhäuser Overture is performed at the Leipzig Gewandhaus under the direction of Mendelssohn, but without success.  On the 1st of  March, Wagner completes his paper, Die Königliche Kapelle Betreffend (Concerning the Royal Orchestra). 5th of April, Palm  Sunday: Wagner conducts Beethoven's Ninth Symphony for the first time. In early summer, Wagner works on his compositon of the Lohengrin. On the 16th of August, Wagner has an advance of 5,000 talers paid out to him from the Dresden Theater pension fund so that he can satisfy his crecitors. 31st of October: prose sketch to an opera, Friedrich I.  In December, Wagner works on his own stage version of Gluck's "Iphigenie in Aulis".


22nd of February: Wagner's stage version of Gluck's "Iphigenie in Aulis" is performed under his direction. 28th of March: Beethoven's Ninth Symphony is performed under the direction of Wagner. Commencement of his work on Lohengrin. In September, Wagner travels to Berlin in order to rehearse his Rienzi, which is being performed under his direction on the  24th of Oktober.  There, he also meets Ludwig Tieck. Year-end: Wagners applies for a wage increase from 1,500 to 2,000 talers annually, in order to be on an equal footing with his colleague Reißiger. 


9th of January: Wagner's mother dies in Leipzig. March: Wagner stages his first own version of Palestrina's "Stabat Mater". The revolutionary activities in Vienna begin Wagner's own statements with respect to that subject with his poem, "Gruß aus Sachsen an die Wiener" (Greetings from Saxony to the Viennese), which appears in the "Allgemeinen Österreichischen Zeitung". 28th of April: The score to Lohengrin is completed. Beginning of May: Entwurf zur Organisation eines deutschen Nationaltheaters für das Königreich Sachsen (Draft for the Organization of a German National Theater for the Kingdom of Saxony). June: In the republican 'Vaterlandsverein' (patriot's club), Wagner holds his speech, "Wie verhalten sich republikanische Bestrebungen dem Königreiche gegenüber? (How do republican aims behave towards the kingdom?") Through his friend August Röckel, he meets the Russian anarchist Bakunin. In July, Wagner travels to Vienna and lobbies for his plans for theater reform there and also meets Eduard Hanslick and Franz Grillparzer.  Further work of this year:  Late summer:  Die Nibelungen.  Weltgeschichte aus der Sage (The Nibelungs.  World History based on Sagas).  24th of September:  Concert staging of the first act of Lohengrin under Wagner's direction on the occasion of the tri-centenary anniversary of the Royal Dresden Orchestra. Fall:  Anonymous articles for Röckel's "Volksblätter".  Die Nibelungensage.  Mythus (The Saga of the Nibelungs.  Myth).  (Completed on the  4th of October.)  Textbook to the great heroic opera,  Siegfrieds Tod (Siegfried's Death)  (from November 12 to 28).  December:  Reading of Siegrieds Tod.


Wagner drafts the drama Jesus von Nazareth, but also writes further articles fors Röckel with increasingly revolutionary content. 1st of April: Ninth Symphony under Wagner's direction. May: After the constitutional breach by the King of Saxony, the Dresden uprising breaks out, which is, however, quashed the help of Prussian troops.  Wagner participates in it by handing out leaflets that solicit the people's solidarity with the revolutionaries. On the16th of May, a warrant of arrest against him is published. He flees to Switzerland. There, in July: Die Kunst und die Revolution (Art and Revolution).. At the beginning of  September, his wife Minna follows him to  Zurich.  On the 4th of November, he completes there Das Kunstwerk der Zukunft (The Art Work of the Future).


WWarrant of Arrest

Wagner, 1850

15th of January: Staging of a  Beethoven Symphony under Wagner's baton in a concert of the  Zürcher Allgemeine Musikgesellschaft (Zurich Music Society). Until 1855,  Wagner will conduct in these concerts works by Beethoven, but also his own works. He also writes a prose sketch to Wieland der Schmied (Wieland the Smith) and plans to stage it in Paris, whereto he departs at the end of January. The months of March to May  see his affair with Jessie Lausot in Bordeaux, after which he returns to Minna in Zurich. August: Composition of Siegfrieds Tod, which he breaks of in the second scene. 28th of August: Premiere of the Lohengrin in Weimar under Franz Liszt. Das Judentum in der Musik (Judaism in Music). September: Wagner mentions the festival idea for the first time. October: Hans von Bülow becomes Wagner's pupil. Oper und Drama is written and completed by the  15th of. January of next year. 


Textbbook to Der junge Siegfried (Young Siegfried), later re-named Siegfried, which Wagner completes on the 24th of  June. July-August: Eine Mitteilung an meine Freunde (A Message to My Friends), an autobiographical preface to the printed edition of the texts to the  Flying Dutchman, Tannhäuser and Lohengrin. In late fall, Julie Ritter, a Dresden friend, grants Wagner an annual pension of 800 talers, which he receives untils 1859. In November, the first sketches to Rheingold are written.


Wagner becomes acquainted with Otto and Mathilde Wesendonck. The months of April and May see stagings of his Flying Dutchman at the Zurich Theater under his direction. Further, he writes  textbooks to Walküre (completed on the 1st of July) and Rheingold (completed on the 3rd of November). Wagner writes a new ending to Siegfrieds Tod (inspired by Ludwig Feuerbach). Read to this the article,  "Bourgeois and Visionaries: The Reception of Feuerbach in Nietzsche and Wagner" by Helmut Walther .

Das Zürcher Theater


In a private edition, Wagner publishes 50 copies of the text to the tetralogy Der Ring des Nibelungen, which he reads in mid-February in the Hotel Baur au Lac in Zurich on four evenings. 18th, 20th and 22nd of May: Three concerts with excerpts from Rienzi, The Flying Dutchmanr, Tannhäuser, Lohengrin under Wagner's baton. Between May and June, the Sonata for Mathilde Wesendonck wiht the motto Wißt ihr wie das wird? (Do you know how this will turn out?) is written. In July, Wagner travels to Lake Lucerne with Franz Liszt and Georg Herwegh and goes on a glacier tour with Herwegh. At the beginning of September, he travels to Italy. In La Spezia, he develops the concept to the prelude to Rheingold. In October, he travels to Paris with Franz Liszt and meets Liszt's daughter Cosima for the first time.  On the 1st of November, he begins with the compositon of Rheingold.


For a concert performance of the overture to Gluck's "Iphigenie in Aulis", Wagner writes a concert ending. It is performed on the 7th of March. While Wagner works on the score of Rheingold during the summer and completes it on the 26th of September, he also begins, already on the 28th of June, with his work on Walküre. During this time, his love for Mathilde Wesendonck develops. In fall, Wagner reads--as pointed out to him by   Herwegh--Schopenhauer's work "Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung". Read to this the article, "Bourgeois and Visionaries: The Reception of Feuerbach in Nietzsche and Wagner" by Helmut Walther. According to Wagner's own estimate, his debts amount to 10, 000 frcs. At this time, he also develops his first idea of Tristan und Isolde.


On the 17th of January, Wagner completes a revision of the Faust-Overture. On the20th of February, Wagner conducts a concert of the Zurich Music Society, for the last time.  From March to June, Wagner conducts eight concerts of the Philharmonic Society in London and is received by Queen Victoria. Meeting with Berlioz. In fall, Wagner has his first occurrence of shingles in his face.


Acquaintance with the Swiss writer Gottfried Keller. On March 23rd, Wagner completes the score to Walküre. 16th of May: prose sketch of an opera based on the Buddhist legend Der Sieger (The Victor). From June to August, Wagner takes the baths in Mornex. He changes the previous title of Der junge Siegfried and Siegfrieds Tod into Siegfried and Götterdämmerung and writes a new, Buddhist ending to the tetralogy. In September, he begins his compositon of Siegfried. In December, he drafts his first musical sketches to Tristan.

Mathilde Wesendonck


Wagner writes his open letter, Über Franz Liszts Symphonische Dichtungen (On Franz Liszt's Symphonic Poems), which he had become more familiar with during Liszt's visit in Zurich in the fall of 1856. On the 28th of April,  Wagner moves into the "asylum" that had been provided for him by Wesendonck (a small house next to the Wesendonck villa that was being built at that time. May: First idea to Parsifal. In August,  Wagner interrupts his composition of Siegfried, after he had completed the sketches to the second act. On the 18th of. September, he completes the textbook to Tristan und Isolde  and begins with the compostion on the 1st of October. 30th of November: The first of the five songs for  Mathilde Wesendonck, that woudl be completed by May 1858, is written. 23rd of December: Das song Träume (dreams) in an arrangement for violin and  small orchestra as birthday ovation for   Mathilde Wesendonck. 31st of December: Wagner completes the sketch to the compositon of the first act to  Tristan, which he presents to Mathilde Wesendonck with a glowing dedicating poem.


To ease the tensions mount due to the development of the love affair between Wagner and Mathilde Wesendonck, Wagner leaves for Paris for a couple of weeks, on the 14th of January.  There, he meets Berlioz who reads to him his "Trojans". In April, Minna Wagner inctercepts a letter of Wagner to Mathilde Wesendonck, which appears to her to be proof of his adulterous relationship to her.  Since tensions grow between Minna Wagner and Mathilde Wesendonck, Wagner gives up the "asylum" in August, and leaves Minna. He travels to Venice via Geneva and continues there his composition of  Tristan,


On the 24th of March, after the completion of the score to the 2nd act of Tristan, Wagner leaves Venice and travels to Lucerne and composes there the 3rd act of Tristan und Isolde, which he completed on the 6th of August.  In September, Wagner sells the publication rights to the Ring to Wesendonck for 6,000 Swiss Franks and moves to Paris, where he lives with Minna, again.  In December, the concert finale to the Tristan-Prelude is completed.  For 10,000  Franks, the publishing house B. Schott's Söhne purchases the Rheingold, after Wesendonck had retreated from his rights to it.


In January, a new ending to the Overture to The Flying Dutchmanolländer is written.. At the Italian Theater in Paris, Wagner conducts the first of three concerts with his own works. Wilhelmine Schröder-Devrient dies in Coburg. In February, the second and third concerts of Wagner take place in Paris, and in March, Wagner conducts two concerts in Brussels and visits Antwerp, the city of  Lohengrin. In July, a partial amnesty is granted to Wagners, according to which Wagner can enter Germany with the exception of Saxony. In September, his essay Zukunftsmusik, an einen französischen Freund als Vorwort zu einer Prosaübersetzung meiner Operndichtungen (Holländer, Tannhäuser, Lohengrin, Tristan--Music of the Future, to a French friend, as Preface to a Prose Translation of my operatic dramas (Flying Dutchman, Tannhauser, Lohengrin, Tristan) is written. Under the protectorate of Princess Pauline Metternich, rehearsals to Tannhauser begin in Paris. In December, Wagner presents his score to the new Venus-scene of the 1st act.


On the 28the of  January, Wagner completes the score to the new Bacchanal. On the 13th of. Marrch,  the premiere of Tannhäuser takes place in Paris in its new version, under the direction of Louis Dietsch and ends with a scandal the is provoked by the Jockey club, so that Wagner withdraws his score after the third staging of the work.  In April, Wagner is admitted to an audience by the Great-Duke Friedrich I. of Baden.  Plans are formed for the staging of Tristan in Karlsruhe. In May, Wagner sees his Lohengrin in the Vienna court opera for the first time and arranges with Count Lankoronsky to stage Tristan in Vienna.  In  August,  Wagner begins with the Tristan rehearsals in Vienna.  However, the project falls through in March, 1864. To Minna he writes that he had moved too far ahead in comparison to what theaters were able to accomplish at that time. In November, Wagner conceptualizes the main part of the prelude to the Meistersinger during a travel by railway.  On the 3rd of December, he reads the second prose sketch to this opera to his publisher Schott and after that begins with the textbook to the Meistersinger in Paris.  


On the 25th of  January, Wagner completes the textbook to the Meistersinger.   The first sketch to the Wach-auf-chorus is written. In February, Wagner leaves Paris, reads his Meistersinger "with virtuos rhetorics" to his publisher in Mainz, and rents an aparment in Biebrich at the Rhine.  Minna follows him, and the couple enjoy "ten days of hell".   In March of the same year, Wagner maintains relationships with Mathilde Maier and with the actress Friederike Meyer.  The full amnesty in his favor comes into effect.  In July, Cosima and Hans von Bülow visit him in Biebrich.  Bülow and Wagner study the title roles of Tristan with Ludwig and Malwine Schnorr von Carolsfeld.   In September, Wagner conducts his Lohengrin in Frankfurt, for the first time.   In November, Wagner directs the premiere of the Meistersinger-prelude at the Leipzig Gewandhaus.  Meeting with Minna.  Journey to Vienna with Friedrike Meyer. where Eduard Hanslick feels ridiculed as "Beckmesser" at a reading of the Meistersinger.  On the 26th of December, Wagner's first concert takes place in the "Theater an der Wien" in the presenceof Empress Elisabeth of Austria.


In January, Wagner gives his second and third concert in Vienna and writes the preface to the first official edition of the Ring text.  February: conzert in Prague. After that, Wagner travels to St. Petersburg via Biebrich, Berlin and Königsberg and gives three concerts there in March.  Acquaintance with the Grand-Princess Helena Pawlowa, with Anton Rubinstein and Alexander Serow, after that, three further concerts in Moscow and two further concerts in St. Petersburg.  This journey results in a revenue of 7,000 talers, what has, however, already been completely consumed by his debts and by the costs for his apartment in Penzing near Vienna. In July, Wagner gives two concerts in Budapest, and in October he presents his essay,  Das Wiener Hof-Operntheater. In November, he gives two concerts in Prague and in Karlsruhe. Wagner meets Turgenjew there. In Berlin,  Wagner and Cosima swear to only belong to each other, on November 28th.  In December, Wagner gives concerts in Löwenberg and Breslau and conducts in a concert of Carl Tausig in Vienna.

Cosima Liszt and her sister  Blandine and her brother Daniel Liszt

Kin Ludwig of Bavaria


In March of this year, Ludwig II. becomes King of Bavaria at the age of eighteen years.  Wagner flees from Vienna from a threatening incarceration due to his indebtedness. In May, Wagner learns in Stuttgart of his being called to Munich, where King Ludwig II receives him on the 4th of May.   The young king pays all of Wagner's debts and rents a house for him at Lake Starnberg, where Wagner visits the king on an almost daily basis at his Schloss Berg palace. In June, Cosima von Bülow and her children Daniela and Blandine visit Wagner for a lengthy visit.  In July, Wagner writes an essay,  Über Staat und Religion (On State and Religion).  In August, he composes a march in honor of the King's birthday.  Visit by Franz Liszt. In October, Ludwig II. officially requests from Wagner to complete the  Ring des Nibelungen. Wagner moves into the house at Briennerstrasse 21 in Munich. In November, the von Bülows move to Munich. The King decides to have a monumental festival theater built by Gottfried Semper. In December, Wagner conducts the Munich premiere of the Flying Dutchman.   Begin of his writing of the score to the 2nd act of Siegfried.


In February, the first anonymous and public attacks are launched against Wagner's relationship to the court and the King.  In March, Wagner submits his report, Bericht an Seine Majestät König Ludwig II. von Bayern über eine in München zu errichtende deutsche Musikschule with respect to the building of a German Music School to King Ludwig II. On the 10th of April, Isolde, Wagner's and Cosima's first child, is born. An the same day, the orchestra rehearsals to Tristan take place under the direction of Hans von Bülow which premieres under his direction on the 10th of June.  In July, Wagner begins to dictate his autobiography, Mein Leben to Cosima. In Dresden, the first Tristan, Ludwig Schnorr von Carolsfeld, dies. In August, the first prose sketch to Parsifal is written, and in September the essay,  Was ist deutsch?. Due to the dispute between Wagner and his followers on the one hand and the Bavarian government and court secretariat, on the other hand, Ludwig II has to ask Wagner to leave Bavaria, in December.  The latter rents the house "Les Artichauts" near Geneva..

Theater Announcement of the Premiere of Tristan in Munich


In January, Wagner travels to the south of France, while, on the 25th of January, Minna dies in Dresden.   In March, Cosima follows Wagner to Geneva.  the score to the first act of the Meistersinger is written.  In April, Wagner moves into house Tribschen near Lucerne, and King Ludwig II.  pays the rent.  In may, Cosima moves to Tribschen with her daughters. Ludwig II., thinking of abdicating, visits Wagner in Tribschen. In June,  Hans von Bülow asks the King for his dismissal.  In October, the young  Kapellmeister Hans Richter begins his activity as secretary and copyist of Wagner in connection with the Meistersinger  score.


On the 17th of February, Eva, Wagner's and Cosima's second child is born in Tribschen. Between March and June, Wagner is invited to several audiences with King Ludwig II in Munich and at Schloss Berg.  In July,  Wagner completes the score to the second act of the Meistersinger. In September, Cosima returns to Munich with her daughters. On the 24th of October, the Meistersinger score is completed.


In Mzrch, the Munich theater project ultumately fails.  In May, Wagner writes his Erinnerungen an Ludwig Schnorr von Carolsfeld and supervised the rehearsals to Meistersinger in Munich. The premiere takes place on the 21st of June under the direction of von Hans von Bülow in Munichen. In July, Cosima's relathionship with Wagner is brought to the attention of King Ludwig, and therefore, she goes to Tribschen. In August, Wagner works on the sketch to a drama entitled Luther. In September/October, Cosima and Wagner travel via the St. Gotthard to Upper Italy, from where  Cosima writes to Hans von Bülow that she wants to stay with Wagner. Therafter, Wagner informs the King of his relationship with Cosima.  In November, Wagner meets Friedrich Nietzsche for the first time in Leipzig.  With her daughters Isolde and Eva,  Cosima moves to Tribschen, permanently. After Rossini's death on the 13th of November,t Wagner writes his Eine Erinnerung an Rossini, in December.

Theater Announcement of the Premiere of
Rheingold in Munich


In February, Wagner completed the score to the 2nd act to Siegfried and begins the composition of the 3rd act. In the then-published book edition of Das Judentum in der Musik (Judaism in Music),  Wagner complains about allegedly being persecuted by Jews. In May, the Königliche Akademie der Künste (Royal Academy of Arts) in Berlin accepts Wagner as a non-local members. Friedrich Nietzsche, meanwhil having been appointed as extraordinary  Professor for Philology in Basle, visits Wagner in Tribschen, for the first time, and until 1872, there would follow a further  22 visits. In June, Wagner's and Cosima's son  Siegfried is born in Tribschen.  On June 6th, Cosima writes into her diary: "Ein Sohn Richards ist der Erbe und einstige Vertreter des Vaters seiner Kinder; er wird der Schützer und Geleiter seiner Schwestern sein.--A son of Richard is the intellectual heir and future representative of the father of his children; he will be the protector and leader of his sisters." A few days after that,  Wagner completes the compositional sketches to the 3rd act of Siegfried and begins to write the score in August. In July, the writers' couple Catulle Mendes and Judith Mendes-Gautier visit  Tribschen. On the 22nd of September, the Rheingold wird in München das Rheingold  is premiered under the direction of Franz Wüllner by order of King Ludwig II., who owns the score, after Wagner had tried in vain, to prevent this stating.  In October,  Wagner begins the composition of the Götterdämmerung and writes Über das Dirigieren (On Conducting). Cosima's diary entry of the 25th of December: "Mit Professor Nietzsche Parzival gelesen, erneuerter furchtbarer Eindruck (Read Parzival again with Professor Nietzsche, renewed terrible impression."


Inspired by a report of Hans Richter and by an encyclopedia artile, Wagner takes closer notice of the Opera House of the Margrave of Bayreuth and makes his first deliberations with respect to staging the Ring there.  On the 26 of June, the Walküre is staged in Munich against Wagner's wishes.  In July, the divorce of Cosima and Hans von Bulow becomes effective. On the 25th of August, Wagner and Cosima's wedding in the Protestant of Lucerne takes place. In September,  Wagner completes his "Beethoven" essay. In fall, he ckomposes a one-movement  Symphony, later published as  Siegfriedidyll.  In December, the first volume of his autobiography appears in a private edition, and the first copies go to King Ludwig II, Franz Liszt and Countess Marie von Schleinitz. On Cosima's birthday, Wagner has the  Siegfried-Idyll played on the stairs of their house in Tribschen.. Read to this  Helmut Walther's article "Nietzsche and Wagner", which also offers you some listening enjoyment!.

Cosima and Wagner, 1872


In February, Wagner completes the score to the 3rd act of  Siegfried. March sees the writing of Über die Bestimmung der Oper (On the Purpose of the Opera). In April, Nietzsche reads to Wagner  his "Ursprung und Ziel der Tragödie" (Origin and Aim of Tragedy). Wagner writes his Über die Aufführung des Bühnenfestspiels 'Der Ring des Nibelungen (On the staging of the stage festival of 'The Ring of the Nibelung'. Richard and Cosima travel to Germany and arrive in Bayreuth on the 16th of April, where Wagner resolves to build a new theater.  In May, Wagner is received by Bismarck in Berlin and conducts a benefice concert at the Opera House in the presense of the entire court.  On the 12th of May, in Leipzig, he announced the first Festival "Als Ort dieser Aufführungen ist Bayreuth bestimmt, als Zeit einer der Sommermonate des Jahres 1873" ("As place of these performances, Bayreuth has been chosen, as time one of the summer months of the year 1873").  With Karl Brandt,  Wagner discusses  in Darmstadt the technical questions and pre-conditions for the building of the Festival theater and for the staging of the Ring.  He writes the preface to the Gesammelten Schriften und Dichtungen (Collected writings and works of literature), which appear in 9 volumes until 1873 (the 10the volume is published in 1883). In November, the Bayreuth city council receives authorization to offer to Wagner land for the construction of the Festspielhaus, at no cost.  In December, Wagner presents his Epilogischen Bericht über die Umstände und Schicksale, welche die Aufführung des Bühnenfestspiels 'Der Ring des Nibelungen' bis zur Veröffentlichung der Dichtung derselben begleiteten (Epilogue Report on the Circumstances and Events that accompanited the Stating of the Stage Festival 'The Ring of the Nibelung' up to the Publication of the Text of the same)  and, in Mannheim, he conducts a concert for the benefit of the Festival, that has been arranged by the first Wagner Society that was founded by Emil Heckel. 


In January, Wagner is enthused about Nietzsche's "Geburt der Tragödie aus dem Geist der Musik". The final site for the construction of the Festival below the "Bürgerreuth" is chosen.. Thereafter, Wagner travels via Basle, Berlin and Weimar to Bayreuth, and, on the 1st of February, founds the Board of Directions of the Bayreuth Festival, with Mayor  Theodor Muncker, banker Friedrich Feustel and the lawyer Käfferlein. In April,  Wagner leaves Tribschen, and Nietzsche visits Tribschen for the last time. Cosima folllows Wagner to Bayreuth with her children.  In May,  Wagner holds a concert at the Wiener Wagner-Verein (Vienna Wagner Society). An the 22nd of May, the laying of the foundation to the Festspielhaus takes place in Bayreuth.   In his speech, Wagner emphasizes the preliminary nature and the practical aspects of the theater building.   With respect to scenic design, the best shall be offered. In the afternoon, Wagner conducts Beethoven's Ninth Symphony in the Opera House.  In September, Wagner writes Über Schauspieler und Sänger (On Actors and Singers). In October, Franz Liszt visits Bayreuth for the first time, and in November, Wagner and Cosima begin a longer journey through Germany, in order to select and hire artists.  As a summary of this journey, Wagner wrote, in December,  Ein Einblick in has heutige deutsche Opernwesen (Some Insight into toda's German Opera Scene).

Wagner and Cosima in 1873
with their son Siegfried


In January, Wagner reads his Götterdämmerung at the house of Miniter von Schleinitz in Berlin, in the presence of Moltke, Helmholtz, Adolf Menzel, Bleichröder and gives two conzerts in Hamburg. Between February and April, he holds concerts in Berlin and Cologne.  In May, he writes, Das Bühnenfestspielhaus zu Bayreuth. Nebst einem Berichte über die Grundsteinlegung desselben; mit sechs architektonischen Plänen (The Festspielhaus in Bayreuth.  With a Report on the Laying of the Foundation of the Same; with Six architectural Sketches). In June, Wagner sends a copy of the above writing to Bismarck, without receiving the desired response. On the 2nd of August, the inauguration of the Festspielhaus takes place.  The architext is Otto Brüvkwald.  In September,  Anton Bruckner visits Bayreuth. In October, the Festspielhaus venture is in finaicial trouble.   Nietzsche drafts a  "Mahnruf an die Deutschen" (Plea to the Germans), which is, however, not published.  In December, Wagner completes the scor to the first act of  Götterdämmerung.

Cross-Section and Interior View of the Plans for the Festspielhaus

Orchesterra Pit at the Bayreuth Festspielhaus
Orchestera Pit (Cross-Section)


In February, Ludwig II. grants a loan of 100,000 talers (to the Festival venture). On the 28th of April, Wagner and his family move into "Haus Wahnfried", their new mansion, that is mainly financed by a gift of 25,000 talers by King Ludwig.   On the 26th of June, Wagner completes the score to the second act of Götterdämmerung. The  next day, the first rehearsals for the Ring with Hnas Richter and the singers begin and take up to the beginning of September. In November,  Wagner writes the last page of the score to the Ring, after a creative process of 26 years,   "Vollendet in Wahnfried am 21. November 1874. Ich sage nichts weiter!! RW" ("Completed in Wahnfried on November 21, 1874.  I say nothing further!! RW").

Haus Wahnfried.
Contemporary  Woodcut.

Haus Wahnfried, Libary


In March, Wagner gives two concerts in Vienna and attends an artists' festival of Hans Makart. This is followed by a concert with  Franz Liszt and Hans Richter in Budapest. In April, he travels to Berlin via Leipzig, Hannover and Braunschweig und gives two concerts there and also meetsg Theodor Mommsen. In May, his third Viennese concert takes place.  In July  and August, solo orchestra and stage rehearsals take place in Bayreuth.  In November and Dezember, Wagner newly rehearses the Viennese Tannhäuser and Lohengrin versions at the Vienna Court Opera,  which is conducted by Hans Richter.

The Ring of the Nibelung
Das Rheingold
, 1st Scene

Die Walküre
2nd Act, Finale

3rd Act, Brünnhilde's Awakening

3rd Act: Siegfried's Death


In March, Wagner conducts Lohengrin as benefice staging for the choir.  For the celebration of the Centenary of the American Independence, Wagner composes a "grossen Festmarsch"  (great festive march), for which he receives 5,000 Dollars. In Berlin, Wagner rehearses and stages the Tristan for the first time, after which Kaiser Wilhelm I. decrees that the net earnings from it are to be given to the Festival Fund.  On the 3rd of June, the rehearsals begin at Bayreuth.   In August, King Ludwig II. attends the dress rehearsal.  On the 13th of August, the Festival begins with Das Rheingold under the baton of Hans Richter. The decorations have been provided by Joseph Hoffmann and the  Brückner brothers, the costumes by Emil Doepler. Among the Festival guests are Kaiser Wilhelm I, Dom Pedro II. of Brasil, and numerous Princes. In spite of the outer success, Wagner is not satisfied with the artistic result and speaks of the "Geburt eines gewöhnlichen Theaterkindes" "Birth of a Quite Ordinary Theater Child"), and the Festival also "achieves" a deficit of 148,000 Marks.  From September to December, he travels to Italy and visits Verona, Venece, Bologna, Naples, Sorrent (and there, he meets Nietzsche for the last time in October/Nocember), Rom and Florence.


On the 19th of April,  Wagner completes the textbook of Parsifal. With Hans Richter, Wagner gives eight conzerts in London, in order to lower the deficit of the festival. The net earnings amount only to 700 Pounds. He is also received by Queen Victoria at Windsor Castle.  In September,  Wagner begins his composition of Parsifal.  To the delegates of the Bayreuth Patrons, he explains that he intends to stage his works in Bayreuth from 1800 to 1883.

Richard Wagner in London, 1877


In January, the first edition of the Bayreuther Blätter  is published which will exist until 1938. The editor of that time, was Hans von Wolzogen. Wagner writes several essays for this periodical. He also continues his compositional work of  Parsival. On the 25th of December, Wagner performs the previously instrumented prelude to Parsifal with the Meiningen Court Orchestra, in House Wahnfried. 


On the 23rd of August, Wagner begins to write the score of   Parsifal. In October, the philosopher Heinrich von Stein become the private tutor of Siegfried Wagner. In December, Wagner travels to Italy with his family.


Wagner spends the months of January to August in Italy (mainly in Naples, at ther Villa Angri) and is visited there, amongst others, by Paul von Joukowsky, who would later design the decorations and costumes to Parsifal, and by Engelbert Humperdinck.  At his visit of the park of as  "Klingsors Zaubergarten" ("Klingsor's Magic Garden"). In July, he completes his essay, Religion und Kunst (Religion and Art). From August to October, Wagner stays in Siena at Villa Torre Fiorentina and is also very impressed by the cathedral there, which later becomes his ideal 'temple of the holy grale' in Parsifal.  Wagner spends October in Venice. In November, Wagner hears The Flying Dutchman, Trustan and Lohengrin in Munich and takes part in an artists' festival of Franz Lenbach.  For Ludwig II. alone, Wagner conducts the Parsifal-Prelude. This is his last meeting with the King.  After that, he returns to Bayreuth and annouces there the Festival for 1882, in Dezember.

Richard Wagner with his family and friends, 1881


In February, Ludwig II. das takes over the protectorate of the Festival.  He does not insist on having Parsifal staged in Munich.  On the 25th of April, Wagner completes the score to the first act of  Parsifal. In May, Angelo Neumann stages the Ring in Berlin at the Viktoria-Theater, in the presence of Wagner. On the 20th of October, Wagner completes the score to the second act of  Parsifal. In November, he travels to Italy and stays in Palermo in the Hotel des Palmes.  In December, Karl Brandt dies. His son Fritz Brandt takes on the technical management of the Festival.


In January, Wagner completes the score to Parsifal. On January 13th,  Cosima writes into her diary, "...bei dieser wie bei allen Arbeiten hat er gefürchtet, durch den Tod unterbrochen zu werden" ("in the process of this as of all other work, he had feared to be interrupted by death").  Renoir paints Wagner. (To this again a quote from Cosima's diary, "Von dem sehr wunderlichen, blau-rosigen Ergebnis meint Richard, es sähe aus wie der Embryo eines Engels, als Auster von einem Epikuräer verschluckt" ("Of the very peculiar blue-rosy result, Richard is of the opinion that the portrait looks like the emryo of an angel that had been swallowed by an Epicurean, as an oyster").   In February,  Wagners move into the Villa of Prince Gagni that is situated at the Piazza dei Porazzi, and in March to Acireale. In April,  Wagner travels to Bayreuth via Messina, Naples, Venice and Munich. In May, the  Stipendienstiftung (Scholarship Fund) is formed, and in  July, the rehearsals for Parsifal begin (on July 2nd). the work premieres on the  26th of July, and even Eduard Hanslick speaks of Wagner as the first director of the world. 16 performances take place. Among the visitors are Anton Bruckner, Franz Liszt, Gustav Mahler, and Saint-Saens. On the 29th of August,  Wagner conducts the last performance from the transformation music in the 3rd act on. This is the first time that he conducts in Bayreuth.  In spite of the success, Cosima writes into her diary, that Wagner complained bitterly about Bayreuth.  On the 14th September,  Wagner departs from Bayreuth for the last time.   In Venice, he moves into the Palazzo Vendramin-Calergi with his family. In November, he writes Das Bühnenweihfestspiel in Bayreuth (The Stage Pay in Bayreuth). Liszt arrives for a visit. On the 24th of December, in the Teatro la Fenice,  Wagner conducts his Symphony in C major of 1832.

Parsifal 1st Act, 2nd Scene: Temple of the Grale, 1882

Richard Wagner
Drawing by Paul von Joukowsky, 10. 2. 1883.
Beneath, Cosima wrote,  "R. spielend" ("R. playing")


Liszt leaves Venice. Hermann Levi visits Wagner to discuss the next Festival of 1883, and on the 11th of February, Wagner begins his essay, Über das Weibliche im Menschlichen (On the feminine in human nature). On the 13th of February, Wagner has a serious heart attack. He dies in Cosima's arms around three in the afternoon. -- His remains are tranferred to Bayreuth and buried there in the garden of Wahnfried on the 18th of February.