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Chapter 5 - Liszt and Wagner

from Part I - People and Places

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 September 2021

Joanne Cormac
Affiliation:
University of Nottingham
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Summary

Liszt first met Wagner in 1841, when the latter briefly introduced himself in an ‘awkward’ exchange in Paris following Heinrich Laube’s cynical recommendation ‘to lose no time in looking [Liszt] up, as he was “generous”’.1 After Liszt had heard Rienzi in Dresden (1844), a second meeting followed in Berlin, mediated by Wilhelmine Schroeder-Devrient. Thereafter, Wagner contacted Liszt in 1845 about funds for the planned Weber memorial in Dresden, and again in 1846, when he sent the scores of Rienzi and Tannhäuser in dogged pursuit of Liszt’s esteem: ‘I proceed quite openly to rouse you up in my favour.’2 By 1848, he began requesting personal financial help from Liszt, initially selling the copyright to his extant operas and accepting commissions, but thereafter simply requesting a series of bailouts, often in uncomfortably obsequious, manipulative prose. The year 1849 marked a sea-change: Liszt conducted the first performances of Tannhäuser since the Dresden premiere (as a late substitution for Schubert’s Alfonso und Estrella that Liszt – on point of resignation – forced on the Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna for her birthday) and gave Wagner a supreme endorsement by publishing two piano transcriptions from the opera, declaring to its salivating composer: ‘Once and for all, number me in future among your most zealous and devoted admirers; near or far, count on me and make use of me.’3

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Liszt in Context , pp. 38 - 47
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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