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His life his work

Richard Wagner, Ludwig II and the music of the future

His life

Chapter 2

Richard Wagner,
Ludwig II and the music of the future


Richard Wagner, photography by 1870   

Ludwig got acquainted for a long time of Wagner, even if it is just through his writings which he knows almost by heart. The musician transformed his life: the protection and the revelation to the world of this artist will be its divine mission. At once it is necessary to explain things: Richard Wagner represents for the young king a spiritual father about whom he always has, consciously or not, dreamed. Its aspiration, its ideas on the Art, its vision of the world is also his. It is at the age of 16 in 1861 when the first shock occurred by listening to Lohengrin : the prince felt a real transformation. This music, this harmony of sounds allied to a poetry which transcends her, here is the world such as he would want it … The universe is there, in front of the dazzled eyes. He will have respite from then on to pursue all which concerns the artist, closely or by far, imploring his father to allow him again to hear this miracle.

Once king, Ludwig will make the composer come to his court and will receive him having made him look to Austria by his aulique secretary Pfistermeister. The meeting so hoped will occur between both geniuses on May 5th, 1864, to the royal palace of Munich. Ludwig has only a desire: that the work of master bursts in broad daylight. For it he will give him important means, and even more, his unlimited enthusiasm, despite all.

Soon, in 1865, Tristan and Isolde will be born, and Ludwig will follow this birth with the same fever as if he had been the father there. In a way, the work of Wagner is also his because its clear-sightedness and its support so moral as financial will lead him up to the summit, up to the consecration after many cabals and treasons. Yes … Wagner will betray the trust of the king by wanting to hide him its love affair with Cosima, the woman of his conductor von Bülow. By using all the means, including the shameless lie to hide this fault with the aim of saving its situation, Wagner will fall of the base where Ludwig had placed him. Henceforth far from Munich since December, 1865, further to a cabal which forced him to leave, the musician will not maintain more than especially epistolary connections with his sovereign. This one will continue nevertheless to support him and to save several times from the bankruptcy the bayreuthian project.

The temple of the Wagnerism will so see its inauguration in 1876, thanks to Ludwig II who will go personally twice to the festival. It was always false to claim that Wagner had some political influence on Ludwig. The king did not tolerate that whoever dictate him his orders, or somehow or other try to manipulate him. Wagner however ventured on it under the Prussian pressure. Now, Ludwig II, as soon as the political question was approached changed at once subject. The multiple attempts of Wagner so that the king reshapes his cabinet failed pitifully. Furthermore, its personal ideas have never suffered from an outside influence.

When the musician died in February, 1883, Ludwig who was always visionary will say:

«This artist today cried by all, it is I who recognized him the first one, I saved him for the world. »

Ludwig knew always how to make the difference between the man and his work, and it is for this one, for its survival, that his generosity expressed herself. It was normal that it makes justice. Finally, it is essential to specify that without the clear-sightedness and the protection of Ludwig II, neither Tristan and Isolde, nor The Mastersingers, nor the Tetralogy, nor Parsifal would have been able to be born.

As will recognize later Wagner, not without bitterness:

«I owe everything to the King; without him, I would be nothing.”

© Copyright 2015 Elisabeth Fontaine-Bachelier

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