By Oliver Hilmes

ISBN-10: 0300152159

ISBN-13: 9780300152159

In this meticulously researched publication, Oliver Hilmes paints a desirable and revealing photograph of the intense Cosima Wagner—illegitimate daughter of Franz Liszt, spouse of the conductor Hans von Bülow, then mistress and for this reason spouse of Richard Wagner. After Wagner’s demise in 1883 Cosima performed a very important function within the promulgation and politicization of his works, assuming regulate of the Bayreuth pageant and reworking it right into a shrine to German nationalism. The excessive Priestess of the Wagnerian cult, Cosima lived on for nearly fifty years, crafting just like Richard Wagner via her organizational skill and ideological tenacity.

The first booklet to use the to be had documentation at Bayreuth, this biography explores the achievements of this outstanding and obsessive lady whereas illuminating a still-hidden bankruptcy of eu cultural background.

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Hand in hand with this controlling influence went a certain superficiality in their correspondence. Unable to say what they felt, the two girls had to content themselves with expressing suitably sensitive views on works of music, books and paintings. And since their governess had given them to feel that their father was far too grand to concern himself with them, they struggled to please him with every sentence they wrote. The skill that Madame Patersi was trying to implant in her pupils was the ability to make stimulating small talk and to hold a cultivated salon conversation over tea and biscuits.

Liszt was fully aware of the sham nature of this upbringing. qxp 11/21/10 2:05 PM Page 25 A C H I L D H O O D W I T H O U T PA R E N T S 25 indignantly: ‘Why, in fact, is this sonata more congenial in your view? And why in particular does it impress you? ’60 Why did Liszt do nothing to resist the crass regime to which his daughters were subjected? He must have been aware that their governess was merely carrying out the instructions of the new woman in his life and that nothing happened in Paris without Carolyne’s knowledge and consent.

51 Their governess demanded total subordination on their part and was not fastidious about the means that she used to achieve that end. Childish defiance or rebellion and resistance were broken on the wheel. During their initial period in Madame Patersi’s care, Blandine and Cosima were often reduced to tears – not that this made any impression on the two old ladies in the Rue Casimir Périer. ‘Tears are just water’ was one of their watchwords. Nor did the elderly sisters shy away from spiritually terrorizing their charges.

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Cosima Wagner: The Lady of Bayreuth by Oliver Hilmes


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