Waart, Edo de. 56 Wachmann, Eduard 56

Wolzanus, Nicolaus. See Faber, Nicolaus (ii). Wolzogen, Hans (Paul) Freiherr von

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Wolzanus, Nicolaus.

See Faber, Nicolaus (ii).

Wolzogen, Hans (Paul) Freiherr von

(b Potsdam, 13 Nov 1848; d Bayreuth, 2 June 1938). German writer on music. His mother was the daughter of the Berlin architect and artist Karl Friedrich Schinkel; his father, Alfred von Wolzogen (1823–83), was for a time director of the Schwerin court theatre. Following his mother's death in 1850, Hans was brought up by Schinkel relatives at the Berlin Bauakademie, founded and built by his grandfather. He had no formal musical training, though both parents had studied singing with F.W. Jähns (the biographer of Weber). After being parted from his father in infancy, he rejoined him at the age of 14 in Breslau, where he began to develop a passion for theatre and opera. A performance of Tannhäuser there in 1864 made little impression, but two years later he heard it again in Berlin, along with Lohengrin; these experiences marked the beginning of what was to become a lifelong dedication to Wagner's works and ideology. As a student in Berlin (1868–70), Wolzogen cultivated an interest in historical linguistics as well as classical and Germanic mythology and literature. He also developed an enthusiasm for the ideas of Schopenhauer. All of this, and his ‘strong inclination for Weltanschauung’, prepared the way for his eager reception of Wagner's Beethoven essay and Nietzsche's Birth of Tragedy, followed by Wagner's earlier theoretical writings.

Wolzogen passed through Bayreuth in the autumn of 1872 with his new wife, Mathilde von Schoeler, and observed the early stages of work on the Festpielhaus. He had written his first piece of pro-Wagnerian journalism in response to the Berlin production of Die Meistersinger in 1870, and contributed articles on Wagner to the Musikalisches Wochenblatt in 1871–3. His first extended encounter with the composer occurred in 1875 during the rehearsals for the first Ring cycle. For that event he produced his most influential contribution to the Wagner literature: the first of his thematic guides to the leitmotifs of the music dramas (1876). Although the term ‘leitmotif’ had been in circulation for some time, these guides contributed greatly to the dissemination of this influential concept. The first guide was expanded in 1877 and followed by similar guides for the other music dramas, up to Parsifal (1882). After the first Bayreuth festival, Wolzogen was charged with publicizing plans for a musical-dramatic conservatory that would propagate a true Bayreuth style of singing, acting and stagecraft. When these plans came to nothing, he helped instead to found a journal, the Bayreuther Blätter, which he continued to edit for 60 years until his death in 1938. Wolzogen settled in Bayreuth in 1877 and remained, together with Cosima Wagner, at the centre of the ‘cult’ of faithful Wagnerians whose conservative and nationalistic-chauvinistic aesthetic ideology was easily assimilated by the Nationalist Socialist regime in the 1930s. With H.S. Chamberlain and others of this group, Wolzogen promoted Arthur Gobineau's racial theories and the anti-Semitic polemics of figures like Adolf Stöcker and Ludwig Schemann.

After Wagner's death, Wolzogen continued to write extensively on the music dramas and the Bayreuth Weltanschauung in general, as well as on numerous other topics regarding German language, literature and theatre. He wrote a number of plays and opera librettos from the late 1880s to about 1900, mainly in an unassuming comic vein (out of consideration for Wagner's hegemony in the realm of serious music drama); a number of these were set by Hans Sommer (Das Schloss der Herzen, Saint Foix, Münchhausen and Augustin) but the most successful was Flauto solo, set by Eugen d'Albert (1905). Wolzogen also strove to integrate a strand of Protestant Christian doctrine into many of his writings, of which Wagner (even at the time of Parsifal) did not always approve. Wolzogen himself admitted that much of what he published was scarcely noticed outside the immediate Bayreuth circle. By his own account, his most widely read publications were the motivic guides (Leitfäden), his Erinnerungen an Wagner (1883) and Richard Wagner und die Tierwelt (1890).

His half-brother Ernst von Wolzogen (1855–1934) wrote the libretto for Strauss's Feuersnot (1901); he also founded the satirical ‘Überbrettl’ Cabaret in Berlin, for which Oscar Straus and Schoenberg, among others, wrote music.


Richard Wagner's Tannhäuser und Lohengrin nach Sage, Dichtung und Musik (Berlin, 1873)

Der Nibelungenmythos in Sage und Literatur (Berlin, 1876, 3/1890)

Poetische Lautsymbolik: psychische Wirkungen der Sprachlaute im Stabreime aus R. Wagner's ‘Ring des Nibelungen’ (Leipzig, 1876)

Thematischer Leitfaden durch die Musik zu Richard Wagners Festspiel ‘Der Ring des Nibelungen’ (Leipzig, 1876; Eng. trans., 1882, 3/1888) [later retitled Führer durch die Musik zu Richard Wagners Festspiel Der Ring des Nibelungen and Der Ring des Nibelungen: ein thematischer Leitfaden durch Dichtung und Musik]

Die Tragödie in Bayreuth und ihr Satyrspiel (Leipzig, 1876, 12/1899) [from 4th edn onwards retitled Erläuterungen zu R. Wagner's Nibelungendrama für alle Leser und Hörer des Werkes]

Die Sprache in R. Wagner's Dichtungen (Leipzig, 1878, 3/1889)

‘The Work and Mission of my Life’, North American Review, cxxix (1879), 107–24 [pubd under Wagner's name]; Ger. orig., as ‘Das Werk und die Aufgabe meines Lebens’, Mehr Licht (Aug–Sept 1879) and as Richard Wagners Lebensbericht (1884)

Thematischer Leitfaden durch die Musik zu R. Wagner's Tristan und Isolde (Leipzig, 1880, 14/1911; Eng. trans., 1884)

Thematischer Leitfaden durch die Musik zu R. Wagner's Parsifal (Leipzig, 1882, 21/1914; Eng. trans., 1889)

Erinnerungen an Richard Wagner (Vienna, 1883, enlarged 2/1891; Eng trans., 1894)

Richard Wagner und die deutsche Kultur (Leipzig, 1883)

Wagneriana: gesammelte Aufsätze über R. Wagner's Werke vom Ring bis zum Gral (Leipzig, 1888)

Richard Wagner und die Tierwelt: auch eine Biographie (Leipzig, 1890, 3/1910)

Grossmeister deutscher Musik (Hanover, 1897, enlarged 2/1924)

Bayreuth (Berlin, 1904)

Wagner-Brevier (Leipzig, 1904)

Aus deutscher Welt: gesammelte Aufsätze über deutsche Art und Kultur (Berlin, 1905, 2/1910)

E.T.A. Hoffmann und Richard Wagner (Berlin, 1906)

Musikalisch-dramatische Parallelen (Leipzig, 1906)

Aus Richard Wagners Geisteswelt: neue Wagneriana und Verwandtes (Berlin and Leipzig, 1908)

E.T.A. Hoffmann: der deutsche Geisterseher (Leipzig, 1922)

Lebensbilder (Regensburg, 1923)

Wagner und seine Werke: ausgewählte Aufsätze (Regensburg, 1924)

Musik und Theater (Regensburg, 1929)


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