WAGNER AND THE JEWS: CHRONOLOGY
1813 Wagner born Leipzig. Father dies at the end of the year
1814 Mother remarries
1821 Stepfather dies, Wagner sometimes farmed out to relatives in the years that follow
1835 Wagner marries Minna Planer. Not a succesful marriage
1839 Wagner leaves Germany in order to avoid his creditors. Arrives in Paris, where he is worse off. The years there leave a permanent scar. Here he meets Meyerbeer, the most successful Opera composer of his time - and a Jew
1842 Wagner leave Paris for Germany. Meyerbeer’s influence has secured for him performances of two of his Operas, Rienzi and The Flying Dutchman - the first of his operas to be performed. The latter is based on a story by Heinrich Heine, also a Jew. The composer becomes a success.
1843 Appointed Kapellmeister in Dresden
1848 Wagner’s mother dies in January. In February revolution sweeps Europe. Wagner is caught up, writes revolutionary tracts and gives revolutionary talks. Associates with, among others Bakunin. First instance of an antisemitic comment in Wagner’s Prose - in The Wibelungen - published in following year. First sketch, and libretto of last opera (of 4) for what is to become The Ring written.
1849 Revolution fails. Extent of Wagner’s involvement is uncertain, but he flees (Bakunin gets caught) Germany. Spends the next decade in exile. Starts writing revolutionary tracts on major scale with Art and Revolution, soon to be followed by the book-length Artwork of the Future.
1850 Judaism in Music, Wagner’s first major antisemitic work written and published - though under a pseudonym. This is a landmark work in history of antisemitism. Contains an attack on Meyerbeer amongst others. His letters from now on maintain a regular supply of antisemitic remarks. In general overt antisemitism does not appear in his other prose of the time.
1851 Wagner concludes cycle of revolutionary tracts with two further booklength efforts: Opera and Drama and A Communication to my Friends . In Opera and Drama, Wagner once again attacks Meyerbeer.
1852 Wagner finishes writing the libretti to his Ring operas. These remain largely unchanged for the next 24 years - until 1876 when they are put on for the first time as a cycle. In the meantime Wagner writes the music for them.
1854 Wagner reads Schopenhauer. His mental world is completely turned around and from now on the composer will believe in some form of Schopenhauerian Christianity (see Chapter 6). Schopenhauer was virulently antisemitic and the composer’s antisemitism changes character somewhat in line with Schopenhauer’s views.
1860 Wagner returns to Germany.
1864 Wagner meets the 17year old Ludwig II of Bavaria (already a Wagner fanatic) who falls head over heels in platonic love with him. He bankrolls him for the rest of his life. Wagner starts writing tracts to help educate the impressionable young king. This instigates a comparable series to his revolutionary writings - but based around the idea of “Germanness” - which Wagner rolls out over the next few years. They contain explicit antisemitism. Meyerbeer dies.
1866 Minna dies
1868 Wagner’s “German” opera The Mastersingers of Nuremberg has first performance.
1869 Wagner reprints Judaism in Music - This time under his own name.
1870 Wagner marries Cosima van Bulow (daughter of Liszt). They already have four children
1873 Wagner’s purpose-built opera house at Bayreuth begun (with Ludwig and Bavaria’s money).
1876 Ring Cycle performed at Bayreuth.
1878 Wagner begins a new series of tracts with Modern. Many contain explicit antisemitism. They are based in the composer’s take on Schopenhauerian Christianity.
1881 Know Thyself written. This is Wagner’s second major antisemitic tract - and substantially more venonomus than the better know Judsaim in Music. In September, Wagner finishes Herodom and Christendom. It contains Wagner’s first antisemitic utterance based in ideas of blood.
1882 Parsifal, Wagner’s last opera first performed.
1883 Wagner dies.
Source: WagnerBuch by Simon Weil