Cosima Francesca Gaetana Wagner
Cosima Wagner in London (1877).
, née de Flavigny
from 1844 Liszt
; (25 December 1837 1 April 1930)
was the daughter of composer Franz
. She became famous as the second wife of the
German composer Richard Wagner and,
after his death, as director of the Bayreuth Festival for 31 years.
born out of wedlock, at Como, Italy, to the Countess Marie
d'Agoult, a longtime mistress of Liszt who, after their affair
had ended, became an author using the pen name Daniel
In 1857, Cosima married Hans von
, a piano virtuoso, teacher and orchestral conductor.
After marrying von Bülow she came into frequent contact with
Wagner, to whom her father had introduced her in 1853; Wagner was
24 years her senior and still married to Minna Planer. They became intimate
in 1863, and in 1866 they set up house together in a villa at
Tribschen, paid for by King Ludwig II of Bavaria, on the shore of
Cosima and Richard were
eventually married on 25 August 1870, after Minna had died, von
Bülow had agreed to a divorce and Cosima, who had been baptized and
raised a Catholic, had converted to Protestantism. Cosima already
had two children from her first marriage, Daniela and Blandine. Her
future children by Wagner—Isolde, Eva and Siegfried
—were born before she married him.
From 1869 to 1883, she kept a detailed diary
of their daily life together, which was later published. Cosima was
a notorious anti-Semite
, perhaps even
more so than Wagner, although this was possibly in reaction to her
directed the Bayreuth
Festival from the
death of Richard Wagner in 1883 until 1906, when she retired for
During that time a total of 15 festivals
took place. Cosima initially revived the 1882 première production
, but gradually
introduced the other nine operas which make up what has become
known as the Bayreuth canon
increased the total number of performances each year to 20. During
her tenure, she insisted that the staging of the 1876 premiere
performances of the Ring Cycle
strictly adhered to. Her son, Siegfried, carried on this rigid
"Bayreuth style" until the outbreak of World War I in 1914, when
the Festival stopped operating. When the Festival re-opened in
1924, it continued under the direction of Siegfried
at the age of 92 in Bayreuth.
- George R. Marek: Cosima Wagner. New York: Harper &
Row, 1981. ISBN 0-06-012704-X
- Grove Encyclopedia of Music
- Carr, Jonathan: The
Wagner Clan: The Saga of Germany's Most Illustrious and Infamous
Family. Atlantic Monthly Press, 2007. ISBN 0871139758
- "Siegfried Idyll." The Oxford Dictionary of Music, 2nd ed. rev.
Ed. Michael Kennedy.
Oxford Music Online. 19 Mar. 2009