2 pages of a bifolium; second leaf blank. Small folio (208 x 270 mm). Dated Paris, May 7, 1841. On stationery with Wagner's monogrammatic blindstamp to upper left corner. In German (with translation).
A long, densely-written, letter regarding Wagner's proposed biography of Beethoven and mentioning his opera Rienzi.
Wagner, who was trying to eke out a living in Paris at the time, attempts to interest Winkler in his two-volume monograph on Beethoven based on the research of Wagner's friend Gottfried Engelbert Anders (1795-1866), a German-born librarian in Paris. Wagner declares his intention to supersede Anton Schindler's biography of Beethoven, published in the previous year, which he considers inadequate. He asks Winkler to recommend him to the publisher Christoph Arnold (1763-1847) and names his (and Anders's) requested fees, to be paid in part as advances:
"Herr Anders found [Schindler's] book to be very poor compared to his own collection of communications [on Beethoven] ... also, every thoughtful and sensitive reader has expressed his opinion on [Schindler's book] that it falls short of meeting the demands of a true biography as it had been expected... Herr Anders was prompted to realize his long-cherished dream. As his position... leaves him hardly any time and he also confesses that an easy, fluent realization will not come to him, he has offered to leave me all his rich material and to discuss everything with me but to have the book itself written by me... Avoiding any fussy, pedantic, scholarly philistinism of citation, our book shall be more like a great novel on an artist than like a dry enumeration of chronologically ordered dates and anecdotes."
In the final paragraph, Wagner expresses his frustration about the long silence of the Dresden court opera regarding a possible production of his opera Rienzi:
"I have to confess to you that my opera [Rienzi] still means more to me than anything else... I am almost dying of my unruly lack of patience concerning the decision of the general direction... A negative decision...will cost me half a year, during which I could have entered negotiations with a different theater."
From the noted autograph collection of Louis Koch.
Slightly creased; small professional repairs to edges; professionally guarded at inner edge of final leaf.
WBV 169. Richard Wagner: Sämtliche Briefe I, no. 149, pp. 481-86. Kinsky: Manuskripte, Briefe, Dokumente von Scarlatti bis Stravinsky: Katalog der Musikautographensammlung Louis Koch, pp. 250-51 (with facsimile of first page).
Theodor Winkler (1775-1856), better known under his pseudonym Theodor Hell, was the editor-in-chief of the daily Dresdner Abend-Zeitung, for which Wagner worked as a Paris correspondent. Enclosed with the present letter was Wagner's third "Pariser Bericht," dated May 5, 1841. Winkler was active in many fields; trained as a lawyer, he achieved fame as a poet, editor, arts administrator, and stage director.
Wagner's biography of Beethoven did not, in fact, materialize. After Arnold declined, the publishers Brockhaus and Cotta did the same.
Rienzi was first performed at the Dresden court opera on October 20, 1842. Item #25381
Price: $12,500.00 other currencies