Group Title: operas of Peter Cornelius
Title: The Operas of Peter Cornelius
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Title: The Operas of Peter Cornelius a rationale for inclusion in the higher level music curriculum
Physical Description: ix, 314 leaves : ill. ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Lawton, Orville Timothy, 1949-
Publication Date: 1988
Copyright Date: 1988
Subject: Music -- Instruction and study   ( lcsh )
Universities and colleges -- Curricula   ( lcsh )
Educational Leadership thesis Ph.D
Dissertations, Academic -- Educational Leadership -- UF
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Thesis: Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 1988.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
General Note: Typescript.
General Note: Vita.
Statement of Responsibility: by Orville Timothy Lawton.
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Bibliographic ID: UF00099573
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: alephbibnum - 001125878
oclc - 20071154
notis - AFM3001


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Copyright 1988


Orville Timothy Lawton

This work is dedicated to my loving mother,
Theodora Ernestine Lawton,
and in loving memory of my father,
James William Lawton.
Their love and encouragement have sustained me.


This study would not have been possible without the help

of many people. Gratitude is hereby expressed to the

following persons whose encouragement and support were

extremely helpful in completing this project.

To my committee chairman Dr. Forrest W. Parkay, words of

thanks seem so inadequate for expressing my appreciation for

all the help he provided. His telephone calls to "see how

things are going" were very encouraging.

Cochairman Dr. David Z. Kushner, eminent musicologist,

advisor, and friend, provided invaluable friendship and

encouragement throughout the years.

Special thanks are given to other committee members:

Dr. S. Philip Kniseley, Mr. John Kitts, and Dr. Albert B.

Smith, III. Their assistance and encouragement are much


Mrs. Robena Eng-Cornwell, music librarian, gave

assistance well beyond the call of duty and became a dear

friend in the process.

I could not have completed this project without the

untiring help Ms. Geraldine Collins gave in securing the many

German articles and books through the Inter-Library Loan

Department. I am indebted to her.

Dr. Quincy "Q.C." Hilliard provided extremely valuable

assistance with the musical examples.

Frau Natalie Booth's interest and eagerness to help with

the German translations made my task easier. Special thanks

are given to her.

Elizabeth Graham and Julius Gilbert, my Gainesville

family, showed unfailing faith in me.

The moral support I received from Rachel Jerry, Eddie

Little, and Jausita "Cuz" Denson was more than I could ask

for. To each of them I am grateful.

My family has supported and encouraged me all the way.

Their love sustained me.

Finally, I would like to give heartfelt thanks to my

mother, Theodora Lawton. She is my greatest joy, my biggest

fan, and the one who gave her all to help me. All that I am

I owe to her.



ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS.......................................... iv

ABSTRACT..... .......... ................................. viii


1 INTRODUCTION................................... 1

Statement of Purpose............................. 3
Need for the Study.............................. 4
Focus of the Study............................. 5
Definitions of Terms........................... 6
Methodology.................................... 9
Organization of Chapters....................... 12

2 REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE................... 14

Books Written by Cornelius...................... 14
Books Written About Cornelius.................. 15
Articles Written About Cornelius............... 17
Other Books and Articles Related to the Study.. 20

3 BIOGRAPHY...................................... 24

Mainz and Wiesbaden (1824-1844)................ 24
Berlin (1844-1852) ............................. 27
Weimar (1853-1858) ............................. 29
Music at the Court of Weimar................... 31
Cornelius and Liszt............................ 45
Cornelius and Berlioz .......................... 50
Vienna (1859-1864): Cornelius and Wagner...... 52
Munich (1865-1874) ............................. 64


Singspiel. ...................................... 69
Carl Maria von Weber......... .................... 75
Heinrich Marschner............................. 78
Albert Lortzing.................................. 79
Otto Nicolai .................................... 80



TWO ACTS......................................... 83

History of the Text............................. 85
The Overture.................................... 96
Acts 1 and 2..................................... 108
Premier. ........................................ 150


History of the Text........................... 159
The Burger Sonata as the Basis of Music for
Der Cid........................................ 164
The Overture................................... 171
Acts 1, 2, and 3................................. 176
Premier............................................ 216


History of the Text............................. 220
Acts 1, 2, and 3................................. 230
Premier......................................... 286



MUSICAL WORKS .................................. 295

REFERENCES...... ......... ............................... 307

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH .................................... 313

Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy



Orville Timothy Lawton

December 1988

Chairman: Dr. Forrest W. Parkay
Cochairman: Dr. David Z. Kushner
Major Department: Educational Leadership

The 19th century, as did other periods in music history,

produced many great composers. Alongside the master

composers were musicians who worked on a smaller scale and

who were often neglected by the major writers of the period.

Peter Cornelius belongs to that distinguished minority of

nondemonstrative geniuses whose voices have been too rare and

too subtle to capture the attention of those who give heed

only to the inevitable. Although Cornelius's operas did not

attain popularity, this study shows that he was writing in a

style consistent with his contemporaries. His three operas,

therefore, can be cited as representative of German opera in

the time period 1858-1891.

Cornelius's literary and musical writings are an

invaluable source of material for studying the musical

climate of the mid-19th century. Their use in teaching

higher level courses in music history provides a wealth of


information the basic texts do not yield. His four volumes

of literary works have been used extensively by various

biographers of Liszt, Berlioz, and Wagner.

A survey of major music history sources provided only

basic information about Cornelius's work. This slight is not

easy to justify when one considers the quality of his work.

He has been an undeservedly neglected composer.

Extensive biographical information on Cornelius as well

as theoretical and historical analyses of his three operas,

Der Barbier von Bagdad, Der Cid, and Gunlod, are presented in

this study. Discussed are Cornelius's life and musical

training with particular attention given to his work in

various German cities and his relationship with composers

Liszt, Berlioz, and Wagner. The analyses focus on libretto,

thematic material, orchestration, meter, and formal design.

The relevance of these operas for study in higher level music

history courses is discussed and the relationship of these

operas to other operas of the period is considered.

Cornelius's operas are exemplary of the style and

technique of 19th-century musical practice and are,

therefore, relevant in teaching 19th-century music. This

study seeks to reawaken interest in Cornelius and his work as

well as to provide a stimulus for further research. A list

of Cornelius's musical works and a bibliography are included.


Peter Cornelius was not as present in the consciousness

of a musically interested public as Mozart, Schubert, Liszt,

or Wagner. In spite of being dually gifted as a poet and

musician, Cornelius did not epitomize the Romantic artist.

He was not the tremendous, overpowering artist that Wagner

was, nor was he a brilliant virtuoso and versatile man of the

world like Liszt, whose exploits won the admiration of his

contemporaries. Although a member of Liszt's circle,

Cornelius never became a blind partisan, developing instead

into an independent artistic figure (Massenkeil, 1977, p.

161). Monumentality and brilliance are foreign to him; depth

of feeling, intimacy, cordiality, simplicity, and purity are

the characteristics of his personality and his art. He

worked on a small scale, but on that scale he was prolific.

Today's circulation of Cornelius's work must also be

seen in relation to the works of other composers. An un-

fortunate trend of our musical life reveals that from the

very rich supply of valuable musical works of all ages, only

a small percentage is filtered out and performed. The

reasons for this are many, and only when one examines them,

can one easily answer the questions of what value the works


of Cornelius could have today. This widening uncertainty in

musical taste on the part of our music public leads to a

reduced selection of experiences. The widely known

compositions are seen as good, the less well-known as not-so-

good, and logically, they are not performed or rarely so. A

listening attitude develops as a consequence with the result

that the same few works are heard and learned well.

Cornelius wrote vocal music primarily, although some

purely instrumental works lie unpublished in the Vienna City

Library. These include the Entre Acte in F for orchestra:

Introduction. Andante and Polonaise for oboe and piano;

three sonatas for violin and piano; two string quartets; and

the Ouinter Walzer, Six Fugues, and Six Canons for piano.

Cornelius's preference for vocal music, in an age in

which instrumental virtuosity triumphed, had its roots in his

talent as poet and musician. Cornelius considered the human

voice the most wonderful form of musical expression, and from

this vantage point he composed vocal music compositions from

the smallest song form to the large opera. For Cornelius,

the song was the most personal form of expression of musical

organization in connection with the poetic component.

Consequently, many of his songs were not composed for the

concert hall, but rather must be considered as house music in

the best sense. For the most part, they were addressed quite

personally; for example, the OPUS 1 songs were published as

Musical Letters (Hoffman, 1977, p. 10). The goal of this

study of Cornelius and his three operas was to reawaken

interest in his works as well as to relate his works to our

times. Also discussed was the relevance of this material

in teaching higher level music history courses.

Purpose of the Study

The major purpose of this study was to provide extensive

biographical information on Peter Cornelius as well as

historical and theoretical analyses of his three operas. The

analyses focused on libretto, thematic material,

orchestration, meter, and formal design, all of which are

integral parts of existing courses devoted to musical

analysis in the higher level music curriculum.

A comparison of these elements showed stylistic traits

common to all of Cornelius's operas. Throughout this study

there was an attempt to answer the following questions:

1. How can biographical information on Cornelius

contribute to the teaching of higher-level music history?

2. Why are these operas relevant for study in higher

level music history courses?

3. What does an analysis of these operas reveal about

Cornelius's compositional style?

4. How do these operas relate to other operas of the



Need for the Study

The 19th century, as did other periods in music history,

produced many great composers. Alongside the great composers

were musicians who worked on a smaller scale and who were

often neglected by the major writers of the period. Peter

Cornelius belongs to that distinguished minority of

nondemonstrative geniuses whose voices have been too rare and

too subtle to capture the attention of those who give heed

only to the inevitable. Although Cornelius's operas did not

attain greatness, findings of this study indicate that he

wrote in a style consistent with his contemporaries and his

three operas, therefore, can be used as representative of

German opera in this time period, 1858-1891. Cornelius's

literary and musical writings are an invaluable source of

material for studying the musical climate of the mid-19th

century. Their use in teaching higher level courses in music

history would provide a wealth of information that basic

texts do not yield. His four volumes of literary works have

been used extensively by various biographers of Liszt,

Wagner, and Berlioz, yet the world at large knows him only as

the author of a delightful comedy, Der Barbier von Baqdad,

and some admirable choral music. Only the most basic facts

about Cornelius's life have been available in English; most

of the information about him is available in German.

A survey of major music history sources, such as Grout's

A History of Western Music, Ulrich and Pisk's A History of


Music and Musical Styles, The New Grove Dictionary of Music

and Musicians, Die Musik in Geschichte und Geaenwart,

Einstein's Music in the Romantic Era, and opera sources such

as The Simon and Schuster Book of Opera, Chase's The

Encyclopedia of Opera, Crowell's Handbook of World Opera, and

the Rosenthal-Warrick Concise Oxford Handbook of World Opera,

provided only basic information about Cornelius's work. This

slight is not easy to justify when one considers the quality

of Cornelius's work. He has been an undeservedly neglected


Focus of the Study

The present study focused on the following:

1. Extensive biographical information is given on Peter

Cornelius. Discussed is Cornelius's life and early musical

training with particular attention given to his work in

various German cities and his relationship with some of the

major composers of the period, such as Liszt, Berlioz, and


2. Peter Cornelius's three operas are analyzed.

In-depth analyses of Der Barbier von Bagdad, Der Cid, and

Gunl6d are presented. Only brief mention has been made of

Cornelius's other vocal works. Aside from the opera

overtures, Cornelius's purely instrumental works are not

discussed in these analyses.


Definition of Terms

For the purpose of this study, the following definitions

will be used:

General Terms

Genre denotes a category of artistic composition

characterized by a particular style, form, or content.

Kappelmeister refers to the choirmaster in a court


Lied denotes a song in the German vernacular.

Terms Related to Opera

Accompanied recitative is speech-like singing, dramatic

rather than declamatory in style, with instrumental


Aria refers to an elaborate, well-developed solo vocal

piece with accompaniment in an opera or oratorio.

Ariette is a small aria preceded and followed by spoken


Berlin Lokalposse is a satirical farce on the manners

and habits of the German middle class. It is also the German

counterpart to the French Vaudeville.

Couplet, in 18th-century and 19th-century light opera,

denotes a strophic song of a witty character.

Duet denotes a composition for two performers or


Ensemble is a group of performers.


Libretto refers to the text of a vocal work, particu-

larly opera.

Liederspiel is a combination of play and opera in which

music and spoken dialogue alternate.

Opera buffa is Italian comic opera using characters

drawn from everyday life.

Parlando indicates that the voice must approximate

speech; in a sense, it is "spoken music," as distinguished

from the "musical speech" of the recitative.

Patter song denotes a comic song in which the greatest

number of words, delivered rapidly in conversational style,

are fitted into the shortest space of time.

Quodlibet describes a humorous composition consisting of

two or more complementary melodies played or sung together,

usually to different texts.

Singspiel refers to German comic opera using spoken


Vaudeville is a lyric drama typical of France. The

musical numbers deal very wittily with pertinent social or

political problems, mostly concerning the middle classes of a

particular locale.

Poetic Terms

Alliteration refers to the use of two or more words in

close succession that begin with the same initial letter or



Arabic meqamen are stories in rhymed prose, without


Ghasel denotes an Arabic lyric poem that begins with a

rhymed couplet whose rhyme is repeated in all even lines and

that is especially common in Persian literature.

Iambic meter in poetry signifies one unstressed syllable

followed by one stressed syllable.

Theoretical Terms

Canon denotes a contrapuntal form whereby an extended

melody, stated in one part, is imitated strictly and in its

entirety in one or more other parts.

Formal design refers to the structure and design of a


Leitmotiv is a short, constantly recurring musical

phrase or theme used to denote characters, situations, and

abstract ideas.

Meter describes the basic pulse or beat in music.

Metric modulation refers to frequent change in meter.

Motif transition refers to musical themes leading from

one section of a work to another.

Motto denotes a formal proclamation of the subject to be


Orchestration refers to the instrumental scoring of

music for an orchestra.

Theme represents a musical idea that is the point of

departure for a composition.

Thematic material refers to the melodic subject matter

utilized in a musical composition.


Data Sources

The printed scores of the operas, Cornelius's

Literarische Werke and his Musikalische Werke were among the

primary sources used in this study. Der Barbier von Bacdad

(1858), Der Cid (1865), and Gunldd (1891) were published by

Breitkopf and Hartel in 1904 with reprint editions by Johnson

Reprint Corp., 1970. The Musikalische Werke (five volumes)

were first published by Breitkopf and Hartel in 1905-06 with

the reprint edition by Gregg International Publishers, Ltd.,


In addition to the aforementioned works, Carl Maria

Cornelius's Peter Cornelius, Der Wort und Tondichter, Gustav

Bosse Verlag, 1925; Helmut Federhofer's and Kurt Oehl's Peter

Cornelius als Komponist, Dichter. Kritiker und Essayist,

Gustav Bosse Verlag, 1977; and Max Hasse's Der Dichtermusiker

Peter Cornelius, Breitkopf and Hartel, 1922-23, were also

used as primary sources.

Secondary sources included Margaret Griffel's "Turkish

Opera from Mozart to Cornelius," Ph.D. Dissertation, Columbia

University, 1975; "The Song Cycles of Peter Cornelius (1824-

1874) with Emphasis on the Two Sacred Cycles: Vaterunser and

Weihnachtslieder" by Robert J. Seeley, Ph.D. Dissertation,


Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1980; Jacques Barzun's

Berlioz and the Romantic Century, Little, Brown, and Co.,

1950; and Eleanor Perenyi's Liszt: The Artist as Romantic

Hero, Little, Brown, and Co., 1974.

A majority of the articles used in this study came from

major German periodicals such as Neue Z-itschrift fur Musik,

Die Music, Die Musikforschung, and Echo, for which Cornelius

wrote. Other sources for articles included English language

periodicals such as Music Journal, The Musical Quarterly, The

Musical Times, and The Music Review.

Collection of Data

The collection of data was accomplished by purchasing

the scores of the operas from Breitkopf and Hartel,

Wiesbaden, West Germany. A methodical search was conducted

through major German and English language periodicals and

journals. Books and other historical material were available

in the University of Florida Music Library and The Library of

Congress, Washington, D.C., as well as through the Inter-

Library Loan Division of The University of Florida Library.

Analysis of Data

The musical works used in this study have been analyzed

in terms of the libretto, thematic material, orchestration,

meter, and formal design. The procedures for analyzing each

component were as follows:


Libretto. Sources for the text of each of Cornelius's

three operas were discussed. A comparison was made between

the original sources and Cornelius's adaptation.

Thematic material. Cornelius developed the musical

ideas in his operas around the incidences and personages in

each opera. Through an analysis of each opera those

important musical ideas were extracted and discussed.

Orchestration. Cornelius's instrumental scoring for his

operas was highlighted here with special emphasis given to

his use of certain instruments to heighten the musical idea

being presented.

Meter. Cornelius often composed in an irregular

metrical scheme. The consistent change from regular to

irregular time signatures seems to be a general principal of

creation for Cornelius. These instances of metric changes

were discussed.

Formal design. The structure and design of Cornelius's

operas was taken into consideration here. Attention was

focused primarily on the form of the overtures and on each

act in each opera with regard to the arias, duets, and small

and large ensembles.

As a result of the analyses of Cornelius's operas, this

study has shown that a reassessment and reevaluation of these

operas as significant works are warranted, and their inclu-

sion in such higher level music courses as opera literature,

the history of opera, 19th-century vocal music, and other

history and literature courses would, therefore, be


The analyses and musical examples can be used in music

curricula dealing with the teaching of theory, form and

analysis, composition, and orchestration at the community

college as well as at the university level. This analytical

approach trains students in the perception of articulations

and relationships. The analyses can also serve as a guide

for curriculum planners wishing to utilize Cornelius's operas

as supplements to other courses such as music appreciation

and opera workshop.

The author translated various writings on and by

Cornelius. These literary works were used as background

information to shed insight into Cornelius's life as well as

to focus attention on musical matters that the scores do not

yield. Throughout this study the author has provided English

translations of all direct quotations.

Organization of Chapters

Chapter 1 contains the introduction, statement of

purpose, need for the study, focus of the study, definitions

of terms, methodology, and organization of chapters.

Chapter 2 contains a review of significant literature

related to Cornelius's musical output. Books by Cornelius as

well as other literary writings about him have been reviewed.


Chapter 3 contains extensive biographical information on

Cornelius. Particular attention has been given to

Cornelius's work in various German cities and his relation-

ship with Liszt, Berlioz, and Wagner.

A brief review of opera in Germany during the first half

of the 19th century is the focus of Chapter 4.

Chapters 5, 6, and 7 are devoted to the three operas of

Cornelius. Each of the operas has been examined with regard

to the libretto and to musical components such as meter,

orchestration, thematic material, and formal design.

Chapter 8 contains a summary of the study and offers

conclusions on the findings in relation to their implications

for use in the higher level music curriculum and for the

teaching of music history. An appendix of the complete works

of Cornelius and a comprehensive bibliography have been



For the purpose of this study, the review of literature

has been divided into the following four categories: books

written by Cornelius, books written about Cornelius, articles

written about Cornelius, and other books and articles

relevant to the study.

Books Written by Cornelius

Only the most basic facts about Cornelius's life were

available in the English language. Therefore, to gain real

insight into Cornelius the man and to explore his artistic

genius, one must consult the sixteen hundred pages of his

personal correspondence and his numerous writings for the

major German musical periodicals of the 19th century (Seeley,

1980, p. 1).

Cornelius's Literarische Werke (four volumes) and his

Musikalische Werke (five volumes) were published in 1904-05

and 1905-06, respectively, by Breitkopf and Hartel. Volumes

I and II of the Literarische Werke contain his letters and

pages from his diary, edited by his son Carl. Volume III

presents his essays on music and art, edited by Edgar Istel,

and Volume IV contains his complete poems, collected and

edited by A. Stern (Slonimsky, 1978, p. 350).

Cornelius's diary and letters have been used extensively

by various biographers of Liszt, Berlioz, and Wagner to whom

Cornelius was friend and translator. The Literarische Werke

provide a discriminating look into his own life, as well as

that of 19th-century music and musical life. References are

made to his spiritual life, his many choral works for the

Catholic church service, and his two song cycles, Vaterunser,

Op. 2, and the Weinachtslieder, Op. 8, which are of special

interest to the history of church music. Also chronicled are

Cornelius's relationships with Liszt, Berlioz, Schumann,

Brahms, and Wagner (Seeley, 1980, p. 2349A).

The Musikalische Werke contain all of Cornelius's

published vocal works with information regarding text sources

and other musical considerations. Volume I of this five-

volume work contains solo songs with piano accompaniment.

Volume II contains various part songs for male and women's

choruses as well as duets. The remaining three volumes focus

attention on Cornelius's three operas.

Books Written about Cornelius

Although material concerning Cornelius is limited,

several books have been written about him. Much of the

biographical material is duplicated; however, the works cited


here give pertinent information concerning the various

aspects of Cornelius's musical works.

A comprehensive two-volume work, Peter Cornelius, der

Wort und Tondichter, which chronicles the life of Cornelius,

was written by his son Carl Cornelius (1925). A great deal

of biographical information is presented and attention is

drawn to Cornelius's musical training, to his musical and

literary works, and to his relationship with various


Peter Cornelius als Komponist, Dichter, Kritiker und

Essayist by Federhofer and Oehl (1977) is a very informative

source containing essays, letters, and documents which deal

with the various aspects of the composer's life and works.

Many of the essays contain critical examinations of his


Hasse's (1923) Der Dichtermusiker Peter Cornelius gives

information on Cornelius's three operas. Attention is

focused on the sources for the texts of each opera, the

themes in each work, the overtures, the sources for the

music, the comical and/or dramatic elements in each work, and

each work's premiere. Hasse also discussed Cornelius's

unproductive periods and his search for new material.


Articles Written about Cornelius

Many articles have been written about Cornelius. For

the purposes of this study, eight articles were selected for

their direct connection with his operatic works.

Hoffman (1977) presented excerpts from a commemorative

address on the centenary of the death of Cornelius. The

personal characteristics of Cornelius are described and the

impact of his work on the present day is pointed out.

Just (1977) devoted principal attention to the librettos

for Cornelius's three operas, Der Barbier von Bagdad, Der

Cid, and Gunlod. Cornlius's feelings of anxiety and his

self-doubts were viewed by the author as indications of

Cornelius's affinity with literary modernity.

Mahling (1977) shed light on the ambivalence which

marked Cornelius's relation to the so-called New German

School, with particular attention to his continual efforts to

preserve his independence. The evidence was drawn from

Cornelius's own statements.

. Ich kenne keine rein komische oper unter den
deutschen modern Werken, seit Dittersdorf haben wir
keinen eigenlichen Opera buffa ist in Deutschland
erst noch zu erleben. . (Voss, 1977, p. 129)

SI know of no purely comic opera in modern
German . since Dittersdorf we have had no
actual comics among composers; in Germany we
haven't yet experienced the flowering of the opera

Voss (1977) discussed Cornelius's plans to create a

"purely comical opera," which in his opinion did not exist or

did not exist yet in Germany. Cornelius had plans to produce


a comic opera long before he wrote Der Barbier von Bagdad,

but those plans did not materialize. For several years

Cornelius wanted to draft several operas into the comic, but

the feel- ing of not being strong enough held him back, and

he returned to the purely theoretical studies. Doubt of his

own compe- tence was a characteristic of Peter Cornelius, and

it is therefore not surprising that nothing came of the

mentioned plans.

Horst (1977) gave a brief overview of the history of the

Arabian tales, A Thousand and One Nights, from which Der

Barbier von Bagdad was adapted. He discussed the various

translations of these tales as well as the various editions

of "The Barber of Bagdad." Cornelius's edition is the 8th

edition and Horst focused on the degree of dependency

Cornelius's edition has to its predecessors. He made the

comparison between the original anecdote, "The Story of the

Tailor," and Cornelius's version of "The Barber of Bagdad."

Koppen (1977) discussed Cornelius's Der Cid from a

thematic view; that is, the "story of the material." He drew

a comparison between Cid, the 12th century hero of the

Spanish epic, and Cornelius. Cornelius's Cid embraces two

themes, that of Cid and that of Jimene. Koppen described how

Cornelius derived these themes from the various editions of

Cid available to him. He also discussed the composer's use

of mottos before every act in the original score. These


mottos show that Cornelius was fully aware of the problems

implied by the thematic heterogeny of his material.

Abert (1977) discussed Cornelius's search for operatic

material after the premier of his second opera, Der Cid.

There preceded, as Cornelius himself wrote, "the wild hunt

over fields and forests of romanticism and history." The

choice was difficult for him. First, because of the many

possibilities, and second, because of Wagner's shadow, which,

when it did not darken Cornelius's complete opera creation,

definitely influenced it. Gunlod remained incomplete at the

time of Cornelius's death.

His choice of Edda as the source for Gunl6d was also

discussed. "My trust is in Edda, the beautiful holy book,

exuberant with all the nectar of poetry" (Cornelius, 1904, p.

403). One finds in Edda the legend of poetry in the chapter

"Bragi's Conversations" as the basis for Gunlod. Cornelius's

choice of Edda was indicative of his tendency as a poet to

become involved in human problems without taking into account

their dramatic workability. Abert looked at the poetic form,

musical fragments, act, and the different completed editions

of Gunl6d.

Federhofer (1977) discussed Cornelius's use of 7/4 meter

in his operatic works as well as the word-tone relationship

which was a general principle of creation for Cornelius.

Cornelius's consistent change from regular to irregular meter

appears to stem from his desire to avoid the danger of


rhythmic monotony and, at the same time, to give the text

more dramatic expressiveness. Cornelius often composed in an

irregular scheme, and variation from a metrically normal

scheme was indicative of future trends. The composer once

said humorously, "I am the actual man of the future, I am the

incarnate 7/4 time (Fe-erhofer, 1977, p. 119).

Other Books and Articles Related to the Study

In "Turkish Opera from Mozart to Cornelius" Griffel

(1975) explored "Turkish" opera, especially German "Turkish"

Singspiel, from its beginning in the 17th century to the mid-

19th century. In the first chapter Griffel was concerned

with nonmusical aspects of Turkish music and why such

subjects were attractive to European librettists and

composers. She examined two types of "Turkish" works:

those based on historical personages, such as Suleiman I and

Kara Mustafa, and the abduction of Europeans to Turkish

lands, and those involving translations and imitations of the

Thousand and One Nights.

In the second chapter Griffel examined authentic Turkish

music versus "Turkish" music, that is, European attempts to

imitate Turkish music. The chapter is divided into two

sections, the first deals with the military music of the

Turks. The second section addresses the components of

"Turkish" music which consists of the bass drum, cymbals, and

triangle, and certain Turkish mannerisms.


The latter section also includes discussion of the use

of unusual intervals such as the augmented fourth, irregular

phrasing, triadic or chromatic melodies, dissonances, fren-

zied scale passages, and pounding accompaniment. The fourth

chapter, on German "Turkish" opera, presents information on

the works of Telemann, Mozart, Weber, Kreutzer, Spohr, and

Lortzing. In the final chapter Griffel looks at Peter

Cornelius and his opera Der Barbier von Bagdad, a work

considered traditional in approach, but with Wagnerian


Seeley (1980), in his work on the song cycles of Peter

Cornelius, revealed Cornelius's compositional technique

through the study of his sacred song cycles. Vaterunser is a

cycle of nine songs, each of which amplifies a phrase of the

Lord's Prayer, and utilizes the accompanying Gregorian chant

fragment in the musical structure along with the frequent

canonic use of the cantus firmus. The cycle of six Christmas

songs, Weihnachtslieder, was written from the standpoint of a

parent relating the Christmas story to the children. The

concluding chapter gives an overview of Cornelius's life and

his three operas.

The development of German comic opera from the early

17th century to the mid-19th century is the focus of Judith

Leigner's (1944) work. Musical characterizations of the

comic in Mozart's operas, the period of indefinite forms, and


aspects of German comic opera after Lortzing have been

treated in subsequent chapters.

In his two-volume work, Berlioz and the Romantic

Century, Barzun (1950) has flanked the twenty-five

biographical chapters of Berlioz's life with critical essays

dealing with the major music scores an- has also included a

few "interchapters" on more general aesthetic aspects of the

century of romanticism. The unhappy, uneven course of his

life, the long succession of his works and their per-

formances, and his contacts with all the major figures of a

highly creative century have been chronicled.

Berlioz's work in Leipzig brought him into contact with

Cornelius. The latter began translating literary and musical

texts into German for the French master.

Perenyi (1974) presented an extended study of Liszt as a

man, a musician, and a phenomenon. She showed that the

artist's life was a true reflection of the age in which he

lived. For Perenyi, "the romantic elevation of the artist in

a society not yet prepared to glance so high for its

authority foreshadows all our modern art, and Liszt in his

own time illustrates each phase of this process" (Howard,

1974, p. 1250). She traced the connections between Liszt and

Hugo, Sand, Balzac, Cornelius, and Wagner.

Several articles by different authors have revealed

related information concerning Cornelius's life and works and

have been quoted throughout this study. These articles are


as follows: Edgar Istel, "Peter Cornelius," The Musical

Quarterly, 20, No. 2 (April, 1934), 334-43; Edgar Istel,

"Berlioz und Cornelius," Die Musik, 9, No. 5 (1903-04), 366-

72; Magda Max-Weber, "Hector Berlioz: Unbekannte Briefe an

Peter Cornelius," Die Musikforschung, 26 (1973), 236-37; E.G.

Porter, "The Songs of Peter Cornelius," The Mu-ic Review, 27,

No. 3 (1966), 202-06; Eric Sams, "Peter Cornelius," The

Musical Times, 115 (1974), 839-42; Leo Wumser, "Cornelius and

His Barber," Opera, 16 (December 1965), 836-37; Carl

Bamberger, "The Forgotten Barber," Music Journal, 20 (April

1962), 59-60.

This review of related literature has suggested that

research on the life and music of Peter Cornelius has been

seriously lacking. Considering the quality of Cornelius's

vocal works, the extensive use made of his diary and letters

by various biographers of mid-19th century musical giants

such as Liszt, Berlioz, and Wagner, and his contributions to

the music and musical life of the 19th century through

numerous articles written for the major German music journals

and newspapers, the omission of Cornelius from standard music

sources is regrettable and makes this and future studies

about him necessary.


Mainz and Wiesbaden (1824-1844)

Peter Cornelius, composer-poet-critic-essayist, was born

December 24, 1824, in Mainz, Germany. He was the fourth of

six children. His parents, Carl Joseph (1789-1843) and

Friederike Cornelius nee Schwadke (1789-1867) were both


Peter owed the most vivid impression of his childhood to

the poetry of Goethe. Goethe's lyrics became his constant

companions. "These I spoke loudly out in the fields, these I

sang, with as good a chordal accompaniment as I could muster

at the piano" (Cornelius, 1904, 3:3). Peter's life "revolved

around two poles, word and sound. In the beginning was the

word" (Cornelius, 1904, 3:2). Because he was one of the last

of the Cornelius children, his father spent much time with

him, teaching him elocution. He wrote of his father's

diction as being "free from all mannerisms, pure, beautiful

in a manly way, a strong flawless German" (Cornelius, 1904,

3:3). Peter's father, who recognized his son's artistic

talent, began training him as an actor and also arranged for

him to have music lessons.

Cornelius made rapid progress with his musical studies.

He studied piano and voice, the latter under the notable

theater chorister, Scharrar, and later with Heinrich Esser.

He studied violin with Joseph Panny and, by 1840, he was

playing second violin in the Mainz theater orchestra,

traveling with the touring company to England where he heard

German operas expertly sung. As the last of twelve second

violins, Cornelius did not fare too well as a violinist; but

after the first performance (Weber's Der Freischutz) he wrote

to his father that he "got on very well in the orchestra and

did not cause the least trouble" (A.J.J., 1906, p. 610).

The earliest reference to his first composition dates

from 1837, when he wrote an overture, unfortunately now lost,

followed by a piano sonata (1840), and quartets, songs, and

choral pieces, such as a cantus firmus mass based on the

dorian mode (Seeley, 1980, p. 3).

"My destiny was the theater, and my father thought I

should cultivate music as an avocation, so that in my latter

days acting would not be a necessity to survival" (Cornelius,

1904, 3:2). Obedient to his father's wishes, on March 3,

1841, Peter left Mainz for Wiesbaden as an actor for the

court as arranged by his father. After a few unsuccessful

appearances, e.g., as Raoul in Schiller's Maid of Orleans

when his legs and chest were "splendidly stuffed" to give him

a manly appearance, he decided to abandon all hope of

appearing as an actor (Istel, 1934, p. 336). Apparently he

suffered a nervous condition as a result of his acting

experiences. Following the death of his father in 1843, his

brother Carl arranged for him to live with their father's

cousin, the famous painter Peter Cornelius1 in Berlin. Carl

wrote to his uncle:

Peter ist 18 Jahre alt, hat die Schulen schon
mehrere Jahre hinter sich, auf denen er sich eine
tuchtize allgemeine Bildung erworben hat. Wahrend
der Schulzeit und seitdem forwahrend hat er sich
mit Musik beschaftigt, Klavier gelernt, Violine
gespielt, Theorie studiert. Alle seiner Lehrer,
unter denen Panny ihn eine Zeitlang unterrichtete,
bezeugten ihre Freude an seinen Fortschritten.
Zwar wird er nie ein Virtuose werden daran ihn von
fruh an seine schlechten Augen gehindert, doch
spielt er gut Klavier. Das aber, worin er das
Beste listen wird, ist die Komposition und die
Leitung eines Orchesters. Alle seine musikalischen
Freunde schatzen ihn sehr. Er liest gelaufig
Partitur, komponiert unter der Leitung des Musik
directors Esser in Mainz. Im ubrigen ist er fertig
und gewandt im deutschen schriftlichen Ausdruck und
hat sich durch einen mehrmonatlichen Aufenthalt in
England das Englische bis zur vollstandigen
Fertigkeit im Schreiben und Sprechen angeeignet.
Nun ist Peter hier in Wiesbaden beim Theater fur
kleinere Rollen angestellt. Dafur erhalf er 300
Gulden jahrlich. . Er ist ein Kuntsler oder
wird er werden, davon bin ich fest uberzeugt. Ein
edler character, eine unaufh6rliche Begierde zu
lernen und sich auszubilden. (Cornelius, 1905,

Peter is eighteen years old and for some years
now he has been through with school. During and
after his schooling he studied music, learned
piano, played violin, studied theory. All of his
teachers . expressed their joy at his progress.
To be sure, he will never be a virtuoso, since from
childhood he has been hindered by bad eyesight. He
does, however, play the piano very well, and what
he would most like to do is compose and direct an
orchestra. All of his musical friends praise him.
He reads scores fluently and composed under the

1For whom Mendelssohn wrote his Cornelius March.

guidance of Esser, the music director in Mainz. He
is polished in literary German and has learned to
speak and write English during a several-month stay
in England. Peter is currently engaged in
Wiesbaden to play small roles for an annual fee of
three hundred Gulden. . He is an artist, or
will be, of that I am sure. A dear fellow, he has
an endless desire to learn and to improve himself.

Berlin (1844-1852)

Peter Cornelius settled in Berlin at the home of his

famous uncle and godfather Peter von Cornelius. There he met

some of the foremost literary and artistic figures such as

Franz Liszt, and poets Paul Heyse and Eichendorf. It was

Heyse who suggested Peter study the Romance languages, and

Peter's translations from Old French, Provengal, Italian, and

Spanish gave him the flair for form that proved so useful to

him later in his literary and musical work (Istel, 1934, p.


While earning his living as a music teacher, Cornelius

began his three-year period of study with Sigfried W. Dehn

(1789-1858)2 studying theory and working out problems in

counterpoint. During this period Cornelius wrote a great

deal of choral, instrumental, and chamber music, much of

which was not preserved. He also wrote poetry and essays on

music for newspapers.

After his studies with Dehn, Cornelius sought the advice

of Wilhelm Taubert (1811-1841), the conductor of the Berlin

2Dehn also taught Glinka and the brothers Anton and Nicolai


Royal Opera, and Otto Nicolai (1810-1849), the Kappelmeister

in Berlin. Taubert advised Cornelius to abandon the larger

structures, such as the opera, and concentrate on writing

songs. This, of course, was disappointing to the aspiring

young composer who bitterly remarked: "I had brought tragedy

and he said 'write songs'; I had come with plans for palaces

and he said 'go build pigsties.'" Nicolai was even more

cruel upon perusal of Cornelius's compositions. Cornelius

recalls, "He says I know nothing, can't write a note

correctly and should have studied with Taubert, anybody other

than Dehn. In fact he kicked me!" (A.J.J., 1906, p. 610).

These were a few of the many disappointments in store for the

young composer. The church works by Cornelius during this

period have since been regarded as mature and individual.

Cornelius's first literary publication was a review of

Les Prophete by Meyerbeer for the February 29, 1852, edition

of the Berlin music newspaper Echo (Cornelius, 1905, 3:9).

He subsequently wrote articles for that periodical and

Modespieqel as well as the Konstitutionelle Zeitunq.

Cornelius's interest in the "music of the future" as

promoted by Liszt and Wagner was aroused after reading some

of Liszt's essays. Berlin had nothing more to offer, and

Cornelius's search for an artist on whom to model himself

took him to Liszt in Weimar. Liszt was residing at the

Altenburg near Weimar as Kappelmeister to the Grand Duke.


Cornelius, therefore, went to stay with his sister at

Bernhardshutte, also near Weimar.

Weimar (1853-1858)

Peter Cornelius's first trip to Weimar on March 5, 1852,

lasted only a few hours. He carried with him his article

from the Echo, a review of Liszt's book on Chopin, and a

letter of introduction from his uncle Peter in Berlin. "As I

was walking up the steps to Liszt's rooms in the Altenburg,

the superstitious idea came over me: even number of steps is

lucky, uneven-unlucky. And, oh dear! there were twenty-one

steps" (A.J.J., 1906, p. 821). This Cornelius wrote in his

diary on March 20, 1852. However, notwithstanding the

twenty-one steps, young Peter was spared bad luck and was

cordially received by Liszt. His visit began with an

artistic experience almost revolutionary in its effects on

him. Cornelius was surprised to find that Liszt was as

gracious a personality as his expectations had led him to

believe. "As a friend, he extended me his hand. . Seldom

has it happened to me that artistic nobility appeared the

same in person as their reputation indicated. Since

Mendelssohn, Liszt is the first person whose demeanor was not

in conflict with his reputation, and with what my inner being

expected" (Seeley, 1980, p. 7). For the first time he heard

the music of Berlioz: in the morning the Carnival Overture;

in the evening Benvenuto Cellini at the theater. Sitting by

Liszt's side, he was privileged to listen to his incomparable

playing. Cornelius determined at once "to begin all over

again, to study his art, and, if possible, to join sooner or

later with this circle" (Istel, 1934, p. 337).

Upon Peter's departure from his first visit with Liszt,

he was advised not to return to Berlin for further study.

Cornelius soon became a frequent and welcomed guest at

Altenburg. Liszt recognized Cornelius's abilities as a

composer and readily accepted him into his circle, which at

that time included Hans van Bulow, Joseph Joachim, and

Joachim Raff. In a letter to Cornelius at Bernhardshutte

dated September 4, 1852, Liszt further advised him to

persevere in the writing of Catholic church music and

extended to him an invitation to take up residence at the

Altenburg in March of 1853. As has been seen, Cornelius took

Liszt's advice seriously with regard to writing sacred music

and composed four masses that year.

The Altenburg was a haven for musicians, poets,

painters, and actors. The house was forever full of guests.

Ideas and thoughts were exchanged in the vibrant atmosphere

of that center of German artistic activity.

It is necessary to break with chronological continuity

at this point to take a closer look at Weimar, its

inhabitants, and the influence of Franz Liszt on its musical

development, more especially court opera.


Music at the Court of Weimar


The years 1844 to 1861 were very productive in terms of

musical development for the province of Weimar, the Ducal

Court. A small Thuringian city, 60 miles southwest of

Leipzig, Weimar was the "German Athens" under the patronage

of its art-loving Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, and it

had a long musical history. The record of Weimar's court

orchestra extends as far back as the 16th century. Johann

Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) was a violinist there in 1703 and

director of music in 1708. Johann Gottfried Walther (1684-

1748) was organist at the great church of Weimar from 1707 to


Johann Hummel (1778-1837) was Hofkappelmeister from 1819

to 1837. Perhaps because greater attention was paid to

poetry and drama in the late 18th and early 19th centuries

due to the influence of poets Johann Goethe (1748-1832) and

Friederick Schiller (1759-1805), Weimar's most brilliant era

of music came later. During the period 1847 to 1861 Liszt

settled there as chief Kappelmeister and gathered around him

a group which included Hans von Bulow, Peter Cornelius,

Joachim Raff, and (for a time) Joseph Joachim. Liszt's

productions of modern opera, like those of Wagner and

Berlioz, gave an impetus to the new German movement of which

Cornelius became the leading spirit under Liszt, and


Brendel's Neue Zeitschrift fur Musik, its organ of expression

(Daniels, 1966, p. 240).

In the 18th century, Weimar was a miniature realm with a

wall, a gate, and a clerk who recorded the names of those who

passed in and out; except for the clerk, Weimar was much the

same in the 19th century. Thuringia has a rainy climate, and

with no public transportation, streetlights that did not

work,3 and a town crier, Weimer was decidedly old-fashioned.

There was no industry, unless one considers the Ilmenau mines

in which Goethe took so much interest.

Germany in general and Weimar in particular were the

last places in Europe to contest the thesis that culture is a

metropolitan product. Weimar's character was at once both

utopian and provincial in its overriding desire to evade

world-historical events. The Weimarites managed to stay out

of history until Napoleonic times when Bonaparte, whom they

had rather admired, upset them by fighting the battle of Jena

just down the road. They conceived themselves as above that

sort of scuffle, an illusion the more easily sustained on

account of the backwardness of the country, the bad roads,

and inferior public services (Perenyi, 1974, p. 278).

Aside from the aforementioned, Weimar had its

enticement. The dynasty who ruled this little domain was

3The town acquired street lanterns in 1786 but they proved
too expensive to operate and the streets remained unlighted
until 1855 when gaslight was introduced.


noted for its charm and cultivation. The original tone of

the court, art-loving, free-and-easy about etiquette, was set

by Grand Duchess Amalie, Frederick the Great's talented

niece, who wrote, composed, painted, and acted. Her "court

of the Muses" must have been the only one in Europe where

people had a good time, with ait, and not rank, being the

price of admission.

The intellectual level had declined by Liszt's day, but

that was not the fault of the court, which retained its

respect for intelligence and for ingratiating manners. A

dreary royal custom, beloved of Queen Victoria, was to train

Weimar Princesses to "cercler" which is to move around a

circle of guests. This training took place in the royal

gardens where they practiced polite conversation with rose

bushes. The court theater continued to operate at a high

level; and if it could not quite live up to its past, which

included the twenty-six years of Goethe's management when it

was the nearest thing to a national theater in Germany, the

dynasty could not be faulted. They would have welcomed

another Goethe, or another Schiller, were that possible.

Still, entrancing as Weimar was, it had its weaknesses.

In fact, it suffered from the very qualities that made it

idyllic. Amateurism was Weimar's first weakness, as seen in

many of the works of Goethe: two-thirds of his extra-

curricular activity falls into the category of inspired

dabbling. His studies in botany, optics, and minerology were


merely games played by a genius with scientific toys, and of

no extrinsic value. He was, in short, a poet in a position

to indulge his curiosity about the natural world, the

operations of government, and a hundred other things, and the

same was true of all Weimar sages working within that cozy

vacuum. In a way, it was intended to be so. It was their

very imprecision, which had a peculiarly German sense -f

natural totality, that was admired. This, along with its

humanism, defined the Weimar style.

Different as they were, Weimar's great men were

distinguished by a metaphysical apprehension that marked them

members of the same tribe: they shared a contempt for

politics, they possessed an other-worldliness and collective

superiority complex, and they enjoyed a deep sense of

belonging (Perenyi, 1974, p. 279). Weimar lacked the evils

of war, capitalism, and the industrial revolution. Its

philosophers found no issue comparable to, for example,

slavery. In its heyday, Weimar journalism might have

emanated from the moon. Its little magazines, Schiller's Die

Horen, for example, were very idealistic to a fault; they

achieved a monumental irrelevance. Goethe realized the

drawbacks to Weimar's seclusion, especially after he began to

travel. He saw the limitations of the small audiences and

the feebleness of courtly approval as opposed to the bracing

give-and-take of great cities, and came to understand that

his liberty was an illusion. The French Revolution scarcely


registered on Weimar's insensitive social seismograph.

Democratic as its rulers were, they were absolute monarchs; a

situation that did not change until 1848 (Perenyi, 1974, p.


The Influence of Franz Liszt. Hofkappelmeiste

Franz Liszt (1811-1886) was one of the most remarkable

and fascinating of the Romantic personalities. He was a

virtuoso pianist-composer who left the imprint of his

virtuosity on almost all subsequent pianists. Born in

Hungary, he studied first in Vienna and then in Paris, where

he became known as a concert pianist. He later moved to

Weimar. At the age of 19, and already an acclaimed virtuoso

pianist, Liszt was overwhelmed by the technical brilliance of

the great Italian violinist Niccolo Paganini (1782-1840) and

tried to do for piano technique what Paganini had achieved

for the violin. Liszt inaugurated the recital as a popular

form of musical presentation. As a champion of program

music, he was responsible for the invention of the symphonic

poem, also called tone poem.

Irresistible to women and an incredible showman, Liszt

left a trail of broken hearts from Paris to Moscow. Aside

from his Don Juan activities, he was one of the most

unselfish and generous musicians who ever lived. Liszt

was one of those who provided the musical and financial

support crucial to Wagner's success.

In 1847, Liszt made a momentous decision to end his

career as a traveling concert pianist. He wanted time to

compose. His career as a traveling virtuoso was becoming

increasingly annoying to him. Liszt had visited practically

every country in Europe including Spain, Italy, Rumania,

Portugal, France, Russia, and Turkey, in eight years if

nonstop travel. He frequently played in a different town

every night. Thousands of people heard him. The time in

which Liszt traveled was still the age of the stagecoach, and

traveling was both time-consuming and exhausting. It was a

difficult pace to maintain (Walker, 1970, p. 65).

Earlier, in 1842, Liszt had been offered an appointment

at the court of Weimar which he now decided to accept. All

of Europe was amazed that he chose little Weimar for his

permanent domicile when he might have settled in any of the

great European centers. Weimar was at the time a tiny town

with about 12,000 inhabitants. As was the case with similar

capitals of the smaller German Duchies, a certain degree of

culture in court and professional circles was counterbalanced

by an almost complete lack of sophistication among the people

as a whole. With his experience in such capitals as Paris,

London, Vienna, and Berlin, he must have known from the first

that quaint little Weimar could, at best, provide him with

only limited resources for the realization of his goal to


make the town a musical center comparable to its literary

glories of the past (Newman, 1934, p. 163). Liszt had

principally two reasons for choosing Weimar. First, there

was the classical appeal of Weimar with its Goethe and

Schiller traditions. Second, there was his conviction that,

it was, as he put it, "better to be first in a hamlet than

second in Rome" (Friedheim, 1961, p. 107).

The position at Weimar was a rather desirable one in

that Weimar had an orchestra and an opera house. Liszt

wanted to master the orchestra, and no better way could be

devised than to have one at his command. Also, his duties

would be relatively light and he would have the time he

desired for composing. The job also carried with it free

residence, the Villa Altenburg, which Liszt was to make

famous throughout the musical world. It was here that the

master was to take charge of Weimar's musical life and turn

it into a center for all the arts (Walker, 1970, p. 67).

Liszt's plan for the development of music at Weimar was

disclosed in a letter to Marie d'Agoult. He states:

Weimar under the Grand Duke August was a new
Athens; let us think today of constructing a new
Weimar. Let us renew . (those) traditions.
Let us allow talent to function freely in its
sphere . and arrive little by little at the
triple result that should constitute the whole
politics, the whole government, the Alpha Omega of
all Weimar. A court as charming, brilliant and
attractive as possible; a theater and literature
that neither rots in the attic nor drowns in the
cellar; and finally a university (Jena). Court,
theater, university, that is the grand trilogy for
a state like Weimar that can never have anything
important in the way of commerce, an army or a


navy. There it is, my principal theme that I will
sound every note of in the distant hope that some
good may come of it. . (Perenyi, 1974, p. 285)

Upon his arrival at Weimar, Liszt had to build

everything from the ground up, even audiences for concerts.

This was, however, more a challenge and incentive than an

obstacle. Liszt had unlimited powers and an unbounded belief

in himself. A master interpreter of music, he recreated

masterpieces and gave them such new impetus that the effect

was irresistible. In addition to the concerts given in the

Ducal Palace by command, he conducted four programs at the

Opera with Beethoven symphonies as their principal feature

(Friedheim, 1961, p. 107).

When Liszt ended his career as a virtuoso and accepted a

permanent engagement as conductor of the court theater at

Weimar, he did so with the distinct purpose of becoming an

advocate of the rising musical generation, through the

performance of works which had little chance of seeing the

light of the stage. In short intervals, some twenty operas

by living composers were either performed for the first time

or revived on the Weimar stage. From all sides, musicians

and amateurs flocked to Weimar to witness the astonishing

feats to which a small but excellent community of singers and

instrumentalists were inspired by the genius of their leader.

It was at these gatherings that the musicians who formed the

so-called "New German School," until that time unknown to

each other and divided locally and mentally, came first to a

clear understanding of their powers and aspirations (Searle,

1980, p. 30). In Weimarian parlance they were known as Murls

(a word said to mean Moors) and Murlship was defined,

roughly, as adherence to the modern school. The Murls lived

and studied in Weimar, but Liszt usually traveled with one or

another of them, and sometimes with the whole crowd. "The

music of the future" was a slogan as fight-provoking as any,

and to conservative Germans doubly offensive when they

considered the source. In March 1860, a belligerent Brahms

and an unwilling Joachim were drawing up a public declaration

"deploring and condemning . the productions and new

unheard of theories of the leaders and followers of the 'New

German School' . as contrary to the inner-most nature of

music." The Brahms-Joachim manifesto was an incoherent

ideological document. Its burden was the personal dislike,

by men who were unworldly, conservative and provincial, for a

foreigner who was none of these things (Perenyi, 1974, p.


It is, nonetheless, amazing to observe what Liszt

accomplished between 1848 and 1858 in transforming little

Weimar into a musical mecca. His powers of endurance were

phenomenal. He conducted the concerts and the opera in

Weimar and took the podium innumerable times in other cities.

He gave scattered piano recitals and composed industriously.

Symphonic works, masses, oratorios, choruses, instrumental

solos, and songs poured from his pen; he wrote books and


articles; he inaugurated the first "Master Classes for Higher

Piano Playing," taking no payment from the pupils. Berlioz's

Harold in Italy Symphony and several of Liszt's larger works

were produced.

He also introduced evenings of chamber music at which

modern works took their place beside the classics (Friedheim,

1961, pp. 110-111). Though he did not accomplish all he

wished for Weimar, because of unfavorable circumstances, the

little town continued to rank high among German art centers.

Liszt converted Weimar into a workshop of a unique kind;

it was the only place in Europe where new music, neglected

music, "difficult" music could be regularly heard (Searle,

1966, p. 258). There was nothing like it then, and there

have not been many such experiments since. An almost

incredible individual, Franz Liszt was comparable, in some

respects viz. his genius for organization, to Napoleon.

There is little wonder that he won the affection and

admiration of all those with whom he worked or came into

close association.

Court Opera

As Hofkappelmeister Liszt did much to promote opera at

the Court of Weimar. He planned to present, at least once a

year, a new opera by a German composer. This was a time when

fairly good, but not brilliant, results were being obtained

at various German ducal theaters by conductors who were very

serious and hard working. Despite its great cultural past,

Weimar was no glittering exception. Johann Hummel (1778-

1837) had been Kappelmeister in the 1830s and, before he

died, he was instrumental in introducing yearly two symphonic

concerts in Weimar at a time when few outside the musical

profession knew the repertoire of instrumental works. Hummel

was succeeded by Jean Baptiste Chelard (1789-1861) who was

less competent. When Liszt shared conducting

responsibilities with Chelard and was temporarily away in

1851, Genast, the stage manager, wrote to Liszt:

The performance of Robert le Diable was dis-
graceful! I have neither the courage nor the
desire to recount the mistakes and many foolish
things perpetrated by that ignoramus Chelard, with
the continual smirk on his face. . He could
smile while I was in despair. Not one number was
without errors. Tomorrow we are doing La Vestale.
We have already had two rehearsals and the second
one was worse than the first. The man seems to do
his very best to throw the orchestra and singers
into the greatest confusion. May heaven guard you
and all your beloved ones and bring you back to us
very soon. (Friedheim, 1961, p. 106)

Joachim Raff was even more dramatic in his letter to Liszt:

Our theater gets worse every day! We have
just had two performances of Freischutz and The
Magic Flute and the blunders that occurred were
such as to offend the ears of even the most
patient, harmless and unmusical listeners, many of
whom left the house before the end of the opera.
Should your absence be prolonged for longer than a
few months, you may rest assured that you shall not
find some of us here on your return. We are left
entirely to our own society because there is no one
worth associating with in this damned village. One
loses heart, joy in work and belief in Art.
(Friedheim, 1961, p. 107)


These two accounts of the state of opera indicate how much

faith the musicians and those associated with the Theater had

in Liszt--to make things right.

Liszt's career as a conductor of opera began promisingly

with a carefully rehearsed and devotedly performed Fidelio.

He followed the production of Fidelio with Tannhauser by

Wagner in 1849, its first performance outside Dresden.

Nobody, except for Liszt himself, fully appreciated his

reasons for presenting the work, as only a few musicians knew

it, and even fewer thought highly of it. Even Wagner

regarded Liszt's interest as merely a gesture of friendship

and justifiably feared that the presentation would be

inadequate with local artists, and only part of the regular

company. He attended one rehearsal and was convinced that

his music was in reliable and capable hands (Friedheim, 1961,

p. 111). Hans von Bilow, the pupil who became his son-in-

law, laid much stress on Liszt's "radical rejuvenation of

opera," by which Bilow meant that Weimar productions of

Wagner were executed at a time when no other German house

would touch them. It was Bulow's estimate that carried the

day in Germany, where even those closest to Liszt had little

faith in his music (Perenyi, 1974, p. 283).

Liszt gave other composers much consideration as well.

Schumann's non-symphonic works were more consistently

presented in Weimar than anywhere else. His opera Genoveva

was in no other repertory. His hybrids for voice and


orchestra, mostly slighted in other cities, were given in

Weimar with particular care: Faust in 1849; the premier of

Manfred in 1852; Paradise and the Peri in 1857. Liszt gave

Berlioz's Benvenuto Cellini its first (and for many years

only) hearing after its disastrous debut in Paris in 1838.

Benvenuto Cfelini won only a moderate success in Weimar and

none at all elsewhere, and it quickly disappeared from the

repertoire. In Berlioz's case, Liszt did the unprecedented

for a living composer by devoting two festive weeks to

Berlioz's symphonic works in 1852 and 1855.

Liszt's revival of older music was indicative of the

fact that he was not limited to modernism. Gluck, almost

forgotten, was strongly represented with a production of

Orfeo in 1854, of Iphigenie in 1856. In the same year he

produced Beethoven's Fidelio, Schubert's Alfonso and Estrella

was produced. Producing Schubert's opera was a labor of love

for Liszt because of its cumbersome libretto which had to be

drastically revised. Of course, there was a certain amount

of stuffing, that is, producing operas that would not detain

modern audiences, and probably would not have detained Liszt

had the composers not been his friends and associates. On

the other hand, operas by composers Raff (King Alfred),

Lassen (Landqraf Ludwias Brautfahrt), and Rubenstein

(Siberian Hunters) were also hits with Liszt's public and,

although Weimar had no choice but to take what he gave, he

did not expect toleration of a steady diet of Lohengrin, for


which the house usually had to be papered (given free

tickets). For the same reason, he did not try to cut out old

favorites--Rossini, Donizetti, Bellini--who, for that matter,

were his favorites also. At times Liszt would go out of his

way to flaunt the pleasure principle: Because Rossini's Le

Comte Orv "bubbled like champagne" he ordered magnums of it

served during the second act (Perenyi, 1974, p. 284).

Often times Liszt's plans were hampered by many of those

persons whom he sought to promote with Wagner being most

prominent. The "New German" movement was frequently impeded

by Wagner because of his injudicious outbursts of temper and

bad taste. One such outrage was his pamphlet Das Judentum in

der Musik (Jewry in Music), a long discourse filled with

antisemitism, envy, unjust arguments, and malice. Reproved

by Liszt, Wagner's defense was that he only "wished to

frighten certain people"! The most grievous result of this

publication was that it frightened the wrong people, for the

intemperance of the booklet turned away a large contingent of

those who had become adherents of Liszt, Wagner, and the

"music of the future." The confirmed opponents of the new

school had powerful representatives in the press and they

utilized Wagner's indiscretion to let loose an added flood of

abuse and enmity directed at him, at Liszt, and at all

modernists. Wagner's pamphlet was one of the causes of

Liszt's failure in his efforts to found a special theater in

Weimar for Wagner, where the "Bayreuth" of the future should


have been. The irony of it all is that, despite Wagner's

antisemitism, the whole Bayreuth project was carried out by

wealthy Jews, aside from King Ludwig.

Unfortunately, it was upon Liszt's head that the full

fury of the storm fell, engineered by those who hated the new

music and its composers. A major accusation against Liszt

was that he employed the Ducal orchestra in Weimar as a

medium for the performance of his own "unworthy" works. At

least no such reproach could hold up in regard to the Weimar

Opera, for after his single effort at age fifteen, Liszt

wrote no operas and even declined to set the libretto of

"Wieland der Schmied" when Wagner offered it to him

(Friedheim, 1961, p. 112).

Cornelius and Liszt

One of Cornelius's main reasons for taking up residence

at the Altenburg was to become familiar with the early works

of Wagner. He also sought and obtained Liszt's counsel

concerning many of his compositions. In his account of his

first meeting with Wagner, Cornelius expressed the joy of his

early days at the Altenburg. Liszt and his entourage had

traveled to Basel to see Wagner and to hear performances of

his works.

Wie frohlich waren unsere Abende, wie laut
unsere Nachtel Das Motiv des "Fliegenden
Hollanders" war unser Erkennungs reichen auch in
sternenlosem Dunkel, die Konig fanfaren aus dem
"Lohengrin" unser letter GruB, wenn wir uns von
Liszt trennten. (Istel, 1904, 3:325)

How joyful were our evenings, how noisy our
nights. The motive from Der Fliecender Hollander
was our password in a starless night, the fanfare
of the King from Lohengrin was our last greeting
when we parted for the night.

Cornelius's role at the Altenburg was a unique one. He

was not a virtuoso pianist, a recognized composer, or poet.

Liszt seemed impressed with his litt-ary skills and saw in

him the answer to his need for a secretary and translator.

Cornelius began writing his occasional articles for Neue

Zeitschrift ftr Musik, his first being a review of chamber

and house music in 1855 (Seeley, 1980, pp. 8-9).

In 1863 Cornelius began composing the series of song

cycles and groups of songs. While in Wallerfangen, he

composed a group of six short songs and described the

experience in a later autobiographical sketch:

Der dichter in mir war . unter groBen
Wehen geboren; der Musiker war ein Angstkind von
jeher; . da kam aber nun das Glickskind, das
von beiden das beste hatte und mit freiem
kuntslerischen Gebahren in die Welt lachte. Das
war der Dichter-Musiker. Mein Opus I war da.
(Cornelius, 1905, 3:8)

The poet in me was born through much pain.
The musician had always been a child of anxiety.
. Finally, however, arrived the child of
fortune, with the best of both worlds, laughing in
free, artistic birth. Here was the poet-musician.
My Opus I had arrived.

The Opus 2, Vaterunser, was also being conceived during

this time, and many other songs followed including "Trauer

und Frost," Opus 3, and three songs for high voice,

"Liberslieder," Opus 4, which were dedicated to the Princess

Marie von Sayn Wittgenstein. Cornelius appears to have


composed no works for solo voice in 1855. The Rheinische

Lieder, Opus 7, were written in the summer of 1856 and the

Brautlieder were written soon afterwards at Bernhardshitte.

The famous Weihnachtslider, Opus 8, was the last cycle

composed during this period. Cornelius was not much

influenced by the mentality of the German literary

Romanticism of his generation, nor was he attracted to the

historical or mythological; thus, in his poems, little

conflict or strong contrast is found. Cornelius soon turned

to operatic endeavors and to Der Barbier von Bagdad.

After a few years at the Altenburg, Cornelius felt that

his continued proximity to Liszt was exercising the worst

possible influence upon his creative faculties. Finding the

atmosphere increasingly oppressive, Cornelius left for the

Bernhardshitte to compose and to find himself again (A.J.J.,

1906, p. 822). "The past days I have been very busy, but ah!

I must say, only with the tiresome translations for Liszt.

This must stop! I can see, however, that as long as I remain

here, there will be no end to it" (Cornelius, 1904, 1:189).

While at Bernhardshitte Cornelius translated Anton

Rubenstein's opera Siberian Hunters and Berlioz's Benvenuto

Cellini. It was during this time that Cornelius vacillated

between enjoying and thriving in the intellectual atmosphere

of the Altenburg or stifling from it. In a letter to the

Princess Wittgenstein Cornelius confided ". . how offensive

these disagreeable, vehemently, feuding voices sound to me.


It is like a room full of seething, shrieking men who are

drunk on wine" (Cornelius, 1904, 1:268).

Cornelius understood, perhaps better than any other

member of Liszt's circle, that with due reverence and

friendliness toward the members of the New German School, it

was important to maintain a distance and to cling t, his own

individuality. This stance was not at all easy to attain and

Cornelius had to endure much unpleasantness as a result of


In October of 1854, Cornelius was back in Weimar working

for Liszt and in a decidedly bad temper because Princess

Wittgenstein, and she a Russian, ventured to criticize his

translations of Liszt's articles (written in French) and to

pull his well-turned sentences apart. Cornelius always took

pride in himself and stood firmly by his convictions. He was

apparently the only one in Liszt's circle who had the courage

to express his opinion without fear of reprisal. Princess

Wittgenstein stated at a dinner party that "Liszt scores

better than Berlioz" and asked Cornelius if he agreed. His

answer was an emphatic "No!" "But I blushed all over," he

writes, "because I had dared to contradict the dear, great

lady in the silk dress. Yet my 'No' is more precious to me

than all the treasures of the world. . Whoever puts the

question of my conviction to the test of a simple Yes or No,

shall hear Yes or No as I may think right, even if he is the

Emperor of China himself" (A.J.J., 1906, p. 822).


Despite his frustration in the service of Liszt,

Cornelius was nonetheless glad for the association of their

names after the publication of translated works, which

enjoyed widespread circulation. Cornelius expressed his

gratitude for Liszt's help and encouragement by dedicating to

him an extended setting of Psalm 13 for Tenor. Chorus and

Orchestra, published in 1855. It was also quite apparent

that Liszt respected Cornelius as a person, associate,

composer, and poet, for he set to music two of Cornelius's

poems, "Weimar volkslied" (for male chorus, 1857) and "Wieder

mocht dir gegegnen" (solo lied, 1860); he also dedicated a

setting of Psalm 61 to Cornelius (Cornelius, 1904, 1:443).

Perhaps the highest expression of admiration for

Cornelius was for Liszt to produce his first opera, and also

the first written at the Altenburg, Der Barbier von Bagdad.

This was the last opera Liszt conducted in Weimar in 1858.

Sentiment had turned against Liszt because of his open

support of Wagner and the expensive production of Wagnerian

works in Weimar. The first performance of Der Barbier was an

outright fiasco and encountered a degree of opposition

unparalleled in the annals of Weimar, though through no fault

of Cornelius or the opera. It was provoked by an anti-Liszt

faction, led by Intendant Franz Dingelstadt, which had been

gathering for sometime in Weimar determined to overthrow

Liszt's rule. Some objected to his private life, others to

his continued espousal of new music; still others resented

his dictatorial control over musical style. This clique came

out in full force to create a scandal at the premiere with

such effect that the Barber had no repeat performance.

Liszt, outraged, resigned his post. With Liszt's resignation

came the end of a very productive musical period in Weimar.

Cornelius and Berlioz

On a trip with Liszt to Leipzig, Cornelius met Berlioz.

He describes their meeting in "Ein Kunstfahrt nach Leipzig,"

an article for the Echo in 1854. It was Cornelius (then a

youthful thirty) who launched the slogan of the three B's--

the original three B's.

On the heights where Bach and Beethoven
already dwell, there will the third great "B" first
find recognition. For if I mistake not, the
specific polyphonic musician in Berlioz controls
the poet, in such a way as to create within the
symphony a dramatic form fit for his variegated

Allow me then in concluding, to sound a small
fanfare for my favorite modern master, for the
proud and daring hero, Hector, for the many-voiced
composer and many-sided writer Berlioz, who is also
one of the humorists of our nineteenth century,
three cheers, now Bach! Beethoven! Berlioz!
(Barzun, 1950, 2:76)

Berlioz's personality and music made an overwhelming

impact on Cornelius, who later began translating literary and

musical texts into German for him; the first of these was La

Damnation de Faust, from a French version roughly based on

Goethe. When corresponding with Cornelius concerning the


endeavor, Berlioz was cordial but businesslike. In the

letter of January 2, 1855, he was given the task of adapting

the melody for the newly translated text, "Pour le Premier

Ballade Le Pecheur, vevillez essayer d'adapter a la musique

les vers originaux de Goethe enfaisant tous les changements

dans la melodie que ces vers necessiteront." He was also

given responsibility for finding an actor to portray a

certain part ". .. quand vous connaitrez l'ouvrage et le

genre de talent que le role reclame, vous voudrez bien

l'indiquer a Liszt pour qu'il demand de ma part a

cetrartiste d'accepter la tache assex difficile de

representer ce personnage" (Max-Weber, 1973, pp. 236-237).

This portion of translation was one of several performed

during the 1855 Berlioz Festival in Weimar. Berlioz was in

Weimar for two weeks preparing performances at the court on

February 17th and in the theater on February 21st. Among the

many other services performed for the event by the Neu

Weimar-Verein, the copying of parts fell to Cornelius. As a

result, he became familiar with excerpts from such works as

Romeo et Juliette, La Damnation de Faust, Benvenuto Cellini,

Le Captive, the Symphonie Fantasticue, and the oratorio

L'Enfance du Christ, having also prepared the German

translations of texts and program notes. Cornelius later

made arrangements to have his translation of L'Enfance du

Christ published. He expressed much satisfaction for having

done the translations for the famous French composer and


received a generous honorarium for having done the work

(Cornelius, 1904, 1:95). After this he was frequently

employed by Berlioz and was always paid as generously as he

was treated politely. In fact, the two musicians became


Cornelius maintained correspondence with Berlioz during

the next several years, and in a letter to his bride-to-be

(dated December 22, 1866), he related having completed a

later translation of Les Trovens for financial rather than

artistic benefit (Cornelius, 1904, 2:463).

Barzun indicates that Berlioz was also aware of

Cornelius's compositional ability. "Of the new musicians who

came to Berlioz's attention he seems not to have missed a

single one . in Germany, besides Mendelssohn and Wagner,

Berlioz saw at once the merits of Cornelius, Joachim, and

Brahms (Barzun, 1950, 2:261).

Vienna (1859-1864)

With Liszt's resignation and subsequent departure from

Weimar, Cornelius's reasons for remaining had virtually

disappeared. He left Weimar almost immediately, and after a

short stay in his native town of Mainz, he arrived in Vienna

on April 12, 1859. Cornelius lived in the most modest

circumstances, dependent on private music lessons and

financial support from his relatives, yet happy because of

his many contacts with composers, poets, and musical


dilettantes. He and Brahms, whom, like Schumann, he had come

to know in 1852, respected each other; he was friend and

advisor to Carl Tausig; and he felt a particular reverence

for Friedrich Hebbel and his Hibelung trilogy. Cornelius

carried with him to Vienna his four books of songs which he

revised for publication. The songs were, however, rejected

by several publishers, and the major accomplishment of this

period in his life was the completion of his second opera,

Der Cid, for which he again wrote both text and music. A

major translation project was that of Liszt's Die Musik die

Ziquener which was published in 1861.

All of the aforementioned relationships and influences

were overshadowed by the fascination exerted by Wagner, whose

circle Cornelius eventually entered, when Wagner was in

Vienna for the production of Lohengrin, followed by Tristan

und Isolde. Brahms is mentioned frequently in Cornelius's

correspondence over the next few years. However, December of

1864 brought the close of the friendship between he and

Brahms. Cornelius felt that Brahms was "too self-serving and

too self-endeared" and had long since ceased to seek the

company of him, making it clear in his diary that it was

Brahms who had sought the company of Cornelius (Cornelius,

1904, 1:794).

Cornelius continued to improve his piano technique and

worked on Bulow's studies, which he regarded as very

difficult and most suitable for the development of fingering


(Cornelius, 1904, 1:758). Articles for the Osterreiche

Zeitung and the Allgemeine Zeitung were written during this

time. He set to music poems of other poets, among them his

friend Fridrich Hebbel, as well as the poems of his own Opus

5. In 1864, he also broke from the "tyrannical friendship"

of Hebbel in his quest for freedom and originality (Seeley,

1980, pp. 25-26).

The number of references in Cornelius's diary and

letters are indicative of the depth of the friendship he had

with Richard Wagner and reveals the tenacity with which

Wagner at times pursued it. Their first encounter was that

brief meeting in Basel, October 6, 1853, with Liszt. While

at the Altenburg, there can be no doubt that Cornelius became

well-versed in Wagner's musical and literary philosophies.

Cornelius was the first to tread Wagner's path without

losing sight of his own course. Others who came under

Wagner's influence were constantly threatened with the loss

of their artistic individuality, a danger Cornelius clearly


Soon after their second meeting, in Vienna, which was to

begin a very trying friendship between the two, Cornelius


Ich kann mich kaum noch wieder auf mich selbst
besinnen, da Wagner wieder abgereist ist. .. Mit
Wagner waren wir taglich zusammen. . Ich habe
den ganzen Tristan von ihm singen horen. .
Tristan ist gewiB den groBte musikalische Werk, das
seit Beethoven geschaffen wurde. Die Partitur ist
eine Wonne zu lesen. . Wagner kommt am 15
August wieder hierher und bleibt, bis er die Oper

die ersten drei Male dirigiert hat. Bis dahin und
iberhaupt nimmt er festen Sitz in Karlsruhe. Wer
weiB aber, ob er nicht in Wien gefe8elt wird! Die
Geruchte uber seinen personlichen Verkehr, die sehr
verbreitet waren, sind hochst abgeschmackt. Er ist
der einfach liebenswurdigste Mann von der Welt; ich
habe ihn herzlich lieb gewonnen. . Er will mir
uber meinen Cid einen Brief schreiben mit
Veranderungsvorschlagen am zweiten und dritten Akt.
(Cornelius, 1904, 1:594-595)

I can hardly think once again about myself
since Wagner first returned. . We (Tausig and
I) have been with Wagner daily. . I have heard
him sing all the way through Tristan which is
surely the greatest musical work created since
Beethoven. The score is a delight to read. . .
Wagner will return on August 15 and remain until
the opera has been directed by him three times.
Between now and then he is making his place in
Karlsruhe. Who knows, perhaps he will settle in
Vienna! Rumors concerning his personal business,
which are widespread, are absurd to the height. He
is the most simple, kind man of the world; I have
become enamoured of him. . He is going to write
a letter to me concerning Cid with suggestions for
revisions of the second and third acts of the

Cornelius soon had a glimpse of the other side of

Wagner's character. Wagner borrowed Cornelius's initials to

attain publication of an article in the October 8, 1861,

edition of osterreiche Zeitung in an effort to gain

additional publicity and support for Tristan. This article

flattered the Kappelmeister of the Vienna Hofoperntheater

(Court Opera Theater) for his choice of Tristan for its

previous season. Wagner even went so far as to have an

unknown deliver it and read the proofs.

According to Edgar Istel, the editor of volume three of

Cornelius's Literarische Werke, there was an understanding

between Wagner and Cornelius that the former should use the


latter's initials. Cornelius's son, however, shows that this

was not so. Peter was known to the editor of the paper,

Wagner was not; and he made use of his friend's name without

his knowledge and consent, no doubt thinking he was being

both humorous and clever. Peter was angry at first, but

relented when Wagner assured him that perhaps the fate of

Tristan depended on the article. Cornelius apparently

forgave Wagner for this infraction, for when the Tristan

rehearsals began Cornelius took an active part.

When things went badly, Wagner decided to visit Paris,

where he planned to write the libretto of Die Meistersinger.

"Wagner has strengthened me miraculously," Cornelius wrote to

Tausig. "I have complete confidence in myself and am proud

that we are on familiar terms--auf Du und Du--a privilege

Wagner granted me himself in his first letter from Paris."4

A splendid testimony of the friendship between Cornelius

and Wagner is revealed in another letter Wagner wrote to

Cornelius from Paris:

Peter! Listen! On Wednesday, February 5, in
the evening, I shall read the Mastersingers at
Schott's in Mainz. You have no idea of what it
means--what it means to me and what it will mean to
my friends. You simply must be present that
evening! Get Standhartner to advance you, in my
name, the money you will need for the journey. In
Mainz I shall repay this at once and give you what
you require for the return trip. The thing is
settled! I have often thrown away money to worse
purpose. This time I shall take real pleasure in
it. Do not spare yourself! It will be a memorable

4Wagner suggested that he and Cornelius address each other as
"Du" as an affectionate gesture.


evening, believe me, and will make you forget
everything. You are coming then! If you don't,
you are just an ordinary fellow, though perhaps a
good fellow, and I shall call you "Sie" again!
Addio! Your Richard! (Istel, 1904, p. 339)

Cornelius arrived in Paris in mid-winter for the reading

of Die Meistersinger. Because he arrived late Wagner was

unsure if Cornelius would come. An attendant at the reading

recounted that Wagner paced back and forth, repeatedly

looking at his watch and the door. Finally he explained.

"We must wait a little more because Cornelius has not yet

arrived," to which someone replied, "He is of course in

Vienna." Wagner in turn replied, "No, in a few minutes he

will come through the door"! (Istel, 1904, p. 327). Almost

instantly Cornelius knocked on the door and walked into the

room. He was embraced by Wagner and smothered in kisses.

Those in attendance sat stunned with amazement and then

jumped to meet their dear friend whom they thought was so far

away and who suddenly appeared in their midst as if in a

fairy tale. After the reading Cornelius immediately took the

next train back to Vienna.

In the summer of 1862 Cornelius spent time with Tausig

on the sea of Genf. He decided to go there to relax and to

practice piano daily and did not bother to send regrets to

Wagner's invitation for a visit in Biebrich. Wagner was very

upset at this insult and later reminded Cornelius of it.

Cornelius apparently had learned that the best way not to be

persuaded by Wagner was to ignore him in certain matters.

Cornelius at times grew completely impatient with Wagner

because of his inconsiderate egoism. In his diary he wrote:

Wagner! Das ist ein Hauptkapitel! Ach, ich
mag nicht ausfuhrlich daruber reden. Ich sag es
kurz: Seine Sittlichkeit ist schwach und ohne
rechtes Fundament. Sein ganzer Lebensgang mit
seinem egoistischen Hang in Verbindung hat ihn in
ethische Labyrinthe verstrickt! Er hat sich
innerlich zu sehr darauf gerijhtet, daB seine
geistige GroBe alle sittlichen Schwachen decken
soll und ich furchte, die Nachwelt nimmt es.
(Cornelius, 1904, 1:698)

Wagner, he is a main chapter! Ah, I shall not
write in detail. I'll say it briefly: his
morality is weak and without proper foundation. He
has woven his whole way of life with his
egotistical inclination in relationships into an
ethical labyrinth. He has judged himself to be of
such spiritual greatness that it will cover up his
spiritual weaknesses, and I fear, the future
generations will not be so kind.

In the spring of 1863 Wagner made his home in Vienna but

still traveled extensively, returning Christmas of 1863. He

gathered about him his circle of friends and gave them all

expensive gifts. Cornelius gave away half of all the gifts

he received the next day, perhaps because he could not afford

to purchase gifts for those who had blessed him with

friendship during the preceding year. Also, he was

completely overwhelmed and perhaps turned away by Wagner's

solicitous nature (Seeley, 1980, p. 37).

The following year Cornelius was nearing the completion

of Der Cid and sensed the need to move on from Vienna. He

was hoping to obtain a position at a small court theater

where he could study and conduct opera. Wagner was in Zurich

and invited Cornelius to visit him. Cornelius also received


an invitation from Liszt in Rome about which he said, "I'd

rather go to Liszt than to Wagner" (Cornelius, 1904, 1:765).

Following a trip to Russia in the early months of 1864,

Wagner went to Zurich because he could not bear to return to

the now oppressive atmosphere of Vienna. He was unhappy

everywhere he went. Wagner often sought motional refuge in

his friends and he turned to Cornelius when overcome by

depression concerning an absence of financial and artistic

support. A most timely answer to Wagner's plea for help came

in May of 1864 when he received an invitation to come to

Munich in the service of King Ludwig II. Wagner, in need of

the intellectual and emotional support of Cornelius, summoned

him to come at once to Munich. Cornelius, apparently

enjoying the freedom from the oppressive Wagner, did not

reply. In retaliation, Wagner sent a very aggressive letter

dated May 31, 1864:

Entweder Du nimmst jetzt unverzuglich meine
Ein ladung an, und richtest Dich dadurch fur alle
Lebenszeit etwas zu einem wirklichen Hauslichen
Lebensbunde mit mir ein. Oder--Du verschmahst
mich, und entsagst dadurch ausdrucklich dem Wunsche
mit mir Dich zu vereinen. Im letzten Falle entsage
ich Dir ebenfalls gang und vollstandig und ziehe
Dich in keiner Weise mehr in meine Lebensein-
richtungen. Von dem Grade Deines Vertrauens, in
betreff der Mitteilung Deiner Grunde wird und muB
es ferner abhangen, ob wir uberhaupt vom Schicksal
zu fernerem Freundesverkehr bestimmt sind. Du
ersiehst hieraus eines--wie sehr ich der Ruhe
bedarf. (Cornelius, 1904, 1:768)

Either you accept my invitation immediately
and settle down for the rest of your days to some
sort of domestic life-bond with me--or, you reject
my proposal with scorn, and so expressly disclaim
the wish to unite yourself with me. In the latter

case, I, for my part, renounce you wholly and
absolutely, and try no more to draw you into my
scheme of life. On the degree of your confidence
with regard to the ground you have for your conduct
it will and must depend whether fate has it in
store for us that our relations shall remain
friendly. You must see from this how sorely I need

Wagner's efforts to lure Cornelius to Munich were almost

fruitless. "I am to become the complete Kurvenal," Cornelius

wrote to one of his friends. "I have many qualifications for

the role, even dog-like fidelity. What Wagner fails to

understand is that I am at the same time a bit too

independent in character and talent to play Zero to his

Figure One. A slave cannot write a Cid" (Istel, 1934, p.


Wagner returned to Vienna in June but Cornelius was away

in Weimar working on Cid. Wagner left an angry note to which

Cornelius sent an apology for his long silence. He agreed to

go to Munich after work on his opera was completed. In a

letter to his sister Suzanne, Cornelius wrote:

Und bei Wagner hatte ich keine not
geschrieben. . Auch ware ich nur eine Art
geistiges Mobel fur ihn, ohne EinfluB auf sein
Leben, soweit es tiefer liegt. . Ich hab mich
Wagner nie aufgedrangt. Ich freute mich herzlich
seiner Freundschaft, war ihm aufrichtig zugetan in
Wort und Tat. Aber sein Leben zu teilen--das lockt
mich nicht. Ich habe so was durchgemacht. Mit
Liszt. Da tat ich alles naiv, aus innerem
Lebensdrang. (Cornelius, 1904, 1:775)

With Wagner I could not have written a single
note . and besides, I would only be a piece of
intellectual furniture for his household, without
influence in his life, as far as its depths are
concerned. . I have never intruded upon Wagner.
I have been attentive to our friendship and have

been honest with him in word and deed. But to be
part of his household, that does not entice me. I
have already been through that--with Liszt. Then I
was naive about the inner workings of life.

Still Wagner did not give in, finally writing to

Cornelius on October 7, 1864:

Lieber Peter! Im besondern Auftrage Sr.
Majestat des Konigs Ludwig II von Bayern habe ich
Dich aufzufordern, sobald Du kannst nach Munchen
uberzusiedeln, dort Deiner Kunst zu leben der
besondern Auftrage des Konigs gewartig, und mir,
Deinem Freunde, als Freund behilflich zu sein. Dir
ist vom Tage Deiner Ankunft an ein jahrlicher
Gehalt von eintausend Gulden aus der Kabinettskasse
Sr. Majestat angewiesen. Von Herzen Dein Freund,
Richard Wagner. (Cornelius, 1904, 1:786)

Dear Peter! I am specially commissioned by
His Majesty King Ludwig II of Bavaria to invite you
to come to Munich as soon as you are able, to
pursue your art there, to execute the King's
occasional orders and to help me, your friend, as a
friend. From the day of your arrival your annual
salary of one thousand gulden will be assigned you
from His Majesty's Exchequer. Your Affectionate
friend, Richard Wagner.

Cornelius, while in Vienna, had had no prospect of any

secure professional post and reluctantly accepted the


An inner voice said: Do not go! His thousand
gulden are only a temptation of the Devil's.
Everyone about me said: This offer you must
accept, this offer really amounts to something! I
said: Keep after the Cid, never losing sight of
him for a moment; wait for success and, relying on
yourself alone, win your own place in the world.
This I cannot do when I am with Wagner. He uses me
up. The atmosphere about him is too oppressive.
He consumes and robs me of the breath of life.
(Istel, 1934, p. 340)

Pawning his watch for fare, Cornelius left for Munich on

December 29, 1864. The situation that met Cornelius on his


arrival in Munich did not allay his apprehensions, artistic

or personal, for once again, the back and forth search for

freedom from Wagner's stifling friendship had resumed.

The following is an account of Cornelius's first meeting

with the King:

On the morning of January 13, Peter Cornelius,
barbered regardless of the expense, and arrayed in
his indigent best, was shown into an antechamber of
the Munich residence, where, noticing that the sole
of his right shoe was split, he had to sit with the
dilapidation turned all the time groundwards. He
later wrote, "It must have given me, in consequence
of my immobility, something of the appearance of a
statue." (Newman, 1943, 4:65; Seeley, 1980, p. 42)

Cornelius was quite impressed by Ludwig's dignified

appearance and by the simple human-kindness that seemed to

radiate from him. His fears over the meeting quickly

disappeared. Cornelius was a penetrating reader of men, and

he left the meeting thoroughly convinced that his (Ludwig's)

was a soul of exceptional beauty and nobility. Such an

impression left no doubt in Cornelius's mind that the King

might indeed provide for him some means of stable financial

security. As for Wagner, Cornelius wrote:

In the eyes of the world my relations with
Wagner are indefensible--and they are proving too
much for me. Wagner neither knows nor imagines how
trying he is with his everlasting ardor, his
languishing after the fatal draught (Verschmachten
seit dem unseligen Trank) . yet I cannot tell
him--he does not understand, does not even suspect
that our being together draws the very marrow from
my soul--that I need solitude, above all, freedom.
(Istel, 1934, p. 341)

Accordingly, Cornelius chose not to attend any of the

Tristan performances. Instead, he traveled to Weimar for a


performance of the Cid something that irritated Wagner beyond

measure and led him to openly threaten to deprive Cornelius

of his thousand gulden (Istel, 1934, p. 341).

As was Cornelius's way, he spoke frankly to Princess

Wittgenstein in a letter to her June 27, 1865. He stated:

Vor dem aufgefihrten Cid war vieles anders,
ich konnte schwankend, zuwartend bleiben; nach
demselben ist er mir nur zu entschieden, daB ich in
der Produktion nicht die Wege des Sch6pfers von
Tristan und Isolde nacht reten kann, sondern im
innersten frei meinen eignen Weg gehen muB. Heute
mogen meine Freunde dies tadeln; nach lahren werden
sie einschen, daB ich recht gehabt. (Cornelius,
1904, 2:177)

S. Before the Cid was performed things were
different. I could suspend judgment, remain
expectant; now I am only too sure that I cannot
follow the composer of Tristan und Isolde in my
creative work. I must go my own way, spiritually
independent. Today my friends may censure this;
eventually they will realize that I am right.

Cornelius sent Wagner a "cordial, enthusiastic" letter

of farewell. Yet no break occurred at that time. Cornelius,

after a five-month stay in Weimar, finally returned to

Munich, with the financial help of his brother Carl. Hans

von Bulow and his wife Cosima arrived in Munich in the fall

of the year and through Billow's intervention Wagner and

Cornelius became close friends again. Cornelius apologized.

"Wagner, I am heartily sorry. I have been stupid about many

things." "Nonsense"! Wagner replied, "Let us be men and

forget about it." From this point their friendly relations

continued without serious disruption (Istel, 1934, p. 341).


Cornelius's eternal respect for Wagner the composer is

revealed in a series of essays written about him and his

operas: "Der Lohengrin in Munchen," 1867; "Der Tannhauser in

Munchen," 1867; "Beim Jahreswechal," 1868; "Die Meistersinger

von Richard Wagner," 1868; "Deutsche Kunst und Richard

Wagner," 1871 (Seeley, 1980, p. 46). Concerning the Bulows,

Cornelius saw early on the course of events which were taking

shape in the Wagner household. His diary and letters to

family are a chronicle of Wagner's entanglement with the

Bulow couple. As a result of much unpleasantness which

followed, the King himself asked Wagner to leave Munich,

which took place on December 10, 1865. Of Wagner, Cornelius

writes to a friend, "One must simply accept Wagner for the

unique being that he is, tolerate him, and love him, for like

everyone else he has lovable qualities after all" (Istel,

1934, p. 341).

Munich (1865-1874)

Shortly after assuming his position in Munich as reader

to King Ludwig II and as teacher of music theory and rhetoric

at the Munich Royal School of Music, Cornelius became engaged

to Bertha Jung. He had known her since 1853 as a family

friend. It was during their first year of engagement that he

produced his sixth and last song cycle, An Bertha, Opus 15.

They were married two and a half years later on August 14th.


Cornelius traveled to Meiningen for the Allgemeinen

Deutschen Musikvereins where he lived in the hotel with

Liszt. He frequently wrote to Bertha and his letters

reflected the atmosphere there. "Liszt was truly dear but

there is one unique thing--Wagner is, despite all his deceit

and storminess, still more dear." Notwithstanding

Cornelius's distaste for the morality of Wagner, he was a

devoted friend to him (Seeley, 1980, pp. 46-47).

Hans von Bulow became the new administrator for the

Koniglichen Musikschule which opened in October of 1867.

Cornelius had heavy demands on him as instructor of both

harmony and poetry; nevertheless, he produced a large number

of sacred and secular choral works, Opus 9 through Opus 13,

and Opus 17 through Opus 19. He also started a third opera,

Gunlod, but did not live to complete it. During this past

period, Cornelius settled down to a rather uncomplicated and

domestic life. Plans for assuming the editorship of Neue

Zeitschrift fur Musik in 1869 did not materialize. His

friendships of earlier days were now restricted to rather

infrequent correspondence (Seeley, 1980, p. 49).

While Cornelius was killing himself with work in Munich,

Wagner was beginning the most brilliant period in his career

in Bayreuth. Cornelius's last personal encounter with

Wagner, at the cornerstone laying for Wagner's new opera

house in Bayreuth in 1872, yielded a disappointingly curt

conversation with Wagner, who now had no further need of the


lesser composer's friendship. "We (Cornelius and Bertha)

spent two days there and scarcely saw the master," Cornelius

reports. "I can count the words that we exchanged." So

ended a friendship (Istel, 1934, p. 343).

At the request of Cosima von Bulow-Wagner, Cornelius

wrote a new text for some music Wagner had composed in 1835--

in honor of Wagner's sixtieth birthday. He also resumed

translations for Liszt and prepared German translations of La

Serva Padrona and Alceste.

Cornelius's life was also ending. Before reflecting on

his last days, mention of his personality traits is

warranted. A primary characteristic of Cornelius was his

deep faith. His habits and ethics stemmed from it. He was

Catholic and religious, but not dogmatic. He married a

Protestant and they had four children, three sons and one

daughter. Cornelius turned down a possible appointment in

Soest because it was coupled with the demands of a dogmatic


One could characterize him as liberal, and not only in

the Christian area. The anti-semitism attributed to him

because of his unfailing devotion to Wagner cannot be

justified, because it is known that many of his personal and

closest friends were Jews: his teacher Dehn, the pianist

Carl Tausig, the publisher Schlesinger, who published

Vaterunser, which was a deeply religious statement by

Cornelius. Honesty must be named as an apparent character


trait of Cornelius. His ethics are connected to this trait,

as inferred by his work as a music critic. The standards by

which he measured the worth of an artist were seriousness,

devotion, determination, and craftsmanship. Cornelius was

determined to live by these same standards as attested to by

his self- criticism. In addition to his objectivity,

Cornelius possessed a modesty which was not flirting. He

called himself an evolving being and this evolution in him

mani- fested itself in his enormous struggle for education.

He managed this quite systematically in the style of today's

"life-long learning." For example, this is how he learned in

the course of his life seven languages, which he spoke

fluently. He was able to translate works from German and

into German.

Two further characteristics were almost inseparable in

his lifestyle--his love for his homeland, for the scenery of

the Rhine and for Mainz, and his always-ready humor. His

great sense of justice also distinguished him, as well as his

gratitude, to which Liszt, Wagner, and his brother Carl have

testified. Cornelius's struggle for the identity of his

feelings, thoughts, and actions served as the connecting

trait of his personality which lasted throughout his entire

life (Hoffman, 1977, pp. 115-116).

In a letter to a friend, written in 1849, Cornelius

evaluated himself:

If I were to pass judgment on myself, it would
be in these terms: I have a fair talent for


composition, in spite of the fact that nature has
not endowed me with the inexhaustible invention of
a Mozart or a Rossini. . I can quietly lay
claim to one good thing--what little I have is my
own property. I do not dig in other people's
fields, or adorn myself with others' feathers; so I
may hope that when I come to my years of discretion
I have, God willing, a certain individuality to
display. (Ewen, 1966, p. 101)

On October ,6, 1874, having developed a respiratory

illness, Cornelius died, just two months short of his

fiftieth birthday. Two of his four children, all under the

age of six at the time of his death, died soon after him.

His bride of seven years died in 1904.

"I know that I must remain unknown for years on my path

as poet-musician; but I also know for sure that my struggle

will be noted and admired" (Hoffman, 1977, p. 14).



In Germany, the first half of the 19th century was one

of transition, uncertainty, and disintegration with regard to

opera (Leigner, 1944, p. 51). Opera was very slow in

developing in Germany and, aside from the Hamburg operas,

only translations of other operas were presented. When the

Hamburg operatic venture floundered in 1738, the Hamwurst

company in Vienna's Karntnertortheater was the only German-

language Singspiel venture with a permanent home. Wandering

troupes gave operatic performances of a popular nature and in

the vernacular. This alone helps account for the short-lived

and usually simple nature of the early German-language

Singspiels. Aside from the fact that most of the casts were

actors and actresses who could also sing, as opposed to fully

trained musicians, the expense of trying to maintain even a

moderate-sized orchestra as well as large-scale works was far

beyond the means of almost all of the companies (Branscombe,

1980, pp. 585-586).

Singspiel was the immediate background of German opera;

it reached its peak with Mozart's The Magic Flute (Grout,

1980, p. 625). The major literary figures, such as Wieland

and Goethe, met with limited success by providing superior

texts, and neither added to his reputation or to the

permanent repertory of the Singspiel by his contribution to

the genre (Branscombe, 1980, p. 586).

Suffering from extremely pour books on one hand and lack

of originality on the other, these early operas, Singspiele

or Liederspiele, were little more than vague or even direct

plagiarisms from the best-known composers of the day. The

great number of Quodlibets were the ultimate creations in

this direction.

Breidenstein's Der Kappellmeister von Venedig (c. 1844),

a typical example of the Quodlibet genre, is full of long

quotations from Don Giovanni, The Magic Flute, Fiqaro, and

some of the Dittersdorf works. Apart from Mozart, Ditters

von Dittersdorf (1739-1799) was the best of the Viennese

Singspiel composers of some prevention (Branscombe, 1980, p.

588). He became one of the most charming composers not only

of the Singspiel but of a large number of symphonies,

divertimenti, and chamber music. In his comic operas, he

captured the fluency of the Italians and the humor of the

Germans or, rather, Austrians. By any standard other than

comparison with Mozart, his feeling for musical

characterization and humor was exceptional (Leigner, 1944, p.

59). Dittersdorf's greatest successes--Der Apotheker und der

Doctor, Der Betruq durch Aberglaudeb, Hieronvmus Knicker, Die


Liebe im Narrenhause, and Das rote Kappchen--were all

Singspiels, though he sometimes favored the description

"komische Oper" (Branscombe, 1980, p. 588).

Ignaz von Ritter Seyfried (1776-1841), who was taught by

the greatest masters of his time--Haydn, Albrechsberger,

Mozart, and his friend Beethoven--realized he could not excel

his teachers; he filled his twenty operettas and his twenty-

five operas with quotations from their works. Judging from

the titles of his operas, he undoubtedly had a flair for the

comic: "The Ox-Minuet," "Husbands after a Fashion," "The

Postman," "The Living Wine-Barrel," and "Rachus Pumpernickel"

(Leigner, 1944, p. 90).

In the early 19th century the Singspiel productions were

influenced mostly by French opera. In its search for

national unity and a sense of growth and direction, the

politically stagnant group of states that then formed Germany

turned to France as its inspiration for a dynamic alternative

society (Warrack, 1980, p. 591).

The serious music dramas of the French opera, mostly

horror and rescue stories, were a product of the French

Revolution which had a profound effect on the German

composers. The social and political upheavals following the

Revolution found expression in the operatic books of the

period. Floods, earthquakes, shipwrecks, etc. were popular

topics of the horror operas. The usual plot of the rescue

opera was an imprisoned hero or heroine, who, after long


suffering and almost insurmountable odds, is finally freed,

and the villain arrested. Beethoven's only opera Fidelio is

an outstanding example of the strong influence of the French

composers on their German counterparts (Leigner, 1944, p.


The most important factor to influence oper. after

Mozart was the new literary concept, Romanticism. The

Singspiel became increasingly imbued with Romantic elements,

at the same time retaining and even intensifying its national

features. These two trends are illustrated by two operas

produced in 1816: Undine by the distinguished author and

musician E.T.A. Hoffmann (1776-1822) and Faust by Ludwig

Spohr (1784-1859), the leading minor German composer of the

early Romantic era (Grout, 1980, p. 625). In its contact

with music, romanticism tended to give way to complete

freedom of emotional expression as an ever moving force

rather than make use of the more logical and formal

structures of the previous period. The literary movement

soon engulfed all phases of life.

The more serious pursuits such as the creative arts and

scientific and scholarly fields, history, etc. were also

tinged with the romantic concept. Histories of music,

musicians' monographs, and musical criticism are indicative

of the changed frame of mind (Leigner, 1944, p. 53). The

Romantic concept was perfectly valid, but its effect on

music, especially operatic music, was at times unfortunate;


the word gained a towering position over the music.

Frequently this was only theoretically true.

Legend, fairy tales, horror stories, and magic became

the central points of attraction. The same elements can be

found in late 18th-century operas, but there was a greater

tendency to improve the quality of the text and bring ocu its

innermost feelings. This became an uncontrollable passion in

the early 19th century.

Romanticism was very personal and filled with contrast-

ing concepts of music, so much so that not all characteris-

tics of style were present in all forms. Contradictions in

style existed between groups of composers and even within the

works of individual composers (Wold and Cykler, 1979, p.


A characteristic aspiration of the German romantic was

the idea of opera as a fusion of the arts--poetry, music,

acting, painting, and dancing--and not just as a conjunction

(Donnington, 1978, p. 113). There was one concept that all

Romanticists had in common which gave their music a sense of

unity: Their music was aimed at the evocation of emotion as

its primary function. The concept was based on the premise

that a feeling of musical tension is necessary to achieve a

corresponding intensification of emotional response (Wold and

Cykler, 1979, p. 175).

For the romanticizing of opera, two centuries had

provided abundant subject matter: the invitation of


Classical tragedy, the main point for the Florentine

Camerata; the appearance of figures from Roman history; the

appearance of figures from the early Middle Ages and from the

period after the decline of the Roman Empire; and the Spanish

dramas with their colorful adventures as well as the Spanish

novel--Don Quixote carried the principal role, as hero, in a

dozen operas.

After 1750, a new and more colorful source emerged which

manifested itself throughout the entire operatic field, the

"Turkish opera," with its half comic, half fantastic

character. The "Turkish opera" presented a new exotic world

and as examples of Singspiel, Neefe's Adelheit von Veltherm

(1780) or Mozart's Entfuhrung aus dem Serail (1782).

Frenchman Andre Gretry perhaps contributed most to the

transformation of 18th-century opera into Romantic opera.

His comedie-ballet, Zemire et Azor (1771), set in a distant

part of the Orient (where fairies still intervene in the fate

of men), was reworked by a German librettist five years later

(1776) and bore the subtitle "Romantic Comic Opera." This

new concept, which proved so influential in the realm of

opera, had received explicit, verbal expression for the first

time. The material used in Gretry's Zemire et Azor was later

used by Spohr in 1819 (Einstein, 1975, p. 105).

The fusion of the fantastic with the folklore, and

similarly also of the sentimental with the comic, was present

in works like Mozart's The Magic Flute (1791), with which the


history of German opera as a whole began. Ignaz Holzbauer's

Gunther von Schwarzburg (Mannheim, 1777) was considered a

patriotic opera. Baldur's Death (Copenhagen, 1778) by Dane

J.E. Hartmann was a "heroic Singspiel" with a Valkyrie

chorus--seventy years before Richard Wagner. There were

fairy tale operas a hundred years before Humperdinck's Hansel

und Gretel, such as Rihezohl (1789) by Joseph Schuster of

Dresden (Einstein, 1979, p. 106).

It was not within the scope of this study to examine the

following composers or their operas in detail. Only the

basic and most outstanding features have been mentioned in

order to show their positions in the development of German

Romantic Opera.

Carl Maria von Weber (1786-1826)

The definitive work that established German Romantic

opera was Weber's Der Freischutz, first performed at Berlin

in 1821. Weber has been considered the founder of the German

Romantic school of opera. He was something of a child

prodigy and in addition to his fame as a composer, he was

well known as a brilliant pianist, a master orchestrator, and

conductor (Wold and Cykler, 1979, p. 194). His opera Der

Freischitz ("The Freeshooter") is based on a German folk tale

that dwells on supernatural phenomenon and reveals the

sentimentality of middle-class personages. The story

concerns a gamekeeper's assistant who can win his bride only


if he is successful in a shooting match. But his hand is

unsteady, and the prospects are not bright. A comrade, who

has long since fallen and sold his soul to the Devil,

misleads him into casting enchanted bullets, of which six

will hit their mark but one will be directed by the Devil as

he wishes. At the crucial moment, it strikes the girl. But

Heaven has regard for the mortals: A wreath of consecrated

white roses protects the victim and reflects the bullet to

the villain. The action is set in the superstitious period

after the Thirty Years' War and in the forests of Bohemia

(Einstein, 1979, p. 111).

The importance of Weber's Der Freischutz as a landmark

of Romantic opera lies in its inventive synthesis of many

elements. It includes songs drawing on a melodic style

fashioned out of folksongs, substantial arias, popular

choruses, ensembles using motivic methods, and functionally

colorful orchestration; its subject celebrated popular life

while at the same time using the Romantic fascination with

supernatural horror in the Wolf's Glen, a graphic depiction

of the upheaval of nature, the horror in trafficking with the

devil, and the tragic event in store for the hero (Warrack,

1980, p. 594).

Der Freischutz has been called "the most German of all

operas." But it is only the material that is German--in the

sense of the distinctively German Gothic horror and of the

then popular German tragedies of fate. The "German" pieces


in the opera are, after Weber's manner, sharply German: the

hunters' choruses, the peasants' march, and the bridesmaids'

chorus. Der Freischutz is Weber's own, and because Weber's

style is so markedly personal, he set the tone for the entire

Romantic German opera (Einstein, 1979, p. 111).

Weber followed Der Freischutz with Euryanthe (1823), a

heroic-romantic opera without supernatural elements but with

a pseudo-medieval plot, and Oberon (1826), a fairy tale

Singspiel. Der Freischitz and Oberon follow conventional

German use and employ spoken dialogue; Eurvanthe, with

recitatives, is exceptional. All three operas make a point

of recurring themes in the orchestra to suggest recurrent

ideas, characters, or presence, clearly foreshadowing

Wagner's technique of leitmotifs (Jacobs, 1974, p. 214).

The elements found in Weber's operas are those which

established the German Romantic opera. The stories were

often based on medieval history, German legends and folklore,

or fairy tale; plots leaned heavily on supernatural and

occult elements, as well as the wild and mysterious aspects

of nature. Supernatural incidents were treated seriously as

intertwined with the fate of the human protagonists. An

important element used was the idea of salvation or

redemption theme somewhere in the story; German operas differ

strongly from French and Italian operas in the importance

given to the physical and spiritual background (Grout, 1980,

p. 626). Their musical style and forms naturally have much


in common with the operas of other countries: The

recitatives and arias are still closed forms but with a new

element, the use of simple folk-like melodies, usually to

represent the people, "das volk." The orchestra became a

powerful instrument in creating atmosphere, moods, and bits

of realism. There was a strong reliance on harmony and

orchestral color for dramatic expressiveness. Recurring

themes became prominent. The overture became a collection of

the important melodies of the opera (Wold and Cykler, 1979,

p. 595).

The slowness with which Romantic opera spread in Germany

was due largely to practical considerations. German life was

decentralized and lacked organization. As a result, Germany

was for a long time dependent on Hoftheater (Court Theater),

in which aristocratic and normally Italian tradition

predominated. There were numerous composers who worked on a

smaller scale but made notable contributions to the genre in

the years after Weber's death (Warrach, 1980, p. 594).

Heinrich Marschner (1795-1861)

If it can be said that Weber had a successor, it was

Marschner. He continued to exploit the supernatural,

mingling it with an undisputed gift for the comic. His first

success came in 1828 with Der Vampvr ("The Vampire"), an

opera now remembered mainly because it was one of Wagner's

models for Der Fliegende Hollander. Marschner's Templar und


Judin ("The Templer and the Jewess," 1829) was adapted from

Scott's Ivanhoe. His masterpiece, Hans Heiling (1833), was

on a libretto by Edward Devrient from a story by K6rner,

originally intended for Mendelssohn. Just as the central

situation of Templar und Judin is similar to that of

Lohengrin, so the figure of Hans Heiling, half man and half

earth spirit, in love with a natural woman, has many points

of resemblance to Wagner's Dutchman (Grout, 1956, p. 370).

Though lacking Weber's imaginative penetration and lyri-

cal gift, Marschner possessed real dramatic feeling. His

harmonic sense and gift for vivid orchestration were well

adapted to express the supernatural side of Romanticism. In

spite of his penchant for the macabre, he possessed an equal-

ly typical Romantic love of nature and peasant life that

comes out in the comic episodes of his opera (Einstein, 1975,

p. 115).

Albert Lortzinq (1801-1851)

Alongside the specifically Romantic traits of Marschner

was a strong current of lighter, entertaining, comic popular

music inherited from the Singspiel of the 18th century.

Albert Lortzing was famous for his comic production. His

music has a simple charm that fits well to the type of

romantic comedy he preferred. Though not a polished

composer, and sometimes an overly sentimental one, his works

represent the most agreeable type of German comic opera

(Leigner, 1944, p. 130). Lortzing's Zar und Zimmerman ("Czar


and Carpenter," 1837), Der Wildschutz ("The Poacher," 1842),

and Der Waffenschmied ("The Armorer," 1846) abound in

humorous situations like those of the older Viennese

Singspiel, with a fresh, pleasant, and often witty melodic

style. Some of the ensembles recall the spirit of Mozart.

Most characteri-Lic are the simple songs in folk idiom.

Lortzing ventured on the ground of romantic opera, with

its supernatural beings and theme of redemption through love.

His systematic use of leitmotifs and his powers of musical

description are interesting both in themselves and as

predecessors of the music of Wagner's Ring. Lortzing's opera

Hans Sachs (1840) is one of the numerous sources of Die

Meistersinger (Grout, 1956, p. 371). Zar und Zimmerman was

important because comic opera was not a major genre in 19th-

century Germany.

Lortzing, whose Ali Pascha appeared almost twenty-five

years before Der Barbier, was influential because of his

comic bass characters such as Van Bett in Zar und Zimmerman.

Cornelius was familiar with this opera, having seen a

performance of it in Wiesbaden in 1847. He expressed a

desire to become a second Lortzing but more noble in every

respect (Griffel, 1975, p. 391).

Otto Nicolai (1810-1849)

Nicolai was one of the German composers who felt the

necessity of "living under the southern sun to get the proper

operatic inspirations." Discouraged by the conditions in

Germany he spent most of his life in Italy writing mainly

Italian operas. He was very anxious to write a German opera

but felt that "Germany is a country of baboons. She would

rather take the worst Italian or French operas than pay for a

German one . a sad, sad fate to be a German opera

composer" (Leigner, 1944, p. 121).

Nicolai was influential to Cornelius through his one

remembered (and last) work Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor

("The Merry Wives of Windsor," 1849), a fine comic work which

contained elements of magic and atmosphere. It was in this

work that Nicolai blended Italian and German characteristics.

Die lustigen Weiber is in the traditional style of

German, French, and Italian comic operas with spoken dialogue

and an assortment of the usual set pieces. It does, however,

offer several important parallels to Der Barbier. The

orchestra sets the scene of the mystical Windsor woods and in

Der Barbier the zwischenakt (Entracte) describes the exotic

environment of Bagdad musically through the use of Oriental

themes. Two comic characters in the Nicolai work, Falstaff

and Frau Reich, have their counterparts in the Barber and

Bostana; and the young lovers, Fenton and Anna, are similar

to Nureddin and Margiana. Cornelius matched Nicolai's skill

in adapting the comic parlando style to German. Nicolai,

unlike Cornelius, remained free of any Wagnerian influence

(Griffel, 1975, p. 394). Chronologically, Cornelius figures


prominently at this time. His operas will be discussed in

the succeeding chapters and will not be addressed at this


with Nicolai we come to the close of the first half of

the 19th century in Germany. From here the succession of

composers runs straight to earl, Wagner. Beethoven's name

dominated musical history in the first half of the 19th

century, and for many people at the time, that of Richard

Wagner seemed equally important in the second.

Wagner created a new form that combined music and drama,

certainly operatic in terms of stage performance, but in

structure owing almost as much to Beethoven's symphonies as

it did to the operas of Gluck or Weber (Headington, 1976, p.

232). With the music dramas of Wagner, the second half of

the 19th century completed the return to the original

Florentine ideal of opera as drama continuously and flexibly

unfolding in words and music (Donnington, 1978, p. 121).


Cornelius's first creative period as poet-musician

concluded with the Wiehnachtslieder ("Christmas Songs") in

November of 1856, and the most noted evidence of his lyrical

word-tone-poetic style is his cycle of songs Trauer and Trost

("Sorrow and Solace") (Hasse, 1923, p. 1). His success was

limited to dramatic-musical areas, for he was not a post-

classical master of song. Perhaps this was due to the choice

of poor texts rather than with a possible one-sided ability

of the composer.

The most fruitful period for him was during the years

1854-56, the first half of his life, but his lyrical world-

tone style did not reach full maturity during these years.

It was during this time, however, that he changed from the

subjective style of the lyricist to the objective style of

the playwright. This transition from subjectivity to

objectivity appears to be spiritually induced. With regard

to the blending of word and tone, Cornelius could not explain

this type composition when he told others about his work. He

asserted that the music was always the base and it gave the

inner mood for the text (Hasse, 1923, p. 6).


Cornelius spoke on occasion of his "inner song" when he

was composing. This "inner song" sounded so powerful to him

at times that it temporarily expelled the words. It had to

do with a specific phenomenon that might interest

psychologists. The "inner song" referred to the "inner

hearing of the entire piece." Individual scene- appeared to

him and he conceived music with them (Cornelius, 1904, 3:3).

His absolute pitch enabled him to perceive the orchestral

sound during the creative process. The hours of tonal

harmony with the piece, and then of the words with the tone

were some of the happiest in his life. This time was the

"holiest and deepest" for him, and he called it "the coming

of the Holy Spirit" over him. He then began to weep (Hasse,

1923, p. 8).

The phenomenon is explained thusly: The poet-musician's

soul experiences moments in which his dramatic material

overpowers him, but the inner perception does not always

immediately come to words. Chains of association relating to

the nature of sound are awakened to carry this material

higher. To this awakened world of sound the word is joined,

which adds to it, and in its way becomes a reflection of this

world of sound. If it is written down, and one views it

again later, it reawakens that world of sound clearly, or

unclearly, again and puts the artist in the position of

giving his already established inner picture of tone a solid

form: The "composing" begins (Hasse, 1923, p. 10).


History of the Text

In the biography of his father, Carl Cornelius stated

that the beginnings of Der Barbier von Bacdad "lay completely

in the dark." Also, the stimulus came perhaps from the

masquerade of fantasy that the Lisztians practiced, in that

they called their master "Padischah" and themselves "Muzls,"

with all possible Oriental nicknames (Cornelius, 1925,

1:224). One thing is certain: The story of "The Barber of

Bagdad" was based on one of the stories from A Thousand and

One Nights, the best known example of Arabic literature in

the world. The narrative bore the title "The Story of the

Tailor" (Horst, 1977, p. 122).

Cornelius's is the eighth musical version. To ascertain

the amount of dependency his adaptation had to its

predecessors, a brief discussion of the other versions is

needed. Attention must first be focused on the original

"Story of the Tailor" to see how each version differed.

The narrator--the Tailor--tells of a young man with a

lame leg who joins a marriage celebration, but when he sees a

certain barber among the revelers, he threatens to leave.

When asked why, he offers the following tale. The son of a

wealthy merchant in Bagdad, he was walking along the street

one day and accidentally entered a rarely traveled

passageway. He noticed there the most beautiful lady he had

ever seen, and she was watering flowers. When she looked up

and saw her admirer, however, she closed the window and


disappeared. The youth was smitten by love and remained in

front of her house until sunset, when he saw her father, the

Cadi, return. He then retired to his home and began grieving

because of unrequited love, until an old woman came to him

and promised to bring him to the young lady. A rendezvous

was arranged for the hour of prayer, when the father was

expected to be at the mosque. In preparation for the

meeting, the young man called for a barber to shave him.

Instead of beginning right away, however, the barber,

following an age-old tradition, started an endless stream of

chatter. The barber also started to tell the youth's

horoscope and found that now was the best time for a shave,

since Mars and Mercury were in conjunction. When the young

man protested the delay, the barber launched into a self-

laudatory monologue. Exasperated by this speech, the youth

blundered by calling the barber an unbearable chatterer,

whereupon the latter replied he bore the name as-Samit, the

Silent one, and launched into the tale of his six unfortunate

brothers and their gruesome fates. At that, the young man

wanted to send him away, but the barber refused. Even

begging was fruitless. Finally the barber began to shave

him, but with great pauses, in which he gossiped further.

The youth told the barber he was invited somewhere in the

afternoon, which reminded the barber that he had invited

friends for lunch, but had not bought anything yet. The

youth fed the barber and left the house just in time to hear


the Selam for Friday called out by the Muezzins. He then

went to the young damsel's house and was admitted by the old


But the barber followed him there, and as the old

troublemaker waited outside, he heard the father beating a

slave for a minor offense. Taking the shrieks of the slave

to be those of the youth, he started crying for help and

telling the neighbors that his master was being murdered in

the Cadi's house. The young man's servants also arrived on

the scene and, believing the barber, began tearing their hair

in mourning. When the Cadi went out to see what the

commotion was about, the barber accused him of murder. At

that the Cadi asked why he should kill their master. The

barber told him the young man was with his daughter. The

Cadi allowed them to search the house; the wailing horde, led

by the barber, entered the house. The young man had heard

everything from the window and hid himself in the only

available place in the young lady's room, a large chest. The

barber entered her chamber, saw the chest, found the young

man in it, lifted it onto his head, and started out the door.

The desperate youth then raised the lid, jumped out, and

escaped through a window, but at the price of breaking his

leg in the fall. The barber chased him through much of

Bagdad but finally lost his trail, until the current wedding

party. At that--so continues the storyteller--the young man


went away and the barber told his story and that of his six

brothers (Burton, 1962, pp. 418-420).

In this "Story of the Tailor" several characteristics of

Arabic love stories are found: (1) love at first sight--a

young man falls deeply in love at the first sight of a lovely

girl or even the sight of her picture or even at the

description of her beauty; (2) the unhappy lover--the unhappy

lover becomes sick, becomes insane or, as preserved legend

shows, even dies; (3) the old matchmaker--the matchmaker

attempts (and succeeds) through untiring efforts to cause the

unhappy lover to at least make a visit; (4) the figure of the

barber--the envious one, the one who envies the lovers'

happiness and attempts to put all sorts of hindrances in the

way. Also, the one who is an authority in every field of

knowledge; (5) the secretive hiding in the loved one's house

at a time when disruption is least to be feared, namely on

Friday at noontime, when the Moslems are accustomed to

practicing the Friday service with prayer in the main mosque

of the city; and (6) the bodily danger when an unmarried

couple meet for a delicate tete-a-tete. There are, however,

two characteristics of the Tailor story that are not typical:

the unhappy ending of the story and the fact that the

characters have no names (Horst, 1977, p. 123).

Frenchman Charles Palissot published Le Barbier de

Baqdad, Comedie after the original "Story of the Tailor." He

changed nothing apart from the character of Arlequin, which


he newly introduced. There are, however, some other things

that are different from the original and have to do mainly

with subject matter. For the first time the characters

possess names: the young man is called Alamanzor, the girl

Zulime, the old matchmaker has been changed to a slave with

the name Fatme. Arlequin, a slave of Alamanzor's, a comic

figure, as well as other slaves of Alamanzor and the

attendants of Cadi are newly introduced (Horst, 1977, p.


From this first French edition of The Barber of Bagdad

there is an anonymous accurate German translation from about

1772 supposedly written by Johann Heinrich Faber. Additional

German editions have been operettas. The third edition is by

Wilhelm Mylius from about 1780. In Mylius's work Zulime

becomes Sulamith, Arlequin becomes Zulip, and the barber

receives the name Sandrapandraback (Horst, 1977, p. 125).

The fourth edition, also an operetta, by Johann Andre is also

similar in content with the predecessors. The comical slave

is now called Osmin, the barber loses his name again and does

not portray his own excellent qualities himself, but Osmin


Two other editions were by Maximilian Habicht and

Friedrich Heinrich, and Alexander Konig (Horst, 1977, p.

126). Of the several translations available for A Thousand

and One Nights, Cornelius chose the one by Alexander Konig,

which was published in Berlin by Carl J. Kelmann in the first

half of the 19th century (Cornelius, Musikalische Werke,

1903, 3:vi). The Tailor's story begins on the twenty-fourth

night. Konig's work came to Cornelius's attention through a

conversation with Reinhold Kohler, who provided him with the

preserved German edition in the Grand Duke's library (Hasse,

1923, p. 2).

Cornelius, as well as Palissot, kept the essence of the

original story but his opera opens with the youth pining away

for his unattainable love. The tale ends happily, with the

young couple being united, instead of the young man fleeing

and being injured.

The Main Characters

In his Barber Cornelius furnished the anonymous people

of the "Story of the Tailor" with names and traits like those

of other personages in various Nights stories. Nureddin, the

hero of Cornelius's opera, has the same name as the

protagonist in various Nights stories, including the tale of

"Nur Al-Din Ali and His Son Badr Al-Din Hasan" (no. 5) and

"Nur Al-Din and the Damsel Anis Al-Jalis" (no. 7). One can

readily see the connection with regard to the spelling of the

name--Nureddin (Nur al-Din) (Griffel, 1975, p. 404). The

barber in Cornelius's opera is called Abul Hassan Al Edn

Bekar. Sources for this may have included the tale of

"Aboul-l-Hassan 'Ali b. Bakkar," which incidentally, follows

the tales of the barber's six brothers in the French


collection. In addition, Ali Edn Bekar is a Persian prince

who appears in a number of other tales from the Nights. It

is in the treatment of the central figure of the barber that

Cornelius deviated from the buffa norm. Heretofore, an old

man, usually the girl's guardian, attempts to thwart the

young lovers because he himself wants to marry her. The

barber, however, is the promoter of love. He assumes

responsibility for Nureddin without logical reason and

protects the young man throughout the opera. He is an

extremely peculiar, attractive character, the Oriental

fatalistic philosopher and astrologer.

Margiana, the heroine of the opera, appears in two

tales, "Firuz and His Wife" (no. 11)1 and "The Lovers of the

Banu Uzrah" (no. 145) (Griffel, 1975, p. 406). "Margiana"

means "the she branch" in Persian and is usually the name of

a female slave in the Nights (Burton, 1962, 2:1059). She is

also similar in character and name to Morgiane, the soprano

heroine in Cherubini's Ali Baba.

The fourth main character of the opera, the go-between

Bostana, has namesakes in various Nights tales. She is the

daughter of the magician Bahram in the tale of "Qamar az-

Zaman" (no. 12B) (Griffel, 1975, p. 406).

1This tale also contains the name Aboul al-Hassan, which, if
combined with Ali ibn Bakkar, forms the name of Cornelius's

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