The Wagnerian Drama
By Houston Stewart Chamberlain
In commemoration of Richard Wagner, born 200 years ago this year, we are publishing a new, annotated edition of Houston Stewart Chamberlain's first book, The Wagnerian Drama.
Houston Stewart Chamberlain attended his first Wagner opera at the age of 23. Though disappointed, he was undeterred, and soon became completely immersed Wagner’s work, going on to become the intellectual leader of the Bayreuth Circle, centred on the composer’s widow; Wagner’s biographer; and, in 1909, Wagner’s son-in-law.
Published in 1892, The Wagnerian Drama builds on Chamberlain's previous essays commenting on individual Wagner operas—‘Notes sur Lohengrin’ (1882), his fi rst published essay; ‘Notes sur Parsifal’ (1886); ‘Notes sur Tristan’ (1887); and ‘Die Sprache in Tristan und Isolde und ihr Verhältnis zur Musik’ (1888)—and is a commentary on the whole of Wagner’s dramatic work, focusing on its heroic Germanic elements, and intended to inspire a deeper appreciation for the great master.
The first German edition of the The Wagnerian Drama was self-financed, and went unnoticed upon initial publication, selling only five copies altogether, which were bought by the author himself. Nevertheless, it would eventually go through six German editions during Chamberlain’s lifetime and would see translations into French, Catalan, English, Spanish, and Italian.
This second English edition comes 90 years after the first, and is the first with annotations and an index.