Free Kindle Book: "Wagner as I knew him" - Praeger

Written By The Wagnerian on Monday, 10 February 2014 | 12:23:00 pm


A Wagner biography written by some one who knew him and the book H.S. Chamberlain tried to ban. There is a wonderful overview of this over at Monsalvat which I repeat below, in part  and is much better than anything I could attempt. If you have not visited Monsalvat than I seriously recommend you should..


Title: Wagner as I Knew Him
Alternative title:Wagner, wie ich ihn kannte (German translation)
Author(s): Ferdinand Christian Wilhelm Praeger
First publication:1885





According to Sir W.H. Hadow this book "was received with great alarm and indignation by the Wagnerians, partly because it fell short of unthinking hero-worship, partly because it gave a full and indiscreet account of the Dresden revolution, Wagner's part in which it was a matter of religion to ignore or minimize. The German version of the book was suppressed at the instance of H.S. Chamberlain ..." There can be no doubt that Chamberlain's efforts to suppress this book were motivated by the desire to eradicate all knowledge of Wagner's socialist views and of his revolutionary activities, which had become an embarassment to the reactionary "Bayreuth circle".

Hadow concluded: "I have read many books on Wagner ... and have come to the conclusion that among contemporary biographies Praeger gives the truest picture." On the other hand Newman described him as, "generally untrustworthy", and he is sometimes misleading. Most of Praeger's account is based on what he was told by Wagner himself; in some cases it is likely that Praeger has misunderstood or that a conversation was less than perfectly remembered. It should also be kept in mind that Wagner did not always tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Praeger also relied in part on other unreliable sources and he was not always entirely truthful about his own friendship with Wagner. Despite these faults, the book is a fascinating account of Wagner as he was known to one of his friends.

Two years Wagner's junior, like him Praeger grew up in Leipzig but settled in London from 1834. It was during a visit to Dresden in 1843 that Praeger was introduced to Wagner, perhaps by August Röckel, with whom he maintained a correspondence from which he quotes in this book. Thus Praeger's account of Wagner's revolutionary years is partly based on accounts by Wagner himself -- given during his Zürich years and so before he began to conceal his part in the Dresden revolt -- and partly on letters from Röckel, who served a thirteen-year prison sentence for his part in those events. Praeger and his wife got to know Wagner well at the time of his London concerts in the spring of 1855. This visit is described in detail, although Praeger might have exaggerated the part he played in the decision to invite Wagner.

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