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Mathilde Wesendonck (1850) by Karl Ferdinand Sohn, in the StadtMuseum Bonn.
The villa of Otto and Mathilde Wesendonck in Zurich (1857).
Cover of Märchen u. Märchen Spiele by Mathilde Wesendonck (published: Düsseldorf, 1864).
Grave of Mathilde Wesendonck and family in Bonn, Germany

Mathilde Wesendonck (23 December 1828 – 31 August 1902) was a German poet and author. She is best known as the friend and possibly mistress of Richard Wagner, who set five songs to her words, called the Wesendonck Lieder.

Contents

Biography

Agnes Mathilde Luckemeyer was born in Elberfeld (now Wuppertal) in the Rhineland of Germany in 1828. She married the silk merchant Otto Wesendonck (sometimes seen as von Wesendonck). Otto was a great admirer of Wagner's music, and after he and Mathilde met the composer in Zürich in 1852, he placed a cottage on his estate at Wagner's disposal. By 1857, Wagner had become infatuated with Mathilde. It is not known whether she returned his affections to the same degree, or if the affair - if there was one - was ever consummated. Nevertheless, the episode inspired Wagner to put aside his work on Der Ring des Nibelungen (which would not be resumed for the next twelve years) and begin work on Tristan und Isolde.

In 1858, Wagner’s wife Minna intercepted a letter from Wagner to Mathilde. After the resulting confrontation, Wagner left Zürich alone, for Venice.

Mathilde Wesendonck died in Altmünster (Austria) in 1902.

Selected works

  • Gedichte, Volkslieder, Legenden, Sagen (ca. 1864)
  • Natur-Mythen: Mai 1865 (1865)
  • Märchen u. Märchen Spiele (1864)
  • Genovefa: Trauerspiel in 3 Aufzügen (1866)
  • Gudrun. Schauspiel in 5 Akten (1868)
  • Deutsches Kinderbuch in Wort und Bild (1869)
  • Friedrich der Grosse: dramatische Bilder nach Franz Kugler (1871)
  • Edith, oder, Die Schlacht bei Hastings: ein Trauerspiel (1872)
  • Gedichte, Volksweisen, Legenden und Sagen (1874)
  • Der Baldur-Mythos (1875)
  • Odysseus: ein dramatisches Gedicht in zwei Theilen und einem Vorspiel (1878)
  • Alte und neue Kinder-Lieder und Reime (1890)
  • Alkestis: Schauspiel in vier Aufzügen. (1891)

Popular culture

Mathilde Wesendonck was portrayed by Valentina Cortese in the 1955 film Magic Fire, and by Marthe Keller in the 1983 miniseries Wagner.

Her legacy as assumed lover of Richard Wagner lives on with reference to her in Rhett Miller's song Our Love from the album The Instigator.

Notes

External links








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