When I hear
Wagnerian music, I hear rampant masculinity and surging power. I also
hear luscious eroticism. Wagner's ideal of music and drama combined to
create something on a plane far above the normal level of artistic
experience. Was Wagner’s ideal of Woman his Muse on this spiritual
plane? Two quotations illustrate the power of the feminine in Wagner's
is a woman . . . She must be loved by the poet, must surrender herself
to him, in order that the new art-work of the future may be born . . .
the begetter must be the artist. (Richard Wagner, Opera and Drama,
indeed, are the music of life; they absorb everything more openly and
unconditionally, in order to embellish it by means of their sympathy.
(Richard Wagner, letter to Theodor Uhlig, December 27 1849)
outpourings on the importance of Woman to his creative spirit preceded
Wagner’s conception of Tristan und Isolde in 1857. It was
inevitable, then, that he would attribute the artistic flow of this work
to a woman — Mathilde Wesendonck — whose loving care and profound
understanding of his nature was inspirational to the work. When Tristan
und Isolde finally had its première in 1865, Wagner's musical
imagery in the prelude drew on sexual longing he had himself
experienced. Audiences who have experienced similar feelings are swept
along with the soaring sexuality of intervals demanding resolution, or
the aching chromaticism of desire. With Isolde achieving transcendence
in the climax, it could be said that the opera has a sustained feminine
profoundly influential female in Wagner's life was the daughter of Franz
Lizst, Cosima von Bülow, a self-sacrificing and congenial friend. She
later became Wagner's second wife.
music springs from both his deep, personal experience with women and his
power to awaken the feminine within his own essential nature. He
preferred softness in all its forms during the process of artistic
creation. From conception to the birth of his poetic and musical ideas,
the feminine was woven into the finest threads of his musical fabric.
point of fact, two days before his death in February 1883, Wagner began
writing a treatise — On the Feminine in Human Nature.