Mathilde Wesendonck

Agnes Mathilde Wesendonck, born Lucke Meyer ( born December 23, 1828 in Elberfeld, now Wuppertal; † August 31, 1902 at the Villa Traun view in Altmünster ), was a German writer. Notoriety she gained particular as a muse of the composer Richard Wagner.


She grew up in Elberfeld and Dusseldorf as the daughter of the royal Kommerzienrates Karl Lucke Meyer and his wife Johanna, née stone on. Out of love for her husband, the merchant Otto Wesendonck, took born Agnes Meyer Lucke also the name of the prematurely deceased first wife of Otto Wesendonck, Mathilde, at. After her marriage she lived with him in New York and Zurich.

In Zurich 1852, the couple met Richard Wagner, to which a close friendship was born. Otto Wesendonck supported Richard Wagner financially generous and allowed him to 1858 to live in Zurich and work. Last inhabited Wagner a simple timber-framed house of Wesendoncks, by Richard Wagner as his " asylum " means, which was located on the property and the garden of the newly built villa Wesendonck. Between Mathilde and Richard Wagner, a deep " soul friendship" developed. She was his muse, with her he found understanding of his artistry, which he obviously could not give his own wife Minna. Mathilde and the triangular situation between him and the couple Wesendonck inspired him ultimately to his opera Tristan und Isolde.

A central idea of the opera is that the two lovers Tristan and Isolde on earth can not come together and make an appointment for association after deliberately awaited death. The highlight of the opera is the famous final aria " Mild und Leise ", also called " Isolde's Love ", in which Isolde transfigured her love for Tristan: "In the world's breath / billowing All / drown / sink / unconscious / supreme pleasure! " With this factory sat Wagner his love for Mathilde Wesendonck a musical monument. She was in a sense his spiritual " Isolde ".

Wagner composed the music for five of Mathilde's poems today as Wesendonck Lieder known. Two of them, dreams, and in the greenhouse, make musical studies for Tristan und Isolde. He also devoted her the prelude to Die Walküre with the initials GSM - "Blessed be Mathilde ". Mathilde Wesendonks sister was Marie Lucke Meyer ( 1838-1872 ). For them, Wagner composed the Zurich philopena Waltz.

The close platonic relationship between Wagner and Mathilde Wesendonck ended abruptly in the summer of 1858, when Wagner's wife Minna intercepted her husband a letter to Mathilde and provoked a scandal that led to the separation. Wagner left Zurich to continue alone the composition of the opera Tristan and Isolde in Venice and thus to process the conflict. But even later certain Wagner intimate relationship with Mathilde Wesendonck his life: "She is and remains my first and only love. "

Mathilde Wesendonck and Otto lived in Bayreuth in many more performances of Wagner. To date, the term " Green Hill " as a place for Wagner's opera house in Bayreuth remembered for his time with the Wesendonck in Zurich - he described but also Mathilde and Otto Wesendonck's home turned " on the green hill " standing. But Wagner's second wife, Cosima, née Liszt, tried the close relationship between Wagner and Mathilde Wesendonck wipe out - which is why they burnt all the letters of Mathilde at him, so that only letters from Wagner to Mathilde Wesendonck are preserved for posterity.

1872 Mathilde moved with her husband to Dresden and in 1882 to Berlin.

Mathilde Wesendonck and Bonn

Bonn plays a recurring role in the life of the Wesendonck family.

Mathilde Wesendonck -law and her husband's brother Otto, Hugo Wesendonck had studied from 1834 to 1837 in Bonn Law and one of the founders of the Corps Saxonia.

Otto's longtime business partner Wilhelm Loeschigk (1808-1887) bought after his return from the USA in 1860 today known as Palais Schaumburg, today the second official residence of the German President.

Also Mathilde's son Charles had studied physics in Bonn.

Daughter Myrrha (1851-1888) was married to Maurice of Bissing since 1872. From Bissing the King's Hussars in Bonn was for a good 10 months as a captain in the regiment stationed and later Colonel-General Moritz Freiherr von Bissing.

The key turned out that at the end 1881/Anfang 1882 Mathilde, husband Otto and daughter Myrrha were on a trip through Upper Egypt. During this time, died on 02/28/1882 Mathilde's son Hans, who had recently also begun the study of law in Bonn.

In the absence of the ignorant parents Moritz attended by Bissing for the funeral of the young Hans at the old cemetery in Bonn.

Thus here erected Otto and Mathilde Wesendonck after her return to her family grave in which Mathilde, husband Otto and the children Hans and Myrrha are buried today.

"I dug a grave / And my love leg't in / And all my hopes and longings / And all my tears / And all my joy and pain. / And when I laid a precaution - / As shall I myself into it " ( Mathilde Wesendonck, July 3, 1863 in a letter to Wagner).

And although Mathilde Wesendonck himself never lived in Bonn, leaving the heirs after the death of the parents the impressive collection of paintings Wesendoncks for 99 years on loan to the City of Bonn, the one part - the family portraits - in the municipal museum Obernier (now held by the City Museum Bonn ) took over and the rest of the collection to the Provincial Museum (now LVR Rhineland Museum Bonn) left that for a good half had to be extended structurally. The city of Bonn bought the collection in 1925, the division of stocks remained.

Through a private initiative, the inscriptions of the family tomb were provided with gold leaf the 110th anniversary of the death of Mathilde Wesendonck in August 2012 and also the red granite since then looks in new splendor.

Since 2013 there is a Mathilde Wesendonck (MWV ), founded by Klaus Bitter, Bonn, and Thomas Seidel, Berlin.

The Mathilde Wesendonck - association leads to 31 August, the date of death of Mathilde Wesendonck, in Bonn at the old cemetery in Bonn together with known Bonner artist groups Mathilde Wesendonck commemoration by, appeared at the 2013 more than 200 people.

2013/2014 organizing the Bonn city museum a highly acclaimed exhibition " Wesendonck in Bonn ", which was attended by over 1000 people.

Mathilde Wesendonck - commemorations in Bonn every year on 31 August, the anniversary of the death of Mathilde, in the afternoon at the old cemetery - and in other places Bonner. Thus, in 2014, a great evening in honor of Mathilde Wesendonck additionally in the " Grandhotel Petersberg ", the guest house of the Federal Republic of Germany, take place.

Works (selection)

  • Nature Myths (1865 )
  • Genoveva (1866 )
  • Gudrun. Acting (1868 )
  • German children's book in words and pictures (1869 )
  • Frederick the Great. Dramatic images ( 1871)
  • Edith or the Battle of Hastings ( 1872)
  • Poems, folk songs, legends and myths (1874 )
  • Old and new children's songs (1890)

Children's book by Mathilde Wesendonck

Illustration by Caspar Scheurenstraße to fairy tales and fairy tale games, Dusseldorf 1864

Five poems by Mathilde Wesendonck, set to music by Richard Wagner