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Richard Wagner's Conducting Batons and Cigar Cutter to be Sold in Boston!

Press Release (PDF)

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ALLSTON, MA. April 19th, 2010 - The Important German composer, Richard Wagner (1813-1883), by expanding harmonic, instrumental, and dramatic forces to a previously undreamed-of degree, single-handedly revolutionized opera and attained status as one of the most influential geniuses in the history of music. A pair of conducting batons and the mother-of-pearl cigar cutter used and owned by Wagner himself will be the highlight of nearly 200 rare items in the forthcoming Spring Catalogue of the Antiquarian Music & Manuscript firm, Schubertiade Music LLC.

Wagner, Richard. (1813 - 1883) & [Seidl, Anton. (1850-1898)]

Two of Wagner's Conducting Batons and his personal Cigar Cutter, given by Cosima to Anton Seidl.

An extraordinary grouping of items owned and used by Richard Wagner and given to one of his closest collaborators. Mounted and presented in a large frame (66 x 31 cm), together with an envelope addressed to Anton Seidl by Wagner and the envelope in which Seidl sent his original reply, inscribed in a later hand with the history of the final correspondence between the composer and the conductor.

Two impressive wooden conducting batons, 50 and 53 cm in length, owned and used by Richard Wagner.

One cigar cutter made of mother-of-pearl and metal, 1 x 4.5 cm, owned and used by Richard Wagner.

Envelope postmarked Venezia. January 2, 1883. Addressed by Richard Wagner: "Holland / Anton Seidel [sic] / Kapellmeister Wagner Teater / Director Neumann / Amsterdamm / (Ollande)"

Envelope postmarked Amsterdam, 4 [January] 1883. Inscribed in pencil on the verso: "(Letzer Brief R. Wagner's vor sein[em] Tode an Anton Seidl) Einladung nach Venedig zu kommen u. die Jugend-Symphonie der Meiser...[?] dem Orchester einzustudiren, die Wagner am 25 December z. Geb Bosiula's dirigirte. (Seidl konnte nicht komman da er die Nibelungen-Tournée leiten musste u. so keinen Urlaub erhielt. (dies is die Antwort auf Seidl's Absage-Brief." [Relating the history of Wagner's invitation to Seidl to come to Venice to conduct, noting that Seidl had been unable to come as he was already engaged in Amsterdam to lead the Nibelungen, and noting that the other envelope contained Wagner's letter acknowledging Seidl's letter of refusal].

With remarkable provenance, the batons and cigar cutter and retained envelope from Seidl's original letter to Wagner, given by Cosima Wagner to Anton Seidl, after his having been a pallbearer and Wagner's funeral. The ensemble, together with the final envelope addressed to him by Wagner, given by Seidl in New York to Freda Eising, a New York socialite involved with the Metropolitan Opera (and, later, on the board of the Julliard School), with whom Seidl may have been romantically involved. Inherited from Freda Eising by Edward Munzer, Jr. (1923 - 1984), son of Eising's cousin, Martha Munzer, and an amateur pianist with whom Freda Eising frequently played four-hand piano music in her New York apartment. By descent to the present owner.

In 1872, Anton Seidl was summoned to Bayreuth as one of Richard Wagner's copyists, and he assisted in making the first fair copy of Der Ring des Nibelungen. He and Wagner remained close associates, with Wagner helping to secure Seidl's appointment to the Leipzig State Theater, where he remained until, in 1882, he went on tour with Angelo Neumann's Nibelungen Ring company. "On the morning of February 14, having arrived in Aix-la-Chapelle (today's Aachen) with his technical staff and chorus, Neumann was informed of Wagner's death in Venice the day before. Seidl honored his commitment to give Das Rheingold that evening. 'Tears were streaming from his eyes during the performance,' according to a member of the company. Following the Entrance of the Gods, the audience stood for the Funeral Music from GÃterdÃmerung. Paul Geissler, Neumann's assistant conductor, completed the Aix Ring while Seidl and Neumann joined the mourners who received Wagner's body at the Bayreuth train station. An observer reported that Seidl 'could not conceal his grief as did the older people who endeavored to console him.' When Neumann's Wagner tour reached Venice two months later, Seidl's orchestra, deployed in Venetian gondolas of state, played Siegfried.s Funeral Music before the Palazzo Vendramin, where Wagner had died." (Joseph Horowitz, "Wagner Nights," p. 86)

After Wagner's death, Seidl went with Neumann to Bremen, but two years later was appointed as a conductor of the Metropolitan Opera in New York City, where he became conductor of the New York Philharmonic in 1891 and where he remained until his death in 1898.

Alexander Rehding, Fanny Peabody Professor of Music at Harvard and author of the recent book Music and Monumentality, has said of these batons: "Besides his towering stature in the field of opera, Wagner was a major figure in the history of conducting. For much of his life he earned his money as a conductor, and he promoted the modern idea of the conductor as a separate authority mediating between composer and audience who would shape and interpret the musical text. What is immediately striking about his batons are their sheer size - certainly when compared with the models in use today - which might suggest that Wagner felt he needed to make his artistic vision unambiguously clear to the musicians."


Other items of note to be offered in the Schubertiade Music Spring Catalogue include a First Edition of Mozart's opera Cosi Fan Tutte, original painted set designs for the first production of Puccini's opera Turandot, a signed contract for Jerome Kern's song I'll be Hard to Handle, a signed photograph of Hank Williams, and many other music-related rarities. For more information, visit the Schubertiade Music web site at www.SchubertiadeMusic.com or contact Gabriel Boyers at schubertiademusic@gmail.com.

Gabriel Boyers, Schubertiade Music & Arts LLC
(617) 308 - 4019
Newton, MA