The diaries of Cosima Wagner

Cosima Wagner's Diaries
Vol. II: 1878-1883
Edited and annotated by Martin Gregor-Dellin and Dietrich Mack
Translated and with an Introduction, Postscript, and Additional Notes by Geoffrey Skelton
(New York, NY : Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1980)

(To reach the reference to PORGES in Cosima Wagner's diaries, click here)

Monday, January 28, 1878 :

"Friend Standhartner reports that Hans [Richter] has made up for his remissness and that Rheingold is a big success in Vienna---which we doubt, insofar as we have received no telegrams about it."

Wednesday, June 5, 1878 :

"Memories of all our other good old friends--Standhartner, Math[ilde] Maier...."

Saturday, September 14, 1878 :

"Friend Standhartner yesterday announced a visit, he is coming from the international exposition in Paris, and since he wrote in French, R. says, 'Il s'est exposé lui-même comme ami de Wagner, et en cette qualité il était en effet assez exposé là-bas' ['He has exposed himself as a friend of Wagner, and in that capacity was truly exposed there'].
As always when he jokes in French he makes use of the best and most original of expressions."

Sunday, September 15, 1878 :

"Beautiful day ; after waiting in vain at the station for friend Standhartner, we drive to the Ermitage."

Monday, September 16, 1878 :

"Friend Standhartner tells us about the policemen in Gastein who surround the German Emperor in masses, and if somebody has a hand in his pocket when the Emperor or Bismarck passes by, he is politely requested to take it out!"

Tuesday, November 5, 1878 :

" Before reading this libretto [Spontini's Fernand Cortez] he received and answered a letter from friend Standh....
He tells me that St[andhartner] was pleased with his clear, straightforward letter."

Tuesday, November 12, 1878 :

"He comes upstairs to fetch me, sits down beside me, and suddenly laughs about Gurnemanz's herbs and roots :
'He sounds so cross, so disgruntled.'
Then he became a bit impatient and said, 'If you only knew!'
And soon I do know, for when I enter the salon I see a magnificent Persian carpet for my room lying there! . . .
He had been in correspondence with Standhartner about it, and now he sends off a telegram of thanks, signed 'He and she.'"

Tuesday, January 4, 1881 :

"A nice letter from Standhartner pleases him and starts him reminiscing about Vienna ; St. is proof, he says, that one can get through to the Viennese with music ; how much had he done for him when he settled in Vienna!
He describes the bone structure of Standhartner's skull as frighteningly Slavonic, yet at the same time pleasing."

Saturday, May 21, 1881 :

"At coffeetime the Standhartners appear, father and daughter; introductions and memories of Vienna."

Sunday, May 22, 1881 :

"R. slept well ; the Flower Greeting takes place a 8 o'clock and is very successful, the clock presented by Fidi-Parsifal delights R., and he is pleased with the flower costumes.
The coats of arms of the Wagner Society towns genuinely surprise him, and he is pleased with the ceiling.
In a mood of divine happiness he strolls to the summerhouse with me in the blue robe, and we exchange gold pens and little poems!
Our lunch table consists of : Standhartners 3 (with Gustav!), Ritters (the parents), the Count, Jouk., Boni, Lusch, and Fidi ; in the hall Eva, Loldi, Ferdi Jager, Julchen and Elsa ; the latter two have to slip away unnoticed, so that the singing of the verse will float down from the gallery.
Siegfried speaks Stein's poem very well, splendidly proposing the health of eternal youth, and then in a full voice Elsa movingly sings 'Nicht Gut noch Pracht,' etc., from above.
--- Over coffee Faf from the Festival Theater appears with the program for this evening on his back.
The dear good children act out the little farces by Lope and Sachs magnificently, and Lusch speaks Wolz's linking epilogue particularly well.
To the conclusion of the Sachs play J. Rub. linked the Prelude to Die Msinger, and when R. went into the salon, the children, in different costumes, sang his 'Gruss der Getreuen' ; at the conclusion of the evening, after the meal, came the 'Kaisermarsch,' with altered text.
All splendidly done by the children, though we are not entirely successful in sustaining the mood. Before lunch R. was upset by the military band, which he --- somewhat to my concern --- had allowed to take part, and it required Siegfried's toast to raise his spirits again.
In the evening he was irked by the dullness of our friends, he asked Standhartner to remain behind, without considering that the stepson [G. Schönaich] would also then remain, and the presence of this man whom he cannot bear kept him from expressing all that was in his heart, and that made him almost painfully unhappy.
The successful parts are what delighted me --- the fact that unbidden things intervene no longer bothers me, however much it once used to pain me: I keep remembering that 'all transient things are but an image.'"

Monday, November 6, 1882 :

"I have to wait a long time in Saint Mark's Square for him [Wagner], and when he arrives with the children, he tells me he had a very severe spasm (I wrote to Standhartner). But he quickly recovers."

Postscript, p. 1014:
"Paul von Joukowsky described Wagner's death in a letter written on February 22, 1883, to Malwida von Meysenburg:

"It was as glorious as his life.
We were all waiting for him to appear at table, for he had sent word to us to begin lunch without him.
In the meantime he had sent for the doctor on account of his usual spasms ; then at about 2:30 he sent Betty to fetch Frau Wagner.
The doctor came at 3:00, which made us all feel easier ; but around 4 o'clock, since nobody had come out of his room, we became worried ; then suddenly Georg appeared and told us simply that it was all over.
He died at around 3 o'clock in the arms of his wife, without suffering, falling asleep with an expression on his face of such nobility and peace that the memory of it will never leave me.
She was alone with him the whole of the first day and night, but then the doctor managed to persuade her to go into another room.
Since then I have not seen her, and I shall never see her again ; nobody will, except for the children and Gross and his wife, since he is their legal guardian.
She will live in the upper rooms of the house, existing only for his memory and for the children ; everything else in life has ceased to exist for her.
So write only to the children, for she will never read a letter again.
Since her dearest wish, to die with him, was not fulfilled, she means at least to be dead to all others and to lead the only life fitting for her, that of a nun who will be a constant source of divine consolation to her children.
That is great, and in complete accord with all else in her life...."

Certainly Cosima's first intention was exactly as Joukowsky described it.
In her desire for death she refused all nourishment for many hours after Wagner died, then, yielding to the inevitable, cut off her hair and laid it in Wagner's coffin.
Hidden from sight in black robes, she accompanied her husband's body in the train back to Bayreuth.
At Wahnfried it was carried to the grave at the bottom of the garden by Muncker, Peustel, Gross, Wolzogen, Seidl, Joukowsky, Wilhelmj, Porges, Levi, Richter, Standhartner, and Niemann. Daniela, Isolde, Eva, and Siegfried walked beside the coffin ; Blondine, expecting her first child, was not present.
Only after their friends had left did Cosima emerge from the house to join her children as the coffin was lowered into the grave."