Richard Wagner (1813–1883)

Breitkopf: Wagner Publishers since 1843: First Editions, “Complete Letters”, Five Operas and “Piano-Vocal Scores with Leitmotif Lists”

At the beginning, in 1843, there was a yes and a no: No to the “Flying Dutchman”, which was too expensive for the publisher, and Yes to the biblical scene “The Love-Feast of the Apostles”. The score opened the way to an intensive business relationship with the publisher, which led to the publication of various first editions of much greater importance, in particular “Lohengrin” (1852) and “Tristan and Isolde” (1860). A major, and lasting, disturbance arose when, on 10 July 1856, Wagner formulated his demand for an advance for “The Ring of the Nibelung”, half of which had already been written by then: “For years now, it has been my most ardent dream to own a little plot of land in the country for a garden and a house. I have reserved the publisher's honorarium for the work to purchase and develop such a property in the vicinity of Zurich.” Seeing that many of the productions of his completed operas announced by Wagner had come to naught, Hermann and Raymund Härtel began showing less and less interest in the acquisition of the rights …

Not long after Wagner's death, Breitkopf brought out his “Gesammelte Schriften und Dichtungen” (1911), and, prior to the anniversary year 1913, the publisher began issuing an edition of the correspondence as well as a complete edition of the musical works. Both major projects were discontinued after 1918, however. Only after 1989 did the edition of the “Sämtliche Briefe”, which had been launched by the Deutscher Verlag für Musik, Leipzig, enter the publisher's catalogue when Breitkopf acquired this publishing house. Further volumes have been published since then, and Wagner's fascinating correspondence is now available in 22 volumes up to the year 1870.

Through the partial complete edition, the performance parts to “Tannhäuser” and to the early opera “The Love Ban” entered the publisher's catalogue in the 1920s; they were followed later by “The Flying Dutchman”. To this day, Breitkopf offers reliable performance material to these five stage works. Opera lovers also know and admire the piano-vocal scores for all music dramas with the motif lists by Carl Waack, which trace the various leitmotif strands. This makes it easy to follow while listening or reading, particularly since each piano-vocal score contains an alphabetical motif listing and a consecutively numbered motivic overview.