Richard Wagner ist Leipziger - Leipzig Tourismus und Marketing GmbH

Augustusplatz 9, D-04109 Leipzig
Date: 21.07.2017

Ausstellungen Leipzig: Richard Wagner - Jubiläumsjahr 2013: 200. Geburtstags Richard Wagner


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The 200th Anniversary of the birth of Richard Wagner:
The Young Richard Wagner, 1813 - 1834

21/05/2013 Opening of a permanent exhibition at the Old St Nicholas School in Leipzig

For the first time there is to be an exhibition dedicated exclusively to Richard Wagner's younger years. His childhood and youth, the environment he grew up in, his musical training, the formative elements of his education and his early works will all be looked at in depth for the first time. This exhibition forms a necessary complement to the Wagner Museum in Bayreuth, where the emphasis is on the composer in his maturity. This exhibition will clearly show how a young man with a strong sense of mission found his way to success even under difficult social conditions. The project also aims to address young people, showing them that stamina and perseverance are important qualities for achieving professional success. The exhibition will reveal how the 21-year-old Wagner was already a composer and conductor who had already completed much of his training when he gave up his apartment in Leipzig to take up the position of Kapellmeister at Magdeburg City Theatre. In addition, he was able to point to an astonishing number of compositions, most of which were already being performed in Leipzig. He was also familiar with all the classical works of music and literature that were relevant to his development at the time. The main focus of the exhibition will be on Wagner's time in Leipzig; however, there will also be reference to other stages in his early life, including his childhood in Dresden and the time he spent at the Kreuzschule there from 1822.

It is a privilege to have the patronage of Christian Thielemann for the exhibition. He is the chief conductor of the Saxon State Orchestra in Dresden. This whole project is being led by Professor Rolf-Dieter Ahrens, a concert pianist and long-standing rector of the Franz Liszt University of Music in Weimar. He is also a joint initiator of the 2011 Year of Liszt in Thuringia.

What's the role of the project on a local, national and international level?

To really discover and understand the young Wagner you simply must come to Leipzig. "Richard Wagner: Leipzig born and bred" is the motto of the Leipzig Richard Wagner Society. Leipzig is a city of culture and is increasingly identifying itself with its musical heritage, which includes illustrious names from the past, such as Johann Sebastian Bach, Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Robert Schumann and Clara Wieck, Edvard Grieg and Gustav Mahler, all of whom spent time living and working in Leipzig to some extent or another. Richard Wagner was born here on 22 May 1813, in the year of the Battle of the Nations, in the Haus Zum Roten und Weißen Löwen in the street known as the Brühl. Sadly, the house in which he was born was demolished in 1886. He spent much of his youth in Leipzig and received his training as a musician here. Many of his lesser-known early works were performed here. The exhibition aims to give an idea of the environment in which the young Wagner grew up, the events and people who influenced his development, and the artistic maturity he had already achieved by the time he was a young man.

Why here?

From 1828 to 1830 Wagner attended the Old St Nicholas School here, in the grounds of St Nicholas Church. In 1827 the school had acquired a hall decorated in a simple classical style. Today this hall, which was restored early in 2012, is the only location from Wagner's past to survive in its original form. The Old St Nicholas School is protected by a preservation order, and as it is one of the important sites of interest on the Leipzig Music Trail (a themed walk through the city's musical past) tourists will be able to visit this interesting memorial to the young Richard Wagner. For this reason, the ground floor rooms are going to house a permanent exhibition dealing specifically with the life and works of Wagner as a young man - a first in Germany. What makes this exhibition particularly worthwhile is the fact it will focus in detail on the life and work of the young Wagner for the first time, and his early music will be reassessed in this context. There will be an 80-page (approximately) book to accompany the exhibition, and will cast a completely new light on the young Wagner. The exhibition adds a new cultural element to the Old St Nicholas School with its 500-year history, which could set an example for other important former pupils, such as Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz and Johann Gottfried Seume.

Why now?

The 200th anniversary of the birth of Richard Wagner is on 22 May 2013, and it is a unique opportunity to place his birthplace under the spotlight of the international music world and provide a new impetus for the discussion and reassessment of Wagner’s much-neglected early works. It is high time that Wagner was honoured in Leipzig. If this opportunity were missed there would surely be little likelihood of a Wagner exhibition getting off the ground for a long time, as it would be so much more difficult to attract private funding.

What is the target audience?

The exhibition seeks to appeal to the whole global community of Wagner fans. Music tourism is a significant element of Leipzig's tourist industry and one which is growing all the time. There are already signposted walks along the Leipzig Music Trail to the sites of musical interest. The treatment of the material is designed to be particularly appealing to younger people; the audio-visual nature the exhibition is very "now" and will suit the way school pupils and students are used to looking at things. There is an important relationship with the Forum Thomanum, which is the centre for education in the arts in Leipzig, which is also the city of Bach. Visitors with an interest in the history of architecture will also enjoy looking at the Biedermeier (late Georgian) period buildings typical of the city.

What methods will be used to make the young Wagner and his environment come alive?

The exhibition will use audio-visual techniques mainly. Images will be displayed on around 80 illuminated panels, supplemented by five LCD screens and five touch screens for accessing follow-up information in the form of pictures or text. 16 listening stations will give visitors a chance to experience Wagner's early works. These will include excerpts from the Concert Overture No. 2 in C major, which was completed in 1832 and performed at the Leipzig Gewandhaus on 30 April of the same year, and his first complete opera, "Die Feen", which was composed from 1833 to January 1834 in Würzburg, but not performed until after his death, when it was staged in Munich in 1888. Quotations from Wagner's considerable body of autobiographical work will also be featured, as will comments about him from his contemporaries. The Classical school hall is equipped with state-of-the-art audio technology so that samples of all the early works can be enjoyed in concert hall quality. There is also a modern Blüthner grand piano for use during live performances of Wagner's compositions, for example the Wesendock lieder or his little-known piano repertoire. The hall can also be used as a seminar room for larger groups. It is the ideal place to soak up a little bit of authentic period atmosphere. The partial restoration of the hall as a listed building, the Blüthner piano and the purchase of the audio technology are not included in this grant application. They were financed from the Leipzig Cultural Foundation's own funds.

The authenticity of the site will be further enhanced by the permanent addition of a restored Wieck table piano dating from 1820, which is coming from the Museum of Musical Instruments at Leipzig University. All information material is given in both German and English, including the contents of the catalogue.

What ensures that high standards of musical knowledge and design go into the exhibition?

The person responsible for the musicological aspects of the exhibition is Professor Werner Wolf, one of Germany's top Wagner experts. A group of specialists in the field are working on the project through to its completion. As for the design of the exhibition itself, it has been possible to acquire the services of Heinz-Jürgen Böhme, an experienced exhibition designer from Leipzig, whose concept for the new building at the Grassi Museum of Applied Arts in Leipzig was held in extremely high regard. The Leipzig Cultural Foundation is also working with a number of establishments with important links to the theme: the Richard Wagner Museum in Bayreuth, the Oesterlein collection at the Reuter Villa in Eisenach, the Leipzig Museum of City History, the Leipzig City Archive, the Music Library at Leipzig Municipal Library, the University of Music and Theatre in Leipzig, MDR broadcasting; and on certain specific issues, with other universities, archives, institutions and individuals.
One important aspect of the exhibition will be its attractive historical illustrations depicting Leipzig's Biedermeier (late Georgian) heritage, as the city centre was developed to such an extent during the period of the Gründerzeit in the second half of the 19th century that today it is hard to imagine how picturesque it was in the early 1800s, with its walls and moats for protection. The exhibition concludes with an attractive highlight in the final room, where there are film sequences examining the response to Wagner in Leipzig in later times. Archive material from Joachim Hertz's 1973 - 1976 Ring provides a lively snapshot which is very representative of the aesthetics of Wagnerian music. Having taken in the informative and fact-filled exhibition the visitor is now engaged on an emotional level and can contemplate the meaning of Wagner's work in the present day.

How is the Leipzig Cultural Foundation equipped to undertake this project?

The Leipzig Cultural Foundation, which emerged out of the Peaceful Revolution of 1990, has been involved in many projects both large and small and supported by many different partners in its 22 years of existence. Setting up the Richard Wagner Exhibition was one more major challenge for the Foundation and its honorary president Professor Kurt Masur. Previous commitments have included renovating the Old St Nicholas Church to create a cultural centre in the heart of the city, the development of the St Nicholas churchyard, publishing the "Leipziger Blätter" (a twice-yearly cultural magazine) and the "Made in Leipzig" exhibition of paintings by the New Leipzig School, held at Hartenfels Castle in Torgau and sponsored by the Sparkassenstiftung (savings bank foundation) of Eastern Germany. The Leipzig Cultural Foundation is organised with a board of trustees, an executive board and management team. These involve well-known personalities from the cultural life of Leipzig, ensuring that the project is carried out to the highest possible standards.

The exhibition is due to open on 21 May 2013, on the eve of the 200th anniversary of Richard Wagner's birth. It will be run in partnership with the Museum of Antiquity of the University of Leipzig, which has been using the attractive exhibition rooms on the first floor since 1994. For this reason the building was correspondingly modified in 2011 to facilitate the sale of admission tickets, published materials and CDs, etc.

Who is supporting the project?

The exhibition is being set up in close collaboration with the Leipzig Richard Wagner Society and the Leipzig Richard Wagner Foundation. It is backed by the mayors of Bayreuth and Leipzig, Dr Michael Kohl and Mr Burkhard Jung. The project forms part of the city of Leipzig's official tribute to Richard Wagner in 2013. The exhibition also enjoys the support of a large number of public figures, including Nike Wagner, Dr Arend Oetker and Georg Krupp. There are also a number of private sponsors, who have responded to the appeal for donations made by the Leipzig Cultural Foundation in October 2011 and have earned gold, silver or bronze sponsorship certificates. The sponsorship appeal also helps to root the project in the wider community. The first sponsorship day raised €16,000.

How can we ensure that the theme of the exhibition continues to be the subject of lively intellectual debate in the long term?

There will be concerts relating to the theme as part of the annual Wagner Festivals and on other occasions. There will be further exploration of the subject matter, and new perspectives on it, in lectures, seminars, and readings. There will be smaller permanent exhibitions dealing with specific aspects of the response to Wagner in Leipzig. The aim is to work together with the Leipzig Richard Wagner Society and other institutions concerned with Leipzig's musical heritage to turn the Old St Nicholas School into a centre for a variety of different treatments of the Wagner theme. At the exhibition there will also be current publications from the Leipzig Richard Wagner Society and communications from the German Richard Wagner Association, based in Berlin.
Organiser / Venue
Kulturstiftung Leipzig (Leipzig Cultural Foundation)
Stiftung für Denkmalpflege Stadtkultur und Umweltschutz
Nikolaikirchhof 2
04109 Leipzig
Tel.: +49 (0)341 2118518
Fax: +49 (0)341 2118520
Leipzig Cultural Foundation