Richard Wagner ist Leipziger - Leipzig Tourismus und Marketing GmbH

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Date: 07.12.2016

The Königshaus in the market square | Richard Wagner ist Leipziger - Leipzig Tourismus und Marketing GmbH

 

 
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The Königshaus in the market square

The young Richard Wagner - Leipzig 1813–1834

 
 
 
 
The market as seen from Katharinenstraße. The splendid Königshaus is in the middle of the picture. Coloured etching by Carl Benjamin Schwarz, 1804, (Museum of City History, Leipzig)
The magnificent townhouse was rebuilt in a baroque style in 1706/07 by the Leipzig municipal master-builder Johann Gregor Fuchs for the merchant Andreas Dietrich Apel. August the Strong concluded a rental agreement with Apel in 1706 to use the house along with his entourage during the trade fairs that took place three times a year. The contract ran until 1827. Richard Wagner’s uncle, the esteemed philologist and translator Adolf Wagner (1774–1835), lived in a room on the side of the building with a view over the courtyard (now no longer preserved due to the building of a passage in 1932). He ran a joint household with his sister, Friederike and Jeannette Thomä, the heiress to the Apel house. When the little Richard Wagner lived in the Königshaus for a short while with his uncle in 1822 following the death of his step-father, it must have still possessed much more of its sumptuous interior decoration.

The impressions that the young Wagner gathered in this house inspired him to write the tragedy “Leubald und Adelaide”, which was developed over the years 1826–1868. Tsar Peter the Great, Friedrich II of Prussia and Napoleon Bonaparte are among the guests that have stayed at the Königshaus.
 
 
“The decorations and fittings of these rooms... were luxurious with heavy silk and rich rococo furniture, all of which were much worn with age. As a matter of fact, I was delighted by these large strange rooms, looking out upon the bustling Leipzig market-place... There was only one portion of the decorations of the rooms that I thoroughly disliked, and this consisted of the various portraits, but particularly those of high-born dames in hooped petticoats, with youthful faces and white (powdered) hair. These appeared to me exactly like ghosts, who, when I was alone in the room, seemed to come back to life, and filled me with the most abject fear. To sleep alone in this distant chamber, in that old-fashioned bed of state, beneath those unearthly pictures, was a constant terror to me. It is true I tried to hide my fear from my aunt when she lighted me to bed in the evening with her candle, but never a night passed in which I was not a prey to the most horrible ghostly visions, my dread of which would leave me in a bath of perspiration”.

Richard Wagner: My Life. Volume 1. Dietrich‘sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, Leipzig, 1958, p. 16.
 
The Könighaus around 1720, copperplate engraving, Buder & Sülpke Amsterdam
The Könighaus around 1720, copperplate engraving, Buder & Sülpke Amsterdam
 
Portrait of Adolf Wagner (uncle of Richard Wagner), 1832
Portrait of Adolf Wagner (uncle of Richard Wagner), 1832
 
 
 
Source: Ein Leipziger (Leipzig Cultural Foundation)