Post by Michel Casse
Does one of you know where I could find informations (more or less detailed, the more the better) about the ancestors of Richard Wagner (in english or german, or even French but it seems almost nothing was published in this language)?
- First chapters of Glasenapp's Life.
- First chapters of Newman's Life.
- Walter Lange's "Richard Wagner Sippe"
- Otto Bournot's "Ludwig Heinrich Christian Geyer".
Any valuable hint would be welcome and I thank by advance any member of the group who could indicate me something.
I wouldn't really have much to add to the studies above, although Newman's earlier books on Wagner sometimes contain a bit more detail than the Life, partly in refuting other sensationalist books, such as Hurn and Root's Truth about Wagner. I will suggest, though, that anything that even considers Geyer as a credible biological, as opposed to spiritual, father can't be taken seriously. Apart from all the other arguments, one has only to look at pictures of Wagner's older brother, the singer and director Albert. He looks so like his younger brother that those pictures are often confused with Richard's -- I've done so myself. He also has more than a touch of wieland Wagner, especially about the eyes. To judge by pictures of Johanna Patz, those features didn't come from their mother.
Are we to believe Geyer was his father too? Albert was born in 1779, when Carl and Johanna had only been married seven years or so. If they had an affair, do we believe it went on for fourteen years? And started so early? Geyer was barely twenty when Albert was born, younger, of course, when he was conceived, so inevitably would have been younger yet when any affair began. Possible, of course, but very, very unlikely. Carl was perfectly healthy at that time, and it's more likely she and Geyer only got together during his final illness. So I personally would rule him out. I can't recall any other authority using this argument, but no doubt they have done.
There's an immense amount of connerie surrounding the whole question, invented by people who assumed Geyer was Jewish and really, really wanted Wagner to be. Understandable, but not true; their reasoning seemed to run that some Jews were also called Geyer, and that he had a long nose (!). Except that his family tree is known, and "Christian" is the most recurring name in it, a long way back. And as for the nose, it's a very common German face, especially among actors -- more like Hans Hotter's than Wagner's, IMHO. In the end I find his mental and spiritual influence on Wagner more interesting and fruitful to consider; but there's no doubt that Carl Friedrich was also profoundly interested in music and theatre, whch was how, I believe, he came to know the young Geyer in the first place.