Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Cosima on Twitter

I get a kick out of @CosimaWagner on Twitter.

R reflects on his facial features, which he cannot reconcile with his talents.

R had a very bad night, horrid dreams, congestions, an error of diet no doubt the cause. He does not drink his waters.

The gray weather makes R indignant, and when he sends for champagne at lunch, he says all that is left to do is either drink or grumble.

In the evening R says, "I have drunk too much beer, and then I become quarrelsome and overly touchy, like R. Schumann."

By now you get the joke. So funny, in the midst of all the other flotsam and jetsam on Twitter  -- look, there I am all of a sudden sounding like R.

I like the Schumann reference. Once I read a really funny story about how Schumann and Wagner were out on a boat together with some friends. Schumann never said a word while Wagner talked all the time.

Later Schumann complained to a friend he could not get a word in edgewise.

And Wagner complained to a friend that Schumann never said a word and that it was exhausting to have to do all the talking, all the time.

Hahahahahaaa! We have this charming story through two different letters. They appeared, if I remember correctly, in a book called "Wagner Remembered."

Anyway, back to my Twitter friend, @CosimaWagner. She is pretty good about Tweeting. She weighs in about once a day which is more than I can say about most other people including myself.

I look forward to her next missive!


  1. Nice piece on Cosima by Jessa Crispin:


  2. My favorite so far (not an exact quote, but close to it):" R being very witty. 'I wish I had your eyebrows' he says to my father, which makes us laugh a lot." That was quoted by a reviewer of the Diaries, who used it as evidence of the truth of an old adage: A German joke is no laughing matter. Now quiet down. I have German blood in me. I am going to duplicate this on Facebook.

  3. Hahahaa... that story of Cosima is a riot. The writer is told that she looks like Cosima. You could not make that up!

  4. Prof., I love the line about the German joke being no laughing matter. I think that Cosima on Twitter must have endless material from those diaries. All she (or he?) has to do is open to any page, you know?

  5. Yes, but the reviewer pointed out, interestingly, that everything is in those diaries but what we most want to know; how did Wagner write his music? The reviewer was Ned Rorem. I know what he means. There is a story that when Nietzsche was arriving for a visit, as he approached Tribschen he heard Wagner at the piano, repeating a chromatic chord endlessly. For the Ring? Tristan? Meistersinger? Who knows? The only clue from this is that part of it had to be hunt and peck at the piano, unlike Schubert, say, who wrote more easily away from the piano. Or like Mendelssohn, a facile and perfect technician. It makes one wonder if some of Wagner's attitude toward Mendelssohn was actually jealousy toward Felix's easy craft.

  6. That is fascinating when you can turn up a key to how some great creative mind operates. That is a great story about Wagner and the chord. He is just not the kind of person I would imagine sitting there doing that. ... I read that Schubert used to work out chords on his guitar. I found that fascinating. His friends would find him asleep with the guitar next to him on his bed.

  7. You might be interested to know that a composer friend of mine, Michael Zak, who is a tough nut esthetically and produces polytonal music, told me that Schubert was out in front of Beethoven when it came to bold modulations. He also said some of the songs have elements of symmetrical harmony in them...long before that kind of thing came into use in the 20th century. I asked him whether he thought it was just instinctive with Schubert and he said "That's the moldy bones question, and I don't allow it". He went on to say that Schubert could have justified every note he ever wrote analytically, just like Mozart or anybody else with that kind of genius. Makes us all feel small, doesn't it?