Ludwig Geyer

Last updated

Ludwig Geyer. Portrait of Ludwig Geyer.jpg
Ludwig Geyer.

Ludwig Heinrich Christian Geyer (21 January 1779 – 30 September 1821) was a German actor, playwright, and painter.


Life and career

Born in Eisleben, he was the stepfather of composer Richard Wagner, whose biological father had died some six months after his birth. According to Wagner's biographer Glasenapp, Geyer married Wagner's mother Johanna Rosine (née Pätz) after Wagner's birth; for his first few years Richard went under the surname Geyer. However it is possible that Geyer and Johanna did not marry legally, as no record of the marriage has been found. [1]

In his 'Autobiographic Sketch' Wagner describes him as 'a comedian and a painter; he was also the author of a few stage plays, of which one, ... The Slaughter of the Innocents, had a certain success'. On his deathbed, according to Wagner, Geyer asked his mother 'has he perchance a talent for music?'. [2]

Geyer grew up in Artern and attended gymnasium in Eisleben. He started studying jurisprudence at the University of Leipzig but had to quit in 1799 when his father died after an accident. Geyer turned his hobby to his profession and earned the living expenses for his family by selling small portrait paintings.

In 1801 he came back to Leipzig where he met Friedrich Wagner who cared for him like a father. It was at his advice that Geyer went to the stage. He performed in little theaters in towns such as Magdeburg, Braunschweig, Stettin and Breslau. In Magdeburg he became a Freemason. [3] In 1809 Geyer joined the well known Secondasche Gesellschaft in Leipzig, whose members were given the rank of court actors.

Friedrich Wagner died after the Battle of Leipzig of typhus and Geyer married his widow. In 1814 his theatre company became part of the royal ensemble in Dresden where he made a friendship with Carl Maria von Weber. In 1815, Geyer's daughter Augusta Cäcilie was born, who later married the publisher Eduard Avenarius and was the mother of Richard Avenarius and Ferdinand Avenarius.

Later in life, in the course of preparing his autobiography, Mein Leben , Wagner received from his sister Cäcilie a cache of letters written by Geyer that led him to believe that Geyer was his biological father, and possibly (and incorrectly) to believe that Geyer was Jewish; [4] the correspondence was subsequently lost or, some have suggested, destroyed by Wagner. [5] [6] Geyer's relation to Wagner was one of several controversies surrounding the composer during his lifetime and afterward.

See also


  1. Gutman (1990), p.7 and note.
  2. Wagner, Richard, tr. W. Ashton Ellis (1993) The Art-Work of the Future and other Works Lincoln and London ISBN   978-0-8032-9752-4
  3. Richard Wagner - sein Leben und seine Werke (
  4. Gutman(1990) 4-5
  5. Conway, David (2002), "'A Vulture is Almost an Eagle' ... The Jewishness of Richard Wagner" Archived 3 December 2012 at the Wayback Machine , Jewry in Music website, accessed 16 May 2013.
  6. Conway, David (2012). Jewry in Music: Entry to the Profession from the Enlightenment to Richard Wagner, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN   978-1-107-01538-8


Related Research Articles

Richard Wagner German composer

Wilhelm Richard Wagner was a German composer, theatre director, polemicist, and conductor who is chiefly known for his operas. Unlike most opera composers, Wagner wrote both the libretto and the music for each of his stage works. Initially establishing his reputation as a composer of works in the romantic vein of Carl Maria von Weber and Giacomo Meyerbeer, Wagner revolutionised opera through his concept of the Gesamtkunstwerk, by which he sought to synthesise the poetic, visual, musical and dramatic arts, with music subsidiary to drama. He described this vision in a series of essays published between 1849 and 1852. Wagner realised these ideas most fully in the first half of the four-opera cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen.

Kapellmeister is a German word designating a person in charge of music-making. The word is a compound, consisting of the roots Kapelle and Meister ("master"). Originally used to refer to somebody in charge of music in a chapel, the term has evolved considerably in its meaning in response to changes in the musical profession.

Das Judenthum in der Musik Antisemitic work on music theory by Richard Wagner

"Das Judenthum in der Musik" is an essay by Richard Wagner which attacks Jews in general and the composers Giacomo Meyerbeer and Felix Mendelssohn in particular. It was published under a pseudonym in the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik (NZM) of Leipzig in September 1850 and was reissued in a greatly expanded version under Wagner's name in 1869. It is regarded by some as an important landmark in the history of German antisemitism.

Ludwig Tieck German poet, translator, editor, novelist, and critic

Johann Ludwig Tieck was a German poet, fiction writer, translator, and critic. He was one of the founding fathers of the Romantic movement in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Ignaz Moscheles Czech conductor, music educator, composer and pianist

Isaac Ignaz Moscheles was a Bohemian composer and piano virtuoso whose career after his early years was based initially in London and later at Leipzig, where he joined his friend and sometime pupil Felix Mendelssohn as Professor of Piano at the Conservatoire.

Richard Avenarius German philosopher

Richard Ludwig Heinrich Avenarius was a German-Swiss philosopher. He formulated the radical positivist doctrine of "empirical criticism" or empirio-criticism.

Eisleben Place in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany

Eisleben is a town in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. It is famous as the hometown of Martin Luther; hence, its official name is Lutherstadt Eisleben. As of 2015, Eisleben had a population of 24,198. It lies on the Halle–Kassel railway.

Anton Graff Swiss artist

Anton Graff was an eminent Swiss portrait artist. Among his famous subjects were Friedrich Schiller, Christoph Willibald Gluck, Heinrich von Kleist, Frederick the Great, Friederike Sophie Seyler, Johann Gottfried Herder, Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, Moses Mendelssohn and Christian Felix Weisse. His pupils included Emma Körner, Philipp Otto Runge and Karl Ludwig Kaaz.

Christian Thielemann German conductor

Christian Thielemann is a German conductor. He is Chief Conductor of the Staatskapelle Dresden and the Director of the Salzburg Easter Festival.

Wagner controversies Controversies surrounding German composer Richard Wagner

The German composer Richard Wagner was a controversial figure during his lifetime, and has continued to be so after his death. Even today he is associated in the minds of many with Nazism and his operas are often thought to extol the virtues of German nationalism. The writer and Wagner scholar Bryan Magee has written:

I sometimes think there are two Wagners in our culture, almost unrecognizably different from one another: the Wagner possessed by those who know his work, and the Wagner imagined by those who know him only by name and reputation.

Adolf Bernhard Marx German writer on music

Friedrich Heinrich Adolf Bernhard Marx was a German musicologist.

Johanna Jachmann-Wagner singer

Johanna Jachmann-Wagner or Johanna Wagner was a mezzo-soprano singer, tragédienne in theatrical drama, and teacher of singing and theatrical performance who won great distinction in Europe during the third quarter of the 19th century. She was a niece of the composer Richard Wagner and was the original performer, and in some respects the inspiration, of the character of Elisabeth in Tannhäuser. She was also the original intended performer of Brünnhilde in Der Ring des Nibelungen, but in the event assumed other roles.

Wagner family family

The family of the composer Richard Wagner:

Augustus, Duke of Saxe-Weissenfels Administrator of the archbishopric of Magdeburg

Augustus of Saxe-Weissenfels, was a Duke of Saxe-Weissenfels-Querfurt of the House of Wettin and administrator of the Archbishopric of Magdeburg.

Leubald was an attempt by the youthful Richard Wagner to write a tragic drama in the Shakespearean genre. It occupied him during the years 1827-28 while he was at school, first in Dresden and later in Leipzig. The play combines elements of Hamlet, King Lear, Macbeth and Richard III, with influences from Goethe and Heinrich von Kleist. The critic Theodor Adorno has noted:

Leubald [and Wagner's other early writings] are all of a piece with those plays of which high-school pupils are wont to write in their exercise books the title, the Dramatis Personae, and the words 'Act I'.

Heinrich Dorn German composer and conductor

Heinrich Ludwig Egmont Dorn was a German conductor, composer, teacher, and journalist. He was born in Königsberg, where he studied piano, singing, and composition. Later, he studied in Berlin with Ludwig Berger, Bernhard Klein, and Carl Friedrich Zelter. His first opera, Rolands Knappen, was produced in 1826, and was a success. Around this time, he became co-editor of the Berliner allgemeine Muzikzeitung.

Ferdinand Avenarius German poet

Ferdinand Avenarius was a German lyric poet, a leading representative of the culture reform movement of his time and the first popularizer of Sylt.

<i>Mein Leben</i> (Wagner)

Mein Leben is the title given by the composer Richard Wagner to his autobiography, covering the years from his birth in 1813 to 1864.

Heinrich Brockhaus German editor and bookseller

Heinrich Brockhaus was a German book dealer and publisher who became a liberal politician.