Lohengrin at the Weimar Hoftheater: the Politics of a Premiere

David J Trippett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)


Liszt’s decision to stage the premiere of _Lohengrin_ in Weimar on 28 August 1850 involved political as well as artistic risk. Wagner’s compromised public profile, following his activities as a republican agitator during the Dresden uprising in 1849, risked tainting the Grand Duke Carl Alexander’s Weimar court by association. Yet the money invested by the Grand Duchess Maria Pawlowna in the premier was unprecedented, and the event was widely trumpeted as part of a new progressive agenda for music in Weimar. The evidence suggests, however, that the premiere was much less of an artistic success than Wagner had hoped. In seeking to uncover the motives and machinations of the figures involved in the unveiling of _Lohengrin_, this article examines the political dynamics of Wagner’s interaction with Carl Alexander alongside the apparent artistic failure of the premiere itself (evidenced through Liszt’s conducting score as well as discourse analysis). It raises the question of why Liszt wrote his essay on _Lohengrin_ so quickly after the premiere, and the extent to which he sought to steer Wagner’s public profile away from any unwanted political associations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-58
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of the American Liszt Society
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Lohengrin
  • Franz Liszt
  • Richard Wagner
  • Weimar


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