Richard Wagner and Graupa
Thank heavens, I have arrived in the countryside… in the most charming region of Saxon Switzerland, and am starting to breathe easy, as a human being and as an artist.
Richard Wagner wrote these lines in a letter to the writer Karl Gaillard (1813-1851, founder and head of the “Berliner Musikalische Zeitung” from 1844 to 1847) sent from Graupa to Berlin on May 21, 1846.
Apparently Wagner here found all the elements necessary to find inner calm, to relax and to be musically inspired to such an extent that he sent glowing letters to his friends and – surely the most remarkable result of his time in Graupa – set down the complete compositional sketch to his opera Lohengrin, in a kind of creative frenzy, within a short time.
This region’s natural beauty is abundant and Graupa’s accessibility is evidenced by the various national hiking paths leading through it. The village was and remains a connecting link between the culture and nature saturated areas Dresden-Pillnitz, Liebethaler Grund and Saxon-Bohemian Switzerland. Wagner enjoyed this fully and explored the region, on foot, while his music gestated in his head.
Commemorating Wagner’s stay in Graupa (from May 15 to the end of July, 1846), the Leipzig Gymnasium Professor Max Gaßmeyer initiated the establishing “commemorative rooms” at the Schäfersche Gut, today’s Lohengrin House, in 1907. He succeeded in augmenting his own Wagner collection through gifts from further private persons as well as presents from the Wagner family in Bayreuth. This established the basis for the museum’s current collection. During 100 years of its history, the Lohengrin House experienced closings and re-openings, reconstruction, collection losses and new beginnings.
Anticipating Wagner’s 200th birthday in 2013, the Lohengrin House was lavishly renovated and its inner structure was largely restored to its form of 1840. The ground floor salon contains an exhibit on “Wagner’s opera Lohengrin.” Visitors can also enjoy Wagner’s authentically reproduced living quarters, with audio modules on Wagner’s stay in Graupa. At the same time, the Wagner Culture Path in the Schlosspark (chateau garden) was established, containing information panels on various stages of Wagner’s life.
In January 2013, the new, substantially more extensive permanent exhibit opened (curated by American conductor Michael Hurshell) in the Jagdschloss (Hunting Chateau). In six museum spaces Wagner’s life and works in Saxony through the year 1850 are presented. Audio-visual and multimedia installations present Wagner’s creative process, from the poetic texts, the composition and musical innovations to the staging; the composer’s later works are not neglected, since the basis of their musical and dramatic content was created during his Dresden years. The Jagdschloss offers entirely new possibilities for a holistic museum and event concept.
Richard Wagner in Graupa: this is intended not merely as an offering to connoisseurs of the composer’s works. The Richard-Wagner-Stätten were conceived as a meeting place for Wagner specialists and music lovers in general, bridging generational gaps and functioning as a link between experiencing nature and culture.