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Cosima Wagner
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Celebrity's Relative
    (December 24, 1837-April 1, 1930)
    Born in Como, Italy
    Birth name was Francesca Gaetana Cosima Liszt
    Daughter of Franz Liszt
    Married Hans von Bulow (1857-70) and Richard Wagner (1870-83)
    Directed the Bayreuth Festival (1886-1907)
    She always celebrated her birthday on December 25 instead of the 24th.
    On average, she made a derogatory comment about Jews once every four pages of her 5,000 page diary.
    She said, ‘Between Aryan and Semitic blood there could be no bond whatever.’
    She gave birth to three of Wagner’s children while still married to von Bulow.
    She refused to allow a memorial concert when Liszt died, largely because he had died during the Bayreuth Festival and she wanted no competition for attention.
    At Bayreuth, she refused to make any changes to how Wagner had staged his works, including reusing the original sets from ‘Parsifal’ even as they were visibly falling apart.
    Critic Philp Hesher wrote, ‘Wagner was a genius, but also a fairly appalling human being. Cosima was just an appalling human being.’
    She and her siblings were taken away from their mother, Marie d’Agoult, and raised by Liszt’s mother.
    When Liszt discovered that she and her sister had seen Marie (1850), he had them removed from boarding school and brought home to be educated by the former governess of his latest mistress.
    For her birthday, Wagner brought an orchestra home and had them wake her with the first performance of the ‘Siegfried Idyll.’ (1870)
    She made the Bayreuth Festival profitable.
    She was the muse for Wagner’s later works, with one critic writing, ‘Without her, there would have been no Siegfried Idyll, no Bayreuth, and no ‘Parsifal.’’

Credit: C. Fishel


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