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WAGNER, Richard.

[Der Ring des Nibelungen, the four libretti:] Das Rheingold …; Die Walküre … Siegfried …; Götterdämmerung …

Published: Mainz: B. Schott's Söhnen, 1869–70–71–74

Stock code: 94629

Price: £4,500

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First published editions of all four volumes of the libretti of the Ring cycle, with the ownership inscription of the American Wagnerian Richard Cowell Dixey (1844–1914) at the head of the first title page, recording his acquisition of the volume in Rome, December 1875. Dixey had already played a role in bringing Wagner’s music to his home state of Massachussetts by arranging the first Boston concert of selections from Lohengrin in 1872. At the date he acquired the volume, the first two parts, Das Rheingold and Die Walküre, had premiered in Munich on 22 September 1869 and 26 June 1870 respectively, but the last two had yet to be performed. On the cast list page to Das Rheingold, Dixey has noted the time and date of the first performance of the complete cycle at the Bayreuther Festspielhaus, 13 August 1876, and noted the lead roles of Franz Betz as Wotan and Friedericke Grün as Fricka respectively, indicating that he himself was present on that momentous occasion. On the same page he has added dates of performances he has attended: at Bayreuth one week later; in Berlin, 2 June 1888; and three times in Dresden in the summer and autumn of the same year. On the facing page he lists the names of the Dresden cast, and adds American dates: New York, 15 March 1889, and three dates in Boston the following month. The cast list of Siegfried is similarly annotated, and there are other notes of his throughout the volume. A pianist and sometime music teacher, Dixey was a man of means. He married Ellen Sturgis Tappan (1849–1924) daughter of the poet and founding member of the Transcendentalist Club, Caroline Sturgis Tappan. In 1875 Dixey and his wife set out on an extensive tour of Europe and the near East, travelling to England, Italy, Germany, Spain, France, the Alps, Vienna, Capri, Pompeii, Turkey, Egypt, Malta, Greece, and other places. During the late 1880s, they were living in Boston’s Back Bay; their daughter, Rosamond Sturgis Dixey, was born there in June 1887. They also later maintained a summer estate, “Tanglewood”, in Lenox, the former property of Ellen Dixey’s family, which she and her unmarried sister inherited and which, in 1937, the family donated to the Boston Symphony. These are the first published editions of the four libretti, preceded by the edition of between 30 and 50 copies privately printed for Wagner at Zurich in February 1853. OCLC locates individual copies of each of these individual libretti, but no library is listed as holding first published editions of all four volumes, whether individually or bound together.

4 works bound together in one volume, octavo (161 102 mm). Contemporary binding of white half pigskin, red morocco label, full gilt spine, mottled paper sides, marbled endpapers, polished red edges. Custom blue cloth slipcase and chemise, black spine label, gilt lettering. Paper stock a little toned, an excellent set.

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