1872

January through mid-May: Basel

Title page Geburt der Tragödie

Title page for the first edition of Geburt der Tragödie.

Die Geburt der Tragödie aus dem Geiste der Musik [The Birth of Tragedy out of the Spirit of Music] published on January 2. Enthusiastic reception in Tribschen. After reading the book, Wagner remarks to Cosima: "das ist das Buch, was ich mir ersehnt habe" [that is the book I have always wished for myself]. Even Franz Liszt writes FN an appreciative letter. Cosima writes: "Sie haben in diesem Buche Geister gebannt, von denen ich glaubte, daß sie einzig unserem Meister dienstpflichtig seien" [In this book you have conjured up such spirits that I thought were in service only to our master (KGB II 2 #265)]

Others are less enthused. FN's teacher Ritschl remarks "Geistreiche Schwiemelei" [Ingenious inebriation].

For this edition 800 copies are printed instead of the usual one thousand. FN's honorarium is 300 marks, which is equivalent to 10% of FN's annual salary. Purchase price for the book is 3 marks. One of these first edition copies was sold at auction in 1998 for $2,500.

January 16: FN gives the first lecture in the series Über die Zukunft unserer Bildungsanstalten [On the Future of our Educational Institutions]. Second lecture on February 6, third on February 27. Fourth and fifth lectures on March 5 and 23 respectively. FN never delivers the promised sixth lecture. His honorarium for this undertaking is 200 francs.

January 22: FN's salary increased to 4000 francs. He declines the honor of a student torch parade, in honor of his refusal of an offer of a professorship at Greifswald.

Karl Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (1838-1897) was the son of the famous composer and history professor at the nearby university in Freiburg im Breisgau. He invites FN to accompany him on a trip to Greece.

Visits to Tribschen: January 20-21, February 18-19, and March 28-31. During the February visit, Wagner plays excerpts from the second act of Götterdämmerung.

January 24: On his way to Bonn, Wagner visits FN in Basel. Of this FN writes to Rohde: "Ich habe mit Wagner eine Alliance geschlossen. Du kannst Dir gar nicht denken, wie nah wir uns jetzt stehen und wie unsre Pläne sich berühren" [I have concluded an alliance with Wagner. You can't believe how close we are now and how our plans coincide (KSB 3 #192)]

In February, FN declines the opportunity to accompany Karl Mendelssohn, son of the composer, on a trip to Greece.

On March 27 Hans von Bülow visits Basel; he and FN hold lengthy conversations. In June, FN dedicates to von Bülow his new musical composition Manfred-Meditation and sends him a copy of the score. Von Bülow replies on July 24 with a scathing criticism of the piece, which FN receives with grace. Bülow did not mince words: "Ihre Manfred-Meditation ist das Extremste von phantastischer Extravaganz, das Unerquicklichste und Antimusikalischeste was mir seit lange von Aufzeichnungen auf Notenpapier zu Gesicht gekommen ist. Mehrmals mußte ich mich fragen: ist das Ganze ein Scherz, haben Sie vielleicht eine Parodie der sogenannten Zukunftsmusik beabsichtigt?" [Your Manfred-Meditation the most extreme piece of fantastic extravagance, the most undelightful and the most antimusical drafts on musical paper that I have faced in a long time. Frequently I had to ask myself: is the whole thing a joke, perhaps you intended a parody of the so-called music of the future? (KGB II 4, #347)]

April 16-24: vacation in Vernex at Lake Geneva.

April 20: Rohde is appointed to a professorship in Kiel.

On April 22, Richard Wagner leaves Tribschen for the last time to take up permanent residency in Bayreuth. FN spends a few days in Tribschen (April 25-27) with Cosima Wagner, in effect mourning the breakup of the Wagner household in Tribschen.

Mid-May: Bayreuth

Together with Rohde and Gersdorff, FN attends the laying of the foundation stone of the theater in Bayreuth. Acquaintance with Malwida von Meysenbug (1816-1903), a close friend of Cosima's.

FN plays piano extensively during the visit, including improvisations. Finally, Richard Wagner frostily remarks "Nein, Nietzsche, Sie spielen zu gut für einen Professor" [No, Nietzsche, you play too well for a professor]

Late May through September 27: Basel

Courses for the summer semester of 1872: lecture: Aeschylos, Choephoren (7 students); lecture: the pre-Socratic philosophers (10 students); seminar: Theognis (4 participants); Pädagogium: Plato, Aeschylus. FN sends to Ritschl the continuation of his Der Florentinische Tractat über Homer und Hesiod; Ritschl is pleased, remarking that FN is now back on the right path.

FN and Jacob Burckhardt hold long conversations in connection with the latter's lectures on Greek cultural history.

Rohde's favorable review of Geburt der Tragödie appears on May 26. Four days later, Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Möllendorf publishes his harsh criticism of FN's book, a 32 page pamphlet entitled Zukunftsphilologie! [Philology of the Future!]. Wilamowitz (1848-1931) goes on to become one of the greatest of the German philologists, combining an immense factual knowledge with a intuititive feeling for the ancient Greek language. Wilamowitz attacks FN's book on strictly philological grounds, whereas Rhode recognizes and recommends the book as a philosophical work.

Late September through early October: Splügen, Chiavenna, Bergamo

FN spends his vacation alone hiking in Switzerland.

Early October through December 21: Basel

Courses for winter semester 1872/73: lecture: Griechische und römische Rhetorik [Greek and Roman Rhetoric] (2 students, one a Germanist the other a law student); lecture: Homer and the so-called Homeric question (no students); seminar: Critical and exegetic exercises (again, no students); Pädagogium: Homer, Iliad X, Aeschylus, Sophocles. FN expresses concerns in a letters to Wagner and Rohde that students are avoiding him due to the poor reviews of Geburt der Tragödie. Richard and Cosima discuss ways they might assist FN, including inducing Bismarck to appoint FN to a position in Berlin.

Rohde's reply to Wilamowitz-Möllendorff, entitled Afterphilologie [literally Ass-Philology], appears in mid-October.

Late December through early January: Naumburg

Visit by Dr. Carl Fuchs, pianist and student of Hans von Bülow.

As a birthday present to Cosima, FN sends his Fünf Vorreden zu fünf ungeschriebenen Büchern [ Five Prefaces to Five Unwritten Books]. Far less enthusiasm in Tribschen for this manuscript; Cosima: "Wir wünschten, er beschäftigte sich vorzüglich mit griechischen Themas" [We would wish that he occupies himself primarily with Greek themes]. Wagner annoyed that FN has not come to Tribschen for the holidays.

Awkward visit by Ritschl who reports that FN is reputed to be an unpopular teacher.

FN travels to Weimar to hear Wagner's opera Lohengrin.

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