Performance Materials from "Tannhäuser" and "Meistersinger von Nürnberg" Now Online

Andrea Hammes

Thursday, July 25, 2019

This post by Andrea Hammes has been adapted from the original that appeared on the SLUB Blog (CC-BY 4.0):

For Richard Wagner’s 206th birthday on 22 May 2019, the Landesdigitalisierungsprogramm Sachsen (LDP) and the Sächsische Staatsoper Dresden (Semper Oper) had a special present for all Wagner fans: High-quality digital copies of performance materials for Wagner operas were made freely accessible online through

The scans preserve over 100 years of performance history and are therefore a valuable source, not only for musicological research. The online presentation marks the start of a large-scale project that involves digitizing and cataloging a total of 78 opera manuscripts from the Staatsoper’s music archive, from Daniel Francois Esprit Auber to Richard Wagner. These materials will supplement the Dresden Court Opera holdings preserved in the SLUB Dresden that are already available online (1,200 manuscripts of 650 operas from the period 1765-1900) and will bring the opera archive together virtually.

Special highlights from this cooperation between the Staatsoper and the LDP are historical sources related to compositions by Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss (the latter accessible beginning in 2020), which document the special repertoire tradition of the Staatskapelle. The instrumental parts for Wagner’s opera Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg reflect the rich performance history from 1869 to the 1990s, with performances under prominent conductors such as Julius Rietz, Ernst Schuch, Karl Böhm, and Franz Konwitschny, and including the complete recording of the work in the Dresden Lukaskirche under Herbert von Karajan (24 November–1 December 1970). Some of the instrumental parts for the Meistersinger were created for the Dresden premiere on 21 January 1869, which took place shortly after the Munich premiere on 21 June 1868. In January 2020, this Wagner tradition will continue with a new production at the Dresden State Opera, a preview of which will take place on January 21, 2020, just in time for the Dresden premiere’s anniversary. The material on “Tannhäuser” that is now available online complements the material from the world premiere preserved at the SLUB Dresden (Mus.5876-F-510). The first performance took place on 19 October 1845 at the Dresden Hoftheater, conducted by Wagner himself, who had been the court Kapellmeister in Dresden since 1843. However, the performance, which was not ideal, was met with mixed reactions, resulting in several revisions; this is also included in the newly digitized material from the Staatsoper. The performances and names of the musicians mentioned in the music date from 1904 to 1949 and overlap with when the parts preserved in the SLUB were still in use.

Since 2015, the SLUB Dresden, supported by the Free State of Saxony, has been coordinating the statewide digitization program, which digitizes cultural assets from Saxon scientific and cultural institutions and makes them accessible online. The aim is to provide the widest possible access to Saxony’s scientific and cultural information and objects for teaching and research purposes as well as for the general public.

The digitized sources for “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg” are available at and those for “Tannhäuser” at

Image: Richard Wagner, Tannhäuser, timpani part. Manuscript in D-Dl Mus.5876-F-510 (RISM ID no. 270002005); available online.

Other Wagner sources from the SLUB in RISM can be found here.

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Category: Electronic resources

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