For Richard Wagner, the summer months of 1875 and 1876 were among the most critical of his life: the months of organization and rehearsals for the first presentation of his Ring cycle of operas. Several Wagner biographers make reference to his close friend and associate, the ballet master Richard Fricke, as the one who solved the problems, soothed ruffled feathers, and in general provided the coolness and common sense required for dealing with artistic emergencies. Fricke's diaries of this period were printed posthumously in 1906 as Bayreuth vor dreissig Jahren and were considered of sufficient interest and importance to warrant reprinting in 1983 as Richard Wagner auf der Probe. Fricke's memoirs from 1876 represent an invaluable and unique source of information about the composer's preparations for the Ring premiere. It also provides interesting insights into Wagner's concepts of dance gesture and the body in general. As such, Wagner in Rehearsal 1875-1876 sheds significant light upon the world of Franz Liszt as well. The great-grandson of Richard Fricke and a Liszt scholar have collaborated on this volume: George Fricke has provided the translation, James Deaville the scholarly apparatus (historical introduction, annotations, bibliography, index.) This work will appeal to both the scholar and the general reader interested in the life and works of Wagner.
George R. Fricke
Completed his Ph.D. at Stanford University in 1977 and has taught music and humanities at Virginia Tech since 1978; in 1993 he was promoted to the rank of Professor. His publications include Franz Liszt: A Guide to Research (revised and republished by Routledge in 2004 and again in 2009) as well as articles and reviews in the Journal of the American Musicological Society, Acta Musicologica, Notes, the Journal of Musicological Research, the Programmhefte of Bayreuth’s annual Wagner Festival, Asian Music, Music & Letters, and the Leonardo Music Journal. In addition to fellowships from the Humboldt Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the American Philosophical Society, and the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and Public Policy, Saffle held the 2000-2001 Bicentennial Fulbright Professorship of American Studies at the University of Helsinki—a “European Distinguished Chair.” In 2008 he also held the Au Yeung King Fong research fellowship at Hong Kong Baptist University. As a teacher Saffle has three times won Virginia Tech’s Certificate of Teaching Excellence; in 2007 he received the William E. Wine “lifetime” Award from Tech’s Alumni Association. On his sixtieth birthday, he was honored with a ‘Festschrift’ issue of the cultural-studies ejournal Spaces of Identity [Volume 6, No. 3 (3 December 2006)].