Thrown on my own resources I tried, amongst other things, to read Till Eulenspiegel, and this popular book first gave me the idea of a real German comic opera. Long afterwards, when I was composing the words for my Junger Siegfried, I remember having many vivid recollections of this melancholy sojourn in Travemunde and my reading of Till Eulenspiegel.
This they agreed to without delay, and I took up my quarters in the attic-room evacuated the previous year by Karl Ritter, where, with the aid of sulphur and May-blossom, and in the highest spirits, I proposed to complete the poem of Junger Siegfried, as already outlined in my original design.
With this idea in my mind I informed Liszt of my purpose, and offered the Weimar management to compose a score for Junger Siegfried, which as yet was unwritten, in return for which I would definitely accept their proposal to grant me a year's salary of fifteen hundred marks.
Der Kenner sagt ihm fiei heraus, Dass ihm das Bild nicht ganz gefallen wollte, Und dass es, um recht schon zu sein, Weit minder Kunst verrathen sollte. Der Maler wandte vieles ein; Der Kenner stritt mit ihm aus Grunden, Und konnt ihn doch nicht uberwinden. Gleich trat ein junger Geck herein, Und nahm das Bild in Augenschein.
It was not easy to forget his tears and final words as he came up on the platform at Hanover, and, looking around to see that no one overheard, whispered hoarsely: "Fangen sie ihre Propagande an, junger Mann, und Gott starke ihre Bemuhungen" "Start your peace propaganda, young man, and Heaven help the undertaking."
At the same time I was rewriting Junger Siegfried and Siegfrieds Tod, especially the latter, in such a way as to bring them into proper relation with the whole; and by so doing, important amplifications were made in Siegfrieds Tod which were in harmony with the now recognised and obvious purpose of the whole work.
I began to breathe freely at last, because I had always felt that it was merely self-deception on my part to maintain that it would be possible to produce Junger Siegfried with the limited means at the disposal of even the best German theatre.
And he threw himself upon the ground and wept aloud and sang to a heart-breaking melody in Yiddish. Und hei weh ist mir, Wie schlecht ist doch mir, Ich bin vertrieben geworen Junger held voon dir. Whereof the English runs: Alas! woe is me! How wretched to be Driven away and banished, Yet so young, from thee.
I was accordingly obliged to find for this last piece a new title suited to the part it plays in the complete cycle. I entitled it Gotterdammerung, and I changed the name Junger Siegfried to Siegfried, as it no longer dealt with an isolated episode in the life of the hero, but had assumed its proper place among the other prominent figures in the framework of the whole.
He thought she looked significantly at him as, with her usual pantomime of winks and signs, she whispered to him that a gentleman was with Fraulein EIN SCHONER JUNGER MANN! Maurice pushed her aside, and opened the sitting-room door. Two heads turned at his entrance. On the sofa, beside Louise, sat Herries, the ruddy little student of medicine with whom she had danced so often at the ball.