Liszt, Cosima

BORN 25 Dec 1837, Bellagio, Lombardia: Hotel Angelo, room 614 - DIED 1 Apr 1930, Bayreuth, Bayern
BIRTH NAME Liszt, Francesca Gaetana Cosima
GRAVE LOCATION Bayreuth, Bayern: Villa 'Wahnfried' (in the garden (ashes))

Cosima Liszt was the illegitimate daughter of Franz Liszt and countess Marie d'Agoult. Later Liszt legitimized her, het sister Blandine and het brother Daniel. Blandine and Cosima were educated in Paris by the governess of their mother and by the mother of Hans von Bülow. In 1853 she saw her father for the first time in many years in Paris. Richard Wagner was with him and he noticed her shyness.

Cosima married Von Bülow in 1857 who had been a favourite pupil of Liszt and was by then a leading conductor. During their honeymoon they visited Wagner in Zürich. It wasn't a happy marriage, but Cosima gave birth to two daughters, Daniela and Blandine. Around this time Cosima translated Hebbel's "Maria Magdalena" from German to French.

In 1863 Cosima and Wagner met in Berlin and they decided that they belonged to each other. Cosima became his mistress and lived with him in Triebschen. She gave birth to two more daughters, Isolde and Eva, before she left Von Bülow for good in 1868. She had some trouble obtaining a divorce from the church, but in 1870 she and Wagner were married in Luzern. In 1869 she had given birth to a son, Siegfried. Von Bülow was hurt, but he accepted the situation and remained friends with Wagner.

Every now and then Wagner took a mistress, but always returned to the woman who lived for him and his work. They moved to Bayreuth in 1872, where a new theatre was built especially for Wagner's opera's. Wagner, Cosima and their children moved to the villa Wahnfried in 1874. Wahnfried is now a Wagner-Museum.

After his unexpected death in 1883 in Venice Cosima clung to his body for 24 hours before she was willing to let him go. She took over the management of the Festspiele in Bayreuth. By 1907 she was seriously ill and Siegfried succeeded her as the leader of the Festspiele. Cosima lived for many more years at the villa Wahnfried and was blind at the time of her death. She was cremated in Coburg and in 1977 her ashes were taken brought from Coburg to Bayreuth and buried in the grave of Richard Wagner in the garden of Wahnfried.

• Father: Liszt, Franz
• Mother: d'Agoult, Marie
• Daughter: Bülow, Isolde von
• Son: Wagner, Siegfried
• Daughter: Bülow, Eva von
• Daughter: Bülow, Daniela von
• Husband: Bülow, Hans von (1857-1870, Berlin) (divorce or separation)
• Husband: Wagner, Richard (1870-1883, Luzern: Matthäuskirche)
• Brother: Liszt, Daniel

Related persons
• was sculpted by Breker, Arno
• was a friend of Franz, Helene, Freifrau von Heldburg
• was painted by Lenbach, Franz von
• knew Mahler, Gustav
• was a friend of Meyerbeer, Cornelie
• was a friend of Richter, Hans
• knew Strauss, Richard

10/10/1853First meeting between Richard Wagner and Cosima Liszt [Wagner, Richard]
20/4/1856Hans von Bülow asks Franz Liszt for the hand of his daughter Cosima. At first Liszt wouldn't give his blessing because he thought Bülow, with his strange moods and headaches, a scary person. He hoped that she would marry a nobleman. After Cosima's mother Marie d'Agoult declared herself against the marriage, Liszt changed his mind and gave his approval. [Bülow, Hans von][d'Agoult, Marie][Liszt, Franz]
20/7/1857Franz Liszt visits the Rubenshuis in Antwerp. He was on his way back from The Netherlands and spent a few days in Brussels with his daughters who had come over from Paris. On this they they went to Antwerp and apart from the Rubenshuis they also visited the cathedral and the zoo. [Liszt, Franz]
8/2/1862Richard Wagner moves to Biebrich. He was once more in financial difficulties and he rented two rooms in a villa built by the architect Frickhöfer at the Rheingaustrasse 137 near Schloss Biebrich. It was also near his publisher Schott in Mainz. He worked there on his future opera "Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg" and he was visited by Hans and Cosima von Bülow. He left Biebrich in November. [Bülow, Hans von][Wagner, Richard]
1/11/1862Hans and Cosima von Bülow meet Richard Wagner in Leipzig. There was a concert where Hans von Bülow would play Liszt's new piano concert and Wagner would conduct the Tannhäuser ouverture and a new prelude to "The Meistersinger". Wagner's young friend Wendelin Weissheimer would also present his work. Wagner later stated in his autobiography that at this day he experienced his first feelings for Cosima and that he hardly noticed the music. [Bülow, Hans von][Wagner, Richard]
28/11/1863Richard Wagner and Cosima Liszt become lovers. Wagner was staying in Berlin because Cosima's husband Hans von Bülow had asked him to attend a concert. When Von Bülow was busy with the repititions Wagner and Cosima made a coach ride during which they confessed to each other that they belonged together. That night Wagner was staying in Von Bülow's house. [Bülow, Hans von][Wagner, Richard]
14/10/1864Franz Liszt and his daughter Cosima visit Émile Ollivier at St. Tropez. Listz's daughter Blandine was married to Ollivier, but she had died in 1862. The next day Liszt left for Rome and Cosima for Germany. [Liszt, Franz]
10/4/1865Hans von Bülow conducts the first repetition of "Tristan und Isolde". On the same day his wife Cosima bore a daughter, that was named Isolde. Isolde's father was Richard Wagner, the composer of "Tristan and Isolde". [Bülow, Hans von][Bülow, Isolde von][Wagner, Richard]
2/4/1882Richard Wagner visits Taormina. He had sufficiently recovered from his heart attack on March, 28th. His wife Cosima was with him. [Wagner, Richard]
24/12/1882Richard Wagner conducts a private concert in Venice. It took place at the Apollinee rooms of the Fenice theatre to celebrate the birthday of his wife Cosima. At the time Franz Liszt was visiting them in Venice and he and Wagner were often seen sitting together from the Grand Canal in front of the large window. Liszt was present at this occasion. Requested by Wagner, he played an aria by Rossini. [Liszt, Franz][Wagner, Richard]
3/8/1886Funeral of Franz Liszt in Bayreuth. Liszt probably would have wanted to be buried elsewhere, but his daughter Cosima was living in Bayreuth and had quickly decided that he should be buried there. [Liszt, Franz]
24/12/1903First performance of "Parsifal" outside Bayreuth at the Metropolitan Opera in New York . The European copyright wasn't valid in the USA and the Metropolitan Opera in New York staged the opera against the wishes of Cosima Wagner. The MET used a publication of the opera by the publisher Schott. [Wagner, Richard]
20/6/1905First performance of Wagner's opera "Parsifal" by the Dutch Wagnervereeniging. It took place at the Stadsschouwburg in Amsterdam. Cosima Wagner had protested against the performance, but the Wagnervereeninging was of the opinion that it wasn't against Richard Wagner's wish that Parsifal should only be performed in Bayreuth because it was a private performance. On 22 June a second performance followed. [Litvinne, Félia]
29/3/1918Cosima plays the Steinway piano in Bayreuth for the first time since Richard Wagner's death. She played parts of the "Siegfried-Idyll" because of the birth of Wagner's first grandson Wieland. "The Siegfried-Idyll" was composed by Wagner after his son Siegfried was born. Afterwards Cosima would never play the Steinway again. [Wagner, Richard][Wagner, Wieland]


The grave of Richard and Cosima Wagner in the garden of the villa Wahnfried in Bayreuth, Bavaria.
Picture by Androom (25-08-1996)


Cosima Wagner, painted by Franz von Lenbach.


Cosima Wagner statue by Arnold Breker near the Festspielhaus in Bayreuth.
Picture by Androom (02 Mar 2009)


• Blunt, Wilfrid, The Dream King, Penguin Books, Harmondsworth, 1973
Encyclopaedia Britannica
Grosse Frauen der Weltgeschichte, Neuer Kaiser Verlag, Klagenfurt, 1987
• Hamann, Brigitte, Winifred Wagner oder Hitlers Bayreuth, Piper, München, 2003
• Hilmes, Oliver, Herrin des Hügels, Das Leben der Cosima Wagner, Pantheon, 2008
• Hilmes, Oliver, Cosima's Kinder, Siedler Verlag, München, 2009
• Marek, George R., Cosima Wagner, Ein Leben für ein Genie, Knaur, München, 1993
• Wagner, Friedelind, Nacht über Bayreuth, Die Geschichte der Enkelin Richard Wagners, List Taschenbuch, München, 2002
Villa Wahnfried (Wagner Museum), Bayreuth
Richard Wagner in Sicily 1881–1882 |

Liszt, Daniel

Published: 01 Jan 2006
Last update: 07 Aug 2022