Wagner-Planer, Minna

BORN 5 Sep 1809, Oederan, Sachsen - DIED 25 Jan 1866, Dresden, Sachsen
BIRTH NAME Planer, Christiane Wilhelmine
CAUSE OF DEATH lung embolism
GRAVE LOCATION Dresden, Sachsen: Alter Annenfriedhof, Chemnitzer Strasse 32 (L. 6.4)

Minna Planer was born in Oederan (near Chemnitz) and moved to Dresden with her family. Her father was Gotthelf Planer, a former army trumpeter. She gave birth to her daughter Natalie when she was only 15 years old. The father was Ernst Rudolf von Einsiedel, a captain in the guards of the king of Saxony. He abandoned her before Natalie was born and during her life she would pretend that Natalie was her younger sister.

She met Richard Wagner in Bad Lauchstädt in 1834. Initially she was indifferent to his advances, but eventually they were married on 24 Nov 1836 in Königsberg, where she had been engaged as an actress. Wagner was very jealous and she had many admirers. On 31 May 1837 she ran away with a businessman named Dietrich and took Natalie with her. After Königsberg, Wagner was employed as musical director in Riga and in October Minna returned to him. But he spent far too much money on luxury and because of his debts they had to flee Riga secretly in 1839. In later years Natalie claimed that during the rough flight Minna lost her unborn child and that she could no longer have children afterwards.

Minna had given up her career for Wagner and received continuous financial trouble in return. The marriage was not successful and she suffered from Wagner's affairs with other women. In a letter to a friend she wrote "Hat ein genialer Mann das Recht auch ein Schuft zu sein?" ("Does a genius also have the right to be a bastard?"). In 1858 she intercepted some of his letters to Mathilda Wesendonck and they separated. In 1862 when Wagner was living in Biebrich she visited him by surprise. Initially things went well but soon things worsened and Wagner wrote of ´10 days of hell´. He suggested a divorce later that year but Minna refused.

It is believed that she had been addicted to laudanum for many years and in 1866 she died of a lung embolism. Wagner was in Marseille at the time and didn't attend the funeral. Her daughter Natalie kept most of the letters they exchanged and eventually sold them to Mary Burrell. Burrell died before she could publish her planned biography but in 1950 the letters were published. Natalie died in 1892.

When Minna's grave at the Alter Annenfriedhof in Dresden was to be removed in 1920 it was bought by Wagner's son Siegfried who paid for fourty more years. In 1991 the cross on the grave that had long disappeared was replaced.

• Husband: Wagner, Richard (1836-1866, Königsberg: Kirche von Tragheim)


The grave of Minna Wagner-Planer at the Alter Annenfriedhof, Dresden.
Picture by Androom (23 Aug 2000)


The grave of Minna Wagner-Planer at the Alter Annenfriedhof, Dresden.
Picture by Androom (06 Aug 2016)


• Gutman, Robert, Richard Wagner, Der Mensch, sein Werk, seine Zeit, Wilhelm Heyne Verlag, München, 1989
Wikipedia (EN): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minna_Planer
Musik: Nachrichten vom lieben Minel | ZEIT ONLINE

Wagner-Williams, Winnifred

Published: 01 Jan 2006
Last update: 14 Jan 2024