Parsifal Chronology

April-May 1857 RW writes a prose sketch (TEXT I), now lost.
27 June 1857 RW breaks off work on Siegfried to concentrate on Tristan und Isolde.
October 1858 RW's thoughts return to Parsifal and Die Sieger. He writes to Mathilde Wesendonk about compassion, the Buddha, art and redemption. Countess d'Agoult sends him a Chinese statue of the Buddha.
May 1859 RW reads Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival in a new edition sent to him by Mathilde Wesendonk. He writes to tell her that Wolfram understood nothing of his subject. RW will have to invent everything, keeping the sublime purity of Parsifal in the foreground.
August 1860 RW completes Tristan. He writes to Mathilde Wesendonk about reincarnation and purity. He describes Lohengrin as a reincarnation of Parsifal who inherits his father's purity. In another letter RW tells her that, once he had realised that the seductress of the second act of Parsifal was the same Kundry we saw in the first act, everything had fallen into place.
27-30 August 1865 At King Ludwig's request RW writes the first prose draft (TEXTS II and III) of Parsifal. He considers alternative treatments of the spear, which had by now become a unifying element of the story.
25 January to 23 February 1877 RW writes the second prose draft (TEXT IV). He makes only minor changes; the spear that stops in mid-air is added to the second act; Titurel no longer rises from the dead at the end of the last act.
14 March 1877 RW changes the name of the hero from Parzival to Parsifal.
19 April 1877 RW completes the poem or libretto (TEXT V).
August 1877 Wagner begins the Act 1 composition sketch.
8 to 21 October 1877 Cosima makes a fair copy of the poem or libretto (TEXT VI).
1 December 1877 Wagner finishes correcting the proofs of the poem or libretto (TEXT VII) and sends it to be printed.
22 December 1877 Wagner receives a printed copy of the poem or libretto from the publisher, Schotts. The libretto is dated 1877 (TEXT IX).
29 January 1878 Completion of the Act 1 composition sketch (Erster Gesamtentwurf).
31 January 1878 Completion of Act 1 orchestral sketch (Zweiter Gesamtentwurf). Wagner had developed a working method in which he would go back and forth between the two-stave composition sketch and the more detailed, short-score, orchestral sketch, the latter lagging by a few days.
30 September 1878 Completion of Act 2 composition sketch.
13 March to 11 October 1878 Composition of Act 2 orchestral sketch.
30 October 1878 to 16 April 1879 Composition of Act 3 composition sketch.
14 November 1878 RW begins the Act 3 orchestral sketch.
25 December 1878 (Cosima's birthday) Performance of the Prelude to Act 1 (Urfassung mit Konzertschluss: MUSIC IV) by the Meiningen orchestra at Haus Wahnfried.
16 April 1879 Wagner marks the (few) changes he has made to the words during the composition of the music, on six pages of the printed libretto (TEXT VIII).
26 April 1879 Completion of the Act 3 orchestral sketch.
23 August 1879 to 25 April 1881 Full orchestral scoring of Act 1.
22 May 1880 Wagner's family and some close friends (Rubinstein, Plüdderman, Humperdinck) celebrate his birthday by performing a chorus from the Act I Grail scene: Den sündigen Welten. (See Humperdinck's memoirs for an account of this event).
6 June to 20 October 1881 Full orchestral scoring of Act 2.
5 November 1881 to 13 January 1882 Full orchestral scoring of Act 3.
26 July 1882 First performance, Bayreuth Festspielhaus.

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