17 August, 1876
In Bayreuth, Wagner’s great dream of a music festival playing nothing but Wagner (specifically, the Ring Cycle), concluded today 140 years ago. How many in the crowd cried “Danke Gott!” Or maybe, being mostly Bavarian and made of sterner stuff than most, many said “Grüß got!”
For it had been a good day, a great week in fact. The Twilight of the Gods ended some 16 hours of music drama that left the audience drained and etiolated, but in a good way, like a pious married couple on the morning after the wedding.
For his part Wagner was disappointed, even depressed, with drawbacks in this presentation of the cycle. “‘There is no footing for me and my work in this day and age…’ Later, in 1878, when he had recovered from the depression brought on by the immense tension of the preceding years and months, he pronounced a fairer verdict….A benevolent spell made everything there good. And the profound conviction based on that experience is my goodly profit from those weeks.'”*[* Wagner by Curt von Westernhagen, 1981, pp. 497-498.]