Opera Director, Classical Music Folk Figure. The second wife of composer Richard Wagner, she assumed leadership of the Bayreuth Festspielhaus following her husband's death. The illegitimate child of pianist and composer Franz Liszt and author Marie d'Agoult, she was raised within the artistic milieu of Europe and, according to legend, experienced a rather unhappy childhood; married in 1857 to pianist and conductor Hans von Bulow, she bore him two children but was soon to seek the companionship of Wagner, with whom she began a romantic relationship in 1863. After Cosima lived with Wagner from 1866 on, bearing him three children, von Bulow finally agreed to a divorce and the couple married in 1870, though, interestingly, von Bulow's professional relationship with Wagner continued unabated. From the first Cosima was to be a full partner to her husband, encouraging him in his work, especially completion of "The Ring Cycle". After the great composer's demise in 1883, Cosima took the helm at Bayreuth; her first effort was a restaging of the 1882 production of Wagner's last opera, "Parsifal", which was originally intended to be presented only at the Festspielhaus. Over the years, she was to stage all nine of the Wagnerian operatic works, always insisting that "The Ring" be performed in its original 1876 form. In 1907, Cosima retired due to ill health, turning over management to her son Siegfried. A diary that she had kept between 1869 and 1883 was eventually published; she lived her final years in reduced financial circumstances and was blind at the time of her death. Of her leaving von Bulow for Wagner, she said: "My love became for me a rebirth, a deliverance, a fading away of all that was trivial and bad in me...".
Bio by: Bob Hufford