Uncovering a forgotten legacy: A study of the Ferdinand Praeger Collection of Scores in the University at Buffalo Music Library
Nay, Jessica S.
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Ferdinand Praeger (1815-1891) was a composer, performer, teacher, and critic active in London during the mid- to late nineteenth century. He was best known for his relationship with Richard Wagner, which led to the publication of Praeger's book Wagner as I Knew Him. This book was widely criticized by Wagner's supporters, who claimed Praeger exaggerated his role in Wagner's live and portrayed the composer in a negative way. Beyond this controversy, little research has been done regarding Praeger and his life and career separate from his involvement with Wagner. Praeger produced a significant body of compositions and had a successful career as a performer, but these aspects of his life have been largely neglected in previous writing. The newly accessible Ferdinand Praeger Collection of Scores in the University at Buffalo Music Library, consisting of nearly 500 of Praeger's manuscript scores, has made further exploration of Praeger's life and works possible. These works establish Praeger's place in the musical culture of London and also demonstrate his ties to the New German School of composition. The information gained from this collection has helped to develop a more complete picture of Praeger as a nineteenth-century musician and composer in his own right, distinct from his connection with Wagner.