Bill Nye (1850-1896). Over the years, people became confused and attributed it to Twain himself, probably because the Man in the White Suit cited it approvingly in his memoir.It turns out that Twain didn’t say or write this. In his autobiography, he quoted this as coming from the younger humorist Edgar Wilson, a.k.a.
No matter what he might have thought about the sounds created by the composer, however, Twain freely admitted to fascination with the stagecraft of the German's overwhelming musical theater works: “One of the most engaging spectacles in the world is a Wagner opera force marching on to the stage, with its music braying and its banners flying.”
I don’t know if Twain was in the audience, but he undoubtedly would have had a similar reaction on this date in 1886, 21 years after its premiere in Munich and three years after the composer’s death, when Tristan und Isolde made its American debut at New York’s Metropolitan Opera. The two leads had worked with the composer himself, so they were as well-grounded in the material as you could get. Wagner had feared that he was creating an opera that would drive people mad, and indeed the first Tristan in Germany had died from delirium only days after the premiere.