The provincial capital of Upper Austria had at that time a theater which was, relatively speaking, not bad. Pretty much of everything was produced. At the age of twelve I saw Wilhelm Tell for the first time, and a few months later my first opera, Lohengrin. I was captivated at once. My youthful enthusiasm for the master of Bayreuth knew no bounds. Again and again I was drawn to his works, and it still seems to me especially fortunate that the modest provincial performance left me open to an intensified experience later on.
All this, particularly after I had outgrown my adolescence (which in my case was an especially painful process), reinforced my profound distaste for the profession which my father had chosen for me. My conviction grew stronger and stronger that I would never be happy as a civil servant. The fact that by this time my gift for drawing had been recognized at the Realschule made my
determination all the firmer. Neither pleas nor threats could change it one bit.
I wanted to become a painter and no power in the world could make me a civil servant. Yet, strange as it may seem, with the passing years I became more and more interested in architecture.
At that time I regarded this as a natural complement to my gift as a painter, and only rejoiced inwardly at the extension of my artistic scope. I did not suspect that things would turn out differently. The question of my profession was to be decided more quickly than I had previously expected. In my thirteenth year I suddenly lost my father. A stroke of apoplexy felled the old gentleman
who was otherwise so hale, thus painlessly ending his earthly pilgrimage, plunging us all into the depths of grief His most ardent desire had been to help his son forge his career, thus preserving him from his own bitter experience. In this, to all appearances, he had not succeeded. But, though unwittingly, he had sown the seed for a future which at that time neither he nor I would have comprehended.
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