The Tristan legend which probably dates back to the Celtic period of European history began appearing in literary form in the twelfth century.  Gottfried von Strassburg wrote a well-known version sometime between 1200 and 1220.  Wagner used this version as the source material for his libretto.

(Wagner always wrote his own librettos). In September 1857, Wagner completed first the prose and then the poem form of the libretto. He then fully composed each act in its entirety before embarking on the next.  This was not his usual pattern of composition. As each act was completed it was sent to the publishers, making changes or revisions impossible. The first act was completed in April 1858, the second in March 1859 and the third act was completed in August 1859

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