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Richard (Wilhelm) Wagner was born in. Leipzig on 22 May 1813 and died in Venice on 13 February 1883. He started composing in 1828. In 1832, he conducted an orchestra for the first time. By 1833, he had turned his attention to opera ("Die Feen"). He also began explaining his theories in print, before acting them out in music, which was unusual for the time. He became an opera conductor in Magdeburg, where he finished "Das Liebesverbot" in 1836. In the same year, he married the actress, Christine Wilhelmine `Minna` Planer. The following years were marked by frenetic writing, composing, conducting and traveling within Europe. A major work of this period is the opera "Der Fliegende Hollaender"(1841). In 1942, Wagner accepted the position of a co-music director at the Dresden court. There he composed "Tannhaueuser und der Sängerkrieg auf Wartburg", which premiered in 1845. He began "Die Meistersinger von Nuernberg" in the same year (for a full list of Wagner`s compositions, visit my sites of the week).
In 1849, revolution came to Dresden. Wagner fled to Zuerich via Paris and Weimar. He started composing the music for his largest opera project, "Der Ring der Nibelungen" in 1850. This kept him busy until 1857. The same year, he started work on "Tristan und Isolde", which was completed in 1859. After a musical fiasco in Paris, Wagner went to Karlsruhe in 1861, leaving his wife behind. The following years were marked by financial difficulties and enormous debts. His creditors hounded him through half of central Europe.
In 1864, Ludwig II, King of Bavaria (b. 1846), who had admired Wagner since he was a boy of 15, installed the composer in Munich. There he was joined by Cosima von Buelow (b. 1837), daughter of Franz Liszt and wife of Munich music director, Hans von Buelow. Ludwig and Richard planned the building of a festival theater for Wagner's operas in Munich. However, when the plans were completed three years later, the project had to be abandonned. Wagner`s conceited manners and flamboyant lifestyle, financed by the King, had not only enraged the people of Munich, but also the Bavarian government bureaucracy. Under massive pressure, Ludwig II was forced to banish Wagner in 1865, but he remained loyal until the composer`s death. In January 1866 Wagner`s wife, Minna, died in Dresden. Between 1869 and 1874, Wagner composed "Die Goetterdaemmerung" and returned to "Siegfried". He had three children with Cosima: Isolde (1865), Eva (1867), and Siegfried (1869). He married Cosima in 1870. The next year, he decided to build his festival theater in Bayreuth, which Ludwig II helped finance. It opened in summer 1876. He finished his last work, "Parsival" in 1882. He died of a heart attack in 1883
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|