Wednesday, May 22, 2013


Wilhelm Richard Wagner
May 22, 1813 - February 13, 1883

This controversial German Romantic composer believed in a synthesis of all art forms and preferred to call his operas music dramas.  He taught himself music and composed his first opera at the age of twenty.  After the failed May Uprising in Dresden, Wagner lived in exile for twelve years in Zurich, Venice, and Paris where he continued to compose and wrote articles on music and drama.  It was during this time that he proclaimed:  "I shall never write an Opera more. As I have no wish to invent an arbitrary title for my works, I will call them Dramas."

He returned to Germany and found favor in the new young King Ludwig II of Bavaria who paid off his debts and helped him stage several operas.  Wagner sought to bring together all forms of art into his compositions from poetry to the visual to drama in an all embracing aesthetic called Gesamtkunstwerk (total work of art).  
He built his own opera house, Bayreuth Festspielhaus ("Festival Theatre"), which continues to show his works in annual festivals.  He died of a heart attack while wintering in Venice.

The Ride of the Valkyries (Ritt der Walküren)  

 Bridal Chorus from opera Lohengrin 

Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung) is a cycle of four epic operas composed over the course of twenty-six years:

Das Rheingold (The Rhine Gold)

Die Walküre (The Valkyrie)


Götterdämmerung (Twilight of the Gods)

Tristan und Isolde  was inspired by the romance by Gottfried von Straßburg. 

The Flying Dutchman (Der fliegende Holländer) 

Tannhäuser und der Sängerkrieg auf Wartburg / Tannhäuser and the Singers' Contest at Wartburg Castle) 

Parsifal was his final opera

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