Composer of the Month: Richard Wagner

Wilhelm Richard Wagner (1813-1883) was born in Leipzig, Germany. He became one of the most influential and controversial composers of the world. Composers influenced by Wagner include Dvorak, Arnold Schoenberg, Anton Bruckner and Richard Strauss. Richard Wagner also wrote the famous 18-hour Ring Cycle (Der Ring des Nibelungen), based on the events in the lives of characters in Norse sagas and the Nibelungenlied. Adolf Hitler was a great fan of Richard Wagner due to several of his anti-semitic writings.

Wagner, in addition to inspiring many talented composers, was in turn inspired by the incomparable Ludvig Van Beethoven, in particular by his Ninth Symphony. Richard Wagner married singer and actress Minna Planer, in 1836, and moved to Königsberg with her. In Königsberg, Wagner produced his "total work of art" Das Liebesverbot, for which he wrote both music and lyrics. Wagner called this Gesamtkunstwerk, "a method, which he frequently used, of weaving German myths with larger themes about love and redemption".

Wagner passed on February 13, 1883, in Venice, Italy. While vacationing there during the winter, the composer had a heart attack at the age of 69. His body was shipped back to Bayreuth, and there it was buried.


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