Produced in Germany on May 22, 1813, Richard Wagner went on to become among the world’s most powerful and contentious composers. He’s renowned for both his epic operas, for example, four-part, 18-hour Ring Cycle, along with for his antisemitic writings, which, posthumously, made him a favorite of Adolf Hitler. There’s evidence that Wagner’s music was played in the Dachau concentration camp to “reeducate” the prisoners. Wagner had a tumultuous love life, which affected several scandalous relationships. Wilhelm Richard Wagner was born on May 22, 1813, in Leipzig, Germany, and went to become among the world’s most powerful and contentious composers.
Richard Wagner was well-known for both his elaborate operas, including the four-part, 18-hour Ring Cycle, along with for his antisemitic writings, which, posthumously, made him a favorite of Adolf Hitler. There’s evidence that Wagner’s music was played in the Dachau concentration camp to “reeducate” the prisoners.
Wagner’s parentage is unclear: He could be either the son of authorities actuary Friedrich Wagner, who died shortly after Richard was born, or the son of the guy he called his stepfather, the painter, performer and poet Ludwig Geyer (whom his mom wed in August 1814).
As a young lad, Wagner attended school in Dresden, Germany. He failed to reveal aptitude in music and, actually, his teacher said he’d “torture the piano in a most abominable way.” However he was ambitious from a young age. When he was 11 years old, he composed his first play. By age 16, he was composing musical compositions. Youthful Wagner was so assured that some people considered him conceited. The New York Times would later compose in its obituary of the well-known composer, “In the face of mortifying failures and discouragements, he obviously never lost confidence in himself.”
In 1836, Wagner married the singer and performer Minna Planer. The couple soon moved to Knigsberg, where Wagner took the place of musical director in the Magdeburg Theatre. There, additionally in 1836, Das Liebesverbot was created, with Wagner composing the lyrics as well as the music. He called his theory “Gesamtunkstwerk” (absolute work of art) a process, which he often used, of weaving German myths with bigger themes about love and redemption.
After moving to Riga, Russia, in 1837, Wagner became the very first musical director of the theatre and started work on his next opera, Rienzi. Before finishing Rienzi, Wagner and Minna left Riga, fleeing lenders, in 1839. They hopped on a boat to London and then made their way to Paris, where Wagner was compelled to take whatever work he could find, including composing vaudeville music for small-scale theatres.
The next year, The Flying Dutchman was made to critical acclaim. Considered an excellent gift by now, Wagner was given the Prussian order of the Red Eagle and named manager of the Dresden Opera. In 1845, Wagner finished Tannhuser and started working on Lohengrin. In 1848, while preparing for a generation of Lohengrin in Dresden, the revolutionary outbreak in Saxony happened and Wagner, who’d consistently been politically vocal, fled to Zurich.
Not able to enter Germany for the next 11 years because of his political positions, Wagner composed the infamously antisemitic Jewishness in Music, along with some other criticisms against Jews, composers, conductors, writers and critics. He also composed Opera and Drama and started developing what would become his famed Ring Cycle, which consisted of four different operas tied together by leitmotifs, or recurring musical themes which link storyline components. The Ring Cycle was ahead of its time in that it joined literature, visual components and music in ways that will predict the future of movie. His interest in Wesendonck, coupled with other events in his life, finally resulted in his separation together with his own wife, Minna.
In 1862, Wagner was eventually in a position to go back to Germany. King Ludwig II, a lover of Wagner’s work, encouraged Wagner to settle in Bavaria, near Munich, and supported him financially. Blow, who seemingly condoned the matter, led Tristan and Isolde in 1865. Wagner and Cosima had two kids together before eventually wedding in 1870. The Ring Cycle was ultimately performed in its thoroughly all 18 hours in 1876. Wagner finished his last opera, Parsifal, in January 1882, also it had been performed in the Bayreuth Festival that same year.
His body was sent by gondola and train back to Bayreuth, where he was entombed. In the 20th century, Adolf Hitler was a fan of Wagner’s music and writings, just making Wagner’s heritage more contentious. New York Times writer Anthony Tommasini composed of Wagner in 2005: “How did such sublime music come from this kind of warped guy? Perhaps artwork actually does possess the capacity to ferret out the very best in us.”