Richard Wagner

(1813-83)

Richard Wagner (1813-83)

A giant in the pantheon of composers.

His influence on the development of romanticism cannot be understated, his contribution in the field of opera is unique and his influence on subsequent composers in the realms of harmony and orchestration was wide and profound.

He had an egocentric personality to match his stature. His self-belief led him to create the opera house at Bayreuth for the performance of his own operas. His Ring of the Nibelung, which took him twenty-five years to complete, is a cycle of four operas based on German legends: Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Siegfried and Gotterdammerung. He wrote his own librettos and developed the device known as Leitmotiv, whereby short melodic ideas associated with particular characters and moods are developed throughout the opera.

His wife Cosima was the daughter of Liszt and he wrote his Siegfried Idyll as a birthday and Christmas present for her.

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