Richard Wagner Facts

Richard Wagner Facts
Richard Wagner was a German composer who became famous for his operas in the 1800s. He was born May 22, 1813, in Leipzig in the Jewish quarter, to Carl Friedrich Wagner and Johanna Rosine. His father died when he was only 6 months old from typhus. His mother then lived with Ludwig Geyer, an actor and playwright. Richard developed a love of the theatre and he took part in performances. In 1820 Richard received piano instruction at Pastor Wetzel's school near Dresden. Richard was sent to a boarding school when his step-father died in 1821. Richard became known as Wilhelm Richard Geyer until he was 14 years old. While in boarding school Richard determined that he aspired to be a playwright.
Interesting Richard Wagner Facts:
Richard Wagner established himself initially as a romantic composer similar to Giacomo Meyerbeer.
Wagner tried to synthesize the visual, poetic, drama, and music in opera, with drama being more emphasized than the music, revolutionizing the operas of the time period.
Wagner was a composer but he was also a polemicist, conductor and theatre director.
Wagner was different than composers of his time as he wrote both the music and the libretto for his works.
Richard Wagner wrote a series of essays that were published between 1849 and 1852, describing his vision.
Richard Wagner's later compositions are known for their rich harmonies, complex texture, and elaborate leitmotif use.
Richard Wagner is believed to have been a great influence on classical music development though his musical language advances, which included extreme chromaticism, and quick shifting tonal centers.
Richard Wagner's Tristan und Isolde is considered by many to be the beginning of modern music.
Richard Wagner was responsible for building the opera house Bayreuth Festspielhaus. He incorporated many new design features into the opera house.
Richard Wagner's descendants continue to run the Bayreuth Festival, where some of his most important works are still performed.
Richard Wagner's first opera titled The Fairies was not performed during his lifetime. It didn't premiere until 1888.
Richard Wagner spent time in exile, due in part to revolutionary participation. He wrote several of his most famous works during this time, including Lohengrin - an opera.
Because Richard Wagner was in exile he asked his friend Franz Liszt to produce it - which he did. The premier was held in Weimar.
Richard Wagner was first to use a musical signature called Leitmotif, which represents a theme or character, in an opera. He did this frequently.
Today modern movie composers use the Leitmotif and it is popular in Hollywood scores.
Richard Wagner composed Flight of the Valkyries.
Richard Wagner has a controversial reputation because he was associated with Nazism and Hitler reportedly suggested that anyone who wanted to understand National Socialist Germany should seek to know Richard Wagner.
Richard Wagner had many Jewish friends throughout his life and may have been from Jewish ancestry, which contributed to the controversy surrounding him and Nazism.
Richard Wagner died of a heart attack on February 13, 1883 at the age of 69.

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