Bicentenary of the birth of Richard Wagner (22 May 1813)
Richard Wagner was born in the city of Leipzig in 1813. His work was strongly influenced by the German composers Weber and Beethoven, as well as by German writers such as Goethe, Schiller and E.T.A. Hoffmann.
Wagner's third opera, "Das Liebesverbot" ["The Ban on Love"] was a financial failure and forced him to take up a post as musical director in Riga. This is when he married the actress, Minna Planer. After amassing large debts, he was forced to leave Riga for Paris, where he wrote for the "Revue et Gazette Musicale de Paris". His opera, "Rienzi", was a great success and allowed him to go back to Dresden. Wagner then composed "Der Fliegender Holländer" ["The Flying Dutchman"], "Tannhäuser" and "Lohengrin", in addition to the first drafts of "Der Ring der Nibelungen" ["The Ring of the Nibelung"]. His involvement in the 1849 uprising forced him to leave Dresden and seek refuge in Switzerland, where Otto Wesendonck became his patron. Wagner's love for the latter's wife, the poet Mathilde Wesendonck, was the source of inspiration for his opera, "Tristan et Isolde", a work created under the patronage of the young King of Bavaria, Ludwig II. After marrying for a second time, to Franz Liszt's daughter Cosima, he settled in Bayreuth. In 1872 the grand opening of the Bayreuth Festival Theatre saw the premiere of "The Ring of the Nibelung", a cycle of four epic operas. Ten years later the opera "Parsifal" was also performed there and was a huge success. In 1882, Wagner moved to Venice for health reasons, and died there one year later.