Wagner, Richard

Richard Wagner
May 22, 1813 – February 13, 1883

German composer Richard Wagner is known for his oversized contributions, both in his impact on musical history, and within his pieces themselves. He believed in portraying a complete work of art, and as such, he composed not only the music, but also the libretto for his works as well. His music was marked by characteristic passages, intricate textures, and lush orchestration.

Wagner dabbled in piano while attending school, and experimented with writing plays. He became intrigued with setting these plays to music. He received private lessons, and began composing. His operas were staged in Leipzig, and Dresden. He wrote criticism about music in general, and began incorporating these ideas into his works.

For a time his compositions diminished, however Wagner continued to develop his aesthetic through his writings. He built an opera house outside of Munich to showcase these ideas, and it was here that the Ring Cycle and Parsifal, two of his greatest works, were shown.

Wagner’s life was dramatic, and marked with scandal, exile, debt, and romantic affairs. He died in 1883.

Notable works:
The Flying Dutchman Overture
The Ring Cycle
Tristan and Isolde