Text in englischer Sprache verfügbarWilhelm Richard Wagner was born in Leipzig, Germany to parents Carl Friedrich Wagner, a police clerk, and Johanna Rosine Paetz, a baker's daughter. Losing his father to typhus when he was just six months old, Wagner was raised by his mother and step-father, playwright Ludwig Geyer. Inheriting Geyer's love of the theatre, Wagner was sent to the Kreuzschule boarding school where he had piano lessons and developed his skill for playwriting. Graduating to Leipzig University, Wagner studied composition and published his first official work in 1831, Piano Sonata in B Flat Major, Op. 1. Wagner composed his first opera, Die Feen, in 1833, in the style of his major influence Carl Maria Von Weber. In 1834 Wagner met and fell in love with actress Christine Wilhelmine Planer and they were married two years later. Moving to Dresden, Wagner received the appointment of Royal Saxon Court Conductor, a post which enabled him to stage his operas Der Fliegende Holländer and Tannhäuser. In 1949 Wagner's support of and involvement in left-wing politics landed him in exile after the May Uprising broke out in Dresden. Wagner spent the next twelve years serving out his exile in Paris, France and later Zurich, Switzerland, where he composed Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Siegfried and Tristan Und Isolde. After an affair with poet Mathilde Wesendonck - a muse and inspiration whose work he set to music in the Wesendonck Lieder - became known by his wife, Wagner fled to Venice where he continued to correspond with Mathilde. His exile from Germany was lifted in 1862 and Wagner returned to live in Biebrich where he started working on Die Meistersinger Von Nürnberg. After receiving a letter from King Ludwig II of Bavaria, Wagner, who was Ludwig's idol, began a correspondence which led to Ludwig settling Wagner's debts and promising to fund the staging of his operas. Following his estranged wife's death in 1866, Wagner vowed to marry his mistress, Cosima Von Bülow, with whom he already had three illegitimate children. Moving to Bayreuth in 1871, Wagner built his own opera house, Bayreuth Festspielhaus, officially opening with its first performance of Das Rheingold in 1876. In the same year, Wagner began work on what would be his final opera, Parsifal. On 13th February 1883 Wagner suffered a fatal heart attack while in Venice. Composers Anton Bruckner and Hugo Wolf both publicly declared their admiration for and influence by Wagner, as well as Gustav Mahler who became a renowned conductor of Wagner's work.
© Artist biography compiled by BDS/West 10. All rights reserved
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