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Shadow on Concrete Wall

Richard Wagner
1813 - 1883

Richard Wagner is a 19th century German composer and poet best known for taking opera to new dramatic heights in works such as Der Fliegende Holländer (1841) and Der Ring des Nibelungen (1876). Wagner began his career as a music director and gained recognition for his musical compositions and operas in the 1840s.


In the 1850s he lived in exile in Zurich, undesirable in Germany because of his connections to revolutionaries in Dresden. Despite composing some of the most famous pieces in music history, Wagner struggled financially until Ludwig II of Bavaria began to sponsor him in the 1860s.


In 1871 Wagner settled in Bayreuth and founded a theater. A critical success, however, he was forced to travel as a guest conductor and raise funds for his theater. A key figure in classical music, Wagner is known for his powerful dramatic operas based on medieval legends and for his influential writings on music and drama.


He is also a controversial figure because of his hostile, anti-Semitic writings, and because some of his music and dramatic subjects were appropriated by Adolf Hitler and the Nazis during World War II.


His musical works include Tristan and Isolde (1857-59), Siegfried Idyll (1870) and Parsifal (1878-82). Wagner's second wife Cosima was the daughter of the Hungarian composer Franz Liszt ... The Ring of the Nibelung is a fifteen-hour cycle consisting of Das Rheingold (Das Rheingold), Die Walküre (Die Walküre), Siegfried and Götterdämmerung.

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