WAGNER, RICHARD

WAGNER, RICHARD

Wilhelm Richard Wagner born 1813 in Leipzig was an influential German composer, conductor, music theorist, and essayist, primarily known for his groundbreaking symphonic-operas or music dramas. His compositions are notable for their continuous contrapuntal texture, rich harmonies and orchestration, and elaborate use of leitmotifs: themes associated with specific characters or situations. Wagner`s chromatic musical language prefigured later developments in European classical music, including extreme chromaticism and atonality. He transformed musical thought through his idea of Gesamtkunstwerk total art-work, epitomized by his monumental four-opera cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen (1876). In 1833, at the age of 20, Wagner composed his first complete opera, Die Feen. This opera, which clearly imitated the style of Carl Maria von Weber, would go unproduced until half a century later, when it was premiered in Munich shortly after the composer`s death in 1883. On November 24, 1836, Wagner married actress Christine Wilhelmine "Minna" Planer. They moved to the city of Riga, where Wagner became music director of the local opera. A few weeks afterward, Minna ran off with an army officer, who later left her penniless. Wagner accepted Minna back, but this was the beginning of a troubled marriage that ended in misery three decades later. By 1839, the couple had amassed such large debts that they fled Riga to escape from creditors. During their flight they took a stormy sea passage to London, from which Wagner obtained the inspiration for Der Fliegende Holl
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