Wagner was a romantic composer noted for his invention of the
music-drama, which was his new style of opera in which the drama and the
orchestra are as important as the singers. His operas were famous in his
lifetime, and a special opera house was built in Bayreuth,
performance of his works. Wagner's operas are fervently loved by many people,
but tend to be somewhat heavy for the taste of some others.
born in Leipzig into a theatrical and operatic family. At first his ambition was
to become a poet and to write plays, and in later years he wrote his own
librettos for the Ring Cycle of operas. Then he became heavily influenced by
Beethoven's music, and he taught himself music by studying scores. After
marrying an actress, in 1839 he went to try his luck with opera in Paris. But
his work was not well received there.
To make matters worse, Wagner was a
voracious dueller, drinker and gambler all his life, and he racked up huge
unpaid debts. In Paris he was put into a debtor's prison. Eventually in 1842 he
returned to Germany, where he had more success at Dresden. However he
participated in a failed revolution in Germany in 1848 (see the World Events
Time-line), hoping to have his debts wiped out. An arrest warrant was made for him,
so he fled to Switzerland, where he wrote the librettos for his Ring Cycle - The
Ring of the Nibelung. This contains 4 operas based on Nordic mythology,-
the Rhine Gold, The Valkyrie, Siegried, and the Twilight of the
Wagner's other famous operas are Tristan and Isolde, the
Master-Singers of Nuremburg, Lohengrin, Tannhauser, and the Flying Dutchman.
After finishing his last opera, Parsifal, he visited Venice, where he died in
1883 at the age of 69.