Richard Wagner (1813–83,) fully Wilhelm Richard Wagner, was a German dramatic composer and theorist. His operas and music had a radical influence on the course of music history, either by extension of his discoveries or by reaction against them.
Born in Leipzig and educated at Dresden and at the Leipzig Thomasschule, Wagner’s works consist nearly completely of operas, for which he provided his own libretti. By synthesizing music, drama, verse, legend, and spectacle, he developed an operatic genre, which he called music drama.
Wagner’s early operas include Der fliegende Holländer (1843; The Flying Dutchman,) Tannhäuser (1845) and Lohengrin (1850.) With Tristan und Isolde (1865) and the four-part Der Ring des Nibelungen (1851–76; The Ring of the Nibelung,) the genius of Wagner is fully displayed.
Wagner embraced racist and anti-Semitic sentiments and he openly expressed his views in a number of publications, especially in Das Judentum in der Musik (1850; Judaism in Music.) Wagner was a favorite composer of Adolf Hitler; Wagner’s music is unofficially forbidden in Israel.
Joy is not in things; it is in us.