'I think therefore I am.'  Descartes            'I AM THAT I AM.'  Exodus.3.        'I am what I am.'  La Cage aux Folles

01 February 2011

Opera Composers

I was five when my father took me to see the Mikado. From what I have read it may have been the Doyley Carte Company then, but I can’t be sure. This began a tradition taken up by my Grandmother of sending me to a musical or an opera each year for my birthday. I was hooked at an early age. Stage two came with the Beatles film 'Help'. They sang the Ode To Joy from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony (a classical piece in a world of pop - Oh my God!) and I thus began one of the great compulsions of my life, buying records and paying to go to the Theatre myself.  Having been known to scream "FUCK" somewhat loudly after a particularly good note, and on another occasion the person sitting next to me suggesting that I might be having an orgasm during a particularly memorable scene of Dame Joan Sutherland's, it can be assumed that I find music rather exciting. Music of almost any kind has such a personal affect on the way I handle the world I live in. When music is involved the words are secondary to the feeling that comes pouring out of it into my mind, my soul, my groin, my body. I can float. My hair will literally stand on end. I can lose my breath. It is a passion that I could not exist without. It is all part of the fantasy that I create, to have a world that is beautiful, expansive and fulfilling. I sometimes think it is to take me from reality, but then again, perhaps it is the true reality of some of the human potential.
Opera Composers
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For over Four Hundred Years the phenomenon of setting a staged drama or comedy to music has gripped generation after generation of theatregoers. The spectacle of, at times, lavish sets, lighting and stage effects surrounding a play, given more impact by being sung is still the grandest of the arts. Of the hundreds of mainly men and a few women who have set themselves to composing Opera for the stages of our generations and countries, no more than a few dozen make an appearance in our theatres today. Some of my popular favourites appear below unless mentioned elsewhere on this site. 

Ludwig Van Beethoven. Johann Van Beethoven married Maria Magdalena Laym in 1767. Their first child died an infant and their second child was Luwig van Beethoven, who was born in the city of Bonn on 16 December 1770. Both his father and grandfather were musicians. His father had been a tenor in the chapel of the Elector of Cologne and taught Ludwig piano and violin but his general education ceased at elementary school, being practically illiterate in math. His father’s motivation was to develop a prodigy in the style of Mozart and reap the financial rewards but he treated the boy cruelly. His father was a drunkard and the young boy’s life was bleak except the tenderness of his mother, and the generosity and affection of his grandfather. As a boy, Beethoven was both ugly and clumsy.  His life-long friend, Ries,  said "in behaviour, Beethoven was awkward and helpless; his uncouth movements were often destitute of grace. He seldom took anything into his hands without dropping and breaking it. No piece of furniture was safe with him. He frequently knocked his ink-pot into the pianoforte."  Beethoven had few friends in early life, being consistently ridiculed.In 1782, he gained the admiration of a teacher-Neefe. "Beethoven, son of the court tenor singer of that name, a boy of eleven years old, possesses talent of great promise...He plays the piano with wonderful execution, and reads very well at sight....He will certainly be a second Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, if he continues as he has begun." In 1787, he went to Vienna, knocked on Mozart's door. Mozart was not impressed with Beethoven's style of performance but when he began to improvise Mozart recognised a genius. "He will make a noise in the world some day," Two months later he returned to Bonn for the death of his mother, on 17 July. As a youth of 19, in 1789, Beethoven legally  placed himself at the head of his family taking half his father's salary to support his brothers. Beethoven became acquainted with the Breuning family being friend to Count Waldstein and possible lover to Elenore von Breuning (his first). In 1792, he left Bonn and at 22, moved to Vienna, the European centre for music. He trained with Haydn and Salieri. He had met Haydn previously but after a year jealousy caused a rift in their relationship. He became a concert pianist and a composer.  Very quickly he sought aristocratic patrons to support him. In 1802, Beethoven published the Moonlight Sonata dedicated to one of his loves, Countess Giulietta Guicciardi. Beethoven's publishers called it "The Moonlight" because the first movement inspired the vision "of a boat on Lake Lucerne by a luminous night".  Franz Liszt described the second movement  as "a flower between abysses" After his brother Carl died in 1815 and Beethoven then felt responsible for his nephew Karl (above centre), and became his guardian. It is not known when he began to go deaf, but he kept the fact a secret until 1801 and was totally deaf by 1818. He continued to compose until the year of his death. Beethoven died March 26, 1827 and was originally buried in the Wahringer-Orts Friedhof next to Franz Schubert. His grave fell into disrepair and in 1888 with composer Anton Bruckner present he was exhumed and reburied in the Vienna Zentralfriedhof

Georges Bizet (Alexandre Cesar Leopold) (1838 - 1875) Born in Paris with a singing teacher father and brother and a pianist for a mother and entered the Conservatoire at eleven, studied under Gounod and Halevy (whose daughter he married in 1869) and as a pianist he was praised by Liszt. At the age of nineteen he won the Prix de Rome and studied in Italy for three years, where he met Ernest Guiraud, a lifelong friend. Among his operas the best known are 'The Pearl Fishers (1863) 'The Fair Maid of Perth' (1967) and 'Carmen' (1875). His life was plagued by doubts arising from unfulfilled promise and so many compositions entered into enthusiastically were soon abandoned. He died from a persistent throat infection a few months after the premiere of Carmen.   

Vincenzo Bellini (1801 - 1835) Born in Catania Sicily to an organist father he took up music against family opposition. He studied in Naples, writing his first opera 'Adelson e Salvinaas' a student in 1825 and immediately gained a commission to write 'Bianca e Fernando' for San Carlo and after this he wrote 'Il Pirata' for La Scala. In 1831 he wrote both 'La Sonnambula' and 'Norma', two of his most famous works. In 1835 he composed his last opera 'I Puritani' and worn out he died of dysentery in Paris where he was buried until his body was moved in 1871 to Catania. As an attractive young man he was much sought after, but 'protecting (himself) from marriage' he took a mistress Giuditta Turina, who was married at the time. He influenced his generation including Chopin, Donizetti and Berlioz. Great revivals of his lyric operas by the powerful voices of Callas and Sutherland have placed him back on the modern stage. He composed 10 operas.

Gaetano Donizetti (1797 - 1848) Born and died in Bergamo. Oone of six children, his brother Giuseppe (later titled Donizetti Pasha) becoming Chief of Music to Ottoman Armies. Apart from composing over 70 operas he  wrote songs, chamber music, and music for the piano and for the church. As a Student he wrote three un-produced operas, but his parents forced him into the Austrian army where he still composed and his first reasonable success was 'Enrico di Borgogna' in Venice in 1822. His popularity then earned him exemption from military service. His early works were imitations of Rossini. 'Anna Bolena' (1830) became his first universal success which was confirmed by 'Lucia di Lammermoor' (1835). He had censorship difficulties with 'Poliuto' in Italy and again with and 'Lucrezia Borgia' in Paris. In Vienna the Emperor made him Court Composer and Master of the Imperial Chapel. He died paralysed and insane in the last stages of a venereal disease. p.s. I have 35 complete Donizetti opera recordings.

Antonin Dvorak (1841 - 1904) Born the son of a butcher and innkeeper near Prague. Familiar with the bohemian folk music and taught piano, organ and viola when young. He played viola under Smetana at the National Theatre when he was twenty one. Smetana also conducted Dvorak's first publicly recognised composition, an overture. In 1880 he became a friend of Brahms  who helped get his music published. He directed the New York National Conservatorium (1892 - 1895) and the Prague Conservatorium (1901 - 1904). His operas were 'Kate and the Devil' (1899) and 'Rusalka' (1900). My favourite pieces are his 'Dumky Trio' and 'Stabat Mater'

Umderto Giordano (1867 - 1948) Born in Foggia the son of a chemist he studied at the Naples Conservatoire and wrote his first opera 'Marina' at twenty two for the Sonzogno competition which was won by Mascagni's 'Cavalleria Rusticana'. However Sonzogno commissioned  'Mala Vita' which premiered in Rome in 1892.. After a failure with 'Regina Diaz' he wrote his most famous work 'Andrea Chenier' It was due to open in Milan in 1896 but was suddenly withdrawn. Giordano met Mascagni in Florence to discuss this set back and Mascagni missed a tram ride with other notables which crashed and killed several. Feeling that Giordano had saved his life he went to Milan and persuaded La Scala to mount the opera. 'Andrea Chenier' played throughout Italy and New York that year and reached Moscow the following year. 'Fedora' (1878) premiered with Enrico Caruso in the role of Loris and established his reputation. His later operas were less successful but when he died his funeral was interrupted when the coffin was placed in the open doorway of La Scala while the orchestra played 'Amor ti vieta' from 'Fedora'.

 Christoph Willibald von Gluck (1714 - 1787) born in Erasbach in the Upper Palatinate the son of a huntsman and moved regularly as his father took up  posts as forester to many noble families. Studied in Prague and was an organist and music teacher. As a chamber musician in Vienna he was heard and taken to Milan by Prince Melzi and prodused his first opera for Milan, Venice, Bologna, Crema and Turin. He lived for a short time in London and knew Handel and Arne but although he travelled much, he lived most of his life in Paris and Vienna and was court musician to Maria Teresa. He was singing teacher to Marie-Antoinette. His later operas sought reform and avoided excess vocal embellishment for the sake of dignity and simplicity. His great works include 'Orpheus and Euridice' (1762), 'Alceste' (1768), 'Iphigenia in Aulis' (1774), and 'Iphigenia in Tauris' (1779). He was partially paralised by a stroke in 1779 and died of a stroke in Vienna in 1787.

Jules Massenet (1842 - 1912) Born in Montaud to an ironmaster and one of four musical children to his second wife. Moving to Paris when he was six. Poverty removed the family to Chambery but Jules remained with a relative in Paris. At 17 he began harmony studies and composition with Ambroise Thomas. Winning the Prix de Rome he moved to the Villa Medici, met Liszt and the daughter of Mme Sainte-Marie who became his wife. His 'La Grande'Tante was performed at the Opera-Comique in 1867 but La Roi de Lahore (1877) was his first appealing opera followed by 'Herodiade' and the triumphant 'Manon' (1884). Then followed a succession of operas like 'Esclarmonde' (1889) Thais (1894) and Werther (1892) that have returned to the repertoire. A personal favourite is 'Le Jongleur de Notre Dame' (1902) for an all male cast. He became Professor of Composition at the Paris Conservatoire. He died in Paris.

Giacomo Meyerbeer (1791 - 1864) Born Jakob Liebmann Beer in Berlin, the son of a Jewish Banker. He added Meyer at the request of an uncle and became Giacomo while in Italy. He studied with Zelter a friend of Goethe. Weber was a friend and in Vienna he met Beethoven and Saliere who advised him to go to Paris. He had been an imitator of the popular Rossini and used his wealth to enhance his productions, create publicity while seeking the fame he desired. Most notable were his 'Robert le Diable' (1831), 'Les Huguenots' (1836), 'Le Prophete' (1849), L'Africane (1865). Although showing kindness to Wagner and conducting his Rienzi, he was mocked in Wagner's anti-Semitic essay 'Jewishness in Music'

Claudio Monteverdi (1567 - 1643) Born in Cremona Italy. At age 20 the first of his nine books of Madrigals appeared. In 1590 he joined the service of Vincenzo Gonzaga of Mantua playing the viol and remained there until 1612. His first opera was 'La Favola d'Orfeo' (1607) was the first significant opera written after the style had begun with Jacopo Peri's 'Euridice' ( the earliest known and surviving opera from 1600.  His earlier 'Dafne' from 1597 in which he himself sang the role of Apollo has disappeared) . Monteverdi followed this with many others including Arianna (1608). He took up Italy's most important musical post as the choirmaster of St Mark's in Venice the following year. Operas written in this period were destroyed during the sack of Mantua in 1630. He was ordained in 1632. Two great works from this later period remain. 'The Return of Ulysses' (1640) and 'The Coronation of Poppea' (1642).
Johann Chrysostom Wolfgang Theophilus Mozart was born 27 January 1756 in Salzburg, Austria, to composer and violinist, Leopold and his wife, Anna Maria Pertl. Theophilus is Gottlieb in German, and Amadeus in Latin and it is by Wolfgang and Amadeus that he is known. He mastered the keyboard when he was four, composed his first pieces for it aged five, and also played the violin. Leopold began a series of tours across Europe to show off his six year old son's extraordinary talents, and those of his daughter, Maria-Anna, a pianist called Nannerl (1751-1829). He played before French and English Royal families, the Bavarian elector and the Austrian empress. When Mozart was eleven he wrote his first operatic composition, a Latin intermezzo 'Apollo et Hyacinthus. This was a commission from the Benedictine University of Salzburg  and was first performed on May 13 1767. The parts were all played by choirboys except one by a 23 year old theology student. Hyacinth was the youngest at twelve years old while Zephyrus was the eldest at seventeen. The story of Apollo and Zephyrus vying for the love of Hyacinthus, who dies from a discus blown jealously by the West Wind, was censored and changed by the introduction of two fictitious characters (a father and a sister as substitute love interest) but nevertheless it was a great success. Later in 1767 the family went to Vienna, where Mozart wrote a comic opera, ‘La finta semplice’ for the Emperor and a Singspiel ‘Bastien und Bastienne’ . In Vienna the Italian court musicians, including the composer Antonio Salieri, made it difficult for him to produce his operas so he returned to Salzburg, and became honorary Konzertmeister to the Archbishop. He toured Italy and gained a lot of experience in dramatic theatre and wrote two operas ‘Mitridate’ and ‘Lucio Silla’ while there. By 1772 he had written about 25 symphonies. Between 1775 and 1776 he composed two operas ‘The Lady Who Disguised Herself as a Gardener’ and ‘The Shepherd King’, five violin concertos, and masses for the Salzburg Court Chapel. Unhappy with the Archbishop of Salzburg, Mozart left for Mannheim, where he fell in love with a coloratura soprano, Aloysia Weber who soon forgot him. In 1778 his mother died in Paris. He returned to Salzburg and took the post of court organist. The following year he was commissioned to write ‘Idomeneo’. In 1781 he was summoned to Vienna for the coronation of Emperor Joseph II and it became his home for the rest of his life. By musicians' standards, he had a good income, having a carriage and servants, but lavish spending and poor management forced him into debt.  Mozart became interested in Aloysia Weber’s sister Constanze, and they married in 1782. The same year as  ‘The Abduction from the Seraglio’ which prompted Emperor Joseph II's famous observation, 'Too many notes, my dear Mozart'. Married life was happy, they had six children, only two of whom survived, but he had to teach to help out with his unreliable income from composition. He wrote six string quartets dedicated to Haydn, who told Mozart's father that Mozart was-  'the greatest composer known to me in person or by name; he has taste and, what is more, the greatest knowledge of composition'.  
In 1782 Mozart began the composition of piano concertos, so that he could appear both as composer and soloist.  He became a Freemason in 1784. His Italian masterpieces were ‘Le nozze di Figaro’ 1786,  ‘Don Giovanni’ 1787, and ‘CosÏ fan tutte’ 1790. The letters to fellow Masons in his last three years reflect his anxieties about finance or health. He hoped the accession of Emperor Leopold II would lead to a position or commissions, but nothing was forthcoming. In 1791 he applied unsuccessfully for the post of Kapellmeister of St Stephen's Cathedral. His last complete operas were ‘The Magic Flute’  for the popular music hall theatre, and ‘La clemenze di Tito’ both in 1791. Both he and friend and librettist Emanuel Schikaneder were members of the same Masonic Lodge and The Magic Flute is filled with Masonic secrets and imagery. The early sets were Turkish but within a few years the imagery moved to Egypt from which much Masonic ceremony was gathered. He was commissioned by an unknown stranger to compose the Requiem Mass and he became obsessed with the idea that it was for his own death, and after a three-week fever he died in Vienna, 5 December 1791 before it was finished. There has always been speculation as to the cause of his death and after this short life of genius he was buried in an normal unmarked grave. He did not die poor as often stated but had a service at St Stephen's in Vienna and was then buried in the manner of most people. The composer Antonio Salieri, in a deathbed confession, tried to take credit for murdering Mozart. There was a popular rumour that Mozart's Masonic Lodge had assassinated him for betraying lodge secrets in his opera "Die Zauberflöte".  In 1901 a skull, whose owners claimed belonged to Mozart was given to the Salzburg Mozarteum. Mozart's gravedigger, claimed to have rescued it from oblivion during a reorganization of the burial plot where Mozart's remains were in 1801. Examination of the skull by a French team of forensic scientists proves only that it could be that of the composer and whoever the original owner of the skull was had died of chronic haematoma possibly resulting from a fall. This would account for the depression and dizziness Mozart complained of experiencing before death. The Mozarteum has not accepted the findings.  A monument to Mozart was erected in 1859 in the St. Marx Friedhof on the approximate spot where Mozart's bones are believed to be buried. It was relocated to the Vienna Zentralfriedhof in 1891. Another monument - that of an angel with a saddened face stands guard over the grave in St. Marx today. Mozart composed over 600 works.

Amilcare Ponchielli (1834 - 1886) Born in Cremona Italy to a shopkeeper and growing up in poverty his talent as a boy took him to the Milan Conservatoire at age nine.. Although only known for the everlasting 'La Gioconda' his first opera 'I promessi sposi' was performed in Cremona at age twenty two. 'Rodericao' in 1863 and a revision of his first work for the opening of the Teatro dal Verme in Milan. He was then commissioned to write a ballet and then the opera 'I Lituana' (1874) for La Scala. His peak was 'La Gioconda' (1876) to a libretto by Arrigo Boito from the play "Angelo,Tyran de Padua' by Victor Hugo. It was performed around the world in the next few years and its five principle roles remain a vehicle for the great singers today. His other eight operas and sacred cantatas etc have failed to live to today. He became Maesto di Capella of Bergamo Cathedral and Professor of Composition at the Milan Conservatoire. Puccini was one of his students.
Giacomo Puccini, was born in Lucca Italy December 22, 1858. He was the eldest male of a large family. His mother Albina sent him first to her brother Fortunato Magi to study music then to Carlo Angeloni. He then, at the age of 14, became organist at St. Martino and St. Michele in Lucca, and other local churches. A performance of Verdi's Aida at Pisa in 1876 made a great impact on him that he decided to study operatic composition so with the help of an uncle a scholarship he began studies at the Milan Conservatory. He spent from 1880 to 1883 there under the composition teacher  Amilcare Ponchielli, who was probably the major influence on Puccini's operatic future. Mid 1883 Puccini entered An Encouragement to Young Italian Composers Competition sponsored by the publisher Eduardo Sonzogno of Milan.  'Il teatro illustrato opens to the young musicians of Italian nationality a competition for one-act operas, the subject can be either idyllic, serious or giocoso , the choice is that of the competitor, with a prize of lire 2000, and a performance of the opera at a theatre in Milan at the expense of the newspaper.'  Ponchielli had invited Puccini to spend several days at his villa at Maggianico, where Puccini and Ponchielli met Ferdinando and persuaded him to prepare a libretto for Puccini. Il teatro illustrato announced  the results in April 1884 but Puccini's  Le Willis did not even receive an honourable mention but Le Willis revised into a two-act opera Le Villi came to the attention of the publisher Giulio Ricordi, who arranged a successful production at the Teatro del Verme in Milan. Ricordi then commissioned a second opera, however Fontana's libretto, Edgar, did nit suit Puccini's dramatic talent and the opera was not well received at La Scala in April 1889. However Puccini maintained lifelong association with the publishing house. Puccini then chose Manon Lescaut. Performed in Turin in 1893, it achieved a success that Puccini was never to see again and his fame began to spread beyond Italy. Working on its libretto were Luigi IlIica and Giuseppe Giacosa, who wrote the librettos for Puccini's next three operas, La Boheme, which was not a success when produced at Turin in 1896 and Tosca, more enthusiastically received at the Teatro Costanzi Rome in 1900. The third Madam Butterfly was inspired by a one act play by David Belasco, that he saw in London. Butterfly was a disaster at it’s opening at La Scala in February 1904. Urged on by rivals the audience became hostile and all hell broke out. He revised it and the following May he received great acclaim in Brescia. Puccini had married Elvira Gemignani, the widow of a Lucca merchant. They had a son in 1896. From 1891 until 1921they lived in Torre del Lago.  In 1909 his wife accused a servant of having an affair with Puccini. As a result of the scandal the girl committed suicide, However in court she was proved innocent but Puccini was badly affected. La fanciulla del West, based on another Belasco drama, had its premiere at the Metropolitan Opera, New York, in December 1910. Puccini fell out with the new head of his publishing house Tito Ricordi, accepted a commission for an operetta from the Vienna Karltheater. La rondine, was warmly received in Monte Carlo in 1917, but is perhaps the least of his works. Puccini had already begun composing Il tabarro, the first of three one-act operas that also include Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi. In his early 60s Puccini started work on Turandot, based on a Gozzi play. He moved to Viareggio and in 1923 developed cancer of the throat. Treatment at a Brussels clinic seemed successful, but his heart could not stand the strain and he died in Brussels, November 29 1924, leavingTurandot unfinished.  All Italy went into mourning and two years later his remains were interred at his house at Torre del Lago which, after his wife's death in 1930, was turned into a museum. 

Henry Purcell (1659 - 1695) Born in London to a musical family Henry became a chorister of the Chapel Royal, later composer for violins and later organist at Westminster Abbey. He wrote every sort of music and after the Restoration Purcell turned to Music Theatre and after success at Dorset Gardens he wrote incidental music for forty three plays. London was becoming aware of the Italian opera and in 1689 Purcell wrote Dido and Aeneas which included 17 dances for a boarding school for 'gentlewomen' run by Josias Priest who was a dancing master.. Following this amateur success they were invited to produce a professional production for Dorset Gardens. 'The Prophetess' consisted of a cast of actors and singers and contained many dances, ending with a masque. Then followed 'King Arthur' and the spectacular and expensive 'The Fairy Queen'  and others. He died young and was buried in Westminster Abbey to the music he had composed for the funeral of Queen Mary the previous year.

Gioachino Antonio Rossini was borm February 29, 1792 into a family of musicians in Pesaro He was an Italian composer who wrote 39 operas as well as sacred music, chamber music, songs, and some instrumental and piano pieces. Among his operas are the Italian comedies ‘Il barbiere di Siviglia’ and ‘La cenerentola’ and the French-language epics ‘Moïse et Pharaon’ and ‘Guillaume Tell’ and the grand ‘Semiramide’. A reputation for inspired melodies led to the nickname "The Italian Mozart." Until his retirement in 1829, Rossini had been the most popular opera composer in historyHe died at his country house at Passy on Friday, November 13, 1868. He was 76 years old. He was buried in Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris. In 1887, his remains were moved to the Basilica di Santa Croce di Firenze, in Florence, at the request of the Italian government.

Richard Strauss (1864 - 1949) He wrote 15 operas, around 200 songs and great symphonic tone poems.  As a conductor he gained fame and conducted at Beyreuth in1894. His first opera was 'Guntram' was presented in the same year. His great works were 'Salome' (1905), which was as infamous as the Oscar Wilde play, 'Electra' (1909), 'Der Rosenkavalier' (1911) and 'Ariadne auf Naxos' (1912). His final opera was 'Capriccio' which was written about the relative importance of words or music in opera. His mastery of writing for the soprano was only equalled by Mozart. Strauss accepted the role of president of the Reich Music Chamber and this relationship with the Nazis led to his self imposed exile in Switzerland after the war and he returned home to Bavaria only in the year of his death. 
Giuseppe Verdi (1813 - 1901)  Apart from writing 32 operas and some sacred music he was briefly a senator in the Italian Parliament, and founded a Rest Home for musicians in Milan a few weeks before his death. He began with church organ music and this, combined with military marches that he was also familiar with, led the way to the stirring music he was later to write. His first opera 'Rochester was written in1836. Lost and some music re-used in 'Oberto'  which was performed in 1939. Hired by La Scala he eventually wrote 'Nabucco' in 1842. His love of Shakespeare led to 'Macbeth', 'Otello' and his final opera 'Falstaff' in 1893. His ambition to write King Lear never came to fruition.

Antonio Lucio Vivaldi (1678 - 1741) Born in Venice. His father was a violinist at San Marco. He began training for the priesthood at fifteen and was ordained in 1703 but complaining of chest pains the red-head soon gave up saying Mass and turned strictly to music. Viloinist, composer and conductor at the Conservatorio dell'Ospedale della Pieta a famous charitable orphan girls school in Venice. Known primarily for his orchestral concertos, many of his reported 100 operas are now being re-discovered. His first "Ottone in Villa' (1713). Others were "L'Orlando finto pazzo' (1714) and 'Griselda' (1735) He described himself as a 'freelance entrepreneur' acting as impresario for theatre works of others as well as strictly supervising his own productions. Having been hugely popular throughout Europe and playing for the Pope and the Emperor his works were eventually banned from being performed in Papal territories because of his lapsed priesthood, his contract was not renewed at the orphanage  and he sought refuge in Vienna where he died and was buried in a paupers grave attached to St Stephen's.

Richard  Wagner (Wilhelm) (1813 - 1883) Born in Leipzig. His father died in 1813 and his mother married Ludwig Geyer and actor and painter.. He mat Weber as a child and studied music at St. Thomas School. Initially his music was unsuccessful and  he married an actress Wilhelmine Planer in 1836. He worked in menial jobs in Paris (1839 - 1842) but became conductor at Dresden in 1842 and the successful 'Rienzi' was produced, then the less so 'The Flying Dutchman' 1843 and 'Tannhauser' 1845. Involved in revolutionary politics now, 'Lorengrin' was refused by the censors, he was exiled to Switzerland. Liszt staged Lorengrin in 1850. Wagner conducted in London and was received by Queen Victoria, Moscow and St Petersburg. He began the 'Ring  Cycle' in 1853 but did not complete it until 1874. 'Tristan and Isolde' fwas mounted in 1865 financed by King Ludwig of Bavaria then 'The Meistersingers' in 1868; both conducted by Hans von Bulow whose wife Cosima (daughter of Liszt) lived with Wagner with whom she had two daughters and a son Sigfried in 1869. They married in 1870.. He moved to Bayreuth and began construction of the Festival Theatre which opened with the Ring in 1876 and premiered Parsifal in 1882, He died the following year at the Palazzo Vendramin Calergi in Venice. Bayreuth was run by Cosima until 1906, followed by Sigfried until 1930 and then his widow Winifred who was a firm supporter of Hitler, who visited Bayreuth. After the war their sons Wieland and Wolfgang took over the directorship.

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