Richard Wagner, (1813-83). German operatic composer. He spent much of his early life travelling in Europe and his first successful opera, The Flying Dutchman (1843), was written in Paris. While conductor of the Dresden Opera he composed two works based on Ger-man legends, Tannhtiuser, (1845) and Lohengrin (1850). After the failure of the revolution of 1848, Wagner fled to Zurich, where he began work on The Ring of the Nibelung, an operatic cycle based on German mythology. The Ring cycle was first performed complete in 1876 under the patronage of Ludwig II of Bavaria. Wagner’s other operas included Tristan and is olde (1865), .a tragic love story, the comic Mastersingers of Nuremberg (1868), and the ‘sacred festival drama’ Parsifal (1882). For the performance of his later works Wagner built a special theatre at Bayreuth, where a festival of his works is held annually.
“Damned German stuff. They’ve been at it for two hours and they’re still singing the same bloody tune. Sir Thomas Beecham, on an opera by Wagner”