Richard Wagner's (born on May 22th 1813 in Leipzig) music dramas had an extremely polarizing effect on his contemporaries. While half the public was completely drawn into the emotional power of his works, the other half found his music and his assertive personality more than provocative and reacted with rejection. This response certainly has something to do with the fact that no composer before Wagner had ever made such claims of exclusivity for his works. Wagner's operatic creations, in which he broke with the traditional form of opera in the dimensions of both compositional technique and running time, are targeted toward the use of emotional impact to convince the listener unconditionally of Wagner's philosophy. In terms of content, his works revolve over and over again around the idea of redemption, as documented by his choice of subject matter: redemption through love, for example, in "Der fliegende Holländer" and "Tannhäuser", redemption through death and transcendence in "Tristan und Isolde" or redemption through a kind of artificial religion in the "Dedicatory Festival Play“ ("Bühnenweihfestspiel“) "Parsifal". With the intention of creating "Gesamtkunstwerke“, works embodying a unity of all the arts, Wagner not only wrote all his own libretti but also designed settings and costumes. He crowned his life's work with the construction of the Bayreuth Festival Theatre, site of the annual Bayreuth Festival, built along the lines of his optical and acoustical concepts and reserved exclusively for the performance of Wagner“s works.
Richard Wagner died on February 13th 1883 in Venice.