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One of the key figures in the history of opera Wagner was largely responsible for altering its orientation in the Nineteenth Century His program of artistic reform though not executed to the last detail accelerated the trend towards organically conceived through-composed structures as well as influencing the development of the orchestra of a new breed of singer and of various aspects of theatrical practice As the most influential composer during the second half of the Nineteenth Century Richard Wagners conception of music remains very much with us even a century after his death Wagner thought his music dramas were to be the models for Twentieth Century opera but he could not foresee the path of total abandonment of traditional harmony that was to revolutionize music in the early Twentieth Century Richard Wagner was born in Leipzig Germany in 1813 as the son of a policeman Friedrich Wagner who died soon after the composers birth His mother remarried the painter-actor-poet Ludwig Geyer in August 1814 Many people believe that Geyer was Wagners biological father since the mother and Geyer had been friends long before Friedrich Wagners death There is much evidence that Richard believed this as well Wagner attended school in Dresden and then Leipzig At age fifteen he wrote a play and at sixteen he composed his first music two piano sonatas and a string quartet In 1831 he attended Leipzig University and he also studied piano and composition with the Cantor of St Thomas Choir School Wagners formal training in music was brief and he was largely a self-taught musician He composed a symphony and it was successfully performed in 1832 In 1833 he was employed as the chorus master at the Wrzburg Theater where he wrote the text and music of his first opera Die Feen The Fairies His first opera was never produced during Wagners lifetime It was first performed by Hermann Levi in Munich in 1888 Wagner married the singer
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