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Did you know that composer Richard Wagner was born May 22, 1813? Yep — two hundred years ago later this month.
As you know if you’ve read my book about Mad King Ludwig II, Wagner was probably the biggest influence on King Ludwig II. As such, I’m interested in Wagner as well. He certainly was a fascinating character in his own right. And, as you might expect, Germany is celebrating during this bicentennial of his birth.
A major component of the birthday celebration is an extensive renovation of Wahnfried, the home Richard and wife Cosima Wagner built at Bayreuth, Germany — the site of their famous opera house. “Wahnfried” means freedom from delusion, and it was here that the Wagners finally found as much peace as they’d experience during their lifetimes (much of Wagner’s earlier life had been spending traipsing around Europe, fleeing creditors). The house was originally opened to the public in 1976, so it could use a bit of a facelift by now. The Richard Wagner Museum housed there will also be expanded.
Wagner is buried in the Wahnfried gardens. Wahnfried is where he wrote Gotterdammerung, the final opera of the popular 4-opera “Ring Series.”