Richard (Originally Wilhelm Richard), a German composer, born in Leipsic, May 22, 1813. His father was an actuary of police, and died when the son was a few months old. Richard received an incomplete scholastic education, though his mind had a literary cast, and at the Dresden Kreuzschule he was considered an apt scholar. When 12 years old he wrote plays. His thoughts were first fixed upon music as his profession at the age of 15, on becoming acquainted with Beethoven's symphonies. His first systematic studies were made under Theodor Weinlig while he was a student at the university of Leipsic. The first of his compositions of which he speaks was a comedie champetre, written under the inspiration of the "Pastoral Symphony." This was never performed, but in 1833 a symphony written by him was presented at a concert in Leipsic; and in the same year he wrote a romantic opera entitled Die Feen (" The Fairies "). In the summer of 1834 he became musical director at the Magdeburg theatre, where in 1836 he brought out his opera Das Liebesveroot, of which the words and music were both his own, and which failed. He consequently resigned his place, and became musical director at Königsberg, where in 1836 he married.
He soon after removed to Riga, where he remained, directing the music at the theatre, till 1839. To prepare himself for a favorable reception in Paris, he wrote in 1838 the beginning of a more elaborate opera than any he had previously composed, called Rienzi. On arriving in 1839 at the French capital he found that the want of means and influence interrupted all his plans. Meyerbeer the composer and Maurice Schlesinger, a music publisher and journalist, befriended him, and the latter gave him first employment, and afterward the opportunity of putting forward his claim to artistic recognition. He published songs, but their eccentric forms prevented their success. Schlesinger also procured for Wagner a commission to write an overture for the société des concerts, upon which he prepared his Faust, which was rehearsed once and then set aside, the society not hazarding the experiment of producing so eccentric a work. He also prepared vaudeville music for the minor theatres, until it was intimated that his compositions were altogether too fantastic for the purpose. Writing of these hard experiences, Wagner says: " Manifold difficulties and very bitter want encompassed my life at this period." He worked nevertheless with the courage of despair at his Rienzi, which he completed.
For his support he made "instrumental arrangements of every imaginable kind, down to those for the cornet a piston," and contributed articles on German music to the Gazette musicale. He also set about the composition of the music to his opera Der fliegende Hollander ("The Flying Dutchman"), which he completed in seven weeks and sent to Meyerbeer at Berlin, where subsequently it was produced. Wagner went to Dresden in the spring of 1842, and in October of that year his Rienzi was there brought out. Its success procured for its composer the Prussian order of the red eagle and the position of chapelmaster at the Dresden opera house. During the time that he held this office he brought out his "Flying Dutchman" and composed Tannhauser, which was produced in October, 1845, but received only two representations. Failing in this, he began to compose Lohengrin, an opera still more identified with his peculiar views of art. It was about to be produced at Dresden in 1849 when the revolutionary outbreak in Saxony took place. Wagner had always held extremely liberal political principles, having even in 1830 identified himself at the university with the liberal party. He was an active leader in the movement, and when it was suppressed took refuge in Zurich and became a citizen of the canton.
In 1850 he was appointed director of the Zurich musical society and of the orchestra at the theatre. Here he remained till 1858, composing while there Tristan und Isolde and a portion of his great series of operas founded on the Nibelungenlied. Wagner had a steadfast friend and adherent in Franz Liszt, under whose direction and through whose efforts Lohengrin was first produced at Weimar, Aug. 28, 1850; and subsequently others of Wagner's works were given in the same city. After an absence of nearly ten years Wagner, having received a political pardon from the king of Saxony, took up his residence at Munich, where in King Louis of Bavaria he soon found an earnest adherent and powerful patron. Through his aid the Tristan und Isolde was produced under Yon Billow's direction in June, 1865; Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. in June, 1868; Das Rheingold in 1869; and Die Walkure in 1870. In 1861 an attempt had been made to obtain a hearing for the Tannhduser at the grand opera of Paris, but, in spite of the favor of the emperor, so intense and unreasoning was the prejudice against the composer that his work met with deliberately planned opposition, and was withdrawn after the third representation. In Vienna in 1862 it was received with great favor.
In 1870 Wagner married his second wife, Casina von Bulow, a daughter of Liszt, who had been divorced from Hans von Billow in 1869. In this year he conceived the idea of erecting a theatre in which the four operas which he had built up on the myths of the Nibelungenring might be produced. He found the stage as it existed in Germany out of sympathy with his ideas of true German art, and so hampered by foreign traditions that neither the directors nor the audiences could be relied on to support him in the experiment he was determined on making, of founding an opera that should be thoroughly German in its spirit and purpose, having its motive in the traditional poetry of Germany, and entirely abandoning the musical forms that Italy and France had impressed upon the opera. In order to secure a certain isolation and a new field, he fixed upon the little city of Baireuth in Bavaria as the place in which to carry out his undertaking. In May, 1871, he issued a circular addressed to "the friends of art," calling for their cooperation in the work.
The summer of 1873 was the time at which he expected to bring out his works; but though the answer to his appeal was generous, the fulfilment of his wishes was postponed until the summer of 1876. The corner stone of the proposed theatre was laid on May 22, 1872. The pianoforte rehearsals of the operas in question were had in July, 1875, and the orchestral rehearsals in August. Wagner's so-called "festival stage play" consists of the following operas: 1, Das Rheingold, in the nature of an introduction to the other three operas or trilogy; 2, Die Walkure; 3, Siegfried; 4, Die Gotterdammerung. An evening is to be devoted to each of these operas, and the entire series is to be performed three times, with intervals of about four days for rest between the several performances of the entire work. - Wagner's theories of operatic composition have occasioned wide discussion. They are extended, subtle, and metaphysical, and cannot readily be summarized; but the salient points of his musical creed may be stated in his own words: "The error in the opera as a species of art has consisted in the fact that a mere means of expression - that is, music - has been made the end, while the end of expression, the drama, has been made the means; and thus the actual lyric drama has been made to rest upon the basis of absolute music." In other words, in the modern Italian opera the play itself, its incident, progress, and climax, has no interest for the audience; they go simply to hear certain arias, duets, and concerted pieces.
In Wagner's opinion, the drama itself should be the centre of interest; it should be founded upon some poetical and legendary subject, identified with the history of the people for whom the opera is written, such for example as the myths of the Nibelungen poetry. To the illustration of this drama the arts of music, painting, and architecture should lend their aid, all combining with intent to give expression to the poet's thought. Of course the artificially constructed arias of the Italian opera, where the whole interest of the drama is suspended and the attention concentrated upon the musical setting of some meaningless verses, are done away with. Wagner believes that the music should spring directly from the requirements of the text; that instead of having here and there melodies with intervening recitative, the whole opera should be melody; and he has given to his substitute for the ordinary forms the name of melos. It is his effort to redeem the stage, which, as he contends, is now "insincere and trivial, its music lacking in pertinence to the verbal text, its forms dictated by a desire to conciliate the vanity of singers or the interests of music dealers, and its verbal text itself of low poetical merit." The orchestra also, in his system, is exalted to great importance, taking its large share as a means of heightening the interest and giving vitality and color to the whole work; it ceases to be a mere instrument of accompaniment, and becomes as closely identified with the purpose of the play as the actors themselves, entering into and reflecting and as it were commenting on and enforcing the text.
The experiment at Baireuth is relied upon by him to vindicate these theories. He has expressed his ideas at great length in his various literary works, which have been collected and published in 9 vols., under the title Oesammelte Schriften und Dichtungen (Leipsic, 1871). The principal works contained in this edition are his Autobiographische Skizze, Ein Deutscher Musiker in Paris (7 novellen), Das Judenthum in der Musik (1852), Oper und Drama (1852), Die Kunst und die Revolution (1849), Das Kunstwerle der Zukunft (1850), Ueber Schauspieler und Sanger, and Beethoven (1870); also the poetical text of his principal operas. The publishing house of J. Gutmann in Vienna purchased in 1876 the copyright of his contemplated new opera Parcival. Wagner has also composed a portion of the music to be performed at the opening of the American centennial exhibition of 1876. - See Richard Wagner und die neuere Musik (Halle, 1854); " Richard Wagner and the Music of the Future," by Franz Heuffner (London, 1874); and "Art Life and Theories of Richard Wagner," by E. L. Burlingame (New York, 1875).
Johanna, a niece of the preceding, born Oct. 13, 1828. Her father, Albert (born in Leipsic in 1799, died in Berlin, Oct. 31, 1874), began life as a tenor singer, and in 1857-9 was manager of the royal opera at Berlin, and brought out Tannhauser and Lohengrin. The daughter appeared in comedy in 1843, and a little later in opera, chiefly at Dresden, which city she quitted in 1849 with her uncle. Subsequently she performed at Hamburg and Vienna, and in Berlin from 1853 to 1859, when she married Herr Jachmann, a councillor in the Prussian service, and accepted an engagement for the drama at the royal theatre. She excelled in her uncle's operas, and in those of Gluck and Meyerbeer, and especially as Fides in Le prophete, and proved to be an accomplished tragedienne.
Rudolph, a German physiologist, born in Baireuth, June 30, 1805, died in Gottingen, May 13, 1864. He graduated in medicine at Wurzburg in 1826, studied under Cuvier in Paris, and made geological explorations in France and Sardinia. He was tutor and professor, of zoology at the university of Erlangen from 1829 to 1840, when he succeeded Blumenbach at Gottingen. He was distinguished in physiology, comparative anatomy, and anthropology. His works include Lehrbuch der vergleichenden Anatomie (2 parts, Leipsic, 1834'5; 2d ed., entitled Lehrbuch der Zootomie, 1843-7); Icones Physiologicm (1839-'40; new ed. by Ecker, 1852-'4); Lehrbuch der Physiologic (1839; 4th ed. by Funke, 1854-'7); Handworterbuch der Physiologic (4 vols., Brunswick, 1842-'53); Neurologische Untersuchungen (1854), which involved him in a controversy with Karl Vogt and others of the materialistic school, of which he was one of the most eminent opponents; Der Kampfum die Seele (Gottingen, 1857); and Vorstudien zu einer wissenschaftlichen Morphologie und Physiologic des menschlichen Gehirns als Seelenorgans (2 vols., 1861-'3).
Moritz Friedrich, a German naturalist, brother of the preceding, born in Baireuth, Oct. 3, 1813. He was engaged in business till 1834, after which he studied zoology and other sciences at Erlangen and Munich. The French government adjoined him to the scientific commission in Algeria (1837-'8), and after studying geology at Göttingen he was enabled by the academy of Berlin to explore for three years the Black sea region, the Caucasus, Armenia, Kurdistan, and Persia, and made extensive collections of natural history, which are now in the museums of Paris, Vienna, and Munich. In company with Scherzer he travelled in the United States, Central America, and the West Indies in 1852-'5; and at the instance of King Maximilian II. of Bavaria he explored the province of Chiriqui and other parts of the isthmus of Panama in 1857'8, and the E. part of the Andes in Ecuador in 1859. In 1860 he was appointed honorary professor at the university of Munich and director of the ethnographical museum. Subsequently he became known by his theories of migration in connection with those of Darwin. His works include Reisen in der Regentschaft Algier (3 vols., Leipsic, 1841); Der Kaukasus und das Land der Kosacken (2 vols., 1847); Reise nach Kolchis (1850); Reise nach dem Ararat und dem Hochlande Armeniens (Stuttgart, 1850); and Reise nach Persien und dem Lande der Kurden (2 vols., Leipsic, 1852; English translation, "Travels in Persia, Georgia, and Koordistan, with Sketches of the Cossacks and the Caucasus," 3 vols., London, 1854). He has also written, jointly with Scherzer, Reisen in Nordamerika (3 vols., Leipsic, 1854), and Die Republik Costa-Rica (1856).