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Can You Guess? Richard Wagner wrote a piece of music that almost everyone has heard.  It is usually played at the time a special person comes into the room, almost always dressed in white.
Can You Guess who that person might be or what the music is?

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1814 - Premiere of Rossini's opera Il Turco in Italia at La Scala in Milan.

1868 - Leone Sinigaglia, Italian composer, was born.

1909 - Stuff Smith, Jazz, Swing violinist, was born.

1947 - Miles Davis records for the first time as a leader.

1952 - Premiere of Richard Strauss's opera Die Liebe der Danae produced posthumously at the Salzburg Festival.

1954 - Premiere of Malcolm Arnold's Harmonica Concerto. Larry Adler was soloist.

1965 - Sonny & Cher hit the top of the charts on this day with I Got You Babe.

1971 - Rod Stewart released Maggie May.

1981 - Karl Böhm, German conductor, died in Salzburg.
Richard Wagner
1813-1883
August 14,1876 Wagner's Ring Cycle was first performed at Bayreuth. It retells the saga of the Nibelung. It consists of four operas: The Rhinegold, The Valkyrie, Siegfried and Gotterdämmerung (Twilight of Gods).

He was born in Leipzig, May 22, 1813.  He went to school in Dresden, then Leipzig.  At 15 he wrote a play, and at 16 he completed his first compositions. In 1831 he went to Leipzig University  to study music.
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He wrote a symphony, which was performed in 1832.  In 1833 he became chorusmaster at the  Würzburg theatre and wrote the text and music of his first opera, Die Feen (The Fairies), which remained unheard, but his next, Das Liebesverbot, written in 1833, was staged in 1836. It was also during this time that he made his debut as an opera conductor.

He married singer Minna Planer in 1836, and went to Königsberg where he became musical director at the theatre, but left to take a similar post in Riga where he began his next opera, Rienzi, and did a great deal of conducting.

In 1839, Wagner went to Paris, where he worked for several publishers and theatres. He also worked on the text and music of an opera on the Flying Dutchman legend; but in 1842 Rienzi was accepted by the Dresden opera company, and Wagner went there for its premiere.  Die fliegende Holländer ('The Flying Dutchman'), premiered the following year, but was not so well received.
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Did You Guess?
Here comes the bride
All dressed in white
Stepped on a turtle
And that popped her girdle

or something like that.

The tune which we know as Here Comes the Bride is actually the
wedding march from the opera Lohengrin.
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By 1853 the text for this four-night cycle (to be The Nibelung's Ring) was written, printed and read to friends - who included a generous patron, Otto Wesendonck, and his wife Mathilde, who loved him, wrote poems that he set, and inspired Tristan und Isolde - conceived in 1854 and completed five years later, by which time more than half of The Ring was written.

Before returning to the Ring, Wagner wrote The Mastersingers of Nuremberg, a comedy set in 16th-century Nuremberg, in which a noble poet-musician wins, through his victory in a music contest - a victory over pedants who stick to the foolish old rules - the hand of his beloved, fame and riches.

The first two Ring operas, Das Rheingold and Die Walküre, were performed in Munich, in 1869 and 1870;  but Wagner was wanted a special festival opera house for the complete cycle and spent a great deal of  energy trying (usually unsuccessfully) to raise money for it. Finally, in 1874, Ludwig provided the funds - the year the 4th opera, Götterdämmerung, was finished - provided the necessary support.

The first festival was held in 1876, when the complete Ring was given. The Ring is about 18 hours' music, bound together by a web of themes, each of which symbolizes a character, an object or an idea. They change and develop as the ideas within the opera develop. They are not just labels, but carry the plot forward.

In 1877, Wagner conducted in London.  He hoped to recoup the losses the Bayreuth festival had incurred.  At the same time he was beginning work on a new opera, Parsifal.  This was performed ad the Bayreuth festival in 1882. He went to Venice for the winter, and died there February 13, 1883.

More than almost any other composer during the 19th Century, Wagner's works changed the way musicians and the public looked at classical music.  Although many of his ideas and political beliefs are not popular, his music remains popular today.
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