Richard Wagner is without a doubt the most divisive composer ever to have existed. Why so much hate? Richard Wagner is a controversial name in classical music history, due to his views, his character, but also his music. Loved by many, hated by many, the music of the German composer is not the easiest to approach.
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Step 1: Avoid starting with the longest works
Step 2: Listen to excerpts of his operas
Richard Wagner is known as one of the most progressive composers in history. His name has been linked to almost all the significant historical events of the 19th and 20th centuries. As a boy, he was interested in literature and loved the plays of William Shakespeare. At age 15 he wrote a play and at 16 his first music compositions. Later in his teenage years, he attended Leipzig University to study and as a result he became more interested in music composition.
The music you might recognise
Sign in Register. News Guardian. Can we forgive him? Richard Wagner was a great composer - but also a virulent anti-semite. As the Wagner festival at Bayreuth opens, Adrian Mourby asks whether we can play his music with a clear conscience Friday 21 July The Guardian Around years ago, a failed composer and revolutionary used an assumed name to publish his latest page pamphlet. Although Richard Wagner's ideas were to find their final form 20 years later in his opera cycle The Ring, his early attempts at philosophy reflect recognisably Wagnerian concerns: that nature is destroyed by industry; that it is unnatural to pursue power at the expense of love; that capitalism is corrupt; that the state often at odds with the people; that we live in an age where entertainment is considered more important than art. Nothing much to argue with there. But what people today remember from Wagner's quasi-philosophical period is his contention that it was the Jews who were responsible for much that was going wrong in art and society.