The German composer Richard Wagner was born in Leipzig on May 22, 1813. He is revered for his monumental operatic works, such as The Ring and Tristan and Isolde.
A controversial figure, he was a pioneer in his field, creating new compositional techniques and theatre designs. Tristan has been viewed as the start of modern music.
Composing his first full opera at the age of 20, Wagner moved to Dresden in 1842, where he worked for the next six years. He was exiled after the 1848 revolutions for his part in the nationalist political movement, which sought constitutional freedoms and wanted to unite the many small German states into a single nation. After a period in Switzerland, he moved to Bavaria under the patronage of the eccentric King Ludwig II. Although the two men eventually fell out, Ludwig in large part funded Wagner's magnificent opera house at Bayreuth, built in 1876 specifically for The Ring.
Wagner also wrote myriad poems, articles, essays and books on politics and philosophy, although these were tainted by his anti-semitic views.
He died in Venice on February 13, 1883. He was highly regarded by the novelists W H Auden, Thomas Mann and Marcel Proust, amongst many others.