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Happy Birthday, Richard Wagner

How Germany Celebrates the 200th Birthday of Wagner


Happy Birthday, Richard Wagner! In 2013, Germany celebrates the 200th birthday of one of his most famous composers. Well known all over the world for his operas (among them, the longest one ever written, the 18-hour long Ring Cycle), Germany honors Wagner and his musical achievements with concerts, festivals, and special exhibitions.
Here’s where you can pay tribute to Richard Wagner, learn about his fascinating life, and enjoy some first-class music in Germany.

1. Richard Wagner Festival in Leipzig

Leipzig, where Wagner was born on May 22, 1813, celebrates the bicentenary of his birth with range of events under the slogan "Richard - Leipzig born and bred"; a highlight in 2013 will be the Leipzig Wagner Festival, which presents some of Wagner's most famous operas including 'Parsifal', 'Rheingold' and a children's version of 'The Ring of the Nibelung'. Coinciding with the festival is the Wagner Congress for the international Wagner associations, as well as a six-day musicology conference at Leipzig University on the life, work and legacy of the city's famous son (May 16 to 26, 2013).

2. Richard Wagner Exhibitions in Leipzig

After Johann Sebastian Bach was honored with the modern and interactive Bach Museum in Leipzig, a new Richard Wagner Museum will be opening on 21 May 2013 at the Alte Nikolaischule, the former school of Wagner. The museum will be home to the permanent exhibition 'The Young Richard Wagner', focusing on the composer’s childhood, youth, and musical training in Leipzig. The exhibition 'Richard Wagner – Between Leipzig and Bayreuth' at the Leipzig Museum of City History explores defining moments in the composer's life (February 13 to May 26, 2013). If you want to follow Wagner’s footsteps in his home town, take the “Wagner Walk in Leipzig", a tour organized by the Leipzig Richard Wagner, leading you to 25 interesting points of interest in and around the city.

3. Richard Wagner Festspiele Bayreuth

No other German city is as strongly associated with Wagner as Bayreuth, where the composer lived and worked for 10 years (his former home is now a museum, currently closed for renovation). Every year, the city honors the composer with the prestigious Bayreuther Festspiele, which draw Wagnerians from all the world; in 2013, the music festival stages a new production of 'The Ring of the Nibelung', as well as early and rarely-seen operas such as 'The Fairies', 'The Ban on Love' and 'Rienzi'. For information on more lectures talks, exhibitions, and Wagner concerts for kids, check out the official Bayreuth 2013 website.

4. Concerts in Nuremberg

Wagner’s comic opera, The Mastersingers of Nuremberg, is set in the 950-year old city of Nürnberg, Bavaria’s second largest city. Nuremberg visitors can trace the footsteps of the opera's mastersingers and craftsmen on a special guided tour through the historical city. In 2013, Nuremberg is also hosting a whole series of events themed on 'The Mastersingers of Nuremberg'; a highlight will be the concert of the Nuremberg State Theatre, which performs the famous festival meadow scene in its original setting on the city’s historic market square (July 25, 2013).

5. Concerts in Dresden

Another city closely associated with Richard Wagner is Dresden; the composer was appointed musical director for the Royal Court of Saxony, and his opera “The Flying Dutchman" premiered at the lavish Semper Opera. You can experience the oratorio 'The Feast of Pentecost' at the fascinating Church of Our Lady (May 18, 2013) during the Dresden Music Festival. Not far from Dresden, in the neighboring village of Graupa, you’ll find the Lohengrin House, where Wagner wrote his opera of the same name; the residence is still intact and houses two rooms filled with authentic furnishings. Also in Graupa, the newly opened Richard Wagner Museum explores the composer’s years in Saxony.

6. Wartburg Castle Concerts

While on a journey from Paris to Thuringia, Wagner made a stopover in Eisenach. He was so impressed by the nearby Wartburg Castle that he made it the setting for his opera 'Tannhäuser'. In 2013, you can listen to the opera in the authentic setting of the banqueting hall of the castle. At the foot of Wartburg Castle, you can deepen your knowledge about the composer by visiting the Reuter Wagner Museum, which opened its first exhibition about the musician in 1897.
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