Richard Wagner is born on 22 May in
When his father Carl dies six months later, he is adopted by the actor and painter Ludwig Geyer. Studying at Leipzig University and with the Kantor of the Thomaskirche, he writes his first keyboard and orchestral works, including a Symphony in C major. Accompanied by his wife
an actress, he moves to Riga as the new musical director of the Latvian town’s theatre. Though employed as Kapellmeister at the King of Saxony’s court, he takes part in insurrectionist activities in Dresden. The following year he has to flee to Switzerland.
Relieved of his debts by Otto Wesendonck, a wealthy silk merchant, he composes the first two operas of the cycle plus, inspired by his affair with Wesendonck’s wife Mathilde, Tristan und Isolde. Supported by Ludwig II of Bavaria, Wagner founds a theatre to stage his Bayreuth operas. It opens with Das Rheingold in August 1876. He dies of a heart attack in Venice, where he is resident with his second wife, Cosima. His body is taken to Bayreuth for burial. BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE At the battle of
Leipzig in October,
army is comprehensively defeated by the coalition forces of
German troops fighting for the French emperor defect. With political demonstrations banned, protesters in the German Palatinate region organise the Hambach Festival to demand democracy, liberty and national unity.
The German author and playwright Georg Büchner, whose influential works include the unfinished play dies in Zürich at the age of just 23. As uprisings spread right across Europe, the ‘March Revolution’ sees mass demonstrations take place in a number of states in the south and west of Germany. Previously banned after the 1848 uprisings, the Turnverein München fitness club is re-established. It later becomes famous as the football club TSV 1860 Munich. Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche publishes his first book, The Birth of Tragedy, in which he identifies two key trends in Ancient Greek culture: the ‘Dionysian’ and ‘Apollonian’. the microbiologist widely regarded as the father of modern bacteriology, identifies under a microscope the bacillus responsible for causing cholera.