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Richard Wagner, one of the most influential German composers, was born in Leipzig in 1813. His stepfather brought the world of the theater into Wagner's life, and it fascinated him. As a youth, he began studying musical composition and wrote a number of pieces. His professional music career began in 1833 with an appointment as chorusmaster of the Wurzburg Theater. This was followed by several positions producing operas---his own and those of other composers. After success with his opera Rienzi in 1842 and The Flying Dutchman in 1843, Wagner became director of the opera at Dresden. During his stay there, he wrote Tannhauser (1845) and Lohengrin (1846--48). Political troubles in Germany in 1848 forced Wagner to leave Dresden and flee to Switzerland, where he remained for several years. While in exile, Wagner wrote a series of essays about opera and also began work on The Ring of the Nibelung, a cycle of four musical dramas based on ancient Germanic folklore. Among the other notable operas Wagner wrote are Tristan und Isolde (1857--59), Die Meister__singer von Nurnberg (1862--67), and Parsifal (1882). In 1870, following a series of love affairs, Wagner married Cosima, Franz Liszt's daughter. Wagner wrote both music and libretto for all his operas. Calling these operas "music-dramas," he sought to achieve a complete union between music and drama. In so doing, he created a new operatic form and transferred the center of the operatic world from Italy to Germany. In 1876 Wagner opened the Festival Theater in Bayreuth, which was dedicated to the preservation of his operas. Wagner's operatic music is highly dramatic and builds to amazing climaxes. His work symbolizes the synthesis of all of the arts in opera---the dramatic content and the scenery as well as the music---and had a great influence on all operatic composers who came after him. Especially significant was Wagner's view of opera as drama, with all components working in harmony. Equally significant was his use of continuous music throughout the opera, with the orchestra maintaining continuity within the divisions of the drama. Wagner died on February 13, 1883, of a heart attack.