Richard Wagner
Copyright Michael D. Robbins 2005

Astro-Rayological Interpretation & Charts
Images and Physiognomic Interpretation

to Volume 3 Table of Contents


Richard Wagner -- Composer, Music-Dramatist, Author
Michael D. Robbins © 2002

May 22, 1813, Leipzig, Germany, about 4:00 AM, LMT. There is a rectification to 4:11 AM LMT by Bailey from "sunrise" given in a biography by A. Ellis. Appears in BJA 10/1928. The author proposes consideration of another rectified time of 4:02:35 AM. Several charts are shown, each having different features worthy of consideration.



Listed above are four charts for Richard Wagner. They are as follows:

1. The chart for 4:02:35 AM, provisionally rectified by the author, provides an Ascendant in the last degree of Taurus and retains a Capricorn MC.

2. The chart for 4:11 AM, rectified by E.E. Bailey in 1928 from a “sunrise” time given in a biography on Wagner by Ellis, has a Gemini Ascendant and a Capricorn MC.

3. A original chart for “sunrise”, 4:00 AM has a Taurus Ascendant and a Capricorn MC.

4. A chart for 4:11:15 AM is offered; at this time the MC changes from Capricorn to Aquarius. Given Wagner’s status as a musical revolutionary, the possibility of an Aquarius MC must be examined. The Sabian Symbol for this degree is “An Old Adobe Mission in California” and reveals, according to Dane Rudhyar, “the power inherent in all great human works to endure far beyond the workers’ life span”. It further signifies “The Concretization of an Ideal”. The aptness of this symbol is apparent given Richard Wagner’s lasting impression upon the psyche of humanity. Again, however, if the time is unsupported by other evidence, it cannot be used with confidence. The ascending degree necessitated by the choice of an Aquarian MC is, however, less appropriate, and even, inappropriate as it suggests “formalism” rather than the expansive, romantic, revolutionary spirit.

5. Somewhere within this time span, however, if not shortly before, Richard Wagner was, in all probability, born.

(Some probable and some definite positions are as follows: Ascendant, Taurus or Gemini Midheaven, either Capricorn or Aquarius; Sun, Gemini; Moon and Mars in Aquarius; Mercury and Venus in Taurus; Jupiter, Leo; Saturn, Capricorn; Uranus, Scorpio; Neptune, Sagittarius; Pluto, Pisces.

The probable times of birth are within an approximately fifteen minute range, but significant changes of the Ascendant and Midheaven occurred within this short period.

The major questions to be answered are the following:

1. Was Wagner’s Ascendant Gemini or Taurus? Both of these signs are well represented in his chart. Gemini, the Sun Sign is ruled exoterically by Mercury and esoterically by Venus. Both Mercury and Venus, however, are in Taurus, thus giving him a strongly Taurean coloring even if the Ascendant were not Taurus.

2. Should the Ascendant be Taurus, then Venus in Taurus is the exoteric ruler. The Taurean emphasis would then be very strong. Vulcan would be the esoteric ruler, but because of the placement of the Sun in the first degree of Gemini, there is no immediate way to tell whether Vulcan was to be found in Gemini or in Taurus. To detect the influence of Vulcan in his music (which one can certainly do with reference to his powerful use of brass and percussion) is not, necessarily, to be assured of a Taurean Ascendant. Even if the Ascendant were Gemini, given the restriction that Vulcan must be within eight degrees of the Sun, Vulcan placed in Taurus would not be far from Venus in Taurus, and would thus still be very prominent and effective. If one must choose between Vulcan in Gemini or Taurus, there is an intuitive appeal to the Taurus position. The great (almost overpowering) orchestral effects, the resounding brass, and the thunderous percussion suggest Vulcan in the sonorous sign, Taurus.

3. These two signs, Taurus and Gemini are so intertwined that it is impossible to find a physiognomic solution; Wagner’s face reflects the presence of both signs and would whether the Ascendant were Taurus or Gemini.

4. Psychologically, as well, there is no way to differentiate. Wagner displayed the brilliance and versatility of the advanced Geminian, expressing himself outstandingly in two contrasting artistic fields—music and the written word (as seen in his libretti, essays, autobiography and several volumes of aesthetic philosophy, prophecy and criticism). As well, his understanding of sound (the domain of Taurus) was masterful, and his expression through that medium, gloriously sensuous. Sensuousness and sensuality are a particular gift of Taurus.

5. Wagner was a remarkable example of what the Tibetan calls the “Mercury-Venus mind” (EA 362). Both of these planets were placed in the sign of illumination, Taurus, and both would be emphasized regardless of whether the Ascendant were Taurus or Gemini.

6. One might have recourse to the Sabian Symbols as discriminators of quality, but this approach is not entirely reliable. The Sabian Symbols, though revelatory in many instances, are not always so, and, thus, the accuracy of a rectification cannot be judged by them alone.

7. Probably, then, the timing of progressions, directions and transits must be closely studied, and within a very narrow range. Ingresses would be especially important, and aspects to or from the progressed angles. This, however, would require a most subtle, exacting and time-consuming study.

8. While either Gemini or Taurus could be justified as an Ascendant, the question arises as to whether both Capricorn or Aquarius are justifiable as signs qualifying the Midheaven. Wagner was a great musical revolutionary, and there is much to suggest that revolutionary Aquarius (especially in its first degree) would be a convincing sign to rule the MC. However, Uranus, the planet of revolution and reformation is natally opposed to both the Gemini Sun and Venus in Taurus, and this might be sufficient cause for Wagner’s powers of to revolutionize the music (and musical practices) of his era.

9. We must also ask whether Capricorn would be a suitable sign for the MC. Saturn would then be ruler of the MC, and Saturn is already placed in Capricorn in the ninth house, demanding the formulation of a highly structured world view, emphasizing duty, responsibility and professionalism, and giving a rigidly purposeful approach to the following of his destiny and the fulfillment of his fate. But is Capricorn a sign too conservative to ruler the MC of an artistic revolutionary?

10. Again we have ambiguity through a blending and merging of qualities. Whether the MC is Capricorn or Aquarius, both Saturn and Uranus would be powerful and influential in the chart. In either case, Wagner would be a musical revolutionary (Uranus opposed Venus and the Sun) with a painstakingly conceived and tightly structured (Saturn in Capricorn) world view (ninth house).

Defense of a Taurus Ascendant

1. Although the time 4:00 AM seems very “rounded off”, there is a good possibility that the birth occurred between that time and 4:02:35, a very short window—the first time resulting in the 29th degree of Taurus rising, and the other the 30th degree.

2. It is important to know how the Bailey rectification was accomplished. If the Pre-Natal Epoch was used, it can be arbitrary and is not always reliable.

3. It is hard to ignore the probable correlation between the transit of (then undiscovered) Pluto across the Ascendant and Wagner’s sudden death. In the Taurus rising charts that transit had been achieved by the date of death, and in the 4:00 AM chart Pluto rests within twenty-three minutes of arc of the Ascendant on the day of death. In the 4:02:35 AM chart, Pluto is within thirty-four minutes of arc—both positions of Pluto, thus being less than a degree from the Ascendant. In the 4:11 AM chart (which has the second degree of Gemini rising), however, we find that Pluto has not yet reached the ascending degree even though it did venture slightly into Gemini. Thus, the full death-dealing effect would not yet be felt in either the Gemini rising chart with a Capricorn MC or a Gemini rising chart with an Aquarius MC—and yet the death had occurred.

4. Given the unstable and even shocking (Uranus) quality of Wagner’s relationship life, the closer Uranus is to the seventh house cusp, the better. With a Taurus Ascendant, Uranus is placed in the same sign as the one that rules the seventh house cusp—Scorpio. The effect of Uranus upon the seventh house and all that it rules would, therefore, be greater.

5. The Gemini rising chart for 4:11 AM places both Venus and the Sun in the twelfth house. Wagner’s life was both very public (first house) and very private (twelfth, as the lives of all serious composers must be). The Taurus Ascendant brings both Venus and the Sun into the first house, taking them into a more expressive and less retiring position.

6. The years beginning 1857 were very important for Wagner. He discovered the world-renouncing philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer, had composed more than half of the four operas which constituted the tetralogy called Der Ring des Niebelungen, had renounced the old operatic forms, and was about to embark on the adventure of composing Tristan und Isolde for which he was evolving an more advanced and complex harmonic language. During this eventful period, as well, he fell hopelessly in love with Mathilde Wesendonk (the wife of a rich patron) and this led to a separation from his wife.

If the Ascendant were late Taurus, then solar arc directed Neptune would be making a two year ‘direction’ over Wagner’s MC, relating him to world renunciation (Schopenhauer was a Piscean—ruled by Neptune), to hopeless love (Neptune is the planet of disappointment), and to the transcendental romanticism expressed in that famous yet difficult opera about doomed love, Tristan und Isolde. Should the Ascendant be the second degree of Gemini, as proposed by Bailey, solar arc directed Neptune would not have been making its passage over the MC during this period, the transiting Neptune (T-Neptune) would have been contacting natal Pluto and Ceres by conjunction, raising issues of attachment to and separation from that which is loved.

As well, in middle 1857, transiting Uranus begins its conjunction of the Ascendant. Wagner was embarking upon an entirely new tonal experiment with his new opera. He was breaking from the past—Uranian qualities. If the Ascendant were Gemini, it would be necessary to wait until the middle of 1858 before the effect of Uranus began to be felt.

With regard to the passage of Uranus over his Ascendant (and Venus) and the concomitant upheaval in his relationship life, much would depend upon when the affair with Mathilde Wesendonk actually began.

Whichever the proper Ascendant, this period would have been a time of extraordinary transformation, because Wagner’s Sun in the first degree of Gemini would have received the conjuncting transit of Uranus in 1858 as well.

7. Although Mercury as the ruler of Wagner’s Sun Sign, Gemini, is, of course, tremendously important in his chart, Venus, orthodox ruler of Taurus is even more important when considering the major value of Wagner’s life.. The Taurus Ascendant would give even more prominence to Venus. Of course, as the esoteric ruler of a Gemini Ascendant Venus would also be very significant, and in a still higher way. But it is the importance of Venus in relation to Taurus and not as the esoteric ruler of Gemini which must be accented. If the Ascendant were Gemini, the immediate emphasis of the chart would go to Mercury and, temporarily, bypasses Venus (only to emphasize it on a higher turn of the spiral—but differently). However, the extraordinary majesty, grandeur, and sensuality of Wagner’s music (and also its sheer power) seems to require the depth of an accentuated Taurus with its direct rather than more remote relation to Venus.

8. The self-admitted sensuality of Wagner’s life and his obvious self-indulgence are more consistent with the Taurus Ascendant. He appears to have had a strong sexuality (however infused with romantic motives), and Taurus (with Libra and Scorpio) is a sign emphasizing sexuality.

9. The awesome sonority of the Wagnerian orchestra is far more Taurean than Geminian. It is doubtful that his compositions could carry such overwhelming power if Gemini were the Ascendant as well as the Sun Sign.

10. Wagner was often is financial difficulty. When money was available he spent lavishly (Jupiter in Leo combined with Taurean self-indulgence). He was always in need of more, and his problem was to substantiate and manifest his great ideas. Substantiation is a theme related to Taurus.

11. The Sabian Degree for the last degree of Taurus is unusually apt when considering Wagner’s character: “A Peacock Parading on the Terrace of an Old Castle”; “The personal display of inherited gifts”; “Consummation”. Considering the royal patronage lavished upon Wagner by Ludwig II of Bavaria (as well as Wagner’s visits to Ludwig’s world-renowned castles) the symbol could hardly be more appropriate. Moreover, as Dane Rudhyar reminds us, the “peacock is the bird consecrated to Venus”—ruler of Taurus, and exactly on the Ascendant if the 30th degree of Taurus is used as the ascending degree, for Venus is also in the 30th degree.

12. Either of the Taurus ascending degrees (the 29th or the 30th) preserve the 28th degree of Capricorn on the Midheaven. The symbolism for this degree is: “A Large Aviary”; “The enjoyment of spiritual values by the soul able to familiarize itself with their implications”; and most significantly—“Clairaudience”. Given Wagner’s sensitivity to what might be called the higher ‘sound currents’, or the ‘voices of angels’, this symbol too (note, another bird symbol) is rather persuasive. Birds are related to the Deva Kingdom, by whom Wagner was so inspired, and some of his most evocative music portrays the singing of birds (as in the opening of the second act of Siegfried).

13. The Pleiades are a symbol of the “Divine Feminine”, by which Wagner was so captivated—both personally and artistically. The 4:00 AM time places Alcyone of the Pleiades within less than a degree from the Ascendant, the 4:02:35 AM time, within approximately a degree and a half. A late Taurean Ascendant still maintains the Pleiadian ‘touch’, which would be relinquished with a Gemini Ascendant. Wagner’s great devic inspiration can be related to the influence of these beautiful stars, for the Pleiades are closely connected to devas or angels.

14. Wagner was, in a way, a great pantheist, and Germanic “Nature worship” resounds through his scores. Taurus is a sign, far more than Gemini, which places the individual in close communion with Nature and its mysteries”. There is in Wagner’s operas the intimation of a great Force, a natural Presence of “God” in the very substance of our being—a Presence in matter and form more fittingly associated with Taurus than with Gemini.

15. The progressed Ascendant had not yet emerged into Leo in the Taurus-ascending charts when Wagner died. It did so, however, in the 4:11 AM, Gemini rising chart. It can be questioned whether the Leo ingress was ever actually reached. The fourth house, and by extension, its cognate sign, Cancer, in which the progressed Ascendant would still remain (where the Taurus Ascendants chosen) represent the “end of life”.

16. It can also be asked, which planet is more representative of Wagner’s scandalous relationship life—Jupiter in Leo in the house of home, the fourth, (which would the ruler of the seventh house cusp if Gemini were used as the Ascendant), or aggressive Mars (ruler of Scorpio seventh house cusp in the Taurus rising charts), prominently placed in the very visible tenth house of reputation where scandal will out? Mars in Aquarius (trine to Venus in late Taurus) can indicate his promiscuity and his lack of respect for boundaries—especially in relation to the wives of his patrons and sponsors. Even with a Scorpio Descendent, Jupiter will necessarily be a co-ruler of the seventh house, and, through its position in the fourth house and as ruler of the eighth house, would relate to the patronage he received from wealthy benefactors and even royalty (Ludwig II). But with Sagittarius as the ruler of the seventh house cusp, Mars would not be a co-ruler of that house. Sexual Mars in diffusive Aquarius can be correlated with promiscuity, and with the lower mantram of Aquarius, “Let Desire in Form be Ruler”.

17. There is a tremendous quality of persistence in Wagner’s operas. He is not in a hurry, and many have considered his marathon creations as ponderous and tedious in many sections. Taurus is a sign which (often self-indulgently) “takes its time”. Gemini moves rapidly from point to point, often fleeing boredom. Wagner was the master of the slow build-up to a tremendous sonic climax. His power to sustain suspense, to prolong intensification, was remarkable (and demanding upon his audiences). Clearly, this characteristic mode of expression (advancing slowly and relentlessly towards a glorious orgasm of sound) is intimately related to Taurus rather than to Gemini. Think of the music of Gioacchino Rossini, so light, nimble, so humorous, so Geminian! Wagner’s operas are renowned for their heaviness—clearly the influence of Taurus and Vulcan. To the author, this admittedly subjective reason for choosing Taurus as Wagner’s Ascendant is very convincing.

18. Wagner’s operas provide a continuous vocal-symphonic texture, an unbroken flow of psychologically evocative melody and motif vividly portraying the meaning of not only the outer events in his narrative, but, especially, of the inner psychological strata implicit in those events. The great continuity of symphonic-melodic flow (“endless melody”) points to a sign (and its ruling planet) the essential nature of which is persistence and continuity. Taurus and Vulcan both represent the “Will-to-Persist”, and are sharply contrasted with a major sign of discontinuity—Gemini. Gemini, however, would provide the complexity and interweaving which characterized the fabric of this persistent melodic flow. In all fairness, Gemini in relation to conversation, is capable of going “on and on”. But then, Gemini is well represented already by a first degree Geminian Sun.

19. If we evaluate Wagner’s greatest contribution to the evolution of human consciousness, and we (albeit, dividing that which should not be divided) seek to compare his voluminous flow of words (Gemini) with the thrilling cascade of sound (Taurus) which he lavished upon his listeners, reasonable judgment would, in the opinion of the author, inevitably decide in favor of sound. Wagner would not be especially well-remembered for his words alone (or only to a much lesser extent), but his music represents one of the great achievements of the human soul. Of course, there is already sufficient Taurus to account for the great sounds he created, but the Ascendant is that point in the astrological chart which indicates the will and direction of the soul in any one incarnation, and Taurus (the sign of the voice, and hence, intimately affiliated with opera—his only real medium of musical expression) is the sign more fittingly establishing the soul’s intention.

20. Interestingly Wagner’s final philosophic position appears to have been a mixture of world-renouncing Buddhism (inspired by Schopenhauer) and compassionate, universal Christianity—embracing the redeeming quality of the Christ Force. Taurus is the sign most connected with Buddhism (for the Buddha, a Taurean, renounced the World of Maya and achieved freedom from desire). Wagner’s final home was called “Wahnfried” (“Freedom from Illusion”). Gemini is, as esotericists will recognize, more related to the Christ. As ever with Wagner, there was blend between the two.

Defense of a Gemini Ascendant

1. A Gemini Ascendant calculated for the time 4:11:15 AM will place Aquarius on the Midheaven. Some feel that rulership of the MC by Aquarius (and its ruling planet, Uranus) is the only way to explain Wagner’s revolutionary effect in the field of music and, especially, opera.

2. Wagner was also a social revolutionary. Uranus, the planet of revolution, would be placed quite near (within seven or so degrees) of the seventh house cusp, were Aquarius the MC, which would occur if the early third degree of Gemini were rising. In the period of 1848-1849, when Wagner became preoccupied with ideas of social regeneration, he wished to take control of the opera away from the court and create a national theatre whose productions would be chosen by a union of dramatists and composers. This all sounds very Aquarian. The question is, is the position of Uranus opposite Venus and the Sun (in all charts), and the even closer proximity of Uranus to the seventh house cusp in the Taurus rising charts, plus Mars in Aquarius near any of the Midheavens, sufficient to arouse this revolutionary spirit, or is an Aquarian MC also needed? We have to remember that Uranus is exalted in the sign Scorpio, and since it is quite angular as well, it would be sufficiently powerful regardless of whether it was the ruler of the MC.

3. The Sabian Symbol for the first degree of Aquarius, which would rule the Midheaven at a time sufficiently advanced (namely 4:11:15 AM) is, “An Old Adobe Mission in California”; “the Power inherent in all great human works to endure far beyond the workers’ life spans”; “The Concretization of an Ideal”. This symbol is certainly convincing in the light of Wagner’s amazing and enduring creative achievements.

4. Many times in his life Wagner had to take flight for one reason or another—whether to escape his debts and creditors or to escape imprisonment, or simply to escape public censure and adverse public opinion. It can be asked whether a Gemini Ascendant (adding its tendencies to a Gemini Sun Sign) would not be more in keeping with his tendency to run when under pressure.

5. Wagner’s life was one of startling contradiction; he was at once a transcendent genius and yet a man whose morals and good faith with others hardly lived up to even a mediocre standard. Perhaps the Gemini Sun would be enough to incline towards this blatantly hypocritical pattern of behavior; the inconsistencies, however, would surely be multiplied if both the Sun and Ascendant were found in Gemini.

6. When one considers the major themes of Wagner’s last opera, Parsifal, it is strongly Christ-centered. Gemini is the “Head of the Cosmic Christ”, and a sign in which the Christ, Maitreya (or any Christ) makes a great achievement, a profound identification with the dual Love-Wisdom Ray of the Solar Logos. If we think of the goal of Wagner’s life as an achieved identification with the Christ and the Hierarchy, then a Gemini Ascendant is entirely appropriate. To choose Gemini in this manner would be a qualitative solution, and from a certain high metaphysical level, it is convincing; however, strict observance of the timing of transits, progressions and directions is a more trustworthy method of ascertaining the correct time of birth..

Conclusion Regarding the Rising Sign

1. It is impossible to conclude with utter certainty whether Taurus or Gemini was the sign rising in Wagner’s chart at the time of his birth. Thus, it is impossible to conclude whether Capricorn or Aquarius was the sign ruling his Midheaven. Even if Gemini were the Ascendant, only a time sufficiently advanced (4:11:15 AM) would yield an Aquarius MC.

2. The preponderance of evidence, however, (at least in the estimation of the author) points to the likelihood of Taurus. If Taurus is chosen, however, one has to live (a bit uncomfortably) with a few progressions and eclipses which would more neatly fit the Gemini Ascendant and even the Aquarius MC, but discomfort cannot be avoided simply by choosing Gemini, because of still other progressions, directions and eclipses which would more suitably fit the Taurus rising chart.

3. In our search for certainty we are faced with an annoying ambiguity (after all, we are dealing with the Geminian energy), but can console ourselves with the thought that both Taurus and Gemini are inescapably important in Wagner’s life, and that either type of chart (whether Taurus or Gemini rising) will account in its own way for the influence of these two signs.

4. Given the preponderance of evidence in favor of a Taurus rising chart (and despite the rectification of the notable astrologer E.E.) Bailey, the interpretation of Wagner’s chart will proceed as if Taurus were the most suitable Ascendant.

Chart Analysis

Richard Wagner was a great genius—a consummate music-dramatist to who carried German Romanticism to it fullest expression. A controversial and fascinating figure, he inspired generations of musicians to come, yet he was notorious for his flagrant disregard of the moral and ethical standards of his day. Ever convinced of his own artistic and literary gifts, he had a revolutionary impact upon the music of the nineteenth century. Whether loved or hated for his musical innovations, he became impossible to ignore.

It is said that even the Masters of the Wisdom were amazed by Wagner’s creativity, wondering how any human being could possibly produce such extraordinarily beautiful music—music so reflective of the higher, fiery worlds. Some esotericists have said that Wagner was inspired by great devas, and increasingly lost touch with behavioral standards expected of normal human beings. Surely he life was committed to the expression of his own genius, in which he implicitly believed; skillfully and insistently, he availed himself of every opportunity to advance his artistic cause.

Wagner was a romantic in the truest sense. His psychological universe was vast. He longed for the indefinable, the transcendent, and pursuing his will to express the highest mystical and unitive experiences of human-divine love as well as the terror of the hellish psychic depths, he broke through conventional musical forms and developed an unprecedented musico-dramatic language entirely his own.

His operas almost always revolved around supernatural, mythological or religious/spiritual themes. His subtle, intuitive thinking led him deep into the collective psyche of humanity (Jung’s Collective Unconscious), and he was seized by a fascination for eternal archetypes themes belonging more to the realm of the “gods” than to the dramas of ordinary human life. His operas bring these two worlds (the numinous and the human) together, always giving greater depth and significance to the little affairs of mere mortals. Always some greater, universal power is attempting to express itself through his protagonists—so often the power of ecstatic, divinely-inspired, redemptive love, but equally, the terrible, baleful, malevolent forces of the underworld—standing ever opposed to the promised ascension in love. Many of his operas are tragedy on a grand scale; the protagonists are merely pawns of the gods and are doomed to destruction by the fates, by laws and curses for which they bear no responsibility and which they can neither understand nor overcome. A great war is raging between the gods and men. Man is hero-victim of divine and infernal agencies which relentlessly demand the frustration of his human happiness and almost always the forfeit of his life; but with super-human fortitude, the hero rises undaunted against these overwhelming forces and, though doomed, proves through self-sacrifice the nobility of his spirit.

Is man a god? Are the gods but men? There is no clear line between them—both wrestle with the same grave issues, and both are doomed. In Wagner’s psyche, the ancient gods of the Germanic Races struggle with the redemptive power of love—harbinger of a new relationship between man and the great, unitive “God”. The ancient fateful psyche (from which man-as-man finds no ready escape) is in dire contest with the new forces of deliverance released by the Christ—the Savior and Redeemer.

Wagner’s spiritual pilgrimage was long and full of agonizing turmoil, but by the time his last opera, Parsifal, was completed, his life mission had been accomplished, and redemption had come. The ancient gods had been defeated, and man was free in his new-found innocence nourished by purity, brotherhood and love. The journey had been tragic—full of loss, disappointment and grief—but, at last, salvation was the reward. Richard Wagner died less that a year after the first performance of what many consider his greatest and most spiritual work—Parsifal.

A List of Wagner’s Major Operas

1. Die Feen (The Fairies—1843)

2. Das Liebesverbot (The Ban on Love—1835–36)

3. Rienzi (1838-1840, performed 1842)

4. Der Fliegende Holländer (The Flying Dutchman—1841, performed 1843)

5. Tannhaüser (1843-1844, performed 1845)

6. Lohengrin (1846-1848, performed 1850)

7. Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (The Mastersingers of Nurnberg—1862-1867)

8. Tristan und Isolde (composed 1857-1859; performed 1865)

9. Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung—1853-1873) including: Das Rheingold (The Rhine-Gold—1853–54); Die Walküre (1854–56), and two acts of Siegfried (1856–69); the third act of Siegfried and Götterdämmerung (The Twilight of the Gods—1872-1874)

10. Parsifal (1877-1882)

An Estimation of Richard Wagner’s Rays

Monad: Undetermined, but the subray of the monad is likely to be Ray Four

Soul: Ray IV, possibly transiting to Ray II

Personality: Ray 1

Mental Vehicle: Ray 4 with elements of R1 and R3

Astral/Emotional Vehicle: Ray 6

Etheric-Physical Vehicle: Ray 3

It is always difficult to assess the monadic ray—the so-called “x-factor” in the energy structure of a human being. With highly developed and prominent people, the soul ray is seen to be emergent (but still caution is required). The monadic ray is even more remote and only comes into quite full manifestation in the case of an initiate of the rank of Master.

It is unlikely that Wagner’s monadic ray is the first. First of all, the odds are against it, only five billion of the sixty-billion human monads being on the first ray. Further, the majority of those with first ray monads incarnated in Atlantis and so have had little time, relatively, to pursue their development. The most probable rays are the third or second with the fourth ray being a very reasonable monadic sub-ray. These monadic subrays can be highly important in determining the line of hierarchical service. For instance, since the major monadic ray can be only the first, second or third, we can assume that the sub-monadic ray of the Master Jesus is the sixth and that the sub-monadic ray of the Master Hilarion is the fifth, yet these subrays are sufficient to empower them to be Chohans of the sixth and fifth ray ashrams respectively. With regard to the third and second rays in relation to Wagner, there can be no doubt of his great intelligence aligning him with the third Ray of Creative Intelligence. We also see, however, that his yearning for transcendental love was profound, and his last and climactic opera, Parsifal, is, of all his operas, written and composed upon the redemptive second ray.

The astrological conduits for the second ray are several, but only one sign/constellation. The constellational conduit is his Sun Sign, Gemini, which transmits (in any obvious way) only the second ray—at least from the sign/constellation level. Jupiter, the major planet of the second ray must also be considered, and significantly, Jupiter is found in Leo, the sign of the heart—a sign particularly associated with the manifestation of the causal body and of the Solar Angel through that body. Both the causal body and the Solar Angel are, regardless of the ray which may specifically condition them, generically upon the second ray. Further, Jupiter is placed in a house congenial to its expression—the fourth—which is the house of its exaltation (though Jupiter is not in the sign of its exaltation). Venus, which distributes the second ray (probably in its personality nature) is exactly on the Ascendant of the proposed chart (and very near the Ascendant of the other charts), so it is significant as a second ray distributor, especially as it is found in the second sign, Taurus, associated with the wisdom aspect of the second ray. A close gathering of parallels also promotes the expression of the second ray, as we find Venus, the Ascendant, Jupiter and the Sun all within thirty-five minutes of arc of each other. Each of these planets has a strong second ray component, and the Ascendant is signally an indicator of soul intention in the astrological chart of any advanced individual. The soul, regardless of its ray, represents the second aspect of divinity.

The soul of Wagner, like that of Bach, Beethoven and Brahms (all of them consummate German composers) appears to have been focused on the fourth Ray of Harmony, Beauty and Art—the soul ray of Germany. Is it the fourth ray soul of Germany that has caused it to produce so many of the world’s greatest musicians? Are its soul sign Aries and its personality sign, Pisces also involved—for Pisces, especially, is a sign much related to music.

Wagner considered himself to be as much as dramatist as a musician, and his music was of an exceptionally dramatic nature—often sublimely delicate and diaphanous, shimmering and transparent; but as often thunderous and overpowering. He portrayed the entire range of possible emotions—from the most noble and aspiring, to the most dreadful and malignant. His relation to the soul of Germany was on a deeply mythological level. Within his psyche the great conflict between the archetypes of good and evil battled for supremacy. His operas are a spectacular outpicturing of the of his tortured, warring psyche longing for peace and redemption. In view of his conflicted nature and its consummate expression on an heroic scale through his art, the Ray of Harmony through Conflict seems the most suitable choice for soul ray. The soul ray is the ‘Ray of Contribution’, and surely the music-dramas of Richard Wagner were his great legacy to humanity.

The conduits for the fourth ray are significant. Three signs/constellations convey the fourth ray: Taurus, Scorpio and Sagittarius. Wagner has significant planetary placements in each of these: Mercury and Venus (brilliant planets of the mind) in Taurus (which sign may as well be the focus of the Ascendant); Uranus (the “Revolutionary”) in Scorpio and there exalted; Neptune (the “Transcendentalist”) in Sagittarius. These planets (all of them) are not far from the Ascendant/Descendent axis (giving them added power), with both beautiful Venus and shocking Uranus being on or virtually on that axis. The Ascendant/Descendent is the axis of identity and relationship—both outstandingly important dimensions of Wagner’s life. He was ever aware of who he was and the nature of his soul mission; he was ever involved in the most intense, challenging and transformational relationships and friendships. The strong representation of the fourth ray in the astrological chart made it possible for him to bring his soul quality vividly and vibrantly (but rarely comfortably) into the midst of his personality life.

There is some reason to believe that his fourth ray soul may have been refocussing upon the second ray—especially near the end of his life. The themes which preoccupied him in Parsifal related more to the second ray than the fourth, though the fourth (indicating the constant drama of the conflict between good and evil) was never far from the surface. Perhaps, Wagner, genius that he was, was passing through the third initiation, and becoming responsive to the ray of the monad (the major ray of which is possibly the second). The Tibetan speaks of those who transfer from the fourth ray to the second; it is one of the usual modes of soul ray transfer, but the fourth ray can, equally, transfer on to the third. The conduits for the second ray have already been examined.

Many studying the personal life of Wagner conclude that he was a supreme egotist—a man full of himself, selfish, careless of the rights of others and maddeningly ungrateful. Of course to his true friends (and he was a good and loyal friend to some), he was entirely otherwise—further evidences of Geminian duality. His demanding and overbearing nature and the foregoing catalogue of negative qualities can all be attributed with reason to a first ray personality. There were many positive qualities equally associated with the first ray: artistic integrity, the ability to work alone and without psychological support, unwavering purposefulness on the level of his mission, persistence and an unrelenting drive towards the fulfillment of his artistic objectives (all these strengthened by the idealistic sixth ray which is hypothesized as the ray of his astral vehicle).

The first ray, like the fourth, has important conduits into the chart. Constellationally, Leo (holding grand, or grandiose, Jupiter) is one; Capricorn containing Saturn, and endowing Wagner with strong discipline (at least in the area of philosophical thought and the formulation of a coherent world view) is another. Juno, a relatively minor influence, is found in the other first ray sign, Aries. Forceful and revolutionary Mars (a partially first ray planet) is in Aquarius and elevated quite near to the MC. Electric Uranus (monadically upon the first ray) is in the sign having much resonance with the first ray, Scorpio. Since Scorpio is, archetypally, the sign of the great first ray hero, Hercules, and near the Descendant, it would be another powerful conduit for the first ray. If Taurus is the Ascendant, then first Vulcan would be the esoteric ruler, and, necessarily, very close to the Ascendant. Wagner loved to write about Vulcanian characters—his Nibelungen, dwarves who live in the interior of the earth. The anvil and the hammer are also strong iimages, especially in the Ring Cycle. Wagner’s Vulcanian “Will-to-Persist” has already been noted. One can see how much a Vulcan placement near the Ascendant would strengthen a first ray personality.

Wagner’s mind was wide and versatile—in short that of an advanced Geminian. It may be hard to put any single ray upon it, but the fourth ray (manifesting with Geminian fluidity) and the first ray (impressed from his personality) both characterized his thought process. One of the key planets of mind, and the orthodox ruler of his Gemini Sun Sign, is Mercury found in the twelfth house in fourth ray Taurus. Because of the Sun’s position in the first degree of Gemini, Vulcan, which can never be more than eight degrees from the Sun (on either side) could not be conjunct Mercury, though a conjunction of Vulcan with Venus is possible. Mercury is strengthened however by its conjunction with one of the alternative Ascendants (the Equatorial Ascendant), and by the fact that forceful Mars (a carrier of the first ray) squares it from the tenth house. So, Wagner for all his poetic fluidity, was forceful in the expression of his opinions—a first ray quality. The third ray as well, cannot be ignored because of the complexity of Wagner’s mind as reflected in the complexity of his verse.

There can be little doubt that Wagner’s astral vehicle was upon the intense, aspiring and inspiring sixth Ray of Devotion and Idealism. There is little of the emotional serenity and relaxed detachment of the second ray. It is not possible to think that the longing, exaltation and depression expressed in his music could have been composed were the astral vehicle on the second ray. Probably, since the fourth ray was so strong (hypothetically the sub-monadic ray, the ray of the soul, and a major ray of the mind), it would have been influential in the astral field as well, since the astral body is archetypally reflective of the soul.

It is difficult to assess the ray of the physical-etheric body (perhaps close personal contact and observation are necessary), but one gets the sense of Wagner as a man with an active outer form. Certainly, he moved from place to place, either visiting, fleeing, or frequently taking up a new residence. Third ray Saturn in sometimes third ray Capricorn are important conduits of the third ray, as is Gemini the third sign of the zodiac. He also had a particular gravitation to Paris, France (thus resonating with the third ray personality of France). If Gemini were rising as well as being the Sun Sign, third ray mobility would have been increased; if Taurus were the Ascendant, it would have been decreased accordingly.

Significant Astrological Features in Richard Wagner’s Chart

1. The Ascendant in Taurus, ruled exoterically by Venus and esoterically by Vulcan, and being quite close to the Pleiades (either conjunct or within a degree and a half), would relate Wagner to what might be called the ‘flow of celestial song’. No sign/constellation of the zodiac is more intimately related to the manifestation of sound. Taurus rules both the ears and the vocal apparatus.

2. The Sun is in the first degree of Gemini, the Sabian Symbol for which is: “A Glass-Bottomed Boat Reveals Undersea Wonders”: “The revelation of unconscious energies and submerged psychic structures”; “A New Dimension of Reality”. The tremendous fertility, fluidity and prolixity of Wagner’s mind are revealed through the sign Gemini and through the symbolism of its first degree. Mentally and intuitively he could soar into the heights of superconscious perception, and plumb the depths of the archaic psyche—either domain being usually sealed to the average inquirer. He not only created magnificent opera, but he demanded that his audience rise above a desire for mere entertainment and being really to think (Gemini) about the great issues facing every aspiring human being.

3. The entire system of “leit motifs” (“leading motifs”—short, expressive musical phrases) through which the orchestra and/or the vocalist communicates both the overt and subtle meanings of the stage action, and the normally invisible psychological complexity of the characters, is facilitated by the Gemini Sun Sign position—especially in the first degree which promotes contact with elusive and intangible “wonders” of the heights and depths—normally undetected. Throughout the continuous flow of his music (Venus in Taurus), Wagner is communicating (Gemini) his multi-layered thought (Gemini). The complex weaving of these motifs inclines one to search for a third ray component to the mind.

4. Note that the Sun is trine to a nervously intense Mars in Aquarius (providing abundant vitality generated through thought), and sextile to splendid Jupiter in Leo, giving breadth, scope and grandeur to his thought. Jupiter and Mars are opposed, giving ambition and the desire to accomplish great things. Jupiter is further related to the Sun by a close parallel of declination. Taken together they indicate a great expansion of the heart center; or they can manifest as an inflated self-opinion—conceit.

5. That Wagner was a revolutionary—not only in the arts but in relation to society can be seen by his opposition of Uranus in Scorpio to his Gemini Sun. That Uranus is in destructive regenerative Scorpio and angular, adds power and intensity to his revolutionary intent.

6. Mars represents the solar plexus center and Jupiter the heart. Clearly there is an opposition between them, and thus an activation and a transference of energy from Mars to Jupiter. Jupiter is clearly the more important and spiritual planet in this pattern, and triumphs in fulness towards the end of the incarnation.

7. One must point to an all-important conjunction between the Sun in Gemini and Venus in the last degree of Taurus. This conjunction is frequently found in lovers and creators of beauty. In these two signs, the conjunction magnifies light and intelligence. It bestows the capacity to write about (Gemini) the arts (Venus). Wagner was certainly a great aesthetic philosopher and articulate advocate of his revolutionary aesthetic theories.

8. Wagner’s Moon is found in the seventeenth degree of Aquarius, and it is conjunct the South Node—a union of two astrological indicators of past conditions. The Moon in this position bestows upon Wagner the ability to relate to many people and groups of people. It gave him skill in as an theatrical director and orchestral conductor, and allowed him to distribute his energies widely. It probably contributed to considerable diversification and over-extension, especially in the early days. On a mundane level, it contributed to Wagner’s susceptibility to heart and circulatory problems.

9. We might say that Wagner inherited (from his previous incarnations) a wide diversity of contacts. His world renown is favored by this Moon position. Which of the three veiled planets did the Moon veil? The Moon in Aquarius is, after all, the hierarchical position, and is related to all three—Vulcan, Neptune and Uranus. There is much of universality which comes through this elevated Moon position, and the probability is, that it accessed each of the planets at different times.

10. Mercury is found in Taurus in the twelfth house. It is not that Wagner was inarticulate or unexpressive as sometimes accords with a twelfth house position of the planet of communication—quite the contrary. The luminosity of the Taurus Mercury was, however, focussed upon the deep psyche of humanity (twelfth house). A powerful T-square between Mercury, Mars and Jupiter reveals something of the quality and intensity of this thought. Mars and Jupiter together give ambition, and the refusal to limit one’s scope. Mars square Mercury confers a sharp and aggressive mind given to argument and polemics; critical and even cruel speech may result. Jupiter square Mercury contributes to great thoughts—perhaps too many of them—vast in scope. Prolixity may result—writing too much, speaking too much. There were many verbal attacks and counter-attacks in Wagner’s life, Controversy (Mars square Mercury) raged around him, and of him, much was said (Jupiter square Mercury).

11. The close sextile of Chiron (mentor, healer and guide) to Mercury, accounts for the teaching function of Wagner’s approach to the arts, and to the healing potential of his music. Chiron is found in Pisces where it can be powerful to heal through compassion. Wagner, like Shakespeare had, in many lives, seen much and understood much about the joys and sorrows of the human condition. Through his later works there flows a great compassion for humanity—even as in Shakespeare. There is no sign more capable of identification with the human condition than Pisces (a sign partially upon the second ray). Chiron, as well, partially upon the second ray, has its deeper potentials drawn forth within this sign.

12. Venus was one of Wagner’s favorite themes—whether as a seductive, almost irresistibly alluring character in Tannhaüser, or in his song to the “Morning Star” (O, du holdes Morgenstern). So many of Wagner’s heroines have positive Venusian qualities; the more alluring and dangerous Venusian qualities belong to the Rhine maidens and to the tantalizingly beautiful women of Klingsor’s Garden.

13. In his own individual and psychic life, Wagner fought a prolonged battle with the allure of Venus. Like the woeful knight Amfortas, in Parsifal, he had fallen into the “Garden of the Flowers”, and been wounded in his spirituality. Chiron, who inflicts the wound, is square to Venus. Wagner, himself, was on the way to spiritual transcendence, but his love of beautiful women provided a severe test. Yet, the transformation would come, as Uranus (the Transformer and co-ruler of the sacral center) is opposed to Venus. Through his creative art there was already a tremendous elevation of sacral energy to the throat, and Uranus in that position would ensure the increase of the upward flow.

14. To sing Wagner’s music is both strenuous and demanding (Mars trine Venus, Vulcan prominent, Jupiter calling for full expression), but his melodies are undoubtedly extraordinarily beautiful—the gift of Venus in Taurus.

15. The opposition of Uranus in Scorpio to Venus in Taurus is one of the most significant aspects in the chart. Wagner single-handedly transformed (Uranus in Scorpio) the nature of opera (Venus in Taurus). In this aspect we see his revolutionary aesthetic theories, and the new melodies, harmonies and textural innovations which appeared in his mature works—from the early 1850’s onwards.

16. We also see in the Venus/Uranus opposition his dramatic and often disastrous relations with women: his sudden affairs, his pursuit of other men’s wives (mostly the wives of patrons and benefactors!); his sudden breaks in relationship; his flouting of moral convention whenever he fell in love. That this opposition, having so much to do with relationship in the first place, lies on the relationship axis (Ascendant/Descendant) only increases its power and prominence.

17. Venus is also quintile the midpoint of the Ceres/Pluto conjunction, thus, in a sense, quintile to both. Here we see enacted a drama of attachment (Ceres/Venus) and detachment (Pluto/Venus). Pluto severs; Ceres nurtures. That the aspect connecting these three is the creative quintile shows that Wagner was able to deal with such troubling psychological issues in his creative works—his operas. Questions such as—Who is mother? Who is lover? How are they different? How are they the same? To which am I more attracted? From which must I sever myself?—are all involved in this quintile relationship. Issues surrounding love (Venus) and fatality (Pluto) are also suggested.

18. That Mars is in an harmonious sextile with Venus shows Wagner’s natural and healthy appreciation for the beauty of women. Though his sexuality was no doubt complicated by complexity thought and romantic, transcendental idealism, on a purely physical level, he was very much the “natural man” (Taurus).

19. Mars and Venus, harmoniously, related also tell why so many of his operatic plots are love stories, in which great passions are fully and uninhibitedly expressed.

20. Mars and Venus also represent soul and personality. The excitable passions of Mars (the personality) are mastered by the beauties of Venus (the soul). In Wagner’s life, though passions were strong (prominent Mars and strong Taurus), the sublime and redemptive Venusian love (often the love bestowed by a pure and beautiful woman) won the day.

21. The position of Venus conjunct the Ascendant (whether in-sign with a Taurus Ascendant, or out-of-sign, with a Gemini Ascendant), shows the power of the soul in Wagner’s life. This position represents not only his aesthetic inspiration, not only his vulnerability to beauty, but the transfiguring effect of his music. Was Wagner a true initiate—an initiate of the third degree? As a musician he was. Whether or not his personality measured up to the requirements by the end of his life is only for him to know.

22. Mars is potent in elevation. It is a sixth ray planet (principally) and can make the radical idealist. Certainly it contributed to Wagner’s revolutionary fervor and his dream of the overthrow of reaction regimes. He was an activist, and actually participated in the 1848-1849 revolution in Dresden; its failure forced him to flee to Switzerland or face arrest. One can see Wagner as an agitator (Mars in Aquarius conjunct the MC) whether in the field of music or in politics. Uranus in drastic Scorpio at the social seventh house cusp surely stimulated the rebellious Martian tendencies.

23. Jupiter in Leo is of great importance in the chart. It is accidentally dignified in the home of its exaltation—the fourth house. Jupiter is in harmonious aspect to the Sun, Venus and, loosely, to Uranus. It makes harmonious aspects to the Ascendant and Descendant as well. Wagner had a great mission to fulfill for the sake of music and culture; Jupiter protected him, guaranteeing fulfillment. Since Jupiter is placed in the house of the inner ashram, this can be seen as ashramic-protection. This position also symbolizes the patronage he received and the comfortable working conditions which eventually came his way. Note that Jupiter is the orthodox ruler of the eighth house which is associated with the resources of others. It represents, above all, the lavish (Leo) patronage of King Ludwig II of Bavaria, who not only saw to Wagner’s domestic comfort by providing him with a home in Bayreuth called “Wahnfried” (“Freedom from Illusion”) but contributed large sums to help create a theatre in Bayreuth, Bavaria dedicated especially to the performances of Wagner’s opera. In the estimation of the author, this patronage came directly out of the fourth ray ashram. Though he was a king, Ludwig was, like Wagner, very probably a fourth ray soul with a devoted sixth ray personality. Thus, Jupiter in Leo, by whatever agencies it operated, ensured the embodiment of Wagner’s ideals.

24. The liabilities of Jupiter in Leo were also evident: egotism, inflation, extravagance and grandiosity. No matter how much was lavished upon Wagner, he always spent more than he had, never managing to live within his means. A few more significant aspects of disciplinary Saturn in Capricorn would have helped. Perhaps Jupiter in this position, signifies an attitude that “the universe will provide”, and support will inevitably come. For the most part, it did.

25. Incidentally, it is this placement of Jupiter in Leo, strongly connected to the Sun, Venus and Ascendant which makes Wagner’s operas grand operas—more grand than any operas written before his time; and still more grand that many operas written in imitation of his style—operas which may have been larger, but never grander.

26. Saturn is strong it its own sign Capricorn and placed in the ninth house of higher mind. Though Wagner may have been careless or casual in many things, he was not careless about his thought or philosophy, or his perspective upon musical composition.. He shaped his world view with exactitude. Interestingly, this position may have much to do with the initial rejection of his music in strictly academic circles which have a hard time accepting revolutionaries—when they are alive.

27. Though Wagner was a romantic, rather than a classicist like Brahms, his sense of musical structure was profound. Saturn in Capricorn confers this structural sense. He had carefully studied the scores of Beethoven, and knew how music was put together on a grand scale. One can see that he applied rigorous discipline to his work, if not to his personal relationships. One can also see through the loose square of Saturn to Juno, that although he probably entered many relationships impulsively, his sense of duty, dharma and sheer hard work did not give him the time to pursue them further.

28. This Saturn position no doubt contributed to Wagner’s sense of fate and destiny, as it is the ruler of the proposed Capricorn Midheaven. The idea of being compelled by fate to compose; the thought of working under demanding time restraints; the thought of being a servant of one’s greater destiny—all these must have been part of his world view.

29. The Saturn in Capricorn also has an interesting connection to Wagner’s relationship to the Jewish people. Capricorn is the personality sign of the Jews, and third ray Saturn is very much their planet. The Jews are strongly under the law. Saturn is both a third ray and a first ray planet. The “Soul of Judea” is upon the first ray, and its personality upon the third.

A number of Wagner’s friends were Jews, and in personal life he was not especially known for anti-Semitism. There are actually stories that Wagner was uncertain of his own parentage, and that his father may actually have been a Jew. His later writings, however, contain passages which are re overtly anti-Semitic, and his second wife, Cosima, promoted this attitude. We can see in the important Saturn/Capricorn position (especially if it is the ruler of a Capricorn Midheaven) that Wagner has a karmic link to the Jews. His portrayal of Mime in Siegfried¸ and Beckmesser (“back-stabber”) in Die Meistersinger, were thinly disguised Jewish caricatures, and some say, projections of aspects of his own character very much resembling them.

30. Uranus has already been discussed in relation to its opposition to Venus and the Sun. So close to the seventh house cusp, it transforms Wagner not only into a musical but into a social revolutionary. His impact upon those he encountered was fascinating, mesmerizing. Among his friends were great geniuses—Liszt, Nietzsche and others. His relationships were shocking in a sense both good and bad, and their termination was often abrupt (Uranus). It was impossible to be related to Wagner without passing through a profound transformation—or as Nietzsche might say, a “revulsion”. Wagners operas portrayed what might become of a man and woman if they were deeply related within the field of transcendent love. One can imagine that he sought to live out these transformative possibilities in his numerous love affairs and especially in his marriage to Cosima Liszt (the daughter of his friend and advocate, pianist-composer, Franz Liszt).

31. Neptune is the planet of romanticism, and it is placed in Sagittarius, the sign of aspirational desire, and elevated idealism. If Wagner held high hopes for the power of love, this Neptune position certainly fanned the flame. Neptune, at the present time, is predominantly a sixth ray planet, and Sagittarius is the foremost sixth ray sign. Together, in the seventh house of relationship and marriage, they are potent to create a longing for sublime and idealistically perfect union. Note the opposition to Vesta, the asteroid of commitment (an asteroid with a potent sixth ray). Note too that Juno (the asteroid of partnership) is placed in impetuous, impulsive Aries, trine to Neptune and sextile to Vesta. The Moon is also involved in this configuration, sextiling Neptune, trining Vesta and widely sextile Juno by translation of light. The Moon is also an indicator of the feminine and the unconscious.

32. In this aspect pattern, therefore, we see one of the key descriptors of a recurrent and insistent theme in Wagner’s life—redemption through love. One can see Wagner on an endless search for the ideal woman—one who embodied the ideal qualities portrayed in his operatic heroines. One wonders whether in Cosima he found his ideal. Certainly, few could equal her devotion to him, both during his life and after his death.

33. Pluto’s principle aspects are several: a conjunction with Ceres, a semisquare, to Mercury; a semisquare to Mars; a sextile to Saturn; a sesquiquadrate to Jupiter and a trine to Uranus. Wagner was a radical who went to the roots of matters in which he took an interest. He had the power to deeply and permanently change what he touched (exemplified by the harmonious Pluto trine Uranus)

A Few Parallels

1. As has already been mentioned, Venus, Ascendant, Jupiter and Sun are all parallel within less than a degree. This is a very successful combination for soul expression—especially for the expression of the energy of love. By translation of light, Vesta enters this configuration, and is still within the one degree limit. Thus devotion and commitment are an added ingredient to the radiant, expansive, beautiful expression of soul love—in music and in cherished relationships focally—not in general.

2. Interestingly, Chiron and Juno (already in a decile or semi-quintile relationships) are contra-parallel. This aspect indicate something of the hurting and wounding (Chiron) which occurred in Wagner’s relationships (Juno) and the attempt to bring understanding and healing to them (Chiron—in compassionate Pisces).

3. The Moon is not only conjunct the South Node, but parallel to it, emphasizing the importance of the lunar legacy. The lower mantram of Aquarius, “Let desire in form be ruler”, must have had its application, especially in Wagner’s earlier days. Mars in Aquarius would reinforce this indiscriminate tendency.

4. Pluto is also parallel the South Node, showing the depth and psychological acuity brought over from the past.

5. The MC is contraparallel to the aggregation of Venus, Jupiter, Sun, Ascendant and Vesta, ensuring that the huge radiance of this ‘stellium by parallel” had a professional application.

6. Finally, Saturn, Mars and Neptune are all parallel within forty forty-four minutes of arc, with Saturn and Mars within ten minutes of arc. Saturn and Mars combine to produce frustration, but also great labors, especially in the manifesting of Neptunian ideals. One thinks of Wagner’s output—the tremendous labor it represented. His Saturn in Capricorn was a very useful position.

A Few Fixed Stars

1. Depending upon which chart is used, different fixed star contacts emerge, but some are constant in all charts.

2. Both the Sun and Jupiter are closely parallel Arcturus. These parallels are highly significant. This star embodies the tendency to take a new path, to try a new method, to do what has not been done before. We have already seen the important sextile between the radiant Sun and grand Jupiter, and their reinforcement by parallel. Now we see that they are parallel the same powerful fixed star. Surely these parallels added originality and daring to Wagner’s creative life, and reinforced his Uranian iconoclasm.

3. Mercury is conjunct to the forceful star Hamal, expressing as independence of thought.

4. Schedir is also conjunct Mercury. Schedir is the Queen representing female power, though it is a power bound and chained. Wagner’s mind was preoccupied by his relationship to the feminine—a force which he sought to liberate, and, from which, as an aspirant to the higher Mysteries, he sought to liberate himself.

5. Both Venus and the proposed Ascendant are conjunct to Mirfak, a star representing a courageous one who is willing to rise to a challenge or do battle. We can at least be sure of the conjunction to Venus, further showing the boldness with which Wagner approached artistic innovation.

Chakric Indications

1. Sometimes, the dynamics of the chakras can be seen through planetary relationships in the astrological chart.

2. Jupiter exactly opposed to Mars shows the close and vital interplay between heart and solar-plexus. This is certainly reflected in his operas during the developmental course of which, passion is, at length, transmuted into compassion.

3. There is a strong throat center emphasis. Taurus rules the throat center; Mercury, ruler of speech and thought, is in Taurus, again implicating the throat; Venus, also related to the throat center is rising in Taurus; the Earth (a third ray planet related to the throat center) is angular, and heliocentrically, in its own sign, Sagittarius.

4. The Mars/Venus trine and Taurus hypothesized as rising, suggests strong sacral center activity. Mars, sometime ruler of the sacral center, is conjunct the MC and thus angular, and so is Uranus (in the sexual sign Scorpio) conjunct the seventh house cusp, thus bringing the sacral center strongly into the relationship life. Venus in Taurus (rising) can be highly sexual, though it naturally has higher interpretrations.

5. A most important indicator is Venus, ruler of the ajna center, in Taurus, a sign of light, and on the Ascendant (which is the astrological point especially related to soul direction and expression). Venus is also the planet of the love and light of the soul. Venus’s angular position in a sign very friendly to its nature, suggests its luminous influence in the life, and confers a very strong power to visualize, imagine and hear in the inner worlds. Interpreted at a high turn of the spiral, this position could be the signature of an initiate of the third degree. It certainly represents the “light-bearer”—in Wagner’s case, in the field of music, drama and the arts.

6. As for the crown center, we know that in a disciple/initiate, it has to be active. The presence of the Sun so close to the Ascendant may be considered an indication of considerable activation, because the cusp of the first house (Ascendant) rules the head, and the Sun is the fulness of synthetic radiance.

7. Close examination reveals every center active except the base of the spine. Pluto, however, is relatively strong, and so there may have been moments of great inspiration which caused an upsurging of the lower fires—kundalini. This possibility is indicated by the trine of Pluto to Uranus (the ruler of electric fire).

8. A particular problem may be indicated by the square of Mars (solar plexus) to Mercury (throat and ajna centers). Mercury takes over an ajna function near the time of the third degree. The Jupiter/Mercury square introduces the struggle to speak (Mercury) from the heart (Jupiter in Leo—the sign of the heart). The Mars/Mercury relationship shows speech and imagination motivated by solar plexus desire. We see in these three planets and their T-square, a struggle between the solar plexus, heart and throat centers, and the solar plexus, heart and ajna centers. The solution lies in the cultivation of the latter triangle (which will be familiar to some students of esotericism as the triangle presented by DK in His first two group meditations found in DINA II).

9. One of the distinguishing achievements of an initiate of the third degree is to move solar plexus functioning (Mars—which is also the ruler of the personality to be subdued) into the heart. Illumination of the ajna center is another necessity. It is clear that Wagner had the astrological potential for both.

A Few Important Life Events and their Astrological Concomitants

1. Below are two solar eclipses which occurred just before and during the year of Wagner’s first marriage to Minna Planer. Note that the first solar eclipse occurs very near the seventh house cusp.

Sun SEcl (X) Tr-Tr Nov 20 1835 NS 19:31 27°Sc26' D
Sun SEcl (X) Tr-Tr May 15 1836 NS 23:02 24°Ta42' D

2. On October 22, 1842 his first representative opera, Rienzi, was triumphantly performed in Dresden. Note that the lunar eclipse shortly before this performance falls close to his proposed Capricorn MC.

Mon LEcl (X) Tr-Tr Jul 22 1842 NS 19:48 29°Cp09' D

3. In 1843 Wagner was appointed conductor of the court opera. Transiting Jupiter (T-Jupiter) was crossing his MC at the time his Flying Dutchman was performed in Dresden, January 2, 1843. Note the lunar eclipse on January 16th, 1843 which puts the Sun at the proposed Capricorn MC. The transits of Jupiter would work very well for a 4:11 AM time with Gemini rising, however, the eclipse would not work so well.

Mon LEcl (X) Tr-Tr Jan 16 1843 NS 17:14 25°Cn37' D

4. Wagner was involved in the social revolutions of 1849-1849 centered in Dresden. He wrote inflammatory articles (Mars in Aquarius) and visibly pushed for reform. When the revolution failed he was threatened with arrest and fled Dresden. T-Saturn had entered the twelfth house of exile. T-Pluto from the twelfth house was squaring the proposed MC/IC axis at 27° Cap/Can 55’. Note in the eclipses listed below, the solar eclipses occurring on or opposite natal Chiron, and the lunar eclipses involving destructive Pluto, one on the exact degree and one only two degrees distant Sun. From these positions, it appears that his life was in danger.

Sun SEcl (X) Tr-Tr Aug 29 1848 NS04:18 05°Vi33' D
Mon LEcl (X) Tr-Tr Sep 13 1848 NS 15:18 20°Pi33' D
Sun SEcl (X) Tr-Tr Feb 23 1849 NS 10:38 04°Pi23' D
Mon LEcl (X) Tr-Tr Mar 9 1849 NS 09:56 18°Vi23' D

5. From 1849-1852 he produced his basic prose works Die Kunst und die Revolution (Art and Revolution), Das Kunstwerk der Zukunft (The Art Work of the Future), Eine Mitteilung an meine Freunde (A Communication to My Friends), and Oper und Drama (Opera and Drama). Saturn had entered the large twelfth house (Placidus) for a lengthy transit forcing a kind of retreat or retirement. The progressed Moon was traveling through Gemini (writing) and Cancer (staying at home). Most importantly, progressed Mercury in Cancer (P-Mercury) was rapidly approaching P-Venus also in Cancer, achieving conjunction in 1852. He was writing (Mercury) his aesthetic theory (Venus). By 1852 he had written the poetry for the Ring des Nibelungen.

6. By 1853, Wagner had begun the composition of The Ring, which was to put his new aesthetic theories into practice. Note that Saturn begins its transit over his Ascendant indicating the initial steps at concretizing a new cycle.

7. In 1857, he suspended work on the Ring Cycle, putting it aside without hope of ever seeing it performed. Inhibitory Saturn was transiting his progressed Sun in Cancer.

8. From 1857-1859 he was deeply influenced by the world-negating philosophy of the Piscean/Cancerian philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer; experienced a deeply disappointed love affair with Mathilde Wesendonk; and composed his opera, Tristan und Isolda, which revealed a new and revolutionary subtlety in his use of leit motifs. His music became at once more complex and more profound.

During this period we see P-Moon passing through the sign Libra, putting a focus upon relationship (the Wesendonk Affair), and upon the theme of his new opera—hopeless, unattainable love. Significantly solar arc Neptune (SA-Neptune) was passing over his MC, increasing his subtlety, his receptivity, his compassion and his longing for transcendental love. Uranus was transiting opposite its own natal position (in Scorpio), activating his seventh house of relationship, and causing great upheaval. During this period, as well, T-Uranus crossed the Ascendant signaling not only the turmoil in his relationship life, but the fundamental innovations he introduced in Tristan and his innovative break from the past. He had risen into his full stature as a composer, and was, from that time forth, to express himself with complete authenticity. However, in the years immediately ahead, there would be no production of Tristan,(it was not performed until 1865) because the artists were bewildered by its revolutionary stylistic innovations. Neptune (planet of bewilderment) was so active during its composition, and revolutionary Uranus had been transiting the planet of art (Venus) as well as the Ascendant and the Sun.

9. In 1861, an amnesty had been declared allowing him to return to Germany. P-Venus was conjuncting the fourth house cusp of home and native country. The P-Vertex had progressed into freedom-granting Sagittarius. During that year, P-Moon was crossing natal Uranus (liberation) and later entering liberating Sagittarius. Note the eclipses involving Jupiter (reprieve) in the fourth house of homeland, and on the MC/IC axis, which has to much to do with where one lives and where one works.

Mon LEcl (X) Tr-Tr Jan 27 1861 NS 01:53 06°Le48' D
Mon LEcl (X) Tr-Tr Jul 22 1861 NS 08:49 29°Cp06' D

10. By 1864, however, his expenditure on a grand scale and inveterate habits of borrowing and living on others had brought him to financial disaster; he had to flee from Vienna to avoid imprisonment for debt. The P-Moon had entered Capricorn (the law and accountability) and was passing through the eighth house of debt (the resources of others).

11. He was suddenly rescued from his desperate financial straits by the intervention of the young King Ludwig II, who had just ascended the Bavarian Throne. Ludwig had been a fanatical admirer of Wagner (soul ray four, personality ray six), had read the Ring Cycle with great enthusiasm, and invited Wagner to come to Munich to complete his work on these operas.

Note the transiting nodes (karmic connections) crossing first the Ascendant/Descendant axis and then natal Uranus (the element of suddenness—the “bolt out of the blue”); T-Jupiter also crossing N-Uranus (the benefaction). Uranus and Jupiter together allow what the Tibetan calls a “beneficent organization” (or, shall we say, re-organization). T-Jupiter crosses the seventh house cusp (partnership), and transits the P-Vertex position (the beneficence {Jupiter} of fate {Vertex}); P-Venus (the arts) begins its conjunction of natal Jupiter (abundance). Note that Jupiter is the ruler of the natal eighth house (the resources of others), hence patronage. In rapid order, Wagner passed from a penniless state, also involving the eighth house, to a condition of financial abundance which would allow him to complete his great tetralogy. Note the lunar eclipse which conjuncts his first degree Gemini Sun and his Venus position as well.

Mon LEcl (X) Tr-Tr May 21 1864 NS 22:11 00°Sg40' D

12. The King set him up in a villa, and during the next six years there were successful Munich productions of all of Wagner's representative works to date. During these six years, Jupiter makes its sweeping transit through the upper hemisphere of the chart, beginning at the seventh house cusp and ending at the Ascendant. Progressed Venus is in Leo, and passes between natal Jupiter in Leo and the North Node. It was a time for Venus, the Goddess of Beauty, to reveal Wagner’s full gifts, and he was completely supported (Jupiter) in this revelation.

13. During this Munich period he became the lover of orchestral conductor Hans von Bülow's wife, Cosima, the daughter of Liszt. She bore him three children—Isolde, Eva, and Siegfried—before her divorce in 1870 and her marriage to Wagner in the same year. The progressed activity of Venus was, it appears, favorable not only to art but to love. In the marriage year, T-Jupiter crosses Wagner’s Ascendant and natal Sun. Below are eclipses involving Wagner’s Moon, his MC/IC (an axis often found involved in marriages, which, in a way, are matters of state), and, most importantly, a solar eclipse on his Jupiter—a planet which with great frequency, is an indicator of marriage. This marriage was a great consummation (Jupiter). Additionally of note is the transit of transformative Uranus conjunct the progressed Sun in Cancer. Solar arc Uranus is also within less than a degree of the progressed Descendant.

Mon LEcl (X) Tr-Tr Jul 23 1869 NS 23:03 00°Aq41' D
Sun SEcl (X) Tr-Tr Aug 8 1869 NS 07:01 15°Le21' D
Mon LEcl (X) Tr-Tr Jan 17 1870 NS 23:47 27°Cn22' D Sun SEcl (X) Tr-Tr Jul 28 1870 NS 20:02 05°Le07' D

14. Although it was agreed with King Ludwig that the tetralogy in its entirety should first be performed in Munich, Wagner broke the agreement, seeking a more suitable site where a new opera-theatre, especially for that purpose, could be built. The king supported this idea and in 1872, the foundation stone was laid in the Bavarian town of Bayreuth. It is most interesting and convincing that all during 1872, the planet associated with archetypes and their grounding (Uranus) was conjuncting the proposed Cancer IC, and Jupiter (the planet of fulfillment) was transiting there also. This would apply, however, to all the charts under consideration—i.e., whether the IC is later Cancer or very early Leo. Certainly the ‘grounding’ or manifestation of Wagner’s great ideals was were in process. These dreams and ideals were prepared by two solar eclipse conjunctions on (or opposed) visionary Neptune and committed Vesta, immediately preceding and during this period. The lunar eclipse involving the Sun is also indicative.

Sun SEcl (X) Tr-Tr Dec 12 1871 NS 13:03 19°Sg44' D
Mon LEcl (X) Tr-Tr May 23 1872 NS 08:17 02°Sg05' D
Sun SEcl (X) Tr-Tr Jun 6 1872 NS 12:19 15°Ge40' D

15. The Ring received its triumphant first complete performance in the new Festspielhaus at Bayreuth on Aug. 13, 14, 16, and 17, 1876. The progressed Sun had entered Leo less than a year before. T-Jupiter (fulfillment) was conjuncting both natal and progressed Uranus (the realization of the “pattern in the heavens”). This Jupiterian transit conjunct Uranus had occurred twelve years earlier when Ludwig first met Wagner—and rescued him from poverty.

16. In 1877 Wagner began composition on his last, and, perhaps, greatest, work—Parsifal. He completed it in 1882 and it was performed in Bayreuth that year. All during this period, the progressed Sun which had emerged into Leo was active in the area of his natal Jupiter. During this phase it can be presumed that he underwent a tremendous expansion of heart understanding. He had entered a new era of thought and dharmic initiative with his progressed MC now in Aries. Further, solar arc Uranus (the Hierophant) was crossing his MC. This has to have been a spiritually climactic period indicating a great transfiguration of the psyche through the power of love and compassion. In the year Parsifal was performed, transiting Jupiter again crossed in Ascendant, Venus and Sun, and once again the transiting Nodes crossed his Ascendant/Descendant axis, and Venus and the Sun also. Note the solar eclipse very close to his proposed Ascendant during this year. The progress Vertex entered Capricorn. There was a fulfillment of soul purpose.

Sun SEcl (X) Tr-Tr May 17 1882 NS 16:37 26°Ta15' D

17. Richard Wagner died of heart failure, at the height of his fame, and was buried in the grounds of Wahnfried in the tomb he had himself prepared. Transiting Pluto had already crossed the Ascendant in late Taurus about a half year before, and had even touched, briefly, the degree of the natal Sun in Gemini. The process of abstraction had commenced in 1882, presumably, once Parsifal had been performed. The Solar Angel keeps good time. Transiting Uranus moved opposed to natal Pluto, also in 1882, thus intensifying the focus on the “Planet of Death”. On the actual day of this death, T-Pluto was within a trine of the natal MC, and still within a one degree orb of the proposed Ascendant. Decisive was the rapid transit of Mars in Aquarius in exactly the same degree as progressed Mars in Aquarius. Aquarius rules the circulation of the blood, and reciprocally, the heart. Wagner was still in a period when his progressed Mars in Aquarius was opposed his progressed Sun in Leo (the heart). On the day of his death, transiting Mars exactly opposed the progressed Sun as well. There had been a lunar eclipse on Wagner’s Sun just a few months before. The soul had achieved its purpose.

Mon LEcl (X) Tr-Tr Nov 25 1882 NS 10:51 02°Ge44' D

Initiatory Status

1. Richard Wagner was clearly an advanced (very advanced) human being. He was largely Self-educated, and the success of that process indicates his Self-inherited power as a soul.

2. One sees brilliance of thought and the capacity to experience the entire range of humanity’s emotional possibilities.

3. As is the case with so many of those upon the fourth ray, his flights of imagination and intuition outstripped his mastery of his personality nature. In many ways, he, as a personality, was rebellious, unethical, separative, proud, critical, etc. A host of vices demonstrated through the way he treated his fellow human beings.

4. Yet the scope of his thought and the greatness of his loving-understanding expressed through music, clearly reveal him as one who knew the reality of divinity—a living reality which must be revealed at and after the third degree.

5. The disciple is initiate before he is initiated. Wagner’s greatest works are initiate works. Are they, equally, the works of an initiate? That is another question.

6. For so many years of his life he seemed to be passing through the torments of one who had not yet subdued his personality. He acted in a manner too erratic and infringed the rights of too many people. His own struggles entered his music, but so did the idealized resolution of those struggles.

7. One is reminded of Master D.K.’s thought about those who attains initiation and those who do not:

“A steady, unshaken perseverance, that recks not of time nor hindrance, but goes on. This capacity to persevere explains why the non-spectacular man so frequently attains initiation before the genius, and before the man who attracts more notice. The capacity to plod is much to be desired”. (LOM 340-341)

Wagner was the spectacular man; Wagner was the genius. But Wagner was also gifted with great powers of persistence and endurance—gathered from Vulcan and Taurus.

8. In so many cases the development of the mind and creative faculties outstrips the moral development and the subduing of the personality. The errors are blatant because of the proximity of greatness to those errors.

9. What was Richard Wagner if not the “rich young man”—abundantly rich? There can be no question of his gifts and talents, and of his world impact. Is this not the indication of an initiate upon the fourth ray—to inspire millions with the transcendent beauty of one’s creative work (as a test for the third degree)?

10. Thus, it may be that Wagner was initiate (in many ways) before he was initiated. He struggled towards initiate status (in all aspects of his energy system), wrestling with his nature, morally imperfect, flagrantly deficient of what some would call simple decency, yet possessed of an artistry capable of raising and transforming the consciousness of many.

11. Had Wagner remained as he had been during his thirties and forties, one might question whether the transition into transfiguration had been made. It might justly have been said that his art was in advance of his individual attainment—that he rose into the initiated state to create his operas, and fell into ordinary personality reactions for the remainder of the time. But, it seems, something of profound spiritual significance began to happen. Uranus crossed his Ascendant; Neptune by solar arc direction crossed his Midheaven, Venus and the Sun by progression contacted his natal Jupiter. As his spiritual development unfolded, he sent the ancient gods to their destruction; Valhalla fell, leaving in ruins a world view based upon struggle with and fated submission to the chthonic and demonic forces of the unconscious psyche. Wagner, as the hero of his own psycho-mythological journey, no longer sought to conquer by strength alone (as Sigmund had, as Siegfried had) but rather through faith and innocence—as the character Parsifal triumphantly demonstrated.

12. Thus, there occurred a great redemption and it took place, it would seem, within the energy field of the Christ Force. Thus, it may be that the rebellious personality (Mars) succumbed to the power of Jupiter (second ray ruler of the causal body), and at last, the ancient authority of the personality was broken. Perhaps, the lunar man entered at last the realms where its soul had soared in divine realization for so many years. Perhaps, under the fourth ray, “Two Merge(d) with One”, and the power of the Ray of Love Wisdom supervened. It would seem that this was the case.


One would like to follow the life of Richard Wagner carefully through, from year to year to give a more complete account of the astrological and spiritual unfoldment of one of the worlds great geniuses. All disciples could learn much from such an analysis; time and space, however, do not permit.

The majority of students who will read these astrological profiles are found upon the first and second rays, with some upon the third and seventh. Few will be upon the fourth or fifth. It is always possible that, when confronted with souls upon rays which are different from our own, we may fail to interpret their lives properly, misunderstanding true achievement; remaining blind to their true spiritual status because misled by superficial indications. This is a danger when studying the life of the great fourth ray/second ray initiate, Richard Wagner. His personal deficiencies may loom too large and disguise the greatness of his inner nature.

In assessing Wagner’s contribution to the elevation of human consciousness, we discover that he changed forever the manner of operatic composition. He created intoxicatingly beautiful masterpieces, which, even today, inspire in us admiration, awe and wonder.. He synthesized the operatic traditions of the past, and took them in an entirely new direction, immeasurably deeper and more revelatory of the extremes of the human psyche. Perhaps, through his music-dramas, he showed the way for man to become more than man; for man to recognize the battle of the gods raging within his conscious, unconscious and super-conscious life, and to transcend that battle through the power of love. Wagner’s major masterpieces can be understood as leading in a steady progression towards redemption. What was the deepest meaning of his life? Only he could answer that, and those on the inner side who see and know. Perhaps the significance of his extraordinary contribution to humanity be expressed in these words: “Redemption through Love expressed thorough music, poetry and drama which, at their best, are a glorious embodiment of the victory of that Love”.


Achievements, seldom credited to their source, are the result of unspeakable drudgery and worries.

(Mars, Moon & South Node in 10th house)

Curiously enough, our historical memory of the splendour of the German name dates from a period that was so harmful to the German character, namely, the period when the Germans ruled over non-German (ausserdeutsche) peoples.

Even if I know I shall never change the masses, never transform anything permanent, all I ask is that the good things also have their place, their refuge.

I am convinced that there are universal currents of Divine Thought vibrating the ether everywhere and that any who can feel these vibrations is inspired.

(Mercury in Taurus in 12th house)

I am fond of them, of the inferior beings of the abyss, of those who are full of longing.

I hate this fast growing tendency to chain men to machines in big factories and deprive them of all joy in their efforts - the plan will lead to cheap men and cheap products.

(Uranus in Scorpio conjunct Descendant)

I have long been convinced that my artistic ideal stands or falls with Germany. Only the Germany that we love and desire can help us achieve that ideal.

I wish I could score everything for horns.

I write music with an exclamation point!

Imagination creates reality.

(Neptune opposition Sun)

Joy is not in things; it is in us.

Never look at the trombones, it only encourages them.

One supreme fact which I have discovered is that it is not willpower, but fantasy-imagination that creates. Imagination is the creative force. Imagination creates reality.

The birth of the new German spirit brought with it the rebirth of the German people: the German War of Liberation of 1813, 1814 and 1815 suddenly familiarised us with this people.

The word "deutsch" is also found in the verb "deuten" (to make plain): thus "deutsch" is what is plain to us, the familiar, the wonted, that which was inherited from our fathers and springs from our very own soil.

Whatever my passions demand of me, I become for the time being - musician, poet, director, author, lecturer or anything else.

(Venus in Taurus conjunct Taurus Ascendant & Sun in Gemini)


Richard Wagner commenting on the music of Johann Sebastian Bach:
The most stupendous miracle in all music.

Richard Wagner commenting on the music of Ludvig Van Beethoven:
He was a Titan, wrestling with the Gods.

I believe in God, Mozart and Beethoven and likewise their disciples and apostles; I believe in the Holy Spirit and the truth of the one indivisible art; I believe that this art proceeds from God and lives in the hearts of all illuminated men; I believe that he who once bathes in the sublime delights of this high art, is consecrate to her forever, and never can deny her; I believe that through art all men are saved."
(1813 - 1883)
(Venus in Taurus conjunct Taurus Ascendant & Sun in Gemini)


“After Rossini dies, who will there be to promote his music?”

“Richard Wagner, a musician who wrote music which is better than it sounds.”

“Then let us sail across the sea, and here and there found a young Germany, let us fructify it with the products of our toil and striving, and let us beget and bring up the noblest and most godlike children: but let us do better than the Spanish, who turned the New World into a papal slaughterhouse, and better than the English, who have turned it into a shop.”

“True Drama is only conceivable as proceeding from a common urgency of every art towards the most direct appeal to a common public. In this Drama, each separate art can only bare its utmost secret to their common public through a mutual parleying with the other arts; for the purpose of each separate branch of art can only be fully attained by the reciprocal agreement and co-operation of all the branches in their common message.”


“Man in his entirety must be in evidence for the expression of the most exalted, and this whole man is intellectual man united with physical and emotional man, not any one of these by themselves”

“In drama we must understand through feeling.”
(Moon & Mars in 9th house. Venus in Taurus conjunct Ascendant)

“The mystic is the man for me…the man who feels the urge to ignite for himself the inner light in contrast to the outer brightness which shows him nothing. The name of illuminati was for this reason very aptly chosen, only, as Schopenhauer rightly says, one must be able to strip off the layers which the catechism spreads over such natures.” The Diaries of Cosima Wagner March 17, 1873
(Neptune opposition Sun)

“If I wrote about the Jews again, I would say that there is nothing to be held against them, only that they came to us Germans too soon and we were not stable enough to absorb this element.”
The Diaries of Cosima Wagner. November 21, 1888

“A direct relation to morality has not as yet been generally ascribed to music. In fact music has even been judged as morally harmless. But that is just not so. Could an effeminate and frivolous taste remain without influence on a man’s morality? Both go hand in hand and act reciprocally upon each other. We could refer back to the Spartans, who forbade a certain type of music as injurious to morals. But instead, let us just think back to our own immediate past. With tolerable certainty we can state that those who have been inspired by Beethoven’s music have been more active and energetic citizens-of-state than those bewitched by Rossini, Bellini, and Donizetti, a class consisting for the most part of rich and lordly do-nothings.”
From the article “A National Theater”

“German poetry, music and philosophy are nowadays esteemed and honored by every nation in the world; but in his yearning after “German Glory,” the German, as a rule, can dream of nothing but a sort of resurrection of the Roman Empire, and the thought inspires the most good-tempered German with an unmistakable lust for mastery, a longing for the upper-hand over the other nations. He forgets how detrimental to the welfare of the German peoples that notion of the Roman state has been already. Jesus teaches us to break through the barriers of patriotism and find our amplest satisfaction in the wealth of the human race.”

“Through its measureless value to the individual does the Christian religion prove its lofty mission, and that through its dogma.”

“Is the German already tottering to his fall? Woe to us and to the world if the nation itself were saved and the German folk remained, but the German spirit had taken flight for the sake of power.”

“I have no connection whatever with the present anti-Semitic movement. An article of mine about to appear in Bayreuther Blätter will state this in such a way that it should be impossible for intelligent people to identify me with this movement.”
In a letter to Angelo Neumann February 23, 1881

“I am no composer, I only wanted to learn enough to compose Leubald und Adelaïde, and that is how things have remained – it is only the subjects which are different.”
The Diaries of Cosima Wagner January 23, 1870

“Prometheus’s words ‘I took knowledge away from Man’ came to my mind and gave me a profound insight; knowledge, seeing ahead, is in fact a divine attribute, and Man with this divine attribute is a piteous object. He is like Brahma before the Maya spread before him the veil of ignorance, of deception; the divine privilege is the saddest thing of all.”
The Diaries of Cosima Wagner November 29, 1871

“Only the profound hypothesis of reincarnation has been able to show me the consoling point where all converge in the end to an equal height of redemption, after their divers life-careers, running severed side-by-side in time, have met in full intelligence beyond it. On that beautiful Buddhist hypothesis the spotless purity of Lohengrin becomes easy to explain, in that he is the continuation of Parzival – who first had to wrest to himself his purity."
Letter to Mathilde Wesendonck

“In Tannhauser, I had yearned to flee a world of frivolous and nauseating sensuousness – the only form our modern present life has to offer.”

“The most burning need of the present generation is that of Universal Human Love; and we can but look with full assurance to a future element in life in which this love must needs give birth to works undreamt of as yet, works that shall turn those scraps and leaving of Greek art to unregarded toys for fractious children.”
From “Art and Climate”

“God is in us – The world is vanquished. Who created it? Idle question! Who vanquished it? God in our hearts!”
Asyl, Good Friday, 1856

“I should like to introduce to you a poet whom I recently recognized as the greatest of all poets, the Persian poet Hafiz, of whom there is now a very enjoyable German version. Having gotten to know this poet, I am really appalled by the poor appearance that we make with our pompous European intellectual culture, compared with what the East has produced in such security, exaltation, joy and peace of the spirit.”
Letter to Röckel September 12, 1852

“I am reading the German mystics, and today, [the 14th Century monk Johannes] Tauler. The coming of grace is particularly enthralling. All the same, everything is more spacious, peaceful and serene on the Ganges than in the cells of these Christian monasteries.”

“Sie wissen, wie ich unwillkürlick zum Buddhisten geworden bin” (You know that I have instinctively become a Buddhist).
Letter to Mathilde Wesendonck, February 22, 1859

“There is indeed much that we will admit to among ourselves. For example, since becoming acquainted with Liszt’s compositions, I have become a completely different person harmonically. But when friend Pohl applauds this secret a la tete in a short discussion of the Tristan Und Isolde Prelude – and for all the world to hear – then an indiscretion is committed.”
Letter to Hans Von Bülow October 7, 1959

On August 21, 1880, Wagner saw the Cathedral in Sienna, Italy for the first time and it moved him to tears. He exclaimed that no building had ever made such an impression on him. “Ich möchte das Vorspiel zu Parsifal unter der Kuppel hören!” (How I would love to hear the prelude to Parsifal underneath this dome!)”
The Diaries of Cosima Wagner. August 21, 1880

About the forthcoming composition of Tristan Und Isolde: “So much is clear to me: I must this time accomplish a miracle in order to get the world believe in me.”

Of Act II of Die Walküre: “It comprises two crisis, so powerful and significant that it would really provide significant material for two acts, yet it would be impossible to separate them. A thing like this is really only written for such as have some staying power. I cannot be influenced by the fact that the weak and incapable will complain."

About Rafael’s Sistine Madonna: “Here beauty overcomes the sexual urge. No man would dare approach this woman.”
The Diaries of Cosima Wagner 1873

In Saint Petersburg, Russia, Wagner was obliged to repeat the Lohengrin Prelude, during which he had a vision: “The whole orchestra turned into angels – 130 of them – who were greeting me with this strangely ecstatic music on my arrival in heaven.”


"I know nothing at all about music."
~ Richard Wagner

"True drama can be conceived only as resulting from the collective impulse of all the arts to communicate in the most immediate way with a collective public... Thus especially the art of tone, developed with such singular diversity in instrumental music, will realize in the collective artwork its richest potential -- will indeed incite the pantomimic art of dancing in turn to wholly new discoveries and inspire the breath of poetry no less to an undreamed-of fullness. For in its isolation music has formed itself an organ capable of the most immeasurable expression -- the orchestra."
~ Richard Wagner


Background information
Birth name Wilhelm Richard Wagner
Born May 22, 1813
Leipzig, Saxony
Died February 13, 1883
Venice, Italy
Genre(s) Classical (Romantic)
Occupation(s) Composer, conductor
Wilhelm Richard Wagner (May 22, 1813 – February 13, 1883) was an influential German composer, conductor, music theorist, and essayist, primarily known for his operas (or "music dramas" as he later came to call them).

Wagner's compositions, particularly those of his later period, are notable for their contrapuntal texture, rich chromaticism, harmonies and orchestration, and elaborate use of leitmotifs: themes associated with specific characters, locales, or plot elements. Wagner's chromatic musical language prefigured later developments in European classical music, including extreme chromaticism and atonality. He transformed musical thought through his idea of Gesamtkunstwerk ("total artwork"), epitomized by his monumental four-opera cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen (1876).

Early life
was born in Leipzig, the ninth child of Carl Friedrich Wagner, who was a clerk in the Leipzig police service.[1] Wagner's father died of typhus six months after Richard's birth, by which time Wagner's mother, Johanna Rosine Wagner, was living with the actor and playwright Ludwig Geyer. In August 1814 Johanna married Geyer, and moved with her family to his residence in Dresden. For the first 14 years of his life, Wagner was known as Wilhelm Richard Geyer. Wagner in his later years may have suspected that Geyer was in fact his biological father, and furthermore speculated (wrongly) that Geyer was Jewish.[2]

Geyer's love of the theatre was shared by his step-son, and Wagner even took part in performances. In his autobiography Wagner recalled on one occasion playing the part of an angel. The boy Wagner was also hugely impressed by the Gothic elements of Weber's Der Freischutz. At the end of 1820, Wagner was enrolled at Pastor Wetzel's school at Possendorf, near Dresden, where he received some piano instruction from his Latin teacher, but could not manage a proper scale and mostly preferred playing theater overtures by ear. Geyer died in 1821, when Richard was eight. Following this, Wagner was sent to the Kreuz Grammar School in Dresden, paid for by Geyer's brother. The young Wagner entertained ambitions as a playwright, his first creative effort being a gruesome tragedy, Leubald und Adelaide begun at school in 1826, which was strongly influenced by Shakespeare and Goethe. Wagner determined to set this to music and persuaded his family to allow him music lessons.

By 1827, the family had moved back to Leipzig. Wagner's first lessons in composition were taken between 1828-31 with Christian Gottlieb Müller, but it was Beethoven who would first inspire him. In January of 1828 he first heard Beethoven's 7th Symphony and then, in March, Beethoven's 9th Symphony performed in the Leipzig Gewandhaus. Beethoven became his muse, and Wagner wrote a piano transcription of the 9th Symphony as well as piano sonatas and orchestral overtures. In 1829 he saw the dramatic soprano Wilhelmine Schröder-Devrient on stage, and she became his ideal of the fusion of drama and music in opera. In his autobiography, Wagner wrote:

“ If I look back on my life as a whole, I can find no event that produced so profound an impression upon me. ”

Wagner claimed to have seen Schröder-Devrient in the title role of Fidelio, however it seems more likely that he saw her performance as Romeo in Bellini's I Capuleti e i Montecchi.[3] He enrolled at the University of Leipzig in 1831, however his formal music training was brief, comprising a few months with Christian Theodor Weinlig, the music director at the Leipzig Kreuzkirke. Weinlig was so impressed with Wagner's musical ability that he refused any payment for his lessons, and arranged for one of Wagner's piano works to be published. A year later, Wagner composed his Symphony in C major, a Beethovenian work which gave him his first opportunity as a conductor in 1832. He then began to work on an opera, Die Hochzeit (The Wedding), which was never completed.

In 1833, Wagner's older brother Karl Albert managed to obtain Richard a position as chorusmaster in Würzburg. In the same year, at the age of 20, Wagner composed his first complete opera, Die Feen (The Fairies). This opera, which clearly imitated the style of Carl Maria von Weber, would go unproduced until half a century later, when it was premiered in Munich shortly after the composer's death in 1883.

Meanwhile, Wagner held brief appointments as musical director at opera houses in Magdeburg and Königsberg, during which he wrote Das Liebesverbot (The Ban on Love), based on William Shakespeare's Measure for Measure. This second opera was staged at Magdeburg in 1836, but closed before the second performance, leaving the composer (not for the last time) in serious financial difficulties.

On November 24, 1836, Wagner married actress Christine Wilhelmine "Minna" Planer. They moved to the city of Riga, then in the Russian Empire, where Wagner became music director of the local opera. A few weeks afterward, Minna ran off with an army officer who then abandoned her, penniless. Wagner took Minna back; however, this was but the first debâcle of a troubled marriage that would end in misery three decades later.

By 1839, the couple had amassed such large debts that they fled Riga to escape from creditors (debt would plague Wagner for most of his life). During their flight, they and their Newfoundland dog, Robber, took a stormy sea passage to London, from which Wagner drew the inspiration for Der Fliegende Holländer (The Flying Dutchman). The Wagners spent 1840 and 1841 in Paris, where Richard made a scant living writing articles and arranging operas by other composers, largely on behalf of the Schlesinger publishing house. He also completed Rienzi and Der Fliegende Holländer during this time.

Wagner completed writing his third opera, Rienzi, in 1840. Largely through the agency of Meyerbeer, it was accepted for performance by the Dresden Court Theatre (Hofoper) in the German state of Saxony. Thus in 1842, the couple moved to Dresden, where Rienzi was staged to considerable acclaim. Wagner lived in Dresden for the next six years, eventually being appointed the Royal Saxon Court Conductor. During this period, he wrote and staged Der fliegende Holländer and Tannhäuser, the first two of his three middle-period operas.

The Wagners' stay at Dresden was brought to an end by Richard's involvement in left-wing politics. A nationalist movement was gaining force in the independent German States, calling for constitutional freedoms and the unification of the weak princely states into a single nation. Richard Wagner played an enthusiastic role in this movement, receiving guests at his house that included his colleague August Röckel, who was editing the radical left-wing paper Volksblätter, and the Russian anarchist Mikhail Bakunin.

Widespread discontent against the Saxon government came to a head in April 1849, when King Frederick Augustus II of Saxony dissolved Parliament and rejected a new constitution pressed upon him by the people. The May Uprising broke out, in which Wagner played a minor supporting role. The incipient revolution was quickly crushed by an allied force of Saxon and Prussian troops, and warrants were issued for the arrest of the revolutionaries. Wagner had to flee, first to Paris and then to Zürich. Röckel and Bakunin failed to escape and endured long terms of imprisonment.

Exile, Schopenhauer and Mathilde Wesendonck
Wagner spent the next twelve years in exile. He had completed Lohengrin before the Dresden uprising, and now wrote desperately to his friend Franz Liszt to have it staged in his absence. Liszt, who proved to be a friend in need, eventually conducted the premiere in Weimar in August 1850.

Nevertheless, Wagner found himself in grim personal straits, isolated from the German musical world and without any income to speak of. The musical sketches he was penning, which would grow into the mammoth work Der Ring des Nibelungen, seemed to have no prospects of being performed. His wife Minna, who had disliked the operas he had written after Rienzi, was falling into a deepening depression. Finally, he fell victim to erysipelas, which made it difficult for him to continue writing.

Wagner's primary published output during his first years in Zürich was a set of notable essays: The Art-Work of the Future (1849), in which he described a vision of opera as Gesamtkunstwerk, or "total artwork", in which the various arts such as music, song, dance, poetry, visual arts, and stagecraft were unified; Judaism in Music (1850), a tract directed against Jewish composers; and Opera and Drama (1851), which described ideas in aesthetics that he was putting to use on the Ring operas.

By 1852 Wagner had completed the libretto of the four Ring operas, and he began composing Das Rheingold in November 1853, following it immediately with Die Walkure in 1854. He then began work on the third opera, Siegfried in 1856, but finished only the first two acts before deciding to put the work aside to concentrate on a new idea: Tristan und Isolde.

Wagner had two independent sources of inspiration for Tristan und Isolde. The first came to him in 1854, when his poet friend Georg Herwegh introduced him to the works of the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer. Wagner would later call this the most important event of his life. His personal circumstances certainly made him an easy convert to what he understood to be Schopenhauer's philosophy - a deeply pessimistic view of the human condition. He would remain an adherent of Schopenhauer for the rest of his life, even after his fortunes improved.

One of Schopenhauer's doctrines was that music held a supreme role amongst the arts, since it was the only one unconcerned with the material world. Wagner quickly embraced this claim, which must have resonated strongly despite its direct contradiction with his own arguments, in "Opera and Drama", that music in opera had to be subservient to the cause of drama. Wagner scholars have since argued that this Schopenhauerian influence caused Wagner to assign a more commanding role to music in his later operas, including the latter half of the Ring cycle, which he had yet to compose. Many aspects of Schopenhauerian doctrine undoubtedly found its way into Wagner's subsequent libretti. For example, the self-renouncing cobbler-poet Hans Sachs in Die Meistersinger, generally considered Wagner's most sympathetic character, is a quintessentially Schopenhauerian creation (despite being based on a real person).

Wagner's second source of inspiration was the poet-writer Mathilde Wesendonck, the wife of the silk merchant Otto von Wesendonck. Wagner met the Wesendoncks in Zürich in 1852. Otto, a fan of Wagner's music, placed a cottage on his estate at Wagner's disposal. By 1857, Wagner had become infatuated with Mathilde.

Richard and Cosima Wagner.Though Mathilde seems to have returned some of his affections, she had no intention of jeopardising her marriage, and kept her husband informed of her contacts with Wagner. Nevertheless, the affair inspired Wagner to put aside his work on the Ring cycle (which would not be resumed for the next twelve years) and begin work on Tristan und Isolde, based on the Arthurian love story of the knight Tristan and the (already-married) Lady Isolde.

The uneasy affair collapsed in 1858, when Minna intercepted a letter from Wagner to Mathilde. After the resulting confrontation, Wagner left Zürich alone, bound for Venice. The following year, he once again moved to Paris to oversee production of a new revision of Tannhäuser, staged thanks to the efforts of Princess de Metternich. The premiere of the new Tannhäuser in 1861 was an utter fiasco, due to disturbances caused by aristocrats from the Jockey Club. Further performances were cancelled, and Wagner hurriedly left the city.

In 1861, the political ban against Wagner was lifted, and the composer settled in Biebrich, Prussia, where he began work on Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. Remarkably, this opera is by far his sunniest work. (His second wife Cosima would later write: "when future generations seek refreshment in this unique work, may they spare a thought for the tears from which the smiles arose.") In 1862, Wagner finally parted with Minna, though he (or at least his creditors) continued to support her financially until her death in 1866.

Patronage of King Ludwig II
Wagner's fortunes took a dramatic upturn in 1864, when King Ludwig II assumed the throne of Bavaria at the age of 18. The young king, an ardent admirer of Wagner's operas since childhood, had the composer brought to Munich. He settled Wagner's considerable debts, and made plans to have his new opera produced. After grave difficulties in rehearsal, Tristan und Isolde premiered to enormous success at the National Theatre in Munich on June 10, 1865, the first Wagner premiere in almost 15 years.

In the meantime, Wagner became embroiled in another affair, this time with Cosima von Bülow, the wife of the conductor Hans von Bülow, one of Wagner's most ardent supporters and the conductor of the Tristan premiere. Cosima was the illegitimate daughter of Franz Liszt and the famous Countess Marie d'Agoult, and 24 years younger than Wagner. Liszt disapproved of his daughter seeing Wagner, though the two men were friends. In April 1865, she gave birth to Wagner's illegitimate daughter, who was named Isolde. Their indiscreet affair scandalized Munich, and to make matters worse, Wagner fell into disfavor amongst members of the court, who were suspicious of his influence on the king. In December 1865, Ludwig was finally forced to ask the composer to leave Munich. He apparently also toyed with the idea of abdicating in order to follow his hero into exile, but Wagner quickly dissuaded him.

Ludwig installed Wagner at the villa Tribschen, beside Switzerland's Lake Lucerne. Die Meistersinger was completed at Tribschen in 1867, and premiered in Munich on June 21 the following year. In October, Cosima finally convinced Hans von Bülow to grant her a divorce. Richard and Cosima were married on August 25, 1870. (Liszt would not speak to his new son-in-law for years to come.) On Christmas Day of that year, Wagner presented the Siegfried Idyll for Cosima's birthday. The marriage to Cosima lasted to the end of Wagner's life. They had another daughter, named Eva, and a son named Siegfried.

at Bayreuth. Liszt, who was also his father-in-law, can be seen at the piano.Wagner, settled into his newfound domesticity, turned his energies toward completing the Ring cycle. At Ludwig's insistence, "special previews" of the first two works of the cycle, Das Rheingold and Die Walküre, were performed at Munich, but Wagner wanted the complete cycle to be performed in a new, specially-designed opera house.

In 1871, he decided on the small town of Bayreuth as the location of his new opera house. The Wagners moved there the following year, and the foundation stone for the Bayreuth Festspielhaus ("Festival House") was laid. In order to raise funds for the construction, "Wagner societies" were formed in several cities, and Wagner himself began touring Germany conducting concerts. However, sufficient funds were only raised after King Ludwig stepped in with another large grant in 1874. Later that year, the Wagners moved into their permanent home at Bayreuth, a villa that Richard dubbed Wahnfried ("Peace/freedom from delusion/madness", in German).

The Festspielhaus finally opened in August 1876 with the premiere of the Ring cycle and has continued to be the site of the Bayreuth Festival ever since.

Memorial bust of Richard Wagner in Venice.
Grave of Richard and Cosima Wagner in the garden of the Villa Wahnfried, BayreuthIn 1877, Wagner moved to Acireale in Italy where he began work on Parsifal, his final opera. The composition took four years, during which he also wrote a series of increasingly reactionary essays on religion and art.

Wagner completed Parsifal in January 1882, and a second Bayreuth Festival was held for the new opera. Wagner was by this time extremely ill, having suffered through a series of increasingly severe angina attacks. During the sixteenth and final performance of Parsifal on August 29, he secretly entered the pit during Act III, took the baton from conductor Hermann Levi, and led the performance to its conclusion.

After the Festival, the Wagner family journeyed to Venice for the winter. On February 13, 1883, Richard Wagner died of a heart attack in the Palazzo Vendramin on the Grand Canal. His body was returned to Bayreuth and buried in the garden of the Villa Wahnfried.

Franz Liszt's memorable piece for pianoforte solo, La lugubre gondola, evokes the passing of a black-shrouded funerary gondola bearing Richard Wagner's remains over the Grand Canal.

Wagner's music dramas are his primary artistic legacy. These can be divided chronologically into three periods.

Wagner's early stage began at age 19 with his first attempt at an opera, Die Hochzeit (The Wedding), which Wagner abandoned at an early stage of composition in 1832. Wagner's three completed early-stage operas are Die Feen (The Fairies), Das Liebesverbot (The Ban on Love), and Rienzi. Their compositional style was conventional, and did not exhibit the innovations that marked Wagner's place in musical history. Later in life, Wagner said that he did not consider these immature works to be part of his oeuvre; he was irritated by the ongoing popularity of Rienzi during his lifetime. These works are seldom performed, though the overture to Rienzi has become a concert piece.

Wagner's middle stage output is considered to be of remarkably higher quality, and begins to show the deepening of his powers as a dramatist and composer. This period began with Der fliegende Holländer (The Flying Dutchman), followed by Tannhäuser and Lohengrin. These works are widely performed today.

Wagner's late stage operas are his masterpieces that advanced the art of opera. Some are of the opinion that Tristan und Isolde (Tristan and Iseult) is Wagner's greatest single opera. Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (The Mastersingers of Nuremberg) is Wagner's only comedy (apart from his early and forgotten Das Liebesverbot) and one of the lengthiest operas still performed. Der Ring des Nibelungen, commonly referred to as the Ring cycle, is a set of four operas based loosely on figures and elements of Teutonic myth, particularly from later period Norse mythology. Wagner drew largely from Icelandic epics, namely, the Poetic Edda, the Volsunga Saga and the later Austrian Nibelungenlied. Taking around 20 years to complete, and requiring roughly 15 hours to perform, the Ring cycle has been called the most ambitious musical work ever composed. Wagner's final opera, Parsifal, which was written especially for the opening of Wagner's Festspielhaus in Bayreuth and which is described in the score as a "Bühnenweihfestspiel" (festival play for the consecration of the stage), is a contemplative work based on the Christian legend of the Holy Grail.

Through his operas and theoretical essays, Wagner exerted a strong influence on the operatic medium. He was an advocate of a new form of opera which he called "music drama", in which all the musical and dramatic elements were fused together. Unlike other opera composers, who generally left the task of writing the libretto (the text and lyrics) to others, Wagner wrote his own libretti, which he referred to as "poems". Most of his plots were based on Northern European mythology and legend. Further, Wagner developed a compositional style in which the orchestra's role is equal to that of the singers. The orchestra's dramatic role includes its performance of the leitmotifs, musical themes that announce specific characters, locales, and plot elements; their complex interleaving and evolution illuminates the progression of the drama.

Wagner's musical style is often considered the epitome of classical music's Romantic period, due to its unprecedented exploration of emotional expression. He introduced new ideas in harmony and musical form, including extreme chromaticism. In Tristan und Isolde, he explored the limits of the traditional tonal system that gave keys and chords their identity, pointing the way to atonality in the 20th century. Some music historians date the beginning of modern classical music to the first notes of Tristan, the so-called Tristan chord.

Non-operatic music
Apart from his operas, Wagner composed relatively few pieces of music. These include a single symphony (written at the age of 19), a Faust symphony (of which he only finished the first movement, which became the Faust Overture), and some overtures, choral and piano pieces, and a re-orchestration of Gluck's Iphigénie en Aulide. Of these, the most commonly performed work is the Siegfried Idyll, a piece for chamber orchestra written for the birthday of his second wife, Cosima. The Idyll draws on several motifs from the Ring cycle, though it is not part of the Ring. The next most popular are the Wesendonck Lieder, properly known as Five Songs for a Female Voice, which were composed for Mathilde Wesendonck while Wagner was working on Tristan. An oddity is the "American Centennial March" of 1876, commissioned by the city of Philadelphia for the opening of the Centennial Exposition, for which Wagner was paid $5,000.

A vocal and instrumental piece which is not often performed and somewhat forgotten, "das Liebesmahl der Apostel" (The Love-Meal of the Apostles) is a piece for male choruses and orchestra, composed in 1843. Wagner had just successfully played Rienzi in Dresden. However, Der fliegende Holländer witnessed a bitter failure. Wagner, who had been elected at the beginning of the year to the committee of a cultural association in the city of Dresden, received a commission to evoke the theme of Pentecost. The premiere took place at the Dresdner Frauenkirche on 6 July 1843, and was performed by around a hundred musicians and almost 1,200 singers. The concert was very well received.

After completing Parsifal, Wagner apparently intended to turn to the writing of symphonies. However, nothing substantial had been written by the time of his death.

The overtures and orchestral passages from Wagner's middle and late-stage operas are commonly played as concert pieces. For most of these, Wagner wrote short passages to conclude the excerpt so that it does not end abruptly. This is true, for example, of the Parsifal prelude and Siegfried's Funeral Music. A curious fact is that the concert version of the Tristan prelude is unpopular and rarely heard; the original ending of the prelude is usually considered to be better, even for a concert performance.

One of the most popular wedding marches played as the bride's processional in English-speaking countries, popularly known as "Here Comes the Bride", takes its melody from the "Bridal Chorus" of Lohengrin. In the opera, it is sung as the bride and groom leave the ceremony and go into the wedding chamber. The calamitous marriage of Lohengrin and Elsa, which reaches irretrievable breakdown twenty minutes after the chorus has been sung, has failed to discourage this widespread use of the piece.

Wagner was an extremely prolific writer, authoring hundreds of books, poems, and articles, as well as voluminous correspondence, throughout his life. His writings covered a wide range of topics, including politics, philosophy, and detailed analyses (often mutually contradictory) of his own operas. Essays of note include "Oper und Drama" ("Opera and Drama", 1851), an essay on the theory of opera, and "Das Judenthum in der Musik" ("Judaism in Music", 1850), a polemic directed against Jewish composers in general, and Giacomo Meyerbeer in particular. He also wrote an autobiography, My Life (1880).

Theatre Design and Operation
Wagner was responsible for several theatrical innovations developed at the Bayreuth Festspielhaus, an opera house specially constructed for the performance of his operas (for the design of which he appropriated many of the ideas of his former colleague, Gottfried Semper, which he had solicited for a proposed new opera house at Munich). These innovations include darkening the auditorium during performances, and placing the orchestra in a pit out of view of the audience. The Bayreuth Festspielhaus is the venue of the annual Richard Wagner Festival, which draws thousands of opera fans to Bayreuth each summer.

The orchestra pit at Bayreuth is interesting for two reasons:

The first violins are positioned on the right-hand side of the conductor instead of their usual place on the left side. This is in all likeliness because of the way the sound is intended to be directed towards the stage rather than directly on the audience. This way the sound has a more direct line from the first violins to the back of the stage where it can be then reflected to the audience.
Double basses, 'cellos and harps (when more than one used, e.g. Ring) are split into groups and placed on either side of the pit.

Wagner's influence and legacy
's bust in "Festspielpark Bayreuth"Wagner made highly significant, if controversial, contributions to art and culture. In his lifetime, and for some years after, Wagner inspired fanatical devotion amongst his followers, and was occasionally considered by them to have a near god-like status. His compositions, in particular Tristan und Isolde, broke important new musical ground. For years afterward, many composers felt compelled to align themselves with or against Wagner. Anton Bruckner and Hugo Wolf are indebted to him especially, as are César Franck, Henri Duparc, Ernest Chausson, Jules Massenet, Alexander von Zemlinsky, Hans Pfitzner and dozens of others. Gustav Mahler said, "There was only Beethoven and Wagner". The twentieth century harmonic revolutions of Claude Debussy and Arnold Schoenberg (tonal and atonal modernism, respectively) have often been traced back to Tristan. The Italian form of operatic realism known as verismo owes much to Wagnerian reconstruction of musical form.

Wagner made a major contribution to the principles and practise of conducting. His essay On conducting (1869) advanced the earlier work of Hector Berlioz and proposed that conducting was a means by which a musical work could be re-interpreted, rather than simply a mechanism for achieving orchestral unison. The central European conducting tradition which followed Wagner's ideas includes artists such as Hans von Bulow, Arthur Nikisch, Wilhelm Furtwangler and Herbert von Karajan.

Wagner also made significant changes to the conditions under which operas were performed. It was Wagner who first demanded that the lights be dimmed during dramatic performances, and it was his theatre at Bayreuth which first made use of the sunken orchestra pit, which at Bayreuth entirely conceals the orchestra from the audience.

Wagner's concept of leitmotif and integrated musical expression has been a strong influence on many 20th century film scores such as John Williams' music for Star Wars. American producer Phil Spector with his "wall of sound" was strongly influenced by Wagner's music. Wagner also heavily influenced rock composer Jim Steinman and led him to create what he called Wagnerian Rock. The rock subgenre of heavy metal music also shows a Wagnerian influence with its strong paganistic stamp. In Germany Rammstein and Joachim Witt (his most famous albums are called Bayreuth for that reason) are both strongly influenced by Wagner's music. The movie "The Ring of the Nibelungs" drew both from historical sources as well as Wagner's work, and set a ratings record when aired as a two-part mini-series on German television. It was subsequently released in other countries under a variety of names, including "Dark Kingdom: The Dragon King" in the USA.

Wagner's influence on literature and philosophy is also significant. Friedrich Nietzsche was part of Wagner's inner circle during the early 1870s, and his first published work The Birth of Tragedy proposed Wagner's music as the Dionysian rebirth of European culture in opposition to Apollonian rationalist decadence. Nietzsche broke with Wagner following the first Bayreuth Festival, believing that Wagner's final phase represented a pandering to Christian pieties and a surrender to the new demagogic German Reich. In the twentieth century, W. H. Auden once called Wagner "perhaps the greatest genius that ever lived", while Thomas Mann and Marcel Proust were heavily influenced by him and discussed Wagner in their novels. He is discussed in some of the works of James Joyce although Joyce was known to detest him. Wagner is one of the main subjects of T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land, which contains lines from Tristan und Isolde and refers to The Ring and Parsifal. Charles Baudelaire, Stéphane Mallarmé and Paul Verlaine worshipped Wagner. Many of the ideas his music brought up, such as the association between love and death (or Eros and Thanatos) in Tristan, predated their investigation by Sigmund Freud.

Not all reaction to Wagner was positive. For a time, German musical life divided into two factions, Wagner's supporters and those of Johannes Brahms; the latter, with the support of the powerful critic Eduard Hanslick, championed traditional forms and led the conservative front against Wagnerian innovations. Even those who, like Debussy, opposed him ("that old poisoner"), could not deny Wagner's influence. Indeed, Debussy was one of many composers, including Tchaikovsky, who felt the need to break with Wagner precisely because his influence was so unmistakable and overwhelming. Others who resisted Wagner's influence included Gioachino Rossini ("Wagner has wonderful moments, and dreadful quarters of an hour"), though his own "Guillaume Tell," at over four hours, is comparable in length to Wagner's operas.

Main article: Wagner controversies
Wagner's operas, writings, his politics, beliefs and unorthodox lifestyle made him a controversial figure during his lifetime. In September 1876 Karl Marx complained in a letter to his daughter Jenny: "Wherever one goes these days one is pestered with the question: what do you think of Wagner?" Following Wagner's death, the debate about his ideas and their interpretation, particularly in Germany during the 20th Century, continued to make him politically and socially controversial in a way that other great composers are not. Much heat is generated by Wagner's comments on Jews, which continue to influence the way that his works are regarded, and by the essays he wrote on the nature of race from 1850 onwards, and their putative influence on the anti-Semitism of Adolf Hitler.

Prior to 1850 there is little evidence that Wagner held any strong views on Jews, however in that year he published "Das Judenthum in der Musik" (originally translated into English as "Judaism in Music", by which name it is still known, but better rendered as "Jewishness in Music") under a pseudonym in the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik. The essay began as an attack on Jewish composers, particularly Wagner's contemporaries (and rivals) Felix Mendelssohn and Giacomo Meyerbeer but expanded to accuse Jews of being a harmful and alien element in German culture. Wagner wrote that the German people were repelled by Jews due to their alien appearance and behavior: "with all our speaking and writing in favour of the Jews' emancipation, we always felt instinctively repelled by any actual, operative contact with them." He argued that Jewish musicians were only capable of producing music that was shallow and artificial, because they had no connection to the genuine spirit of the German people.

The initial publication of the article attracted little attention, but Wagner republished it as a pamphlet under his own name in 1869, leading to several public protests at performances of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. Wagner repeated similar views in several later articles, such as "What is German?" (1878), and subsequent memoirs of him often recorded his derogatory comments on Jews.

Some biographers [4] have suggested that antisemitic stereotypes also appear in his operas. The characters of Mime in the Ring, Sixtus Beckmesser in Die Meistersinger and Klingsor in Parsifal are imagined to be Jewish stereotypes, although they are not explicitly identified as such in the libretto. These claims are disputed. In all of Wagner's many writings about his works there is never any mention of an intention to caricature Jews in his operas, and neither does any such notion appear in the diaries written by Cosima Wagner, which record his views on a daily basis over a period of 8 years.

Despite his very public views concerning Jews, Wagner continued to have Jewish friends and colleagues throughout his life.

Racism and Nazi appropriation
Some biographers have asserted that Wagner in his final years came to believe in the racist philosophy of Arthur de Gobineau, and that this is reflected in the opera Parsifal.[5] Wagner showed no significant interest in Gobineau until 1880, when he read Gobineau's An Essay on the Inequality of the Human Races.[6] However, Wagner had completed the libretto for Parsifal by 1877, and the original drafts of the story date back to 1857.

Despite this lack of chronology, it is sometimes claimed that Parsifal is a racist opera which reflects Gobineau's influence. Wagner's own writings show that he was very interested in Gobineau's idea that Western society was doomed because of miscegenation between "superior" and "inferior" races. However, he does not seem to have subscribed to Gobineau's belief in the superiority of the supposed Germanic or "Nordic" race.[7]

Wagner's writings on race would probably be considered unimportant were it not for the influence of his son-in-law Houston Stewart Chamberlain, who expanded on Wagner and Gobineau's ideas in his 1899 book The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century, a work proclaiming the superiority of Aryan races which later became required reading for members of the Nazi party.

Adolf Hitler was an admirer of Wagner's ideology and music, and used them to extol his heroic mythology of the German nation. There continues to be debate about the extent to which Wagner's views might have influenced the Nazis. It is clear that, as with the works of Nietzsche, the Nazis used those parts of Wagner's thought which were useful for propaganda and ignored or suppressed the rest. For example Joseph Goebbels banned Parsifal in 1939, shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War, due to the perceived pacifistic overtones of the opera.[8]

As a result of this appropriation by the Nazi party, Wagner's operas have never been staged in the modern state of Israel. Although his works are broadcast on Israeli government-owned radio and television stations, attempts at staging public performances in Israel have been halted by protests, including protests from Holocaust survivors.[9]

The greatest composer of German opera, Richard Wagner was the youngest of nine children of Friedrich and Johanna Wagner. His father, a police registrar, died 6 months after Wagner was born, and his mother was remarried the following year to Ludwig Geyer, an actor and portrait painter, who moved the family to Dresden. Geyer died in 1821, and in 1827 the family returned to Leipzig.

Wagner was attracted to the theater at an early age. His first creative effort was a spoken tragedy, Leubald and Adelaide (1828), which was heavily influenced by Shakespeare and Goethe. He decided at once, however, that he must also write music, and he proceeded to teach himself the rudiments of composition, supplementing them with the study of scores. His formal training was brief--about 6 months in 1831-32 with the Leipzig cantor C. T. Weinlig. During the 1830s, Wagner held a series of conducting posts with small theatrical companies, and he wrote two operas, Die Feen (The Fairies, 1834) and Das Liebesverbot (Forbidden Love; after Shakespeare's Measure for Measure); the latter was performed without much success in 1836 in Magdeburg.

In 1839 Wagner sailed to London. During the tempestuous voyage across the North Sea, he conceived the idea for his second major opera, Der fliegende Holländer (The Flying Dutchman, completed in 1841). After eight days in London, he traveled to France, settling eventually in Paris, where he became acquainted with the music of Hector Berlioz. He remained in Paris until April 1842, at times reduced to the direst poverty. On October 20, 1842, Rienzi was produced at the Court Theater at Dresden, Germany. Its success led to the production of Der fliegende Holländer at Dresden on January 2, 1843. In the same month Wagner moved to Dresden, where he became one of the conductors at the Court Theater. His romantic opera Tannhäuser was produced at Dresden on October 19, 1845. This work, with innovations in structure and technique, perplexed audiences accustomed to the conventional opera of the day and elicited a storm of adverse criticism. Nevertheless, Tannhäuser was produced at Weimar, Germany, three years later by the Hungarian composer Franz Liszt, who afterward became an enthusiastic proponent of Wagnerian music drama. The meeting of Liszt and Wagner in 1848 resulted in a lifelong friendship. In the same year the romantic opera Lohengrin was completed, but the management of the Court Theater at Dresden, apprehensive of public and critical reaction to another work by the composer of Tannhäuser, declined to produce it. Liszt once more came to the rescue and produced Lohengrin at Weimar on August 28, 1850. These years of success ended when his participation in revolutionary political activities forced him to flee to Switzerland.

Wagner's exile from Germany, which lasted until 1860, marks the start of a new period in his career. For a few years he devoted himself almost entirely to speculation about the nature of opera which led to his most ambitious work, a cycle of four operas known collectively as Der Ring des Nibelungen, based on the 12th-century Middle High German epic poem of the Nibelungenlied. The texts of the Nibelung dramas were written in reverse order. Finding that certain narrative episodes in Götterdämmerung (The Twilight of the Gods), the final work of the tetralogy, required elaboration and dramatic exposition to make the story altogether comprehensible, Wagner wrote the third part, Siegfried. Still not satisfied, however, he wrote Die Walküre and, as a further explanatory prelude, Das Rheingold. Wagner began work on the score of Das Rheingold in November 1853, completing it in May of the following year. By the end of December 1856, the score of Die Walküre was finished.

Meanwhile, in 1852, Wagner had made the acquaintance of the wealthy merchant Otto Wesendonck and his wife Mathilde. The former placed at the disposal of Wagner and Minna a small cottage, the Asyl (German, "Asylum"), on the Wesendonck estate near Zürich; this situation furnished the composer with the inspiration for some of his finest music. Close association between Wagner and Mathilde soon developed into love, which they were forced to renounce. Their romance eventually found expression, however, in Wagner's passionate score of Tristan und Isolde (1857-59), which is one of the longest and the most difficult to produce of all the Wagnerian music dramas. Its first performance was on June 10, 1865, at Munich, under the auspices of Louis II, king of Bavaria, who had become Wagner's patron.

In 1861 the political ban against Wagner was lifted. Upon his return to Prussia the composer settled in Biebrich, where he began work on his only comic opera, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, completed in 1867. The work was produced on June 21, 1868, at Munich, where in 1869 and 1870 Das Rheingold and Die Walküre also were given by command of the king.

Immediately after the production of Die Meistersinger Wagner resumed work on the score of Siegfried, completing it in February 1871. At the same time he began the composition of Götterdämmerung. Meanwhile, on August 25, 1870, the composer, who had been separated from his first wife for nine years, married Cosima von Bülow, the divorced wife of the pianist and conductor Hans Guido von Bülow and the daughter of Liszt. Wagner's orchestral work Siegfried Idyll (1870) was written for Cosima. In the summer of 1872, Wagner composed the last part of Der Ring des Nibelungen, and by November 1874, orchestration of Götterdämmerung had been completed. On August 13-17, 1876, the premiere performance of the whole tetralogy took place at the Festspielhaus, a theater in Bayreuth designed and constructed especially for the presentation of Wagnerian music dramas. In 1877 Wagner began work on Parsifal, based on legends of the Holy Grail. The last of the Wagnerian music dramas, Parsifal was produced for the first time on July 26, 1882.

In 1882 the composer's health began to fail. Thinking he might benefit from a change of climate, Wagner rented the Palazzo Vendramin on the Grand Canal in Venice; he died there suddenly on February 13 of the following year. Five days later his body was interred in the mausoleum of his Bayreuth villa.

Although Wagner's early training was slight by the standards of most major composers, he had an uncanny ability to copy the various styles he encountered in the music of his time. The basic gestures and the orchestral sound (although not the large-scale architecture) of Beethoven are reflected in early instrumental works such as the Symphony in C, which Wagner completed in 1832. When he turned to opera he moved easily from the German romantic style of Weber and Marschner (in Die Feen) to the Italian style of Rossini and Bellini (in Das Liebesverbot) to the grand opera style of Spontini and Meyerbeer (in Rienzi). In the three works of the 1840s, however--Der fliegende Holländer, Tannhäuser, and Lohengrin--a more distinctive personal style emerged. The use of legendary sources and the gradual reduction in contrast between aria and recitative in these operas anticipate the new music drama that Wagner was to propose in his book Oper und Drama (1850-51). The guiding principles of his theory were naturalism and dramatic truth, which he felt had been compromised by the musical conventions of contemporary opera. He advocated a new synthesis of music, verse, and staging--what he called a Gesamtkunstwerk. The verse, which Wagner always wrote himself, was to be compressed, metrically free, and alliterative, dispensing with the end-rhyme that led to closed musical structures. The open-ended melody of the vocal line was to be supported by a symphonic accompaniment, continuously fluctuating with the sense of the text and unified by a web of motifs associated more or less directly with characters, things, ideas, or events. Wagner called these motifs Grundthemen, but they have become better known as leitmotivs ("leading motifs"). Ensemble singing was to be avoided. This theoretical music drama was exemplified in its purest form in the Ring, the text of which took shape as Wagner was writing the treatises. Later works adhered less strictly to the theories: ensemble singing returns in Tristan und Isolde, and Die Meistersinger makes use of end-rhyme, closed musical forms, and a plot set in historical rather than mythological times. Even the later portions of the Ring include scenes in which naturalism is sacrificed for musical effect.

In turning to myth and legend for his dramatic materials, Wagner was seeking themes of lasting symbolic value. In this respect he was pursuing a direction already established by Carl Maria von Weber and Heinrich Marschner, both of whom had treated themes involving supernatural forces. Particularly Wagnerian was the theme of fall and redemption, which recurs in all of the mature works except the comic Die Meistersinger. Although Wagner varied his treatment in each opera, the means of redemption is typically some combination of increased awareness on the part of the flawed male protagonist and the love and instinctive vision of his female counterpart. Death is celebrated as a step to transfiguration. The philosophical overtones of many of his themes, together with the symbolic nature of much of the dialogue and action, have made Wagner's operas a favorite subject for modern psychological analysis and experimental productions.

The extreme position formulated by Wagner made him the center of controversy even in his own lifetime. Such contemporaries as Berlioz, Brahms, and Verdi were impressed by his works but did not fully understand them. The next generation reacted in various ways: some followed, some sought alternatives, and others adapted aspects of Wagner's musical style to traditional methods. His influence on the mainstream of musical development was above all through Tristan und Isolde and Parsifal. Extreme chromaticism, irregular resolution of dissonance, and continuously shifting key centers make Tristan a pivotal work in a progression leading ultimately to the atonality of Arnold Schoenberg and his followers. Although the impressionists, led by Debussy, favored other expressive goals and found other ways of weakening tonality, they, too, were influenced by Wagner's treatment of orchestral color (especially in Parsifal), his rich chords, and his subtle relation of motif to large-scale structure.

Wagner's other theoretical writings include Über deutsches Musikwesen (On German Music, 1840), Das Kunstwerk der Zukunft (The Art Work of the Future, 1849), Religion und Kunst (Religion and Art, 1880), Über das Dirigieren (On Conducting, 1869), Über die Anwendung der Musik auf das Drama (On the Application of Music to the Drama, 1879), and Eine Mitteilung an meine Freunde (A Communication to My Friends, 1851). Wagner also wrote an autobiography, My Life (1865-80; trans. 1911).

Wagner remains a controversial figure long after his death. He was a noted anti-Semite; after his death his second wife continued to promote these views along with his music. Wagner's music came to symbolize German nationalism and the German soul, an image that became increasingly potent after World War I, with the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party. Hitler appropriated Wagner's music, using it as a soundtrack to his ideals of Aryan superiority. Because of this association, his music has not been played in Israel since 1938. In late 1991, a proposal to play a concert of Wagner's music provoked a great outcry among concentration-camp survivors, and the idea was shelved.


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