The Story of the Boy Who Wrote Little Plays
A very odd house used to stand in the quaint old Saxon City of Leipzig. This house was called the Red and White Lion. I suppose no one ever really saw a lion that was red and white, but nevertheless that was the name of the house. There, was born Richard Wagner, who was one day to write the wonderful opera scenes of which we will soon read.
Richard Wagner's day of birth was May 22, 1813. That was more than a century ago! More than twelve hundred months!
Since that time, music has changed very greatly. When Wagner was born, much of the music that was being written had to follow certain patterns or models just as architects follow certain patterns in building a house. Now the composer when he writes music feels a great deal freer as he knows that he can make his own patterns,—that he is not held in by any such hard laws as those which held back such composers as Mozart, Bach, Haydn and Handel. It was Wagner who did much to set music free from the old barriers. This does not mean that music to-day is better than music that was written by Haydn and Beethoven. Indeed it often is not nearly so good, but it is freer, less held down by rule.
When Wagner wrote his first opera that had any success (Rienzi) he followed the models of composers of the day, but when he came to write operas that followed, such as Flying Dutchman, Lohengrin and Tannhäuser, he struck out in new and fresh paths which made him many enemies at first and many friends later.
See you tomorrow for part 2 of our story.