Richard Wagner, who was born 200 years ago, is one of the most decisive figures in classical music.

His main creative effort was a series of ten operas, all of which remain in the standard repertory. Despite the great demands these pieces place on opera houses, they continue to be regularly performed and recorded, winning new listeners with their blend of innovative music, literary ambition and theatrical effectiveness.

Wagner's musical innovations, especially in harmony, influenced virtually every composer who followed him. Hugely ambitious, he created a theater dedicated to the performance of his works at Bayreuth, in Germany. To this day, the Festspielhaus performs only his music.

As a thinker, he left a mingled legacy: his ideas about music, theater and performance are of lasting influence, while the glorification of his work by the Nazis, and his own anti-Semitism, guarantee that he remains a controversial figure today.

Listen to the complete Der Ring des Nibelungen.

Der Ring des Nibelungen Immerse yourself in over 14 hours of Richard Wagner's masterpiece, Der Ring des Nibelungen, courtesy of Allegro Music. The audio will begin playing automatically; use the "Playlist" tab to jump ahead to specific scenes. Items denoted with an "i" have highlights and contextual information helpful to understanding the opera. Find out more about Wagner, the operas and this recording using the other tabs.

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Wagner's Life and Work

Stories about Wagner, and the music he created.

  • Deborah Voigt talks Wagner
    Classical MPR asked soprano Deborah Voigt about her history performing Wagner's work, what she thinks makes the composer a special figure, how she reconciles the ugly history of his politics with the importance of his music, and much more.May 22, 2013
  • Author Will Berger? He talks Wagner, too
    Will Berger is an author and radio host whose books include Wagner Without Fear. On the occasion of Richard Wagner's 200th birthday on May 22, take a moment to enjoy a few of Berger's thoughts on what makes Wagner's music so interesting and important.May 22, 2013
  • Morning Glories: Wagner's 200th Birthday
    Every weekday morning at 10 a.m., the hosts at Classical MPR play a stand-out work based on the theme for the week. We call them Morning Glories.May 17, 2013
  • A Wagner Bicentennial Celebration with Pipedreams
    Showcasing music by the foremost 19th century composer who did not write for the pipe organ, Richard Wagner (1813-1883).May 13, 2013
  • Wagner's Siegfried from the Met
    Tune in on Saturday, April 21, at 11 a.m. to hear part three of the Ring, live from the Met. Wagner's cosmic vision focuses on his hero's early conquests, while Robert Lepage's revolutionary stage machine transforms itself from bewitched forest to mountaintop love nest. Jay Hunter Morris sings the title role and Deborah Voigt's Brunnhilde is his prize. Bryn Terfel is the Wanderer. Fabio Luisi conducts.April 20, 2012
  • Wagner's Gotterdammerung from the Met
    With "Gotterdammerung" ("Twilight of the Gods"), the Metropolitan Opera presents the conclusion of Richard Wagner's mighty "Ring" cycle. It's a mythic story, told over the course of four operas, beginning with the creation of the world, and ending with the destruction of Valhalla. Airs Saturday, February 11 at noon.February 10, 2012
  • Wagner's "Die Walkure" at The Met
    Tune in to Classical MPR Saturday, May 14 at 11am to hear Richard Wagner's "Die Walkure" live from The Metropolitan Opera.May 12, 2011

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