Sacked from his job in Riga and pursued by his creditors, Wagner did what anyone else in his position would have done – he made a run for it.
With his unerring gift for gripping drama, exuberant orchestration, piquant harmonies and large, memorable tunes, Piotr Tchaikovsky was a hugely popular and influential composer. But even as he cranked out one masterpiece after another, he was plagued with doubts and occasionally destroyed scores that he was unhappy with.
Johannes Brahms (1833 – 1897) once wrote “I am only too often reminded that I am a difficult person to get along with. I am growing accustomed to bearing the consequences of this”. Famously bad-tempered, tactless and cynical, he is once said to have left a party saying “if there is anyone in here I have not insulted, I apologise”.
In his recently published memoirs,Words Without Music (2015), the American minimalist composer Philip Glass tells the story of a lesson in musical counterpoint he had one afternoon with the formidable Nadia Boulanger. After proffering his 20 page manuscript, Mademoiselle (as she was known) placed it on the piano’s music rack and cast her eyes over the densely written pages.
Renowned for his large-scale operas and his somewhat controversial ideology, Richard Wagner cut a curious figure, dressed in fine silks and living a princely lifestyle later in life. Wagner's life is chronicled here by Kevin Painting, in a rich text that was originally published in the booklet majesticPENTATONEWagner Ring boxset.