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Richard Wagner MuseumRichard Wagner, known for his bombastic operas of Norse Gods and winged Valkyries, spent several years of his life in Switzerland on the shores of lake Lucerne. Wagner was born in Leipzig, went to grammar school in Dresden, returned to Leipzig's Old Nicolas School, and served as a choirmaster in Würzburg, and his operas were performed on the stages of Paris. Becoming involved in nationalist politics his home region of Saxony he had beat a hasty departure after the failed “May Uprising” against the Hohenzollern King Frederick Augustus. The Wittenberg King Ludwig II of Bavaria, the builder of romantic revival castles was a huge fan of Wagner and offered him sanctuary in Munich. But Wagner’s personal life became even more complicated there, through a scandalous affair with the married daughter of his friend Franz Lizst. So “Mad” King Ludwig footed the bill for Wagner to take up a residence in Lucerne.

From 1866 to 1872, Wagner lived in an 18th Century mansion in Tribschen, just overlooking the lake, south of the city. He referred to his six years on the lakeside his “Tribschen idyll”. There, he married his mistress Cosima Liszt von Bülow, had a couple of children and presented her with a composition for her birthday in 1870, the “Siegfried Idyll”, ori8ginall performed on the stairway of the house. His Ring Cycle of operas were in good parts composed during his Switzerland years, rather inspired from his climb up nearby Mt Pilatus. The mountains of Germany, weren’t nearly as suggestive of the God’s Valhalla as the snow-capped peak, where the body of Pontious Pilate was said to be buried deep in an ice lake. Wagner left the Tribschen house in 1872, moving to Bayreuth to establish his festival opera theater.

The house contains some memorabilia from Wagner’s time there, displayed on the lower floor, most singularly the Grand Piano upon which Wagner composed “Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg”. Also there are photographs and paintings relating to Wagner’s life and work, and a collection of letters and musical scores. On the upper floor is the Schumacher Musical Instrument Collection of historic musical instruments. The Richard Wagner Museum is open Tuesday to Sunday 10 am to 12 pm and 2 pm to 5 pm, from mid-March thru November. There is a park if the museum is closed. The museum can be reached by city bus line 6, 7 or 8 to the Wartegg stop, about 20 minutes from the Lucerne Bahnhof. Visit by Lake Lucerne ferry boat from April to October.

Wagner Museum

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