In the 1840s, while Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) was enjoying his years at the zenith of his fame, influence and authority over the Central European music and cultural scene, there was a composer four years younger than he who had not yet reached the high plateau destined for him. This man was Richard Wagner (1813-1883). Mendelssohn and Wagner interacted quite a few times during these years, and the experiences were not all favorable.   Their respective visions as to the future course of German music differed greatly. Wagner, the opera composer, saw his medium as the new direction, and with it the ability to nurture and promote his belief in pan-Germanic nationalism. Mendelssohn, a loyal German, but not a nationalist, envisioned a music world led by chamber music, choral music and oratorios, and the symphony orchestra.

Felix Mendelssohn succeeded in having Europe stay the course he envisioned. But soon after his death the German Revolution took place, and nationalism and racism came to the fore.   Richard Wagner suddenly had a voice which the nation listened to, and he used it to great effect in his operatic writing.  

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