Historical and Commemorative Medals
Collection of Benjamin Weiss


WIENER, Charles: Germany, 1876, Bronze, 71 mm
Obv: Bust of Richard Wagner (r.)     RICHARD WAGNER
Rev: Characters from several of Wagner's Operas, with bridge inscribed BAYREVTH in background and Valhalla beyond. The characters (as best as I could discern) are as follows, from left to right: Siegfried (with sword), Wotan (with staff), Brunnhilde, Tannheuser (with harp), Parsifal (with Holy Grail), Lohengrin, and Hans Sachs (with book). Richard Wagner is at far right. Below are the swan from Lohengrin and the three Rheinmaidens from Das Rheingold.
Signed: CH:WIENER. VERLAG C.G. THIEME LEIPZIG. (Commissioned by C.G. Thieme, coin dealer of Leipzig)
Ref:  Forrer VI, p. 482;  Weiss BW586

Richard Wagner (1813-1883) a German composer, music theorist, and essayist, was born in Leipzig, Germany. After marrying, he moved to Dresden where he became involved in a nationalist movement to unify the independent German States into a single nation. The resulting revolution forced Wagner to flee and move to other European countries, where he spent the next twelve years in exile.

Although Wagner, in the view of many critics, was a despicable character in his personal life – being deceitful and unfaithful to his wife and friends and virulently anti-Semitic – he was brilliant as a composer. His symphonic operas (musical dramas), in which he wrote both the words and music, revolutionized the style and form of opera and are among the finest ever composed. Indeed, Wagner’s monumental Der Ring des Nibelungen, consisting of four separate operas, is considered by some as the greatest work of art of any type ever conceived.

Late in his life Wagner convinced King Ludwig II of Bavaria, a great music lover, who was an admirer, friend and sponsor to Wagner, to build for him an opera house in Bayreuth, a small town in Bavaria, Germany. This Festspielhaus, which Wagner designed himself, was to perform only the works of Wagner. To this day it is considered to be among the finest operatic theaters in the world. The Bayreuth festival, the most celebrated music festival in Germany, and one which attracts politicians, celebrities and music-lovers from all over the globe, was officially inaugurated in 1876, the event likely commemorated by this medal.

LINK to Biography of Richard Wagner (from Wikipedia)

LINK to Bayreuth Festival (from Wikipedia)