Free Music Studies: Richard Wagner

Free Music Studies: Richard Wagner
Free Music Studies: Richard Wagner

Wagner: The Story of the Boy Who Wrote Little Plays

Richard Wagner was a German born composer famous for his complex operas.

Free eBook
  • Map the following (you’ll find mapping resources below):
  • View the Bruhl, or the house of the red-and-white lion, where Wagner was born.
  • How long ago today has it been since Wagner’s birth?
  • Review Mozart, Bach, Haydn, and Handel.
  • Compare and contrast the styles of Mozart, Bach, Haydn, and Handel with that of Wagner.
  • Watch the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra perform the Overture to Rienzi, Wagner’s first success, in the video below.
  • Listen to the Overture to The Flying Dutchman. Can you see why the author suggested that Wagner “struck out in new and fresh paths”?
  • Review Liszt, Schumann, Verdi, and Chopin — contemporaries of Wagner.
  • Add Wagner to your composer timeline.
  • You can meet Little Nell, Paul Dombey, Sam Weller, Oliver Twist, and other Dickens characters in Tales from Dickens by Hallie Erminie Rives.
  • Read a summary of Die Meistersinger.
  • Listen to Ben Heppner sing “The Prize Song.”
  • Learn more about Nibelungs in Famous Men of the Middle Ages.
  • You can learn more about Homer’s Odyssey that Wagner translated into German in The Children’s Odyssey by Alfred Church.
  • Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, and King Lear are all Shakespeare plays, which you can learn more about in Tales from Shakespeare by Charles Lamb.
  • Narrate, or tell, what influence Wagner’s classical education had on his operas.
  • The composer of Der Freischütz and of Oberon was Carl Maria von Weber.
  • Take a peak inside Villa Wahnfried where Wagner is buried.
  • View a photo of Haus Wahnfried.
  • Copy the list of Wagner operas on the notebooking pages below.
  • Donner, Fafner, Mime, Freia, and Wotan are characters from Wagner’s opera Das Rheingold.
  • You can write or narrate your story on Wagner notebooking pages below.
  • Use the “Some Questions” section as oral or written narration prompts.
  • Learn more about Wagner from the Book of Knowledge:
    Richard Wagner (1813–83) was born in Leipzig. He went through life mystifying and disturbing both his enemies and his friends. Schumann disapproved of his writing and felt that he was musically uneducated and could hardly “set down a four-measure phrase beautifully or even correctly,” though admitting that the man was brilliant and had a great talent for showmanship.Wagner learned the art of stagecraft from his stepfather, Ludwig Geyer, who was an actor. There was time out for literary study in the University of Leipzig; but at the age of twenty-one Wagner had written his first opera. He began then the wanderings that continued all of his life, traveling from one German city to another as conductor of theater orchestras.Wagner as a composer of operas was lucky; he did not have to suit his music to the writings of another man. His literary genius was as great as his musical genius. At the age of eleven his ability to write German verse was so far advanced that he attempted translations from the English of parts of Shakespeare’s plays. His feeling for high dramatic tragedy was completely in control by the time he was fourteen….When he was ready to begin his music dramas he found most of his stories in German and other myths. He constructed his plays in poetry while at the same time he heard in his head the music that he later composed.

     “Nineteenth-Century Peaks in Music” from The Book of Knowledge

 Further Investigation

Richard Wagner
Biography at Classics for Kids.

Richard Wagner, Composer
Biography for kids from the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.

Richard Wagner
Simple biography at

Selected Works

Wagner: Greatest Hits
Our favorite listening series.

Die Walkuere, Act III Prelude (“Ride of the Valkyries)

Gotterdammerung:Dawn & Siegfried’s Rhine Journey

Lohengrin, Act III: Treulich gefuehrt (“Bridal Procession Chorus)

Parsifal: Prelude

Lohengrin, Act I: Prelude

Tannhauser, Act I: Prelude


Use this interactive at to create a composer’s timeline.


Stories of the Wagner Opera by H.A. Guerber
“These short sketches, which can be read in a few moments’ time, are intended to give the reader as clear as possible an outline of the great dramatist-composer’s work.” From the author of The Story of the Greeks, Legends of the Middle Ages, The Story of the Thirteen Colonies, etc.


Adventures of Richard Wagner by Opal Wheeler
Some really enjoy these music biographies by Opal Wheeler.

“Richard Wagner”
Chapter from Stories of Great Musicians by Katherine Lois Scobey.

“Richard Wagner”
Chapter from The World’s Greatest Men of Music by Harriette Brower. Subtitled Story-Lives of Master Musicians, this public domain title tracks nicely with our free music studies.

“Richard Wilhelm Wagner”
Chapter from First Studies in Music Biography also by Thomas Tapper.

“Richard Wagner”
Chapter from Essentials in Music History also by Thomas Tapper.

Child's Own Book of Great Musicians

Child’s Own Book of Great Musicians: The Complete Collection from Bach to Wagner
Complete collection on Kindle (can be read on any device).

The Gift of Music: Great Composers and Their Influence by Jane Stuart Smith & Betty Carlson
Our favorite overall music appreciation reference book. Over 300 pages long covering 43 composers along with Christmas carols. Not only covers the influence of the composer but also how his faith influenced his works. Recommended reading and listening guides at the end of each section. Highly recommended!

Unit Studies & Lesson Plans

Music Drama & Richard Wagner: The Lord of the Ring
Core Knowledge lesson plan that looks at “music drama.”

Printables & Notebooking Pages

World Map
At for locating Germany.

Germany Map
PAT map for locating Liepzig.

Free 18-Page Composer Notebooking Set {Time Limited}
This free set of generic pages from goes perfectly with our studies.

Wagner: The Story of the Boy Who Wrote Little Plays Notebooking Pages
Simple pages for copywork, narrations, or wrapping up.

Enjoy the entire series: