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Ludwig II

Ludwig II

Ludwig II, King of Bavaria and patron of Wagner; b. Munich, Aug. 25, 1845; d. (suicide) in the Starnberg Lake, June 13, 1886. As crown prince, he conceived an extreme adulation for Wagner, and when he became King, at 19, he declared his intention to sponsor all of Wagner’s productions, an event that came at the most difficult time of Wagner’s life, beset as he was by personal and financial problems. In sincere gratitude, Wagner spoke of his future plans of composition as “a program for the King.” In his total devotion to Wagner, Ludwig converted his castle Neuschwanstein into a “worthy temple for my divine friend,” installing in it architectural representations of scenes from Wagner’s operas. His bizarre behavior caused the government of Bavaria to order a psychiatric examination, and he was eventually committed to an asylum near the Starnberg Lake. During a walk, he overpowered the psychiatrist escorting him, and apparently dragged him to his death in the lake, and drowned himself, too. Much material on Ludwig II is found in Wagner’s bibliography; see also W. Blunt, The Dream King, Ludwig II of Bavaria (London, 1970), and C. Mclntosh, The Swan King: Ludwig II of Bavaria (London, 1982).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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