During his time in Paris, Vincent van Gogh and his brother Theo attended several concerts featuring music by Richard Wagner. Vincent also read a book about the 19th-century German composer. ‘What an artist’, said Vincent of him.
Wagner himself liked to refer to his compositions as musical dramas, which were designed to engulf the audience in a total experience. He was an innovator who attached great importance to expression and emotion – exactly Van Gogh’s sentiments when it came to painting.
‘But by intensifying all the colours one again achieves calm and harmony. And something happens like with the Wagner music which, performed by a large orchestra, is no less intimate for that.’
To Willemien van Gogh. Arles, c. 30 March 1888