- Barry Millington
(b Nymphenburg, nr Munich, Aug 25, 1845; d Lake Starnberg, nr Munich, June 13, 1886). Bavarian King and patron of Richard Wagner (see Wagner family, §1). On ascending the Bavarian throne in 1864, at the age of 18, he befriended Wagner – whose works he admired with a passion bordering on neurosis – and initiated the generous financial support that allowed the composer not only to devote his energies to his ambitious projects (and to execute them without need for artistic compromise) but also to live in a state of luxury to which he had not previously been accustomed. There was indisputably an element of opportunism in Wagner’s relationship with the king, and Ludwig’s obsession with Wagner and his music was one reason for his neglect of affairs of state and resulting unpopularity. His patronage should, however, be put in perspective: the total amount received by Wagner over the 19 years of their acquaintance – including stipend, rent and the cash value of presents – was 562914 marks, or less than one seventh of the annual Civil List....