Peter Cornelius (1824 - 1874)
The composer Peter Cornelius was born in Mainz on 24 December 1824 into a theatrical family. His father died when the boy was quite young and he went to live with his uncle Peter von Cornelius. He began his career as an actor, and then studied composition with Siegfried Dehn in Berlin. In 1852 he became associated with the “The Music of the Future”, also known as the “New German School”, following his visit to Liszt in 1842, culminating in his keen championship of both Liszt and Wagner. In his early life Cornelius was particularly interested in literature, the seeds of which manifested themselves in his later prolific output of criticism. He wrote a large number of songs, the best known being the charming and delightful Weinachtslieder. Cornelius also wrote three operas, Der Barbier von Bagdad (1858), Der Cid (1865) and Gunold, the last completed in 1891 following his death in 1874.