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Perhaps the most bizarre patron of classical music was King Ludwig II of Bavaria. He is often referred to as "Mad King Ludwig".

Mad as he may have been, he left us the fairy tale castles Neuschwanstein and Linderhof. He was deposed in 1886 and mysteriously died in Lake Stranberg.

Why was he deposed? There were several reasons but one of them was funding almost every idea Richard Wagner had. The funding came from Ludwig's personal wealth but his advisers didn't seem to care.

Ludwig funded the premieres of Tristan und Isolde, Die Meistersinger, Parsifal,Sigfried, Götterdämmerung and also funded first complete performances of The Ring Cycle at Bayreuth.

Speaking of Bayreuth, Ludwig funded the festival house and Wagner's personal villa Wahnfried. Ludwig was obsessed with Wagner's music and included scenes from Wagner's operas in his castles including a subterranean theater specifically built to stage Lohengrin.

Yes, "Mad King Ludwig" was crazy--for Wagner. Without Ludwig, Wagner's later operas may have never found the stage because they weren't financially viable. Ticket sales weren't going to fund the productions.

Who stepped in? A patron. The importance of patrons in classical music is paramount. Whenever I go to a concert I look for the patrons who gave money to make the event possible and I am grateful.

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