Paul Heise's life is Richard Wagner.

Written By The Wagnerian on Monday, 10 July 2017 | 1:54:00 pm

An overview of Paul Heise's (creator of Wagnerheim)"obsession" with Wagner.

Paul Heise's life is Richard Wagner.

The Annapolis resident has immersed himself in the 19th-century German composer's Ring Cycle for over 35 years, dropping out of graduate school and giving up jobs to study the set of four epic operas.

Heise has a website devoted to his analysis of Der Ring des Nibelungen, http://www.wagnerheim.com (heim is home in German), which features more than 1,500 pages of information.

"I've never met anyone quite so single-minded," said Elliott Zuckerman, a retired St. John's College tutor who once had Heise in a class about another Wagner work, "Tristan and Isolde." "He really has had one thing in his life."

You know, when you read a piece of literature or hear a piece of music that gets inside you? This thing got inside of me. It was as if I'd woken up in some way. That was it. It rendered me permanently unemployable.

Zuckerman said Heise's conclusions about the Ring are as "good as any others" and was impressed with the breadth of what Heise posted online. "The website is remarkable and incredibly complete and very apt these days with renewed interest in the Ring," Zuckerman said.

Heise's love affair with the music began when he was 18 and heard a sampling of the work for the first time on the radio. "It was a goose bump moment," he said.

The Annapolis native immediately went to a store to find a recording. He took it home and listened - nonstop - to all 19 records. "I dropped the needle and I was instantly hooked," he said. "I stayed up 24 hours. You know, when you read a piece of literature or hear a piece of music that gets inside you? This thing got inside of me. It was as if I'd woken up in some way. That was it. It rendered me permanently unemployable."

That's a bit of hyperbole, but not that far from the truth. Heise has held a series of jobs over the years, including a stint as a juvenile probation officer, but he's also taken long breaks to focus on his research. He's currently a part-time gate attendant at Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis.