Wagner's Festival ideal was closely bound up with the genesis of his principal work, Der Ring des Nibelungen, each element in the equation fructifying the other. Both are rooted in the events leading up to the revolutions of 1848-9, a period when Wagner was Court Kapellmeister in Dresden. His reflections on a fundamental reform of existing theatrical conditions finally led him to side with the revolutionaries and to play an active role in the May Uprising in Dresden in 1849. Following the Uprising's brutal suppression, Wagner was forced to flee from Dresden and to seek refuge in Switzerland. Even while he was still in Dresden, he had already sketched out a Nibelung drama, Siegfried's Death, which he later revised as Götterdämmerung.
It was on 14 September 1850 that Wagner first sketched out the idea of a festival, an idea that continued to obsess him throughout the years that followed.