Born at Giessen. He studied with Vincenz Lachner, at Mannheim, from 1852 to 1855 and then spent three years at the Leipsic Conservatory. He became a conductor at Saarbrücken in 1859, and two years later became chapelmaster of the German Opera at Rotterdam. From 1864 to 1872 he was Court chapelmaster at Carlsruhe, when he was appointed to the Court Theatre of Munich, which position he held until 1896. He had the honor of directing the first performance of Parsifal at Bayreuth, and he gained a high reputation as a Wagnerian conductor. He died at Munich.