Thursday, March 23, 2006

War of The Romantics Part IX. Richard Wagner (1813-1883)



"I love Wagner...but even more, I love the sound a cat makes when it's hung outside a window by the tail, and it tries to stick to the glass with its claws." The poet Baudelaire said this about who was probably the greatest operatic composer of all time. Wagner revolutionized the realm of German music, taking it beyond where it was with the earlier romantic composers.

Wagner has been known for his extraordinarily long operas, large orchestras, and of course his strange personal life and bad case of anti-semitism (his music was banned in Israel for some time). His operas were often based on German mythology i.e. Tannhauser and Lohengrin, and he viewed them as part of a new music of the future, which he took credit for developing. His arrogance irritated virtually every composer who was alive at the time, and most did not like him or his music.

Still he made major contributions to opera such as the Leitmotif (short musical themes that go along with specific characters in an opera) and a new operatic form that dispatched with the aria-recitative-aria formula of other composers. There were also numerous developments in orchestral composition thanks to Wagner and his use of large orchestras, offstage instruments, new instruments such as the Wagner Tuba, and new theaters designed specifically for the performance of his operas.

The Prelude to Act One of Lohengrin is a work that does not fit the description of the composer, yet it is typical of Wagner's more lyric works. It is slow and beautiful, with not a hint of arrogance, anti-semitism, or tortured cats that may have been suggested by this introduction.

Enjoy, and let me know what you think! I have some more Wagner that I can post if you like.

Lohengrin, Prelude to Act I- Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Sir Georg Solti - Decca

Prelude to act III- New York Phil.

Much more conventional, catchy, and upbeat than the first prelude.

Elsa's Procession to the Cathedral - Chor der Bayreuther Festpiele; Orchester der Bayreuther Festpiele

You will recognize this one as the most popular wedding song "Here comes the bride"

2 Comments:

At March 24, 2006, Anonymous Korpus said...

i love wagner over sceerching cats!!
but to ask post for some opera┬┤s is a little to much.
but when you ask i like Tristan & Isolde a lot!

 
At March 29, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very nice pieces. Thanks a lot.
Some more would be great. Love it.

 

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