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Richard Wagner

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Leipzig, Germany (1813 – 1883)

Wilhelm Richard Wagner (22nd May 1813 in Leipzig, Germany – 13th February 1883 in Venice, Italy) was an influential German composer, conductor, music theorist, and essayist, primarily known for his s (or “music dramas” as he later came to call them). His compositions, particularly those of his later period, are notable for their contrapuntal texture, rich harmonies and orchestration, and elaborate use of leitmotifs: themes associated with specific characters, locales, or plot elements. Wagner’s chromatic musical language prefigured later developments in European classical music (Anton Bruckner, Gustav Mahler, Richard Strauss et al), including extreme chromaticism and atonality (Alban Berg, Anton Webern, Arnold Schönberg et al). He transformed musical thought through his idea of Gesamtkunstwerk (“total art-work”), epitomized by his monumental four-opera cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen (1876). His concept of leitmotif and integrated musical expression was also a strong influence on many 20th century film scores.

Wagner was and remains a controversial figure, both for his musical and dramatic innovations, and for his anti-semitic and political opinions. Wagner was one of Adolf Hitler’s favorite composers; the composer’s influence on him has been a subject of heated debate ever since the end of World War II.

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  • frihet-

    Gênio eternizado.

    23 Apr 3:09pm Reply
  • sandrarichm

    Love this Music

    20 Apr 5:31pm Reply
  • Aartmusic

    Never get tired of the Lohengrin prelude to the first act.

    26 Mar 7:15am Reply
  • Aartmusic

    The richest melodies and harmonies I've ever heard. Especially in the Tristan und Isolde opera. Is there any composer who is better than Wagner? I doubt it.

    30 Jan 4:07pm Reply
  • Sanity_Theorist

    Everyone should break away from Nietzsche's philosophy. The answer to and pondering using his beliefs is always "Who cares? It doesn't matter, because god is dead."

    8 Dec 2014 Reply
  • hjbardenhagen

    With the Spotify on-demand playback on all Last.fm pages showing tracks (e.g. albums) it's quite easy to listen to some complete Bayreuth performances of the Ring now. My favorite is the one by Daniel Barenboim, but the albums by Christian Thielemann, Pierre Boulez, Karl Böhm et al can transport the unique live sound of the Festspielhaus to your speakers as well. Older ones in mono are also worth listening featuring legendary Wagner singers and conductors.

    20 Oct 2014 Reply
  • Dream-core

    Sadly Wagner didn't write more symphonies. But I must be happy with what he already composed. [2]

    14 Oct 2014 Reply
  • oranje31

    super

    7 Sep 2014 Reply
  • Absurd93

    I suspect the break between Wagner and Nietzsche ultimately stemmed from the latter's rejection of Schopenhauerian philosophy, which had had a major influence upon Wagner's work since Tannhäuser. Nietzsche, whilst initially favourable to Schopenhauer, came to reject the idea of self-denial, and instead sought to establish a philosophy which affirmed life. Hence, it's understandable why he would oppose Parsifal on philosophical grounds, given that the opera's libretto stresses the need to reject the material world and the urges of the will. The issue was not that Wagner had possibly become a Christian. Rather, from Nietzsche's evolving perspective, Wagner had fully embraced a philosophy which - religious or not - still praised servility, chastity and the denial of the self. Parsifal, in particular, represented for Nietzsche a life-denying philosophy which he saw as being decadent, and as being ultimately harmful to the development of great individuals.

    4 Sep 2014 Reply
  • Seavas

    listening to HMV's potted ring cycle really does ruin all later wagner singing for you.

    27 Aug 2014 Reply
  • OG-Gurda

    Sadly Wagner didn't write more symphonies. But I must be happy with what he already composed.

    26 Aug 2014 Reply
  • MonarchKingdom

    @Omen-Sinistrum: I read the most insightful description of this controversy in Bryan Magee's Wagner and Philosophy. Bryan Magee's other (very short) book on Wagner is also worth reading.

    23 Aug 2014 Reply
  • candlesmoke

    aryan art.

    20 Aug 2014 Reply
  • MonarchKingdom

    Nietzsche disliked the topic of Parsifal (but as Nietzsche had argued previously, the subject should matter very little when discussing an artistic work's value), but he also wrote: "Moreover, apart from all irrelevant questions (as to what the use of this music can or ought to be) and on purely aesthetic grounds; has Wagner ever done anything better?" (See Wikipedia on Parsifal.) Obviously Nietzsche very much liked the music. It must also be mentioned that - as Bryan Magee has demonstrated - Nietzsche must have known that Wagner never did convert and that Wagner only mentioned Christianity in a mocking manner (moreover, Parsifal is more Buddhist or Schopenhauerist than Christian), so Nietzsche's criticism cannot have been due to Wagner's supposed Christianity. On the other hand, according to Bryan Magee Nietzsche must have had some personal reasons to attack Wagner.

    18 Aug 2014 Reply
  • BatooqSupersoul

    1. Nietzsche warned, in poetic verse, that Wagner’s art is not Germanic. Instead, it is similar to Italy’s Roman Catholic religion; 2. Why did Wagner write Parsifal and present the contrast between sensuality and chastity?; 3. Did Wagner, in old age, parody tragedy by freely showing a simple country boy as the ideal embodiment of ascetic chastity? If Parsifal was, however, meant seriously, then it is an expression of Wagner’s late hatred of sensuality, egotism, and life. It would then be considered to be bad art.

    13 Aug 2014 Reply
  • MonarchKingdom

    Nietzsche had personal reasons to attack Wagner. It had very little to nothing to do with Wagner's music.

    8 Aug 2014 Reply
  • OG-Gurda

    I listen to him everyday and I do not get bored yet...

    29 Jul 2014 Reply
  • Zittyyy

    The master ...(2)

    22 Jul 2014 Reply
  • falcomanka

    The master ...(1)

    19 Jul 2014 Reply
  • Seavas

    nietzsche just recognized that mozart and bizet were the music of the übermensch.

    19 Jul 2014 Reply
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