Tristan und Isolde occupied Wagner from 1857 until 1859. The opera’s Prelude reached audiences for the first time that year, in a concert version prepared and conducted by Wagner’s friend . (Wagner later had an affair with Bülow’s wife, , who also happened to be Liszt’s illegitimate daughter; she eventually left her husband and married Wagner, who had already fathered her children.) In 1863, while still trying to rally support for a staged premiere, Wagner paired the Prelude with an instrumental version of the Liebestod in a concert performance, as heard here.
Wagner was living in Zurich, exiled from Dresden after his participation in the of 1849, when he met . Otto was a wealthy retired merchant and became an important patron for Wagner in Zurich. When the Wesendoncks moved to a in 1857, they invited Wagner and his wife, Minna, to stay in a smaller house on the property.
Wagner's technically challenging works always proved difficult for the average 19th century opera house. This lack of resources often enraged the composer who dreamed of presenting his works in a theater where proper stagecraft and adequate amounts of time for rehearsal would be the norm. On the day of his fifty-ninth birthday, Wagner saw workers lay the foundation-stone of the Festspielhaus...
In the middle of the 19th century, the German-speaking musical world was split between two seemingly incompatible ideals. On one side were the conservative standard-bearers, disciples of Schumann and Mendelssohn who maintained strong connections to music of the past and who favored the established forms of “pure” music (as in symphonies, sonatas and the like). Johannes Brahms was the most visible and successful representative of this style; his cohort included , the violinist and the ever-acerbic critic . The opposing pole was more concerned with “the artwork of the future,” as Richard Wagner termed it in an from 1849. Wagner pushed his agenda through increasingly adventurous operas, while his colleague Franz Liszt opened the floodgates of and even . Both sides, interestingly enough, held up Beethoven as their paragon, a testament to that composer’s singular role as the last great Classicist and the first true Romantic in music.
The Ride of the Valkyries from Die Walküre (1854-56)
Approximate duration: 5 minutes
Richard Wagner (1813-1883) aimed to be more than just a composer. He set out to redefine opera as a "total work of art" combining the highest aspirations of drama, poetry, the symphony, the visual arts, even religion and philosophy. Equally celebrated and vilified in his own time, Wagner continues to provoke debate today regarding his political legacy as well as his music and aesthetic theories. examines his works in their intellectual and cultural contexts.
Adapted by Bernard da Costa from the diaries of Richard Wagner, Beethoven’s music soars in the background as Wagner, a poor young composer, struggles toward Vienna to meet the composer he idealizes. Translated by Anita Conrade.
Krehbiel identifies as a violoncellist later with the Philharmonic Society, Don Ottavio; and Carlo Angrisani, Masetto, a role he had sung at the first London performance of the work.
Da Ponte, the librettist of the work, who had become Professor of Italian at Columbia College, had induced Garcia to put on the opera.
Seven original essays investigate such topics as music drama in light of rituals of naming in the composer's works and the politics of genre; the role of leitmotif in Wagner's reception; the urge for extinction in as psychology and symbol; Wagner as his own stage director; his conflicted relationship with pianist-composer Franz Liszt; the anti-French satire in the context of the Franco-Prussian War; and responses of Jewish writers and musicians to Wagner's anti-Semitism. In addition to the editor, the contributors are Karol Berger, Leon Botstein, Lydia Goehr, Kenneth Hamilton, Katherine Syer, and Christian Thorau.
Not surprisingly, when the London Bach Choir began performing the on a semi-regular basis, the reviewers raved: vocalists trained for Bach, they agreed, were by far the best-equipped to handle Brahms' difficult demands.
In the United States, critical reception generally seemed to follow the leads of the European critics, although a tendency to dismiss the work as "difficult" and overly "academic" can also be discerned.
It would be difficult to point to another figure in the history of Westernmusic who was as comprehensively involved with the larger “world” abouthim than Richard Wagner, or whose impact was felt throughout so manyvaried domains in his lifetime and for long after. ...
The Symphony’s finale begins chastely enough, with a swift chorale in a hushed, sotto voce dynamic. But this opening turns out to be only a pretext, serving to prepare the Haydnesque surprise of the full ensemble entering on an offbeat some 30 seconds later. The entire movement has a Classical bearing, propelled forward by crisp counterpoint and lucid contrasts in the orchestration. It is hardly “,” as Brahms described it in another letter, but the formal restraint and elegance do stand in marked contrast to the Romantic grandiosity favored by Wagner and his cohort.
Even before Wagner had completed the libretti for the four operas, he began drafting musical ideas. One of the earliest fragments, dated July 23, 1851, included the leitmotif that spawned Wagner’s most recognizable orchestral episode: The Ride of the Valkyries, from the second opera in the cycle, Die Walküre. Wagner composed the bulk of the opera between 1854 and 1856, although the premiere did not take place until 1870.