TASK – Select a composer who interests you and do a post including Biographical info as well as an aural and score analysis of an excerpt one work.
Born in Leipzig in 1813, Richard Wagner was one of the most influential composers of the Romantic Era. He was educated in Leipzig, and from early adolescence his love for music and theatre was clear. He was greatly influenced by his stepfather’s love of the theatre, and he believed that music and drama should be fused in opera, an idea that was to stay with him for the rest of his life. He was greatly influenced by Beethoven, and in 1831 he began to study composition with the cantor of St Thomas church. In 1833 he composed his first opera, Die Feen (The Fairies) that heavily imitated the style of Carl Maria Von Weber. During this period he wrote a number of his early operas, which showed none of the musical innovations Wagner was famous for. It was also during this period that he married Minna Planer, an actress with whom Wagner was to have a turbulent marriage. In 18389 the couple fled to Paris (illegally) to escape the debt Wagner had amassed, and it was here Wagner wrote The Flying Dutchman and Rienzi.
Rienzi was performed in Dresden in 1842 and was an immediate success, which lead to Wagner being appointed as the conductor of the Dresden Opera. He stayed here for 6 years, gaining a reputation as an excellent opera composer and conductor. During this period he wrote and staged Tannhauser, and wrote Lohengrin. When revolutions swept through Europe in 1848, Wagner became so caught up in the Dresden insurrection that he was eventually banished from Germany and spent the next 12 years in exile. While in exile he began to work on ‘Der Ring Des Nibelungen’, his epic opera cycle based on Nordic mythology. He began the libretto (Wagner wrote all his own libretti) in 1848 and did not finish the music until 1874. During this period he also wrote the passionate ‘Tristan und Isolde’.
In 1864 King Ludwig of Bavaria, a Wagnerian fanatic who erased all of his considerable debts and allowed him to complete ‘The Ring Cycle’. During this period Wagner fell in love with Cosima Liszt, daughter of Franz Liszt and wife to Hans von Bulow, Wagner’s favourite conductor and close friend. Shortly after Minna died, Wagner and Cosima were married. Wagner died in 1883, after completing his last opera ‘Parsifal’, at the age of 69.
Opera was the central focus of Wagner’s life, and he wrote 13, the last 10 of which are an integral part of international operatic repertoire. Some of his most notable compositions include ‘Tristan und Isolde’, ‘Die Meistersinger von Nuremburg’, ‘Lohengrin’, ‘Tannhauser’ and ‘The Ring Cycle’. Wagner composed little other music, however he did write a single symphony, ‘The Faust Overture’ and a number of choral works such as ‘Siegfried Idyll’.
Vorspiel; Das Rheingold
Das Rheingold is the first Opera from THE RING CYCLE, and premiered separately to the rest of THE RING CYCLE in Munich in 1869. The Vorspiel is the prelude to the work and extends over 136 bars which consist of simple configurations of the chord E-flat Major. This section represents the eternal, unchanging flow of the River Rhine, and is the best known drone piece in the concert repertoire.
Click below for Score: