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WAGNER: MUSIC DRAMA

LARS VON TRIER: MELANCHOLIA (2011) WAGNER: TRISTAN AND ISOLDE PRELUDE (1859)

the music drama Music critic.Richard Wagner (1813-1883) • Composer of concertos. by creating a new genre. drama. and politics Widely interested in literature. but mostly known for his operas Brought German Romantic opera to its consummation. politics and religion Musical innovations: dissolution of tonality and the technique of leitmotive . symphonies • • • • and overtures. philosophy. also published on literature.

EARLY YEARS • Strongly influenced by • • • • Carl Maria von Weber and Beethoven Very passionate about literature and music Worked as conductor while composing his first works Struggled to premiere his first works Participated in the revolution of 1848-9 and had to be exiled to Switzerland from Germany .

MEYERBEER AND THE FRENCH GRAND OPERA .

with a ballet • Large casts. special effects. elaborate French Grand Opera sets. with an appeal to the general public • Emerged in the late 1820s • Typically four or five acts. scenery • In the lineage of Lully • Emphasis on historical realism .• Commercially oriented.

in 1842 .Giacomo Meyerbeer (1791-1864) • • • • Robert le diable (1831) Les Huguenots (1836) Eugène Scribe (librettist) Helped Wagner perform his first large opera. Rienzi at the Dresden Opera House.

After Rienzi was criticized for drawing excessively on Meyerbeer’s style. charging them for being “deracinated” and thus lacking in artistic depth. attacking Meyerbeer and Mendelssohn. Wagner published in 1850 an article entitled Judaism in Music. This created a precedent for the appropriation of Wagner as an icon of National Socialism in Nazi Germany .

it is precisely the power to close this bond. in which alone it was a communal Hellenic art. and after removing which. that we lack. and not an altogether human art. but by the folk. but only that of luxuryhowever beautiful!—to widen this garb of the specifically Hellenic religion to the bond of the religion of the future—that of universality—in order to form for ourselves even now a just conception of the art work of the future. this religion of the future. to remove from it the conditions under which it was precisely a Hellenic. it could no longer fill the need of the community.THE ARTWORK OF THE FUTURE (1850) Thus it is our task to make of Hellenic art the altogether human art. to widen the garb of religion. . we are singular and individual. not by the artist. An art work is religion brought to life. however. are created. religions. Yet. as an egoistic individual art species. for after all. unfortunate as we are. no matter how many of us may feel this urge to the art work of the future.

1840! Late medieval Roman politician. from an English novel • Tannhäuser (1843)! German legend set in the time of the minnesingers ! (German courtly love musicians) Heinrich Heine’s telling of an old legend about a ghost ship • The Flying Dutchman (1845)! • Lohengrin (1850)! Medieval German legend by Wolfbach von Eschenbach .EARLY OPERAS • Rienzi.

MUSIC DRAMA • Based on concept of Gesamtkunstwerk • Music. poetry. drama. and philosophy all equally important • Deal with weighty philosophical issues • Based on old German myths and legends • Myth as embodiment of unconscious truths • Required expanded use of orchestra • Leitmotiv technique .

without wishing to seek satisfaction in any selfish illusion whatsoever. in their dismembered condition. and that we then boldly and confidently draw our conclusions as to the great universal art work of the future! THE ARTWORK OF THE FUTURE. then. but with sincere and affectionate resignation to the hope for the art work of the future—we test first of all the nature of the art varieties which today. make up the present general state of art. 1850 .GESAMTKUNSTWERK Let us. that we brace ourselves for this test by a glance at the art of the Hellenes. be content that for the present—without egoistic vanity.

. at once artistic. and to dower him from the exhaustless stores of natural phenomena with an ample and significant background. more especially. and human. for his support. unfold their utmost wealth within this Artwork. the personating individual Man is given. has fashioned for herself an organ which is capable of the highest reaches of expression. nay. For Music.—so in the Orchestra. a unstoppable elemental spring. so peculiar to our instrumental music.GESAMTKUNSTWERK Not one rich faculty of the separate arts will remain unused in the United Artwork of the Future. While Architecture and. scenic Landscape-painting have power to set the executant dramatic Artist in the surroundings of physical Nature. will the manifold developments of Tone. natural. The tone-speech of Beethoven. that pulsing body of many-coloured harmony. in it will each attain its first complete appraisement. in her solitude. and no less swell the breath of Poetry to unimagined fill. Thus. Tone will incite the mimetic art of Dance to entirely new discoveries. This organ is the Orchestra. introduced into Drama by the orchestra. especially. marks an entirely fresh departure for the dramatic artwork.

• Tristan und Isolde (1865) • Die Meistersinger (1867) • Das Ring des Nibelungen (1869-1874): • Das Rheingold • Die Walküre • Siegfried • Götterdämmerung • Parsifal (1882) .

it at like time forms the perfect complement of these surroundings. By its essence diametrically opposed to the scenic landscape which surrounds the actor. in a sense. Thus the Orchestra is like the Earth from which Antæus.THE ORCHESTRA The Orchestra is. most rightly placed in the deepened foreground outside the scenic frame. elastic. so soon as ever his foot had grazed it. inasmuch as it broadens out the exhaustless physical element of Nature to the equally exhaustless emotional element of artistic Man. as to locality. impressionable æther. universal Feeling. the loam of endless. and therefore. whose unmeasured bottom is the great sea of Feeling itself. . drew new immortal life-force. so to speak. from which the individual feeling of the separate actor draws power to shoot aloft to fullest height of growth: it. dissolves the hard immobile ground of the actual scene into a fluent.

etc. arias. • One long web woven with singing • New intensity of emotional expression • Larger than ever—new instruments • Brass section now equal to others • Exciting new tone colors .THE ORCHESTRA • Carries the “music drama” along • No more recitatives.

TRISTAN UND ISOLDE. “LIEBESNACHT” . ACT 2.

and was especially astonished at his noble conception of music. the final summing-up regarding morals alarmed me. as. indeed. with which I had looked out upon life in my Kunstwerk der Zukunft. and felt I could not readily abandon that so-called 'cheerful' Greek aspect of the world. At first I naturally found his ideas by no means palatable. which are now clearly felt for the first time.WAGNER ON SCHOPENHAUER Like every man who is passionately thrilled with life. it was Herwegh who at last. As a matter of fact. on the other hand. I too sought first for the conclusions of Schopenhauer's system. Now at last I could understand my Wotan. for here the annihilation of the will and complete abnegation are represented as the sole true and final deliverance from those bonds of individual limitation in estimating and facing the world. . by a well-timed explanation. For those who hoped to find some philosophical justification for political and social agitation on behalf of so-called 'individual freedom' there was certainly no support to be found here. and I returned with chastened mind to the renewed study of Schopenhauer's book. brought me to a calmer frame of mind about my own sensitive feelings. and even in every great man. With its aesthetic side I was perfectly content. It is from this perception of the nullity of the visible world—so he said—that all tragedy is derived. where all that was demanded was absolute renunciation of all such methods of satisfying the claims of personality. But. On looking afresh into my Nibelungen poem I recognised with surprise that the very things that now so embarrassed me theoretically had long been familiar to me in my own poetical conception. and such a perception must necessarily have dwelt as an intuition in every great poet. it would have startled any one in my mood.

.BAYREUTH FESTSPIELHAUS • Built to perform Wagner’s works exclusively—to this day • The orchestra is hidden from the audience’s view: the great sea of endless Feeling itself.

THE NIBELUNG’S RING (1850-74) • The Nibelung’s Ring • Huge four-opera cycle • The Rhine Gold • The Valkyrie • Siegfried • Twilight of the Gods • Drawn from famous Norse legends • Critique of middle-class values of the day • Moral decline brought about by greed for money and power • Work and discipline valued over emotion .

Sieglinde escapes to bear their child Siegfried. Sieglinde’s husband. Wotan Fricka • • • • • children of the leader of the gods Wotan. Fricka (Wotan’s wife) orders her to kill the couple for commiting incest and adultery. Siegmund is killed in a duel with Hunding.DIE WALKÜRE • Siegmund and Sieglinde. waiting for a hero (Siegfried) to save her 8 other Valkyries Siegmund Sieglinde—Hunding Brünhilde Siegfried . hero of the last two nights Wotan punishes Brünhilde by turning her into a mortal woman and then puts her to sleep surrounded by fire. fall in love after having been separated at birth Wotan orders Brünhilde to protect Siegmund. Fricka and Brünhilde convince Wotan to submit to their will.

OPER UND DRAMA .LEITMOTIVS “These Melodic Moments [.” — WAGNER... the immediate partners in its realization. At their hand we become the constant fellow-knowers of the profoundest secret of the poet's Aim.] will be made by the orchestra into a kind of guides-toFeeling through the whole labyrinthine building of the drama.

thing. idea. or symbol in • • • • • • the drama Makes use of thematic transformation (unlike Berlioz’s Idée Fixe) Romantic variation-like technique Pioneered by Liszt in symphonic poems! Guide the listener through the story Can tell us what the hero thinks or feels when he is saying something else Can show a person or idea changing as drama progresses Technique used widely since Wagner’s day .LEITMOTIVS • Guiding. or leading. motives • Associated with a person.

19 [4/19] 1.08 [4/23] 0.LEITMOTIVS IN ACT I [4/18] 0.24 [4/18] 1.25 .27 [4/23] 2.