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Why We Can’t Hear Wagner’s Music
First Things ^ | December 2010 | David "Spengler" Goldman

Posted on 11/22/2010 4:52:19 PM PST by mojito

Late in the nineteenth century, men and women in apparent possession of their senses heard Richard Wagner’s new operas and announced that their lives had changed forever. Charles Baudelaire saw Tannhäuser in 1861 and gushed, “Listening to this impassioned, despotic music, painted upon the depths of darkness, riven by dreams, it seems like the vertiginous imaginings of opium.” (Baudelaire, author of The Flowers of Evil, meant this as a compliment.) The twenty-three-year-old Gustav Mahler, after hearing Parsifal, wrote, “I understood that the greatest and most painful revelation had just been made to me, and that I would carry it unspoiled for the rest of my life.” For the first time in history, a composer lent his name to a cultural movement with ramifications far beyond music. As Adolf Hitler observed in 1943, “At the beginning of this century there were people called Wagnerians. Other people had no special name.”

Why did Wagner loom so large to his contemporaries? The answer is that he evoked, in the sensuous, intimate realm of musical experience, an apocalyptic vision of the Old World. Wagner’s stage works declared that the time of the Old Regime was over—the world of covenants and customs had come to an end, and nothing could or should restrain the impassioned impulse of the empowered individual. Wagner’s baton split the sea of European culture.

(Excerpt) Read more at firstthings.com ...


TOPICS: Arts/Photography; History; Music/Entertainment
KEYWORDS: richardwagner; wagner
Interesting read.
1 posted on 11/22/2010 4:52:21 PM PST by mojito
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To: sitetest

Ping.


2 posted on 11/22/2010 4:53:01 PM PST by mojito
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To: mojito; .30Carbine; 1cewolf; 1rudeboy; 2nd Bn, 11th Mar; 31R1O; ADemocratNoMore; ...

Dear mojito,

Great article! Thanks for the ping!

Classical Music Ping List ping!

If you want on or off this list, let me know via FR e-mail.

Thanks,

sitetest


3 posted on 11/22/2010 4:58:54 PM PST by sitetest ( If Roe is not overturned, no unborn child will ever be protected in law.)
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To: mojito
I hea it just fine.

Magic Fire Music

4 posted on 11/22/2010 5:00:12 PM PST by Red_Devil 232 (VietVet - USMC All Ready On The Right? All Ready On The Left? All Ready On The Firing Line!)
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To: mojito

Very Interesting. I wish I remembered more of My Music theory from ttoo many tears aago or still had an instrument to act it out.


5 posted on 11/22/2010 5:14:35 PM PST by barb-tex (What else did you expect from the likes of 0?)
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To: mojito

Symphony for dog whistle in D minor?


6 posted on 11/22/2010 5:17:17 PM PST by NonValueAdded (Palin 2012: don't retreat, just reload)
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To: mojito
Wagner: Tristan-Vorspiel und Liebestod
7 posted on 11/22/2010 5:22:15 PM PST by steelyourfaith (ObamaCare Death Panels: a Final Solution to the looming Social Security crisis ?)
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To: mojito

I took a college course on Wagner. I love the music. Heard it just fine, too, even on those funny black plate-looking things that went round and round on a turntable.

Why is FT being posted here when I don’t have my dead-tree edition yet?


8 posted on 11/22/2010 5:23:02 PM PST by Tax-chick (Six more days to clean your ceiling fan blades. Don't put it off until the last minute!)
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To: mojito
I love to listen to Wagner pieces on my trusty FM radio or the opera option on my AOL streaming radio which I can listen to for hours while doing haus frau things.

I find myself analyzing his technique while listening which I don't do with other composers. Probably because I consider him a true musical genius. Can anyone possibly imagine the brainpower and creative exertion this mortal man put into his lengthy, complicated, passionate, lofty operatic music and drama? It's incredible.

However, I don't know if I could sit through one of his operas. The subject matter in most of his works doesn't interest me all that much....and I'd hesitate going with a friend who might want to flee after the first couple hours. That would make me nervous. I guess I'll get my Wagnerian enjoyment over the radio waves and be content with that.

Leni

9 posted on 11/22/2010 5:23:19 PM PST by MinuteGal (FIRE ERIC HOLDER! IMPEACH OBAMA!.....NOW...Before they Destroy the U.S,)
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To: sitetest
Rossini said that Wagner has beautiful moments and awful quarter-hours... that Lohengrin couldn’t be appreciated at first hearing ... and he had no intention of hearing it a second time.

Gioacchino spoke for me. Sauerbraten mit kaessele ripchen. A little goes a long way.

10 posted on 11/22/2010 5:31:09 PM PST by Kenny Bunk (Obama. He's Ray Nagin in National Office)
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To: mojito
When the gods cross the rainbow bridge into Valhalla at the opera’s end

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.

There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.

The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....


11 posted on 11/22/2010 5:36:59 PM PST by Cardhu
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To: steelyourfaith

Excellent choice!


12 posted on 11/22/2010 5:48:37 PM PST by BenLurkin (This post is not a statement of fact. It is merely a personal opinion -- or humor -- or both)
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To: steelyourfaith; All

Arturo Toscanini “Vorspiel” Tristan und Isolde

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l5Co7Uu74R0


13 posted on 11/22/2010 6:09:03 PM PST by BenLurkin (This post is not a statement of fact. It is merely a personal opinion -- or humor -- or both)
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To: mojito
The more I listen to Wagner, the more I am convinced that his music is revolutionary as well as breathtaking. However, he's an acquired taste.

My favorite non-Wagner opera is Don Giovanni, which I think is also revolutionary.

14 posted on 11/22/2010 6:11:58 PM PST by GAB-1955 (I write books, love my wife, serve my nation, and believe in the Resurrection.)
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To: mojito
Beethoven's gone but his music lives on,
And Mozart don't go shoppin' no more,
You'll never meet Liszt or Brahms again,
And Elgar doesn't answer the door.
Schübert and Chopin used to chuckle and laugh,
Whilst composing a long symphony,
But one hundred and fifty years later,
There's very little of them left to see.

They're decomposing composers,
There's nothing much anyone can do,
You can still hear Beethoven,
But Beethoven cannot hear you.

Händel and Haydn and Rachmaninov,
Enjoyed a nice drink with their meal,
But nowadays no-one will serve them,
And their gravy is left to congeal.
Verdi and Wagner delighted the crowds,
With their highly original sound,
The pianos they played are still working,
But they're both six feet underground.

They're decomposing composers,
There's less of them every year,
You can say what you like to Debussy,
But there's not much of him left to hear.

Claude Achille Debussy, died 1918.
Christophe Willebaud Gluck, died 1787.
Carl Maria von Weber, not at all well 1825, died 1826.
Giacomo Meyerbeer, still alive 1863, not still alive 1864.
Modeste Mussorgsky, 1880 going to parties, no fun anymore 1881.
Johan Nepomuck Hummel, chatting away nineteen to the dozen with his mates down the pub every evening 1836, 1837 nothing.

15 posted on 11/22/2010 6:25:55 PM PST by whd23 (Every time a link is de-blogged an angel gets its wings.)
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To: mojito

The first opera I ever heard complete was the Solti recording of Gotterdammerung.I was in high school and it literally changed my life. I have been an opera fan ever since (45 plus years) but always come back to Wagner. I don’t know how many more or less complete recording of the Ring I have but it has to be in the range of a dozen.


16 posted on 11/22/2010 6:26:56 PM PST by NewHampshireDuo
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To: mojito

17 posted on 11/22/2010 6:39:53 PM PST by Pilsner
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To: Pilsner
Kill the wabbit
Kill the wabbit
Kill the wabbit
The wabbit must die...

There are people who claim those weren't Wagner's original lyrics. Don't listen to them.

18 posted on 11/22/2010 6:47:02 PM PST by Billthedrill
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To: BenLurkin
Wonderful. Toscanini !
19 posted on 11/22/2010 7:45:55 PM PST by steelyourfaith (ObamaCare Death Panels: a Final Solution to the looming Social Security crisis ?)
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To: Cardhu

I like to think so.

The bridge to Valhalla was called the Bifrost. Nonheroic mortals could travel to Valhalla by finding and touching a rainbow. What kind of welcome you would get is not said.


20 posted on 11/22/2010 8:03:43 PM PST by AceMineral (Clam down!)
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To: Billthedrill

Everything you know about high culture you learned from Bugs Bunny cartoons.


21 posted on 11/22/2010 8:28:46 PM PST by Defiant (I'm a Fabian Constitutionalist. Roll back FDR and progressivism!)
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To: Defiant

"LEOPOLD!"

22 posted on 11/22/2010 8:33:11 PM PST by dfwgator (Texas Rangers -Thanks for a great season.)
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related:

The Bizarre Case of Nietzsche:
The Pro-Jewish Writer Who Inspired a Million Anti-Semites
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/chat/2631405/posts


23 posted on 11/22/2010 9:19:37 PM PST by SunkenCiv (The 2nd Amendment follows right behind the 1st because some people are hard of hearing.)
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To: Defiant
Definitely so. This one cracks me up, but the music behind it... I'm really more of a Brahms feller than a Wagnerian but even with Mel Blanc hamming it up it gives me chills. Wagner was a creep personally but he had some serious chops. IMHO.
24 posted on 11/22/2010 10:08:02 PM PST by Billthedrill
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To: Billthedrill
That was a great line from a Seinfeld episode, and it really was true for those of us who grew up watching Bugs Bunny on Saturday mornings. I only went to a few operas growing up, but I saw lots of Bugs Bunny cartoons and Marx Brothers movies and that was my highbrow education.

When Jerry was singing the song, "oh what heights we'll hit, on with the show this is it", I hadn't heard it in maybe 30 years but I was singing along.

25 posted on 11/22/2010 10:17:24 PM PST by Defiant (I'm a Fabian Constitutionalist. Roll back FDR and progressivism!)
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To: Kenny Bunk
Other composers made a lot of snotty remarks about Wagner's music, probably out of petty jealousy.

I will venture to say that anybody who proclaims not to like like Wagner's music has just not given it enough time to work on them. Unless you are well acquainted with classical music, this is not the kind of music that will thrill you on first listen.

In fact, it has taken me literally years to fully absorb and appreciate the music of Wagner. But with each listen, it grows on me a bit more and it gets less "boring" with each listen.

For novices, I would start with Das Rheingold (the beginning of the Ring cycle) and then Die Walkure (the second part of the ring) and listen to them dozens of times before starting to explore further.

26 posted on 11/23/2010 6:20:33 AM PST by SamAdams76 (I am 14 days away from outliving Curly Howard)
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To: SamAdams76

Meinst du das, oder sagst du das nur?


27 posted on 11/23/2010 6:23:31 AM PST by Kenny Bunk (Obama. He's Ray Nagin in National Office)
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To: mojito
I LOVE Richard Wagner's music. When I had my Benz I'd put this in the Cassette Player while cruising down the interstate.
RIDE OF THE VALKYRIES (You Tube)
For some *odd reason* my foot always slowly pushed the gas pedal down.
Pretty soon I'd be cruising at 80mph. (no traffic around)
28 posted on 11/23/2010 6:50:35 AM PST by Condor51 (SAT CONG!)
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To: mojito

I like Twain’s comment on Wagner.


29 posted on 11/23/2010 7:06:47 AM PST by Tijeras_Slim (Pablo lives jubtabulously!)
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To: sitetest

I saw the Lepage production of Rheingold. The author’s comments are spot on. It is in HD in the cinema...you don’t even have to go to New York. Personally, I’d recommend this experience to all.


30 posted on 11/23/2010 7:34:47 AM PST by ConservativeDude
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To: Cardhu

What a great reunion that’ll be! :)


31 posted on 11/23/2010 4:47:36 PM PST by tiapam
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