“Drama is the most comprehensive work of art; it can only be fully realized when all the other arts in their full realization are present in it.” A quote by Wagner, one of the most important Romantic era composers. Wagner was a very influential composer and play writer. He had very different views on the opera world and set the stage for theater today. He is well known for his music dramas along with his very controversial personal life.
Wagner first became interested in theater from his father. He wrote his first opera at 21, Die Fein:The Fairies (1834). He was famous for his complex operas and anti-sematic writing. His operas were known for the insanity, murder, and tragedy. He first coined the term music drama which lead the way for theater today. He used the term total artwork-gesamtunktwerk. Meaning that everything played from one another and all were equally important.
He was known for creating both the text and music for the operas which was almost unheard of at the time. He used complex textures, rich harmony, and orchestration. He advanced music language by contrast/chromatics and quick shifting tonal centers. He led up music with anticipation. Wagner liked to keep his audience on the edge of their seats. He rarely used resolution of the keys. Meaning, he didn’t go to keys that you thought he should, they wouldn’t resolve. He wouldn’t resolve what the viewer expected of the cords.
Wagner gave new ideas of harmony and used the 7th and extended cords which were rarely used in that time. They were more difficult keys and had a very different sound. Most of Wagner’s music sounds stressed out. He also had a huge impact on the melodic process and the opera structure. He often used the music and text of the opera to complete the work. He used infuses of both the make the total work of art. He used both to give the total effect of the music drama. He gave the music tension and depth to complete the whole story. He also led the way for abstract art due to how he used all in his music dramas.
The opera was changed forever after Wagner. He is sometimes known as the father of the movie sound track. He had a huge impact on the movement forward for the opera and music drama. He wrote leitmotifs for characters. Leitmotifs (light mo-tiffs) are short constant reoccurring musical phrase associated with a person or place. This music can represent a person or thought when on stage. It gave more complexity and depth to the characters without the use of text. He used more music than words. They were rarely used the same way for each character, they were slightly different. One of his most famous is the musical phrase associated with the valcoriy in the ring cycle. Many know the sound as the main theme in today’s Stars Wars.
For his operas, Wagner liked to play off the human emotion. He used a theory of Arthur Schopenhauer, a philosopher. Schopenhauer believed that all human experience consists of emotions and drive. He also used Greek and German mythology for his music dramas. He like the plots of love and redemption. From the information I have gathered it seems that he was very interested in psychology and how humans interacted and how the brain worked. He expressed these feelings in his works.
Some of his works include the ring cycle. The ring cycle is comprised of 4 total operas. They were 4 different nights and 4 different parts each lasting about 4 to 5 hours. This displayed how he used the orchestra to carry leitmotivs. For the ring, Wagner wanted to awaken the country spirit and show German nationalism. He was very symbolic in all his writings. Whereas the ring was for a transition into a political movement, Triston and Isolda was symbolic of his infidelity. In the ring he used dwarfs and magical characters. Some of his other works include the Flying Dutchman and Rienzi.
Although his dramas are ones that make history, his personal beliefs are just as controversial. It is stated that Adolf Hitler was a fan of...
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