Wilhelm Richard Wagner (22 May 1813 – 13 February 1883) was a German composer, conductor, theatre director and polemicist primarily known for his operas (or "music dramas", as they were later called). Wagner's compositions, particularly those of his later period, are notable for their complex texture, rich harmonies and orchestration.
[Says Yaakov Mashori, a musician in the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra,] "Wagner died 50 years before Hitler came to power. Moreover, he was a kind of private anti-Semite, refusing to sign any public declarations against the Jews. He actually worked with many Jews. Wagner's public relations man was a Jew named Neumann, Hermann Levi conducted Wagner's works at the time, and a musician named Rubenstein finished the orchestration of some of his operas."
Barenboim [director of the Berlin Staatskapelle], who spent his teenage years in Israel, led the musicians in the performance of Richard Wagner’s “Overture to Tristan und Isolde” as an encore following the regular program [during a concert in Israel]. This provoked angry outbursts and denunciations from some members of the audience, and heavy condemnation across the Israeli political spectrum in the following days.
Wagner's music had been unofficially banned in public in Israel ever since Kristallnacht in 1938. Since then, the debate [about the validity of the ban] has raged. It is a debate carried on passionately not only among music-lovers, but also by citizens, young and old, who bring forceful arguments to support their stand. The clash is marked.... by vehement emotion...
Richard Wagner (1818-1883) was Hitler's favorite composer. During World War I, it is reported, he carried Wagner's music from Tristanin his knapsack. Often Hitler had Wagner's music performed at party rallies and functions.
Richard Wagner chose the country manor in Tribschen on Lake Lucerne as his residence for six years. In April 1866, the composer moved into the empty house and filled it with life. He lived on this grand estate, which is surrounded by a park and located directly on the lakeside, with his second wife Cosima and their children.
Three Scandinavian and two German sources comprise the major sources. The Scandinavian sources are The Saga of the Volsungs, the Poetic (or Elder) Edda, and Snorri Sturluson's Prose Edda. The German sources are Thidriks Saga of Bern and the Nibelungenlied.
The refusal of the court opera authorities in Dresden to stage his next opera, Lohengrin, was not based on artistic reasons; rather, they were alienated by Wagner’s projected administrative and artistic reforms. His proposals would have taken control of the opera away from the court and created a national theatre whose productions would be chosen by a union of dramatists and composers. Preoccupied with ideas of social regeneration, he then became embroiled in the German revolution of 1848–49.
Wagner's reforms did away with the "number" opera -- no longer was there any clear separation between recitative and aria, and ensembles in the Italian sense of the word are almost completely avoided. The orchestra is treated symphonically, with short themes or leitmotifs combined and developed endlessly during the course of the action.
The music itself, which can sound both ravishing and unsettling, was the subject of much controversy in its time. Even today, entire books have been written on the single, enigmatic chord that opens his opera Tristan und Isolde.
Wagner's dramas are not fairy tales. Nothing in them is more impressive than the grim realism with which wholly intelligible motives are carried through to their crisis. At the same time, these motives are placed in a prehistoric, mythical or medieval setting.
Wagner was unique in that he wrote all of his own librettos and obsessed over minute details of staging. He was the first to darken the house lights during performances, and the first to design a radically new opera house solely for his works. Wagner exploded the length, breadth and height of music theater, changing it forever.
Richard Wagner (b. Leipzig, 1813; d. 1883) was a composer, conductor, poet and author. He is one of the key figures in the history of music, particularly opera, which he elevated to epic proportions through the use of larger orchestras, more prominent instrumental passages, "endless melody" -- eliminating arias -- and organically conceived, through-composed structures.