Wagner Week: The Life of Richard Wagner

Monday, July 22, 2013

Richard Wagner Richard Wagner (Pierre Petit [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

WQXR is devoting the week of July 22-28, 2013 to the music of Richard Wagner (1813-1882), that consummate man of the theater who is considered one of history's greatest and most controversial opera composers.

Wagner's works gave us gods wreaking havoc from on high, evil dwarfs, valiant knights and love potions. His music has been heard in Hollywood films, cartoons and television shows; it's also been restyled in rock, jazz and hip-hop songs. His mature music dramas – especially the four-opera Ring Cycle – changed the course of music history; in them, he spun allegories about power, greed and original sin while using a musical language that ranged from sensuous to thundering.

Wagner is also a polarizing force. He was a paradox of practicality and idealism, the living embodiment of pride and prejudice. Listeners tend to be either passionately devoted or implacably hostile. His personal beliefs have inspired intense feelings of hatred and revulsion; his music can enchant, divert, amuse, make you think, and, at perhaps even hint at the sublime.

WQXR's Monday Programming Highlights (Listen to WQXR's Stream)

7am Die Feen: Schwinget euch auf   (Sir Edward Downes, conductor)

9am Rienzi: Overture (George Szell)

11am Lohengrin: Act III Prelude & Bridal Chorus  (Sir Georg Solti)

1pm  Wesendonck Lieder: 'Traume' (Christa Ludwig, mezzo/Otto Klemperer, conductor)

3pm  Siegfried Idyll (Ivan Fischer)

5pm Gotterdammerung: Siegfried’s Rhine Journey (Fabio Luisi)

7pm Parsifal: Music from Acts II and III (Edo de Waart)

9p Clash of the Titans Show

 

Operavore's Monday Programming Highlights (Listen to Operavore's Stream)

8am - DAS RHEINGOLD (full opera)

Wotan – James Morris
Donner – Siegfried Lorenz
Froh – Mark Baker
Loge – Siegfried Jerusalem
Alberich –Ekkehard Wlaschiha
Mime – Heinz Zednik
Fasolt – Kurt Moll
Fafner – Jan-Hendrik Rootering
Fricka – Christa Ludwig
Freia – Mari Anne Haggander
Erda – Birgitta Svenden
Woglinde – Hei-Kyung HongHei
Wellgunde – Diane Kesling
Flosshilde – Meredith Parsons
 
The Metropolitan Opera Chorus
The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
James Levine, conductor


10:30am - DIE WALKURE (full opera)

Siegmund – Gary Lakes
Hunding – Kurt Moll
Wotan – James Morris
Sieglinde – Jessye Norman
Brunnhilde – Hildegard Behrens
Fricka – Christa Ludwig
Gerhilde – Marita Napier
Ortlinde – Marilyn Mims
Waltraute – Reinhild Runkel
Schwertleite – Ruthild Engert
Helmwige – Linda Kelm
Siegrune – Diane Kesling
Grimgerde – Meredith Parsons
Rossweisse – Anne Wilkens

The Metropolitan Opera Chorus
The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
James Levine, conductor


2:30pm SIEGFRIED (full opera)

Siegfried – Reiner Goldberg
Mime – Heinz Zednik
Der Wanderer – James Morris
Alberich –Ekkehard Wlaschiha
Fafner – Kurt Moll
Erda – Birgitta Svenden
Brunnhilde – Hildegard Behrens
Stimme des Waldvogels – Kathleen Battle

The Metropolitan Opera Chorus
The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
James Levine, conductor


7pm - GOTTERDAMERUNG (full opera)

Siegfried – Reiner Goldberg
Gunther – Bernd Weikl
Hagen – Matti Salminen
Alberich –Ekkehard Wlaschiha
Brunnhilde – Hildegard Behrens
Gutrune – Cheryl Studer
Waltraute – Hanna Schwarz
Erste Norn – Helga Dernesch
Zweite Norn – Tatiana Troyanos
Dritte Norn – Andrea Gruber
Woglinde – Hei-Kyung Hong
Wellgunde – Diane Kesling
Flosshilde – Meredith Parsons

The Metropolitan Opera Chorus
The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
James Levine, conductor

 

Wagner Week takes place on 105.9 FM, WQXR.org and on the all-opera Operavore web stream. To get things started, below is a timeline of Wagner's career and legacy.


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Comments [11]

Norma J F Harrison from Berkeley, Ca., USA

...just trying to 'like' a comment

Jul. 23 2013 05:49 PM
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

Toscaninni's DIE MEISTERSINGER performance at the Slazburg Festival of 1937 on the Andante CD label, George Szell's Met Opera TANNHAUSER of December 19, 1942 with Melchior, Traubel and Kipnis on THE RADIO YEARS CD label, Artur Bodansky's Met Opera TRISTAN of January 2, 1937 with Melchior, Flagstad and Huehn on THE FORTIES CD label, Fritz Busch's Met Opera LOHENGRIN of January 25th, 1947 with Melchior and Melchior and Traubel on the Walhall CD label, Melchior's final Met Opera broadcast LOHENGRIN, conducted by Fritz Stiedry with Traubel and Varnay on January 7th, 1950 on the Danacord CD label and Etich Leinsdorf Met Opera TRISTAN of 1941 with Melchior, Flagstad and Kipnis on the Melodram CD label are some of the best commercially obtainable examples of Wagnerian singing at its best.

Jul. 23 2013 05:21 PM
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

RICHARD WAGNER's innovations go beyond the use of his introductionj into the opera orchestra of brass, for instance, the Wagner tuba, and woodwind instruments invented for the their immediate use in his galactic projects. Wagner's chromatisim in TRISTAN to enhance the sensual, his use of swiftly changing meters, tempi, and extended or shortened phrase lengths to comport with the ever changing landscape and his mentally conceived synonymous sketching of leit motives, short leading melodies to indicate emotions, persons, things or concepts was extensively utilized throughout his oeuvre. Gottfried Semper was the top architect in Germany during Wagner's lifetime. he was the architect of the Prinzregaten Opera House in Stuttgart, Germany with its sunken orchestra pit the same orchestral pit as he designed later on for the Festspielhaus at Bayreuth, Germany. The first Tristan Ludwig Schnorr von Carolsfeld had a Lauritz Melchior physique, but neither the size of voice, nor the stamina of a Melchior, he dying shortly after his appearances in the Tristan premiere. The orchestra members of the original production of Tristan pretty unanimously, after 100 rehearsals declared "this will never be played as written, the composer overestimated the instrumentalists' capabilities." Just like before Roger Bannister no one broke the four minute time for running a mile, now there are many who have surpassed even his record time., so as now there are a FEW Wagnerian heldentenors capable of performing as "echt,"the real thing TRISTANS.

Jul. 23 2013 03:43 PM
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

Gottfried Semper was the top architect in Germany during Wagner's lifetime. he was the architect of the Prinzregaten Opera House in Stuttgart, Germany with its sunken orchestra pit the same orchestral pit as he designed later on for the Festspielhaus at Bayreuth, Germany. The first Tristan Ludwig Schnorr von Carolsfeld had a Lauritz Melchior physique, but neither the size of voice, nor the stamina of a Melchior, he dying shortly after his appearances in the Tristan premiere. The orchestra members of the original production of Tristan pretty unanimously, after 100 rehearsals declared "this will never be played as written, the composer overestimated the instrumentalists' capabilities." Just like before Roger Bannister no one broke the four minute time for running a mile, now there are many who have surpassed even his record time., so as now there are a FEW Wagnerian heldentenors capable of performing as "echt,"the real thing TRISTANS.

Jul. 23 2013 02:48 AM
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

A voice teacher of mine at Juilliard I misspelled his family name. Corrected, it was Mack Harrell. Wagner died at age 69 in Venezia on FEBRUARY 13 IN 1883. Quoting from CHARLES OSBORNE's book "WAGNER and his WORLD" copyrighted in 1977 "After the PARSIFAL performances at Bayreuth, Wagner and Cosima left for Venice, where they occupied part of the duke of Grazia's splendid fifteenth century Palazzo Vendramin. Wagner's heart was in weak condition, and the fights he was having with Cosima over a lady whom he wished to include in the following year's PARSIFAL performances must have seriously exacerbated his state of general ill-health. On 13 February 1883, after a slight heart attack, he retired to bed to work on an essay, "The Feminine Element in Humanity." While Cosima was at lunch, WAGNER'S bell began to ring violently. She hastened to him, and he died shortly afterwards in her arms."

Jul. 22 2013 07:05 PM
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

The incandescent beauty and intoxicating spirituality are so transformational in Wagner's oeuvre that any religious belief may be accommodated and synthesized to replicate the sense of selfless empathy for the welfare of others that the sacrificed UNICO represents to us all. That may explain why so many famous JEWISH singers GEORGE LONDON, RICHARD TAUBER, HERMANN JADLOWKER, MELANIE KURT, FRIEDRICH SCHORR, ALEXANDER KIPNIS, EMANUEL LIST, JONAS KAUFMANN, OTTILIE METZGER, LILLI LEHMANN, HERMANN WEIL, DESZO ERNSTER, HERTA GLAZ, MARGARETE MATZENAUER, SOPHIE BRASLAU, WALTER OLITZKY, GERHARD PECHNER, ESTELLE LIEBLING, MONA PAULEE, GUNTHER TREPTOW, PAULA LENCHNER, ALMA GLUCK, ADOLF ROBINSON, IRENE JESSNER, MAX BLOCH, ERNESTINE SCHUMANN-HEINK, HERMANN SCHRAMM, SIEGFRIED JERUSALEM, PAUL KALISCH, ETC], conductors LEONARD BERNSTEIN, JAMES LEVINE, BRUNO WALTER, ALFRED HERTZ, DANIEL BARENBOIM, GEORG SOLTI, WALTER AND LEOPOLD DAMROSCH, ARTUR RODZINSKY RICHARD FRANK GOLDMAN AND HIS FATHER THE FOUNDER OF THE GOLDMAN BAND THAT PERFORMED BRASS INSTRUMENT VERSIONS OF THE WAGNER "REP," FRITZ REINER, SERGE KOUSSEVITZKY, FABIEN SEVITSKY, ERICH LEINSDORF, HERMANN LEVI, ETC. and stage directors HERBERT GRAF AND LEOPOLD SACHSE dedicated the fullest portion of their careers to performing Wagner's music dramas.

Jul. 22 2013 06:03 PM
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

One's personality should not be invoked when considering the4 theater or works of art. Wagner was an antisemite as was Mascagni, Richard Strauss and members of Wagner's own family. Winifred Wagner-- the wife of Wagner's son Siegfried, a composer and conductor in his own right and, according to my teacher Alexander Kipnis who sang Gurnemanz at Bayreuth under Siegfried's direction SIEGFRIED WAGNER WAS NO ANTISEMITE--supplied the funds and stationery for HITLER's wriiting his MEIN KAMPF in prison. Beethoven was habitually irritant, etc. Let's concentrate on the masterworks, not the monsters that may have created them. MUSEUMS HAVE A VALUE, named after the Muse of the Arts, it is significant to save what might be a masterpiece, yet leave room FOR THE LIVING CREATORS in music, the fine arts, architecture, dance and literature. The living composers, lyricists, painters, sculptors, dancers and authors depend upon the funding from purchases of their oeuvre as tickets, book sales or actual financial support. Priority to conserve should not rule out support for modern points of view and expression of all aspects of modern life including political and domestic family values.

Jul. 22 2013 03:32 PM
Jock Stender from Charleston, SC

Excellent timeline with one error: Wagner died in 1882, not 1883. In Venice, after having completed Parsifal in January 1882, and overseeing its sixteenth and final performance on Aug. 29, 1882. Exhausted, of a heart attack.

Jul. 21 2013 04:46 PM
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

Concerning updating of literary masterpieces, let us be reminded that Britain's DRUARY LANE theater, just a few blocks away from the ROYAL OPERA HOUSE OF COVENT GARDEN gave versions of SHAKESPEARE's plays wherein no one died at the end to make their audiences happy with the denouement. Let's conjecture that we are more sophisticated now. HATE is the latest prominent ingredient in theatrical productions on stage and in film and in political campaigns and muck-raking publications and Tv and radio programming. HATE and VIOLENCE appeal to those seeking excitement from sensationalism and catastrophic explosive forms in nature as tsunamis. volcanic action, floods, snowstorms, dust storms and the like and bloody battles and car wrecks and contact sports such as wrestling which usually APPEARS, but ISN'T for real, yet satisfies the venal mindsets. Too many stage directors seeking self aggrandizement by doing the outrageous populate even our most respected opera houses and live theater establishments Although Wagner was an extreme radical antisemite, TANNHAUSER nowhere expresses anything but a Roman Catholic concern for redemption which the Pope refused TANNHAUSER, but his virtuous lover Elizabeth by her sacrifice in her own death achieved for him. The composer Wagner had a Protestant mother and a Jewish father, LUDWIG GEYER, whom the child WAGNER adored. Nonetheless, his competitiveness and professional protocol approach ruled against his own reason and intellect and produced a contemptible blind scorn, a major blemish that thwarted a true view of others. The Germany of today views its ancestral NAZI predecessors as the villains they were.

Jul. 21 2013 11:02 AM
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

The troubles that tear asunder the prospect of REAL echt WAGNERIAN PERFORMANCESare the total lack of singers with squillo, ping, ringing "juicy', not dry secco , delivery, WAGNERIAN BARKING rather than legato full-throated singing, strained, forced and flat singing, unsupported, undersized and underpowered singing, WITHOUT impressive carrying power and with throaty or nasal ugly voice production. Today's news deals with deficits and declining support for the arts. Tandem to this predicament for the talented is the perception that the current situation will continue for a long time to come. Speaking specifically how this precludes the motivation for young operatic singers who must early on choosing their life's work, many have turned to Broadway or the business world. Nowadays Broadway musicals are out for show-stopping sensationalism with laser distractions, monster sets, acrobatic feats and space age technical projections and featuring dancing over singing. So, for the real thing opera singer, Broadway musicals, outside of Phantom of the Opera and an occasional Les Miserables there is little prospect of a sustainable career. The Wagner oeuvre has suffered the most. Husky physiques, witness the iconic John McCormack, do not offer similar size singing voices in power or stamina. Heroic voices like Melchior, Tamagno, Ruffo and the mature Caruso are nowhere on today's world class stages. Instead we suffer to hear miniscule, non-charismatic, non-distinctively memorable singing voices essaying roles far beyond their underpowered, thin not orotund, singing potentialities.Why has the always controversial political or uniqueness for uniqueness's sake been the overriding context in which the Bayreuth Festival has ALWAYS manifested its presence back to the days when Hanslick then Tschaikovsky and later Verdi found it an unfriendly atmosphere or decried its "lack of melody (sic !)?" The daughters of Wolfgang Wagner like their dad have managed to incur the wrath of others either more conservative or radical in their concepts of the evolving Wagner music drama production values/concepts. It is an eviscerating condition that feeds upon confrontation rather than productive aesthetics.

Jul. 20 2013 10:43 AM
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

Wagner was in every respect as much a revolutionary figure against monarchy, yet for a united Germany as was Verdi's compatriot Giuseppe Garibaldi for a united Italy. Wagner, as many leaders against an imperial status quo governing body, was imprisoned. His opera RIENZI, a man of the people, the historical last tribune of Rome was partially written, the overture especially exciting, while Wagner was in prison. The genius Mozart, like Wagner, depended on the financial support of royalty, yet pictured them for what they were, oppressive and the counts and Dons freakish womanizers.

Jul. 20 2013 10:15 AM

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