|Today in Music History
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|Richard Wagner's opera Tristan und Isolde premiered June 10, 1865.
He was born in Leipzig, May 22, 1813. He went to school in Dresden, then Leipzig. At 15 he wrote a play, and at 16 he completed his first compositions. In 1831 he went to Leipzig University to study music.
|Wagner wrote a symphony, which was performed in 1832. In 1833 he became chorusmaster at the Würzburg theatre and wrote the text and music of his first opera, Die Feen (The Fairies), which remained unheard, but his next, Das Liebesverbot, written in 1833, was staged in 1836. It was also during this time that he made his debut as an opera conductor.
He married singer Minna Planer in 1836, and went to Königsberg where he became musical director at the theatre, but left to take a similar post in Riga where he began his next opera, Rienzi, and did a great deal of conducting.
In 1839, Wagner went to Paris, where he worked for several publishers and theatres. He also worked on the text and music of an opera on the Flying Dutchman legend; but in 1842 Rienzi was accepted by the Dresden opera company, and Wagner went there for its premiere. Die fliegende Holländer ('The Flying Dutchman'), premiered the following year, but was not so well received.
By 1853 the text for this four-night cycle (to be The Nibelung's Ring) was written, printed and read to friends - who included a generous patron, Otto Wesendonck, and his wife Mathilde, who loved him, wrote poems that he set, and inspired Tristan und Isolde - conceived in 1854 and completed five years later, by which time more than half of The Ring was written.
Before returning to the Ring, Wagner wrote The Mastersingers of Nuremberg, a comedy set in 16th-century Nuremberg, in which a noble poet-musician wins, through his victory in a music contest - a victory over pedants who stick to the foolish old rules - the hand of his beloved, fame and riches.
The first two Ring operas, Das Rheingold and Die Walküre, were performed in Munich, in 1869 and 1870; but Wagner was wanted a special festival opera house for the complete cycle and spent a great deal of energy trying (usually unsuccessfully) to raise money for it. Finally, in 1874, Ludwig provided the funds - the year the 4th opera, Götterdämmerung, was finished - provided the necessary support.
The first festival was held in 1876, when the complete Ring was given. The Ring is about 18 hours' music, bound together by a web of themes, each of which symbolizes a character, an object or an idea. They change and develop as the ideas within the opera develop. They are not just labels, but carry the plot forward.
In 1877, Wagner conducted in London. He hoped to recoup the losses the Bayreuth festival had incurred. At the same time he was beginning work on a new opera, Parsifal. This was performed ad the Bayreuth festival in 1882. He went to Venice for the winter, and died there February 13, 1883.
More than almost any other composer during the 19th Century, Wagner's works changed the way musicians and the public looked at classical music. Although many of his ideas and political beliefs are not popular, his music remains popular today.
|GREAT SUMMERTIME FUN for violinists. Smile as you tell folks, "The Only Metal Instrument I Want to Hold is my Spatula."|
|A GREAT recording of Tristan und Isolde.|
|Can You Guess?
The romance depicted in Tristan und Isolde eventually influenced the romance depicted in a later English lesson (coincidentally also mentioned on this page). Can You Guess
a what English legend is partially derived from Tristan und Isolde?
Go to the Bottom of the Page for the Answer
|Did You Guess?
Did you see the color clues? It reads "Camelot," which is the legend of King Arthur.
|1800 - German composer Johann Abraham Peter Schulz died in Swedt an der Oder, Germany. He wrote the melody for the Christmas carol, O Come Little Children.
1899 - Ernest Chausson, French composer, died following bicycle accident in Mantes, near Limay, Age 44. Wrote Poème for violin & orchestra, Op. 25.
1904 - Birth of Austrian-American popular music composer Frederick Loewe in Berlin. He wrote tunes for My Fair Lady, Camelot, GiGi in collaboration with Alan Jay Lerner.
1941 - Premiere of Francis Poulenc's Concerto for Organ, Strings and Timpani, in Paris.
1968 - Premiere of Britten's church opera The Prodigal Son, in Orford Church, near Aldeburgh.
1978 - Andy Gibb opened in the role of Frederic in a Los Angeles production of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance.