Author Topic: Wagner's Valhalla  (Read 268062 times)

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Greta

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Wagner's Valhalla
« on: April 07, 2007, 08:09:57 PM »
Where to start?  ;D

This thread is dedicated to the one and only Wilhelm Richard Wagner (1813-1883), my favorite composer, who incited my lifelong passion for classical music.


My first Wagner recording was a collection of overtures in a Laserlight Masters of Classical Music set, my first classical CDs ever. At turns, it represented the utmost joy, despair, and passion, love at first sight for me. At 13, I came across Der Ring des Nibelungen (the Ring cycle) broadcast on TV and was spellbound. It was overwhelming that someone could create such a thing, as if it had dropped down from another planet fully formed.

Soon I was checking out librettos and biographies from the library, and dreamed of visiting the real Valhalla of Bayreuth (pronounced "Bai-royt") - I had become a full-fledged Wagnerite. Each successive work I heard cemented my affection. His sheer ambition was awe-inspiring, shown in the grand scale of his works and the concepts of Gesamtkunstwerk and the Bayreuth Festspielhaus. He's certainly a polarizing figure biographically, but I find his scandalous life and writings very interesting. Shocking at times, though personally I separate the man from the music. The effect he left on those who came after him is indelible.

Though I have gravitated toward modern music in recent years, I come back to his music again and again, and it never fails to transport me. Not necessarily the greatest composer, but to me, the one whose work most sings to my soul.

6 Favorite Operas (because I just couldn't do 5!):

Tristan & Isolde
Siegfried
Der Fliegende Hollander
Die Walkure
Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg
Tannhauser


6 Favorite Single Pieces (even harder):

Der Fliegende Hollander - Overture
Tristan & Isolde - Prelude & Liebestod
Die Meistersinger - Prelude to Act III
Siegfried - Idyll
Tannhauser - Overture

Richard Wagner Links

Richard Wagner at Wikipedia
Kristian Evensen's Richard Wagner Web Site
There are a huge amount of great Wagner resources on the web and
Kristian's Links page is a wonderful collection of all the best
Kristian's Wagner Links

Welcome all Wagner lovers to the Valhalla!
« Last Edit: April 07, 2007, 10:54:51 PM by Greta »

Offline Brian

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Re: Wagner's Valhalla
« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2007, 08:52:14 PM »
Tristan & Isolde - Prelude & Liebestod
Of course, Wagner himself called it the Liebestod und Verklarung. I suspect that term will never return to use, though, even though it makes vastly more sense (since when does a Love-Death sound consoling?).

Offline marvinbrown

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Re: Wagner's Valhalla
« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2007, 02:32:44 AM »


  Hello Greta, I too am a very big fan of Wagner's music.  Truelly a unique composer, and easily the greatest musical dramatist of all time.  He combines four elements so well:

1) Leitmotifs
2) Large orchestras
3) Epic storytelling
4) and above all music with remarkable hypnotic power

  I am trying very hard to get tickets to see the Ring Cycle which will be performed in its entirety in London this fall.  Tickets went on sale last November and have been sold out since  :( !

  marvin

Offline val

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Re: Wagner's Valhalla
« Reply #3 on: April 10, 2007, 05:02:02 AM »
From a great Wagner fan:

Parsifal above all.

Then, Tristan.

The Ring, but assuming that the inspiration is not always at its best.

Lohengrin, a remarkable masterpiece.

The Flying Dutchman, in special the first act, and the Meistersinger (for the music, not the text)


And ... sorry, but I don't like much Tannhäuser.

Offline marvinbrown

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Re: Wagner's Valhalla
« Reply #4 on: April 10, 2007, 05:37:23 AM »

And ... sorry, but I don't like much Tannhäuser.

   But Val the overture to Tannhausser is among the most beautiful peices of music I have ever heard. Granted Tannhauser is hardly Wagner's best opera but it has very fine moments indeed.  I have Solti's Tannhauser and love it very much, which recording do you have?


   marvin 

Offline val

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Re: Wagner's Valhalla
« Reply #5 on: April 11, 2007, 01:52:03 AM »
Quote
marvinbrown

   But Val the overture to Tannhausser is among the most beautiful peices of music I have ever heard. Granted Tannhauser is hardly Wagner's best opera but it has very fine moments indeed.  I have Solti's Tannhauser and love it very much, which recording do you have?

I also have the Solti version. I must aedmit that the overture is far from being one of my favorites. To me the best moment of the opera is Tannhäuser's monologue of the 3rd act, "Inbrunst im Herzen". I have it in a superb version of Lauritz Melchior, the best tenor in Wagner that I ever heard.

   

Offline Solitary Wanderer

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Re: Wagner's Valhalla
« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2007, 03:38:20 PM »
Big Wagner fan here.

I also discovered him when I was a teenager.

I'm travelling to Wellington in September to hear the NZSO perfrom a concert of Wagner Overtures/Preludes. We're literally planning a holiday around a Wagner concert  ;)
'I lingered round them, under that benign sky: watched the moths fluttering among the heath and harebells, listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass, and wondered how any one could ever imagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth.' ~ Emily Bronte

Don Giovanni

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Re: Wagner's Valhalla
« Reply #7 on: April 14, 2007, 04:38:27 AM »
I think it was Bernstein who said that Tristan und Isolde was "the central work of all music history, the hub of the wheel...". Personally, I adore Tristan - just listening to it is one of the best musical experiences of my life.

Is it as important as Berstein thought?

Offline marvinbrown

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Re: Wagner's Valhalla
« Reply #8 on: April 14, 2007, 07:57:56 AM »
I think it was Bernstein who said that Tristan und Isolde was "the central work of all music history, the hub of the wheel...". Personally, I adore Tristan - just listening to it is one of the best musical experiences of my life.

Is it as important as Berstein thought?

  I too love Tristan und Isolde, it is a real masterpiece demostrating Wagner's hypnotic power.  It is a very significant piece of work because of the Tristan chord which ushered in atonality in music and paved the way for Shoenberg and Alban Berg, It is  easily the most ultra-romantic opera ever written.  Whether it is the central work of all music history or not I do not know, but it ranks right up there with Wagner's Ring and Bach's St. Mathew Passion, Beethoven's Nine Symphonies and Mozart's Paino Concertos as a contender for the title.......Tristan will always remain my favorite opera.

   (By the way my favorite recording and what I consider the ultimate recording is Furtwangler's recording with Kristen Flagstaad as Isolde on EMI Great Recordings of the Century...this I believe is a MUST HAVE for any opera collection)


   marvin

Greta

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Re: Wagner's Valhalla
« Reply #9 on: April 14, 2007, 09:03:56 AM »
I discovered Tristan also when I was the same age as Don Giovanni, and felt the same way about it. I still do!

Tristan's Prelude & Liebestod, a textbook example of building unresolved tension into a mindblowing release, holds a very special place, considered as one of the greatest moments in all music to me.

You'll come to know and recognize the "Tristan chord", and recognize that famous first statement of a sixth and two half-steps, they can be spotted making appearances in later' composers works.

In just a couple of weeks in Houston, I'll be going to an all-Wagner concert and I'm so excited! They just posted the program and I'm most looking forward to hearing several selections from Lohengrin, and especially Die Meistersinger, both of which I have never heard live. No Tristan this time though. ;) But the Der Fliegende Hollander overture more than makes up for it!

lukeottevanger

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Re: Wagner's Valhalla
« Reply #10 on: April 14, 2007, 11:37:30 AM »
You'll come to know and recognize the "Tristan chord", and recognize that famous first statement of a sixth and two half-steps, they can be spotted making appearances in later' composers works.

...and earlier ones.

Don Giovanni

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Re: Wagner's Valhalla
« Reply #11 on: April 14, 2007, 01:00:43 PM »
I have the Bohm recording which I adore.

I can't really think of many pieces that are as important as Tristan - The Rite of Spring is the only one that instantly comes to mind (besides those that marvinbrown listed)

Haffner

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Re: Wagner's Valhalla
« Reply #12 on: April 15, 2007, 06:34:23 AM »
Was inititated into the Ring cycle last week, and am watching it in its entirety again this week (Levine's Met DVD).

Prior to this, I was mostly familiar with Tristan und Isolde, as well as the "hits" (you know!).


The "Ring..." is a stunning victory of Art, in my opinion, as is Tristan...Wagner is one of my favorite composers.

Offline marvinbrown

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Re: Wagner's Valhalla
« Reply #13 on: April 15, 2007, 06:50:31 AM »
Was inititated into the Ring cycle last week, and am watching it in its entirety again this week (Levine's Met DVD).

Prior to this, I was mostly familiar with Tristan und Isolde, as well as the "hits" (you know!).


The "Ring..." is a stunning victory of Art, in my opinion, as is Tristan...Wagner is one of my favorite composers.

   I am glad that you have added Wagner to your list of favorite composers.  Haffner you should definitely check out Meistersingers von Nurnberg and Parsifal both superb operas and not to be missed. The overture of Meistersingers always lifts my spirits and MY God the congregation chorus at the beginning of that opera.....I shouldn't say any more or I'll ruin it for you  :-X.

  PS: Two days ago I ordered the Levine Ring Cycle DVD and I can't wait to see it.
   marvin
« Last Edit: April 15, 2007, 06:53:47 AM by marvinbrown »

Haffner

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Re: Wagner's Valhalla
« Reply #14 on: April 15, 2007, 08:02:28 AM »
   I am glad that you have added Wagner to your list of favorite composers.  Haffner you should definitely check out Meistersingers von Nurnberg and Parsifal both superb operas and not to be missed. The overture of Meistersingers always lifts my spirits and MY God the congregation chorus at the beginning of that opera.....I shouldn't say any more or I'll ruin it for you  :-X.

  PS: Two days ago I ordered the Levine Ring Cycle DVD and I can't wait to see it.
   marvin




I'm hoping to score the Gotz Friedrich "Lohengrin" dvd soon.

The Levine dvd is just fine. The final chapter, Gotterdamerung, is at times exceptionally moving and epic. I can't say I'm totally wild about Siegfried Jersusalem's stage performance skills, but otherwise this rendition has really helped me get deeper into Wagner's music.

The work as a whole portrays the result of an extraordinarily protracted effort of focused genius. It seemed to showcase exactly where Central European culture tends to go, art reflecting life...and pushed it further.

Watching the Ring was very much what many today would could my "vista-expanding" experience.

Offline Chaszz

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Re: Wagner's Valhalla
« Reply #15 on: May 19, 2007, 05:57:13 PM »
I'm new to this board and glad to discover a page devoted to my favorite composer. At the relatively old age of about 60, seven years ago, after a lifetime of listening spent mostly with Bach, Beethoven and Brahms, Wagner suddenly hit me with force of a lightning bolt. I reeled with ecstasy as I devoured recordings of his operas one after another. Tristan, in the famous Bohm version, had me in thrall for several weeks during which I ate, drank and breathed nothing else, even listening to it on a CD Walkman on the elliptical trainer at the gym, turning the volume higher to drown out the rap and rock music on the speakers. My wife thought I had gone insane, as for months I would speak of nothing but Wagner. This extreme and crazy obsessiveness has settled down to steady love.

I still think of him as the greatest musician in history, with the power to radically revitalize a person's existence. Two orchestral passages from The Ring are my current favorites: Wotan's Farewell to Brunnehilde, and Siegfried's Funeral Music. What irony that an opera composer should revolutionize the symphony, both orchestra and form, as well as the opera.  Who else could do it? Who else can cause the heart to leap with joy as high, explore depths as hidden, wrench the emotions almost out of their moorings? The Funeral Music: the most powerful of movements ever, or at least equal to the most powerful. I get chills down my back just writing about it. Next to this, most other music is "mere;" prelude or postlude.

See my sculptures and paintings at http://charleszigmund.com and http://charleszigmund.com/sculpture

Offline marvinbrown

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Re: Wagner's Valhalla
« Reply #16 on: May 20, 2007, 09:44:30 AM »
I'm new to this board and glad to discover a page devoted to my favorite composer. At the relatively old age of about 60, seven years ago, after a lifetime of listening spent mostly with Bach, Beethoven and Brahms, Wagner suddenly hit me with force of a lightning bolt. I reeled with ecstasy as I devoured recordings of his operas one after another. Tristan, in the famous Bohm version, had me in thrall for several weeks during which I ate, drank and breathed nothing else, even listening to it on a CD Walkman on the elliptical trainer at the gym, turning the volume higher to drown out the rap and rock music on the speakers. My wife thought I had gone insane, as for months I would speak of nothing but Wagner. This extreme and crazy obsessiveness has settled down to steady love.

I still think of him as the greatest musician in history, with the power to radically revitalize a person's existence. Two orchestral passages from The Ring are my current favorites: Wotan's Farewell to Brunnehilde, and Siegfried's Funeral Music. What irony that an opera composer should revolutionize the symphony, both orchestra and form, as well as the opera.  Who else could do it? Who else can cause the heart to leap with joy as high, explore depths as hidden, wrench the emotions almost out of their moorings? The Funeral Music: the most powerful of movements ever, or at least equal to the most powerful. I get chills down my back just writing about it. Next to this, most other music is "mere;" prelude or postlude.



   Its GREAT to have another Wagner fan join GMG, WELCOME chaszz.   Its never too late to enjoy Wagner's operas (muisc dramas) nor too early (I fell in love with his music at the age of 32).  Seigfreid's FUNERAL MARCH is truelly one of the major highlights of the Ring Cycle just like Wotan's Farewell to Brunnehilde.  I also love the heroic music of Seigfreid's sword forging scene, the three question exchange between Mime and Wotan as well as the Reinmaden's Rheingold leitmotif.  Like you Wagner's music moves me more more than the music of any other composer.  Tristan und Isolde is my favorite opera.  ACT 3 of that opera is the most emotional music I have ever heard.   

  marvin

Offline Chaszz

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Re: Wagner's Valhalla
« Reply #17 on: May 20, 2007, 02:19:52 PM »
   Its GREAT to have another Wagner fan join GMG, WELCOME chaszz.   Its never too late to enjoy Wagner's operas (muisc dramas) nor too early (I fell in love with his music at the age of 32).  Seigfreid's FUNERAL MARCH is truelly one of the major highlights of the Ring Cycle just like Wotan's Farewell to Brunnehilde.  I also love the heroic music of Seigfreid's sword forging scene, the three question exchange between Mime and Wotan as well as the Reinmaden's Rheingold leitmotif.  Like you Wagner's music moves me more more than the music of any other composer.  Tristan und Isolde is my favorite opera.  ACT 3 of that opera is the most emotional music I have ever heard.   

  marvin

Thank you for your warm welcome, Marvin. I look forward to many exchanges on the subject of the man who is in my opinion not only the greatest musician in history, but a fair bidder for the title of the greatest artist in any medium in history.

Tristan is also my favorite opera; for me it is the long love duet in Act II, combined with the 'Liebestod' closing the opera which is its natural sequel, that counts as my deepest thrill in this amazing work, which the Master tossed off while resting in the middle of composing The Ring, as a relative trifle, easy to mount and perform(!), to earn some money! And also of course to express and immortalize his longing for his adulterous lover Mathilde Weisndonck. And in the process backhandedly began the concept of expanded tonality which utterly changed music, and which concept he never at all mentioned, not even once, in his long voluminous bookshelf of prose writings on music and nearly every other subject! And which opera killed the first tenor who sang it! You couldn't make this stuff up!

One question: why is Verdi your avatar? 
« Last Edit: May 20, 2007, 02:47:40 PM by chaszz »
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Offline Solitary Wanderer

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Re: Wagner's Valhalla
« Reply #18 on: May 20, 2007, 02:30:34 PM »
Well, I'm just begining to get into the Wagner operas and it looks like its going to be a lifelong journey  ;) I'm chipping away at The Ring and highlights from the other operas which will act as 'signposts' when I dive into the operas proper.

The Wagner movie was great.

The Met/Levine Ring cycle sounds great too, and I think, a good way to start getting into the ring as opposed to sitting down with the long operas. A good way to begin to get a 'handle' on the massive work.
'I lingered round them, under that benign sky: watched the moths fluttering among the heath and harebells, listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass, and wondered how any one could ever imagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth.' ~ Emily Bronte

Offline marvinbrown

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Re: Wagner's Valhalla
« Reply #19 on: May 20, 2007, 02:47:08 PM »
Thank you for your warm welcome, Marvin. I look forward to many exchanges on the subject of the man who is in my opinion not only the greatest musician in history, but a fair bidder for the title of greatest artist in history.

One question: why is Verdi your avatar? 

    Look forward to it too.  Why Verdi as my avatar? Because Verdi is my other love interest.  He epitomizes Italian Opera (rivalling Mozart in my opinion) as Wagner epotimizes German opera.  Some interesting facts: both Verdi and Wagner were born the same year 1813, both were rivals but never met.  Somehow I believe they  had great respect for each other.  Both Verdi and Wagner had a sense of drama and could convey powerful emotions through their music.  Both wrote one hit opera after the next.  Verdi's mature operas are true masterpeices (Otello, Aida, Falstaff, Rigolleto, Don Carlo,  La Traviata to name a few) as are Wagner's (The Ring Cycle, Tristan und Isolde, Meistersingers, Parsifal, Tannhauser even Lohengrin and The Flying Dutchman).  I own a little under 50 operas, 11 from Wagner and 10 from Verdi (my collection is lop-sided   :)


    I will change my avatar to something related to Wagner some day in the near future  :)

   marvin
« Last Edit: May 20, 2007, 02:56:09 PM by marvinbrown »

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