Music - Music Notes Mar 28 Music and Nation Richard Wagner...

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Music Notes Mar 28 Music and Nation Richard Wagner and the "Total Art Work" Richard Wagner (1813-1883) Early career in Paris, another important center for opera in 1800s Very influenced by Weber's Freischütz and its intense connection between story and orchestra "painting" Frustration with operatic and musical "establishment" leads Wagner to write two radical manifestos: The Artwork of the Future and Opera as Drama . In these two books, Wagner sets out his plan for the Total Art Work (Gesamtkunstwerk) to unify and purify German culture through the union of the arts. Wagner's Total Art Work (Gesamtkunstwerk) Equal combination of integrated poetry, music, movement, stage design–– each element created and specified by Wagner himself. Voices and instruments to be treated equally (orchestra is NOT accompaniment but equally significant in the texture). Music has to be deeply polyphonic No detached "arias" or scenes but rather continuous musical and dramatic flow Use of specific musical ideas, associated with characters, situations, or key objects, and which change/ develop throughout the dramatic flow –– leitmotivs ("guiding motives/ideas") Tristan and Isolde Stories of Wagner's "total art works" are taken from mythology or ancient lore–– reflectiong "purity" of primeval German national culture, but evoking "transcendent", universal human themes The orchestral prelude that opens the work sets the mood, introducing some of the most important leitmotivs––thought at this point we don't know what their associations are Opening leitmotiv: cello solo, followed by weird chord in woodwinds and a rising line in the oboe that feels unresolved This leitmotiv is repeated three times, changed slightly each time–– reinforcing the sense of unfulfilled searching, yearning Wagner unfolds his music slowly and deliberately; this "prelude" lasts ~10 minutes and leads directly into the action. Only about 30 minutes later (in the Middle of Act I) does Wagner repeat the opening leitmotiv, now associating it with a paradoxical Story of Tristan und Isolde concerns the power of love to transcend all human reality; the text is by Wagner, adapted from a medieval legend.
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Mar 31 Crossing the Atlantic "Cultivated" and/or "Vernacular" Cultivated music is music that has been consciously developed as "art" and carefully taught (for ex. at conservatories) Vernacular music is music that we think of as "natural", that develops "spontaneously" out of our culture's expression. This distinction has to do with how we think of our music and our culture, rather than with any inherent qualities in the music's sound. Nonetheless, it is a useful distinction, especially for the history of musical style (and social place of music) in the U.S. European immigrants bring what they consider "cultivated" music to North America; by
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Music - Music Notes Mar 28 Music and Nation Richard Wagner...

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