Since faith is one, it must be professed in all its purity and integrity". Pope Francis/Pope Benedict
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Thursday, 8 August 2013

Richard Wagner: Den Ring muss ich haben !

One of today's tragedies is that a colossus such as Wagner no longer strides the earth. With this man, we are dealing with a supreme intellect; consider the Ring which took over two decades to complete; yet the unity, the musical construction manifest a mind of incomparable genius (I compose this entry, as Siegfried plays in the background...).
Some background. My initiation into Wagner was listening to the Prelude to Lohengrin... the simplicity of the motif...its (paradoxically) complex development.... then there was the issue of extraordinary orchestration.  The 1877 Sunday Times was correct in the claim that Wagner used the orchestra with as much ease as a child with a toy. I obtained a score and studied it. Then, I moved onto his other operas, leading up to the Ring - including watching the Met production with Siegfried Jerusalem. This led to other developments: a piece of  Reingold and a bust of the great man on my piano. Both, probably unnoticed by Freyr on his various visits - due to coffee clouding his mind. On this point, I would recommend to Freyr a Wagnerian breakfast - venison, washed down with wine...
So, friends, Freyr and I come to a digression: is Wagner a poet who also composed? Or, is he a composer who dabbled in poetry? Freyr takes the former, seemingly to give Wagner a failing grade. I, for my part, regard him as a musician using drama as a vehicle to convey his - really - stand alone music. Consider "Der Ring Ohne Worte" as proof of this. It also, however, proves that Wagner really needed a good editor....

He may have been hounded in Germany by the police, vexed in France due to passport problems, but in England the Queen was not embarrassed to meet him...

Recommended reading: The Real Wagner, Rudolph Sabor



Tonight, on PBS, Gotterdammerung will draw the Ring cycle to a close. Do yourself a favour: listen, watch and learn.

1 comment:

Freyr said...

Just as one would not consider any of the multitude of Arthurian works without referring back to the Matter of Britain from whence they all come, one should be aware of the Matter of the North when looking at any of the many derivative works. By the way, I ordered a copy of Tolkien's Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun.