Classical Music Talk

December 22, 2009

Richard Wagner –

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Richard Wagner

Wagner

Richard Wagner moved to Bayreuth on April 24, 1872. . On April 27 1872 R. Wagner provisionally moved to the “Fantaisie” of Donndorf (4 km west of the common Bayreuth), not far from the castle “Fantaisie”. By the end of sept.1872 Wagner family moved in Bayreuth. Here began his penultimate opera “Götterdämmerung” (Twilight of the Gods “), completed in the “Haus Wahnfried “, a house where he moved in autumn 1874.

“Twilight of the Gods” has concluded – after 26 years – the tetralogy “The Ring of Nibelungs”. In Bayreuth he composed and last work of his life, “Parsifal”. He died in Venice (in Vendradim Palace), on February 13, 1883 at the age of 70 years following a heart disease. His wife Cosima (daughter of composer Franz Liszt) took over after her husband’s leadership of Wagner Festival and survived 47 years. They had 3 children: Isolde (1865-1919), Eva (1867-1942, married H.S.Chamberlain) and Siegfried (1869-1930, married Winifred Williams Klindworth).
The reasons that compelled Richard Wagner to choose Bayreuth as city of residence were:
• the city was located in Bavaria, the country of his patron, the Bavarian King Ludwig II (1845-1886), to which he felt deeply indebted.
• Bayreuth was geographically located in the heart of the German Empire, relatively easily accessible from all directions.
• The City has an opera house (slightly used), in which he hopes to present his works exclusively.

• There were no other theaters in town that would be competitive (not admitted – of pride – competition).
• Massif in the vicinity -Fichtelgebirge, the legendary cradle of German ethnic groups.
Richard Wagner Festspielhaus (festival theatre) in Bayreuth
The writings of Arthur Schopenhauer and Friedrich Nietzsche, and change of his social condition as a favorite of King Ludwig II of Bavaria made him to join the nationalist pan-Germanic ideas. His ideas are contained in numerous essays on music, theater, politics and religion as Kunst und Revolution (“Art and Revolution “, 1848), Das Kunstwerke der Zukunft (“The artwork of the future”, 1850), Oper und Drama (“Opera and Drama “, 1851). Wagner was considered a religious pontiff artist rooted in German culture, inspired by old Nordic legends, with heroic characters that move us in a supernatural world. The art, gravitating around the musical drama, had to lead those national operators. They stated that the Germans had for the ancient the Greeks. Wagner music drama entertainment is based on a sacred action, allegory of inner drama, by indissoluble unity of the text, written by Wagner himself for most of his creations,  Wagner introduces the innovative “endless melody” and  “das Leitmotiv”, suggestion and evocation of the symbolic process of psychological issues, of key moments in the dramatically  pursuit. Piano music was also very important for him.

This concept found its embodiment in his monumental tetralogy Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring Nibelungs), composed of the  works Das Rheingold (” Die Walkure “, 1854), Die Walküre (Walkiria, 1856), Siegfried (1870) and Götterdämmerung (“Twilight of the gods”, 1874), which configures, in a world of heroes and myths, a primitive violence of the conflict between human and spiritual nature. The exceptional quality of Wagner’s art is reflected in his masterpieces Tristan und Isolde (1859), the triumph of love over death, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (1867), Parsifal (1882), which reproduces the legend of the “Holy Grail”, the dramatic struggle with feelings of devotion. Even his piano music was influenced by “das Leitmotiv”.
Wagner creation had an overwhelming influence on the subsequent evolution of music. Composers as Anton Bruckner, Gustav Mahler, Claude Debussy (at the beginning), Arnold Schönberg, and Richard Strauss have developed their creation under the strong influence of Richard Wagner’s music.

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Richard Wagner – early years

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Wagner

Richard Wagner

Richard Wagner was born in Leipzig in a family of actors. He studied in Dresden and Leipzig, taking composition lessons with Christian Theodor Weinling. Between 1833 and 1839 Wagner worked for opera theaters in Würzburg, Magdeburg, Königsberg, and Riga, and wrote his first operas Die Feen (‘fairies’, 1834), Das Liebesverbot (“forbidden love”, 1836) and several orchestral pieces. In 1836 he married the actress Minna Planner. Travel more, knowing the major European musical centers. During a hectic travel by sea to England he prepared a work plan for “Flying Dutchman”. After a short stay in London, he went to Paris where he is deeply impressed by the music of Hector Berlioz.

Further, his musical genius was formed and has revealed the influence of the great music of Carl Maria von Weber, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and especially by the symphonic creations of Ludwig van Beethoven. He also paid attention to piano music. His first famous work are Rienzi (1840 – first on October 20 1842 in Dresden), Der fliegende Hollander (The Flying Dutchman “or “ghost ship “, 1841 – presented for the first time in January 2nd 1843 in Dresden) and imposed him in the artistic life. In 1843 he is set in Dresden, where he became Kapellmeister at the court of King of Saxony. Following works Tannhäuser (1845) and Lohengrin (1848) are more difficult to welcome the public, because the innovative elements in dramatical and musical structure. With the support of Franz Liszt, he will be presented later successfully in Weimar.
Very proud, Wagner had a troubled existence. Under the influence of the writer Heinrich Laube, he adopted the republican ideas of the movement Jungen Deutschland (“Young Germany”), but after the defeat of the revolution of 1848, he is forced to go to Zurich in Switzerland, where he stayed 10 years, until 1858. Here he knows a writer, Mathilde Wesendonck, for which he had a true passion and whose lyrics consist of a cycle of lied. In these circumstances he separates from his wife, Minna; later will marry Cosima, daughter of Franz Liszt. He was a great admirer of Franz Liszt piano music. Since 1864 became the protégé of King Ludwig II of Bavaria, an avid fan of Wagnerian music. King is backing him financially, enabling Wagner to devote only to artistic creation. With the protector help is built a theater at Bayreuth, Wagner’s works hard. This theatre is home – until today – every summer (July-August), to the renowned music festival named “Richard Wagner”.

Richard Wagner was born in Leipzig in a family of actors. He studied in Dresden and Leipzig, taking composition lessons with Christian Theodor Weinling. Between 1833 and 1839 Wagner worked for opera theaters in Würzburg, Magdeburg, Königsberg, and Riga, and wrote his first operas Die Feen (‘fairies’, 1834), Das Liebesverbot (“forbidden love”, 1836) and several orchestral pieces. In 1836 he married the actress Minna Planner. Travel more, knowing the major European musical centers. During a hectic travel by sea to England he prepared a work plan for “Flying Dutchman”. After a short stay in London, he went to Paris where he is deeply impressed by the music of Hector Berlioz.Further, his musical genius was formed and has revealed the influence of the great music of Carl Maria von Weber, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and especially by the symphonic creations of Ludwig van Beethoven. He also paid attention to piano music. His first famous work are Rienzi (1840 – first on October 20 1842 in Dresden), Der fliegende Hollander (The Flying Dutchman “or “ghost ship “, 1841 – presented for the first time in January 2nd 1843 in Dresden) and imposed him in the artistic life. In 1843 he is set in Dresden, where he became Kapellmeister at the court of King of Saxony. Following works Tannhäuser (1845) and Lohengrin (1848) are more difficult to welcome the public, because the innovative elements in dramatical and musical structure. With the support of Franz Liszt, he will be presented later successfully in Weimar.Very proud, Wagner had a troubled existence. Under the influence of the writer Heinrich Laube, he adopted the republican ideas of the movement Jungen Deutschland (“Young Germany”), but after the defeat of the revolution of 1848, he is forced to go to Zurich in Switzerland, where he stayed 10 years, until 1858. Here he knows a writer, Mathilde Wesendonck, for which he had a true passion and whose lyrics consist of a cycle of lied. In these circumstances he separates from his wife, Minna; later will marry Cosima, daughter of Franz Liszt. He was a great admirer of Franz Liszt piano music. Since 1864 became the protégé of King Ludwig II of Bavaria, an avid fan of Wagnerian music. King is backing him financially, enabling Wagner to devote only to artistic creation. With the protector help is built a theater at Bayreuth, Wagner’s works hard. This theatre is home – until today – every summer (July-August), to the renowned music festival named “Richard Wagner”.

December 8, 2009

Modest Mussorgsky

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Modest Mussorgsky

Modest Mussorgsky

Born on March 21, 1839, Modest Mussorgsky was imposed only posthumously in Russian music in nineteenth century. Even if he had specific studies, he was forced to settle for most of his life with a job of a modest clerk. He composed trying to combine the influences of Western tradition and legends of Russia, but his influence on age was minimal. Mussorgsky was virtually ignored by his contemporaries.

His compositions have been noted by the unique style and sonority, hard to accept initially, and the failures and disappointments made the musician to seek his refuge in alcohol, which will bring him to death. The best known compositions are “Images from an exhibition” (a difficult suite for piano orchestrated by Ravel) and especially the opera Boris Godunov (finished by Rimsky-Korsakov), creations with strange harmonies and considered later great artistic expressions of a specific culture.

Mussorgsky was born into a wealthy family, starting from childhood serious piano lessons, at the insistence of his mother. A talented native surprisingly particular, coupled with the will and passion for music, Mussorgsky would have liked to dedicate exclusively to classical music, but the decision of the family was already taken. The young artist had to become a military, so he was enrolled in a school for cadets. Nothing here was connected to music, but he began to sing in a choir of students, discovered on this occasion the religious music in Russia, who will influence him powerfully later in his creations. He graduated in 1856 and, as his father wanted, he was selected in the Imperial Guard.

That same year, knows the composers Dargomizhsky, then Balakirev, which will give him the first lessons in composition. Mussorgsky was hesitant at first, and then composed small pieces for piano, increasingly attracted to classical music.

In 1858 he decided to resign from the Imperial Guard, giving to anger the family to a career that is announced promising, as decided to become a composer. In 1861 his name became known, but as the family lost most of the assets, Mussorgsky is forced to work as clerk, the occupation he detested and which will occupy most of the time.

He keeps his old friends, attending artistic circles of the time and becomes an advocate of realism in music. Even if the lack of time will often forced him to leave the work unfinished, he became known.  Mussorgsky is considered the equal of composers much better known as Balakirev, Cui, Rimsky-Korsakov, and Borodin.

He worked for several years on his masterpiece, Boris Godunov, which will have a great success in 1874, the year when Mussorgsky finished a suite for piano named Pictures from an exhibition. Unfortunately the artist drinks more and more, and in 1880 he is dismissed because of this problem. With the financial support of his friends, Mussorgsky not gives up but works increasingly less and starts to have moments of psychological violence. He died on March 28, 1881, completely ruined and sick, without even could finish last compositions.

December 4, 2009

Gaetano Donizetti

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Donizetti

Donizetti

Donizetti was a prolific composer of classical music. His work includes 75 operas, 16 symphonies, 19 string quartets, 193 songs, 45 duets, 3 oratorios, 28 cantatas, instrumental concerts, sonatas and other pieces of classical music.
Domenico Gaetano Maria Donizetti (born November 29 1797, Bergamo, Italy – died April 8 1848) was an Italian composer of classical music and especially opera, living in Bergamo, Lombardy region. The Italian composer known work is Lucia di Lammermoor (1835) and most recognizable track is the area of his music, “Una furtiva lagrima” from the opera L’Elisir d’amore (1832). Along with Vincenzo Bellini and Gioacchino Rossini, Donizetti was one of the leading composers of bel canto opera.
Donizetti studied in his hometown, then in Bologna,  the abbot  Pietro Mattei, who also worked with a period of time, after Gioacchino Rossini.
The first work that was successfully is “Zoraide di Granata” ( “Soraya of Granada”), presented in Rome in 1822. Since 1827, Donizetti is working in Napoli (Naples) where he became director of the Royal Theater, and later professor of counterpoint at the Conservatory. In only three years, he wrote 12 works, all illustrating the interpretive Bel canto style. In this creative period, characterized by the composer Gioacchino Rossini’s influence, may be noted “Anna Bolena” (1830), “Elixir of Love” (1832), “Lucrezia Borgia” (1833), but especially “Lucia di Lammermoor “(1835) which can be considered his masterpiece.
Since 1839, Donizetti settled in Paris, where he present new works, “Favorita” (1840), “Daughter of the regiment” (1840), “Rita” (1841), “The Duke of Alba” (1842), ” Don Pasquale “(1843) and” Don Sebastian, King of Portugal “(1843).
In his wanderings through the great musical cities of Europe, Donizetti arrived in Vienna, where he held his first opera “Linda di Chamounix” (1842).
On April 8, 1848, aged only of 51 years, Gaetano Donizetti dies in his hometown, Bergamo.
Donizetti’s reputation is based on his work: comedy, his position was not contested. His works survive by the grace and spontaneity of the songs, formal poise, their effortless dramatic pace, their fire and above all the romantic vitality.  Like Bellini, Donizetti summarizes the spirit of the 1830 Italian romantic era. Having imitated Rossini’s formal, florid style for ten years (1818-28), gradually, he wrote highly decorated male-voice pieces, lyrical songs and design allowing the drama to determine ensemble structures.

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