Richard Wagner

Biography

Born: May 22, 1813; Germany   Died: Feb 13, 1883; Italy   Period: Romantic
Richard Wagner was one of the most revolutionary figures in the history of music, a composer who made pivotal contributions to the development of harmony and musical drama that reverberate even today. Indeed, though Wagner occasionally produced successful music written on a relatively modest scale, opera -- the bigger, the better -- was clearly his milieu, and his aesthetic is perhaps the most grandiose that Western music has ever known. Early in Read more his career, Wagner learned both the elements and the practical, political realities of his craft by writing a handful of operas which were unenthusiastically, even angrily, received. Beginning with Rienzi (1838-40) and The Flying Dutchman (1841), however, he enjoyed a string of successes that propelled him to immortality and changed the face of music. His monumental Ring cycle of four operas -- Das Rheingold (1853-54), Die Walküre (1854-56), Siegfried (1856-71) and Götterdämmerung (1869-74) -- remains the most ambitious and influential contribution by any composer to the opera literature. Tristan and Isolde (1857-59) is perhaps the most representative example of Wagner's musical style, which is characterized by a high degree of chromaticism, a restless, searching tonal instability, lush harmonies, and the association of specific musical elements (known as leitmotifs, the flexible manipulation of which is one of the glories of Wagner's music) with certain characters and plot points. Wagner wrote text as well as music for all his operas, which he preferred to call "music dramas."

Wagner's life matched his music for sheer drama. Born in Leipzig on May 22, 1813, he began in the early 1830s to write prolifically on music and the arts in general; over his whole career, his music would to some degree serve to demonstrate his aesthetic theories. He often worked as a conductor in his early years; a conducting engagement took him to Riga, Latvia, in 1837, but he fled the country in the middle of the night two years later to elude creditors. Wagner as a young man had some sympathy with the revolutionary movements of the middle nineteenth century (and even the Ring cycle contains a distinct anti-materialist and vaguely socialist drift); in the Dresden uprisings of 1849 he apparently took up arms, and he had to leave Germany when the police restored order. Settling in Zurich, Switzerland, he wrote little for some years but evolved the intellectual framework for his towering mature masterpieces. Wagner returned to Germany in 1864 under the protection and patronage of King Ludwig II of Bavaria; it was in Bayreuth, near Munich, that he undertook the construction of an opera house (completed in 1876) built to his personal specifications and suited to the massive fusion of music, staging, text, and scene design that his later operas entailed. Bayreuth became something of a shrine for the fanatical Wagnerites who carried the torch after his death; it remains the goal of many a pilgrimage today. His attitude toward Jews was deeply ambivalent (he believed, mistakenly, that his stepfather was Jewish), but some of his writings contain anti-Semitic elements that have aroused considerable controversy among opera lovers, especially in view of Adolf Hitler's apparent predilection for the composer's music. Read less

Wagner: Parsifal / Kaufmann, Pape, Gatti, Met Opera [Blu-ray]
Release Date: 04/01/2014   Label: Sony  
Catalog: 372572   Number of Discs: 1
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Wagner: Der Fliegende Hollander / Selig, Merbeth, Muzek, Thielemann, Bayreuth Festival Orchestra
Release Date: 07/29/2014   Label: Opus Arte  
Catalog: 1140   Number of Discs: 1
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Ives: Three Places in New England; Sibelius, Wagner / Michael Tilson Thomas
Release Date: 09/24/2013   Label: Ica Classics  
Catalog: 5111   Number of Discs: 1
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Wagner: Parsifal / Kaufmann, Pape, Gatti, Met
Release Date: 04/01/2014   Label: Sony  
Catalog: 372558   Number of Discs: 2
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Wagner: Die Meistersinger Von Nurnberg / Gatti, Volle, Sacca, Gabler, Zeppenfeld
Release Date: 07/29/2014   Label: Euroarts  
Catalog: 72688   Number of Discs: 2
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Work: Tannhäuser: Overture

Browse 126-135 of 135 Available Recordings
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  • 126.
    Wagner: Orchestral Favourites / Solti, Wiener Philharmoniker
    Label: London/Decca Double Decker   Catalog: 440606 Release Date: 10/11/1994   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Conductor:  Sir Georg Solti
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna Singverein,  Vienna State Opera Chorus
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  • 127.
    Cinema Classics 8
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 556628 Release Date: 10/04/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gregorio Allegri,  Paul Dukas,  Felix Mendelssohn,  Franz Schubert  ... 
    Performer:  Benjamin Frith,  Jénö Jandó,  Jozef Cejka,  Idil Biret
    Conductor:  Jeremy Summerly,  Richard Edlinger,  Michael Halász
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Oxford Camerata,  Kosice Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra,  Moyzes String Quartet  ... 
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  • 128.
    The Best Of Wagner
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8556657 Release Date: 02/15/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Conductor:  Michael Halász,  Uwe Mund,  Johannes Wildner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra,  Czecho-Slovak Radio Symphony,  Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra Katowice
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  • 129.
    The German Album - Schumann, Wagner, Liszt / Leibowitz
    Label: Chesky Records   Catalog: 96 Release Date: 01/17/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Liszt,  Richard Wagner,  Robert Schumann
    Conductor:  René Leibowitz
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,  International Symphony Orchestra
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  • 130.
    Royal Edition - Wagner: Wesendonck Lieder, Opera Excerpts / Bernstein
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 47644 Release Date: 11/02/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Eileen Farrell
    Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic
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  • 131.
    Wagner: Overtures & Preludes / Adrian Boult
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 62539 Release Date: 09/29/1992   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra,  New Philharmonia Orchestra
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  • 132.
    Wagner: Lohengrin (Highlights)
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8550136 Release Date: 06/30/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Conductor:  Michael Halász
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 133.
    Wagner: Tannhauser Without Words / Maazel, Pittsburgh SO
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 47178 Release Date: 09/26/1991   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Conductor:  Lorin Maazel
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
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  • 134.
    Kosmos / Tomita
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 2616 Release Date: 07/09/1991   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Isao Tomita,  Grigoras Dinicu,  Edvard Grieg,  Charles Ives  ... 
    Performer:  Isao Tomita
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  • 135.
    Wagner: Tannhäuser, Siegfried-idyll, Etc / Karajan, Norman
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 423613 Release Date: 10/25/1990   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Jessye Norman
    Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
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