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: Der Ring des Nibelungen / Solti
Release Date: 06/09/2015   Label: Decca  
Catalog: 002330102   Number of Discs: 16
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Wagner: Der Ring Des Nibelungen / Keilberth [bayreuth 1953]
Release Date: 07/31/2015   Label: Pan Classics  
Catalog: 10340   Number of Discs: 12
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Wagner: Tannhauser / Youn, Kerl, , Eiche, Kober, Bayreuth Festival
Release Date: 07/31/2015   Label: Opus Arte  
Catalog: 1177   Number of Discs: 2
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Wagner: Symphony In C; Tristan Und Isolde; Siegfried Idyll /  De Waart, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic
Release Date: 11/11/2014   Label: Challenge  
Catalog: 72649   Number of Discs: 1
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Wagner: Marches & Overtures / Kojian, Hong Kong Po
Release Date: 05/15/2001   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8555386   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Tannhäuser: Dich, teure Halle

Browse 101-103 of 103 Available Recordings
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  • 101.
    American Diva / Alessandrea Marc
    Label: Delos   Catalog: 3108 Release Date: 12/11/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Giuseppe Verdi,  Alfredo Catalani,  Francesco Cilèa,  Giacomo Puccini  ... 
    Performer:  Alessandra Marc
    Conductor:  Heinz Wallberg
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Zealand Symphony Orchestra
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  • 102.
    Prima Voce - Great Singers At The Berlin State Opera
    Label: Nimbus   Catalog: 7848 Release Date: 12/02/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Engelbert Humperdinck,  Richard Strauss,  Giacomo Puccini,  Giuseppe Verdi  ... 
    Performer:  Gerhard Hüsch,  Erna Berger,  Tiana Lemnitz,  Else Ruziczka  ... 
    Conductor:  Hanns Udo Müller,  Clemens Krauss,  Erich Orthmann,  Fritz Zweig  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin State Opera Orchestra,  Berlin Staatskapelle Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra
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  • 103.
    Prima Voce - Kirsten Flagstad
    Label: Nimbus   Catalog: 7847 Release Date: 12/02/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Carl Maria von Weber,  Richard Wagner,  Ludwig van Beethoven
    Performer:  Kirsten Flagstad
    Conductor:  Eugene Ormandy,  Edwin McArthur,  Hans Lange
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philadelphia Orchestra,  San Francisco Opera Orchestra,  Orchestra
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Richard Wagner