Chapter 24 Romantic Opera Germany Germany Looked back

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Chapter 24: Romantic Opera: Germany

Chapter 24: Romantic Opera: Germany

Germany • Looked back to the Middle Ages for inspiration – Medieval sagas and

Germany • Looked back to the Middle Ages for inspiration – Medieval sagas and epic poems – Tales of dark castles, fair maidens, heroic princes, and fire -breathing dragons • Rediscovery and publication of “lost” epics – German Song of the Nibelungs (1820) – Anglo-Saxon Beowulf (1815) – Finnish Kalevala

Richard Wagner (1813 -1883) • Poet, philosopher, politician, propagandist, visionary who believe his operas

Richard Wagner (1813 -1883) • Poet, philosopher, politician, propagandist, visionary who believe his operas would revolutionize society • Controversial composer – Inspired extreme reactions – Exerted enormous influence – A determined, ruthless visionary INSERT FIG 24 -1 from LM 7 e • Largely self-taught • First big success with the opera Rienzi (1842) • Der fliegende Holländer (1844), Tannhäuser (1845), Lohengrin (1848) • Forced to leave Germany in 1848 for political reasons • Spent exile on Switzerland

Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelungens) • Wagner’s magnum opus •

Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelungens) • Wagner’s magnum opus • Cycle of four operas: Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Siegfried, Götterdämmerung • Found a patron in King Ludwig II of Bavaria • Special theatre built in Bayreuth, Germany, for his operas • First Bayreuth Festival in 1876 with the entire Ring cycle

Wagner’s Music Dramas • Wagner intended his operas to be radically different • Gesamtkunstwerk:

Wagner’s Music Dramas • Wagner intended his operas to be radically different • Gesamtkunstwerk: “Total Art Work; ” Artistic union of all the arts • “Endless Melody” - Seamless flow of undifferentiated solo singing and declamation • Removed ensemble singing • Avoids melodic repetition, symmetry, and regular cadences • Greater importance of the orchestra • Leitmotif: A distinctive unit of music designed to represent a character, object, or idea

Wagner’s Ring and Die Walküre (1856, first performed 1870) • Ring cycle a timeless

Wagner’s Ring and Die Walküre (1856, first performed 1870) • Ring cycle a timeless fantasy adventure and a timely allegory for 19 th-century German society • Explores power, greed, heroism, race • Germany rapidly industrializing and striving to become a unified nation • “The Ride of the Valkyries” from Die Walküre – Most famous music from the Ring

Important Leitmotifs from Die Walküre • Slumber • Magic Fire • Renunciation of love

Important Leitmotifs from Die Walküre • Slumber • Magic Fire • Renunciation of love