Richard Wagner: The Man, His Mind, and His Music

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9780156776158: Richard Wagner: The Man, His Mind, and His Music

Ranging far beyond the bounds of conventional biography and music history, this book examines the cultural background of Wagner’s art, including the nether regions of nationalism and racism. New Introduction by the Author. Index; photographs.

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About the Author:

Wilhelm Richard Wagner, 22 May 1813, Leipzig, Germany – 13 February 1883, Venice, Italy) was a German composer, conductor, theatre director and essayist, primarily known for his operas (or "music dramas", as they were later called). Unlike most other great opera composers, Wagner wrote both the scenario and libretto for his works.

Wagner's compositions, particularly those of his later period, are notable for contrapuntal texture, rich chromaticism, harmonies and orchestration, and elaborate use of leitmotifs: musical themes associated with particular characters, locales or plot elements. Wagner pioneered advances in musical language, such as extreme chromaticism and quickly shifting tonal centres, which greatly influenced the development of European classical music.

He transformed musical thought through his idea of Gesamtkunstwerk ("total artwork"), the synthesis of all the poetic, visual, musical and dramatic arts, epitomized by his monumental four-opera cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen (1876). To try to stage these works as he imagined them, Wagner built his own opera house.

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Published by Harvest Books (1990)
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