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Richard Wagner & Bach

BWV 54: Performances / Opera

Continue of discussion from: Cantata BWV 54 - Discussions Part 3

Luke Hubbard wrote (April 21, 2005):
Henri Sanguinetti.henri wrote:
< Like to say I feel sorry for you if you don't like baroque oboe! >
Well, I didn't say that. I love baroque oboe, but NOT the way it's performed in TELDEC (Harnoncourt / Leonhardt) cantatas. It has a characteristical strident, uncontrolled tonality very difficult to be listened to.

< May be I said this because I love baroque opera, and like "Antoine Marchand' said somewhere, "I regret that we don't have operas by Bach". >
Well, I for one have no regard at all for baroque operas, at least those composed by Händel, who are persistently one-dimensional, just as his entire repertoire. Until Wagner, operas have been little more than consummable music for public use. The music is always shallow, the characters always primitive (good, bad, loving, hating). While some pieces can be MUSICAL, I always end up bored quickly and try something more serious.

Bach's cantatas and oratorios, with no stage to aggrandish the impact of their message, have immensely higher dramaticism, are immensely more thought provoking in content (not just about instincts, love, warfare and other garbage), without mentioning the quality of the music and its ability of almost infinite modulation with regard to each state the soloist must deliver. Of course, you are just as entitled to express a contrary oppinion, as long as you provide arguments for that oppinion. Just as Wagner's music, they are an intimate communion between music and words, a perfect counterpoint of different spheres communicating through a common theme.

Uri Golomb wrote (April 21, 2005):
OT: operas (was: BWV 54: Performances)

Luke Hubbard wrote:
< Until Wagner, operas have been little more than consummable music for public use. The music is always shallow, the characters always primitive (good, bad, loving, hating). While some pieces can be MUSICAL, I always end up bored quickly and try something more serious. >
Really? All pre-Wagner operas, without exception? Does that include Monteverdi and Mozart, for instance? (I'm not even sure I agree about Händel...) As I said in the subject-line, this is off-topic; but I think that, even when discussing things that are marginal to the main subject of this group (Bach Cantatas), we should be wary of making sweeping generalisations.

Luke Hubbard wrote (April 21, 2005):
Uri Golomb wrote:
< we should be wary of making sweeping generalisations. >
Generalisation is the only way to understand things in ANY manner.

John Pike wrote (April 21, 2005):
Luke Hubbard wrote:
< Well, I for one have no regard at all for baroque operas, at least those composed by Händel, who are persistently one-dimensional, just as his entire repertoire. Until Wagner, operas have been little more than consummable music for public use. The music is always shallow, the characters always primitive (good, bad, loving, hating). While some pieces can be MUSICAL, I always end up bored quickly and try something more serious. >
I have to disagree here. For me, Mozart Operas and Betthoven's "Fidelio" are some of the pinnacles of western music. Sadly, I don't know Händel's operas, but I also disagree with your comments about Händel in general. For me, he is a very fine composer.

Henri Sanguinetti wrote (April 22, 2005):
Luke Hubbard wrote:
>>Well, I for one have no regard at all for baroque operas, at least those composed by Händel, who are persistently one-dimensional, just as his entire repertoire Like to say again I feel sorry for you if you can't appreciate Händel' s operas! Until Wagner, operas have been little more than consummable music for public use. <<
Do you mean that Wagner did not want to be public and wrote music for himself only.

>>The music is always shallow, the characters always primitive (good, bad, loving, hating). While some pieces can be MUSICAL, I always end up bored quickly and try something more serious. <<
I could listen to Don Juan twice , three times in a row, without getting tired by the music. I can also with Julius Caesar by Händel, or Orfeo by Monteverdi, or St François by Messiaen.

Wagner wanted to sound serious, but can we take his subjects, characters and librettos seriously? He can also be boring allright.

Eric Bergerud wrote (April 22, 2005):
[To Luke Hubbard] I look at Wagner as being the anti-Bach: musically his evil twin. Bach's music ennobles the librettos. In Wagner, at least the later works, the "music" destroys the libretto. One reason I love cantatas is that the recitatives are often so lovely. If you study a libretto of the Ring Cycle, one is struck by the great skill of its construction and the very high level of literary style. Wagner, no joke, was a very good writer indeed. (He was also a major critic of considerable skill.) And, as Peter Jackson has recently proved, the Ring would have made a good screenplay for a movie trilogy. But when the words are smothered by the endless drone of what passes among the Wagnerites for music, I'm looking for the exit. I realize music is taste and taste impossible to define. But in 1871 Verdi said "In opera every step backward is progress." I couldn't agree more. The arrogance of the idea that one could synthesize literature and music is, in retrospect, startling. (Authors and dramatists had the sense to neglect Wagner's conceit.) And, as one might expect, Wagner had no heirs. What do you do for an encore after Parsifal? Fledermaus? As for Händel, I wish cuts were more common in the world of HIP opera. In point of fact that are a large number of baroque and early classical titles in print so someone must buy them. Cecilia Bartoli has made best sellers, in classical music terms, out of CDs based on arias from Vivaldi and Gluck. (She also sings lead in Haydn's Orfeo: a really nice work. You remember Haydn, the composer that couldn't write operas?) But even if one can cop a snooze during a Händel opera, I can't think of one that doesn't have some really wonderful moments. Händel, like Mozart, Rossini, Verdi and, for that matter, JS Bach knew that it was the quality of the music that determines the overall impact of the work.

As for Telemann, I'll grant I don't "hum along" with his music. But I don't for most of Bach either. I listen to a lot of Telemann and enjoy it greatly. Indeed I prefer good Telemann to all but the very best Vivaldi. Tafelmusik and Essercizii Musici hold their own against anything Vivaldi did, although I'll grant Vivaldi's importance as an innovator. (I remember one wag commenting that Vivaldi did one great concerto five hundred times.)

Uri Golomb wrote (April 22, 2005):
Eric Begerud wrote:
< As for Telemann, I'll grant I don't "hum along" with his music. But I don't for most of Bach either. I listen to a lot of Telemann and enjoy it greatly. Indeed I prefer good Telemann to all but the very best Vivaldi. Tafelmusik and Essercizii Musici hold their own against anything Vivaldi did, although I'll grant Vivaldi's importance as an innovator. (I remember one wag commenting that Vivaldi did one great concerto five hundred times.) >
I think the "wag" was Stravinsky -- at least, the quote is often attributed to him (there is even a version which says that Vivaldi did the same SEQUENCE 500 times). One of these days, I'll try to find out if what Stravinsky actually said, and in what context (assuming, that is, that the quote is indeed authentic -- which might not be the case...)

and BTW, I also prefer Telemann to Vivaldi most of the time...

Luke Hubbard wrote (April 22, 2005):
Henri Sanguinetti wrote:
"Like to say again I feel sorry for you if you can't appreciate Händel' s operas!"
Frankly, I do not like Händel at all. Just as Gustav Leonhardt once said, "je deteste sa musique". I see it as shallow, frivolous, empty of substance and full of musical tricks to catch the audience. I is at least awkward to see how many people admire his operas. Of course, they are entitled to like everything they want. Some even go hand in hand liking barand 20th century output.

"Do you mean that Wagner did not want to be public and wrote music for himself only?"
Not at all. By "commercial" I understand music created solely for the reason to be sold (or lived by). Because of its inherent limitations, such music can almost never be thought provoking. Even Mozart, for example, composed a lot of trashy music to please the courtly audience.

"Wagner wanted to sound serious, but can we take his subjects, characters and librettos seriously? He can also be boring allright."
I don't like opera very much, so I wont take Wagner's side. The major difference between Wagner and other operatic composers is bound on different theories of music: for the former, it should be an intimate union between text and music, while for the latter, the texts are subordinate to music.

John Pike wrote (April 22, 2005):
Eric Bergerud wrote:
< I look at Wagner as being the anti-Bach: musically his evil twin.
I remember one wag commenting that Vivaldi did one great concerto five hundred times.) >
I think it was Wagner who made one of my favourite comments about Bach. it went something like this: "The most monumental genius in the history of Western Civilisation. I think Wolff may have criticised Wagner for such comments, but personally I can't see why. it would seem to me to be spot on, although no doubt there are several others, including in media other than music, who would be worthy contenders for this accolade.

I think it was Stravinsky who made the comment about "Vivaldi did not write 400 concertos, but one concerto 400 times". Rather mean and incorrect in my view. Having just learned the 4 Seasons and having listened to Nigel Kennedy's 2 vivaldi discs with the BPO recently, I couldn't agree less.

John Pike wrote (April 22, 2005):
[To Luke Hubbard] I cannot take this seriously. "Messiah", to name but one example, is one of the greatest masterpieces of all time. There are many other Handelian masterpieces OK, much of Mozart's early music falls well below the giddy heights of most of his later music, but "lot of trash" seems to overstate the case.

I am not a great Wagner fan myself, and do find much of it boring, but when I heard Parsifal for the first time last year I was dumbstruck.

As Uri commented a few days, it is very important not to make sweeping generalisations about composers which do not stand up to even the most cursory examination.

BTW, I enjoy listening to Telemann as well and very fine performances of his music can leave one deeply moved.

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (April 23, 2005):
Luke Hubbard wrote:
< Until Wagner, operas have been little more than consummable music for public use. The music is always shallow, the characters always primitive (good, bad, loving, hating). While some pieces can be MUSICAL, I always end up bored quickly and try something more serious. >
Res ipse loquitur. Even Wagner didn't believe that.

 

Bach & Wagner [Bach_Cantatas ML]

Doug Cowling wrote (April 22, 2005):
As a passionate Wagnerian myself, I couldn't disagree with you more. Monteverdi's "Orfeo" and Händel's "Giulio Cesare" are more than great music pieces, they are great theatre pieces. But they are different very different in their concept of drama from the Romantic ideal you espouse. I have always had two great questions about Baroque composer:

1) Why is Telemann not a great popular composer? (Hum one tune!)

2) Why has Baroque opera not achieved modern popularity?

The latter is a good corrective for us here when talking about the cantatas. The baroque doctrine of "affects" is very foreign to mdoern sensibilites. We do not want to see and hear emotions abstracted: we want our emotions real. If that is our expectation then Baroque opera will always be a "failure".

And yet that same approach to emotional sensibility is the basic language of the Bach cantatas. I'm not saying that we misinterpret the emotionalism of the cantatas, but we need to remember that we stand 300 years away from that period and we have always be careful not to project our modern sensibilities about drama and emotion back into Bach's music.

And as for Wagner, no would ever say there is any realism or naturalism in Wagner. In fact, very little happens by way of plot in a Wagner opera. In the middle of Die Walküre the stage action simply stops for 30 minutes while Wotan sings his incredible monologue. That ain't verismo.

Robert Ireland wrote (April 22, 2005):
"We do not want to see and hear emotions abstracted: we want our emotions real."
Can the emotion expressed in any form of opera (or any other form of music) be described as "real"? It seems to me that music is always abstract, and can only represent emotion, regardless of forms and the period in which the music is composed.

Doug Cowling wrote (April 22, 2005):
[To Robert Ireland] Agreed, but in a post-Stanislavsian age of film and theatre method, we expect actors to live the actual emotion. The notion that an actor would suddenly break off the dialogue and come to the footlights and sing "about" the emotion rather than experience the emotion is foreign to us. Händel certainly recognizes the problem because he often plays with the da capo form, shifting "affects" between sections.

Bach rarely uses this technique. When he does, it is riveting: The sudden appearance of "Der Held Aus Juda" in "Es Ist Vollbracht" in the SJP (BWV 245) is one of the most electrifying dramatic moments in all of music. And not just for its initial coup de theatre but for the way Bach cuts short the section, returning to opening lament. The interplay between recitative and arioso in the Coffee (BWV 211) and Peasant (BWV 212) Cantatas also show that Bach knew that he could achieve "verismo" effects if he wanted.

 

BWV 7 - Bach & Wagner

Continue of discussion from: Cantata BWV 7 - Discussions

Douglas Cowling wrote (June 10, 2006):
Eric Bergerud wrote:
< Although Bach composed BWV 7 to accompany the holiday celebrating the birth of John the Baptist, the text is a reverential explanation of the Lutheran interpretation of Baptism and an explanation of the symbolism associated with the sacrament. The believer may see water but faith allows the understanding that what flows is the redeeming blood of Christ. >
A historical sidebar. Although Luther removed most of the saints' days from the Lutheran calendar, those which had a strong Christological theme, were retained. In the case of St. John's Day, June 24, he was also acknowledging the popular celebration of Midsummer's Day on June 21 which the saint's day absorbed in the middle ages. The lighting of bonfires on the eve of the shortest night of the year was still observed. It would be interesting to know if the festival had a social celebration attached to it in Bach's time.

There is also a connection to Wagner's "Die Meistersinger" which takes place on St. John's Eve. It opens with the principals in a Lutheran church with the congregation singing a chorale about the baptism of Christ:

Da zu dir der Heiland kam,
willig seine Taufe nahm,
weihte sich dem Opfertod,
gab er uns des Heils Gebot:
das wir durch sein' Tauf' uns weihn,
seines Opfers wert zu sein.
Edler Täufer!
Christs Vorläufer!
Nimm uns gnädig an,


(When the Saviour came to thee,
willingly accepted thy baptism,
dedicating Himself to a sacrificial death,
He gave the covenant for our salvation:
that we might be consecrated through baptism
so as to be worthy of his sacrifice.
Noble Baptist!
Christ's precursor!
Receive us graciously
there by the river Jordan.)

Between the verses, the lovers, Walther and Eva, make goo-goo eyes at each other while the orchestra introduces their motifs. In these interludes, Wagner is using the old Lutheran tradition of the organist inmprovising bewteen the lines of a chorale (Bach's "In Dulci Jubilo" is one of the rare notated survivals of the practice).

And of course, the final scene set by the river (is the biblical story behindthe libretto?) concludes with a great faux-chorale set to the historical Hans Sachs' homage to Martin Luther:

"Wacht auf, es nahet gen den Tag;
ich hör' singen im grünen Hag
ein wonnigliche Nachtigall,
ihr' Stimm' durchdringet Berg und Tal:
die Nacht neigt sich zum Occident,
der Tag geht auf von Orient,
die rotbrünstige Morgenröt'
her durch die trüben Wolken geht
."

("Awake! the dawn is drawing near;
I hear a blissful nightingale
singing in the green grove,
its voice rings through hill and valley;
night is sinking in the west,
the day arises in the east,
the ardent red glow of morning
approaches through the gloomy clouds.")

The intriguing question for us is whether Wagner had started to hear cantatas by Bach as part of the revival or whether in the case of the opening chorale he was remembering a tradition of performance which was familiar to Bach but which was dying out by the middle of the 19th century.

Hmmm. I'm wondering if Meistersinger is Wagner's "cantata".

Eric Bergerud wrote (June 10, 2006):
[To Douglas Cowling] Let me thank Julian Minchem for his extended and learned commentary on the 2nd Jahrgang cantatas. They are all "out of size" both in length and conception. For the life of me I have no idea why my collection is so weak in this area. It may be that because these works are so large scale they appeal to the converted rather than the beginning collector. In any case, I wish I would have had more versions to compare. (Has anyone heard any of the Montreal cycle yet? BWV 7 I think is on the first volume of Gardiner's Pilgrimage). Anyway, as Julian makes more clear than I, there is much to listen to here.

Must say, however, that I've never thought of Meistersinger as Wagner's cantata - unless it was dedicated to himself. Just to put it in perspective, one could listen to the SJP (BWV 245) and the Xmas Oratorio (BWV 248) back to back in the same time it takes to wade through one Meistersinger. Wagnerites must be blessed with a sturdy backbone or proper Sitzfleisch. (The summer solstice idea is an interesting one. It is a bit odd that the fall, winter and spring solstices all coincide with a major holiday while the summer serves as a marker on the calender. I don't doubt the peasants made something out of it - of course they needed every holiday they could get.)

Rick Canyon wrote (June 10, 2006):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< The intriguing question for us is whether Wagner had started to hear cantatas by Bach as part of the revival or whether in the case of the opening chorale he was remembering a tradition of performance which was familiar to Bach but which was dying out by the middle of the 19th century.
Hmmm. I'm wondering if Meistersinger is Wagner's "cantata". >

In Robert Gutman's rather weighty book, he suggests that Wagner may well have been exposed to Bach during a short period of study with Christian Theodor Weinlig, the Cantor of St. Thomas in 1831 (Wagner would have been about 18). This would only have been 3 years after Mendelssohn started the Bach revival. ("One wonders whether his half-year with Weinlig did not include some perusal of the wealth of Bach material lying on the shelves of St. Thomas School.") Indeed, Wagner apparently wrote a heavily Bach-influenced fantasia while
studying with Weinlig (I have never heard it). And in 1848, conducted performances of "Singet dem Herrn..." in Dresden. Gutman also suggests that the interactions between Walther and Sachs (eg. "How do I begin in accordance with rules?" asks Walther of Sachs) have a basis in Wagner's own interactions with Weinlig.

Additionally, according to Gutman, in 1848, "Wagner stopped in Breslau to visit Mosewius (an old friend of Geyer's) expressly to look at his copies of Bach cantatas, and during the Parsifal period he lectured friends on the preludes and fugues during frequent 'Bach evenings'."

I don't think this expressly responds to your observations other than perhaps noting that Wagner's knowledge of Bach goes back to his youth. But, it is also interesting that Wagner ties in the Bachian tradition with a character, Hans Sachs, who existed a century before Bach.

Raymond Joly wrote (June 11, 2006):
[To Douglas Cowling] Let me point out that DIE MEISTERSINGER VON NÜRNBERG (one of the most exquisitely wrought comedies of world literature, even before you add the music) are indeed replete with allusions to John and Baptism.

St. John's Day is the hero's name-day (Hans < Johannes), as the apprentice David suddenly remembers when singing his song about the Baptist and Nuremberg at the beginning of act III. Some time later, Sachs summons the principals to the Baptism Quintet, the ceremony for the song which has just been born and is entitled to a name since it is worthy of inclusion in the canon of the Masters' Songs.

And of course Sachs, as the strict but open-minded representative of the "academic" tradition of the Guild, acts as a precursor to Walther von Stolzing, whom he helps to the girl he loves and to the recognition he needs as the prototype of all great renewers of art, foremost among which, of course...

I will be glad to provide information about Bach and Wagner if I find the time to research the matter. Right now, all I can remember is that Wagner almost succeeded in persuading Berlioz that Bach was not the utterly uninteresting bore he thought he was.

Douglas Cowling wrote (June 11, 2006):
Rick Canyon wrote:
< I don't think this expressly responds to your observations other than perhaps noting that Wagner's knowledge of Bach goes back to his youth. But, it is also interesting that Wagner ties in the Bachian tradition with a character, Hans Sachs, who existed a century before Bach. >
Thanks very much for this information about Bach and Wagner. I read the Gutman book several decades ago and, although a passionate Wagnerian, I found it a turgid read. Now I'm moved to dip into it again.

Ernest Newman in his great introduction to the Wagner operas suggested that Wagner's motivic techique was more contrapuntal than symphonic. The debt to Beethoven is clear, but there are passages of dense counterpoint (the closing pages of Götterdämmerung for instance) which may owe something to the Cantor of Leipzig.

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (June 11, 2006):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< There is also a connection to Wagner's "Die Meistersinger" which takes place on St. John's Eve. It opens with the principals in a Lutheran church with the congregation singing a chorale about the baptism of Christ: >
Whereas Wagner celebrated Johannistag, Musorgksy celebrated Johannisnacht in his stand-alone which he later incorporated into his opera Sorocinskaja jarmarka.

It is a nice (what Christians would denominate as) "pagan celebration". I don't recognize that terminology at all.

Yoel who can take the last act of Meistersinger in a single sitting and strongly recommends the Böhm, Nissen (Sachs), Ralf (Walther) recording as incomparable. Avoid the Malibran issue which is abominable.

Peter Smaill wrote (June 11, 2006):
Wagner's house in Bayreuth, Wahnfried, has a very large canvas of Bach and it is there stated that Bach was regularly played - probably keyboard works and particularly the "48".

Hans Sachs of Meistersinger fame provides the eponymous chorale material for BWV 138, "Warum betruebst du dich. mein Herz?", and also the same forming the conclusion of BWV 47, "Wer sich selbst erhoehet".

Teddy Kaufman wrote (June 11, 2006):
Wagner & JS Bach - some additional thoughts

There are some "malicioust" aspects in Wagner's controversial personality which should be remembered and higlighted whenever someone relates his music (in contradistinction) to JS Bach .

"Richard Wagner (1813-1883) who regarded himself as "the most German of men", "the German spirit" is not only known because of his 13 operas and numerous other compositions but also because of his inevitable influeon our understanding of German culture and history. He has been classified as an anarchist and a socialist and, simultaneously, as a proto-fascist and nationalist, as a vegetarian and an antisemite."(http://users.utu.fi/hansalmi/wagner.html).

More details regarding his venomous antisemitic attitude ollows:(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Wagner)

" During the latter-part of the 20th century, public perception of Wagner increasingly centered, especially in the United States, on his anti-semitism, due in large part to an event that began fifty years after the composer's death: the appropriation of his music and name by the Nazi party during the 1930s.

" Wagner frequently accused Jews, particularly Jewish musicians, of being a harmful alien element in German culture. His first and most controversial anti-Semitic essay was "Das Judenthum in der Musik" ("Jewishness in Music"), originally published under the pen-name "K. Freigedank" ("free thought") in 1850 in the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik. The essay purported to explain "popular dislike" of Jewish composers, such as Wagner's contemporaries (and rivals) Felix Mendelssohn and Giacomo Meyerbeer. Wagner wrote that the German people were repelled by Jews due to their alien appearance and behavior — "freaks of Nature" with "creaking, squeaking, buzzing" voices — so that "with all our speaking and writing in favour of the Jews' emancipation, we always felt instinctively repelled by any actual, operative contact with them." He argued that Jewish musicians were only capable of producing music that was shallow and artificial, because they had no connection to "the genuine spirit of the Volk".

"In the conclusion to the essay, he wrote of the Jews that "only one thing can redeem you from the burden of your curse: the redemption of Ahasuerus — going under!" Although this has been taken to mean actual physical annihilation, in the context of the essay it refers to the eradication of Judaism, jewishness. In essence, Wagner was calling for the abandonment of Jewish culture and the assimilation of the Jews into general culture. The initial publication of the article attracted little attention, but Wagner republished it as a pamphlet under his own name in 1869, leading to several public protests at performances of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. Wagner repeated similar views in several later articles, such as "What is German? (1878) .

"During the late 20th century, scholars such as Robert Gutman advanced the claim that Wagner's anti-semitism was not limited to his articles, and that the operas contain hidden anti-Semitic messages. For example, characters such as Mime in the Ring and Sixtus Beckmesser in Die Meistersinger are supposedly anti-Semitic stereotypes, even though they are not explicitly identified as Jews. Such claims are much disputed. The purported "hidden messages" are often convoluted, and may be the result of biased over-interpretation. Wagner was not above putting digs and insults to specific individuals into his work, but it was always plainly obvious when he did. It should be noted that Wagner, over the course of his life, produced a huge amount of written material analyzing every aspect of himself, including his operas and his views on Jews (as well as practically every other topic under the sun); these purported anti-Semitic messages are never mentioned.

"Despite his very public anti-Semitic views, Wagner maintained an extensive network of Jewish friends and colleagues. One of the most notable of these was Hermann Levi, a practising Jew and son of a Rabbi, whose talent was freely acknowledged by Wagner. Levi's position as Kapellmeister at Dresden meant that he was to conduct the premiere of Parsifal, Wagner's last opera. Wagner initially had strong objections to this and even suggested that Levi become baptized before conducting Parsifal, (presumably due to its religious content); he later dropped the issue, doubtless less from sensitivity than from a desire to keep on the right side of King Ludwig. Levi however held Wagner in adulation, although acknowledging Wagner's obsession with Jews, and was asked to be a pallbearer at the composer's funeral."

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (June 11, 2006):
Teddy Kaufman wrote:
< There are some "malicioust" aspects in Wagner's controversial personality which should be remembered and higlighted whenever someone relates his music (in contradistinction) to JS Bach . >
While this is a difficult matter, one might note that Hitler fell in love with Wagner when he was first exposed to a performance by the Jew Gustav Mahler (Mahler was often so referred to in contemporary critical articles; see the massive biographical volumes by Henry-Louis de La Grange).

Hitler was also very fond of Mendelssohn's music.

Even stranger is that on the occasion of the 50th Todestag of Richard Wagner Thomas Mann (a very good German indeed) wrote a c.50 page essay and delivered it orally in a number of European cities which simply worshipped Wagner, worshipped, worshipped, worshipped and he was reacted to by a fatwa authored by Knappertsbusch and co-authored by Strauss and Pfitzner.

Mann's life was in danger.
What had Mann done?
He had worshipped Wagner and he had suggested that associating Wagner with the New Reich was not a good German thing.
If anything Strauss and Pfitzner truly were on the side of Darkness and so was Knappertsbusch who after the Victory of the Allies was made the Director of the New Bayreuth as he was judged the least tainted of all
these great conductors.
But he was the author of the fatwa against Thomas Mann.

As to J.S. Bach, unlike Handel, I don't know of any positive interaction he had with Jews or anything good he had to express about them.

Douglas Cowling wrote (June 11, 2006):
Teddy Kaufman wrote:
< There are some "malicioust" aspects in Wagner's controversial personality which should be remembered and higlighted whenever someone relates his music (in contradistinction) to JS Bach. >
I'm not sure why Wagner has to be held in "contradistinction" with Bach. Both men wrote music of incomparable beauty, but the mere creation of the beautiful does not make either a "good" man. I'm sure that Bach held conventional social, religious and political views which today would be branded sexist, racist, intolerant, anti-semitic and anti-democratic. He was a man of the 18th century: we can't turn him into a 21st century liberal. I love the transcendant choral music of the 16th century Spanish composer, Francisco Guerrero. I am repulsed that he accepted payment to write music to be sung at an auto-da-fe to cover the screams of the condemned. Does that mean we should not listen to his music? Handel was complicit in a system which castrated boys to preserve their unbroken voices? Should we ban his operas? The great composers were products of their times. The fact that they wrote great music did not make them great men.

Continue of this part of the discussion, see: Bach's Personality [General Topics]

William Rowland (Ludwig) wrote (June 12, 2006):
[To Peter Smaill] Do you mean the actual House that Wagner lived in which has an open balcony up some approx 50 feet overlooking the piano.etc which Winifred, Siegfried as kids use to look down on music being played?

Julian Mincham wrote (June 12, 2006):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< I'm sure that Bach held conventional social, religious and political views which today would be branded sexist, racist, intolerant, anti-semitic and anti-democratic >
Nice that you can be so 'sure' about this.

I. for one, am not so certain.

Jean Laaninen wrote (June 12, 2006):
[To Douglas Cowling] Should we listen to Wagner's music???

Doug Cowling makes his point well. We are all bound in some ways by our origins. A person wishing to have a comprehensive musical world view will most likely explore all the potential listenings available. Some years ago I was told Wagner was a really heavy listen, and that of all his music could be very wearing for voices In spite of those comments I took it upon myself to listen to a number of his works. It took quite a bit of time. I had to break the operas into two hour stints as I'm fairly cheerful, and the music has some heavy qualities. In the end I was glad I made it through, because the emotional quality of Wagner gets to a level of experience that we could fail to recognize and understand. He was an artist/composer who reflected the difficulties of his time in his work, I think. Don't ask me for a lot of details on that comment...I'm having such a good time on these forums that I'm not practicing as much as I should...and I'm going to have to get going on!
my singing again. But...for example:

DuParc is another composer that some might consider to be an acquired taste. I liked DuParc right away in spite of his darker qualities, and I love to sing DuParc in French even though it has been a while since I've worked on one of his pieces. Variety of experience is the spice of musical life. So I fully support the point Doug Cowling is making. It is good to listen and learn and appreciate what is good in every composer, if possible..

William Rowland (Ludwig) wrote (June 12, 2006):
[To Julian Mincham] You can be certain about this as it was the custom of the day. Bach was a very conventioal person (I do not know how 'normal' having some 20 plus kids was for that day but large families were the norm). Martin Luther had not been dead all that long when Bach arrived on the scene and his teachings became ingrained into German Society---anti-catholic, and anti-semeticism which has been blamed for leading up to the Holocaust. While Hitler often gets blamed for Anti-semiticism the true real anti-semitic Nazi leader was Joseph Goebbels which we are just now finding out from his diaries and letters. Hitler's anti-semiticism pales in comparisons with Goebbles. Goebbels was responsible for the anti-semetic propaganda and films particularly the famous one in which Jews are depicted as as worse than rats and other vermin. He is also reponsible for Krystalnacht as well as the Night of Knives.

Jean Laaninen wrote (June 12, 2006):
[To William Rowland (Ludwig)] It is a sad thing in the history of the world that emotional brutality serves to foster extremes. Of all the movies I have ever seen (and I am not a big movie fan) 'Schindler's List' moved me most deeply. Even in modern times (I have even seen it in students in the US today) there are still people who don't have an understanding of Christianity, yet proclaim themselves as purifying situations through prejudice toward Jewish people.

One of my friends once sang one of the solo parts in the St. John's Passion (BWV 245). He told me that it isn't performed often in the US because of its perceived anti-semetic characteristics. He told me to go ahead and listen to it anyway. Musically it is lovely--but one can understand the sensitivities that arise related to the text.

I don't imagine Bach could have ever guessed while he was doing his paid work that one day this writing would become so offensive. However, he was well-versed in Scripture so he knew the reality of the historical conflicts. The origins of hatred go back a great deal further than Bach, so in my view it probably is not so good to credit him significantly with trying to increase hatred. Let's hope not.

William Rowland (Ludwig) wrote (June 12, 2006):
[To Jean Laaninen] I have not read the St. John's Passion (BWV 245) and it is true that it is practically unknown here in the US. The St. Matthew (BWV 244) is a different story.

I would agree with you that many people who claim to be Christian have little understanding of the faith that they proclaim and particularly among them The Southern Baptist Church Fundamentalists and Evangelicals who think it is cool to try to convert Jews to Christianity and go out to try to recruit them.OF course the Jews are deeply offended by this.

These same people are trying to hijack the Constitution of the United States to make it read their Taliban interpetation of it which is illegal.

Douglas Cowling wrote (June 12, 2006):
Julian Mincham wrote:
< I'm sure that Bach held conventional social, religious and political views which today would be branded sexist, racist, intolerant, anti-semitic and anti-democratic
Nice that you can be so 'sure' about this.
I. for one, am not so certain. >
I'm not trying to attack or disparage Bach. I'm merely saying that he was a man of his time who, from his public writings, appears conventional and conformist from our perspective 250 years later.

So conventional in fact, that I remember being surprised when I first read that he had used the poetry of Christiane Mariane von Ziegler in his cantatas. In a patriarchal society where women were not permitted any role in public worship, there must have been a few eyebrows raised that the poetry of a woman -- and a woman who may have been sitting in the congregation at that! -- was sung in a service where no woman's voice was heard in the pulpit or the choir loft. It certainly would have offended social conservatives in Leipzig to contemplate the Cantor discussing cantata texts with a mere woman! (if in fact they ever met). Perhaps Bach's switch to Picander was more socially acceptable.

All of this is conjecture of course. We simply don't know if Bach sat in Zimmerman's coffee house and discussed the dangerous state of politics in France and the American colonies, or if he had an opinion about the moral debate raging about slavery. Or if he held beliefs about religious tolerance and liberty. But it is unfair to the man to pluck him out of his historical context, declare him a timeless genius and assert universalist values to his music which he never intended.

History unfortunately is a dirty business.

Jean Laaninen wrote (June 12, 2006):
[To William Rowland (Ludwig)] My brother-in-law is Jewish and has never converted, but as is the custom went along with my sister raising their daughters in the Lutheran Church. He is broad-minded enough to even sing in the church choir.

Another friend of ours, a certain Dr. Eiser, also sings in chorales and he was very surprised to see my grandfather's Hebrew O. T. and that it was intact. Modern interpretations in the evangelical community sometimes suggest we don't have the whole book. The exegetical work of the evangelicals can be very misleading.

I have been in almost every circle in Christianity at one time or another due to my desire to understand the elements, and the emphasis shifts around a great deal. Evangelicals have some folks who are not confused about how they should be treating their Jewish brothers and sisters, and most of the members I have met in congregations only seem to care about the Jews for Jesus movement if they are being pressured by some of the right side of the evangelical leadership. They are pressured from time to time.

The Southern Baptists have more of an agenda in my experience, than the Evangelicals, but the televangelists have the biggest agenda of all, I think. I knew a few of the principals in that stream when I lived in California, and encountered a few others (famous names seen on TV and some of their associates). My evangelical pastor in California had to convince a well-known celebrity whose name you would automatically know, that the agenda against Jewish people was wrong. He told me about the encounter...and he did persuade, thankfully. I don't think I should reveal the name, however.

I hate prejudice. At one point I had to stop speaking to my 97 year old Dad for a year before he would understand that I would not hate gays and lesbians. I told my Dad (who is very right-wing and conservative)...I am in the arts now, and some of my bteachers and people I work who are gay respect my heterosexual orientation and our relationship is collegial. I would not know much of what I have learned without them, and I refuse to have a bad attitude. I just cannot be bothered unless a gay or lesbian person will not respect me and my choices. It has happened. Then the relationship has ended...but, not because of me. These people I cared for simply could not accept me because they had an agenda...I was so sorry. One woman is distantly related to me, and her friend a fine movie-maker. I would really have liked to continue both friendship, but from their side it was impossible. Both of them fell in love with me..and this was not the first time something of this nature
happened. I have learned to be very cautious...Pollyanna by nature does not mean being stupid socially.

However, because of my desire to help people when I can I take the risk of communicating with people in the hopes that something about it will strengthen them and make them stronger. That is my aim.

Anway, so my Dad finally wised up since he wanted to speak with me, and he no longer discusses gay and lesbian issues with me and rarely now with others.

Many people do not have the intellectual capability to understand what really is in the constitution, and twist and turn what is there to their own purposes. I knew a very fine lawyer who became a judge in California. I believe he is still on the bench. He told me that the legal system is not about pure justice. I believe he did his best, however, to hand down wise verdicts.

In the face of the difficulties of the world we have to be diligent in our awareness of what is going on so that we don't get pulled into dangerous and mistaken thinking. I am not highly political because I find it difficult to work artistically when controversy is constantly brought to my door. As someone who was in and out of church work for decades I get a lot of warped fowards on email from people who thinking they are being good patriotic Christians. I tell people not to send them...the forwards are stories with no names so you can't verify the truth in them, and they often bring on a significant amount of mailing following related to drugs and porn. The right-wing forwards put people on spam lists many times because they are not really right-wing.

The generalization of our society is of concern. I'm just glad we raised our daughter to really think, and that as an educator she does the same for her students.

Now...I've been on email having so much fun this week, but I need to relax a little and get cracking on practicing.

If you care to share about your life and work I will be happy to hear about what you are doing.

Cheers to you, and have a fine week.

Ed Myskowski wrote (June 12, 2006):
Eric Bergerud wrote:
< Wagnerites must be blessed with a sturdy backbone or proper Sitzfleisch. >
Skipping through the first time, this caught my eye. I thought to let it pass. Then I thought a third time and decided to share:

(1) I misread backbone as backhoe. For those unfamiliar, a back hoe is construction equipment for digging through and moving stuff (especially large amounts of stuff).

(2) My knowledge of German comes almost entirely from trying to understand music texts. I immediately laughed at the unfamiliar (to me) word: Sitzfleisch, assuming it meant, more or less, the flesh you sit on. Apparently not exactly, from a dictionary check. But I wonder about the etymology ?

There is a serious point to consider: Bach seldom (I would say never) goes long without purpose, He just seems to delight in the variety of approaches available: BWV 7/5, a seven minute tenor aria based on a few lines of text, contrasted with BWV 2/2 or BWV 7/3 (to stay current), lengthy tenor recs coming in at about one minute each. The length is used to emphasize what sweetness is heard, or to cite Robertson, to counsel patience.

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (June 12, 2006):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< (2) My knowledge of German comes almost entirely from trying to understand music texts. I immediately laughed at the unfamiliar (to me) word: Sitzfleisch, assuming it meant, more or less, the flesh you sit on. Apparently not exactly, from a dictionary check. But I wonder about the etymology ? >
The English word is as-sid-uity. The sid is the same Indo-European root as in German Sitz. It does indeed mean your sitting flesh > endurance. The word is equally used in Yiddish but pronounced Zits-fleysh as opposed to the German pronunciation Zitsflaysh.

Ed Myskowski wrote (June 12, 2006):
Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote:
< The English word is as-sid-uity. The sid is the same Indo-European root as in German Sitz. It does indeed mean your sitting flesh > endurance. >
For sure, it derives post-agriculture, if the word for endurance comes from how long you can sit as opposed to how long you can run? Thanks for a bit of fun and knowledge, I hadn't thought of assiduity at all.

Stephen Benson wrote (June 12, 2006):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< The great composers were products of their times. >
And what does this say about the plight of composition of our times?

Ed Myskowski wrote (June 12, 2006):
[To Stephen Benson]
It says: "If the shoe fits, wear it." Which reminds me of Doug's other comment, which I almost let slide: "History is a dirty business."

What does that say about our times? Dirtier? I like that word, unflat, which came up in the past week or so (BWV 2) .

IMO, there are plenty of good (and many not so good) composers around, a few of whom will become more or less immortal. Well, less. There is the "alte bund" problem. Immortal by reputation, in the Bach league.

The plight of composition? The plight of the artist. Tough way to make a living. Same as it ever was, even for the immortals. In the Bach league.

Jean Laaninen wrote (June 12, 2006):
[To Stephen Benson] The generalization of language in our society, along with the blurring of social lines has created a society in which Broadway, for example...I am told is declining in the quality of productions. One person recently told me that Broadway is now all about cartoons, and silly things...the drama is gone.

Radio, TV and pop music have conditioned ears so that in many cultures there is music for the masses and composers are sometimes not challenged to create at the highest intellectual level. And, they simply cannot always make a living doing this. I know this thread follows all the way through the written history of music.I have been reading about it off and on for ten years.

That's one side of the contemporary scene.

At ASU there is one very fine young composer whose compositions include working masterfully with ancient Biblical texts. Her name is Kendra D'Ercole (b. 1971). I do not know if she has a web site, but the depth of her music in my view is almost unparalleled in what I have heard in recent years. She has composed several numbers for a young artist (DMA student) at ASU named Kenny Miller, and he has presented them in recitals over the last few years. When I hear what Kendra has written I have great hope for the future. And Kendra is a woman, so that is also encouraging. The creative imagination is still alive and well in some highly gifted people, and when Kenny gives a recital the hall is full. It helps that we know he has once again asked Kendra to write for him.

The purpose for any writing probably has a great deal to do with the results, and in our society there is much room for expression of endless variety. For example, my living relatives are: Swedish, Russian Jewish from the disapora, Finnish, Italian, American Indian, Spanish from South America and the US, Irish, German, Iranian and more. So the product of absorbing all of those cultures into the listening experience means having an openness to elements of composition historically, but also appreciating the musicological flavor of the international mix. What we are going to get musically in the years to come will contain some of past folkways and elements of the great past composers, but will be blendbecause even in my own family, and families of many poeple in music, the mix is here, and here to stay.I'm not a big fan of Cage, for example, so I hope that newer compositions will reflect some warmer elements.

And I hope above all as we come together as a people that we will write music that expresses the wonder of creation and the possibilities inherent in the moment...

When Jesus said, "Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth," he was talking about peace. The earth will be here for us and our children as long as it lasts, and if we create in all aspects of our lives (musical composition included) works that can inspire us we can have hope that the earth will sustain. I feature a symphony that begins with the discord and confusion of our present times...but that ends in glorious appregiation and a triumphal celebration reflecting the brother and sisterhood of all people. It is a dream worth pursuing musically for the person who has that gift. I can mention the idea...but now we need someone with a great gift to begin writing this piece.

I remain optimistic.

Bradley Lehman wrote (June 12, 2006):
< Yoel who can take the last act of Meistersinger in a single sitting and strongly recommends the Böhm, Nissen (Sachs), Ralf (Walther) recording as incomparable. Avoid the Malibran issue which is abominable. >
FWIW, I like the 1951 Karajan, the production with Edelmann as Sachs and young Elisabeth Schwarzkopf as Eva.

Peter Smaill wrote (June 12, 2006):
[To Willian Rowland] What's your problem?

Wahnfried , Wagner's house-name , is difficult to translate, approximately meaning "free from illusions". If you have actually been there you would see the (a) Portrait of J S Bach (b) Grand Piano, which seems to have survived the Allied bombing (c) no balcony of the sort you imagine (c) Note in German and English stating the special relationship and the fact of frequent playing of the keyboard works.

I'm not sure this adds much to what was stated but ...er...I have actually been there and seen it!

Teddy Kaufman wrote (June 13, 2006):
Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote:
"... one might note that Hitler fell in love with Wagner ..."
This statement reflects only partially the real impact of Wagner on Hitler.

The following 2 Hitler's quotes are representative:

"With the exception of Richard Wagner, I have no forerunner."

"Whoever wants to understand National Socialist Germany must first know Wagner".

Additional comments regarding Wagner & Hitler have previously been reported
(http://solomonsmusic.net/WagHit.htm) as follows :

"... There is probably no other composer in history who had a greater impact on world events than did Richard Wagner, and his devastating political legacy is second only to Adolf Hitler. The fact that racism was common in Germany, Austria, and other European countries has been used as an excuse for Wagner (and even for Hitler). But Wagner was not just a musician. He was a national hero and powerful political force to be reckoned with. Writers, philosophers, and politicians testified to his profound influence. His idolatry by King Ludwig II of Bavaria was an example of Wagner's political influence, an influence that was felt throughout Germany. (Among other things, Ludwig helped finance the Bayreuth Festspielhaus, which was designed specifically by Wagner for the performance of his operas.)

" The circle closes here that Wagner had already begun to forge in 1850: the idea of the festival was realized as the Bayreuth Festival, which was very soon to have a propaganda effect all over Germany. Added to this were Wagner Societies springing up everywhere, that appeared in the German-nationalistc Bayreuther Blätter. From the beginning of the festival, then, anti-Semitism and racism were among the ingredients of the Bayreuth opera undertaking, whether implicit or explicit. Wagner's anti-Semitism was closely connected to this.

"Wagner and Adolf Hitler had so much in common, that it is difficult, at times, to keep them separate. They were both rabid racists. Both were artists and politicians (Wagner, a would-be politician and Hitler a would-be artist). Both feared they had Jewish paternity, which led to fierce denial and destructive hatred.

"The following are other beliefs that Wagner and Hitler shared:

Race is based on appearance, language, nationality, and "blood" (genetics).
An "Aryan" white race is the foundation of racial purity, beauty, and goodness
Germans (the Volk) are destined by an urgent need (Noth) to rule the world
All other "races" are inferior
Nietzsche's Will to Power and social Darwinism are axiomatic
A struggle (kampf) for racial survival is inevitable (hence, Mein Kampf)
Conscience (guilt) is an evil Jewish invention and must be purged
Jews and other foreigners were contaminating German blood
Jesus was not a Jew
Jews have no religion
Jews lust after money and power
Jews are physically repulsive
Jews are parasites
Jews are demons and must be expelled or destroyed
Wagnerian Art would save the world
Condemnation of Meyerbeer and Mendelssohn and non-German art in general
Theoretical tracts by philosophers would corroborate their bigotry
Believed the world owed them a living
Believed they were infallible
Extreme egocentrism ..."

----------------------------------------------

Hence, these "malicious" aspects of Wagner's controversial personality are to my mind, in contradistinction to JS Bach.

William Rowland (Ludwig) wrote (June 13, 2006):
[To Peter Smaill] I am not talking about a balcony as such as stretches out over but sort of a walkway above where the piano is. I did not know that the place was bombed. Why was that. I still get angry about things like this as the arts should not be political. Yes I know that Hitler went there for performances and had the house to himself but that should not justify bombing the place. I am very angry because some soldier shot Berg n 1945 and we still are unable to get the details or the soldiers name. Then there is Richard Strauss who supposedly died in poverty because the US seized all of his assests and that included all royalties that he got. It took some doing to get Der Rosencavalier performed here because Strauss was head of the Nazi arts machine.

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (June 13, 2006):
Etymologies

Peter Smaill wrote:
< Wahnfried , Wagner's house-name , is difficult to translate, approximately meaning "free from illusions". >
I would appreciate your explaining how Wahn-Fried can mean what you say. Does Siegfried mean "free from victory"?

Is this folk etymology?
We all know that Friedhof explained a Peace-court is folk etymology as the word comes from the verb seen in umfrieden and means gated-court.This is a sincere question and respectfully requires a scientific explanation.

Douglas Cowling wrote (June 13, 2006):
Teddy Kaufman wrote:
< Hence, these "malicious" aspects of Wagner's controversial personality are to my mind, in contradistinction to JS Bach. >
I would never for a moment consider defending Wagner the man, but do his reprehensible ideas and behaviour mean we should not listen to his music? Does this mean that Bach did not hold views which we would find equally objectionable? If Bach was a typical man of the 18th century he may well have held conventionally anti-democratic, anti-Catholic, anti-semitic, racist, sexist attitudes that we would find distasteful. Bach's greatness is not a matter of morality. He, like all other composers in history, was conditioned by his historical situation. I don't have to like Bach to love his music.

Rick Canyon wrote (June 13, 2006):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Thanks very much for this information about Bach and Wagner. I read the Gutman book several decades ago and, although a passionate Wagnerian, I found it a turgid read. Now I'm moved to dip into it again. >
I mentioned the Gutman book as of all my books on Wagner, he seemed to deal with Bach's influence far more extensively than others.

For example, he says that Wagner's opinion of Bach "was respectful but condescending." Apparently, in one of Wagner's most notorious articles--'Jewry in Mu' (1850)--Wagner states, "Just as the Sphinx strives to free its human head from an animal body, so Bach's noble countenance seeks to come forth from under its wig." (Personally, I'm not totally sure what this means)

On the other hand, in practice, Wagner may owe much more than he wishes to admit.
Gutman: "He (Wagner) turned to a diatonic idiom and adapted the apparatus of Bach counterpoint to represent the conservative aesthetic values of Nuremberg's guilds..." and "...Wagner was a musical descendent of St. Thomas' mightiest cantor. Through almost inexhaustible melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic transformations of themes, he...was a master of the variation form which had reached its German Baroque climax in Bach."

I'd encourage you to read these pages in their entirety--my copy had a good index so the Bach parts were easy to find. But, I would agree that the book itself is a rather tough read even for diehard Wagnerites.

Here is something I have been considering for some time, but I haven't completely convinced myself of its validity:
Bach was the greatest composer,
but Wagner was the greatest creative artist.

Douglas Cowling wrote (June 13, 2006):
Rick Canyon wrote:
< Here is something I have been considering for some time, but I haven't completely convinced myself of its validity:
Bach was the greatest composer,
but Wagner was the greatest creative artist. >
I've never understood why but Bach and Wagner are my two favourite composers (Bach is Number One, of course!) They are the only two composers who literally move me to tears.

Three complete Ring Cycles in Toronto next fall to celebrate the opening of the new opera house!

Douglas Cowling wrote (June 13, 2006):
Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote:
< I would appreciate your explaining how Wahn-Fried can mean what you say. Does Siegfried mean "free from victory"? >
Wagner loved punning on the names of the characters in the Ring Cycle. Some of them are real groaners. At the end of "Die Walküre", Brünnhilde tells Sieglinde that she is pregnant with Siegfried:

"Den Namen nehm er von mir: (he take his name from me)
Siegfried er freut sich des Siegs" (Siegfied rejoices in victory)

And in Götterdämmerung, Siegfired asks Gunther what his sister's name is:

"Gunther, wie heisst deine Schwester?"

"Gutrune" (literally "good runes/signs")

"Sind's gute Rune, dir ihrem Aug' ich entrathe"
(Do I see good signs in her eyes?)

Do wonder contemporary neo-classicists were horrtfied at Wagner's pseudo-epic poetry!

William Rowland (Ludwig) wrote (June 13, 2006):
[To Peter Smaill] I am not talking about a balcony as such as stretches out over but sort of a walkway above where the piano is. I did not know that the place was bombed. Why was that. I still get angry about things like this as the arts should not be political. Yes I know that Hitler went there for performances and had the house to himself but that should not justify bombing the place. I am very angry because some soldier shot Berg n 1945 and we still are unable to get the details or the soldiers name. Then there is Richard Strauss who supposedly died in poverty because the US seized all of his assests and that included all royalties that he got. It took some doing to get Der Rosencavalier performed here because Strauss was head of the Nazi arts machine.

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (June 13, 2006):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< FWIW, I like the 1951 Karajan, the production with Edelmann as Sachs and young Elisabeth Schwarzkopf as Eva. >
I am allergic to Dame Elizabeth, partly voice and partly politics. Böhm sadly only recorded Act III. Many persons love the Kubelik which I have not heard. I recently got the Marstonized Toscanini (decent sound indeed). At all events with limited Sitzfleisch these days I never watch or listen to one of the long Wagner operas in a single sitting.

I am currently doing the 1990 Met DVD Ring and did Walküre and Siegfried so far over two days each.

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (June 13, 2006):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
Yoël L. Arbeitman" wrote:
<< The English word is as-sid-uity. The sid is the same Indo-European root as in German Sitz. It does indeed mean your sitting flesh endurance. >>
Let me first note the obvious: When we say "English" for any fancy word, we of course mean Latin (or Greek) in English. As opposed to German for example, our fancy words are not transparent to the native speaker and I cannot recall the last time I used "assiduity" in real life.

< For sure, it derives post-agriculture, if the word for endurance comes from how long you can sit as opposed to how long you can run? Thanks for a bit of fun and knowledge, I hadn't thought of assiduity at all. >
The Latin dictionary offers two exx.:
(a) assideo litteris (to apply oneself to "letters")
(b) assideo gubernaculis (to apply oneself to the rudder).
Both of these are "sitting" activities.
Then of course in good real English we have "to keep one's nose to the millstone".
I think your observation about a sedentary society in the assideo words is very good and indicative of a non-hunting society indeed. How would the Romans have said "to apply oneself to the computer" (maybe the same as assideo litteris vel sim.)?
Thanks to you for the fun.

Tom Hens wrote (June 13, 2006):
Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote:
< I would appreciate your explaining how Wahn-Fried can mean what you say. Does Siegfried mean "free from victory"?
Is this folk etymology?
We all know that Friedhof explained a Peace-court is folk etymology as the word comes from the verb seen in umfrieden and means gated-court.This is a sincere question and respectfully requires a scientific explanation. >
There is no etymology in the usual sense of the word: it's an invented name, made up by Wagner. In so far as it means anything (beyond "Wagner's house"), it means whatever the hell he claimed it meant, incorrect notions about what "fried" historically meant perhaps included.

William Rowland (Ludwig) wrote (June 13, 2006):
[To Teddy Kaufman] You are correct in many aspects of comparing Hitler and Wagner to Bach.

However, we do not know that Bach accepted all of these but as a good Lutheran; he probably accepted the anti-Semitic view propounded by Luther because some of the folks mentioned below did not exist. The world of Bach was just getting over the effects of fiefdom of the middle ages and the age of absolute Monarchy of the age of Louis XIV. Around 1700; began the movement which culminated in the American and French Revolution in the Age of Reason in which religion is/was viewed with suspicion and as outright superstition. (vide Thomas Paine's Common Sense (and other such Paine writings) which is online at:
http://www.pagebypagebooks.com/Thomas_Paine/Common_Sense/).
The travesty of the Hitler/Wagner ideology is that few people questioned all the fallacies of it especially social darwinism which is a very distorted corruption of Darwin's Theories which have nothing to do with social science and which Darwin himself was horrified to see his theories used to justify colonialism and other such evils. It was Social Darwinism (survival of the fittest) that led to the concentration camps and the subsequent murders in the ovens of the camps.

This was not the first time that Jews were persecuted en masse. As Columbus left for the New World; Isabella banned all Jews from her kingdom as "Christ killers" (sic) and place Spain in to one grand economic slump that it never fully recovered from to this day. Sephardic Jews were the tradesmen such as shoemakers etc that are an economic necessity few engaged in Banking or as Pawnbrokers. The only way a Jew could stay was to convert to Christianity which some did and still were persecuted for not being Christian enough or suspected of secretly engaging in Jewish rites.

Minority groups have a lesson here: do not isolate yourselves but reach out to those not part of your group so that others see that you are OK.

In the United States this has been proven over and over with such groups as the Shakers, who are very admired--especially the furniture that they have made/and stilthe few survivors occaisonally make and their industriousness, usually keep themselves separate but at the same time reach out to the average man. The same is true of the Amish, a minority religious group, who fled here from Middle Europe, who are also greatly admired by non-Amish people---people who do not believe or accept the Amish canons. The Amish are admired for their Cooking, their organic antique farming methodologies and some of their quaint ways which ban modern convieniences such as automobiles(which does garner the ire of some motorists occasionally).

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (June 13, 2006):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Wagner loved punning on the names of the characters in the Ring Cycle. Some of them are real groaners. At the end of "Die Walküre", Brünnhilde tells Sieglinde that she is pregnant with Siegfried:
"Den Namen nehm er von mir: (he take his name from me)
Siegfried er freut sich des Siegs" (Siegfied rejoices in victory) >
Alas, I was watching the 1990 Met Ring the last few days and last night ausgerechnet Siegfried. I groaned at that line bc. it is ausgerechnet volk-etymologisch und Narrischkeit. I groan and groan.

Wasn't Brünnie the 1/2 great aunt of the young hero? and Siegmund and Sieglinde were siblings. And Wagner --besides being a vile anti-Semite-- was a wife-stealer. Siegmund, Sieglinde, Siegfried, Sieg Heil and Wahnfried?

Raymond Joly wrote (June 13, 2006):
[To Yoël L. Arbeitman] Newman's biography, vol. 4:

'Wagner had engraved across the portal: "Hier. wo mein Wähnen Frieden fand -- WAHNFRIED sei dieses Haus von mir benannt" (Here where my illusion found peace, be this house named by me Peace from Illusion)'.

Has survived the bombing and is still to be seen in situ if I remember right.

The translation seems to me as good as any.

And do not be surprised if "Wahnfried" and "Siegfried" do not parse in exactly the same fashion. In such composites, the logical relation between the components is most variable: rainbird, rainbow, raindrop, raincoat, rain forest, etc.

Bach in Wahnfried: there are about 45 references to Bach in the second of the two volumes of Cosima's diaries. The first entry (March 7, 1878) tells of Richard playing C-sharp minor from the "Well Tempered" (book not stated) and commenting enthusiastically and very beautifully. One sentence is strange, letting us wonder if Cosima got it right; but the purport is relatively clear and quite striking: "R. sagt, er habe sich das komponiert von der Kindheit an, er wisse nicht, ob er es richtig spiele -- Richard says he has been composing that for himself from childhood days, but does not know if he plays it well". Earlier in the evening he had played some melodies by Bellini and praised them lavishly. He concludes (half German, half French): "Those are for the world, but this here (the prelude and fugue) is the world".

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (June 16, 2006):
Ludwig wrote:
< I am very angry because some soldier shot Berg n 1945 and we still are unable to get the details or the soldiers name. >
Is it not Webern? Berg died 10 years earlier.

William Rowland (Ludwig) wrote (June 16, 2006):
[To Yoël L. Arbeitman] Thanks you are correct---the radio announcer was announcing a work by Berg which I inadvertently wrote without catching it.

Eric Bergerud wrote (June 16, 2006):
Rick Canyon wrote:
< Here is something I have been considering for some time, but I haven't completely convinced myself of its validity:
Bach was the greatest composer,
but Wagner was the greatest creative artist >

I don't know how one defines a better or lesser "creative artist." If the definition has any connection at all to what the artist was trying to achieve, Wagner must be considered an abject failure. I'll grant his influence on later musicians - for good or ill. However, there's no reason to think Wagner was not serious in attempting to create an entirely new integrated art form - the musical drama or "art of the future." This dream came and went with Wagner's own work. Today, as before, people go to the theater or they go to the opera. Can't recall seeing any newspaper ads for the latest hot musical drama. (As a failed Wagnerian, I agree completely with Rossini who said - more or less - that Wagner had wonderful moments separated by boring hours. I would much rather read the Ring - something I've done three or four times - than listen to it. Real pity Wagner didn't try a novel.)

It is not absolutely clear that Bach had a specific goal in mind. I should think that any musician of his time that said he was going to reconstitute art itself would have been a figure of mirth. Yet it is safe to say that any artistic goal Bach set for himself he fulfilled. Artistic taste is fickle over generations but I'd bet everything I own that fifty years from now Bach will hold the position he does today among almost all music lovers as a transcendent genius. Who knows, in the globalized world, Bach's standing might rise. I could see some future Bach nut flying to Shanghai to listen to the Brandenburgs: hard to imagine the world's masses flocking to the "music of the future."

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (June 16, 2006):
Music of the future

Eric Bergerud wrote:
< It is not absolutely clear that Bach had a specific goal in mind. I should think that any musician of his time that said he was going to reconstitute art itself would have been a figure of mirth. Yet it is safe to say that any artistic goal Bach set for himself he fulfilled. Artistic taste is fickle over generations but I'd bet everything I own that fifty years from now Bach will hold the position he does today among almost all music lovers as a transcendent genius. Who knows, in the globalized world, Bach's standing might rise. I could see some future Bach nut flying to Shanghai to listen to the Brandenburgs: hard to imagine the world's masses flocking to the "music of the future." >
This music of the future was a concept of Franz Liszt and his school. It was intended to include Berlioz as well as Wagner. At a certain point, after many years or decades of amazing support from Liszt and his group, Belioz was expected to acknowledge Herr Wagner as the PATH and the Leader and the Direction of the Future itself.

Berlioz rather laughed and that cause a sad rupture with Weimar. Very sad indeed bc. France itself never accepted Berlioz and his unique genius. The relationship amongst Liszt, Wagner, and Berlioz makes fascinating reading. There is a reasonable amount about it in David Cairns's fine two volume bio of Berlioz.

Obviously today Wagner has won and does dominate the opera world, it would seem.

Of course all of this is a long distance in time from Bach and his world.

Wagner cannot be ignored in the future, that is in the music of e.g. Bruckner and Mahler and so forth. He is a reality however evil.

Tedddy Kaufman wrote (June 17, 2006):
Wagner & Mendelssohn & Bach

Eric Bergerud wrote:
"...If the definition has any connection at all to what the artist was trying to achieve, Wagner must be considered an abject failure... I agree completely with Rossini who said - more or less - that Wagner had wonderful moments separated by boring hours..."
-----------------------
In addition, Alfred Einstein claimed that "...He was the first to use music as a means of influensing, of entrancing, of intoxicating, of conquering. To be sure, all musicians direct their attention to the 'world' - to connoisseurs, to a community great or small, to the nation. Even before Wagner a few composers had felt impelled to create a community for themselves because there was none at hand. Handel did so in his oratorios; Beethoven, in his symphonies. So far as Wagner concerned, however, Handel scarcely existed ... But in Beethoven Wagner saw his true predecessor - or, more precisely, in the Beethoven of the Ninth Symphony, with which the reign of pure instrumental music seemed to have come to an end and that of opera, of his opera, to have begun." ( Music in the Romantic Era. A History of Musical Thought in the 19th Century. New York 1947, pp. 227-228).

In this regard, I wish to acknowledge our list members and to quote Wagner's essay entitled "JUDAISM IN MUSIC" (JUDENTHUM IN DER MUSIK, translated by William Ashton Ellis) (http://reactor-core.org/judaism-in-music.html) which depicts his mean and malicious attitude towards Jewish composers in general, and Mendelssohn in particular , as follows:

"... By what example will this all grow clearer to us — ay, wellnigh what other single case could make us so alive to it, as the works of a musician of Jewish birth whom Nature had endowed with specific musical gifts as very few before him? All that offered itself to our gaze, in the inquiry into our antipathy against the Jewish nature; all the contradicting of this nature, both in itself and as touching us; all its inability, while outside our footing, to have intercourse with us upon that footing, nay, even to form a wish to further develop the things which had sprung from out our soil: all these are intensified to a positively tragic conflict in the nature, life, and art-career of the early-taken FELIX MENDELSSOHN-BARTHOLDY. He has shewn us that a Jew may have the amplest store of specific talents, may own the finest and most varied culture, the highest and the tenderest sense of honour yet without all these pre-eminences helping him, were it but one single time, to call forth in us that deep, that heart-searching effect which we await from Art because we know her capable thereof, because we have felt it many a time and oft, so soon as once a hero of our art has, so to say, but opened his mouth to speak to us.

"To professional critics, who haply have reached a like consciousness with ourselves hereon, it may be left to prove by specimens of Mendelssohn's art-products our statement of this indubitably certain thing; by way of illustrating our general impression, let us here be content with the fact that, in hearing a tone-piece of this composer's, we have only been able to feel engrossed where nothing beyond our more or less amusement-craving Fantasy was roused through the presentment, stringing-together and entanglement of the most elegant, the smoothest and most polished figures — as in the kaleidoscope's changeful play of form and colour but never where those figures were meant to take the shape of deep and stalwart feelings of the human heart. In this latter event Mendelssohn lost even all formal productive-faculty; wherefore in particular where he made for Drama, as in the Oratorio, he was obliged quite openly to snatch at every formal detail that had served as
characteristic token of the individuality of this or that forerunner whom he chose out for his model.

"It is further significant of this procedure, that he gave the preference to our old master BACH, as special pattern for his inexpressive modern tongue to copy. Bach's musical speech was formed at a period of our history when Musics universal tongue was still striving for the faculty of more individual, more unequivocal Expression: pure formalism and pedantry still clung so strongly to her, that it was first through the gigantic force of Bach's own genius that her purely human accents (Ausdruck) broke themselves a vent. The speech of Bach stands toward that of Mozart, and finally of Beethoven, in the relation of the Egyptian Sphinx to the Greek statue of a Man: as the human visage of the Sphinx is in the act of striving outward from the animal body, so strives Bach's noble human head from out the periwig. It is only another evidence of the inconceivably witless confusion of our luxurious music-taste of nowadays, that we can let Bach's language be spoken to us at the selfsame time as that of Beethoven, and flatter ourselves that there is merely an individual difference of form between them, but nowise a real historic distinction, marking off a period in our culture. The reason, however, is not so far to seek: the speech of Beethoven can be spoken only by a whole, entire, warm-breathed human being; since it was just the speech of a music-man so perfect, that with the force of Necessity he thrust beyond Absolute Music whose dominion he had measured and fulfilled unto its utmost frontiers and shewed to us the pathway to the fecundation of every art through Music, as her only salutary broadening. On the other hand, Bach's language can be mimicked, at a pinch, by any musician who thoroughly understands his business, though scarcely in the sense of Bach; because the Formal has still therein the upper hand, and the purely human Expression is not as yet a factor so definitely preponderant that its What either can, or must be uttered without conditions, for it still is fully occupied with shaping out the How. The washiness and whimsicality of our present musical style has been, if not exactly brought about, yet pushed to its utmost pitch by Mendelssohn's endeavour to speak out a vague, an almost nugatory Content as interestingly and spiritedly as possible. Whereas Beethoven, the last in the chain of our true music-heroes, strove with highest longing, and wonder-working faculty, for the clearest, certainest Expression of an unsayable Content through a sharp-cut, plastic shaping of his tone-pictures: Mendelssohn, on the contrary, reduces these achievements to vague, fantastic shadow-forms, midst whose indefinite shimmer our freakish fancy is indeed aroused, but our inner, purely-human yearning for distinct artistic sight is hardly touched with even the merest hope of a fulfilment. Only where an oppressive feeling of this incapacity seems to master the composer's mood, and drive him to express a soft and mournful resignation, has Mendelssohn the power to shew himself characteristic characteristic in the subjective sense of a gentle individuality that confesses an impossibility in view of its own powerlessness. This, as we have said, is the tragic trait in Mendelssohn's life-history; and if in the domain of Art we are to give our sympathy to the sheer personality, we can scarcely deny a large measure thereof to Mendelssohn, even though the force of that sympathy be weakened by the reflection that the Tragic, in Mendelssohn's situation, hung rather over him than came to actual, sore and cleansing consciousness.

"A like sympathy, however, can no other Jew composer rouse in us. A far-famed Jewish tone-setter of our day has addressed himself and products to a section of our public whose total confusion of musical taste was less to be first caused by him, than worked out to his profit. The public of our Opera-theatre of nowadays has for long been gradually led aside from those claims which rightly should be addressed, not only to the Dramatic Artwork, but in general to every work of healthy taste. The places in our halls of entertainment are mostly filled by nothing but that section of our citizen society whose only ground for change of occupation is utter 'boredom' (Langeweile): the disease of boredom, however, is not remediable by sips of Art; for it can never be distracted of set purpose, but merely duped into another form of boredom. Now, the catering for this deception that famous opera-composer has made the task of his artistic life. There is no object in more closely designating the artistic means he has expended on the reaching of this life's-aim: enough that, as we may see by the result, he knew completely how to dupe; and more particularly by taking that jargon which we have already characterised, and palming it upon his ennuyed audience as the modern-piquant utterance of all the trivialities which so often had been set before them in all their natural foolishness. That this composer took also thought for thrilling situations (Erschütterungen) and the effective weaving of emotional catastrophes (Gefühlskatastrophen), need astonish none who know how necessarily this sort of thing is wished by those whose time hangs heavily upon their hands; nor need any wonder that in this his aim succeeded too, if they but will ponder well the reasons why, in such conditions, the whole was bound to prosper with him. In fact, this composer pushes his deception so far, that he ends by deceiving himself, and perchance as purposely as he deceives his bored ad. We believe, indeed, that he honestly would like to turn out artworks, and yet is well aware he cannot: to extricate himself from this painful conflict between Will and Can, he writes operas for Paris, and sends them touring round the world — the surest means, to-day, of earning oneself an art-renown albeit not an artist. Under the burden of this self-deception, which may not be so toilless as one might think, he, too, appears to us wellnigh in a tragic light: yet the purely personal element of wounded vanity turns the thing into a tragi-comedy, just as in general the un-inspiring, the truly laughable, is the characteristic mark whereby this famed composer shews his Jewhood in his music.

"From a closer survey of the instances adduced above which we have learnt to grasp by getting to the bottom of our indomitable objection to the Jewish nature there more especially results for us a proof of the ineptitude of the present musical epoch. Had the two aforesaid Jew composers in truth helped Music into riper bloom, then we should merely have had to admit tha.t our tarrying behind them rested on some organic debility that had taken sudden hold of us: but not so is the case; on the contrary, as compared with bygone epochs, the specific musical powers of nowadays have rather increased than diminished. The incapacity lies in the spirit of our Art itself, which is longing for another life than the artificial one now toilsomely upheld for it. The incapacity of the musical art-variety, itself, is exposed for us in the art-doings of Mendelssohn, the uncommonly-gifted specific musician; but the nullity of our whole public system, its utterly un-artistic claims and nature, in the successes of that famous Jewish opera-composer grow clear for any one to see. These are the weighty points that have now to draw towards themselves the whole attention of everyone who means honestly by Art: here is what we have to ask ourselves, to scrutinise, to bring to plainest understanding. Whoever shirks this toil, whoever turns his back upon this scrutiny either since no Need impels him to it, or because he waives a lesson that possibly might drive him from the lazy groove of mindless, feelingless routine — even him we now include in that same category, of "Judaism in Music." The Jews could never take possession of this art, until that was to be exposed in it which they now demonstrably have brought to light its inner incapacity for life. So long as the separate art of Music had a real organic life-need in it, down to the epochs of Mozart and Beethoven, there was nowhere to be found a Jew composer: it was impossible for an element entirely foreign to that living organism to take part in the formative stages of that life. Only when a body's inner death is manifest, do outside elements win the power of lodgment in it yet merely to destroy it. Then indeed that body's flesh dissolves into a swarming colony of insect-life: but who, in looking on that body's self would hold it still for living? The spirit, that is: the life, has fled from out that body, has sped to kindred other bodies; and this is all that makes out Life. In genuine Life alone can we, too, find again the ghost of Art, and not within its worm-befretted carcass.

"I said above, the Jews had brought forth no true poet. We here must give a moment's mention, then, to HEINRICH HEINE. At the time when Goethe and Schiller sang among us, we certainly know nothing of a poetising Jew: at the time, however, when our poetry became a lie, when every possible thing might flourish from the wholly unpoetic element of our life, but no true poet — then was it the office of a highly-gifted poet-Jew to bare with fascinating taunts that lie, that bottomless aridity and jesuitical hypocrisy of our Versifying which still would give itself the airs of true poesis. His famous musical congeners, too, he mercilessly lashed for their pretence to pass as artists; no make-believe could hold its ground before him: by the remorseless demon of denial of all that seemed worth denying was he driven on without a rest, through all the mirage of our modern self-deception, till he reached the point where in turn he duped himself into a poet, and was rewarded by his versified lies being set to music by our own composers. He was the conscience of Judaism, just as Judaism is the evil conscience of our modern Civilisation."

Raymond Joly wrote (June 17, 2006):
Shall we make a deal? Every time a member of the list wants to indulge in theology, Biblical exegesis, Lutheran liturgy and so on, he will endeavour to show how these factors were active in Bach's mind when composing and how knowledge about them enhances our understanding and enjoyment of his music.

Every time a member wants to rehearse once again Wagner's silly and hateful antisemitism (no less hateful for being so silly), he will endeavour to show how this shaped his music; maybe he should point to particularly repulsive passages.

Eric Bergerud wrote (June 17, 2006):
[To Raymond Joly] I'm not exactly sure what the point of this message is, but as one of my posts is quoted I would like to point out that I didn't mention Wagner's anti-semitism at all. What I did point out is that his ideas concerning the development of an entirely new art form have not worked out as planned regardless of Wagner's great influence on later composers. (Yoel has pointed out correctly that Wagner's ideas concerning the "Music of the Future" were not his alone.) On some other forum we could look at the interaction between Wagner's ideas of the "Volk", Nordic mythology and anti-semitism which I suspect was very deep.

Frankly, however, I don't think the list needs "deal makers." We have a moderator who guides things gently but quite efficiently. A lot of flowers bloom here and it usually works quite well. And everyone knows where the
delete key is.

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (June 17, 2006):
Teddy Kaufman wrote:
< In addition, Alfred Einstein claimed that "...He was the first to use music as a means of influensing, of entrancing, of intoxicating, of conquering. To be sure, all musicians direct their attention to the 'world' - to connoisseurs, to a community great or small, to the nation. Even before Wagner a few composers had felt impelled to create a community for themselves because there was none at hand. Handel did so in his oratorios; Beethoven, in his symphonies. So far as Wagner concerned, however, Handel scarcely existed ... But in Beethoven Wagner saw his true predecessor - or, more precisely, in the Beethoven of the Ninth Symphony, with which the reign of pure instrumental music seemed to have come to an end and that of opera, of his opera, to have begun." (Music in the Romantic Era. A History of Musical Thought in the 19th Century. New York 1947, pp. 227-228). >
Both Wagner and Berlioz saw Beethoven as the creator of the huge and gigantic and the new and the great and to a reasonable extent this is true. There is a chasm between Beethoven and Mozart-Haydn, perhaps not as great as between former music and "The New Music".

Berlioz and Wagner and Meyerbeer all united to bring v. Weber's body home from England where he had died preparing the premiere of Oberon, poor man.

The love for Weber as a GREAT predecessor united Berlioz, Wagner, and the Jew Meyerbeer.

Berlioz's third great predecessor was Spontini, something that is difficult for moderns to understand and is "discussed away"/ explained away by Michael Austin in his article on the Berlioz website: http://www.hberlioz.com/Predecessors/spontini.htm

I commend this site to all as a rich resource created by Michael Austin and his wife Monir Tayeb. Its only problem is its very non-complete discography.

As to Mendelssohn, he certainly was the antithesis of the New Music and it was Mendelssohn who was so beloved by Queen Victoria who absolutely abhorred Berlioz. I have no idea what she thought of Wagner.

Queen Vickie and I rarely share tastes.

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (June 17, 2006):
Hated on bended Knee

Near the end of his life Leonard Bernstein made a trip to Villa Wahnfried at the iof and with the guide of Friedelind Wagner, the very anti-Nazi granddaughter.

Bernstein who long struggled with his deep and profound love for Wagner's music sat at Wagner's own rehearsal piano and played the prelude to Tristan.

He then, against his own moral convictions, went to the grave site of the vile man.

Bernstein wondered how it was possible for him to so hate this man but "to hate him on bended knee".

A couple of years before, in May, 1985 Bernstein had made a video trying to understand the relationship of the Jewish musician and Wagner. This film of Bernstein's ruminations on this impossible matter (to which Mahler seems to have given very little thought outside of a few comments like: one must listen to the music and not the man's writings) remains in the vaults of Unitel according to Humphrey Burton's biography of Bernstein.

Things may have changed and one can hope that this film will be released.

Let us recall that Bernstein was the quintessential Jewish musician of our times and I do not mean that he was Jewish but that he was a deep Jewish struggler with music and European history in addition to being a great musician and teacher.

Let us recall Peter Bloemendaal's post here on what Bernstein did to the MP bc. of his revulsion at the charges of deicide.

I am not sure that all of P.B.'s conclusions are perfect bc. Bernstein did a far worse thing to Handel's Messiah for which there seems no reason at all.

Eric Bergerud wrote (June 18, 2006):
[To Yoël L. Arbeitman] I have a real soft spot for Weber: certainly don't understand why his piano concerto isn't in the standard repetoire. I hope there isn't anything PC that demands I disaprove. (Of course, he did compose the world's most famous opera about guns.)

Wonder if Victoria or Albert ever heard Harold in Italy. If they didn't like that there was royal cotton in the ears. As for Mendelssohn he was a cutie and liked Scotland. No wonder he went down well at Windsor.

William Rowland (Ludwig) wrote (June 18, 2006):
[To Eric Bergerud] Weber is seldom played these days other than by clarinetists who seem to have to struggle to get his works on orchestra programs.

Could anyone tell me if this is the same Weber/von Weber in this photograph located at: http://www.mountainstrust.org/newsletters/newsletter_6_1.html

if so then this is very intresting as I had always thought that Weber has lived in Vienna all his life.

Of course the Overture to Der Freischütz is a wonderful piece of music that deserves to be heard much more than it is and it is a very nice piece for Horns.

William Rowland (Ludwig) wrote (June 18, 2006):
[To Yoël L. Arbeitman] I can understand Bernstein's feelings Jewish Ancestory but Jewishness denied (as in the case of Mendlesohn) until my father's death when DNA testing traced us back to being Mid-European Jews. I too would like to see this film. Would anyone know if Friedelind Wagner is still living. She was in her late middle age when I last saw her?

Mike Mannix wrote (June 18, 2006):
Wagner's writings praising Weber are fascinating - it is Weber's German-ness which inspires Wagner to write in efforescent passages of praise.

Forkel's famous biog of JSB comes from a sumilar stable - and is subtitled "For Patriotic Admirers of True Musical Art" and it ends: "And this man, the greatest musical poet and the greatest musical orator that ever existed, and probably wver will exist, was a German. Let his counry be proud of him; let it be proud, but, at the same time, worthy of him!"

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (June 18, 2006):
Mike Mannix wrote:
< Wagner's writings praising Weber are fascinating - it is Weber's German-ness which inspires Wagner to write in efforescent passages of praise. >
I wonder what Meyerbeer's praise was and of course Berlioz's. There is nothing inherently wrong with saying the Weber is German or that Goethe is or that Shakespeare is English. Actually Peter Cornelius of the salon of Liszt always maintained that Berlioz was a real German and in a sense it was there that he was acknowledged. Liszt's mistress, the Princess Sayn-Wittgenstein, is the one who compelled Berlioz to write his Les Troyens lest Wagner alone rule the day. France wanted nothing to do with it. Cellini was produced, bowdlerized, only in Weimar, but produced at least.

< Forkel's famous biog of JSB comes from a sumilar stable - and is subtitled "For Patriotic Admirers of True Musical Art" and it ends: "And this man, the greatest musical poet and the greatest musical orator that ever existed, and probably wver will exist, was a German. Let his counry be proud of him; let it be proud, but, at the same time, worthy of him!" >
As his country should be. As Germany and English and all the rest should be proud of Handel and so forth.

It was said of one composer that he was born a German Jew and died a French Catholic.

This of course was Offenbach.

Mahler said that he was thrice homeless:

A Bohemian in Austria,
an Austrian in Germany,
and a Jew in the entire world.

Raymond Joly wrote (June 18, 2006):
[To Eric Begerud]
1) You are not the one who saw fit to copy whole pages of Wagner's antisemitic rantings on our site, and I did not say you were.
2) I think the point of my message is rather clear. If I remember right, you have been one of those who got berated for "preaching" just because you raised some theological or Biblical points essential for anyone who wants to understand and appreciate Bach's cantatas. Indeed, I am pretty sure I did write once in support of your postings. What I suggested now is that comments about Wagner's theories on our site should have the same evident and illuminative relation with music.
3) Thank you for having sent me running to my dictionary. Your remark about Wagner's "abject failure" was a shock, because I did not know that the English adjective does not have the connotations of filth and depravity it carries with it in French. As to the failure itself, well... Wagner certainly did not oust opera out of the opera houses, but do we care? On the other hand, I think a connoisseur like yourself cannot possibly study, say, the Todesverkündigung in WALKÜRE, act 2, without being filled with admiration at the power and subtlety of the structure and the details.
4) I remember two or three previous instances of a member writing: "We have had enough of this, please stop". Mr Oron does a wonderful job, but maybe we are allowed to help him a bit.

Very respectfully yours,

 

[OLWT] Maksakova/ Golovanov to Rapidshare

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (June 15, 2006):
Although I largely share (not totally in all its ramifications) Teddy's view on Richard Wagner, I nevertheless enjoy a large part of his musical creation without ever being a Wagnerite (I am a Berliozite). At all events I would like to share this wonderful recording which I uploaded for my opera group but which can be accessed by anyone with the URL below.
Wesendonck Lieder (in Russian)
This is the amazing Russian Mezzo, Maria Maksakova under conductor Nikolai Golovanov. The date for the whole album is listed as 1947-1952.

Your file Maksakova_Wesendonck.zip (8798 KB) is now online.
Download-Link:http://rapidshare.de/files/23123077/Maksakova_Wesendonck.zip.html

Yoël L. Arbeitman wrote (June 16, 2006):
[OLWT] YouSendIt File Delivery Notification: Wesendonck Farrell - 01 - Track 1.mp3

This is probably the greatest recording of Wesendonck Lieder auf Deutsch. Eileen Farrell and Stokowski, 1951. It is not tracked but a single file.

You can click on the following link to retrieve your file. The file will expire in 6 days and will be available for 100 number of downloads.

Link: http://www.yousendit.com/transfer.php?action=download&ufid=50AF71B602406CF5

William Rowland (Ludwig) wrote (June 16, 2006):
[To Yoël L. Arbeitman] Oh Yes Farrel has always been a favorite. She made have some hidden bad performances some where but if they are I have yet to leof them. However--Stokowski is another matter---he takes far too many liberties and I just about bet if an Oboe d'amore is called for he is using a clarinet or English Horn instead.

Phlip Peters wrote (June 16, 2006):
[To Ludwig] In which case you might prefer Farrell's remake of a decade later with Bernstein and the NYP.

 

Wagner and Bach

Continue of this part of the discussion, see: Trombones in Bach's Vocal Works [General Topics]

Douglas Cowling wrote (April 30, 2010):
George Bromley wrote:
< I once had baroque trombone demonstrated to me by a lady who was playing with an ancient music group at a St George's day parade here in Horley, yes quite a different sound to that which Wagner required. >
Wagner's treatment brass isn't all Sturm and Drang. I was listening to 'Die Walküre' the other day, and it struck me how much similarity there is to the 17th century polychoral technique of Praetorius. Yes, there are the big flashy motifs like the "Sword" and "Valkyrie", but the bulk of the harmonic texture is sustained by three "choirs" of horns, trombones and tubas. The trombones in particular often have a hymn-like quality (e.g. The "Valhalla"
motif in Act I).

We know that Wagner had heard some late Baroque techniques -- He was baptized in St. Thomas, Leipzig!. The opening of "Die Meistersinger" has a congregational chorale with orchestral interludes between the phrases which echo Baroque organ techniques. "Parsifal" is full of antiphonal choirs which show that Wagner had an intimate knowledge of 17th century polyphony.

Fascinating to think that the master of modernity may have heard echoes of Bach in performance.

Peter Smaill wrote (April 30, 2010):
[To Douglas Cowling, regarding Bach & Wagner] The opening chorale to Meistersingers is often cited as the most Bachian moment in Wagner; to this day his house in Bayreuth has a large portrait of Bach (nearly all others I recall are of Wagner himself!) and we know that Bach was frequently played on the piano there.

The chorale in question, "Dazu dir der Heiland kam" is according to Cantagruel a free rendering to new words of the melody which accompanies the closing chorale of BWV 95, the wonderful Cantata "Christus, der ist mein Leben". There it is a verse of Nikolaus Herman's "Wenn mein Stündlein vorhanden ist". But Cantagruel says more, and this is also a revelation to me at least, that a plain setting of this funerary chorale was the last work written by Robert Schumann at the asylum in Endenich.

It is also found in the Easter cantata BWV 31, "Die Himmel lacht, die Erde jubiliert".

 

Bach & Wagner

George Bromley wrote (November 2, 2011):
[To Julian Mincham] Is Wagner music?

Douglas Cowling wrote (November 2, 2011):
[To George Bromley] GASP! As the resident Wagnerian on this list, I must rise to celebrate the strong connection between Bach and Wagner!

Wagner was born in Leipzig and baptised in St. Thomas Church in 1813, only 60-odd years after the death of Bach. One of Bach's choirboys could well have been alive when Wagner was a boy. Wagner studied music with Christian Theodor Weinlig, who was a successor of Bach as Cantor and teacher of music in the Thomas School in 1825. Wagner was not impressed with Weinlig – the beginning of a lifelong distain for the musicians around him! -- but it does bring him into direct contact with the local Bach tradition, not filtered through Bach's sons, Van Swieten or Mendelssohn. He undoubtedly heard Bach's music performed by his successor in his own church.

Several operas reflect that expereince. "Meistersinger" opens with a Lutheran service in which the choir sings a chorale with instrumental interludes which are related to the improvisatory interludes added by organists after each line of a hymn. The Grail Temple scenes in "Parsifal" are dominated by the sound of boys' choirs singing from invisible heights. Even as a child, the opera producer was already revisualizing the experience of hearing unseen choirs in Bach's choir loft.

We've discussed this before, but the influence of Bach's contrapuntal style on Wagner's motivic style is an important component in the latter's symphonic language. I would still call "Meistersinger" the "Bach Opera". At the end of the famous overture, Wagner combines the three principal motives in an obviously self-conscious way: it's really a "quodlibet" perhaps with an allusion to the "Goldberg Variations." Schweitzer's oft-ridiculed analysis of the "leitmotifs" in Bach's music is actually half right -- it's Wagner who has Bachian elements of counterpoint.

And yes, I would say that the St. Matthew Passion and Mass in B Minor (BWV 232) are Wagnerian in scale!

Ed Myskowski wrote (November 4, 2011):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< We've discussed this before, but the influence of Bach's contrapuntal style on Wagner's motivic style is an important component in the latter's symphonic language. I would still call "Meistersinger" the "Bach Opera".
[...]
And yes, I would say that the St. Matthew Passion and Mass in B Minor (
BWV 232) are Wagnerian in scale! >
Nice points!

 

Bach, Wagner & Dresden

Douglas Cowling wrote (July 27, 2012):
While researching a lecture I'm giving on the staging of the Wagner operas, I was surprised by the offhand comment in a study of Wagner's tenure in the 1840's as Kapellmeister in Dresden that he also had responsibiity for music of the court chapel -- the very position that Bach had sought a century before. I had always assumed that by the mid-19th century, the position had solely meant the direction of the symphonic and operatic orchestra – the modern meaning of "Kapelle." But Wagner responsible for the royal high mass? Wagner was a superb choral composer and the Grail Temple scenes in "Parsifal" show an intimate knowledge of the repertoire, but the Bete of Bayreuth conducting Mozart and Haydn? Anyone know of any studies of this period in the Royal Saxon Chapel?

 

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Last update: ύAugust 22, 2012 ύ23:41:03