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Quote Of The Month: Charlie Chaplin Upon Hearing Tannhauser For The First Time

Written By The Wagnerian on Friday, 5 January 2018 | 8:37:00 pm


Taken from Christopher Lawrence's book, "Swooning: A Classical Music Guide to Life, Love, Lust and Other Follies"

"In Charlie Chaplin’s autobiography there is a story of an early dramatic encounter with classical music.

In 1913, while still an unknown stage comedian touring the United States with an English vaudeville troupe, the 24-year-old took a few days off from the grind of provincial shows to make a solo trip to New York. This oasis of comparative luxury included a good hotel, half a bottle of champagne and a first time visit to the opera, Wagner’s Tannhäuser (1845) at the Metropolitan. Chaplin knew neither German nor anything about the opera’s plot, yet when the Pilgrim’s Chorus began in Act Three, the future Little Tramp found himself weeping uncontrollably. ‘What people sitting next to me must have thought I don’t know,’ he wrote. ‘The music seemed to sum up all the travail of my life.’

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An Invitation To Parsifal. Bayreuth. August 15. 1892

Researching something else, we came across this full page ad for Parsifal in 1892. Thought we would share. A sort of Wagner Tardis. You will need to click on to be able to read it.



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Wagner, Williams, Star Wars and Alex Ross: The perfect combination?

One of our often featured Wagnerian commentators, Alex Ross, discusses the use of "wagnerian" leitmotifs, in John Williams's scores for the Star Wars films.  Highly interesting. It's published over at the New Yorker, but don't let that put you off.

By the way, and before continuing, when Mr Ross notes, "Wagner had spoken of “melodic moments” and “ground-motifs” in his work, but he criticized his acolyte for treating such motifs purely as dramatic devices, neglecting their internal musical logic." he is referring to Wagner's essay, "Uber Die Anwendung Der Musik Auf Das Drama (On The Application Of Music To Drama). In this Wagner wrote, "...one of my younger friends has devoted much attention, to the characteristics of what he calls, the Leitmotives. However, he has treated them from the point of view of dramatic importance and effect rather than as elements of the musical structure". Should you want, you can read this essay in full (in Ellis's idiosyncratic translation) by clicking here


The film-music scholar Frank Lehman, an assistant professor at Tufts University, works fast: within a day of the opening of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” he had updated his “Complete Catalogue of the Motivic Material in ‘Star Wars,’ Episodes I-VIII,” which can be found online. The catalogue now includes fifty-five distinct leitmotifs—thematic ideas that point toward characters, objects, ideas, and relationships—and forty-three so-called incidental motifs, which, Lehman says, “do not meet criteria for proper leitmotifs” but nonetheless possess dramatic significance. Such beloved tunes as “The Force,” “Han and Leia,” and the dastardly “Imperial March” are here, along with more esoteric items like “Planetary Descent Figure,” “Ominous Neighbor Figure,” and “Apocalyptic Repeated Minor Triads.”

All this refers, of course, to the eight scores that John Williams has composed for the “Star Wars” cycle, with a ninth in the works. In decades past, it was fashionable for self-styled serious music types to look down on Williams, but the “Star Wars” corpus has increasingly attracted scholarly scrutiny: Lehman’s catalogue will be published in “John Williams: Music for Films, Television, and the Concert Stage,” a volume forthcoming from the Centro Studi Opera Omnia Luigi Boccherini. This attention has come about not only because of the mythic weight that George Lucas’s space operas have acquired in the contemporary imagination; the music is also superbly crafted and rewards close analysis. Williams’s latest score is one the most compelling in his forty-year “Star Wars” career: Rian Johnson’s film complicates and enriches the familiar template, and Williams responds with intricate, ambiguous variations on his canon of themes.

The word “leitmotif,” like much else emanating from the gaseous Planet Wagner, has caused considerable confusion over the years. The term was coined by Hans von Wolzogen, one of a coterie of intellectual sycophants who surrounded the composer in the years before his death, in 1883. Wagner had spoken of “melodic moments” and “ground-motifs” in his work, but he criticized his acolyte for treating such motifs purely as dramatic devices, neglecting their internal musical logic. As happened so often, Wagner’s idea took on a life of its own. Wolzogen lived long enough to hail Hitler in the pages of the Bayreuther Blätter, the dismal Wagner fanzine that he edited for decades.

Continue Reading At The New Yorker

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New Wagner Related Book: Granville Bantock Letters to William Wallace and Ernest Newman

Written By The Wagnerian on Monday, 1 January 2018 | 9:37:00 pm

Fascinating, if horrendously expensive, book edited by Michael Allis. Details from the publisher, below 

Granville Bantock's letters to the Scottish composer William Wallace and the music critic Ernest Newman provide a fascinating window into British music and musical life in the early twentieth century and the 'dawn' of musical modernism.

British music and musical life before the Great War have been relatively neglected in discussions of the idea of the 'modern' in the early twentieth century. This collection of almost three hundred letters, written by Granville Bantock (1868-1946) to the Scottish composer William Wallace (1860-1940) and the music critic Ernest Newman (1868-1959) places Bantock and his circle at the heart of this debate. The letters highlight Bantock's and Wallace's development of the modern British symphonic poem, their contribution (with Newman) to music criticism and journalism, and their attempts to promote a young generation of British composers - revealing an early frustration with the musical establishment.

Confirming the impact of visits to Britain by Richard Strauss and Sibelius, Bantock offers opinions on a range of composers active around the turn of the twentieth century, identifying Elgar and Delius as the future for English music. Along with references to conductors, entertainers and contemporary writers (Maeterlinck, Conrad), there are fascinating details of the musical culture of London, Liverpool and Birmingham - including programming strategies at the Tower, New Brighton, and abortive plans to relaunch the New Quarterly Musical Review. Fully annotated, the letters provide a fascinating window into British music and musical life in the early twentieth century and the 'dawn' of musical modernism

DETAILS
8 black and white, 17 line illustrations
310 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Hardback, 9781783272334, December 2017
eBook, 9781787441569, December 2017
BIC BJ, 1DBK, 2AB, 3JJ
BISAC MUS006000


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Wiener Staatsoper To Stream Full Ring Cycle April 2018. Full Details

As part of Wiener Staatsoper's live streaming program, they will be streaming Sven-Eric Bechtolf's production of  Der Ring des Nibelungen, in April 2018. "Tickets" for individual parts of the cycle can be bought for 14 Euros or $16.79. However, as they will be all broadcast in the same month - and should you want to watch the entire cycle - then a monthly subscription, which you can cancel at any time, might be your best option: 16 euros per month or $20. 

Full details below. We include some production pictures and videos to help you decide if Sven-Eric Bechtolf's interpretation of the Ring "is for you". 

Full pricing and to book tickets - closer to the time - please click here
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