The Romantic Era

nineteenth century

(Classical Music Map)


I. History of Classical Music  (by John Stanley)
The great composers and their masterworks in MP3 format
Albeniz Borodin Donizetti Hindemith Prokofiev Schutz
Albinoni Brahms Dowland Janacek Puccini Scriabin
Allegri Britten Dvorak Kodaly Purcell Sibelius
Arne Bruckner Falla Leoncavallo Rachmaninov Smetana
Auber Busoni Field Liszt Rameau Strauss J.S.
Bach Byrd Gabrieli Lully Ravel Strauss R.
Barber Carissimi Gershwin Mahler Respighi Stravinsky
Bartok Charpentier Gesualdo Mendelssohn Rimsky-Korsakov Tallis
Beethoven Cherubini Glinka Meyerbeer Rossini Tchaikovsky
Bellini Chopin Gluck Monteverdi Saint-Saens Telemann
Bernstein Clementi Gounod Mozart Scarlatti Verdi
Berwald Corelli Grieg Mussorgsky Schoenberg Victoria
Berlioz Couperin Handel Pachelbel Shostakovich Villa-Lobos
Bizet Debussy Haydn Paganini Schubert Vivaldi
Boccherini Delibes Hildegard Palestrina Schumann Wagner
Orff  "Carmina Burana"
II. History of Jazz

Richard Wagner



Richard Wagner was born in Leipzig but brought up in Dresden, where his family moved soon after his birth. Though he developed early passions for philosophy and literature, it was music he went to study at Leipzig University in 1831. His early pieces include a symphony and two concert overtures, and in 1833 he began his first opera, Die Feen, but the work was never performed during his lifetime.

Wagner's first work in the opera world was as a choral conductor at Wurzburg, followed a year later by an appointment as musical director of Magdeburg Opera. There he saw Das Liebesverbot (Forbidden Love) performed, his first opera to gain a hearing. In 1836 he married a singer and actress, Minna Planer, a union that lasted 30 years, although Wagner's frequent affairs were the cause of much unhappiness for Minna.

Desperately wanting to compose rather than conduct, Wagner embarked on a series of travels. In Paris he was reduced to arranging dance music and writing songs and articles. The Wagners returned to Germany in 1842 almost destitute, but not before Richard had composed two valuable opera scores: Rienzi, a grand historical opera influenced by both Italian and French opera; and The flying Dutchman, the first of Wagner's operas that points the way ahead to his own mature style.

Both were great successes when first performed in Dresden in 1842 and 1843 and led to Wagner's being appointed Court Opera conductor in the city. During his time there he wrote Tannhauser and Lohengrin, both addressing themes of spiritual and sensual love. As with all Wagner's operas, the librettos are his own, Tannhauser adapted from a thirteenth-century German poem and Lohengrin from an anonymous epic.

In 1849 Wagner was forced to flee Saxony when a warrant was issued for his arrest following his support for revolutionary causes. He spent most of his 12-year exile in Switzerland. There he wrote books on subjects such as race, vegetarianism, and hygiene, as well as two influential volumes on music and art.

It was also during this period that he began his monumental masterpiece Der Ring des Nibelungen (The ring of the Nibelung). This huge work consists or four full-length operas - Rheingold, Die Walkure (The Valkyrie), Siegfried, and Gotterdammerung (Twilight of the Gods) - and occupied Wagner intermittently until 1874. He found the source for his libretto m the ancient Nibelung saga, which explores the theme (among many others of the conflict between love and money. The ring exemplifies Wagner's revolutionary approach to opera, which sees him dispense with recitative and individual numbers in favour of long stretches of continuous music. Also distinctive is Wagner's use of "leitmotifs" — tunes or phrases that represent a character or an idea, and are used to evoke or chart some development in the thing they represent.

Wagner broke off from writing Siegfried to work on Tristan und Isolde. inspired in part by his affair with Mathilde Wesendonck, the impetus too for the songs known as Wesendonck Lieder. Tristan deals with the theme of an all-embracing love, denied on earth and attainable only in death. Its startling harmonies foreshadowed the work of Schoenberg and Berg half a century later and resulted in an opera of great passion and beauty so difficult to stage that the original production was abandoned after 77 rehearsals.

One of Wagner's few purely instrumental pieces is Siegfried Idyll, composed as a birthday present for his new wife Cosima, whom he married in 1870 following Minna's death. It was performed outside Cosima's bedroom on Christmas morning 1870, with Wagner conducting. During a respite from The ring, Wagner also composed his only comic opera, Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg (The mastersingers of Nuremberg), produced in Munich m 1868. During its composition Wagner's desperate financial difficulties were relieved by the young King of Bavaria, Ludwig II, a fanatical admirer of Wagner's music. His funds enabled Wagner to pursue his dream of establishing a festival devoted to his own operas. At an opera house built at Bayreuth in southern Germany, the festival was inaugurated in 1876 with a production of The ring. Despite interruptions during the World Wars, the festival continues; to this day the opera house has never been used to stage an opera not written by Wagner.

For his final masterpiece, Parsifal, Wagner drew on the ancient legend of the Holy Grail, advancing the themes of love, renunciation, and redemption explored in earlier works. Because of the work's sacred nature Wagner wished it to be performed only at Bayreuth, but when the copyright lapsed in 1913 his heirs could not prevent performances elsewhere.

A year after the completion of Parsifal in 1882, Wagner suffered a fatal heart attack in Venice. His operas and forceful personality had dominated German music in the second half of the nineteenth century, a powerful influence that has not waned in the intervening hundred vears.


Richard Wagner



Richard Wagner (1813-1883)



"Der fliegende Hollander"
Caltech Women's Glee Club
Spinning Chorus
Tomasz Konieczny
Die Frist ist um

"Tristan und Isolde"
Tomasz Konieczny
Szene des Konigs Marke

"Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg"

Willem Mengelberg

"Die Walkure"

Christian Elsner

Tomasz Konieczny

Mein Herr und Gott

Karin Van Arkel (with Peter Nilsson at the piano)
Einsam in trueben Tagen

Coro de la Universidad de Alcalá
Marcha Nupcial

Tomasz Konieczny
Mein Vater...

Coro de la Universidad de Alcalá
Coro de los peregrinos
Entrada de los invitados

Men's Glee Club
Pligrims' Chorus



Eugene Delacroix





















J.S. Strauss







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