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Truth be told, Richard Wagner was a scoundrel, an anti-Semite, constantly on the run from creditors and their lawsuits ... and for his first 50 years, a professional failure. What kept the composer going was his enormous talent, ambition, an oversized ego and a grandiose dream that he could convert opera into a transcendental art form, melding all the fine arts into one epic spectacle. History has seen fit to hold its nose at Wagner the person in favor of appreciating his art. Israel has even lifted its boycott of his music.
Wagner’s dream would never have materialized if not for Ludwig II, the bizarre, newly-crowned, 18-year-old, rich King of Bavaria in the 1880s, who adored Wagner’s music, according to the Idaho Press Tribune. The young monarch paid all of Wagner’s debts and put him on the court’s payroll.

According to the Boise Philharmonic:

Before there was the epic tale, The Lord of the Rings, The Ring of the Nibelung was composed, changing the course of musical history by integrating the emotional impact of this opera into the orchestral score.
On Jan. 25 and 26, The he 70-member professional orchestra will feature highlights from this 19th century masterpiece, without the words, but still filled with the emotion and drama of this wonderful story. Excerpts from: The Ring Cycle, Siegfried Idyll and Prelude and Liebestod will be performed.

To a friend, Wagner, always the dramatist, wrote:

“And, as if on cue, there was Ludwig, truly a ‘deus ex machina.’” With that kind of financial support, Wagner succeeded in reinventing opera, creating what he called “music drama,” an all inclusive dazzling extravaganza where the story, the singing, the music, and the staging were one colossal whole far greater than the sum of its parts. Wagner’s music now had star billing with the singers. Using and combining instruments in new ways, he originated sonorities and blends never before heard. No longer would the genre be “mere entertainment.”
Wagner’s 25 year dream became a reality in 1873 with the Ring of the Nibelung, four apocalyptic music dramas tied together by a single storyline, says a release on the Boise Philharmonic website. The 17 hour cycle, inspired by Teutonic and Norse legend, is the allegorical story of gods, giants, superhuman heroes, and the dwarf-like race of Nibelung, warring against each other to the death for possession of a magical gold ring which gives ultimate power to its owner.
In the end, the cataclysmic battle destroys the deranged gods and their greedy old order, fortuitously unleashing the promise and power of love as the salvation of mankind. It is a story of redemption through renunciation featuring universal themes of birth, death, ambition, avarice, murder, and a lust for power and the erotic pleasures of the flesh. Wagner believed in his heart that his music dramas had the power to change the course of human events.
Wagner wrote the opening piece on the Siegfried Idyll, as a birthday gift for his wife Cosima, which he delivered on Christmas morning, 1870. Imagine you are asleep in your villa on the shore of placid Lake Lucerne, and you are gently awakened by soft music. Cosima, Franz Liszt’s daughter, tells the story in her diary.
“I can give you no idea, my children, about this day. I shall only tell you quite barely what happened: As I awoke, my ear caught a sound, which swelled fuller and fuller. No longer could I imagine myself to be dreaming music. Music was sounding, and such music! When it died away Richard came into my room and offered me the score of the symphonic birthday poem. I was in tears. Richard had arranged his 13-piece orchestra on the staircase, and thus our Villa Triebschen was consecrated forever.”
The Boise Philharmonic maintains a vast array of educational programs, including classes for young children, a Family Concert series, the Boise Philharmonic Youth Orchestra (formerly known as the Treasure Valley Youth Symphony), the annual Children's Concerts with full symphony orchestra performing for 15,000 school children in 9 free performances, Verde Percussion Group - a purely percussion performance, Musicians in the Schools, Ensembles in the Schools, Conductor in the schools and the Jeker Eagle Schools music project.
The mission of the Boise Philharmonic Association is to musically enrich, entertain and educate the people of our region through performance of symphonic music of the highest quality.
Siegfried Idyll was first performed by the Boise Philharmonic on February 28, 1961. It was most recently performed on October 22, 2004.

This is the Boise Philharmonic’s first performance of The Ring Without Words.

Originally posted to The Book Bear on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 08:53 AM PST.

Also republished by DKOMA.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Every time I hear that music (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dumbo

    all I can hear for lyrics is:
    "Kill the Wabbit, Kill the Wabbit..."

    If I ran this circus, things would be DIFFERENT!

    by CwV on Sat Jan 19, 2013 at 04:41:05 PM PST

  •  Book Bear, I wish you would consider (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DorothyT, The Book Bear

    writing an opera diary or two like this one for Thursday Classical Music.  When I was writing for Thursday (I still am but I'm taking a recharge sabbatical from it so people are forced to fill in), people often wanted diaries about opera, which I couldn't do much about because I wasn't very knowledgeable about opera the way I was about other types of music.  If you would consider writing a diary or two like this, perhaps with greater depth about individual operas and what you like about them, the best parts for you, etc., then you would fill an appetite for a lot of people on DailyKos.  Even if you feel you don't know that much, it doesn't matter, because I sure as hell never had anything going for me but enthusiasm.

  •  Nice intro to Wagner. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DorothyT

    "I use Wagner.  It scares the hell out of the slopes!"

    I'm going to watch a pirate copy of Zero Dark Thirty tonight so I can write a diary about it excoriating it.  The frequent justifications of the film and its possible false rationalizations of Bush era torture on the basis that it's a great work of art keep bringing me back to Wagner and Ayn Rand and Riefenstahl and other great works which we can appreciate as art and yet we ignore the political implications of at great peril.  With Wagner or Ayn Rand or Leni Riefenstahl, it's much easier to do because the chronological distance allows us to put it all in a wider context and just appreciate it.

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