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richard wagner

One of the key figures in the history of opera, Wagner was largely responsible for altering its orientation in the nineteenth century. His program of artistic reform accelerated the trend towards organically conceived, through-composed structures, as well as influencing the development of the orchestra, of a new breed of singer, and of various aspects of theatrical practice. As the most influential composer during the second half of the nineteenth century, Richard Wagner's conception of music remains very much with us even a century after his death. He was a remarkable innovator both in harmony and the structure of his work, creating his own version of the Gesamtkunstwerk, dramatic compositions in which the arts were brought together in a single unity. In the later part of his career Wagner enjoyed the support of King Ludwig II of Bavaria and was finally able to establish his own theatre and festival at the Bavarian town of Bayreuth. He developed the use of the Leitmotiv (leading motif) as a principle of musical unity, his dramatic musical structure depending on the interweaving of melodies or fragments of melody associated with characters, incidents or ideas in the drama. It was not Wagner's style of vocal composition in his Music Dramas that has remained so influential, but his orchestral language of chromatic tension and release, his brilliant use of instrumental tone color, and his flair for dramatic effects balanced with his long, sensually serene harmonic progressions that have become a mainstay in the arsenal of modern composers.Wagner won his first operatic success in Dresden with the opera Rienzi, based on a novel by Edward Bulwer-Lytton. In Dresden he also gained much experience conducting the symphonies and overtures of Beethoven.As a published writer, Wagner made his views known not only about music but also about literature, drama, and even political and moral issues. For Wagner, the function of music w...

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