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    Wagner: four piano solo arrangements

    Wagner Tanhäuser Overture (Piano solo arr.)

    Wagner – Siegfried Funeral (Piano solo arr.)

    Wagner – Ride of the Valkyries Piano solo with sheet music

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    Richard Wagner – Love Duet from Tristan & Isolde (Act II) O sink hernieder, Nacht der Liebe (with sheet music)

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    Richard Wagner

    No musician, perhaps no artist in the history of Western art, has ever had so much to say about his own life, works, and ideas, as did Richard Wagner. And with the possible exception of Beethoven, no musician has ever exercised such influence over men and even nations as has Wagner in the past one of a hundred years.

    In his own lifetime alone, Wagner was the subject of ten thousand articles and books attacking, defending, and explaining his system and his cult. Today students of drama, music, and politics contemplate with astonishment the impact of this one man on a civilization so old, so rich, and so sophisticated as to seem immune to wonder.

    Both in his promises and in his demands, Wagner was extravagant; but he performed what he promised, received what he demanded. I n an age when drama was dead, the theater reduced to melodrama and spectacle, Wagner deliberately set out to revive the spirit of tragedy. At a time when music was in decline after the great achievements of the Viennese School, he soughs t to reconstitute the art in a radically new form.

    And in a period when Germany was still a congeries of petty states, Wagner addressed himself to the German nation as the prophet and celebrant of its future greatness.

    His success in this last role has clouded in modern times the brilliance of h is artistic and intellectual achievements. But now -one hundred and fifty years after his birth and eighty years after his death-it may be hoped that we have finally attained the detachment necessary for a clear and untroubled vision of this extraordinary man, one of the seminal forces in modern European culture.

    Richard Wilhelm Wagner was born on May 22, 1 813, at Leipzig. Like h is hero Siegfried, Wagner was troubled (at least in h is later years) by the uncertainty of his paternity. His putative father was a police actuary who died shortly after his birth. Soon afterward, his mother married an intimate friend of the family, Ludwig Geyer, an assimilated Jew, a theatrical performer whose family for m any generations had been organists and town musicians.

    In his fifties, Wagner obtained by means of some family letters a “penetrating glimpse” into the early relations betwet.ti G eyer and his mother ; he concluded evidently that Geyer was his natural fat her, an idea that was then bruited about by Nietzsche, his quondam disciple and l ater enemy.

    Wagner received a sound academic education, passing t h rough the Gymnasium and even spending some time at the University of Leipzig; but his formal training in music did not amount to much-hardly more than a year with competent instructors. At nineteen, he wrote a symphony and an opera, and in 1 8 3 3 he obtained his first professional appointment, as chorus master at Wiirzburg.

    For a number of years, he served as conductor in several provincial German opera houses, until, in 1839, he went with his wife, M i n a Planer, to Paris, where he suffered two and a ha f years of grinding poverty while he soughs t to advance h is career as composer.

    In 1842 Rienzi was successfully performed at Dresden, and Wagner’s fortunes suddenly improved. Appointed royal music director, his next three operas-The Flying Dutchman (1843), Tannhäuser (1845), and Lohengrin (1850) -were received with acclaim.

    But after becoming involved in the Dresden May Revolution of 1 849, Wagner had to flee Germ any. He settled in Zurich, where he remai ned until 1 8 5 9. Here he composed two thirds of The Ring, and began Tristan. Again, in Paris i n 1 8 6 1, he saw an elaborately prepared production of Tannhäuser end in fiasco because of the machinations of his political enemies.

    Once more, Wagner’s fortunes declined, but several years later his future was assured when Ludwig II of Bavaria became the composer’s patron. Tristan was performed at Munich in 1 8 6 5, Die Meistersinger in 1868 . But, having aroused the anger of the court, Wagner was compelled to withdraw.

    In 1870, he married Cosima Liszt von Biilow, and two years later he established his residence i n Bayreuth. Here, i n 1 8 76, the entire Ring was performed ; Parsifal was given at the next festival, in 1 8 8 2. Wagner died in Venice, at the age of seventy, on February 13, 1883.

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