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Richard Wagner

Richard Wagner was a German composer, conductor, theatre director, and polemicist primarily known for his operas.

Wagner's primary artistic legacy has been crafted out of his operas. Unlike many composers, he often wrote his own libretti, referring to them as "poems." His compositions are well known for their complex texture, especially those written during his later period. Wagner also utilized rich harmonies and orchestration and developed extensive use of leitmotifs: musical themes associated with individual characters, places, ideas or plot elements.

Initially establishing his reputation in the romantic traditions of such composers as Weber and Meyerbeer, Wagner would go on to apply the concept of the Gesamtkunstwerk ("total work of art"), and in doing change the operatic genre. His philosophy was to achieve the synthesis of all the poetic, visual, musical and dramatic arts, and this was most fully realized in the first half of his legendary four-opera cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung). However, his thoughts and approach to composing opera would later change again, and in his late works he began to reintroduce some traditional operatic elements and forms.

Wagner pioneered advances in musical language, such as extreme chromaticism and quickly shifting tonal centres, which greatly influenced the development of European classical music. His influence was not confined to music, and he impacted such as areas as philosophy, literature, the visual arts and theatre. His extensive writings on music, drama and politics have all attracted extensive comment in recent decades. Despte a controversial life, tainted by his anti-semitic views, political exile, personal troubles, and difficulties in his personal life, the effect of his ideas can be traced in many of the arts throughout the twentieth century.

Exclusive Wagner Scores for Strings from Ovation Press

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