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iTunes Ugh!

There’s a lot not to like about Richard Wagner the man. The fact that he was a jew-hating believer in the “Master Race” and a big inspiration to Adolph Hitler is plenty reason for the performance of his music in Israel to be a source of great controversy. But aside from the man’s personal failings, his music is quite often a marvel of the Romantic Era.

I’m always struck my how I either think Wager’s works are genius, or completely uninspiring. There’s not much in between for me. In the uninspiring realm, I recently got a hold of modern recordings of his Symphony in C Major and uncompleted Symphony in E Major. I suppose I should not be surprised by this, as Wagner wrote his only completed symphony at age 19 before the Romantic Era had firmly taken root. The classical influence to it can probably be attributed to the times, and the lack of real direction attributed to youth. I think it’s safe to say that most of us were not composing symphonies at the age of 19. But Wagner definitely found his compositional voice later in life, to become one of the great Romantic Era composers. I think it’s safe to say if we had just known him for his symphony, we would not have known Richard Wagner at all.

11 Responses to “iTunes Ugh!”

  1. Harold says:

    Hmmm, I thought Wagner was a seminal composer in creating the Romantic era, but was firmly grounded in the Classical.

    For further arguments against Wagner if you’re a believing Christian or Jew read David “Spengler” Goldman on him (Google and/or read the relevant chapter in this collection of essays: It’s Not the End of the World, It’s Just the End of You: The Great Extinction of the Nations).

    • Sebastian says:

      He’s a middle romantic composer. The seminal composer was Beethoven, and most people put Brahms in that category too, continuing on Beethoven’s lead. In fact, Brahms’ First Symphony is sometimes called “Beethoven’s 10th Symphony.”

      • Harold says:

        Ah, of course you’re right (the perils of posting when you’ve just woken up). He’s considered by many to have started the Modern era, but like Beethoven was firmly grounded in the preceding era.

  2. asdf says:

    If you like Wagner’s music, just enjoy it and don’t worry about all the politically correct bullshit at makes you feel guilty for liking his music. Hell, even if Osama Bin Laden put out a killer album, I wouldn’t hesitate to listen to it! One thing has nothing to do with another.

    • Sebastian says:

      Oh, I don’t feel guilty about liking some of his music. In truth he’s not my favorite composer… and when it comes to composers Hitler admired, I’d go with Richard Strauss any day over Wagner.

      • Harold says:

        Yargh. Except for the famous first bits of Also sprach Zarathustra there’s nothing including the rest of that tone poem of his that I’ve ever found to my taste. Whereas Wager is one of my favorite composers.

        Ah, yes, I forgot the other great criticism of Wagner, from Blackadder Goes Forth: “[…] the Teutonic reputation for brutality is well-founded: their
        operas last three or four days; and they have no word
        for `fluffy’.

        For the record I’ve attended 2 Ring cycles, although they were done over 4 weekends instead of 4 consecutive days, and even then they switched Siegfrieds between the last two.

        • Arnie says:

          Obviously a case of one man’s meat is another man’s poison. I’m just excited to find people younger than I who truly appreciate the classics!

          • Harold says:

            I’m 51, are you sure that applies to me ^_^?

            Back in the day (’70s) it was expected you’d play a musical instrument starting in elementary school; I choose the violin, which I never got really good at, but that was my introduction to classical music.

            • Sebastian says:

              I took Piano lessons from age 5 through to college. I was good. After college I walked away from it and haven’t touched a piano really since. Unfortunately, it’s not like riding a bicycle. Skills disappear. I can kind of plunk out the first movement of the moonlight sonata if I sit at the Piano for a few hours. It comes back. The second and third movement are lost to me. I know the motions for the third movement, but my fingers can’t quite do it anymore. I don’t think I could do any Debussy, possibly with the exception of Claire de Lune if I worked behind a piano long enough for it to start coming back. Beethoven Sonata’s other than moonlight I used to be able to play include the Waldstein. I never worked through the last two movements of that one to remember it at all. It seems the memory is retrograde. The stuff I was playing from the time I was very young is more with me than the stuff I played in college.

              I was never very good at playing off sheet music. I doubt I could do it at all now.

              • karrde says:

                I did piano through most of high school, and part of college.

                I can still do the beginners-level version of Fur Elise which seems to be everyone’s first piano piece. And most of Maple Leaf Rag.

                The more serious stuff I learned? Maybe I can reproduce the first line of each one.

                (However, I play on an approximately-monthly basis with a guitarist and a drummer at a church-related event. The music is mind-numbingly simple, and exists mostly as chords (written alongside lyrics) and rhythm/lead-melody (maybe written, maybe remembered). I’ve kept the skill of playing in that context. It’s a different skill than playing solo from sheet music.)

                Musical skill is more like marksmanship than it is like bicycle-riding. You keep the basic through long periods of inactivity, but it’s easy to lose the high-level skills that are honed and kept through repetitive practice.

                Re: Nazi’s and art.

                I’ve seen references to many things that the Nazi Party claimed as good “Germanic/Aryan” art and literature. Some of it was good on its own terms, and some of it is best forgotten.

                If Hitler was a vegetarian, does that make the vegetarian lifestyle suspect?

                On the other hand, the Nazi party did favor gun control. And gun control should be questioned, but not simply because the Nazi party liked it. Gun control should be questioned because it decreases the ability of the populace to resist any form of autocratic/authoritarian government.

  3. NotClauswitz says:

    For fun don’t forget latent-gay Mad Ludwig of Bavaria the Swan King, an Uber-Romantic who bankrupted his kingdom in a fit of over-decorating, and his musical idol Wagner who benefited greatly from his patronage.

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