Wagner’s Gesamtkunstwerk Essay

In a missive to his married woman Alma. Gustav Mahler wrote. “There are merely [ Beethoven ] and Richard [ Wagner ] – and after that cipher. Mark that! ” ( Comini. 390 ) Merely as Beethoven revolutionized symphonic repertory. playing a polar figure in the passage from classicalism to romanticism. Wagner played a polar function in revolutionising opera. taking it from a frivolous and pathetic beginning of amusement to a invariably germinating art-form which adopted an about spiritual followers.

Beethoven paved the manner for Wagner’s art-work of the hereafter by rejecting the intellectualized Classical Time period with its pretty music and diging into more intuitive music which had the power to joint the interior convulsion of the mind more-so than any other composer of all time had. For Wagner Beethoven’s emotionally driven music culminated into the 4th motion of his Ninth Symphony. where a choir is used to make an even more precise articulation of Beethoven’s mind. It is this synthesis of music and poesy that Wagner uses as his get downing point believing that the lone following logical measure is his art-work of the hereafter.

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Before Wagner. opera was a wholly superficial. It was used as an chance to supply discontinuous. self-contained catchy melodies and supply amusement. with the secret plan of the play functioning the music. The orchestra. which functioned as the concomitant. frequently was under-rehearsed and merely knew the parts plenty to acquire through the music without any major bad lucks. Traditional opera was about action and how the characters dealt with struggles. traditional opera was about what went on outside of people.

Wagner came along and posed an wholly new theory of what opera should be. naming for a complete revaluation of German Romantic opera. Wagner believed that up until that point Greek calamity was the ideal of art and human accomplishment. Wagner cited five grounds for this:

1 ) Greek calamity represented a ‘successful combination of the arts-poetry. play. costumes. mummer. instrumental music. dance. and song and as such had greater range and expressive powers than any of the humanistic disciplines entirely. ( Magee. 5 ) Wagner believed that opera was the greatest and most fulfilling of all humanistic disciplines as it had the possible to convey together all of the humanistic disciplines. precisely in the manner Grecian calamity had done.

2 ) Grecian calamity took its capable affair from myth. Wagner had the thought that myth was the most cosmopolitan state of affairs. that everyone could place to. due to their archetypical state of affairss. By utilizing fabulous state of affairss. Wagner was spared from holding to utilize societal and political contexts which would take away from the pureness of the play. Wagner’s operas were about ’emotionalizing the intellect’ ( Magee. 9 ) . non satirising state of affairss. The alone thing about myth is that it is true for all clip ; and its content. no affair how terse or compact. is unlimited for every age. ” ( Magee. 5 )

3 ) In Grecian calamity both the content and juncture of the public presentations had spiritual significance. Wagner came to believe that his work was non merely an art-form but a new faith. In Act 1 of Wagner’s last opera Parsifal. Gurnemanz softly prays onstage. during this clip nil at all on phase is go oning and all of the sudden it is as if the audience is in the Church of Richard Wagner praying aboard Gurnemanz. ) Greek calamity was a jubilation of life. a faith of the ‘purely human’ . Wagner wanted his capable affair to be every bit human as possible so it could be about the deepest. most emotional. experiences in life. After all. Wagner’s music-drama would be about the interiors of his characters. it would be about their interior struggles much like how Beethoven’s symphonic musics were about his ain inner convulsion. As Brian Magee says in Aspects of Wagner. “Wagner’s characters are subjects merely of feeling ; of action they are objects. ( Magee. 15 )

5 ) The full community was involved in Grecian calamity. If Wagner’s new art-form was a summing up of the life and jubilation of life so what a better manner to show this than by affecting everyone. than by exhibiting the highest signifier of their accomplishment. art? Grecian calamity. and for Wagner. opera was the ideal art-form as it was ‘all-embracing ; its expressive agencies embraced all the humanistic disciplines. its capable affair embraced all human experience. and its audience embraced the whole population. ‘ ( Magee. 6 )

With the transition of clip. the Grecian calamity and its across-the-board synthesis of the humanistic disciplines dissipated go forthing the single art-forms to germinate on their ain. There are a few theories as to why this happened. but one of the most interesting is Bryan Magee’s. In speaking about the disintegration of the symbiotic nature of the humanistic disciplines he says: In any instance its available content dissolved when Grecian humanitarianism was superseded by Christianity. a faith that divided adult male against himself. learning him to look on his organic structure with shame. his emotions with intuition. sensualness with fright. sexual love with feelings of guilt.

This life. it taught. is a load. this universe a valley of cryings. our endurance of which will be rewarded art decease. which is the gateway to ageless cloud nine. in consequence this faith was. as it was bound to be. anti-art. The disaffection of adult male from his ain nature particularly his emotional nature ; the all-pervading lip service to which this gave rise throughout the Christian epoch ; the devaluation of life and the universe and hence. necessarily. their admirability ; the construct of adult male as being non a God but a worn. and a guilty one at that ; all this is deeply at odds with the very nature and being of art.

Such a faith. based as it is on the jubilation of decease and on ill will to the emotions. repudiates both the originative urge and its capable affair. Art is the jubilation of life. and the geographic expedition of life in all its facets. If life is unimportant-merely a bantam preliminary to the existent Life that is to get down with death- so art can be of merely negligible importance excessively. ” ( Magee. 6 )

Wagner didn’t want to merely convey back Grecian calamity. alternatively he wanted capitalize on what the Greeks had accomplished while looking toward the hereafter. he wanted to unite the likes of Shakespeare and Beethoven. and he believed that he was the lone 1 who could mange such a effort. “The capable becomes more interesting to me daily. because it is a inquiry here of decisions which I am the lone individual able to pull. because there ne’er has been a adult male who was a poet and instrumentalist at the same clip as I am and to whom hence penetrations into interior procedures were possible such as are non to be expected from anyone else. ” ( M. W. 81 )

In the concluding motion of Beethoven’s last symphonic music a exultant chorus joins the full orchestra. making a synthesis of two great signifiers which Wagner used as a get downing point in his ain work. However. in Beethoven’s symphonic musics Beethoven took the class dictated by music even when utilizing a choir with text. ( Magee. 10 ) For illustration. Beethoven’s music followed sonata signifier with an expounding of subjects. transition to relative keys. followed by a development and palingenesis. As emotional and intuitive that Beethoven’s music was Beethoven was still confined by the parametric quantities already set in topographic point by coevalss before him.

Wagner strove to take all of the intellectualism out of his music. As a immature adult male Wagner realized that he had someway come to an mentality that was excessively intellectualized and rational making a disparity between his personality and calling. His musical composings were rational exercisings which inhibited his development as an creative person and created a split between his work and consciously- held positions. Upon recognizing this for six old ages Wagner did non compose at all and alternatively worked to organize a new theory of composing.

In the thick of this six twelvemonth sabbatical Richard Wagner discovered the plants of the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer. whose work. Thomas Mann says. “… freed his music from bondage and gave it bravery to be itself. ” ( Magee. 76 ) Wagner wrote this upon detecting Schopenhauer’s The World as Will and Representation. “Seldom has at that place taken topographic point in the psyche of one and the same adult male so profound a division and alienation between the intuitive or unprompted portion of his nature and his consciously or moderately formed thoughts.

For I must squeal to hold arrived at a clear apprehension of my ain plants of art through the aid of another. who had provided me with the sound constructs matching to my intuitive rules. ” ( Magee. 77 ) It was Schopenhauer who. amongst many other positions. reaffirmed Wagner’s position that music entirely was the voice best used for depicting the interior nature of the universe. Schopenhauer paid particular attending to music. of which most other philosophers wrote nil. stating that music was the sui gereris. or super-art. Magee. 77 ) With this Wagner knew for certain that his art-form of the hereafter would be a music play concerned with what happens inside the character. It would analyze their mind. being largely focused on their emotions while researching the ultimate world of being and experience. He would non be concerned so much with the action of the play so much as the unchanging facets of the state of affairss. ( Magee. 8 ) Wagner’s new music play would dig into the bosom and psyche of his characters as a wholly intuitive work. based on the scrutiny of reactions instead than actions.

Traditional opera used play as a model to include tricky melodies. Richard Wagner’s music play would utilize play as a agency for music. which would be his terminals. As was mentioned earlier. Beethoven’s music. every bit intuitive as it was. still followed the sonata signifier and had transitions traveling to relative keys. Wagner’s music relied on the demands of the play. Magee gives us this illustration: If the line is ‘Love gives delectation to the living’ Wagner will remain in the same key throughout the line because love and delectation are congruous constructs.

However. if the line is ‘Love brings delectation and sorrow’ Wagner will modulate between the two incongruent words. delectation and sorrow. Wagner does this with each line making an of all time changing. of all time traveling ‘symphonic web of infinite plasticity’ . ( Magee. 10 ) With the coming of Wagner’s text- music relationship came leitmotifs. To clear up. Wagner ne’er used the term leitmotiv and it was merely after his decease that Hans von Wolzogen coined the term. Stein. 74 ) In Wagner’s book Opera and Drama these leitmotivs were called reminiscences. Jack Stein in Richard Wagner & A ; The Synthesis of the Arts says that Wagner’s most originative theory for the orchestra is Wagner’s coming of forebodings and reminiscences. Wagner thought of forebodings and reminiscences as two complementary and every bit of import maps of the orchestra. A reminiscence was a motive that had already sounded in the opera and after a first hearing of this motif the motive would go belongings of the orchestra.

Wagner assumed that the audience would instantly be associated. by the audience. with what it originally occurred making an automatically established necessary relationship between the past and present. ( Stein. 74 ) For illustration: when the audience hears a luting in Die Meistersinger they should automatically presume that Beckmesser is the point of involvement. These reminiscences are for the intent of elucidation instead than to rise dramatic involvement and Wagner warns that ‘a individual motive used without proper justification is sufficient to destruct the integrity. ( Stein. 76 ) Reminiscences are to ‘recede into the background when the emotional degree of the melodious poetry once more rises… The sounding of a motive unites a non-present conditioning emotion with the present one conditioned by it. ‘ ( Stein. 76 ) These motives are devices used to adhere together and fasten the construction of the opera.

Forebodings are motives that act as an emotional readying for the hearer for what has non yet come to go through. Their chief intent is so when the hearer hears the minute of reaching there is a connexion of feeling and emotional fond regard. All those minutes when there is no gesture. and melodious address is soundless. when the play is fixing its future class in the interior tempers as yet unuttered. these still mute tempers can be expressed by the orchestra in such a mode that their manifestation acquires the characters of a foreboding conditioned by the poet’s purpose. ” ( W. S. . IV. 186 ) In speaking about the chorus in Opera and Drama Wagner eliminates choral singing perfectly ; ensemble vocalizing. even in a group of two. is excluded.

The orchestra is to move as the chorus in an exponentially more expressive mode yet. at one point. Wagner does state. “Only in the full tide of lyric spring. when all the participants have been led to a joint look of feeling. can the composer make usage of the polyphonic mass of voices. to which he may reassign the manifestation of the harmoniousness. But even here it will stay the undertaking of the composer to do the characters portion in the spring of feeling. non as mere harmonic support for the tune.

In the harmonic texture. he must see to it that the individualism of the participants makes itself felt in definite melodious look. ” ( W. S. . IV. 164 ) In general though. the orchestra is to be considered as harmonic or melodious support instead than concomitant. as in traditional opera. Voice and orchestra were on the same degree to Wager and he believed them to be the supreme tools for conveying emotion on an innate and archetypical degree. In the instruments the cardinal variety meats of creative activity and nature are represented.

What they articulate can ne’er be clearly determined or stipulated because they render cardinal experiencing itself. emergent from the pandemonium of the first creative activity. when there may even hold been no human existences to take in into their Black Marias. The peculiar mastermind of the human voice is rather different from this. it represents the human bosom and all its de-limitable. single emotion. Because of this it is circumscribed in character. but besides specific and clear. The thing to make now is conveying the two elements together- make them one.

Set the clear. specific emotion of the human bosom. represented by the voice. against the wild cardinal feelings. with their indocile toward the infinitude. represented by the instruments. it will pacify and smooth the force of those feelings and impart their cross-currents into a individual. definite class. Meanwhile the human bosom itself. in so far as it absorbs the cardinal feelings. will be boundlessly enlarged and strengthened. and become capable of sing with godlike consciousness what antecedently had been a mere intimation of things. ( Magee. 36 )

After composing Tristan und Isolde Wagner wrote the prose work Music of the Future which he intended to be a restatement of Opera and Drama but turned out to be a reworking of Gesamtkunstwerk in a manner which was compatible with the theories of Schopenhauer. Wagner’s theory of Gesamtkunstwerk is an all-bracing art signifier that makes usage of every signifier of art. Gesamtkunstwerk in Opera and Drama is a a synthesis of Feuerbach’s mercenary sensationalism and Romantic emotionality based on the premise that Gesamtkunstwerk can merely pass on to the senses and. through them. to the emotions. The uniting mind must hold nil to make with the dramatic work of art. In the play we must go apprehenders through feeling… this feeling. nevertheless. becomes unintelligible to itself merely through itself it understand no other linguistic communication but its ain. ” ( W. S. IV. 78 ) In earlier Hagiographas. after Rheingold. Wagner realized that his position of all the humanistic disciplines being every bit of import and used every bit was a spot idealistic and decided that all of the humanistic disciplines had a assortment of expressive potency with music possessing the most power to link emotionally.

Bryan Magee says. “After Rheingold music makes up an ever-increasing proportion of the substance of each work until the last two. Gotterdamnerung and Parsifal. the orchestra instead than any of the characters is the supporter. ” ( Magee. 76 ) In Music of the Future Wagner begins to travel off from his theory that there must be a treble brotherhood of music. ocular action. poesy and alternatively accepts a double synthesis of play and music with a strong accent of music. And still. even after all of this Wagner was non yet done make overing the whole of German Romantic opera!

Wagner even put his libretto under close examination devising certain that it communicated the most emotional. organic sounds possible. Wagner believed that the Golden Age of linguistic communication was spoiled by the unreal regulations and conventions that a subsequently. more complex civilisation imposed on the human linguistic communication. He believed that linguistic communication originated with the demand to show one’s ego and emotional reactions. ( Stein. 70 ) To Wagner. vowel sounds were the most crude sound a adult male could do as it was. “the nonvoluntary look of interior feeling. ” ( WS IV 92 ) Consonances were subsequently dded to joint more briefly more. and different. objects than merely vowels entirely could. As civilisation became more intellectualized and lost its capacity for nonvoluntary emotion. address lost its tune. initial rhyme broke down. and prose resulted. Today’s linguistic communication is merely a agency for minds to discourse and therefore can non be used as linguistic communication for an ideal play. ( Stein. 70 ) Wagner’s Gesamtkunstwerk called for a poetic poetry that was so closely intertwined with the tune that the text could be considered as musical counterpoint. an indivisible unit to the music.

Wagner called this “die Versmelodie” or melodious poetry ( Stein. 71 ) . a tool which would finish his original vow to finish entirely to emotion. Jack Stein explains one of Wagner’s patterns of making ‘die Versmelodie’ as therefore: “… when the precise quantitative relation between accented and atonic syllables of the poetic poetry is observed by the melodious line. the stronger rhythmic force of the music will beef up the basic form of the poetry. doing possible the articulation of emotional nuances otherwise impossible to enter. ( Stein. 72 ) Wagner farther ensured that his ‘die Versmelodie’ was as emotionally appealing as possible by puting speech patterns on different beats of the step with round one as the strongest. round three as a secondary speech pattern. crush two as wholly atonic. and beat four being the weakest. Wagner would besides put words to more or less emphasized stairss on the tonic graduated table and set certain words to higher or lower pitches. The devices Wagner used to make the most emotionally driven. melodious ‘die Versmelodie’ are legion.

It is no admiration that after seting so much idea and item into his ‘art work of the future’ that his ulterior operas are amongst the most amazing plants of art in the history of civilisation. Wagner’s operas Tristan and Isolde. Die Meistersinger. and Parsifal are stupefying illustrations of Wagner’s theories realized. and taken even further. with critics traveling so far as to state that Wagner’s subsequently works stay its ain sound-world throughout the entireness of the opera with each opera holding a distinguishable and distinguishable exactness from the others. with everything about it being contained and portion of that one alone sound-world. Magee. 80 ) Of Tristan and Isolde. Wagner said that while composing the opera he experienced such freedom and deficiency of contemplation that he had forgotten all theory and hence experienced the most satisfaction and fulfilment out of this work than any other. ( WS VII 119 ) This is so much so that within one twelvemonth of completing Tristan and Isolde Wagner was already back to work revising the theories that he had antecedently dictated while composing Opera and Drama.

This revised theory appeared in his prose essay “Music of the Future” . Wagner wrote this essay to reexamine the rules and theory he outlined in Opera and Drama but alternatively used it to laud the music as an independent art signifier. ( Stein. 149 ) Wagner still employs many of the same techniques he discussed in Opera and Drama but accepts poesy and music as able to move as separate and legitimate signifiers of art.

Still. Wagner says that the strongest art lays in the synthesis of music and poesy. Merely as the poet needs the instrumentalist so besides the musician needs the poet. because the disclosures of music can non be brought to the hearer every bit long as he is still bound to the Torahs of causality. The hearer is moved emotionally but is still bound to the Torahs of causality. The hearer is moved emotionally but is confused by the new values which are being revealed. and in his uncertainness he grasps for the support of those Torahs to which he is accustomed. He asks the inquiry: Why?

He can have no reply from the music. The dramatic poet. aware of his capablenesss of the music. must here come to the listener’s assistance. By projecting his dramatic verse form in a signifier in which it penetrates into the most delicate togss of the musical texture the poet can so wholly capture the emotional understanding of the hearer by the seeable public presentation of a life-like action that the hearer is transported into an enraptured province in which he no longer experience his connexion with the causal universe and submits himself to the new Torahs which are revealed to him by the music. ( WS VII 112 ) The verse form Wagner uses employs the tools of initial rhyme. rime. and vowel rhyme ; although Wagner in Opera and Drama was inexorable about non utilizing rimes as he believed it to put undue accent on the last syllable of the line. he is highly careful about doing the rhyming word the cardinal word in the phrase.

The secret plan of Tristan and Isolde involves small external action which focused the centre of attending to the interior psychological science and emotions of the characters and Wagner takes particular attending to fit word and tone as they increase or decrease in emotional ntensity. For illustration: The first act of Tristan and Isolde involves a long narrative by Isolde associating the events which preceded the scene of the opera but are built-in for the audience’s understand of the secret plan. In Act I. Isolde sings. “To ramping storm’ wild vortex. thrust from its slumber this woolgathering sea. aftermath from the deepnesss of its grouching greed! Show it the loot I offer!

If it will shatter this noncompliant ship. the ruin’s wreckage it may devour! ” and through out the tone of the voice and the tune mirror one another up until the flood tide where Isolde sings “zerschlag” intending ‘if it will’ . The flood tide of the line is on the 2nd syllable of zerschlag stressing the drawn-out vowel sound which besides helps keep the flood tide of the subdivision even longer.