Parsifal, Wagner’s final musik-drama, is an epic tale about the Knights of the Holy Grail and the salvation of man from his own corruption. The particular man, Amfortas, owes his corruption to the feminine wiles of Kundry, the only named female character who appears onstage in the entire four-and-a-half-hourlong work. However, Amfortas is not the … [Read more…]
Opera’s biggest stars are and always have been women. The headliners and the titles are most often female, like Renee Fleming and Carmen. Carmen, Bizet’s classic work about a strong-willed Gypsy woman who refuses to bow to male control, is one of the most accessible standards of the operatic repertoire, which makes it an ideal … [Read more…]
Ludwig van Beethoven’s sole opera, Fidelio (centered on a heroic wife who travels in disguise to save her imprisoned husband), went through three versions and countless revisions, eventually culminating in the 1814 version most often performed today. The work belongs to a long tradition of rescue operas following the French Revolution. These operas typically involve … [Read more…]
The 12th-century Occitan troubadour culture produced hundreds of songs – a lyric and musical legacy illustrating a world of chivalry, courtly love, knights, and ladies. Though the artists of this culture were mostly male, a healthy number of female “trobairitzes” contributed as well. Disappointingly, however, only one trobairitz song remains fully intact with text and … [Read more…]
The Ra Expeditions is a musical work for fixed media that I composed in spring of 2014. The title comes from a particular transatlantic voyage of Thor Heyerdahl, in which he sailed Ra, a boat he made out of papyrus. The piece was created by recording various household, non-musical sounds, including the crumpling of paper … [Read more…]
Beaumarchais’s play Le Mariage de Figaro and Mozart and Da Ponte’s operatic adaptation of the play, Le nozze di Figaro, were created under the shadow of government censorship. While both were heavily altered by their authors to satisfy the censors, Mozart and Da Ponte’s version is more commonly referred to as “toned down” and “bourgeois” … [Read more…]
Wagner’s work Parsifal is closely linked to antiquity and the epic tradition in its ambition and vision. While it is well-known that his Der Ring des Nibelungen was inspired in numerous ways by Aeschylus’ Oresteia, I contend that Wagner’s Parsifal has important connections with Homer, especially The Odyssey. Jessika Castillo-Rivera, ’14 Munster, IN Majors: Classical … [Read more…]
One of Richard Wagner’s greatest and most controversial characters is that of Kundry from his final opera, Parsifal. He gives her great psychological depth and, therefore, complex narrative and symbolic power through her own actions as well as through the way other characters talk about her.
In this project, I will explore the programing language of Pure Data to create an electroacoustic composition. Developed by Miller S. Puckette, Pure Data is an open source, dataflow, programming language similar to Max/MSP that involves connecting functional objects in a series of time-based processes.
Ludwig II, King of Bavaria, connected with Wagner’s characters on a more personal wavelength than any other individual in history. Because of his rarefied upbringing and consequently lofty worldview, he saw the great composer’s art as none of his contemporaries could. In Ludwig, Wagner found his perfect audience, a man uniquely equipped to appreciate the … [Read more…]
For nineteenth-century composer Richard Wagner, animal rights and vegetarianism were both important issues. As a composer, philosopher, and artist, he advocated for humane treatment of animals; however, his motives were not always clear. Besides an overwhelming sense of compassion for animals, he also had complex notions of their relation to purity. This paper contains an … [Read more…]
Richard Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde incorporates and expands upon aspects of Arthur Schopenhauer’s philosophy. Schopenhauer philosophized that an undifferentiated force, known as the ‘will,’ drives us to fulfill desires that are insatiable.
One of the characteristics of opera that consistently recurs throughout its history is the femme fatale, the female character who gains power by means of her sexuality and is destroyed prior to the conclusion of the work. What made the femme fatale so dangerous?
Richard Wagner’s career and personality were a mass of contradictions. In addition to being a composer, he was a revolutionary, a royal pensioner, and a political exile. His writings include the arenas of art, politics, history, and social thought.
In a post-Wagnerian musical world, the second Viennese school was a ground-breaking collective of composers focused on exploring new methods of writing and understanding music. At the onset of the twentieth century, the traditional concept of tonality had been destroyed, leaving composers to create unity in music through other means.
As a curatorial intern at the National Music Museum over the summer of 2009, I spent twelve weeks cataloging part of the museum’s collection of over 500 zithers. The museum’s vast collection of these stringed folk instruments was naturally varied and so entailed careful research and organization for identification purposes.
At the core of Adolf Hitler’s devastating dictatorial regime lay a desire to unite the Volk (the German people), an end he set out to achieve through racial purification.
Depictions of the banjo in the visual arts and literature of the Harlem Renaissance are reflective of both the banjo’s painful associations with black-face minstrelsy and its importance as a source of reclaimed heritage for Afro-Americans of the time.
Writing in Vienna and in the style of Mozart and Haydn, Beethoven composed his first six string quartets between 1798 and 1800. The resulting work, Opus 18, was published in 1801, and provides important insight into Beethoven’s first experimentation within the genre.
It is undeniable that Richard Wagner was one of the most prominent and influential composers of his time.
The operas of Richard Wagner have been mined since their premieres for their psychological content and possible interpretations.
Hector Berlioz and Richard Wagner wrote essays that revolutionized conducting after 1850. The history and development of the conductor up to their time is presented, followed by a summary of practical conducting elements in each essay.
Musical borrowing: the intentional integration of previously-composed material into a new composition. Such borrowing has been an integral facet of music composition throughout music history, and was particularly important during the Medieval and Renaissance eras.
In the late 1960s Miles Davis began experimenting with electronic instruments and incorporating elements of “Rock n’ Roll” into his music, especially in his recordings In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew.
This lecture will provide a brief history of temperament, focusing upon the four most important temperament systems.
Since its initial appearance on the 1983 album War, “ Sunday Bloody Sunday” has become one of U2’s most popular singles, and a staple at live performances.
John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins, two important tenor sax players of the Hard Bop style of jazz, embraced two different approaches to improvisation; the scalar approach and the harmonic approach.
Wagner continues to exert a major influence in the world, even today. His use of leitmotifs enabled an unprecedented unity between stage drama and music.
After declaring his career as a composer over, Brahms composed the Opus 118 Piano Pieces.
During the nineteenth century, London was a city filled with musical opportunities for people from every social class.
In my lecture/presentation, I will introduce Schoenberg’s “new music” and composing style and show how his Drei Klavierstucke (Three Piano Pieces) was an important factor in the creation of the “new music.”
“Why I Can Never Play Jazz,” which grew out of Eng. 349 Jazz: Fact Film and Fiction, links my personal experiences with classical music with the jazz art form.
Brahms published his Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Handel (Op.24) in 1861.
Schumann’s Myrthen cycle (Op. 25, 1840) was created as a musical diary to express love between a woman and a man with all of its struggles and joys.
Tristan and Isolde is considered one of the most emotionally gripping operas ever written, and is, perhaps, Richard Wagner’s greatest work.
According to William W. Austin, author of Music in the 20th Century, “Debussy’s music diverged radically from the common practice of his predecessors….” My lecture will focus on the differences between Debussy’s music and that of the common practice era, using Debussy’s Syrinx for solo flute as a basis for my comparison.
Many writers of jazz fiction have shown that jazz is at once a history, a religion, and a language, with a common base in the Black culture.