Verdi Vs. Wagner, And Why They Disliked Each Other's Music | Here & Now
They really probably never did meet: Richard Wagner and Giuseppe Verdi, the main figures of German and Italian oepra of the nineteenth century, never. He was supportive of Wagner when that composer faced harsh criticism in Paris The two men met in Bologna in June , and Verdi quickly. Wagner was then at the peak of his influence and prestige, while Verdi survived chiefly by means of a handful of stubbornly popular repertory.
Roger Scruton, philosopher and writer on music Wagner stands out among great composers as being also a great intellectual. He understood the modern world and its spiritual anguish, and provided modern people with the mythical narrative in which they could come to consciousness of their predicament. He was also the true inventor of modern harmony and one of the greatest masters of counterpoint in the history of music. Wagner could not conceivably have composed a masterpiece like Otello, in which the extremes of passion achieve an entirely natural melodic flow; Verdi could not conceivably have composed a masterpiece like The Valkyrie, in which a profound metaphysical idea is made concrete, haunting and believable.
David Pountney, artistic director, Welsh National Opera Verdi composed the drama of melody, melodrama, contrast. Wagner, that of ideas and transformation.
Who else can join their club? Handel, Mozart, and Janacek. Strauss and Puccini never transcended their supreme level of competence, both leaving the genre where they found it and sinking into decline. Verdi and Wagner each spent a lifetime pushing the boundaries of the form and their role within it, and were still redefining themselves till the very end.
Giuseppe Verdi - Wikipedia
Who may join them in the 21st century? George Benjamin has the talent, the taste and the skill. But as with Bizet, Berg, Debussy and Shostakovich, one masterpiece is not enough to join this exclusive club. He has another five operas to write Every one of his operas has its own special tone and atmosphere, what Verdi called a tinta.
Wagner was born on the other side of the Alps, and that makes a profound difference. For me Wagner is one of the great symphonic composers of the 19th century, and it allows him to capture infinite fine shades of feeling, but on an epic scale.
Whereas Verdi catches a feeling in one pithy phrase.
Verdi is very physical — you get sweaty conducting his music — whereas Wagner needs small movements. Traviata is a three-shirt opera, Parsifal I can do in one.《BBC Great Composers》: Wagner
Peter Konwitschny, director of productions, Leipzig Opera Which is the greater composer? He borrowed money from friends with pledges to repay, but frequently not honouring those promises. It was almost as if, shortly after fleeing Saxony, Wagner became convinced that his genius should be supported by others rather than by his own toil in the grubby world of theatre.
He never lost that conviction. He was near ruin again and in hiding from debtors when 18—year—old King Ludwig II of Bavaria ascended the throne.
An admirer of Wagner and his work, the gay king provided the composer with a generous state annuity for the rest of his life. This was not enough, and Wagner shamelessly took advantage of the weak royal to secure astonishing amounts of money from him. Wagner would periodically undertake character assassination of former friends — for example, of the great opera composer Giacomo Meyerbeer, from whom he borrowed both musical ideas and money.
Many historians believe his thought and writings contributed to the horrors of the Holocaust. Neither did Wagner have scruples in respect to women. Even so, his second wife Cosima — much younger, and the daughter by a married French countess of piano virtuoso and composer Franz Liszt — was devoted to him throughout her long adult life. Both understood that he had an astonishing genius, and went to great lengths to soften the memory of his many personal flaws.
They wanted history to remember him for more than his musical creations. The Musical Legacies Just as their lives and personalities were strangely parallel but wildly different, so are their musical legacies. The two men went through three periods of composition which were roughly parallel in time. Each got better with age and experience. Each was a product of the prevailing Romanticism of the age.
There the similarities end. Verdi refined and virtually perfected the operatic tradition that had developed in Italy and France. He relied heavily on his gift for creating melody as the basis of opera but also took full advantage of the expressive power of the orchestra.
Some of his many orchestral innovations are so closely identified with the composer that to this day other composers will not use them. Verdi was one of the first composers to insist on patiently seeking out plots to suit his particular talents. Aware that dramatic expression was his strength, he worked closely with his librettists — primarily Francesco Maria Piave, but later in life Arrigo Boito, who was a fine composer as well as a librettist.
His aim was to make certain that the libretto had no unnecessary detail or superfluous participants. In his best operas, only characters brimming with passion and scenes rich in drama remained. Above all, Verdi was a dramatist of human passions. His music was so fittingly made for this purpose that even absurd plots made sense once he had developed their scores — Il Trovatore, for example. He was concerned with the human condition and the experiences of human life. His characters were vehicles for humanity — not for idealism or the expression of religious truths.
His characterizations were superb, and every drama — melodrama, some critics would complain — was superbly crafted. He frequently adapted stage plays, achieving notable successes with the work of William Shakespeare — Macbeth, Otello, and Falstaff.
His dramatizations of dynamic relationships often love triangles are brilliant, although they sometimes lead to the suggestion that he was all about melodrama.
This is not true. His operas have great depth. Aware that he was a musical descendant of the Renaissance composer Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrine, Verdi famously proposed that turning to the past is a way to progress. His respect for the past notwithstanding, Verdi pushed the limits of compositional colour in ways that are technically appreciated by specialists, but which audiences instinctively love.
His greatest work drew from North European mythology and German philosophy rather than from history and real events. His extraordinary four—part, 17—hour Der Ring des Nibelung reflects a vision of the creation and development of the world itself.
It virtually takes place outside of time. Part of the intent of this work was to create a foundation of myths for the gathering German culture and nation. His characterizations were idealizations rather than real people.
Wagner turned his back on German musical tradition. He created deeply philosophical tales with meaning that went beyond human passion, but after discovering the work of the still obscure philosopher Schopenhauer rejected his earlier ideas. Instead, he came to believe that pure music is an essential expression of a metaphysical will. Their complex musical development illuminates the progress of the drama. As an individual, Wagner was as complex as anyone who ever lived. For all his faults, he had stupendous power and inexhaustible vitality.
Through his operas, theoretical essays and self—promotion, Wagner exerted a vast influence on the art of the 19th century.
Verdi or Wagner?
Because of its unprecedented exploration of emotional expression, his musical style is often considered the epitome of Romantic music. He introduced new ideas in harmony and musical form, including extreme chromaticism — the use of tonal discord to convey musical ideas. In Tristan und Isolde, he explored the limits of the traditional tonal system that gave keys and chords their identity.
Bricks and Mortar Toward the end of their lives, each man left a bricks-and-mortar testament. It is the exclusive venue for the annual Bayreuth Festival, for which it was specifically conceived and built.
The building was first opened for the premiere of Der Ring des Nibelung from August 13, to August 17, The opera house was innovative, its most famous feature being an unusual orchestra pit. It is recessed under the stage and covered by a hood, making the orchestra invisible to the audience.
This feature was a central preoccupation for Wagner, since it made the audience concentrate on the drama onstage, rather than the distracting motion of the conductor and musicians.
Since its opening inthe Bayreuth Festival has become a socio-cultural phenomenon.