{Father of the Bride} ~ Richard Wagner

Spring turns to Summer, and weddings dominate social events.
As the father walks the bride down the aisle it is very likely that the music which accompanies each step will be that of Wilhelm Richard Wagner, who was born 200 years ago on this day, and whose Bridal Chorus from Lohengrin has become arguably the most requested piece of music to mark this most solemn and joyous occassion in the Western world. 

Puccini famously quipped that a Wagner performance contained " wonderful moments but terrible quarters of an hour."  Certainly, compared to Puccini's operas, Wagner's work is an acquired taste. He turned to myths and legends feeling these spoke to a deeper reality which transported the viewer beyond the everyday.  If you like Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, and Lord of the Ring you will feel right at home in a Wagner opera.  Indeed, Wagner's 'Ring Cycle' has been dubbed 'the Lord of the Rings for grownups' preceding Tolkien's books and surpassing them for depth and profoundness of thought.

Wagner was father to the 'Gesamtkunstwerk' or 'total work of art', which 'synthesized poetry, drama, and the visual arts producing ....one of the highest achievements of European culture on a par with the drama of ancient Greece'. His innovations at Bayreuth, where the orchestra was hidden from the audience so one only saw the drama on stage, became the norm for operatic performance.  His 'Tristan chord' taken from the opening of the opera 'Tristan and Isolde', is said to have ushered in atonalism which changed Western music in all forms.  He was father to the 'leitmotif'  - a form of dramatic storytelling in music where a character or setting is given a musical phrase for the audience to remember [considering Wagner's operas clocked in at five hours, a personalized 'ringtone' for each character would prompt the audience to reflect if not to waken]. If Hollywood is any indication, [think of 'Jaws' and the theme of the shark; think of 'Star Wars' and the music of the Empire; think 'Doctor Zhivago' and "Laura's Theme' and you see the Wagnerian 'leitmotiv' in practice] we are all 'Wagnerans'.


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