Happy Birthday Wagner!

Well it does to the people who post here... dispassionate and reasoned debate, with a good deal of humour thrown in for good measure.

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JW
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Happy Birthday Wagner!

Post by JW »

200 years old and going strong - though liturgically a very minor influence - if you ignore the Wedding March from Lohengrin and perhaps the Pilgrim's Chorus from Tannhauser. Does anyone one use anything else of his?
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alan29
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Re: Happy Birthday Wagner!

Post by alan29 »

And the 29th is the centenary of the first performance of the Rite of Spring ........ I have to confess that my playing has sometimes sounded as though it was under its influence.

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Re: Happy Birthday Wagner!

Post by Peter »

Parsifal includes some fine liturgies of the Holy Grail, though nothing we could use at Mass - no connection with the Grail Psalm translations we use. :)

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Re: Happy Birthday Wagner!

Post by dmu3tem »

Perhaps we should also recall that Wagner became a rabid anti-semite.

It has been argued (by Howard Goodall no less) that Parsifal (as well as The Meistersingers) is a vehicle for such ideas and that it was exploited by the Nazi party for this reason.

Does this mean we should necessarily use any of his music?

A Jewish friend of mine described how at a synagague in Philadelphia someone decided to use the Wedding March. As soon as it started there was a sound of scuffling and the electronic PA system on which it depended was disconnected by the outraged officiant!

Note that it is also the centenary of Benjamin Britten's birth. He wrote lots of church music; yet he also (in some people's eyes) has had a questionable career and beliefs.

In other words we have the same problem as with Wagner. Can we separate the person from their music?
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musicus
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Re: Happy Birthday Wagner!

Post by musicus »

dmu3tem wrote:Note that it is also the centenary of Benjamin Britten's birth. He wrote lots of church music; yet he also (in some people's eyes) has had a questionable career and beliefs.

Really?

What do some people think was questionable about his career? (In the light of recent research, I mean; not the homophobic comments of Walton and others)
As to his beliefs, in a BBC interview on his 50th birthday he said, "I'm certainly a dedicated Christian, but I must confess I am influenced by the Bishop of Woolwich and Bonhoeffer, and those people whom he quotes, and at the moment I don't find myself worshipping as regularly as perhaps I will later." I'm not sure Vaughan Williams would have gone as far as that.
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Nick Baty
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Re: Happy Birthday Wagner!

Post by Nick Baty »

I'm quite fascinated by the fact that Wagner enjoyed dressing in corsets and other ladies' undergarments! Not sure I could compose why so tightly laced.

Britten wrote lots of music on sacred themes. However, I don't think he wrote anything liturgical apart from one Mass setting which many of us would consider not-/un-/non-liturgical apart from the venue for which it was written. But hear the trees breathing at the beginning of A Midsummer Night's Dream, and forgive him everything.
Last edited by Nick Baty on Fri May 24, 2013 5:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Happy Birthday Wagner!

Post by Nick Baty »

That's it! Will have to listen to the Serenade and/or Saint Nicholas now. A Britten evening beckons, all inspired by this forum!

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Re: Happy Birthday Wagner!

Post by JW »

Regarding Wagner, I'm personally reluctant to consider that people are beyond the pale for their beliefs or actions, however abhorrent. I don't see why we should deprive ourselves of glorious music because of those beliefs. Bearing in mind that there were many anti semitic riots, banishments and killings in England in medieval times I suspect that, "there but for the grace of God, go I."

I suspect many revered Catholics were anti semitic. St John Chrysostom preached 8 sermons against the Jews. St Vincent Ferrer's Good Friday sermon supports the error that Judaism brought the blood of Christ upon themselves and he is reputed to have 'converted' (my quotes) 25,000 Jews in Spain.

Even in modern times, Benedict XVI's overture to the Society of Piux X took place in spite of anti Semitism within the group - was he so naïve / ignorant about this group at the time? The Jewish Daily Forward article on the Pope's retirement is headlined "Pope Benedict leaves behind mixed record of relations with Jews"

Regarding Britten, his conscientious objector status and non participation in WW2 will most likely be debated by musical historians for years to come.

Lets just enjoy what people have contributed to our culture and knowledge without judging them too harshly.
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Re: Happy Birthday Wagner!

Post by Nick Baty »

JW wrote:Regarding Wagner, I'm personally reluctant to consider that people are beyond the pale for their beliefs or actions, however abhorrent. Lets just enjoy what people have contributed to our culture and knowledge without judging them too harshly.
I agree with you in principle but it depends how close you are to the event. I can't listen to Lloyd Webber without remembering that he arranged Purcell's music from Abdelazer, as a Tory party anthem and that he invited Th*tch*r to an early performance of Phantom of the Opera. Yes, let's concentrate on the work but can we forgive composers for using music to promote such nauseating philosophies.

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Re: Happy Birthday Wagner!

Post by Southern Comfort »

musicus wrote:Really?

What do some people think was questionable about his career? (In the light of recent research, I mean; not the homophobic comments of Walton and others)


It's not the homosexuality, it's the other extramural activities that I think may have been being referred to.

Nick Baty wrote:Britten wrote lots of music on sacred themes. However, I don't think he wrote anything liturgical apart from one Mass setting which many of us would consider not-/un-/non-liturgical apart from the venue for which it was written.


How about the Jubilate in C, or the Ceremony of Carols which is at least para-liturgical.

Nick Baty wrote:can we forgive composers for using music to promote such nauseating philosophies.


Well, you'll probably have to stop listening to quite a lot of music if you go down that road. Richard Strauss is the first name that springs to mind.

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Re: Happy Birthday Wagner!

Post by JW »

And you could always ban Handel for writing music for castrati and Beethoven for claiming that women couldn't write symphonies.
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Re: Happy Birthday Wagner!

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Southern Comfort wrote:Well, you'll probably have to stop listening to quite a lot of music if you go down that road. Richard Strauss is the first name that springs to mind.
As I said earlier, it all depends how close you are to someone – or what you learn about them. Look at the way Eric Gill was vilified once his daughter spilled the beans.

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Re: Happy Birthday Wagner!

Post by alan29 »

What about Bach who had 24 kids and practised every night on the spinet upstairs?

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Re: Happy Birthday Wagner!

Post by musicus »

Southern Comfort wrote:
musicus wrote:Really?

What do some people think was questionable about his career? (In the light of recent research, I mean; not the homophobic comments of Walton and others)


It's not the homosexuality, it's the other extramural activities that I think may have been being referred to.

Nick Baty wrote:Britten wrote lots of music on sacred themes. However, I don't think he wrote anything liturgical apart from one Mass setting which many of us would consider not-/un-/non-liturgical apart from the venue for which it was written.


How about the Jubilate in C, or the Ceremony of Carols which is at least para-liturgical.

Nick Baty wrote:can we forgive composers for using music to promote such nauseating philosophies.


Well, you'll probably have to stop listening to quite a lot of music if you go down that road. Richard Strauss is the first name that springs to mind.


As to Britten, yes, SC, I agree. I was referring to John Bridcut's research in Britten's Children (2006). Other liturgical works include the early Te Deum in C and the later one in E. Also the Hymns to St Peter and St Columba.
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Re: Happy Birthday Wagner!

Post by musicus »

alan29 wrote:What about Bach who had 24 kids and practised every night on the spinet upstairs?

Or, as I heard it put once, "the spinster".
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