String Instruments. Wind Instruments. Vocal Music. Chamber Music and Ensembles.
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It is among the longest operas commonly performed, usually taking around four and a half hours. The story is set in Nuremberg in the midth century. At the time, Nuremberg was a free imperial city and one of the centers of the Renaissance in Northern Europe. The story revolves around the city's guild of Meistersinger Master Singers , an association of amateur poets and musicians who were primarily master craftsmen of various trades.
The master singers had developed a craftsmanlike approach to music-making, with an intricate system of rules for composing and performing songs. The work draws much of its atmosphere from its depiction of the Nuremberg of the era and the traditions of the master-singer guild.
One of the main characters, the cobbler-poet Hans Sachs, is based on a historical figure, Hans Sachs — , the most famous of the master-singers. It is the only comedy among his mature operas he had come to reject his early Das Liebesverbot and is also unusual among his works in being set in a historically well-defined time and place rather than in a mythical or legendary setting.
It is the only mature Wagner opera based on an entirely original story, devised by Wagner himself, and in which no supernatural or magical powers or events are in evidence. It incorporates many of the operatic conventions that Wagner had railed against in his essays on the theory of opera: rhymed verse, arias , choruses , a quintet , and even a ballet.
This work included chapters on mastersong and on Hans Sachs. I had formed a particularly vivid picture of Hans Sachs and the mastersingers of Nuremberg. I was especially intrigued by the institution of the Marker and his function in rating master-songs I conceived during a walk a comic scene in which the popular artisan-poet, by hammering upon his cobbler's last, gives the Marker, who is obliged by circumstances to sing in his presence, his come-uppance for previous pedantic misdeeds during official singing contests, by inflicting upon him a lesson of his own.
Awake, the dawn is drawing near; I hear, singing in the green grove, a blissful nightingale. In addition to this, Wagner added a scene drawn from his own life, in which a case of mistaken identity led to a near-riot: this was to be the basis for the finale of act 2.
Out of this situation evolved an uproar, which through the shouting and clamour and an inexplicable growth in the number of participants in the struggle soon assumed a truly demoniacal character. It looked to me as if the whole town would break out into a riot Then suddenly I heard a heavy thump, and as if by magic the whole crowd dispersed in every direction One of the regular patrons had felled one of the noisiest rioters And it was the effect of this which had scattered everybody so suddenly.
This first draft of the story was dated "Marienbad 16 July ". Wagner later said, in Eine Mitteilung an meine Freunde A Communication to my Friends  that Meistersinger was to be a comic opera to follow a tragic opera, i.
In , Wagner first read Schopenhauer , and was struck by the philosopher's theories on aesthetics. It is for this reason that music can communicate emotion without the need for words. In his earlier essay Oper und Drama Opera and Drama —1  Wagner had derided staples of operatic construction: arias, choruses, duets, trios, recitatives, etc. As a result of reading Schopenhauer's ideas about the role of music, Wagner re-evaluated his prescription for opera, and included many of these elements in Die Meistersinger.
Although Die Meistersinger is a comedy, it also elucidates Wagner's ideas on the place of music in society, on renunciation of Wille Will , and on the solace that music can bring in a world full of Wahn delusion, folly, self-deception. It is Wahn which causes the riot in act 2 — a sequence of events arising from a case of mistaken identity, which can be seen as a form of self-delusion.
Following the completion of Tristan und Isolde , Wagner resumed work on Die Meistersinger in with a quite different philosophical outlook from that which he held when he developed his first draft. The character of Hans Sachs became one of the most Schopenhauerian of Wagner's creations. Wagner scholar Lucy Beckett  has noted the remarkable similarity between Wagner's Sachs and Schopenhauer's description of the noble man:.
We always picture a very noble character to ourselves as having a certain trace of silent sadness It is a consciousness that has resulted from knowledge of the vanity of all achievements and of the suffering of all life, not merely of one's own. The other distinctive manifestation of Sachs's character — his calm renunciation of the prospect of becoming a suitor for Eva's love — is also deeply Schopenhauerian.
Hans Sachs was clever and did not want anything of King Marke's lot. Having completed the scenario , Wagner began writing the libretto while living in Paris in , and followed this by composing the overture.
The overture was publicly performed in Leipzig on 2 November , conducted by the composer. Cosima Wagner was later to write: "When future generations seek refreshment in this unique work, may they spare a thought for the tears from which the smiles arose. Franz Strauss , the father of the composer Richard Strauss , played the French horn at the premiere, despite his often-expressed dislike of Wagner, who was present at many of the rehearsals.
Wagner's frequent interruptions and digressions made rehearsals a very long-winded affair. After one 5 hour rehearsal, Franz Strauss led a strike by the orchestra, saying that he could not play any more. Despite these problems, the premiere was a triumph, and the opera was hailed as one of Wagner's most successful works. At the end of the first performance, the audience called for Wagner, who appeared at the front of the Royal box, which he had been sharing with King Ludwig.
Wagner bowed to the crowd, breaking court protocol, which dictated that only the monarch could address an audience from the box. Nuremberg , towards the middle of the sixteenth century. Scene 1: Interior of Katharinenkirche St. After the prelude, a church service is just ending with a singing of Da zu dir der Heiland kam When the Saviour came to thee , an impressive pastiche of a Lutheran chorale , as Walther von Stolzing, a young knight from Franconia , addresses Eva Pogner, whom he had met earlier, and asks her if she is engaged to anyone.
Eva and Walther have fallen in love at first sight, but she informs him that her father, the goldsmith and mastersinger Veit Pogner, has arranged to give her hand in marriage to the winner of the guild's song contest on St. John's Day Midsummer's Day , tomorrow. Eva's maid, Magdalena, gets David, Hans Sachs's apprentice, to tell Walther about the mastersingers' art.
The hope is for Walther to qualify as a mastersinger during the guild meeting, traditionally held in the church after Mass, and thus earn a place in the song contest despite his utter ignorance of the master-guild's rules and conventions.
As the other apprentices set up the church for the meeting, David warns Walther that it is not easy to become a mastersinger; it takes many years of learning and practice. David gives a confusing lecture on the mastersingers' rules for composing and singing.
Many of the tunes he describes were real master-tunes from the period. Walther is confused by the complicated rules, but is determined to try for a place in the guild anyway.
The first mastersingers file into the church, including Eva's wealthy father Veit Pogner and the town clerk Beckmesser. Beckmesser, a clever technical singer who was expecting to win the contest without opposition, is distressed to see that Walther is Pogner's guest and intends to enter the contest.
Meanwhile, Pogner introduces Walther to the other mastersingers as they arrive. Fritz Kothner the baker, serving as chairman of this meeting, calls the roll. Pogner, addressing the assembly, announces his offer of his daughter's hand for the winner of the song contest. When Hans Sachs argues that Eva ought to have a say in the matter, Pogner agrees that Eva may refuse the winner of the contest, but she must still marry a mastersinger.
Another suggestion by Sachs, that the townspeople, rather than the masters, should be called upon to judge the winner of the contest, is rejected by the other masters. Pogner formally introduces Walther as a candidate for admission into the masterguild. Questioned by Kothner about his background, Walther states that his teacher in poetry was Walther von der Vogelweide whose works he studied in his own private library in Franconia, and his teachers in music were the birds and nature itself.
Reluctantly the masters agree to admit him, provided he can perform a master-song of his own composition. Walther chooses love as the topic for his song and therefore is to be judged by Beckmesser alone, the "Marker" of the guild for worldly matters.
At the signal to begin Fanget an! When Beckmesser has completely covered the slate with symbols of Walther's errors, he interrupts the song and argues that there is no point in finishing it.
Sachs tries to convince the masters to let Walther continue, but Beckmesser sarcastically tells Sachs to stop trying to set policy and instead, to finish making his Beckmesser's new shoes, which are overdue. Raising his voice over the masters' argument, Walther finishes his song, but the masters reject him and he rushes out of the church.
On the street corner by Pogner's and Sachs's houses. A Linde -tree tilia or lime-tree or basswood stands outside Pogner's house, a Flieder -tree syringa or lilac-tree before Sachs's. David informs Magdalena of Walther's failure. In her disappointment, Magdalena leaves without giving David the food she had brought for him. This arouses the derision of the other apprentices, and David is about to turn on them when Sachs arrives and hustles his apprentice into the workshop.
Pogner arrives with Eva, engaging in a roundabout conversation: Eva is hesitant to ask about the outcome of Walther's application, and Pogner has private doubts about whether it was wise to offer his daughter's hand in marriage for the song contest. As they enter their house, Magdalena appears and tells Eva about the rumours of Walther's failure.
Eva decides to ask Sachs about the matter. As twilight falls, Hans Sachs takes a seat in front of his house to work on new shoes for Beckmesser. He muses about Walther's song, which has made a deep impression on him Was duftet doch der Flieder , known as the Flieder Monologue. Eva approaches Sachs, and they discuss tomorrow's song contest. Eva is unenthusiastic about Beckmesser, who appears to be the only eligible contestant.
She hints that she would not mind if Sachs, a widower, were to win the contest. Though touched, Sachs protests that he would be too old a husband for her. Upon further prompting, Sachs describes Walther's failure at the guild meeting. This causes Eva to storm off angrily, confirming Sachs's suspicion that she has fallen in love with Walther.
Eva is intercepted by Magdalena, who informs her that Beckmesser is coming to serenade her. Eva, determined to search for Walther, tells Magdalena to pose as her Eva at the bedroom window. Just as Eva is about to leave, Walther appears. He tells her that he has been rejected by the mastersingers, and the two prepare to elope. However, Sachs has overheard their plans. As they are passing by, he illuminates the street with his lantern, forcing them to hide in the shadow of Pogner's house.
Walther makes up his mind to confront Sachs, but is interrupted by the arrival of Beckmesser. As Eva and Walther retreat further into the shadows, Beckmesser begins his serenade. Sachs interrupts him by launching into a full-bellied cobbling song, and hammering the soles of the half-made shoes.
Annoyed, Beckmesser tells Sachs to stop, but the cobbler replies that he has to finish tempering the soles of the shoes, whose lateness Beckmesser had publicly complained about in act 1. Beckmesser, who has spotted someone at Eva's window Magdalena in disguise , has no time to argue. He tries to sing his serenade, but he makes so many mistakes his tune repeatedly places accents on the wrong syllables of the words that from the repeated knocks Sachs finishes the shoes.
List of compositions by Glenn Gould
Richard Wagner is directly responsible for two important buildings in the Bavarian town of Bayreuth. The first is the Festspielhaus theatre , to which Wagner devotees and the German elite flock each summer for the Bayreuth festival. The second is Haus Wahnfried , in which the composer and his family lived and where he is buried in the garden and which has recently reopened as an extended museum. Stefan Herheim did the same thing in his landmark production of Parsifal. But Kosky is the first to put Wagner himself on the stage as well. The usual Nuremberg settings are absent from this production.
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