Wagner, Ring Cycle, Gesamtkunstwerk, leitmotif, total artwork, music drama, opera
Richard Wagner is one of the most renowned composers of the Romantic period, due to his intensely emotional music, captivating operatic plots, and his unique idea to combine visual art, vocal music, and instrumental music in an unprecedented way. His music is acclaimed for being highly progressive for its time; Wagner also held unique philosophical beliefs which formed the foundation for his music. Wagner’s pioneering ideas about art, music, and the way they should be paired together led to the composition of many operas that still have a place in the permanent repertoire today, including Der Ring des Nibelungen, or the Ring cycle. The Ring cycle is the pinnacle of Wagner’s compositional career. Though his previous operas were innovative, it was the Ring into which Wagner poured his most groundbreaking ideas, taking over twenty years to complete it. The cycle consists of four independent operas that contain a continuous storyline and musical themes, all tied together through leitmotifs and equally featuring instrumental music, vocal music, and visual art. Ultimately, Richard Wagner’s philosophies about art and music led to his use of leitmotifs and his support of Gesamtkunstwerk, which influenced his compositional techniques in the Ring cycle.
Peront, Soraya A.
"Total Artwork: Wagner's Philosophies on Art and Music in the Ring Cycle,"
Musical Offerings: Vol. 13:
1, Article 2.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.cedarville.edu/musicalofferings/vol13/iss1/2
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