History Of Western Music

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In this essay I am going to be looking at Richard Wagner’s most Influential Opera’s “ Der Ring Des Nibelungen” also known as ‘The ring Cycle.' This cycle is made up of four operas.It begins with the beginning of the world and ends with the fall of the world. This piece begins as a mythic story and ends with modern humanity. This work in total is sixteen hours in length.I will be looking at the story behind the first opera or introduction entitled ‘Das Rheingold,' as well as his use of motifs and his use of development throughout the opera. The aim of this essay is to give a brief understanding of the complexity of western music in the 1800s.

Richard Wagner: Background
Richard Wagner was born in 1813 in Liepzig,Germany.Wagner, as a child had a great passion for writing poetry, but his musical interests were left aside until he was eighteen.At eighteen he began lessons with Theodor Weinlig in Leipzig Germany, for a year. His career began in 1833, when he became choral director in Wurzburg Germany. Around this time he began composing and was composing in imitation of German Romantic composers such as Ludwig Van Beethoven, who was his biggest influence at this time.
Wagner’s first opera was composed in 1833 called “Die Feen” (The fairies). This work however was not produced until after the composers death. During the years 1834 and 1836 he worked as the music director of the theatre in Madgeburg, where he composed his next work “Das Liebesverbot” (Forbidden Love).In 1837 he began working as the first musical director of the theatre in Riga, Russia, where he remained until 1839.
After this Wagner moved to Paris France, in hopes that this would be where he would make his fortune. However Wagner grew a hatred for the Fr...

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... hear the gold motif again.
There are various other new motifs that are introduced at this point, to signify the Tarnhelm etc.Each motif in this opera is used to signify the importance of certain characters,scenes,objects,feelings. No melodic phrase is without its importance or contribution to the storyline. They are used to set the scenes that are happening or that are yet to come. A number of the motifs heard in this particular opera, are also heard in the later operas with some variations.

The complexity of this opera is witnessed straight away with the first few leitmotifs that are introduced. The most notable thing about these leitmotifs is that they are very strong both melodically and rhythmically. Each motif serves a purpose, and there is almost no musical phrase used without context.He successfully portrays emotion through musical development.
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