Tag Archives: classical music

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Our Wagner, Only Better:
Harry Partch, Wild Boy of American Music, Part 3

4,566 words

harrypartch[1]Part 3 of 3

Lacking the notion of radical traditionalism, Partch’s audiences tended to misunderstand him, by assimilating him to either of two reassuringly familiar roles: as either an “Orientalist” or some kind of “avant-garde” radical.

These were two things that infuriated Partch as failures to understand what he was doing. The first, beloved of lazy though positive reviewers and polite guests, was to say something like “It’s very Oriental, isn’t it?”[1] In a very superficial sense, it is—it seems mostly gongs and mallets, with nary a string instrument to be found— Read more …

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Our Wagner, Only Better:
Harry Partch, Wild Boy of American Music, Part 2

Harry Partch, June 24, 1901–September 3, 1974

Harry Partch, June 24, 1901–September 3, 1974

4,834 words

Part 2 of 3

Rejecting the equal temperament and concert traditions that have dominated western music, Harry Partch adopted the pure intervals of just intonation and devised a 43-tone-to-the-octave scale, Read more …

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Wagner Bicentennial Symposium 
Wagner’s Place in the Germanic Tradition
Part 4: Wotan & the Faustian West

WagnerFestage2,783 words

Part 4 of 8

Wotan and the Faustian West

As noted in the Introduction to this essay, at the time of the Ring’s conception Wagner was an anarchist revolutionary. Major influences on his thinking included Bakunin, Feuerbach, Hegel, and possibly Marx (though of these only Bakunin was an anarchist). Read more …

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Our Wagner, Only Better:
Harry Partch, Wild Boy of American Music, Part 1

5,476 words

Harry Partch, June 24, 1901–September 3, 1974

Harry Partch, June 24, 1901–September 3, 1974

Part 1 of 3

“In a healthy culture differing musical philosophies would be coexistent, not mutually exclusive; and they would build from Archean granite, and not, as our one musical system of today builds, from the frame of an inherited keyboard, and from the inherited forms and instruments of Europe’s 18th century. And yet anyone who even toys with the idea of looking beyond these legacies for materials and insight is generally considered foolhardy if not actually a publicity-seeking mountebank.” – Harry Partch, Genesis of a Music  Read more …

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Wagner Bicentennial Symposium 
Wagner’s Place in the Germanic Tradition
Part 2: The Story of Der Ring des Nibelungen

wotanfarewell133,462 words

Part 2 of 8

The Story of Der Ring des Nibelungen

For the uninitiated, I will now tell the story of the Ring, confining myself to essentials. Even the initiated would do well to read this summary, just to re-familiarize themselves with the story, as the account of Wagner’s use of the source material to follow will presuppose that one is well-acquainted with the events of all four operas. Read more …

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Wagner Bicentennial Symposium 
Parsifal & the Possibility of Transcendence

hacker4,392 words

In 1878 Nietzsche sent a copy of his book Human, All Too Human to Richard Wagner. At the same time Wagner sent Nietzsche a copy of the verse for his opera Parsifal. Nietzsche was later to write that when received this text, “I felt as if I heard an ominous sound – as if two swords had crossed.”[1] Read more …

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Wagner Bicentennial Symposium 
Wagner, Nietzsche, & the New Suprahumanist Myth, Part 3

brekerstudio2,835 words

Part 3 of 3

IV.

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Wagner Bicentennial Symposium 
Wagner, Nietzsche, & the New Suprahumanist Myth, Part 2

Wagner-Death-Mask-Syberberg-Parsifal2,373 words

Part 2 of 3

III.

Given the concept of “tendency,” it is easy to see an intimate relation between the work of Wagner and of Nietzsche. Read more …

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Wagner Bicentennial Symposium 
Wagner, Nietzsche, & the New Suprahumanist Myth, Part 1

4,140 words

Richard Wagner, Gem. von Franz v.Stuck - Richard Wagner, Paint. by Franz v.Stuck -Part 1 of 3

“I simply said to you that Wagner was the greatest man who ever lived. I didn’t say that he was God himself, but I was tempted . . .”

– Pierre Louÿs (letter to Debussy)

“‘Let us look one century ahead, and let us suppose my attack against two thousand years of unnaturalness and the desecration of man should succeed. Read more …

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Wagner Bicentennial Symposium 
Rage Against the Machine:
A Very American Ring Cycle

The great Wagner Machine--Siegfried and Brunnhilde in Goetterdaemmerung

The great Wagner Machine–Siegfried and Brünnhilde in Götterdämmerung

2,427 words

It heaves and groans. It shimmies and clicks. One holds one breath during the best parts, hoping it will not malfunction and ruin the whole evening. One fears for the performers, halfway expecting it to devour them.

Read more …

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