Your first impressions of Wagner's music

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TalkWagner
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Your first impressions of Wagner's music

Post by TalkWagner » Fri Apr 20, 2018 8:09 am

At what age and where?
Something on TV, film, radio, somebody's record collection?
First Wagner opera you saw live?
Parsifal
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Re: Your first impressions of Wagner's music

Post by Parsifal » Fri Apr 20, 2018 10:22 pm

I don't recall now when or where the sounds of Wagner first caught my attention. I'm pretty sure it wasn't here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=weHNnsMY82A

My first clear, and indelible, impressions of Wagner came from some 78rpm records I heard at the home of a friend when I was probably eleven or twelve years old. My friend's mother liked classical music, and in her collection were three works of Wagner: the wedding march from Lohengrin, the dawn sequence from Gotterdammerung conducted by Toscanini, and Isolde's Liebestod sung by Helen Traubel. I was already interested in classical music then, and had a particular passion for melodious Romantic music like Tchaikovsky's ballets and the waltzes of the Strauss family. But Wagner proved a different goblet of love potion; there was something organic and untethered about him, a denial of ordinary human limits and an uninhibited reaching for the ultimate, that threw me into ecstasies, and I was soon collecting LPs of music from the operas and taking full opera recordings out of libraries, along with piano-vocal scores which I would laboriously work my way through at the piano, stopping to savor and marvel at every instance of the composer's harmonic wizardry.

Wagner turned out to be the chief passion of my teen years and some years thereafter, and I'm sure he altered my DNA irreparably. I don't listen to him often now, and I've gone on to increase my appreciation of other (and I'm tempted to say lesser) opera composers - but whenever I do set aside the hours needed to enter fully into his imaginative worlds I regard it as an almost sacred ritual (which, of course, is just what Wagner hoped for). As a young person, hearing and feeling the final bars of Tristan or Parsifal pronounce the end of their heroes' disturbing and exalting journeys, I sensed the meaning of Gurnemanz's words, "You see, my son, here time becomes space." It was hard to come back to the "real" world then, and although age has made me a realist and cured me of such yearnings for infinite love and final redemption, I'm always glad to return to Wagner's enchanted worlds and marvel at how he could capture such profound aspects of the human condition in sound.
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Van der Decken
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Re: Your first impressions of Wagner's music

Post by Van der Decken » Sat Apr 21, 2018 2:05 am

When I was a teen (1970s), and mostly listening to rock, my dad would encourage me to listen to Beethoven, Mahler, and Wagner's Flight of the Valkyries. I did dabble some in classical at times and took up his recommendations. My Wagner was an LP of Wagner Overtures. When I got back into classical and then moved to opera, I was slow to check out Wagner. Starting with Meistersinger. in October 2014, then the Hollander. I only got into the Ring about early 2017 yet now have 10 Rings! I have watched DVDs of 9 of the big 10 Wagner operas. Only Tannhäuser is left. I have a video of Tannhauser that I recently purchased in my unwatched pile.
"Pray heaven that soon a wife will keep faith with him!" Senta speaking of the Hollander.
Mount McCabe
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Re: Your first impressions of Wagner's music

Post by Mount McCabe » Fri Jun 01, 2018 8:04 pm

I expect the first Wagner I heard was via my parent's records. They had a budget set of classical records, a couple of them had Wagner's music on them. I don't have any particular memory of hearing or reacting to them, though I do have specific memories of hearing Beethoven and Ravel.

I got heavily into classical music in college and one of my early purchases as Der fliegende Holländer. I liked a lot of the music, but couldn't put together the story and wasn't really hooked. As I explored classical music I really started to love overtures and excerpts from Wagner, but, again, never quite got into the vocal music, in part because I didn't take the time for something so long. (I would sit and do nothing but listen to a Bruckner symphony, but I didn't think of getting Wagner (or other operas) from the video store).

I had gotten my father into Wagner, and he had me but a copy of the Chéreau Ring for him. So perhaps the first Wagner I watched was Das Rheingold. I started to understand that opera worked better for me when I saw it, and I started to try to see more. Eventually I moved to NYC and saw a couple operas at the Met and was hooked.

The first Wagner I saw was a concert performance of Rienzi, Eve Queler conducting Ian Storey, Elisabete Matos, and Géraldine Chauvet. The first staged Wagner I saw was the Ring at the Met.

So it took me a long time to appreciate opera but it quickly took over my listening, attendance, and attention.
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Van der Decken
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Re: Your first impressions of Wagner's music

Post by Van der Decken » Mon Jun 04, 2018 12:12 pm

Mount McCabe wrote:
Fri Jun 01, 2018 8:04 pm
... opera ... quickly took over my listening, attendance, and attention.
Yep. Once I got my first opera DVD (Fidelio conducted by Bernstein) I was hooked and opera quickly took over my listening. My listening is now 95+% opera.
"Pray heaven that soon a wife will keep faith with him!" Senta speaking of the Hollander.
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