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[humanities.music.composers.wagner] Wagner General FAQ
Section - F. Musical works

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Top Document: [humanities.music.composers.wagner] Wagner General FAQ
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The catalogue of Wagner's musical and dramatic works is the 'Wagner Werk-
Verzeichnis'. It lists 113 works, although it is reasonably certain that
no music was written for a handful of them.

Here is a shorter list of the major works among them, grouped by category,
with the dates of their completion and of their first performance: 

* Completed Operas and Music Dramas

  T= date of completion of text (with the exception of any small changes
  made later), M= date of completion of music, P= date and location of first
  performance.

  _'Die Feen'_ (The Fairies), grand romantic opera, WWV 32. This work is in 
  a mixture of German and Italian styles.  T: February 1833, revised 1834.  
  M: Spring 1834.  P: 29 June 1888, Munich.

  _'Das Liebesverbot, oder Die Novize von Palermo'_ (Forbidden Love), grand
  comic opera, WWV 38. This German comedy was completed in 1836 and
  performed only once - the second performance had to be abandoned before the
  curtain rose and the bankruptcy of the opera company prevented any further 
  performances that season. The music is clearly influenced by Bellini, as 
  well as by Donizetti, Rossini, Marschner and Auber. T: December 1834. 
  M: March 1836, revised Spring 1840.  P: 29 March 1836, Magdeburg.

  _'Rienzi, der Letzte der Tribunen'_ (Rienzi, Last of the Tribunes), grand
  tragic opera, WWV 49. This was Wagner's attempt to create a French Grand
  Opera in imitation of Meyerbeer. Wagner also acknowledged the influence of
  Halévy.  T: August 1838, tr. early 1840.  M: September 1840. P: 20 October 
  1842, Dresden.

  _'Der fliegende Holländer'_ (The Flying Dutchman), romantic opera, WWV 63.
  This is the first work in the 'Bayreuth canon', i.e. the works that are
  regularly staged at the Bayreuth Festival. It is a German opera on
  supernatural themes, showing the influences both of Weber and of Marschner
  (in particular, of his 'Der Vampyr'). T: May 1841. M: October 1841, rev.
  January 1860. P: 2 January 1843, Dresden.

  _'Tannhäuser und der Sängerkrieg auf Wartburg'_ (Tannhäuser and the Song
  Contest on the Wartburg), grand romantic opera, WWV 70. Completed in 
  1845, but substantially revised at least three times:
  * Version 1.  T: April 1843.  M: October 1845.  P: 19 October 1845, 
                Dresden.
  * Version 2.  T: Spring 1847. M: May 1847, minor revision September 1851,
                not published until June 1860.  P: 1 August 1847, Dresden.
  * Version 3.  T: March 1861.  M: March 1861.  P: 13 March 1861, Paris.
  * Version 4.  T: September 1861, revised Spring 1865.  M: Autumn 1861.
                P: 1 August 1867, Munich.
  
  _'Lohengrin'_ , romantic opera, WWV 75. After completing this opera in
  1848, Wagner became mixed up in politics, with the consequence that he had
  to leave Germany. As an exile, he was unable to arrange for it to be
  performed or to supervise the first performance, conducted by Franz Liszt.
  T: November 1845.  M: April 1848, Dresden.  P: 28 August 1850, Weimar.

  _'Der Ring des Nibelungen'_ (The Nibelung's Ring), a 'stage festival
  play', WWV 86. Wagner's original intention, which was shared by a number
  of other composers at the time, was to write an opera based on the
  'Nibelungenlied', to be called 'Siegfried's Tod' (The Death of Siegfried).
  Wagner actually got as far as writing the music for the first two scenes
  before he abandoned it, in favour of a cycle of four dramas. Once the text
  of all four had been completed (except for revisions later), Wagner
  composed the music to the first and shortest of the dramas in his cycle. 
  First performance of the complete cycle: 13, 14, 16 and 17 August 1876, 
  Bayreuth.

  _'Das Rheingold'_ (The Rhine Gold), preliminary evening of the 'Ring' 
  cycle,  WWV 86a.  T: November 1852.  M: September 1854, Zürich.  
  P: 22 September 1869, Munich.

  _'Die Walküre'_ (The Valkyrie), first day of the 'Ring' cycle, WWV 86b. 
  T: July 1852.  M: March 1856, Zürich.  P: 26 June 1870, Munich.

  _'Siegfried'_ (originally 'Der junge Siegfried'), second day of the 'Ring'
  cycle, WWV 86c, was well under way before Wagner, despairing of ever
  getting this hugely expensive project staged, put it on hold.  Wagner
  needed to find something more practical, if not profitable.  He would not
  finish the music until 1871, and staging would have to wait until after a
  new theatre had been built for the 'Ring'. T: December 1852, revised 1856. 
  M: February 1871, Tribschen.  P: 16 August 1876, Bayreuth.

  _'Tristan und Isolde'_ , WWV 90, was intended to be a small, practical
  opera that Wagner could get staged. Interrupted by a marital crisis, he 
  continued to work on the score in Venice.  After King Ludwig put the 
  resources of the Munich Court Theatre at Wagner's disposal, his 
  revolutionary work was staged there in 1865.  'Tristan-fever' has 
  continued to this day.   T: September 1857, Zürich.   M: August 1859, 
  Lucerne.  P: 10 June 1865, Munich.

  _'Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg'_ (The Mastersingers of Nuremburg), WWV
  96. For the first time since 'Das Liebesverbot', Wagner returned to comedy
  (again of a rather heavy, Germanic kind). T: January 1862, revised January 
  1867.  M: October 1867, Tribschen.  P: 21 June 1868, Munich.

  _'Götterdämmerung'_ (The Twilight of the Gods, or Night Falls on the
  Gods), third day of the 'Ring' cycle, WWV 86d.  The 1848 text of what had
  been 'Siegfrieds Tod' was substantially rewritten in 1852 and revised in
  1856. It then gathered dust until Wagner had returned to and completed
  'Siegfried', when he was able to compose the music for the final part of
  his cycle. T: December 1852 (revised May 1856 and 1872). M: November 1874, 
  Bayreuth.  P: 17 August 1876, Bayreuth.

  _'Parsifal'_ , sacred stage festival play (Bühnenweihfestspiel), WWV 111.
  Inspired, according to 'Mein Leben', on and by Good Friday 1857, this
  drama too had a long gestation. A detailed prose draft was written in
  August 1865, but the libretto was not completed until 1877. After it was
  first performed in Bayreuth in 1882, the Wagner family lawyers ensured
  that it was not staged anywhere else for the next twenty years. The
  Metropolitan Opera in New York was the first to defy Bayreuth, by staging
  this drama in 1903.  T: April 1877.  M: January 1882, Palermo.  P: 26 July 
  1882, Bayreuth.

  Only the ten operas from 'Holländer' to 'Parsifal' are performed at
  the Bayreuth Festival, although some of the early operas have been staged
  as "fringe" productions in Bayreuth.  These ten works (or seven if one
  counts the 'Ring' as one work) are known as the canonical dramas. 

* Orchestral Works 

  The young Wagner had ambitions as a symphonist. His first attempt was the
  Symphony in C of 1832 (WWV 29) an imitation of Beethoven. Although there
  were a few false starts, Wagner never completed another symphony. Despite
  the dismal failure of his youthful 'Drum-beat Overture' (WWV 10) in 1830,
  he persevered in composing overtures; the best example being the 'Faust
  Overture' (originally intended as the first movement of a symphony) in d
  minor (WWV 59) of 1840/1855. He also wrote a few marches, including one
  for the American Centennial (Grosser Festmarsch, WWV 110), written in
  1876. 

  Two other orchestral works are noteworthy: the Funeral Music (Trauermusik,
  WWV 73), for the return of Weber's ashes to Dresden, is for an enormous
  wind band.  At the opposite extreme, the 'Siegfried Idyll' (WWV 103), which 
  at one time bore the title 'Symphony' is for an orchestra of 13 players. 
  Ernest Newman believed that it had begun life as a string quartet.  It was 
  first performed as a birthday surprise for Cosima in 1870. 

* Choral Works 

  Wagner composed a variety of choral music, of which the following pieces
  are the most noteworthy. 'Das Liebesmahl der Apostel' (The Love Feast of
  the Apostles, WWV 69) is a biblical scene for choir, first performed by
  massed choral societies in Dresden in 1843.  It is a strikingly original
  work, despite its hurried composition. 

  'An Webers Grabe' (WWV 72) is another piece composed for the return of
  Weber's ashes to Dresden. It was performed at the reburial ceremony on 15
  December 1844. 

* Vocal Works 

  The young Wagner composed several arias for insertion into operas by other
  composers, including a bass aria for Bellini's 'Norma' (WWV 52). He also
  composed a number of songs for solo voice and piano, including (during his
  miserable existence in Paris) a setting of Heine's 'The Two Grenadiers'
  (WWV 60). The most important of his songs are the 'Five Songs for a Female
  Voice' (WWV 91), to texts of Mathilde Wesendonck (1857-58). These songs
  are closely connected to (or studies for) 'Tristan und Isolde'. 

* Piano Works 

  Wagner's piano music mainly consists of small pieces, such as the
  'Albumblatt für Frau Betty Schott' of 1875 (WWV 108), or the 'Ankunft bei
  den schwarzen Schwänen' (Arrival of the Black Swans) of 1861 (WWV 95).
  Three more substantial works were composed in 1831-32: the Fantasia in f#
  minor (WWV 22), Sonata in B flat (Wagner's official 'opus one', WWV 21)
  and the 'Grosse Sonate' in A major (WWV 26). In 1853 Wagner composed
  another piano sonata, in A flat: 'Eine Sonate für das Album von Frau MW'
  (WWV 85), which some consider to be the most important of these piano
  works. 

  Those who find Wagner too serious and those who take Wagner too seriously
  should seek out his piano four-hand 'Polonaise' (WWV 23) of 1832.  It was
  not published until 1973, by Novello.

  Wagner also made a number of piano arrangements during his Paris years, of
  which the most substantial is the four-hands version -- it could even be
  called a rewriting of -- the 'Grande fantasie sur la Romanesca' by Henri
  Herz (WWV 62c, 1841).
    

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