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Did Wagner Revolutionize Modern Music?

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I strongly disagree that by the time of the post-war generation, Wagner's influence was non-existent. Film composers for example continue to use many of Wagner's compositional techniques and numerous examples can be heard.
While I agree that film composers have mined Wagnerisms for their scores, I don't consider film composers relevant to a discussion of classical music.
 

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I've read that if Wagner were alive today he'd be working in Hollywood.
It's a reasonable view. His scores are dramatic narratives of cinematic scope and evocativeness, and the problem of translating his visions - especially the mythical world of the Ring - into practical theater is fully solved only by the medium of film. He would have loved it, and it would probably have inspired him to imagine even more fantastic scenes. But I can't imagine him accepting the ordinary position of the film composer as subordinate to the director. He would insist on being the artistic mastermind - the creator of a new art form called "cinemopera" or something - with the director working for him.
 

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It's a reasonable view. His scores are dramatic narratives of cinematic scope and evocativeness, and the problem of translating his visions - especially the mythical world of the Ring - into practical theater is fully solved only by the medium of film. He would have loved it, and it would probably have inspired him to imagine even more fantastic scenes. But I can't imagine him accepting the ordinary position of the film composer as subordinate to the director. He would insist on being the artistic mastermind - the creator of a new art form called "cinemopera" or something - with the director working for him.
I would agree. In fact it is surprising that someone else hasn't done something like that. I am not aware if there has been a completely cinematic production of any of his operas. The Ring could be a Star Wars like series.
 

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Discussion Starter · #84 ·
While I agree that film composers have mined Wagnerisms for their scores, I don't consider film composers relevant to a discussion of classical music.
John Williams would beg to differ, one of our greatest living composers alive today. And your comments are more credible if you are at least as talented as Dr. Williams in composing new music today.
 

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Discussion Starter · #85 · (Edited)
It's a reasonable view. His scores are dramatic narratives of cinematic scope and evocativeness, and the problem of translating his visions - especially the mythical world of the Ring - into practical theater is fully solved only by the medium of film. He would have loved it, and it would probably have inspired him to imagine even more fantastic scenes. But I can't imagine him accepting the ordinary position of the film composer as subordinate to the director. He would insist on being the artistic mastermind - the creator of a new art form called "cinemopera" or something - with the director working for him.
Yes, and note that could be said far more than supposedly "revolutionary" composers like Schoenberg would have us believe nearly a century ago with his "new" music then.
 

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John Williams would beg to differ, one of our greatest living composers alive today. And your comments are more credible if you are at least as talented as Dr. Williams in composing new music today.
For me it is simply a matter of taxonomy, with no judgment of quality. Film scores fall under the category of popular entertainment; classical music does not.

It is also a matter of taste. You find the music of John Williams very enjoyable; I do not. But I do recognize that he is a gifted composer and highly accomplished orchestrator of his music. I don't listen to film scores often, if at all; in fact I rarely listen to orchestral music at all. My favorite classical music is chamber music, string quartets especially.

I know Williams has written some classical works, concertos and other things. But his reputation is based on his film work, and that is how I place him.
 

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Discussion Starter · #87 ·
For me it is simply a matter of taxonomy, with no judgment of quality. Film scores fall under the category of popular entertainment; classical music does not.

It is also a matter of taste. You find the music of John Williams very enjoyable; I do not. But I do recognize that he is a gifted composer and highly accomplished orchestrator of his music. I don't listen to film scores often, if at all; in fact I rarely listen to orchestral music at all. My favorite classical music is chamber music, string quartets especially.

I know Williams has written some classical works, concertos and other things. But his reputation is based on his film work, and that is how I place him.
A great composer today influenced by Wagner.
 

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I would agree. In fact it is surprising that someone else hasn't done something like that. I am not aware if there has been a completely cinematic production of any of his operas. The Ring could be a Star Wars like series.
Decades ago a friend and I used to dream about a film of the Ring utilizing all the techniques available, and we wondered why it had never been done. It would be expensive, of course, but I think it could be a surprise hit and would open many people's ears to opera and classical music. There are plenty of videos of staged productions, some of which are interesting, and there is the very strange and controversial Syberberg film of Parsifal, but no attempts, as far as I know, to take Wagner's own conceptions seriously and use the resources of film to realize them. I think it's a major cultural oversight.
 

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Decades ago a friend and I used to dream about a film of the Ring utilizing all the techniques available, and we wondered why it had never been done. It would be expensive, of course, but I think it could be a surprise hit and would open many people's ears to opera and classical music. There are plenty of videos of staged productions, some of which are interesting, and there is the very strange and controversial Syberberg film of Parsifal, but no attempts, as far as I know, to take Wagner's own conceptions seriously and use the resources of film to realize them. I think it's a major cultural oversight.
If it used all possible resources to make the landscape, props, etc. ultra realistic, and then main actors would open their mouths as if they tried to swallow a coconut and started to shriek, it would look unintentionally funny.

Normal musicals are usually light-hearted and still get away with being musicals mostly because the type of singing involved is not too far from what a normal person might sing while going about their business, taking a shower, gardening, or whatever.

A purely orchestral "Ring" adaptation would be a different matter, with some clever dialogues and good acting substituting for the sung parts. But then plots would have to be remade into a new medium... in other words: a mess no matter what approach would be taken.

 

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I know Williams has written some classical works, concertos and other things. But his reputation is based on his film work, and that is how I place him.
This is like saying " I know John Cage has written some avant-garde music, pieces for prepared piano and other things. But his reputation is based on 4'33" and the philosophy that "everything we do is music", which is not found even in de facto non-classical genres such as jazz or prog rock "
 

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Decades ago a friend and I used to dream about a film of the Ring utilizing all the techniques available, and we wondered why it had never been done. It would be expensive, of course, but I think it could be a surprise hit and would open many people's ears to opera and classical music. There are plenty of videos of staged productions, some of which are interesting, and there is the very strange and controversial Syberberg film of Parsifal, but no attempts, as far as I know, to take Wagner's own conceptions seriously and use the resources of film to realize them. I think it's a major cultural oversight.
I really can't picture the Instagram generation not only sitting through, but actively enjoying 15 hours worth of film adaptations of German opera music, even if they had a Lord Of The Rings style massive budget to make them look, like, "EPIC", yo!
 

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I really can't picture the Instagram generation not only sitting through, but actively enjoying 15 hours worth of film adaptations of German opera music, even if they had a Lord Of The Rings style massive budget to make them look, like, "EPIC", yo!
I'm sure you're closer to the instagram generation than I am, so I can't presume to argue about them, whoever they are. But of course not everyone belongs to the instagram generation. I'd have been captivated by a magically filmed Ring at any age, but then that's me. You may underestimate people in general, and underestimate the combined power of music and film.
 

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I really can't picture the Instagram generation not only sitting through, but actively enjoying 15 hours worth of film adaptations of German opera music, even if they had a Lord Of The Rings style massive budget to make them look, like, "EPIC", yo!
I'm quite definitely a member of the Instagram generation and I don't even need a film to enjoy the full Ring cycle. I might be in the minority, but then so are all opera listeners.

Personally, I think that a film combined with great singing would be marvellous! And a film of Tristan would be great, too - I still haven't found a good production.
 

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If it used all possible resources to make the landscape, props, etc. ultra realistic, and then main actors would open their mouths as if they tried to swallow a coconut and started to shriek, it would look unintentionally funny.
I take it you don't enjoy filmed opera. By your description it sounds as if you've never even seen one (there are a few good ones). But why would you want ultra-realistic props for a mythological epic? Filmmakers have been creating visual magic for generations. I can even visualize a Ring done entirely with computer animation, using real singers only for the soundtrack. I can also imagine a Ring done entirely in black and white, which can create a wonderful sense of a parallel reality more intense and "psychological" than everyday reality, as it does in film noir and many films of the early decades of the medium.

Normal musicals are usually light-hearted and still get away with being musicals mostly because the type of singing involved is not too far from what a normal person might sing while going about their business, taking a shower, gardening, or whatever.
What does "get away with being musicals" mean? Musicals are actually quite varied in their vocal requirements. Sweeney Todd and Phantom of the Opera are not in the repertoire of most gardeners and shower-takers. Many of the classic musicals benefit from or even require well-trained voices. There is no distinct line between opera, operetta and the musical or between the styles of singing they require.

A purely orchestral "Ring" adaptation would be a different matter, with some clever dialogues and good acting substituting for the sung parts. But then plots would have to be remade into a new medium... in other words: a mess no matter what approach would be taken.
It would certainly be a mess if you were in charge, since you seem to have decided in advance that that's what it would be! I think a filmed Ring without singing could be interesting in its own way, but the main difficulty would not be revising the plot - that could remain as is - but arranging the music. It would no longer really be Wagner, and the idea of messing with the music makes me cringe. But this is really beside the point.

Fritz Lang's silent films are beautiful works of art, though of course not Wagner. Thanks for posting them!
 

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I take it you don't enjoy filmed opera. By your description it sounds as if you've never even seen one (there are a few good ones). But why would you want ultra-realistic props for a mythological epic? Filmmakers have been creating visual magic for generations. I can even visualize a Ring done entirely with computer animation, using real singers only for the soundtrack. I can also imagine a Ring done entirely in black and white, which can create a wonderful sense of a parallel reality more intense and "psychological" than everyday reality, as it does in film noir and many films of the early decades of the medium.

What does "get away with being musicals" mean? Musicals are actually quite varied in their vocal requirements. Sweeney Todd and Phantom of the Opera are not in the repertoire of most gardeners and shower-takers. Many of the classic musicals benefit from or even require well-trained voices. There is no distinct line between opera, operetta and the musical or between the styles of singing they require.

It would certainly be a mess if you were in charge, since you seem to have decided in advance that that's what it would be! I think a filmed Ring without singing could be interesting in its own way, but the main difficulty would not be revising the plot - that could remain as is - but arranging the music. It would no longer really be Wagner, and the idea of messing with the music makes me cringe. But this is really beside the point.

Fritz Lang's silent films are beautiful works of art, though of course not Wagner. Thanks for posting them!
I agree with everything you posted here. Even though Tristan is the only Wagner opera I have watched all the way through, a filmed version of the Ring with excellent special effects and sound might be a worthwhile version.
 

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I'm quite definitely a member of the Instagram generation and I don't even need a film to enjoy the full Ring cycle. I might be in the minority, but then so are all opera listeners.
Personally, I think that a film combined with great singing would be marvellous! And a film of Tristan would be great, too - I still haven't found a good production.
Yeah, they should all be set in WWII
 

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Discussion Starter · #99 ·
For me it is simply a matter of taxonomy, with no judgment of quality. Film scores fall under the category of popular entertainment; classical music does not.

It is also a matter of taste. You find the music of John Williams very enjoyable; I do not. But I do recognize that he is a gifted composer and highly accomplished orchestrator of his music. I don't listen to film scores often, if at all; in fact I rarely listen to orchestral music at all. My favorite classical music is chamber music, string quartets especially.

I know Williams has written some classical works, concertos and other things. But his reputation is based on his film work, and that is how I place him.
Taxonomy is that wonderful subject for people to debate, discuss but the reality does not change.
 

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I really can't picture the Instagram generation not only sitting through, but actively enjoying 15 hours worth of film adaptations of German opera music,
it is not a matter of 'generation' or whatever false notion 20th century ideologies have spawned in order to make believe that mass opinion counts.

art has always been intended for elites, that is for the few and not many, so its main point is create new realities the masterpieces to which must convey messages, symbols and meanings that will shape a new world, besides providing artifacts for the worlds to come, just in case there be a need for great ideas.
 
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