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Richard Wagner

Date de naissance: 22. mai 1813
Date de décès: 13. février 1883

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Wilhelm Richard Wagner, né le 22 mai 1813 à Leipzig et mort le 13 février 1883 à Venise, est un compositeur, directeur de théâtre, écrivain, chef d'orchestre et polémiste allemand de la période romantique, particulièrement connu pour ses quatorze opéras et drames lyriques, dont les dix principaux sont régulièrement joués lors du Festival annuel qu'il a créé en 1876 et qui se déroule chaque été dans l'opéra de Bayreuth, conçu par lui-même pour l'exécution de ses œuvres. Il est aussi l'auteur de plus d'une vingtaine d'ouvrages philosophiques et théoriques. Il compose lui-même la musique et le livret de ses opéras, dont Tristan und Isolde, considéré comme le point de départ des principales avancées que connaîtra la musique au XXe siècle, et L'Anneau du Nibelung, festival scénique en un prologue et trois journées , dont la conception bouscule délibérément les habitudes de l'époque pour aller, selon les propres termes de Wagner, vers un « art total », une œuvre d'art totale, un spectacle complet qui mêle danse, théâtre, poésie et arts plastiques, dans une mélodie continue utilisant des leitmotivs.

Sa vie bohème et fantasque lui fait endosser de multiples habits : révolutionnaire sans le sou, fugitif traqué par la police, homme à femmes, confident intime du roi Louis II de Bavière, critique et analyste musical, intellectuel travaillé par l'antisémitisme de son époque qui sera récupéré, après sa mort et dans un contexte différent, par les nazis ; son comportement et ses œuvres laissent peu de gens indifférents. Aussi doué pour nouer des amitiés dans les cercles artistiques et intellectuels que pour les transformer en inimitiés, sachant créer le scandale comme l'enthousiasme, il suscite des avis partagés et souvent enflammés de la part de ses contemporains. Ses conceptions artistiques avant-gardistes ont eu une influence déterminante dans l'évolution de la musique dès le milieu de sa vie. Richard Wagner est considéré comme l'un des plus grands compositeurs d'opéras du XIXe siècle et occupe une place importante dans l'histoire occidentale.

Citations Richard Wagner

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„If gold here figures as the demon strangling manhood's innocence, our greatest poet shews at last the goblin's game of paper money. The Nibelung's fateful ring become a pocket-book, might well complete the eerie picture of the spectral world-controller.“

— Richard Wagner
Context: Clever though be the many thoughts expressed by mouth or pen about the invention of money and its enormous value as a civiliser, against such praises should be set the curse to which it has always been doomed in song and legend. If gold here figures as the demon strangling manhood's innocence, our greatest poet shews at last the goblin's game of paper money. The Nibelung's fateful ring become a pocket-book, might well complete the eerie picture of the spectral world-controller. By the advocates of our Progressive Civilisation this rulership is indeed regarded as a spiritual, nay, a moral power; for vanished Faith is now replaced by "Credit," that fiction of our mutual honesty kept upright by the most elaborate safeguards against loss and trickery. What comes to pass beneath the benedictions of this Credit we now are witnessing, and seem inclined to lay all blame upon the Jews. They certainly are virtuosi in an art which we but bungle: only, the coinage of money out of nil was invented by our Civilisation itself; or if the Jews are blamable for that, it is because our entire civilisation is a barbaro-judaic medley, in nowise a Christian creation.

„The July Revolution took place; with one bound I became a revolutionist, and acquired the conviction that every decently active being ought to occupy himself with politics exclusively.“

— Richard Wagner
Context: The July Revolution took place; with one bound I became a revolutionist, and acquired the conviction that every decently active being ought to occupy himself with politics exclusively. I was only happy in the company of political writers, and I commenced an Overture upon a political theme. Thus was I minded, when I left school and went to the university: not, indeed, to devote myself to studying for any profession — for my musical career was now resolved on — but to attend lectures on philosophy and aesthetics. By this opportunity of improving my mind I profited as good as nothing, but gave myself up to all the excesses of student life; and that with such reckless levity, that they very soon revolted me.

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„I fixed my mind upon some theatre of first rank, that would some day produce it, and troubled myself but little as to where and when that theatre would be found.“

— Richard Wagner
Context: The utter childishness of our provincial public's verdict upon any art-manifestation that may chance to make its first appearance in their own theatre — for they are only accustomed to witness performances of works already judged and accredited by the greater world outside — brought me to the decision, at no price to produce for the first time a largish work at a minor theatre. When, therefore, I felt again the instinctive need of undertaking a major work, I renounced all idea of obtaining a speedy representation of it in my immediate neighbourhood: I fixed my mind upon some theatre of first rank, that would some day produce it, and troubled myself but little as to where and when that theatre would be found.

„There we see nothing but a clash of interests, whose object is common to all the disputants, common and ignoble: plainly the side most strongly organised, i.e. the most unscrupulous, will bear away the prize.“

— Richard Wagner
Context: What "Conservatives," "Liberals" and "Conservative-liberals," and finally "Democrats," "Socialists," or even "Social-democrats" etc., have lately uttered on the Jewish Question, must seem to us a trifle foolish; for none of these parties would think of testing that "Know thyself" upon themselves, not even the most indefinite and therefore the only one that styles itself in German, the "Progress"-party. There we see nothing but a clash of interests, whose object is common to all the disputants, common and ignoble: plainly the side most strongly organised, i. e. the most unscrupulous, will bear away the prize. With all our comprehensive State- and National-Economy, it would seem that we are victims to a dream now flattering, now terrifying, and finally asphyxiating: all are panting to awake therefrom; but it is the dream's peculiarity that, so long as it enmeshes us, we take it for real life, and fight against our wakening as though we fought with death. At last one crowning horror gives the tortured wretch the needful strength: he wakes, and what he held most real was but a figment of the dæmon of distraught mankind. We who belong to none of all those parties, but seek our welfare solely in man's wakening to his simple hallowed dignity; we who are excluded from these parties as useless persons, and yet are sympathetically troubled for them, — we can only stand and watch the spasms of the dreamer, since no cry of ours can pierce to him. So let us save and tend and brace our best of forces, to bear a noble cordial to the sleeper when he wakes, as of himself he must at last.

„So let us save and tend and brace our best of forces, to bear a noble cordial to the sleeper when he wakes, as of himself he must at last.“

— Richard Wagner
Context: What "Conservatives," "Liberals" and "Conservative-liberals," and finally "Democrats," "Socialists," or even "Social-democrats" etc., have lately uttered on the Jewish Question, must seem to us a trifle foolish; for none of these parties would think of testing that "Know thyself" upon themselves, not even the most indefinite and therefore the only one that styles itself in German, the "Progress"-party. There we see nothing but a clash of interests, whose object is common to all the disputants, common and ignoble: plainly the side most strongly organised, i. e. the most unscrupulous, will bear away the prize. With all our comprehensive State- and National-Economy, it would seem that we are victims to a dream now flattering, now terrifying, and finally asphyxiating: all are panting to awake therefrom; but it is the dream's peculiarity that, so long as it enmeshes us, we take it for real life, and fight against our wakening as though we fought with death. At last one crowning horror gives the tortured wretch the needful strength: he wakes, and what he held most real was but a figment of the dæmon of distraught mankind. We who belong to none of all those parties, but seek our welfare solely in man's wakening to his simple hallowed dignity; we who are excluded from these parties as useless persons, and yet are sympathetically troubled for them, — we can only stand and watch the spasms of the dreamer, since no cry of ours can pierce to him. So let us save and tend and brace our best of forces, to bear a noble cordial to the sleeper when he wakes, as of himself he must at last.

„It's as if they avoid melodies, for fear of having perhaps stolen them from someone else.“

— Richard Wagner
Context: Music has taken a bad turn; these young people have no idea how to write a melody, they just give us shavings, which they dress up to look like a lion's mane and shake at us... It's as if they avoid melodies, for fear of having perhaps stolen them from someone else. 21 June 1880

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„Music has taken a bad turn; these young people have no idea how to write a melody, they just give us shavings“

— Richard Wagner
Context: Music has taken a bad turn; these young people have no idea how to write a melody, they just give us shavings, which they dress up to look like a lion's mane and shake at us... It's as if they avoid melodies, for fear of having perhaps stolen them from someone else. 21 June 1880

„At last one crowning horror gives the tortured wretch the needful strength: he wakes, and what he held most real was but a figment of the dæmon of distraught mankind.“

— Richard Wagner
Context: What "Conservatives," "Liberals" and "Conservative-liberals," and finally "Democrats," "Socialists," or even "Social-democrats" etc., have lately uttered on the Jewish Question, must seem to us a trifle foolish; for none of these parties would think of testing that "Know thyself" upon themselves, not even the most indefinite and therefore the only one that styles itself in German, the "Progress"-party. There we see nothing but a clash of interests, whose object is common to all the disputants, common and ignoble: plainly the side most strongly organised, i. e. the most unscrupulous, will bear away the prize. With all our comprehensive State- and National-Economy, it would seem that we are victims to a dream now flattering, now terrifying, and finally asphyxiating: all are panting to awake therefrom; but it is the dream's peculiarity that, so long as it enmeshes us, we take it for real life, and fight against our wakening as though we fought with death. At last one crowning horror gives the tortured wretch the needful strength: he wakes, and what he held most real was but a figment of the dæmon of distraught mankind. We who belong to none of all those parties, but seek our welfare solely in man's wakening to his simple hallowed dignity; we who are excluded from these parties as useless persons, and yet are sympathetically troubled for them, — we can only stand and watch the spasms of the dreamer, since no cry of ours can pierce to him. So let us save and tend and brace our best of forces, to bear a noble cordial to the sleeper when he wakes, as of himself he must at last.

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