Lake Union Civic Orchestra: Wagner and Strauss
Wagner: Siegfried Idyll
Strauss: Ein Heldenleben
Alastair Willis, conductor
Single tickets: $15 general admission, $10 students and seniors, 12 years of age and under free.
Join LUCO on Friday for a Tale of Two Richards: Wagner & Strauss (That's RIH'-kard - the German pronunciation)
Richard Wagner (1813 - 1883):
People are rarely ambivalent about Richard Wagner - his music, his personal life, his politics and philosophies - and folks usually fall into one of two camps: Love him. Hate him. While Wagner, the composer, wrote amazing and inspiring pieces of work, many considered Wagner, the man, to be quite a piece of work himself.
If you've eschewed his music up until now because you thought he only composed outrageously dramatic, densely scored, ridiculously long operas for which you had to pack provisions and earplugs to survive, then LUCO's concert has just the piece for you: Siegfried Idyll. Tender, lyrical, translucently orchestrated - this was an intimate birthday composition performed by chamber orchestra to awaken his wife on her 33rd birthday, celebrating the birth of their 3rd child, and was never intended for publication.
Cosima must have cherished her gift, for when the Wagner's extravagant lifestyle led to financial woes and it had to be published, she lamented, "My secret treasure has become everybody's property."
And this charming music is a treasure, indeed.
Richard Strauss (1864 - 1949):
Both composers created musical fireworks, and Wagner played a central role in Richard Strauss' life. Strauss' father, Franz Strauss, the most highly ranked horn player in Germany, who was hand-picked by Richard Wagner for several of the Maestro's world premiere orchestras, had a well-publicized volcanic relationship with Wagner and the impresario-conductor Hans von Bülow, making no secret of his dislike for Wagner's music and both of them - an amazingly cavalier attitude for any freelance musician toward two artistic heavy weights. But Wagner and von Bülow allowed Franz his disdainful bent because they simply could not replace him.
On the other hand, when his son Richard heard his first Wagner operas at age 10, he was entranced. The influence of Wagner's music on Strauss' style would eventually be profound, even though at first his musically conservative father forbade him to study it.
Strauss' compositional style began to develop and change when he met Alexander Ritter, a noted composer and violinist married to one of Richard Wagner's nieces. It was Ritter who persuaded Strauss to abandon the conservative style of his youth, and begin writing tone poems.
All of which leads us to Ein Heldenleben (A Hero's Life), the last of Strauss' tone poems, which employs the technique of leitmotif (a recurring theme, associated with a particular person, place, or idea) that Richard Wagner used so liberally. He composed his unprecedentedly large-scaled tone poem "with very many horns, which are, after all, stamped for heroism."
Strauss, only 34 at the time, audaciously cast himself as the crusading hero represented by the horn, his wife Pauline as the violin, his critics as sarcastic woodwinds and droning tubas. And, with tongue firmly in cheek, his victories in a blazing battle scene are celebrated by interweaving quotations from his own tone poems into a dazzling tapestry.
Just sit back and revel in the passionate sweep of the music. And - we'll have 9 blazingly heroic horns - what's not to like?
1119 8th Ave
Seattle, WA 98101
|Kid Friendly: No|
|Dog Friendly: No|
|Wheelchair Accessible: Yes!|