Friday, 25 September 2015

Endless Music

The lengthiest opera in the standard repertoire is Wagner’s ‘Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg’ (1868) which runs for 5 hours and 15 minutes.  I am not a great Wagner fan though I like some of the extracts from his operas such as ‘The Ride of the Valkyries’.  However, I am not sure I would go as far as John Ruskin did after hearing ‘Die Meistersinger’.  Ruskin was the leading English art critic of the Victorian era and also an art patron, draughtsman, water-colourist, a prominent social thinker and philanthropist.  In a letter in 1882 he wrote:-

"Of all the affected, sapless, soulless, beginningless, endless, topless, bottomless, topsy-turviest, scrabble-pipiest-tongs-and-boniest doggerel of sounds I ever endured the deadliness of, that eternity of nothing was the deadliest – as far as the sound went." 


  1. I suppose one has to be a true Wagnerian to enjoy his work to the full - I am not, although I acknowledge his influence on other parts of what could be vaguely described as "German cultural heritage", drawing widely from (more or less) historical subjects of my home country's past.
    To sit on the same chair for 5 hours and 15 minutes - even with an interval - is something I detest, and even at work I make sure I get things to do away from my desk and not sit there for 8 hours.

  2. When I worked in Trafford I had a colleague who was a Wagner fan and aficionado. Every year she went to a Wagner opera. People apparently took picnics into the theatre and made a real party of it. She never managed to convince me to go (although she did successfully persuade me to try escargots).

  3. Of all the complicated insults i've heard or read, that one goes the furthest!

  4. Mark Twain said: "I've heard that Wagner's music is not as bad as it sounds."

    As for me; there is actually some pretty awesome orchestral stuff in it.

  5. Hmmmmm, think I'm with Ruskin on that one!

  6. And I thought watching the extended version of Lord of the Rings is too long :)


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