"Studies in Music Drama"
During Wagner's time, the second half of the 19th century, there was a great debate in Europe as to who was the greatest contemporary composer, and the two main candidates were Richard Wagner and Johannes Brahms. The interesting fact is that comparing these two men is like comparing an apple with a dinner plate. Brahms was one of the great composers of the romantic period, that is a fact. His music was inspired by the music of the great romantic music composer Robert Schumann, who had 'discovered' Brahms in the first place, and by the music of Ludwig Van Beethoven's middle period, while Wagner, on the other hand, was something quite different.
Wagner did not just compose music, he accomplished much more than that. He used the operatic stage for performance of his works, but he trancended every tradition of the opera. He wrote music for orchestra, but he was not a classical composer at all: no string quartets, no symphonies... Wagner created something entirely new: music drama, and his accomplishment transformed the entire European and Russian classical music world. He reformed everything to do with opera: presentation, acting, singing, harmonic language, melodic line, motivic function, lighting, and he even built his own theater in Bayreuth, Germany. But Wagner has been so maligned in so many thousands of publications for so long that to approach him today, one can only understand by deep listening.
In the DoveSong iUniversity I plan to publish scores that are annotated using the color-code method that I have applied to the study scores in the other sections of the iUniversity. Watch for announcements. The starting place will be Wagner, but I plan to include works by other dramatic composers as well.
Meanwhile, don't pass up an opportunity to listen to the world's first great opera: "L'Orfeo" by Claudio Monteverdi, published in 1609.