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Wagner or Brahms?

Wagner or Brahms?
July 23, 2011, 11:07:51 AM
Wagner's scope of vision is more ambitious but Brahms is more concise. Both are disciples of Beethoven but where Brahms follows a clear tradition, Wagner took onboard its essense to create something new, much like Beethoven himself.

Overall I'm more inclined to go with Wagner even though I generally connect better with symphonies than opera.

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Re: Wagner or Brahms?
July 23, 2011, 03:46:45 PM
Wagner: great ouvertures & intermezzos; lots of superfluous notes (hours of them).
Brahms: air-tight, streamlined symphonies among many other perfect pieces (requiem, concertos, sonatas).
Bruckner: Wagner's best condensed in symphonies.

I'll catch up with Wagner when I retire.

Re: Wagner or Brahms?
July 24, 2011, 03:48:14 AM
They're both part of my top five, and clearly are columns in their own right. I think the question which one changed history more than the other. Think of all the post-Wagnerians you have - Bruckner, Wolf, Mahler, Strauss, Debussy, Pfitzner, Schoenberg, and to an extent Italian verismo. What noteworthy composers did Brahms influence? Elgar, Dvorak, and Schoenberg. Not nearly as many, and given that Wagner's cromaticism led to atonality, Schoenberg's second Viennese School either would have been completely different or wouldn't have existed.

Re: Wagner or Brahms?
July 24, 2011, 01:16:05 PM
This comparison has always been ridiculous.  It may have had some relevance in the 19th century but even then it was mostly media hype.  The fact is the you cannot isolate Wagner's music from the 'total work of art' of which it is only a functional part.  All attempts to do so miss the point of the music entirely and greatly detract from its appreciation.  Listening to a recording of a Wagner opera on an mp3 player completely obliterates the context of the music, and it is therefore no surprise that much of it seems superfluous in this type of setting.  If you want to understand Wagner you must witness his art as a whole, not simply one aspect of it.

If I was to try and answer the original question, Brahms was a technically superior composer, but Wagner was a spiritually greater artist.

Re: Wagner or Brahms?
September 08, 2011, 02:04:50 PM
This comparison has always been ridiculous.  It may have had some relevance in the 19th century but even then it was mostly media hype.

I don't think it's too far fetched. Even the personal beliefs of the composers in question seem to affirm this divide between conservative and 'progressive'. Usually I would be more conservative/traditional but I don't see Wagner as a kind of decadent progressive. I admire Wagner for concentrating solely on his grand vision despite the expense, and in reality he never parted with tradition only built on it.

The fact is the you cannot isolate Wagner's music from the 'total work of art' of which it is only a functional part.  All attempts to do so miss the point of the music entirely and greatly detract from its appreciation.  Listening to a recording of a Wagner opera on an mp3 player completely obliterates the context of the music, and it is therefore no surprise that much of it seems superfluous in this type of setting.  If you want to understand Wagner you must witness his art as a whole, not simply one aspect of it.

I generally agree with this, but it's interesting to note that very few of the composers he influenced actually took onboard his 'Gesamtkunstwerk' concept, more likely they were influenced on a purely musical level i.e. Bruckner, Mahler.

Re: Wagner or Brahms?
September 23, 2011, 11:21:31 PM
Brahms, definitely.

Wagner has only select moments of his compositions that I find enjoyable. Most of his output seems way too haphazardly composed (superfluous is a good word to describe it, thanks Jubel). The good moments are often great, but I don't feel like listening to 90% of a composition when I only enjoy 10% of the whole thing.

Brahms, on the other hand, has never disappointed me (though I haven't heard all of his work obviously).
No.

Having reviewed the thread, baby Jesus is most definitely weeping at this point.

Re: Wagner or Brahms?
September 25, 2011, 09:01:38 AM
thank god you don't have to choose between either of them in this day and age

two masters of their craft, my life wouldn't be the same without either of them

Re: Wagner or Brahms?
September 25, 2011, 08:38:33 PM
This comparison has always been ridiculous.  It may have had some relevance in the 19th century but even then it was mostly media hype.  The fact is the you cannot isolate Wagner's music from the 'total work of art' of which it is only a functional part.  All attempts to do so miss the point of the music entirely and greatly detract from its appreciation.  Listening to a recording of a Wagner opera on an mp3 player completely obliterates the context of the music, and it is therefore no surprise that much of it seems superfluous in this type of setting.  If you want to understand Wagner you must witness his art as a whole, not simply one aspect of it.

If I was to try and answer the original question, Brahms was a technically superior composer, but Wagner was a spiritually greater artist.

Have you attended a performance of a Wagner opera? Any particular productions you would recommend? Also, do you think that video recordings of the performances are reasonable substitutes?