Chapter

Public and Private Life <i>Reflections on the Genesis of</i> Tristan und Isolde <i>and the</i> Wesendonck Lieder

John Deathridge

in Wagner Beyond Good and Evil

Published by University of California Press

Published in print July 2008 | ISBN: 9780520254534
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520934610 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520254534.003.0011
Public and Private Life Reflections on the Genesis of Tristan und Isolde and the Wesendonck Lieder

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Tristan und Isolde had deep personal roots. Wagner's mention of the black flag suggests that he originally had a different idea of the opera's outcome. The development of Tristan und Isolde in Wagner's imagination gradually transformed the shadowy dilemma of his unhappy marriage and its petty jealousies into a wider examination of the tragedy of the human self as he saw it. Originally conceived as an opera that was to be relatively undemanding of its performers, it ended up being one of the most difficult works of the nineteenth century. However, since Tristan und Isolde was first put before its astonished audiences in 1865, nothing quite like it has ever been heard again. The strange tensions between the public and the private encoded in the drama, and even in the way its music unfolds, are doubtless one reason for the hold it still has.

Keywords: Tristan und Isolde; personal roots; Wagner; public; private; opera

Chapter.  7210 words. 

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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