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richard wagner

Verena Wagner Lafferentz
Bayreuth Festival / Facebook

The death of a 98-year-old widow in Germany last April attracted worldwide headlines. At that age, her passing was hardly unexpected. Yet the death of Verena Wagner Lafferentz made the front pages and reminded the world of the darkest days of one of Europe’s most notable annual music festivals.

Christine Goerke is focused on endurance. The dramatic soprano is tackling one of the most challenging roles in opera: singing Brünnhilde, the Valkyrie maiden warrior, in Richard Wagner's epic, Der Ring des Nibelungen, at New York's Metropolitan Opera. Otherwise known as the Ring cycle, the 16-hour saga spans four operas and tells the story of gods, monsters, humans and an insatiable urge to own an all-powerful golden ring.

stevepb / Pixabay

Home to Classical 101, WOSU Public Media also encompasses 89.7 NPR News, WOSU TV, WOSU Classroom and more.

We thought it would be fun to ask our WOSU coworkers to tell us about their favorite classical music works. It’s always exciting to see what door people find into the genre.

Gregor Hohenberg / Sony Classical

There may be a phantom of the opera in literature, in the movies and on Broadway. But in recent years, tenor Jonas Kaufmann has risked being labeled the phantom tenor.

Memorable Classical Music in Vietnam War Movies

Sep 15, 2017
Universal Pictures

With The Vietnam War documentary series by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick set to begin at 8 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 17 on WOSU-TV, I thought I'd conclude my three-part music-related reflections of that era by briefly presenting some of the most striking examples of the use of classical music in Hollywood films about the Vietnam War.

A lithograph of Abraham Lincoln's funeral cortage in Columbus
Albert Edmenson / Columbus Metropolitan Library

Here's what happens when you clean your office — at least, in my case.

You find things you never knew you had, that are interesting in and of themselves and would also make great radio programs.

During a recent — and rare — burst of office cleaning, I found an envelope from my buddy Andrew MacGregor, recording engineer extraordinaire, marked, "St. Joseph Cathedral, The Music of A. Lincoln's Funeral."

Going Green: Vegetarianism and Classical Music

Apr 21, 2017
Allan Warren / Wikimedia Commons

April 22 is Earth Day and a time when I'm more inclined to reflect on how interconnected the natural world and all life really is. I'm not referring necessarily to the economic or political world. Sometimes it seems hopelessly divided as 7 billion people try to figure out how to live together on this planet with its ever-shrinking natural resources.

In the world of nature, however, there are no such boundaries and divisions. It's one vast system, and we are all a part of it. Earth Day reminds me of that.

Poets, writers, artists and musicians have always been inspired by the natural world. In classical music, you can go from Vivaldi's The Four Seasons and Johann Strauss' The Beautiful Blue Danube to An Alpine Symphony by Richard Strauss or Mysterious Mountain by Alan Hovhaness and many, many, more works.

Wikimedia Commons

There are learned people who divide the history of western music of the past 500 years into two categories: before and after Tristan.

Richard Wagner's three act music-drama, Tristan und Isolde, had its first performance on June 10, 1865.

We'll celebrate this great work's birthday on Saturday's Opera and More at 1 p.m.

But after all, folks, its only an opera. What's all the fuss about?

Song in the City

Apr 23, 2015
Queensboro Bridge at night
Steveen Manon / Flickr

Years ago, before iPods, Pads and Phones, there was a young man I saw on a regular basis who walked at a rapid pace all over Columbus with a boombox on his shoulder singing along with whatever was the tune du jour.  

His vocalizations were punctuated by appropriately-timed fist punches, along with air drums and cymbals.  He eventually graduated to a personal stereo, which meant he could play his air drums with both hands and not risk a rotator cuff injury from holding the giant sound system.

Here's my abbreviated take on Wagner's Die Meistersinger. You can hear this opera for free on Classical 101 live from the Metropolitan on Saturday, December 13 at noon, or watch it in HD in select movie theaters around town.

The full title of Richard Wagner's only comedy is Die Meistersinger von Nurnburg, The Mastersingers of Nuremberg. Comedy and Richard Wagner don't go together.

Not Your Father's Tannhauser...

Oct 28, 2010

[FINE AS A BLURB BUT PHOTO FINDING WOULD TAKE TOO LONG] Richard Wagner's Tannhauser for tots? It's tough enough to get kids to sit still for five minutes...much less several hours. But the Bayreuth Festival, orignally founded by Wagner in 1876, and which continues the tradition today in Bayreuth, Germany,  is giving it a go. They have reduced several Wagner operas to manageable lengths to accommodate the attention span of today's youngsters -- not to mention the rest of us.

Wagnerians and Vegetarians: And the Rest of Us

Sep 8, 2010
Bob Rhubart

I was recently reading "The Face on Your Plate" by Jeffrey Mousaieff Masson, who has written eloquently about the emotional lives of animals in other books, such as "When Elephants Weep" and "The Pig Who Sang to the Moon."

In his most recent book, he makes a strong case for not eating meat (or eggs or dairy products, for that matter) based largely on ethical concerns about the exploitation and mistreatment of animals (but he also discusses the environmental and human health issues involved).

Although this is not the forum for discussing the pros and cons of vegetarianism versus meat-eating, I couldn't help but wonder whether this issue was of concern to any classical music composers or performers in the past and if it affected their art. I was a little surprised where that led me.