Monday, May 25, 2020

My top 30 composers [8]: Number 7 - Richard Wagner

Earlier this year, I posted a list of 100 favourite composers based on the  top 30 favourite composers of 56 Talk Classical bulletin board members (link). I did not post my own top 30 yet. Time to make amends. I'm posting the list in segments of five, in order to say something about the composers, with the top10 getting an entry by themselves. To prepare this list, I looked at how many compositions a composer has that I rate in my personal top 100, how many just one tier below that, and how many are still really worthwhile below that. I was handing out negative points in my head for (famous) compositions I don't like at all. For the final ranking, I asked myself: composer A or composer B - you can keep the works of only one of them. It is all not very scientific, and the ranking will undoubtedly change a bit from year to year, but it makes for a good snapshot of my taste.

At the seventh spot, we find German romantic grandmaster Richard Wagner (1813-1883). He was of course mainly an opera composer, although his orchestra piece Siegried Idyll and the song cycle Wesendonklieder are very worthwhile as well. Opera is a genre that I did not get into easily, but Wagner and Puccini were the ones who unlocked the door for me. Wagner's monumental cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen (four operas, fifteen hours, to be plaued in four consecutive nights) is one of the undisputed masterpieces of classical music and a clear personal favourite of mine. But most of his other mature operas are very good to excellent, especially Tristan und Isolde, Parsifal and Lohengrin.

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