Notes on "LIEBERSTOD"* by Richard Wagner...
The story of Tristan and Isolde is eight centuries old, but it still grips us as few others can.
It is the tragedy of two lovers who cannot fulfill their love for moral reasons, who never touch one another except in the commingling of their spirits, and who find consummation of their intense love only in their imagination and dreams.
Wagner avoids any harmonic resting places in the work, and achieves a non-ending melody (all symbolic of their situation).
It is a unique opus, for the composer set lovemaking to music more graphically than anyone before or since... And it is the spiritual essence of lovemaking which goes so far beyond the physical.
by David W. Eagle
Professor of Music, Mills College
* The German word, "Leiberstod," is like the French phrase, "Le Petit Mort." Literally translated they mean, respectively, "Love Death," and "The Small Death." Both phrases, however, mean the explosive peak of the physical love experience.
From "The Wild Rose"
by Doris Mortman
This is the power of music: to give sound to our emotions, to translate sentiment into something palpable.
Poetry and literature speak of feeling.
Art depicts mood.
But only music displays our emotions with life; only music gives them definition.
Each creation, each opus becomes a confessional in which composers reveal themselves, converting their emotional essence into sound.
Beethoven introduces us to anger.
Hayden teaches us capriciousness.
Rachmaninoff gives us melancholy.
Wagner is demonic.
Bach is pious.
Schuman was mad and because his genius was able to record his fight for sanity, we hear what isolation and the edge of lunacy sound like.
Liszt is lusty and vigorous, and insists that we confront his overwhelming sexuality as well as our own.
Chopin is a poet, and without him, we never would understand what night is, what perfume is, what romance is.