Subject: The End of Convention
From: Christopher W. Thomas (
Date: Sat May 22, 1999 at 7:14PM

The End of Convention

On this very date in eighteen hundred thirteen
A very unconventional composer came into being
Richard Wagner first saw daylight in Leipzig ...
By twenty ... he'd written his first operatic jig

Following The Fairies ... came Forbidden Love
Written out of the passion for his own first dove
Marrying Minna Planer, then writing Rienzi ...
(His second passionate work many would envy)

Then, whilst crossing the Channel in thirty-nine
Whilst sailing to London - penned the most fine
The Flying Dutchman was completed in France
For Wagner only stayed a week, then advanced

And in eighteen forty two - moved to Dresden ...
Where he'd become a conductor, and then pen
Tannhauser ... the most ambitious opera ever
Which did not initially win him any feathers ...

And so the Court Theater refused to produce ...
Lohengrin ... and so Liszt did ... what could he lose?
For the Hungarian composer had already shown ...
Tannhauser at Weimar, even tho it was overblown

In Switzerland ... Wagner wrote a four-opera series
Based upon an epic German poem - Nibelungenlied
Beginning at the end of the story with the first ...
Gotterdammerung, The Twilight of the Gods, was terse ...

So he followed it up with the third part - Siegfried
Which helped, but there was still more need ...
So the third and fourth parts were written together
Das Rheingold and Die Walkure were tethered ...

Then came the famous work - Tristran and Isolde
Based upon the legendary Arthurian knight's role
In rescuing Iseult from the arms of his uncle Mark
Who'd sent Tristram to get her to be his bridal spark

And then he'd fallen madly in love with the damsel
(Actually - because of a potion with a magic spell)
Which reflected his own new love for another lady
Eventually causing his marital breakup and trading

... Minna in on a newer model - Cosima Von Bulow
Liszt's daughter was not doing well with hubby Guido
So she chucked in the pianist/conductor to bestow ...
All her love on her Dad's oldest friend, a man to know

Who then wrote Siegfried Idyll - really for Cosima
Followed by one based on the Holy Grail - Parsifal
Which'd be the last of the Wagnerian music dramas
For he died six months after producing Parsifal's arias

Leaving in his wake a vastly different form of opera ...
Dramas evolving thru music with a leading motive are
A style which had never really been seen before ...
Now all art since has been influenced by his store ...

- Tristram

Christopher W. Thomas
5:45pm Saturday, May 22nd, 1999