Tristan und Isolde

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Uncompleted Operas

Tristan und Isolde (Tristan and Isolde, or Tristan and Isolda) is an opera, or music drama, in three acts by Richard Wagner to a German libretto by the composer, based largely on the romance by Gottfried von Straßburg. It was composed between 1856 and 1859 and premiered in Munich on 10 June 1865 with Hans von Bülow conducting. Wagner referred to "Tristan und Isolde" not as an opera, but called it "Ein Handlung" (literally A Drama or An Action), which was the term used by the Spanish playwright Calderón for his dramas.

Wagner's composition of Tristan und Isolde was inspired by his affair with Mathilde Wesendonck and the philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer. Widely acknowledged as one of the peaks of the operatic repertory, Tristan was notable for Wagner's advanced use of chromaticism, tonality, orchestral colour and harmonic suspension.

The opera was profoundly influential amongst Western classical composers and provided inspiration to composers such as Gustav Mahler, Richard Strauss, Karol Szymanowski, Alban Berg and Arnold Schoenberg. Many see Tristan as the beginning of the move away from conventional harmony and tonality and consider that it lays the groundwork for the direction of classical music in the 20th century.[1]


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