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Thursday, May 2, 2013

THE STORY OF RICHARD WAGNER Part 2

As we read of a great man we must learn to see the world as it was in his day.

...so who were the great musicians when Mr. Wagner was a boy? Well, here are some of them. Can you tell one fact about each of the men whose pictures come next?

LISZT

SCHUMANN

VERDI

CHOPIN

Wagner's father died when he was only six months old, and the boy was brought up by his mother and his step-father, who was very kind to him. In one way Wagner was unlike most of the other great composers. He did not show any talent for music until he was almost a man. All that he thought of was writing plays. When he did study, he was so bright and worked so hard that he learned in less than a year more than many learn in a lifetime. Here is a picture of Wagner's mother, who cared for him so tenderly.

WAGNER'S MOTHER

When we read the stories of Charles Dickens we make many friends. And they are among the very best we ever have. There are Little Nell, Paul Dombey, Sam Weller, Oliver Twist, and a host of others.

Writers like Dickens bring all sorts of people before us. But few composers can do such a thing.

Yet there are some who do this, and one of the greatest is Richard Wagner. In his operas a host of people live,—people as real and as interesting as those in the stories of Charles Dickens.

There is Walter, who sings the Prize Song in Die Meistersinger, and Eva, whom he loves. And in the same opera there is Beckmesser, the fussy old schoolmaster kind of a man. And Hans Sachs, the cobbler.

SCENE FROM DIE MEISTERSINGER

There is a lovely scene in the third act of this opera. We see a meadow light and bright in the sunshine. A glistening river flows quietly through it. Everywhere on the water there are boats. Scattered over the meadow there are tents. Everybody is out for a holiday time. All is lively and full of color and bright and cheery. Now there pass before us the tradesmen singing in chorus. There are cobblers and carpenters led by the town pipers. And every trade sings its own songs.

Then comes the scene in which Walter and Beckmesser sing in contest. Beckmesser begins. He stutters and stammers and struggles through his song. And finally, like a school-boy who does not know his lesson, he breaks down.

Then Walter comes to sing the lovely Prize Song; a melody that just sings itself into the heart of everyone.

WALTER'S PRIZE SONG Listen

Do you wonder that with such lovely music Walter wins the contest and the hand of Eva whom he loves? Jolly old Hans Sachs is so happy over it all that he sings a rollicking song and everybody joins in with him as the curtain goes down.

HANS SACHS


Please return tomorrow for the final part of the story...

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