Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

The music

Discover the music of Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

Image: Tristram Kenton

Wagnerian trademarks

The music of Meistersinger is typical of Wagner’s revolutionary style in its rich harmony, complex texture and big, lush orchestration.

Meistersinger features another Wagnerian trademark: Leitmotive, or short musical phrases associated with certain characters, objects, places, plot elements or ideas. Wagner weaves his entire musical tapestry from these meaningful musical threads.

‘Am stillen Herd’ (‘At the quiet hearth’)

Music’s place in society

The idea of musical composition plays a crucial part in Meistersinger, as in Wagner’s earlier opera Tannhäuser. Its dramatic themes include the gulf between high art and popular art, and the conflict between artistic tradition and innovation.

Meistersinger stands out among Wagner’s operas as his only comedy, other than his early Das Liebesverbot, which he later repudiated. Though lyrical and sunny natured, it advances Wagner’s serious ideas on the place of music in society and the comfort music brings in a world filled with madness.

Image: Tristram Kenton

 ‘Wahn’ (‘Madness’)

Highlight: The Prelude

This well-known orchestral introduction to the opera, often played in symphony concerts, introduces Leitmotive that recur later in the opera.

The Prelude begins with two grand themes associated with the Mastersingers and continues with a sweepingly lyrical theme, which later returns as Walther’s ‘Prize Song’.

A central section of the Prelude features a bustling version of the Mastersingers’ theme, which represents their Apprentices, and the Prelude ends with a rousing reprise of the Mastersingers’ themes.

Prelude (Part 2)

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