Bayreuth en Richard Wagner's Philadelphia Connection <P>Later this year we’ll mark the Richard Wagner bicentennial, but it was this week in 1883 that the great German composer died.&nbsp; As WRTI’s Jim Cotter reports, in his later years, Wagner would write a piece of orchestral music commissioned by a Philadelphian and premiered in the city.</P> <P>Wagner was 69 years of age when he passed.&nbsp; He had spent his last years raising money to establish a permanent home to showcase his works in the Northern Bavarian town of Bayreuth. To this end when the American Centennial celebrations of 1876 wanted a march to celebrate the role of German Americans in the history of the country, a Philadelphia socialite Elizabeth Gillespie sought the counsel of the German-born conductor Theodore Thomas. He suggested the $5000 commission be offered to Wagner. Wagner gratefully accepted, and delivered the work.&nbsp; Temple Art History professor Therese Dolan, who has written a book about the intersection of music and the visual arts in 19<SUP>th</SUP> century Paris says Wagner’s Grand March is not one of his grandest works.</P> <P><EM>You can tell that his heart wasn’t in it.&nbsp; He was building </EM><EM>Bayreuth</EM><EM>, so he charged five thousand dollars for this twelve minute piece of music and it was played when Roosevelt came to the Worlds’ Fair.</EM></P> <P>And though it’s been rarely played since, whatever the piece lacked in musical quality it made up for with typical Wagnerian bombast.</P> <P><EM>A hundred and fifty piece orchestra and then he also wanted a canon to be set off at the end of it.&nbsp; Critics felt there was no American feeling in it.&nbsp; Well what did they expect?&nbsp; They commissioned a German to do it. </EM></P> <P>Therese Dolan’s book <EM>Artworks of the Future: Manet, Wagner and Liszt</EM> will be published later this year.</P> <P> Tue, 12 Feb 2013 20:48:02 +0000 Jim Cotter 5135 at Richard Wagner's Philadelphia Connection