Are you a Brahmsian or a Wagnerite?

In the “War of the Romantics, “where do you stand? In Austria and Germany and most of Europe during Beethoven, Brahms, and Wagner’s time, there were no political parties.  The American and French Revolutions had not impacted all.   Musical conservatives and liberals, however, did take sides.

Composer Richard Strauss’s father was a famous musician of his time and in the conservative Brahms camp.  The wild new guys were Richard Wagner and Franz Liszt.  Imagine when Richard Strauss told his conservative Bavarian father, he was a Wagnerite. Strauss like Humperdinck, Gustav Mahler and many other falls into the Wagner camp. Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, or Green Party debates are probably small stuff compared to the Brahmsian, Wagnerite dilemma of the past.

Both groups felt they were the faithful followers of Beethoven (the constitution), and they were the future history of music.  This Brahms vs. Wagner debate is some ways still goes on.  However, the clear winner, in my view, is Wagner. Many like me, love the music of both Wagner and Brahms. Most of the worthiest composers that follow Wagner will site him as most influential. These would include Richard Strauss, Puccini, Mahler, Stravinsky, Debussy, Ravel, Berlioz, John Williams, and many others.  John Williams and most of the movie composers you love, like Korngold and Bernard Hermann, fall into the Wagner camp.  The music of Star Wars and E.T is from the Wagnerian. “Good artists borrow great artists steal.”

Wagner, like Louis Armstrong,  Henry Ford, or Steve Jobs, changes our world.

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