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Festspielhaus Bayreuth (Wagner, Richard), 1873

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Wagner identified the composer Beethoven, the hero of «absolute music», as leading the way in this movement. He describes Beethoven's symphonies as «redeeming music from its own most particular element to become general art. It is the human gospel of the art of the future. No progress is possible from it, from it only the perfect work of art of the future can follow directly, the general drama, to which Beethoven has forged the artistic key for us. Thus music has produced from itself something that none of the other separate arts could do.» [16]

Wagner believed that he had received this artistic key himself. He strove towards the Gesamtkunstwerk he so desired to achieve by building the Festspielhaus in Bayreth, reserved exclusively for performances of his own works. The musical staging, with the orchestra in a concealed pit that concentrates the audience's attention entirely on the interplay of music and stage setting is seen as a precursor of cinematic performances.

Wagner's ideas were not without their effect on the fine arts. One of the outstanding examples of his


enormous cultural influence is provided by the Leipzig artist Max Klinger (1857- 1920). Over 16 years, and at a cost of over 100,000 marks he created his polychrome «Beethoven» sculpture.

Classical Modernism - the early days of abstraction

Wagner's synaesthetic ideas became the starting-point for one of Modernism's fundamental developments: abstraction. The simultaneity of acoustic and visual perception, made reality by staging at the Bayreuth Festspielhaus, became a new challenge for those who were preparing the way for abstract painting. As well as Frantisek Kupka (1871-1957), Mikalojus Ciurlionis (1875-1911) and Francis Picabia (1879-1953), these included the Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944). Looking back on his early days on Moscow, Kandinsky remarked: «But Lohengrin seemed to be to be a perfect realization of this Moscow. The violins, the deep base notes and the wind instruments in particular embodied the whole power of the evening hour for me at that time. I saw all my colours in my mind, they were there before my eyes. Wild, almost mad lines drew themselves in front of me. I did not

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