For many lovers of opera, there are composers who have written opera, and there is Richard Wagner. During his lifetime, Wagner wrote and staged some of the most detailed and densely-structured operas of the 19th century, including Gotterdammerung, Die Walkure, Das Rheingold, and Tristan und Isolde. Edited and designed by Patrick Swinkels, this Web site represents what is perhaps the most ambitious effort thus far to present many of Wagner's prose writings online, along with his correspondence and libretti. On the site, visitors can read reviews of his operatic productions from the 19th century, and read background essays about the myths and legends he drew on for his many works. Additionally, the site presents (in English translation) the complete text of the 1911 edition of Wagner's letters to his family, and also features links to the legendary correspondence between Wagner and Liszt housed at the Project Gutenberg Web site. It may be worth taking a look at the site just to read some of Wagner's elaborate (if not always well-structured) musings, particularly "The Artist and Publicity," which begins with a characteristically dramatic flourish: "When I am along, and the musical strings begin to stir within me, strange whirling sounds take shape of chords, until at last a melody springs forth, revealing to me the idea of my whole being."
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