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Writing music

Here is Richard Wagner's 1880 program note for King Ludwig of Bavaria for the performance of his opera Parsifal:

First theme: Love

"Take ye my body, take my blood, in token of our love!" (repeated in faint whispers by angel voices)

"Take ye my blood, my body take, in memory of me!" -- (again, repeated in whispers.)

Second theme: Faith

Promise of redemption through faith. Firmly and stoutly faith declares itself, exalted, willing even in suffering.-- To the promise renewed Faith answers from the dimmest heights -- as on the pinions of the snow-white dove -- hovering downwards -- usurping more and more the hearts of men, filling the world, the whole of Nature with the mightiest force, then glancing up again to heaven's vault as if appeased. But once more, from out the awe of solitude, throbs forth the cry of loving pity: the agony, the holy sweat of Olivet, the divine death-throes of Golgotha -- the body pales, the blood flows forth, and glows now in the chalice with the heavenly glow of blessing, shedding on all that lives and languishes the grace of ransom won by Love. For him who -- fearful rue for sin at heart -- must quail before the godlike vision of the Grail, for Amfortas, sinful keeper of the sacred relic, we are made ready: will redemption heal the gnawing torments of the soul? Once more we hear the promise, and -- we hope!

These are the only words I have read about Parsifal that actually get me closer to understanding the piece.

They are not difficult to understand, and sharply contrast the various wordy "explanations" that intellectuals have written about this and other works of this composer.

Maybe we should just accept that music, however complex in the execution, is not generally difficult to explain, at least, not if it is any good. Pop musicians seem to understand this, and the principle of simple, though often pungent, themes works for me, too. 

My compositions start with the effect, and from this the melody, countermelody and harmony follow. It takes me a long time to write, because I want to create something that sounds new, whatever the influences were.

I have three finished pieces and two more in progress (although have no idea when they will be completed).

Now … although I firmly believe that music should mostly strive to be beautiful, I would not dare to say this publicly as "serious" classical composers regard this view as naïve and passé.

However, it is the reason I have little interest in attending any opera written since 1900, and why I would often rather face the other way for those written before then.

One recent opera I would have gladly attended, though, was Cinderella by Alma Deutscher. Here is Alma explaining why music should be beautiful:

You will note a confidence that you would not expect in a twelve-year-old. I have high hopes for her: she may even be what the world now needs to enable the world of classical music to re-connect with the public, who, after all, generally are appreciative of beauty.

James Hurley

Here is another person who is already making an impact on the world of opera, and this time one I know personally: James Hurley.

James is an opera director whose gets his singers to act. In a way, I feel sorry for them. Just standing on stage and singing would be a lot easier, and many directors, if such a post exists, are happy to allow this. However, with James's approach the stories are really brought to life!

He generally chooses modern dress and modern sets, something I do not normally condone unless the opera itself is recent, but James's view is that, after the music, the acting is the most important thing, and in order to get the best performances out of them, he has to put them in modern dress. I am not convinced!