X-RATED CLASSICAL MUSIC AND COMPOSERS

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MICHAEL WALSH EXCLUSIVE: If X-rated adult entertainment is music to your ears then orchestral music may be just what you are looking for. Enthusiasts of television soaps would eat their hearts out if they knew what orchestral music fans have been enjoying for the last few hundred years.

How does violent blood-letting with plenty of incest, deformities, necrophilia sound? Imagine, a brutish dwarf having his wicked way with a dead maiden and that is not half of it. This is none of your romantic bodice-ripping nonsense. It is Richard Wagner’s The Ring Cycle: four operas in one, The Ring, Rheingold, Valkyrie and Gotterdammerung.

Wotan is the rascal of the plot. Although he’s married to Fricka his eye settles on his wife’s sister whilst she is frolicking with a female human. Erda the Earth Goddess and their illegitimate daughters the Valkyries aren’t missed either in Wotan’s pursuit of steamy lurve. Siegfried is the son of an incestuous union between Siegmund and Sieglinde but let us calm down as this is family reading after all.

Wagner was also irresponsible for the grand opera Tannhäuser which tells the tale of the medieval minstrel of that name and whose unholy liaison with the pagan love-goddess Venus leads us to a showdown between sacred and profane love.

When he later found himself having to provide a ballet, he extended the opening orgy sequence, set in the goddess’s enchanted grotto, into a frenzy of love-making between assorted nymphs, satyrs and fauns and subsequently created a brand-new concert piece by adding it to a shortened version of the original overture

Composers of great orchestral works had much in common with their musical extravaganzas. There’s hardly a great musician whose lifestyle could be described as mediocre.

Richard Wagner was not the most agreeable of men. The ultimate egotist he was selfish, inconsiderate, bombastic, and ruthless. Modesty wasn’t his forte. No, he was here on earth to carry out God’s work and that was that. Even his critics have cast him in the mould of a deity citing his mysterious birth, the gospel-like fascination of his works and the immortal Bayreuth temple created to impart his genius.

Richard Wagner was an orchestral super-star. A rebel with more than a cause up his dirty sleeve, the young Richard was expelled from university where he was notorious for drinking, gambling, duelling and chasing skirt. He married the actress, Wilhelmina Plana (Minna), a pretty woman but it never curbed his lust for a comely wench. Among his many conquests was the 21-year old English wife of a wine merchant.

Apart from being a serial wife-cheater Wagner was a political revolutionary who was also twice imprisoned for debt. On several occasions he was a fleeing refugee from justice, and that before he was thirty.

After his English conquest returned to her husband, Richard was given the freedom of a luxurious villa by its owner, a wealthy silk merchant. Wagner repaid his host’s kindness by bonking his missus. If that doesn’t get you dewy-eyed then his opera Tristan and Isolde said to have been inspired by her surely will.

Tiring of the sound of twanging bedsprings his long-suffering host gave Richard Wagner and Minna enough money to bugger off from the family home. Minna, Wagner’s tolerant wife with dog and parrot suffered more infidelity. The bed-hopping Richard Wagner ended up in the four-poster bed with Cosima, the wife of a friend who also happened to be the daughter of Franz Liszt, another of Richard’s close friends.

Richard Wagner fathered two illegitimate daughters and the famous composer took up with Cosima only after he had tried her sister out first. Wagner was well into his sixties when he enjoyed his final fling. His luxurious villa at Bayreuth was named Wahnfried which translates as ‘Free from Delusion’.

Ludwig van Beethoven had a roving eye although he never married; perhaps there was little need. A number of ladies were known to keep his company. He lived in so many places he must have had difficulty finding each new route to his publishers.

The maturing Beethoven described Franz Liszt as a ‘devil of a fellow, ‘such a young rascal.’ The impossibly handsome Franz Liszt also had an eye for the ladies. An early dalliance of his was with the 16-year-old daughter of the French Minister of Commerce.

You would be wrong to feel this happened so long ago as to be an irrelevancy. Liszt’s one surviving child, Cosima who was to elope with and marry Richard Wagner, died as recently as 1930.

Brahms was, of course, a bit of a lad as one might expect from a gifted pianist who worked his way up through the dockside taverns and brothels of Hamburg. He and Clara Schumann, the wife of his best friend Robert Schumann, were very much in love. To their credit, it remained unconsummated. His Second Symphony is said to be dedicated to her.

A young composer of a funeral march dedicated to Beethoven once asked Brahms his opinion of it. Brahms replied: ‘I’d be much happier if you were dead and Beethoven had written the march!’

Johannes Brahms 

Camille Saint-Saens was France’s most prolific and gifted composer. At one time 20% of cinematic films used his compositions for backing music. His most memorable compositions include Samson and Delilah and Carnival of the Animals, including the much loved Swan. Best forgotten, as in Tchaikovsky’s case, was Camille Saint-Saens rampant homosexuality.

The young J. S Bach married his cousin, Maria Barbara to whom he was devoted. They had seven children before her death thirteen years later. Within 18-months of her death, he married Anna Wilcken, 16-years his junior and added a further 13 children to the Bach family. J. S Bach had a roving eye but the same could be said for Giacomo Puccini (1858 – 1924) whose operas still pack them in.

Puccini insisted on solitude saying he needed peace to create his musical scores. In fact, he hired a lady to play the piano. Then whilst his adoring wife Elvira thought he was composing but was making out with his mistress. Yes, Giacomo Puccini epitomised fast cars, fast boats, and faster women when he wasn’t indulging his passion for shooting game birds. 

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MICHAEL WALSH is a journalist, author, and broadcaster. His 64 books include best-selling RHODESIA’S DEATH EUROPE’S FUNERAL, AFRICA’S KILLING FIELDS,  THE LAST GLADIATORS, A Leopard in Liverpool, RISE OF THE SUN WEELEUROPE ARISE, FOR THOSE WHO CANNOT SPEAK, THE ALL LIES INVASIONINSPIRE A NATION Volume IINSPIRE A NATION Volume II , and many other book titles. These illustrated best-selling books are essential for the libraries of informed readers.

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