Gesamtkunstwerk

DEFINITION

The integration of all of the arts ( music, poetry, dance, and other visual elements) into a single medium of dramatic expression. This term was used by Richard Wagner to describe the vision of his later operas (in the late Romantic era), where the integration of these elements were critical to his vision of a unified and complete art-form. Wagner was looking to return to the practices that were thought to be used in ancient Greece to perfectly combine the arts. Although these ideas were not originally Wagner's, he championed them in several theoretical essays between 1849 and 1851. His thoughts were first articulated in his essay Das Kunstwerk der Zukunft ( The Artwork of the Future) in 1849. Wagner applied many of his theories with the opening of the Festspielhaus Theater in 1876 in Bayreuth, Germany. Here he was able to employ many of his innovations to completely immerse the audience in the performance. Many of these innovations are now common practice in modern music and theater performances.

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