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"The Magic and Challenge of Time in Wagner's Music Dramas"

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Time is a crucial element in all music; but in none is its role so central, so complex, and so under-appreciated, as in the works of Richard Wagner.  I will discuss aspects of Wagner's unique use of time, both within the narrative of the dramatic action, but also as it is experienced by the listener.  An important facet of this is, of course, the famous Leitmotif, an almost universally present feature in Wagner's mature works but one which is widely misunderstood, especially its use in the Ring.  Much more than labels or rather silly names, Leitmotifs have a central function in creating a labyrinthine web of connections between the Past, the Present and the Future that lies at the heart of the magic and power of works such as the Ring, "Tristan und Isolde" and others.  I will also touch on how this represents a special challenge for performers.


JEFFREY SWANN enjoys an international performing career which has taken him throughout the United States, Europe, Latin America and Asia. He won first prize in the Dino Ciani Competition sponsored by La Scala in Milan, a gold medal at the Queen Elisabeth Competition, a bronze medal at the Van Cliburn Competition, and top honors at the Warsaw Chopin, Vianna da Motta and Montreal Competitions, as well as the Young Concert Artists auditions in New York City. His large and varied repertoire includes more than 60 concertos as well as solo works ranging from Bach to Boulez.

In addition to presenting lecture/recitals worldwide, Mr. Swann has performed with the symphonies of Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Indiana, Dallas, Saint Louis, Phoenix, Houston, Lexington, Baltimore and Minneapolis; and in Europe with the orchestras of Rotterdam, The Hague, Belgian National and Radio, Santa Cecilia, La Scala, Maggio Fiorentino (Florence), RAI Turin and Rome, Südwest Rundfunk, Bayerischer Rundfunk, the Prague Philharmonic, Radio France de Montpellier, and the London Philharmonia, among many others. The conductors with whom he has performed include Zdenek Macal, David Robertson, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Marek Janowski, William Steinberg, Kazimirz Kord, Myung-Whun Chung, Roberto Abbado, Riccardo Chailly, Daniele Gatti
and Leonard Slatkin.

In addition, Jeffrey Swann is an Internationally renowned Wagner scholar. He lectures throughout the United States, illustrating from the piano, and is a frequent guest of the Bayreuth Festival. Current Wagner activities include lectures on “The Norm Scene” for the Metropolitan Opera Guild; “Wagnerian Influences” for Wagner in der Wildnis; “Love vs. Power in DIE WALKÜRE” at Tanglewood; and “An Introduction to the Music of the RING” for the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra’s performance of The RING Without Words. He has also written extensively on Wagner, most recently “Wagner and Proust,” for The Wagner Journal, published by Oxford University Press.


Jeffrey Swann studied with Alexander Uninsky at Southern Methodist University and with Beveridge Webster and Adele Marcus at The Juilliard School, where he received his B.M., M.M. and D.M.A. Degrees. He has made recordings for Ars Polona, Deutsche- Gramophon, RCA-Italy, Replica, Fonit-Cetra, Music & Arts, and Agorá. His CD, “The Virtuoso Liszt” (Music & Arts) won the Liszt Society’s Grand Prix, and his first volume of the Complete Beethoven Sonatas (Agorá) was chosen one of the Best of the Year by Fanfare magazine. His recordings are now available online through NAR Classical.
Jeffrey Swann was Artistic Director of the Dino Ciani Festival & Academia (Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy) and Artistic Director of the Scuola Normale Superiore’s Concert Series (Pisa). He is currently Professor of Piano at New York University and the President’s Distinguished Artist-in-Residence at Northern Arizona University.

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