Related Story: HEAR Modern Music 1 (Wagner)

Richard Wagner, from Prelude of Lohengrin, first performed 1850. Richard Wagner. Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra. Michael Halasz. Naxos, 1992.

Something similar may be noticed in the music of [Richard] Wagner. His famous leitmotiv is an attempt to give personality to his characters by something beyond theatrical expedients and light effect. His method of using a definite motiv is a purely musical method. It creates a spiritual atmosphere by means of a musical phrase which precedes the hero, which he seems to radiate forth.

Hear the next piece of modern music.

Music played a tremendous role in Kandinsky's conception of art and its purpose, and he discussed music extensively in Concerning the Spiritual in Art. He held music to be the most pure art form because it was tied to nothing but itself. In his attempts to free painting from "merely" imitating nature, he repeatedly turned to music as example and analogy. In the same way that musical notes or keys could bring about certain emotions, so too could certain colors. Compositions could be riotous or calm, improvisations or studies.

From the Closer Look in the Art Institute of Chicago app, available for iOS devices through the iTunes Store.