Wagner in Meantone


Richard Wagner composed after the end of the meantone era, so performing his music in a meantone tuning is ahistorical. However, assuming it was performed in a strictly equal temperament is also hard to justify on historical grounds. To add to the confusion, it has been claimed by some that Wagner's style does not lend itself to a meantone tuning, whereas others have pointed out that some of Wagner's harmonies, such as the famous Tristan chord, make a great deal of sense if interpreted in a meantone context.

There is some evidence that Wagner preferred non-equal tuning of some kind for his music. He disapproved (according to Donald Tevey) of the old horn technique when valves were introduced, and insisted that horn players learn to produce sounds closer to the old ones. It's also been reported that small commatic adjustments were a part of the technique of the Bayreuth orchestra.

Below is some of the music of Wagner, tuned in various versions of meantone tuning, allowing people to make their own judgments about its suitability.

Meistersinger overture in 55edo 14.6 mb

Prelude to Tristan und Isolde in 31edo 14.6 mb