Tristan und Isolde is an opera in three acts by Wagner to a German libretto, based largely on the romance by Gottfried von Strassburg. Wagner's need to present unquenchable yearning and sexual passion in a convincing way led him to widen the scope of his musical resources so drastically that Tristan almost inevitably became one of the most important and revered musical works of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Composers have frequently acknowledged and parodied the modernist ambition of Tristan by using its opening phrase in their own works; this includes Wagner himself. Since Tristan was first put before audiences, nothing quite like it has ever been heard again, despite the many distinguished composers who have tried to emulate it. To this day, it is a work about which it can be safely said that without it Western music since the nineteenth century would have taken a different course.
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