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WikiProject Richard Wagner (Rated Start-class)
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I've added the Babel Fish translation, "synthesis of the arts," as a literal translation. I realize that Babel Fish translations are notoriously, y'know... bad, so anyone with any real knowledge of the language feel free to change it by all means. DTM 04:27, 15 November 2005 (UTC)

How does one pronounce the word properly? Shawnc 23:37, 24 December 2005 (UTC)

I think it's pronounced something like "geh-sahmt-koonst-vehrk", though admittedly, that's just a guess based on my limited knowledge of German pronounciation. --Eddy1701 03:28, 30 May 2006 (UTC)
Actually, you hit it quite well. The "geh" sounds a bit like "ge" in armageddon, "sahmt" uses a rather short vowel like in "sum", the "oo" in "koohnst" is a short vowel like in "cookie", and well: "vehrk" - just think of "v-air-k".
However, I'm not sure wether the *meaning* of "Gesamtkunstwerk" is accurately described. It may be true that the term was coined by Wagner (or coined to describe Wagner's style), but in today's German the meaning ist different: It's just "the entirety of an artist's works" - pretty much like "complete artwork", but with an emphasis on a systematic interpretation of an artist's work by critic and researchers (would you write it like that?).
It's a bit like "pile of bricks" and "house". The number of bricks may be the same, but the house would be the "Gesamtkunstwerk". It's not only the "complete artwork", but also "completed artwork". If the artist died before finishing his work, well, it would be something like an unfinished Gesamtkunstwerk. Usually you don't refer to a living artist's work as Gesamtkunstwerk, because the entirety (and the meaning of the entirety of his works) is still nascent. (Hope this wasn't too complicated ...) -- C. Deelmann (talk) 17:53, 19 March 2008 (UTC)
Quite wrong, Mr. Deelmann! Gesamtkunstwerk to this day refers to artwork that incorporates different areas of art supporting each other to convey meaning. Perhaps you were thinking of "Gesamtwerk"?
The term "Gesamtkunstwerk" was not coined by Wagner, who did use it to describe his operas. It was coined a little earlier by a German philosopher. For a decent description of the term see the German version of Wikipedia (if you can read German that is). —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:32, 22 May 2008 (UTC)

Could you put in the German plural as well? It would be useful. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:22, 4 October 2011 (UTC)

I'm not sure whether mentioning the German plural "Gesamtkunstwerke" is useful. It doesn't seem to be used much in English writing. The interested reader will find it via the link at the top of the page to Wikt:Gesamtkunstwerk. -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 10:27, 4 October 2011 (UTC)

"Synthesis of the Arts"[edit]

The phrase "synthesis of the arts" is not a literal translation, it's a dictionary definition. The literal translation is mentioned in the first sentence of this article: "gesamt" (geh-ZAHMT) means "total" and "Kunstwerk" (KOONST-vehrk) means "artwork." Notice that calling "synthesis of the arts" a literal translation contradicts the first sentence. So I've changed the phrasing.Drollison 04:05, 8 September 2006 (UTC)

Last paragraph[edit]

The paragraph about Wagner's theatrical innovations has nothing to do with Gesamtkunstwerk. The design of the theatre and house lighting are not part of his concept of the creation of the art form itself.

First Use[edit]

In the German language Wikipedia, it claims that philosopher Eusebius Trahndorff first used the term in "Ästhetik oder Lehre von der Weltanschauung und Kunst" (1827) Can anyone confirm this claim? DutchTreat (talk) 22:30, 24 April 2008 (UTC)


I agree with merging the Wagnerian content of Music drama into this article. --Kleinzach 13:27, 30 June 2008 (UTC)

Duly merged. Not much of the material in the Music drama article was usable, but I've inserted a short "potted history" of the genre. Moreschi (talk) (debate) 18:30, 13 July 2008 (UTC)


I’ve replaced the “Glossary of German terms” category, because it is a German term; the question is whether it is also a loanword. Wiktionary is no good as a source, because WP shouldn’t be self-referencing; do you have a general English dictionary that has the word in? Moonraker12 (talk) 00:30, 2 July 2009 (UTC)

  1. I think the Category:Glossary of German terms is misnamed: "Glossary of German terms" is a title for a potential article, not for a category; the proper category for the intended class of words is Category:German words and phrases.
  2. I'm almost speechless by your request for sources which prove the use of "Gesamtkunstwerk" in English. Try gesamtkunstwerk+definition; here are some:
    1. Encyclopædia Britannica
    2. The Grove Dictionary of Art
    5. The Free Dictionary
    6., citing seven English-language articles
    7. Your Dictionary, citing Webster's New World Dictionary
  3. I think you misunderstand WP:SELF; millions of Wikipedia pages contain links to articles in Wiktionary (and other projects). My mentioning of Wiktionary in the edit summary was just a shortcut to establish English usage of this term.
I suggest to remove the category "Glossary of German terms" from this article again, and, as I pointed out above, to consider whether that category fulfills any useful purpose or whether it impedes the usefulness of Category:German words and phrases. The difficulty of defining the boundaries between Category:German loanwords and Category:Glossary of German terms are quite obvious in your own edits which should have lead you to question the usefulness of the latter. -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 06:26, 2 July 2009 (UTC)
Webster’s, hey? Well, there you go! (Although the Dictionary of Art is hardly general, and the Britannica is hardly a dictionary, is it?). It wasn’t in mine (Collins) nor in my “German English Words: a popular dictionary” nor even, double-checking, in the library’s OED. And it isn’t a word I’ve ever heard in casual conversation.
There seems to be a clear difference between words (like Abseil, Dachshund, Gestalt, Pretzel) would be used and recognized by people whose first, or only, language is English; and words (like Bremmstrallung, Entscheidungsproblem, Festschrift, Ordnungspolizei) which wouldn’t. Gesamskunstwerk seems to be of the latter, but there you go, it is in a dictionary; and as I was following on from the the discussion here (and, previously, here) that was the criteria discussed. So, if you think that’s the category where it belongs, go to it.
But, “almost speechless” at my request? Isn’t that what we do on WP, ask for sources for things we’re dubious about? I’ll have to ask for your indulgence towards for us proles who don’t go to the opera much.
If you are unhappy with the category I've created then by all means bring it up on the talk page; the stuff I was chucking out of the loanword category needed to go somewhere, but if you have a better idea, it's negotiable. Moonraker12 (talk) 16:14, 3 July 2009 (UTC)
Of course words like Geamtkunstwerk or Gestalt don't occur in casual conversation, and whether one or the other is more readily recognized by people whose first or only language is English depends very much on those people; categorising them differently seems an utterly personal point of view. I was struck almost speechless by the contrast between your assertion that the word is not a loanword and its frequency in English writing.
I still think that the name "Glossary of German terms" is wrong for a category, and that the proper category for the words you are concerned about is German words and phrases. -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 07:35, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
As far as that goes, I’m not chuffed about the "German loanwords" category either, as the title is misleading. It would be more accurate to say they are "English loanwords of German origin"… Moonraker12 (talk) 18:04, 8 July 2009 (UTC)
How is "German loanwords" misleading? "English loanwords of German origin" is unnecessarily verbose — this is the English Wikipedia, so "English" is superfluous. That leaves "Loanwords of German origin" which is just a clumsier version of "German loanwords". -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 03:32, 28 July 2009 (UTC)
Well, “German loanwords” could mean “German words derived from another language, say, English” or “Words in a language, say, English, derived from German”. So “loanwords of german origin” is more accurate, hmm? And “English loanwords…” makes the point it is English words we are talking about.
But it’s fairly academic now; the majority of the loanword categories have the “x loanword” format, and the “glossary.. “ category you took objection to has disappeared. Moonraker12 (talk) 10:28, 1 August 2009 (UTC)

Frequency of translations by Google[edit]

It may be interesting to compare the Google hits of the given translations, definitions, and explanations:

synthesis of the arts 145 000
total work of art 18 700
total artwork 8 280
universal artwork 1 540
comprehensive artwork 704
all-embracing art form 124

Adam78 (talk) 12:42, 24 July 2009 (UTC)

"Attic tragedy"[edit]

What exactly is the "Attic tragedy"? "Tragedy" is linked but there is no explanation of what Attic refers to. freshacconci talktalk 11:50, 23 March 2010 (UTC)

I've reworded to what should be clearer.--Peter cohen (talk) 13:09, 23 March 2010 (UTC)

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