Tristan und Isolde is an opera, or music drama, in three acts by Richard Wagner to a German libretto by the composer, based largely on the romance by Gottfried von Straßburg. It was composed between 1857 and 1859 and premiered in Munich on June 10,1865 with Hans von Bülow conducting. Wagner referred to the work not as an opera, but called it "eine Handlung" which is literally a drama, a plot or an action.
Wagner's composition of Tristan und Isolde was inspired by his affair with Mathilde Wesendonck and the philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer. Widely acknowledged as one of the peaks of the operatic repertory, Tristan was notable for Wagner's advanced use of chromaticism, tonality, orchestral colour and harmonic suspension.
The opera was profoundly influential among Western classical composers and provided inspiration to composers such as Gustav Mahler, Richard Strauss, Karol Szymanowski, Alban Berg and Arnold Schoenberg. Many see Tristan as the beginning of the move away from conventional harmony and tonality and consider that it lays the groundwork for the direction of classical music in the 20th century. This live 1973 recording stars Birgit Nilsson and Jon Vickers. Karl Bohm conducts.