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Boston Wagner Event: The Beauty of the Abyss

Written By The Wagnerian on Friday, 24 October 2014 | 5:40:00 pm

Jean Delville, "Tristan et Iseut,
 
The View from the Rim: Tristan, the Grand Canyon, and the Beauty of the Abyss

Presented by
James Holman, Chairman of the Wagner Society of Washington DC

The quarter century from 1857 to 1883, from the composition of Tristan und Isolde to the composer’s death, marked a period of unprecedented and revolutionary change, change in the way we look at the world and the way we look at ourselves. The “discovery” of the Grand Canyon, and the beauty of looking “downward,” is an apt metaphor, both for Wagner’s masterpiece and for a civilization coming to terms with the modern world.

Please join us for another superb presentation by James Holman, Chairman of the Wagner Society of Washington DC and author/editor of several books on Wagner. The book Quo Vadis, Wagner: Approaching the Bicentennial will be distributed for free and signed by Chairman James K. Holman, who is the editor. The book includes essays by luminaries such as Leon Botstein, Jeffrey Buller, Maureen Dowd, Evelyn Lear, Saul Lilienstein, Barry Millington, John J. Pohanka, Alex Ross, Nicholas Vazsony, Simon Williams, and Francesca Zambello

Sunday, Nov. 9, 3 p.m.
The College Club
44 Commonwealth Ave.
Boston

Tickets: $15; Members $10
For tickets, click HERE.

For more information: info@bostonwagnersociety.org ∙ 617-323-6088
Boston Wagner Society
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History Of The Ring Cycle In The USA - 1850-1903

Written By The Wagnerian on Thursday, 23 October 2014 | 8:20:00 pm

"While Tommasini’s statement seems to neatly encapsulate the Ring cycle’s significance today, it also raises the question of why it appears to be Wagner’s cycle, and not some other operatic work, that now defines one pinnacle of opera production, or perhaps to a certain extent, even cultural progress, in cities all over the world." Hannah Chan

A highly readable doctoral dissertation from Dr Hannah Chan, that documents and discusses
the American performance and reception of Wagner's Cycle between 1850-1903 and its legacy and impact. Highly recommended

Der Ring des Nibelungen in the New World: the American performance and reception of Wagner's Cycle, 1850-1903

 Hannah Chan

Abstract: Given the central position of Wagner’s operas in art music culture over the past century and a half, the performance and reception of his works in various national contexts has received—and continues to receive—considerable scholarly attention. Of significant interest is the period of the late nineteenth century, when the composer’s aesthetic theories and music were being introduced and disseminated on both sides of the Atlantic. This dissertation examines the early performance and reception history of Wagner’s monumental operatic cycle, Der Ring des Nibelungen, in the social and cultural context of opera production and performance in the United States from 1850 to 1903.

 It considers the social and cultural processes that led to the incorporation of the work’s operas into an ongoing repertory, about a decade before World War I interrupted the process of the assimilation of Wagner’s legacy in American performances. 

This study is situated within the context of the vital transatlantic relationship between Germany and the U.S. that brought about the rise and dissemination of German musical culture—and in particular, Wagner’s music—in the New World during this period. The chapters of the dissertation focus on two chief facilitators of this development: 1) German and German-American musicians who promoted the composer’s music through performance; and 2) American critics who advocated on behalf of these works. 

The production and reception of Wagner’s Ring in nineteenth-century America was more than a simple cultural exchange; the process was one in which the U.S. (with certain cities at the forefront) came to define itself as a culturally progressive nation, open to the assimilation of German musical culture. Moreover, in bringing their music to American audiences, German musicians moved into the American musical world and in doing so, many became themselves American. Concerning the Ring dramas, this dissertation investigates the ways in which these musicians first introduced and disseminated the cycle’s music to Americans, and the key role of German artists who were imported to the U.S. for the first American stagings of the work’s operas.

 This discussion is positioned within a broader consideration of the social and economic conditions that influenced the American production of Wagner opera, as it moved from the theatres of New York’s Kleindeutschland (Little Germany) to elite institutions such as the Metropolitan Opera House, and eventually, from the Metropolitan Opera to other major American cities. In tandem with the early performance history of the Ring in the U.S., the American reception of Wagner’s Ring cycle is analyzed utilizing two methods. One is a demographic study of the audiences who were present at the operas’ performances in Bayreuth and the U.S. To ascertain what kinds of Americans went to performances of the Ring and the extent to which they were interested in its music (compared to other Wagner operas and foreign-language opera in general), extant records such as visitor lists, box office receipts, and recorded observations in the media are examined. These sources reveal that the nineteenth-century mania for Wagner in the United States was primarily led by the middle and upper-middle classes, comprising of Anglo- and German-Americans who were guided by the notion that cultivating an appreciation of his music enabled their social mobility. 

The other approach is an assessment of the opinions of American music critics, as published in reviews and articles for major newspapers and periodicals. At this time, the influx of Wagner’s music into the United States was accompanied by the parallel rise of music criticism as a profession. Certain journalists stood to shape the tastes of Americans for his operas and in this study, their responses to the music and staging of the Ring dramas at different historical points are evaluated in detail. In sum, the writings of these critics document their shifting attitudes to, and changing experiences with, the Ring operas, as they were coming to terms with the composer’s aesthetic theories and works, while seeking to groom American audiences for them. 

Click Here To Download .








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The Fatality of Romanticism vs. The Metaphysics of Sexual Love: Wagner's Love Letter

The Fatality of Romanticism vs. The Metaphysics of Sexual Love: Wagner's Love Letter to Schopenhauer and the Break-Up with Nietzsche.

Robert Cowan

Journal Article Monatshefte 106(1) 1-16 (2014) 

"Goethe hat sich einmal die Fragevorgelegt, was die Gefahr sei, dieu¨ber allen Romantikern schwebe: dasRomantiker-Verha¨ngniss. Seine Antwortist: ,,am Wiederka¨uern sittlicher undreligio¨ser Absurdita¨ten zu ersticken.“Ku¨rzer: Parsifal".—Friedrich Nietzsche, Der Fall Wagner: Ein Musikanten-Problem (1888) 

Introduction: How to Achieve Transcendence

Richard Wagner and Friedrich Nietzsche are well known as embattled dis-ciples of Arthur Schopenhauer and both, like their mentor, struggle to rec-oncile conceptions of immanence and transcendence. But for Wagner, thisbattle does not center around questions of happiness, as it does for Schopen-hauer, or power, as it does for Nietzsche. For the composer, immanence andtranscendence are bound up in the battle between sexual union and chastity.

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Book Of The Month:Treacherous Bonds and Laughing Fire

We have left this book far to long to review. So,  one shall follow shortly, But in the mean time we have decided to make this our book of the month. Yes, it is horrendously expensive but that surely is what libraries are for - should you not want to make the investment.  Full details below and a more than generous sample also. 

Treacherous Bonds and Laughing Fire: Politics and Religion in Wagner's Ring.

Mark Berry, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK

Mark Berry explores the political and religious ideas expounded in Wagner's Ring through close attention to the text and drama, the multifarious intellectual influences upon the composer during the work's lengthy gestation and composition, and the wealth of Wagner source material. Many of his writings are explicitly political in their concerns, for Wagner was emphatically not a revolutionary solely for the sake of art. Yet it would be misleading to see even the most 'political' tracts as somehow divorced from the aesthetic realm; Wagner's radical challenge to liberal-democratic politics makes no such distinction. This book considers Wagner's treatment of various worlds: nature, politics, economics, and metaphysics, in order to explain just how radical that challenge is.
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Free Audio Book: The Case of Wagner / Nietzsche Contra Wagner



From those very kindle volunteers at LibriVox.

The Case of Wagner / Nietzsche Contra Wagner / Selected Aphorisms
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Two Free Wagner Books For Your Kindle By Judith Gautier

"Chère, I am sad! There is another reception this evening, but I shall not be going to it! I reread a few pages of my life which I once dictated to Cosima! She sacrifices herself to her father's habits, - alas! Could it have been for the last time that I held you in my arms this morning? No! - I shall see you again - I want to see you! because I love you! - Adieu - Be good to me! R Wagner in a letter to Judith Gautier.

Often described as Wagners "muse" during Parsifal -  as Mathilde Wesendonk is supposed to have been his muse during the creation of Tristan - it is certain that Judith Gautier and Wagner were close. So close that Wagner named his chaise-longue after her!  

It is also clear that she became an "enthusiastic fan", not only attending the first Bayreuth Festival but spending much time with the Wagners. However, Gaultier was much more than a "muse" or "wagnerian" she was also a poet, novelist, feminist and Oriental scholar. Of especial interest to us is that not only did she translate Parsifal to French but she also wrote a first-hand account of her first two visits to the Wagner's Villa Tribschen. This was translated into english in 1911 and published  by (in a rather ironic turn, considering what they went onto become) Mills and Boon.

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LFO Announce Cast Of New Tristan Und Isolde - 2015

Tristan and Isolde lithograph by Milen Litchkov
 
Longborough return to Wagner after a, sort of, rest season, with a new production of Tristan. Details below.

12, 16, 18, 20 June

CONDUCTOR Anthony Negus
DIRECTOR Carmen Jakobi
DESIGNER Kimie Nakano
LIGHTING DESIGNER Ben Ormerod
CHOREOGRAPHER Didy Veldman

Sung in German with English surtitles.

Longborough’s Wagner journey continues with this eagerly-awaited new production conducted by Anthony Negus, directed by Carmen Jakobi.

Performances begin at 3.00 pm and have a short interval after Act One and a longer 75 minute dining interval after Act Two


CAST
Tristan – Peter Wedd (12, 16, 20 June), Neal Cooper (18 June)
Isolde – Rachel Nicholls (12, 16, 20 June), Lee Bisset (18 June)
Kurwenal – Andrew Slater (12, 16, 20 June)
King Marke – Frode Olsen
Brangäne – Catherine Carby (12, 16, 20 June), Harriet Williams (18 June)
Melot – Ben Thapa (12, 16, 20 June), Stephen Rooke (18 June)

More At LFO
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Washington National Opera Announces Complete Casting for 2016's Ring

Written By The Wagnerian on Wednesday, 22 October 2014 | 11:12:00 pm

Washington National Opera (WNO) today announced complete casting for its first full presentation of Richard Wagner's four-part Ring cycle. Three cycles will be presented from April 30 to May 22, 2016 and will be directed by Artistic Director Francesca Zambello and conducted by WNO Music Director Philippe Auguin. Contribution packages with priority seating for The Ring are on sale now. For more information, go to WNO's Ring website.

The complete casting announcement follows the principal casting announcement this spring. WNO's Ring cycles feature two Brunnhildes. Acclaimed British soprano Catherine Foster, who will make her U.S. debut in Cycles I and II. Internationally renowned Swedish soprano Nina Stemme  makes her WNO debut in Cycle III. American heldentenor Daniel Brenna,  takes on the role in the United States for the first time. American bass-baritone Alan Held, an experienced Wagnerian who has appeared in more than 20 WNO productions, returns to his celebrated portrayal of Wotan.
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Bernd Weikl And Why You Should Simply Not Take It Anymore

Written By The Wagnerian on Tuesday, 7 October 2014 | 8:55:00 pm

Sarcasm and satire - dangerous tools. Not for the power their use may have when used well (although this too has its dangers), but if they are misunderstood by their audience. No more so then in 'Wagner studies' where, if one didn't know better, it is easy to assume that certain interpretations of Wagner's work and characters must surely be the work of a mischievous mind - or sometimes just a very strange one. After all, how else are we to accept interpretations by those that insist that Wagner meant Klingsor to represent a negative Jewish stereotype because, somehow, we are to equate Klingsor's self castration with Jewish circumcision!1

Indeed, so familiar are many of us with these bizarre interpretations being placed upon Wagner and his work that when world famous Wagner baritone Bernd Weikl recently published a book titled 'Why Richard Wagner needs to be banned in Germany', it was difficult for us not to sigh in exasperation and conclude the inevitable. This is especially so when, during a quick scan, he presents evidence from many commentators on Wagner's work - including opera directors and the media as well as Wagner academics - that 'prove' that Wagner's work is littered with antisemitic messages; using this to call for Wagner and his work to be banned in Germany under articles 130. and 131 of the German Criminal Code. And this despite the fact that Weikl had published a book just a year or so earlier 'acquitting' Wagner and his work from being responsible for the Third Reich and the Holocaust. After all, flip-flopping around ones assumptions about Wagner and his work is not unusual. Take Joachim Köhler, for example who has shifted his views from Wagner somehow influencing Hitler from beyond the grave to "Wagner was only joking all along. Of course he didn't mean it", "What a funny guy he really was".

And let us never forget that Wagner as the creator of Hitler; Wagner as antisemitic; Wagner as womanizer; Wagner as cross dresser; Wagner and his "terrible beliefs" - this Wagner sells and sells well. Indeed it always has. 'Good copy' in Wagner literature means controversy and more controversy. Wagner the self proclaimed, unembarrassed, social Utopian; Wagner the animal lover; Wagner who called for social equality; Wagner who called for freedom for all "men" (of any race); Wagner who called for the integration of the Jews into German society; Wagner who was generous - often overly and frequently disastrously so to his own finances; Wagner who formed the Wagner societies so that, in part, they would fund the attendance by some of the poorest in society to visit Bayreuth - sadly this (if sometimes inconsistent) Wagner 'doesn't sell' (oddly appropriate from a man whose most terrible political thought, to some minds, was a damning critique of capitalism). Indeed, and at the risk of sounding paranoid (and yet I have been presented with strong evidence over the years that would suggest just so), there are certain powerful forces within Wagnerism that would seem to be much happier for 'their' Wagner to be of the 'right' of the political spectrum than probably a truer place on the 'left'. And of course all of this controversy and reconstruction of Wagner's music and librettos, which adds to the casual label of "this terrible man and his wonderful art", means that his critique of capitalism and social inequalities can be dismissed along with everything else. But should this come as a surprise in a society in which our 'Wagnerian' Chancellor of the Exchequer today called charities "anti-business" and told business leaders to raise their heads “above the parapet” and fight back against those very charities? (What happened to your leader's "Big Society", George? Shouldn't everything be run by charities by now?). But I digress - and rant to be honest. I take a deep breath, wait for the usual -whenever things like this are mentioned- unliking on facebook and unfollowing on Twitter -  by followers of Ayn Rand and those that feel they really understand Nietzsche's thought. Oh and there goes another Tea Party member. Oh, well. Hang on a minute. A few more deep breaths and a nice cup of tea are needed...

Right. Back. Ignore the last few sentences - they have little, if anything, to do with our recent conversation with the more than sane and rational Bernd Weikl, to which we shall now return with haste. So, given Weikls's book, its title, its content, the reaction of many reviewers in Germany and the general trend in Wagner literature, we were more than pleased when Bernd got in contact with us to set the record straight. You see, a little like Peter Finch's character Howard Beale, in Sidney Lumet's satirical 'Network News', Bernd is "as mad as hell and isn't taking it anymore." (Click the link if you are unfamiliar with the reference). In brief, his argument is this:

Many, many Wagner academics - and many more 'pseudo-academics' - have analyzed Wagner's work and found, they tell us, his thought to be proto-Nazi, as too is his work. Worse, he litters his work with his fascist and antisemitic messages. The Ring, Parsifal and Meistersinger are filled with antisemitic caricatures - clear to his audience at the time and there for all to see. His message is clear in his work: Jews are evil, not to be trusted, responsible for all of the worlds ills and must be 'dealt with'. None of this can be doubted, It is 'proven fact'. In turn, this 'fact' is taken up by the media, who repeat it, ad nauseum. (Something I discussed last year)

Tannhauser?
Further directors, in Germany especially, of Wagner's work leap upon this interpretation with a rather unhealthy enthusiasm. There may be, Bernds points out, more Nazi symbolism in a typical German Wagner production today than one would have found at a Nazi rally during the 1940s. As he told us, "There is not a single day without Hitler and Nazi symbols on Germany's stages [in Wagner productions]. Its criminal". If you want to make a career in opera in Germany, he tells us, then make sure your Wagner production is littered with swastikas.

And thus we get to the point of his book: Weikl does not accept the 'evidence' that Alberich is a negative Jewish stereotype, or indeed any other character in any of Wagner's works. Equally, there is no underlying antisemitism in Wagner's work says Weikl, and as he discusses in his previous work. More importantly there is no evidence for it.  To use an example we, not Weikl, provided recently, Antonio Pappano and Keith Warner may happily say with confidence that there is simply no denying the antisemitic messages in the Ring and that this has been 'proven beyond doubt' - which can be happily broadcast on national television with no alternative viewpoints - but this, says Weikl is "nonsense" and indeed "criminal".

Indeed, the evidence is nothing more than poor academic reasoning - and worse - fantasy, or at best wild conjecture. If it was presented in a court of law, he argues, for example under articles 130. and 131 of the German Criminal Code as he calls for in his book, there would be no alternative but for the case to be dismissed. And if it was dismissed then advocates would have little alternative to admit it was simple theorizing. And for Weikl even more importantly it might finally put an end to the proliferation of what he describes as - and with which it is difficult to argue - filthy Nazi symbolism found on German stages using Wagner's work as an excuse. As he says, it would seem that due to this interpretation of Wagner's work, Hitler is more alive and well on Germany's opera stages then he ever was during his life. And to support this he sent us many newspaper cuttings of recent Wagner productions that prove his point. "There is not a single day without Hitler," he told us, "Should we laugh, or should we cry?" he asks, "Or should we get angry?", echoing Peter Finch's character. And angry he is. Publish a book, he tells us, with evidence that puts forward an alternative to what one writer on Wagner calls "The Wagner Nazi Conspiracy theory" and it is ignored, Not only by the media but often by many Wagner Societies and other such organisations and groups. Alternatively, publish a book within the existing Wagner paradigm and it is lauded as a 'masterpiece' and promoted without hesitation - no mater how bizarre its conclusions or clearly weak its 'evidence'.

And consider how many opera directors claim to dislike Wagner he told us, sending a number of interviews with high profile directors whose productions are indeed nazified deconstructions and reinventions of Wagner's thoughts. "Some state they even dislike Wagner's music" he notes pointing to an interview with the director of last year's Bayreuth Ring.

There is only one answer left to him, present all of the evidence of the 'prosecution' - from Theodor W. Adorno to Marc A. Weiner and everyone in between - to the courts. If they are correct then there can only be one outcome, to ban Wagner's work in Germany. This is the only logical conclusion he argues. But if they are deemed wrong or the evidence is insubstantial? Then there is little alternative but for authors to finally admit so. The case, he tells us, is far from proven. But even more importantly, he insists that the incidents of Nazi material and what he considers propaganda must be prevented from being given time on German opera stages.

He does regret perhaps, not adding a clearer introduction to his book to clarify his intent and the satirical nature of his work - something that will be rectified in a new English translation to be released shortly. Here he will suggest to readers it is not he who wishes to ban Wagner but that this will be done eventually by the  result of littering his stage work with Nazi symbols and unfounded allegations about the nature of his work.

While I was writing this, he sent us a mail regarding the scandal caused in Germany last year around the Düsseldorf Tannhäuser; the so called 'Nazi themed' Tannhauser that was forced to cancel, so upset and outraged were audience members. Something that we reported at the time. It brought back memories to Bernd of productions he had taken part in during a career that started in 1972. He loves Wagner, he reminded us. Try and think, he asked, what it felt like to perform Han Sachs when he knew certain people believed he was putting forward Nazi propaganda. He recalled one production of Tannhauser wherein he was forced to perform the Lied an den Abendstern while wearing a Nazi armband. A professional he may be, but a cold and distanced performer he isn't and cannot be. Can you imagine how that felt, he asked? And what about the audience?

As he had told us earlier, "There has to be an end to this horrible devastation being done upon our composer and his work. When we destroy all of  our culture we will end up with a right-wing waiting eagerly to fill this vacuum."

Ban Wagner in Germany? No! Ban productions that use Wagner as an excuse to saturate German stages with Nazi paraphernalia and propaganda? Yes! And Now! As Howard Beale told his audience, "Go out there and tell them, I'm as mad as hell and I'm not gonna take it anymore!"

Notes:

1 - It should also be noted that one of the earliest people to  make this link between castration and circumcision was Freud in 1919, adding it to the Oedipus complex and using it, in part, towards a psychoanalytical theory to explain antisemitism - long after Wagner was dead, never mind after writing Parsifal. There are nodoubt all sorts of reasons that Klingsor self castrated. For example, this vain attempt to circumnavigate the 'will' would be a familiar criticism of anyone from a Buddhist perspective.Even more interestingly, it could have its origins in Wagner's detailed knowledge of the early Church where self castration was used by some due to a miss-reading of Mathew. Indeed, it is interesting that one of the most famous figures of the yearly Church, Origen, was thought to have  castrated himself for this very reason. What is ironic is that his writings are considered to have lead to  the rise antisemitism in the early Church. However, in the odd world of Wagner studies such, more reasonable,  links are never considered. 
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Ring Cycle Player - Listen While You Read

Written By The Wagnerian on Sunday, 5 October 2014 | 12:17:00 am

Wagner Composing The Ring of the Nibelungen: L. Balestrieri
We have tried various methods of bringing a permanent Wagner music player to the site over the years - I think the first was back in 2011. However, there have been problems with most of them, meaning that often either the player did not display in certain browsers, it refused to play or simply slowed things down for too many readers, However, we are hoping the newest addition will be compatible with as many users operating systems and web browsers as possible. Indeed, using HTML5, as it does, it may even work in many mobile/phone browsers - hopefully. Although, should you be having any problems with it please let us know.

It can be found on the upper left hand corner of any page you might be on. Alas, it will restart if you left  click an item. We could resolve this by changing things so that a left hand mouse click automatically opens a new browser tab but some browsers may treat this as a "pop-up" and prevent the page opening. The easiest way to circumnavigate this issue is that for the first time you click on a new article to read, simply right click and chose "open in new tab". A pain we know, but an easy work around.

The details of the Ring Cycle playing can be found below. Should it prove popular we may add other Wagner works in the future.

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New Book: Wagner's Parsifal: An Appreciation in the Light of His Theological Journey

Written By The Wagnerian on Friday, 3 October 2014 | 6:32:00 pm

Expect a review in the next few months.

Wagner’s Parsifal
An Appreciation in the Light of His Theological Journey
By Richard H. Bell


SBN 10:
ISBN 13: 978-1-62032-885-9
Pages: 400
Binding: Paperback/Ebook
Publication Date: 11/12/2013
Street Date: 11/12/2013
Division: Cascade Books
Series: Veritas

Book Description

Parsifal, Wagner's final opera, is considered by many to be one of the greatest religious musical works ever composed; but it is also one of the most difficult to understand and many have questioned whether it can be considered a "Christian" work at all. Added to this is the furious debate that has surrounded the composer as an anti-Semite, racist, and inspiration for Hitler. Richard Bell addresses such issues and argues that despite any personal failings Wagner makes a fundamental theological contribution through his many writings and ultimately in Parsifal which, he argues, preaches Christ crucified in a way that can never be captured by words alone. He argues that Wagner offers a vision of the divine and a "theology of Good Friday" that can both function as profound therapy and address current theological controversies.

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Free: The Parsifal Libretto Retold As Epic Poem - Oliver Huckel


PARSIFAL: A DRAMA BY WAGNER
RETOLD BY OLIVER HUCKEL

Oliver Huckel's poetic rendition in English of the libretto of Richard Wagner's opera 'Parsifal'. This book was originally published in 1903 by T.Y. Crowell & Co. The original illustrations by Franz Stassen as reproduced below - along with the opening of the poem.
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Free Epub/Kindle Book: Wagner As I Knew Him - Praeger


Previously available in other formats but now as an Epub or in Kindle format. Click the relevant link below to download - or read and search online.

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Why Bernd Weikl Doesn't Want To Ban Wagner.

Written By The Wagnerian on Thursday, 2 October 2014 | 12:22:00 am


Confused? All will become clear tomorrow when we publish a recent conversation with the great Mr Weikl, Let us just say that for one of the late 20th century's most successful  Hans Sachs there is certainly Wahn, oh too much Wahn  but just not of the kind that we - and many others -  assumed back here.

Stay tuned

"There has to be an end to this horrible devastation being done upon our composer and his work" Bernd Weikl

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The Reinvention of Genius: Wagner's Transformation of Schopenhauer's Aesthetics in “Beethoven

Written By The Wagnerian on Wednesday, 1 October 2014 | 8:51:00 pm

Originally published: postgraduate journal of aesthetics. Vol 4

The Reinvention of Genius: Wagner's Transformation of Schopenhauer's Aesthetics in “Beethoven”

Menno Boogaard

ABSTRACT

Wagner's treatise Beethoven (1870), written to celebrate the centenary of Beethoven's birth, is one of his most influential theoretical works. His main concern in this text is to bring his theory of opera into line with his recent 'conversion' to Schopenhauer's philosophy. Commentaries often give the general impression that Wagner leaves Schopenhauer's philosophy largely intact, merely adapting his own ideas to make them fit those of his new mentor. In this paper I want to challenge this assumption. I will try to show that, on the contrary, Wagner introduces dramatic changes to Schopenhauer's aesthetic doctrine, changes that together amount to a substantial transformation of the philosopher's thought.

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Parsifal Archetypes.

Written By The Wagnerian on Tuesday, 23 September 2014 | 11:26:00 am

Carl Jung, began his career as a follower of Sigmund Freud. Eventually he felt that Freud's vision of the "unconscious" was too negative and too limited. Jung saw the unconscious as broad, deep, and shared humanity. He referred to it as the "collective" unconscious and explored the archetypes, which he said inhabited it. Literary scholars have and have not accepted the collective unconscious, but they have heartily welcomed the concept of archetypes to explain themes and motifs in all forms of artistic works.

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" Ride of The Valkyries" As Performed By Midi Synthesia

Written By The Wagnerian on Friday, 5 September 2014 | 8:08:00 pm

Was Sir Clive Sinclair A Wagner Fan?
Those of you, yes we know there are one or two, who "wasted" their youth on a Game Boy - or if you are really old like our editor, on a ZX81 -  may find this both interesting and perhaps responsible for conjuring up memories of already mentioned miss-spent youth.
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The other...um...other Wagner bio film: Magic Fire


UPDATE: Sadly, it seems that this has now been deleted from Youtube. However, there is some good news. A number of kind readers have pointed out that the film is available on DVD. If only on Amazon in Germany. This version (available in Region 2) has two soundtracks - one in German and one in English. It can be ordered directly from Amazon Germany by using the following link . Alternatively, it can be found on Amazon UK by following this link


There have been a few, often greatly fictionalised, films claiming to present Wagner's life. One oft less mentioned is Republic Pictures not un-entertaining 1955 "Magic Fire" Sadly, a box office failure, from a studio that closed down only a few years later, it has proven nearly impossible to see - especially as far as we are aware any video release has been long deleted. However, due to that wondrous treasure trove known as youtube, it has now reappeared. One assumes, like a few of Republic films from this time, it is in the public domain? Anyway, till some bright spark releases it on DVD here is Peter Cushing as Otto Wesendonk and Wagner's music arranged by Korngold - who also appears as Hans Richter

Directed by William Dieterle, the film made extensive use of Wagner's actual music, which was arranged by Erich Wolfgang Korngold. Dieterle worked with Korngold on several Warner Bros. films, including A Midsummer Night's Dream and Juarez. It was one of the final films Republic made in the two-strip color process known as Trucolor.

Although many details about Wagner's life were accurately portrayed, the film often distorted some facts, apparently for dramatic purposes. One high point was the accurate depiction of the riot at the Paris Opera House for the premiere of the revised version of Tannhäuser. The film depicted King Ludwig II's patronage of Wagner, without going into much detail about the king's controversial personality.

The film used a very large cast, opulent sets, and lavish costumes. Since Republic was known primarily for westerns and adventure serials, Magic Fire was one of the rare "prestige" films to be produced by studio chief Herbert Yates. Nevertheless, critical response was mixed and box office receipts in the U.S. were disappointing.
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Listen Now & On-Demand: SFO - The Dutchman

The WFMT Radio Network continues their 2014 American Opera Series with San Francisco Opera – eight operas from their past season and two operas from the San Francisco Opera archives. This week they present The Flying Dutchman..

You will have to create a free account to listen to the whole performance - on-demand until the 12 September. However, we have tested it out and its quick and easy - you can, should you wish, opt-out of email updates

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Nike Wagner, Richard Wagner and Beethoven

On September 7 at 7:00 pm (CET), DW presents a live stream of the opening concert at this year'sBeethovenfest. Andris Nelsons conducts the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in a performance of Beethoven's Symphonies 1-3.

 Go to dw.de/culture to watch the live stream.

DW: The Beethovenfest is about to begin with a program that was put together by your predecessor. Everyone has been wondering whether we will get a sense of Nike Wagner in the program?

Nike Wagner: The program was fully planned and contractually binding. But I did want to leave a few small marks of my own, for instance by adding a new event format - an opening matinee with music and a lecture I plan to give on Beethoven and Bonn. The choice of music shows the direction my thoughts take concerning the Beethovenfest. "Bagatelles for B" is the name of a very witty work written by Reiner Bredemeyer from 1970, very ironic and with a lot of brass. Then, a young pianist will play the "real" Beethoven Bagatelles. At the end, you'll hear a "Beethoven Symphony" for chamber ensemble by Dieter Schnebel, with the composer present. I'm interested in pursuing Beethoven down to the present day, and I'm pleased when contemporary composers study him.

What are your personal tips for the 2014 Beethovenfest?

We're presenting two outstanding young conductors. One is Andris Nelsons, who will lead the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in all nine Beethoven symphonies. Nelsons is as serious as he is entertaining.


Nike Wagner is a great-great-granddaughter of Franz Liszt and a great-granddaughter of Richard Wagner

The other is a young Canadian, Yannik Nézet-Séguin - a bundle of energy! Whatever he touches turns into fireworks, even rather heavy, late Romantic music like Mahler or Strauss. No one should miss those two conductors' concerts. Nor should anyone miss our string quartet weekend, when three young quartets play along with the famous Kuss Quartet. The programs include Haydn, Schubert and Janáček, and they're excellent!

In an interview with DW in March, you mentioned problems with the Beethovenfest that are mainly due to the fact that you can hear the world's best orchestras play Beethoven in London, Vienna and Paris. So in the era of Nike Wagner, why should people come to Bonn?

During the festival, people want to hear leading international orchestras, which is all right. We live a culture of interpretation. On the other hand, there's the danger that touring orchestras will play the same programs everywhere, so I'll insist on sharpening the focus. You need to come up with a kind of script and put Beethoven in relation to other works that can be older, younger or contemporary, commission world premieres, or demonstrate Beethoven's influence on European symphonic music. And we can compare the "original" sound of his era with that of modern instruments.

I want to have a very special festival that is strongly anchored in the region? "Think globally, act locally" - that's the motto.

Beethoven was a major role model for your great-grandfather, Richard Wagner. How present is Beethoven in your life?

Wagner adored Beethoven, and that was carried on in a family tradition. But I also admire Beethoven as a revolutionary and advocate of human rights. As a musician, he's overwhelming in his restlessness: never satisfied, he was always pushing music forward into new forms of expression, taking every genre - whether sonata or string quartet - to its limits. He was volcanic in his creativity, but also in his seriousness. With him, music has nothing whatsoever to do with entertainment; it has a wholly different existential status. It's about human dignity. How he managed to deal with such ethical issues without lecturing is simply fantastic. And with Beethoven, Germany has a composer with a completely clean political and artistic record. An "ideal ambassador," if you will.

Frau Wagner wants to sharpen the image of BeethovenFranz Liszt is very present here in Bonn, too.The city is near Nonnenwerth Island, which Liszt called home for a while...

Franz Liszt adored Beethoven, he forced the people of Bonn to commit to Beethoven; he paid for the Beethoven statue and initiated the Beethovenfest. In addition, he adapted all nine Beethoven symphonies for piano. He'll turn up in my programs here, particularly his symphonic poems. Liszt's friend Hector Berlioz was a Beethoven fan, too, so we have to bring him into the program more as well. These are all wonderful composers in the heritage of Beethoven whose works are heard all too seldom.

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Richard Wagner presents Lohengrin

Written By The Wagnerian on Thursday, 28 August 2014 | 8:27:00 am

Richard Wagner presents Lohengrin 
3rd September 2014 to 5th September 2014.
18:30 to 20:00
Rhodes University. South Africa


Jamie has now very kindly uploaded all of his Dutchman performance - with music and media to his website. You can watch it by following this link.

Following the dramatised readings of The Flying Dutchman and Tannhäuser last year, Jamie McGregor again reprises the role of Richard Wagner reading the text of his opera Lohengrin. The reading has been designed to introduce and complement an original audio-visual presentation of the opera itself, subdivided into conveniently sized and dramatically coherent episodes.

The "Wagner reading Wagner" project as a whole constitutes an innovative, entertaining and illuminating new approach to the perennially controversial German composer, and an unusually accessible introduction to his supposedly forbidding musical dramas. The readings will not only appeal to opera aficionados but to anyone with an interest in Romantic mythology and fairy tale (or even those simply curious to see an English lecturer impersonating a 19th century composer).

No specialist knowledge of the subject is necessary for a full enjoyment of the performance, while both the story and the music of the opera have an immediate appeal. Audiences have the option of attending the event either in full or in part, as the opera as a whole will be presented over three consecutive evenings – arranged as follows:

Act I - "The Forbidden Question"

Act II - "The Temptation of Elsa"

Act III - "The Revelation of the Secret"

Where: Beethoven Room, Rhodes Department of Music & Musicology

Cost: Admission free

For more information, visit the dedicated website: http://thelessthanperfectwagnerite.blogspot.com/
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Want to take part in some Wagner research?

Written By The Wagnerian on Thursday, 21 August 2014 | 1:08:00 pm

Text and request below is from the research team - not "The Wagnerian"

Listening for Leitmotives in Wagner

It's hard to hear anything mentioned about the music of Richard Wagner without also hearing someone mention the word 'leitmotif'. Leitmotifs, if you are unfamiliar with the term, are small, dynamic musical ideas that are associated with a person, place, idea, or feeling. These leitmotifs undergo many different transformations throughout Wagner's operas and most importantly, contribute to the dramatic narrative. While this may be common knowledge to most musicologists, how different groups of people actually experience these leitmotifs has remained very unexplored in much of the academic literature.

Recently the Transforming Musicology team in the Psychology Department at Goldsmiths have began to look into this question of how listeners perceive leitmotifs in Wagner's operas. For the first experiment of this project, we have started out with a very basic question we wish to answer: How good are listeners at recognizing leitmotifs and what (if any) factors lead to an individual's ability to identify leitmotifs? Based on similar research that has already been done we have assumed that factors such as an individual's musical training, familiarity with Wagner, the orchestration of the leitmotifs, the compositional structure of the leitmotifs and sheer number repetitions of a leitmotif would contribute to recognition rates.

In order to gain insight into this question, we designed an experiment that requires participants to listen to a ten minute excerpt from Der Ring des Nibelungen and then give them a memory test on some of the musical material they just heard. After this memory test, we ask participants to fill out a survey about their musical background, their familiarity with the music of Richard Wagner, as well give them an objective quiz about the life and music of Wagner. We plan to use the data that we collect to hopefully be able to predict how well an individual can recognize leitmotifs based on the survey results and the other previously mentioned factors.

We are still collecting data for the experiment, but have currently run into a minor difficulty in diversifying the sample from our population. It is easy enough to find participants of varying musical background that are willing to come and participate in a twenty minute experiment, but in order to find the trends that we have hypothesized to exist, we need to make sure that we have a wide spread of participants with varying Wagner expertise.

We are currently scouring London for anyone who would self identify as a fan of the music of Wagner and are looking for any help we can get in finding enough 'Wagnerians' to give our first experiment a sample that might yield some interesting trends. If you have ever considered calling yourself a 'Wagnerian' or know someone who might, please refer them to us. We would be more than happy to have them come into the lab and test their Wagner-ness in the name of science!

David Baker is a student on the MSc. programme in Music, Mind, and Brain in Psychology at Goldsmiths. As well as contributing to the Transforming Musicology project, this work will also be included in the dissertation David will submit as part of his degree. Please contact David directly by email ps301db@gold.ac.uk if you'd like to take part in the study.
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Bernd Weikl: Why Richard Wagner needs to be banned in Germany


UPDATE HERE

Bernd Weikl, yes the baritone well known for his Wagner roles, argues that Wagner's work not only should but must be banned in Germany.

Why? Well, it seems that after a very, financially, successful career performing Wagner, he has just discovered that Wagner was anti-Semitic [must have come as a surprise that, after all these years - Ed]. And not only was Wagner anti-Semitic but, according to Weikl, so are his dramas and operas [One hopes certain Wagner specialists - and the odd second rate Wagner conductor and opera director - are proud of themselves - Ed]. Indeed, so convinced is he of his argument that he uses Germany's criminal code - in particular articles 130. and 131 of the Criminal Code - claiming that Wagner's dramas with their "anti-Semitic content" fall under these laws.

Weikl makes his argument in his new "bestseller" "Warum Richard Wagner in Deutschland verboten werden muss" wherein he calls upon the research of a number of individuals in Wagner research and discussion to support his argument. These include: Paul Morand, Theodor W. Adorno, Hartmut Zelinsky, Thomas Mann, Marc A. Weiner, Saul Friedlander, Paul Lawrence Rose, Barry Millington, Ulrich Drüner, Annette Hein, Jens Malte Fischer and Gottfried Wagner

Of course, if anyone should be able to spot anti-Semitism it would be Weikl. After all, according to his own argument, he has been spouting anti-Semitism in public for years [inadvertently of course -  Sue, Grabbit & Runn (The Wagnerian's legal team)]. Please see the video evidence below. Or is it, as Han Sachs might say, "Wahn! Wahn! Überall Wahn!"

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Listen Now: When Tolkien Stole Wagner's Ring


Tolkien always vehemently denied any connection between his Lord of the Rings and Wagner's Ring Cycle. He once said: 'Both rings were round, and there the resemblance ceased'.

But there is almost certainly more to it than that. Tolkien used the same Norse legends as Wagner for inspiration in 'Lord of the Rings', but it also seems likely that he took the original idea of an all-powerful and corrupting ring directly from Wagner. So why did he deny it? Perhaps Tolkien felt the taint of the Nazi associations that surrounded Wagner's music at the time he was writing. Perhaps he simply found Wagner's conclusions distasteful. Was Tolkien's work, in fact, conceived as a kind of antidote to Wagner's take on ultimate power.

Susan Hitch explores the connections between the pair of them.

BBC Radio 3: Twenty Minutes. To Listen Now On Demand Click Here
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Das Rhinegold: Malicious Dwarfs, Fair Nymphs & Heroic Gods

Written By The Wagnerian on Wednesday, 20 August 2014 | 11:49:00 pm

Malicious Dwarfs, Fair Nymphs, Heroic Gods. Application and Transformation of Germanic Mythology in Richard Wagner’s libretto The Rhinegold 

Martin Blawid

According to Joachim Heinzle, the Nibelungensage represents the «most German among all German issues». The following essay seeks to analyze in how far the German composer Richard Wagner resorts either to a more traditional or to a more innovative representation of the Germanic influences in his libretto The Rhinegold, which is the opening part of his operatic tetralogy The Ring of the Nibelungen. Moving from an epistemological basis, the libretto will be examined with a special focus on how Wagner applies and transforms Germanic mythology in terms of the characters and of deictic references.

Originally published in:  Studia Theodisca, Vol 19, Iss 0, Pp 167-178 (2012)

Download By Clicking Here


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The Case of Wagner Against the Grain

The Case of Wagner Against the Grain: The Disagreement between Nietzsche and Adorno and its Relevance Today

João Pedro Cachopo

Published in:  PARRHESIA: A JOURNAL OF CRITICAL PHILOSOPHY. Issue 19. August 2014

Wagner’s oeuvre might amount today to no less conformist positions than those maintained by the composer himself—whose operas, rather than the more or less confused or confusing ideas, should be at issue. This does not mean either to suggest that ideological issues should be totally left aside from discussion, or to assume that the work is absolutely independent from the author. The refusal of reductionism of whatever kind (biographical, sociological, historical...) must not lead to the opposite assumption that artworks should be dealt with as purely
ideal entities. Both extremes are partial, and consequently faulty.

Therefore, if one draws a distinction between the composer’s more or less explicitly political ideas and the politics of his work, while by the same token not losing sight of how deeply Wagner’s operas and their reception were affected by social, ideological and political forces, the conditions are eventually met to acknowledge that the writings of Wagner’s critics—not less, at least, than his own essays—are of the utmost importance to discuss the “afterlife” of his work both aesthetically and politically. The avatars of its critical and artistic reception crucially bear on what Wagner’s work became and is today. They are the historical constituents of the work itself—not mere instances of an allegedly exterior process of reception. This view prompted me to take “the case of Wagner” as an epitome of such an “afterlife,” rather than, stricto sensu , as a reference to the Nietzschean quarrel with the composer of Parsifal.

Seen in this context it is hardly surprising that a comparative re-reading of the seminal texts of Nietzsche and Adorno will play a crucial role in this article. And yet, just as I will start out calling attention to a peculiar consonant point behind Lacoue-Labarthe’s and Badiou’s dissonant pronouncements on Wagner (“Wagner(ism)—between the aestheticization of politics and the politicization of aesthetics”), my aim, regarding Adorno and Nietzsche, is on the contrary to spot heir disagreement behind the long-standing presupposition of their compliance (“A barely noticed disagreement,” and “Neither... nor...”). At a first level this article—as its title allows the reader to hint from the outset—is indeed anattempt to revise the assumption that Nietzsche’s and Adorno’s criticisms
on Wagner complement each other. In fact, against this assumption, I will try to make apparent that they differ in practically all aspects and even undermine each other in the most decisive ones.

At end of the article (“Chronicle of an end foretold”) I will argue that such a disagreement sheds light of the very tensions inherent in Wagner’s operas to a degree—and this is the crucial point—that prevents any criticism on them from finding a stable vantage point. The aim, to be sure, is not to propose a newly resuscitated apologia of Wagner, but to raise the critical discussion on the set of his works to a level where their ambivalent, though unabated, untimeliness
might be brought into light.

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Missed Bayreuth 2014? Listen Now Here


Should you have missed this year's Bayreuth radio broadcasts then never fear. A number of radio stations keep them in their archives for short time and they can be listened to on demand. Alas, these are often in other languages then English meaning that directing an English speaker to them somewhat difficult. However, this year, Wagnermania has placed them on one one page, within  in one simple player from RTVE.

While not in English it should not prove difficult in this format,  for any English language speaker, to work out which drama is which. To listen click the link below, chose your Wagner, press the obvious play button and sitback.

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Unpublished Solti Die Walküre Released By Testament


As always with Testament's Wagner releases shockingly overpriced -  some might argue. To be released on September 9, 2014.

This release marks the first appearance of Georg Solti on Testament as an opera conductor in an historic performance of Die Walküre at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in October 1961.

This is the first new production at the Royal Opera House conducted by Solti following his appointment as Musical Director of the Covent Garden Opera Company in 1961.

The outstanding cast includes Anita Välkki as Brünnhilde, Hans Hotter as Wotan, Claire Watson as Sieglinde, Jon Vickers as Siegmund, Rita Gorr as Fricka and Michael Langdon as Hunding.

The overall performance received high praise for its intensity and drive as well as Solti’s fine musicianship.

Solti obtains spectacularly fine playing from the Covent Garden Orchestra, described by the critics as ‘superb’, ‘magnificent’, ‘the finest since the war’ and ‘exciting beyond words’.

The production was meant to be the start of a complete Ring cycle directed by Hans Hotter and designed by Herbert Kern but Kern was replaced by Günther Schneider-Siemssen and the production revised, so this version stands alone and is not part of the eventual Ring cycle as completed in 1964.

Recorded live on 2 October 1961 after the premiere on 29 September.
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After Wagner: Histories of Modernist Music Drama from Parsifal to Nono by Mark Berry


Due October 2014.

This book is both a telling of operatic histories 'after' Richard Wagner, and a philosophical reflection upon the writing of those histories. Historical musicology reckons with intellectual and cultural history, and vice versa.

The 'after' of the title denotes chronology, but also harmony and antagonism within a Wagnerian tradition. Parsifal, in which Wagner attempted to go beyond his achievement in the Ring, to write 'after' himself, is followed by two apparent antipodes: the strenuously modernist Arnold Schoenberg and the æstheticist Richard Strauss. Discussion of Strauss's Capriccio, partly in the light of Schoenberg's Moses und Aron, reveals a more 'political' work than either first acquaintance or the composer's 'intention' might suggest.

Then come three composers from subsequent generations: Luigi Dallapiccola, Luigi Nono, and Hans Werner Henze. Geographical context is extended to take in Wagner's Italian successors; the problem of political emancipation in and through music drama takes another turn here, confronting challenges and opportunities in more avowedly 'politically engaged' art. A final section explores the world of staging opera, of so-called Regietheater, as initiated by Wagner himself. Stefan Herheim's celebrated Bayreuth production of Parsifal, and various performances of Lohengrin are discussed, before looking back to Mozart (Don Giovanni) and forward to Alban Berg's Lulu and Nono's Al gran sole carico d'amore. Throughout, the book invites us to consider how we might perceive the æsthetic and political integrity of the operatic work 'after Wagner'.

Original language English
Place of publication Woodbridge
Publisher The Boydell Press
Publication date Oct 2014
ISBN (Print) 9781843839682
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Opera Australia's Melbourne Ring Triumphs At 2014 Helpmann Awards



The $20m Melbourne Ring swept the opera category awards at this years Helpmann Awards, including the best opera award. Warwick Fyfe picked up
Best Male Performer in a Supporting Role in an Opera,  Jacqueline Dark was awarded Best Female Performer in a Supporting Role in an Opera, Terje Stensvold was awarded Best Male Performer in an Opera and Neil Armfield was awarded Best Direction of an Opera
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Why Digital Music Looks Set to Replace Live Performances

This August's production of Richard Wagner's four-opera Ring cycle in Hartford, Conn., has been postponed.

Rather than hiring pit musicians, producer Charles M. Goldstein had intended to accompany the singers with sampled instrument sounds, played by a computer. Not a CD, not a synthesizer; the computer triggers the playback of individual notes (“samples”) originally recorded from real instruments.

The reaction of professional musicians—and, of course, the musicians' union—was swift and furious. New York City's Local 802 president called it operatic karaoke. Hate mail poured in. In the end, the opera's music director, as well as two of the stars, withdrew from the production.

I know exactly what Goldstein must be feeling right about now. For my first 10 years out of college, I worked on Broadway shows as a musical director and arranger. In 1993 the group now called the Broadway League (of theater owners) contacted me. They wanted me to demonstrate how well computers and samplers could serve a live performance.

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Nike Wagner says she was bitter at being ousted from Bayreuth.

Meeting the great-granddaughter of Richard Wagner is an intimidating prospect. We don’t believe family traits are “in the blood” any more, but even so it’s hard to imagine a scion of that domineering “sacred monster” of the 19th century won’t turn out to be formidable. Certainly the 131 years since Wagner’s death have done little to water down the worldly power of the Wagner gene. The Wagners still maintain a stranglehold on Bayreuth, the opera house that Wagner had built at his admirers’ expense, and which has been the centre of the Wagner cult ever since.

As for the relationships within the clan, it’s been a saga of, well, Wagnerian proportions. The different sides of the family have fallen out spectacularly, and battled it out for control of the sacred shrine. Those who have won have had an unfortunate tendency to crush the life out of their rivals and would-be successors, in their bid to hang on to power. Those who lose end up roaming the world, never quite able to put their family connections behind them.

On the face of it, Nike Wagner falls into the latter camp. The third daughter of Wieland Wagner, born a month after the end of the war and raised in the family home of Wahnfried, she seemed well placed to take over the family business. “I remember so well growing up in that house,” she tells me. “My father was in charge of the productions, and worked so hard to bring a radical new style to Bayreuth. We thought we were born on the right side, compared with other Wagners; we were on the side of revolutionary artists, so to speak. This gave me a world-view that has lasted all my life.”
"But I was 21 when my father died, so this dream came to rather a rushed end. His brother, my uncle, Wolfgang, took over, and pretty soon I and my siblings realised we were no longer welcome.”
Did she hope that one day she would become part of all this? “Of course it was a childhood dream to be a singer or dancer… or at least an assistant director. But I was 21 when my father died, so this dream came to rather a rushed end. His brother, my uncle, Wolfgang, took over, and pretty soon I and my siblings realised we were no longer welcome.”

Is she bitter? “I was, but not now,” she says, and then adds, “it was not so hard for us children, but it was very hard for my mother. She was very bitter, and she passed her bitterness on to us.” Surely she nurtured dreams of returning at some stage? “Uh-huh,” she says with studied coolness. She picked up her Americanisms during the years she spent in the US as a student of cultural history. Even so it’s odd to hear it in the mouth of a Wagner, and it emphasises her distance from what one thinks of as the Wagner manner. With her slender, elegant figure and quietly spoken diplomatic ways, she reminds me much more of Christine Lagarde than the fiery composer who manned the barricades in Dresden in 1848. Only in profile does one get a reminder of that Wagner nose.
"We knew behind the scenes Wolfgang was working to make sure his line of the family would take the reins of the festival. It was a done deal, but we had to try.”
Unlike her great grandfather, who was always impatient, Nike Wagner bided her time. “I made my own way as an author and critic, and at the beginning of the Nineties I felt I was ready to take another look at Bayreuth.” That’s putting it mildly. In 2001, she published a book which took exquisite revenge on the family that had rejected her, portraying it as dysfunctional in ways that parallel the dysfunctional families in Wagner’s operas. At around the same time she made a bid for the directorship of Bayreuth, in league with Gérard Mortier, the man who had caused radical changes at the Salzburg Festival.

Their plan seems reasonable enough, but in the context of Bayreuth it was a revolution. “We wanted to raise the standards of singing and conducting, bring in new directors, and also perform the youthful works of Wagner we never see there. Also we felt it was time to break the hold of tradition, which says you can only have Wagner morning, noon and night, by bringing in other works with a connection to Wagner. Our overriding principle was to connect Wagner with the modern world.”

Nike never expected to win this battle. “We knew behind the scenes Wolfgang was working to make sure his line of the family would take the reins of the festival. It was a done deal, but we had to try.” In the event the daughters of Wolfgang were appointed, one older and experienced, the other young and glamorous. Has the partnership worked? Nike Wagner won’t be drawn on that. “My rule since then is never to comment, because if you are the loser it just looks like resentment.” Instead she’s thrown herself into other things. From 2004 to 2013, she directed a festival devoted to her great-great-grandfather Franz Liszt (Liszt was the father of Wagner’s second wife Cosima, who was Nike’s great-grandmother). Now she’s just been appointed director of the Beethovenfest in Bonn.

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As Peter Gelb Seems To Threaten To Cancel 2014-15 Season. Orchestra Responds

Written By The Wagnerian on Friday, 25 July 2014 | 1:39:00 am

Whose Head Is Being Called For?
Unions respond to Gelbs's letter threatening a "lockout. Full response below.

Metropolitan Opera General Manager Peter Gelb Threatens Lockout, Cancellation of the 2014/2015 Opera Season;

Orchestra Musicians Denounce Gelb’s Long-Planned Lockout as a “Cynical strategy to cover up his failed management and
lack of artistic vision"
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OU Offers Free Undergraduate Course

Written By The Wagnerian on Tuesday, 22 July 2014 | 10:33:00 pm

While it may seem a little off topic,  there are certainly things here of interest to those with an interest  in Wagner. We recently discovered that the Open University offers a number of distance learning course on-line and for free.  While nodoubt intended to offer "tasters" to their full graduate and undergraduate course many of the modules themselves - for that is what they appear to be - would seem to offer something of interest for more than a few people. We have gone through the list available under "Arts and History" and have selected a few we thought general readers might find of use or to be of interest. Click the header to be taken to the course overview. Expected study time anywhere between 10 to 24 hours. If its a tad "basic" for yourself perhaps you might want top pass this on? The Music Theory introduction seems especially useful.

An introduction to music theory

This unit provides an introduction to music theory pitched at a level equivalent to Grades 1-3 of the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music theory exams. The material will provide you with an understanding of such basic building blocks of music notation as music staves, clefs, rhythmic and pitch values, rhythmic metre and time signatures. You can test your understanding as you proceed by completing simple multiple-choice questions.

After studying this unit you should have:
  • a satisfactory understanding of the basic building blocks of musical theory and notation
  • an understanding of music theory comparable to that demanded by Grade 3 of the Associated Board of the Royals Schools of Music theory syllabus
  • an understanding of music theory that enables you to move on to Open University Level 2 and Level 3 Music courses, e.g. A224 Inside Music.

Making sense of art history


In this unit you’ll explore art history. Look around you, it’s likely that wherever you are you’ll be able to see some images, it’s also likely that many of these image will be intended to have some sort of effect on you. Here you will be exploring the power of images via a study of contemporary art from the 1980s onwards. Taking the time to look beyond the immediate appearance of an art work to consider what the artist might be trying to say can be immensely rewarding.
Studying this unit will:
  • enable you to develop your ability to identify the effects of art works;
  • introduce you to a range of artistic techniques, such as the use of colour, composition and medium;
  • enable you to explore the relationship between effects and techniques in a range of art works;
  • enable you to explore some of the factors involved in interpreting meaning;
  • enable you to explore the significance of context in informing the interpretation of art works;
  • enable you to further develop your study skills.

Schubert's Lieder: Settings of Goethe's Poems

This unit looks at the short poems in German that were set to music by Franz Schubert (1797–1828) for a single voice with piano, a genre known as ‘Lieder’ (the German for ‘songs’). Once they became widely known, Schubert's Lieder influenced generations of songwriters up to the present day.This unit then discusses a selection of Schubert's settings of Goethe's poems, and recordings of all of them are provided. You can find the poems, in German with parallel translations into English and the music scores of four of the song settings, on the unit home page. You are not expected to be able to read the music, but even if you are not very familiar with musical notation, you may well find the scores useful in identifying what is happening in the songs.
By the end of your work on this unit you should:
  • have learned about Schubert's place as a composer in early nineteenth-century Vienna;
  • have learned about the place of Schubert in the history of German song and the development of Romanticism;
  • be able to follow the words of songs by Schubert while listening to a recording, using parallel German and English texts;
  • be able to comment on the relationship between words and music in Schubert's song settings.
This unit explores the Holocaust, as the destruction of European Jewry is commonly known. The mass killing represented by the Holocaust raises many questions concerning the development of European civilisation during the twentieth century. This unit, therefore, covers essential ground if you wish to understand this development.
By the end of this unit you should have:
  • a perception of the enormity of the events under discussion;
  • a recognition of the kinds of ideas and incidents which may have prompted them;
  • an awareness of the historical arguments surrounding the Holocaust;
  • an awareness of the relationship between the Holocaust and the war.

Accounts of Caravaggio's life are filled with suggestions of murder and intrigue. But does knowing more about this dark artist's experiences help us to interpret his art? Or does understanding his motivations cloud their true meaning? This unit explores the biographical monograph, one of the most common forms of art history writing.
By the end of this unit you should be able to:
  • analyse the pros and cons of the biographical monograph in art history;
  • examine the strengths and weaknesses of the biographical monograph in relation to other kinds of art history writing
What is art? What is visual culture? How have they changed through history? This unit explores the fundamental issues raised by the study of western art and visual culture over the last millennium. It moves from discussing the role of the artist and the functions of art during the medieval and Renaissance periods to considering the concept and practice of art in the era of the academies before finally addressing the question of modern art and the impact of globalisation.
After studying this unit, you will be able to:
  • understand the changing perceptions and definitions of art across history
  • understand the relationship between ‘art’ and visual culture
  • understand the global dimension of art and how it has changed over time
  • understand the significance of notions of ‘function’ and ‘autonomy’ for art history
  • understand the role of patronage, institutions and the wider historical context in shaping art
  • understand some of the major developments in western artistic practice since the Middle Ages.
While recognising the shadows cast by two world wars (one concluded and one imminent) over European society during the 1920s and 1930s, this unit demonstrates how a number of specific features indicate that the interwar period was a distinctive and important moment of modernity in the twentieth century, from the rise of the metropolis and the emergence of new forms of mass media, to the changing lifestyles of women and the increasingly interventionist approaches to managing the health and welfare of modern populations.
After studying this unit, you will be able to:
  • understand the terms ‘modernisation’, ‘modernity’ and ‘modernism’ and the ways in which they relate to each other, as well as know about the experience of modernity in interwar Europe
  • understand the main historical debates about society and culture in interwar Europe, in particular a sense of the patterns of change and continuity, and the extent to which any change can be attributed to the First World War
  • interpret visual sources, use data in tables to construct arguments, and summarise historiographical review articles.
What is imagination and can philosophy define it in any meaningful way? This unit will introduce you to some of the possible answers to these questions and will examine why philosophy has sometimes found it difficult to approach imagination. It will then go on to examine the relationship that imagination has to imagery and supposition, charting where these concepts overlap with imagination and where they diverge.
By the end of this unit you should:
  • be able to discuss basic philosophical questions concerning the imagination;
  • have enhanced your ability to understand problems concerning the imagination and to discuss them in a philosophical way.

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Where To Listen To Bayreuth 2014 - Free


Yes, its that time of year again. As always there are multiple places to listen to the Bayreuth festival live on the net but alas, should you not have any German they can be difficult to traverse. So, with that in mind we list the live performances available to listen to below. Clicking a link will take you directly to the player which should then allow you to listen to the performance - on the date specified.

Note: Clicking the link pay lead to a "popup". If so, you may need to temporarily disable any popup blocker you use for these links.




July 25 - TANNHAUSER. Starts 14.00 GMT. Click Here To Listen

Conductor Axel Kober 
Director Sebastian Baumgarten 
Stage design Joep van Lieshout 
Costumes Nina von Mechow 
Lighting Franck Evin 
Video Christopher Kondek 
Dramaturgy Carl Hegemann 
Choral Conducting Eberhard Friedrich 


Landgraf Hermann Kwangchul Youn 
Tannhäuser Torsten Kerl 
Wolfram von Eschenbach Markus Eiche
Walther von der Vogelweide Lothar Odinius 
Biterolf Thomas Jesatko 
Heinrich der Schreiber Stefan Heibach 
Reinmar von Zweter Rainer Zaun 
Elisabeth, Nichte des Landgrafen Camilla Nylund 
Venus Michelle Breedt 
Ein junger Hirt Katja Stuber




July 26. DER FLIEGENDE HOLLÄNDER. Starts: 18:00 GMT. Click Here To Listen

Conductor Christian Thielemann 
Director Jan Philipp Gloger 
Stage design Christof Hetzer
Costumes Karin Jud 
Lighting Urs Schönebaum 
Video Martin Eidenberger 
Dramaturgy Sophie Becker 
Choral Conducting Eberhard Friedrich

Daland Kwangchul Youn 
Senta Ricarda Merbeth 
Erik Tomislav Mužek 
Mary Christa Mayer 
Der Steuermann Benjamin Bruns 
Der Holländer Samuel Youn


July 27 DAS RHEINGOLD. Starts at: 16.00. Click Here To Listen

Conductor Kirill Petrenko 
Director Frank Castorf 
Stage design Aleksandar Denić 
Costumes Adriana Braga Peretzki 
Lighting Rainer Casper 
Video Andreas Deinert / Jens Crull

Wotan Wolfgang Koch 
Donner Markus Eiche 
Froh Lothar Odinius
Loge Norbert Ernst 
Fricka Claudia Mahnke 
Freia Elisabet Strid 
Erda Nadine Weissmann 
Alberich Oleg Bryjak 
Mime Burkhard Ulrich 
Fasolt Wilhelm Schwinghammer 
Fafner Sorin Coliban 
Woglinde Mirella Hagen 
Wellgunde Julia Rutigliano 
Floßhilde Okka von der Damerau

July 28 DIE WALKÜRE. Starts at: 16:00 GMT.Click Here To Listen

Conductor Kirill Petrenko 
Director Frank Castorf 
Stage Design Aleksandar Denić 
Costumes Adriana Braga Peretzki 
Lighting Rainer Casper 
Video Andreas Deinert / Jens Crull

Siegmund Johan Botha 
Hunding Franz-Josef Selig 
Wotan Wolfgang Koch 
Sieglinde Anja Kampe
Brünnhilde Catherine Foster 
Fricka Claudia Mahnke
Gerhilde Allison Oakes 
Ortlinde Dara Hobbs 
Waltraute Claudia Mahnke 
Schwertleite Nadine Weissmann 
Helmwige Christiane Kohl 
Siegrune Julia Rutigliano 
Grimgerde Okka von der Damerau 
Rossweisse Alexandra Petersamer

July 30 - SIEGFRIED. Starts at 16.00 GMT. Click Here To Listen

Conductor Kirill Petrenko 
Director Frank Castorf 
Stage Design Aleksandar Denić 
Costumes Adriana Braga 
Peretzki Lighting Rainer Casper 
Video Andreas Deinert / Jens Crull

Siegfried Lance Ryan 
Mime Burkhard Ulrich 
Der Wanderer Wolfgang Koch 
Alberich Oleg Bryjak 
Fafner Sorin Coliban 
Erda Nadine Weissmann
Brünnhilde Catherine Foster 
Waldvogel Mirella Hagen

July 31 LOHENGRIN. Starts at 16.00 GMT.Click Here To Listen

Conductor Andris Nelsons 
Director Hans Neuenfels 
Stage Design Reinhard von der Thannen 
Costumes Reinhard von der Thannen 
Lighting Franck Evin 
Video Björn Verloh 
Dramaturgy Henry Arnold 
Choral Conducting Eberhard Friedrich

Heinrich der Vogler Wilhelm Schwinghammer
Lohengrin Klaus Florian Vogt 
Elsa von Brabant Edith Haller
Friedrich von Telramund Thomas J. Mayer 
Ortrud Petra Lang
Der Heerrufer des Königs Samuel Youn 
1. Edler Stefan Heibach 
2. Edler Willem Van der Heyden 
3. Edler Rainer Zaun 
4. Edler Christian Tschelebiew


August 1 GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG. Starts at 16.00 GMT. Click Here To Listen

Conductor Kirill Petrenko 
Director Frank Castorf 
Stage Design Aleksandar Denić
Costumes Adriana Braga
Peretzki Lighting Rainer Casper
Video Andreas Deinert, Jens Crull 
Choral Conducting Eberhard Friedrich

Siegfried Lance Ryan
Gunther Alejandro Marco-Buhrmester 
Alberich Martin Winkler
Hagen Attila Jun 
Brünnhilde Catherine Foster 
Gutrune Allison Oakes 
Waltraute Claudia Mahnke 
1. Norn Okka von der Damerau 
2. Norn Claudia Mahnke 
3. Norn Christiane Kohl 
Woglinde Mirella Hagen 
Wellgunde Julia Rutigliano
Floßhilde Okka von der Damerau
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