In a few days (on Wednesday) it will be Richard Wagner’s 200th birthday and it is turning into a good “Wagner” year for me. Der Fliegender Holländer at the B.L.O. was downright wonderful and fun to review. In fact, I br...
In a few days (on Wednesday) it will be Richard Wagner’s 200th birthday and it is turning into a good “Wagner” year for me. Der Fliegender Holländer at the B.L.O. was downright wonderful and fun to review. In fact, I brought a Brahms scholar with me and I think he was converted.
At the end of the month I’m presenting a paper titled “Wagner’s Re-conception of Weber’s German Nationalism,” at the international conference “Richard Wagner’s Impact on His World and Ours” in Leeds. Here is the abstract:
According to Jorge Luis Borges “…each writer creates his precursors. His work modifies our conception of the past, as it will modify the future.” On 15 December 1844, Richard Wagner modified our conception of Carl Maria von Weber’s work and aesthetics. In a strange nationalistic ritual, Wagner had Weber’s remains brought from England to their final resting place in Dresden. Graveside, Wagner gave a speech that redefined Weber as an insular nationalist: “For thou [Weber] wast not one of those chill seekers after fame, who own no fatherland, to whom that plot of earth is dearest where ambition finds the rankest soil in which to thrive…” In this attack on cosmopolitanism, Wagner painted his own (newly adopted) insular German nationalist identity onto Weber, establishing Weber as an insular symbol of the still-emerging nationalist movement. Thus, Weber became an appropriate precursor from whom Wagner could receive the mantle of an insular German musical tradition.
After a brief discussion of Weber’s criticism, delineating his cosmopolitan ideals, my paper turns to Wagner’s writings and changing perception of Weber’s work. The paper continues with a brief survey of Weber’s historical reception in criticism and performance. Light analysis and discussion of the performance history of Weber’s Kampf und Sieg Cantata(1815) provides musical context, revealing how later revisions of the work brought Weber’s Cantata into line with changed conceptions of the German identity. Overall, my paper reveals the immense impact of Wagner on both the reception of Weber’s work and the modern narrative of the development of German Romantic dramaturgy.
The conference is interdisciplinary, with many papers, several parallel sessions and four interesting workshops covering everything from performance practice to cultural impact.
Finally, I’m slated to attend and review the Rockport Chamber Festival’s celebration of Wagner in the Shalin Liu performance center. with yet another important Brahms scholar . The program includes several interesting pieces including the Wesendonck Lieder and his third piano sonata in A-flat. It should be wonderful.
Overall, while I didn’t get a chance to celebrate in Leipzig, this isn’t bad for an old bloke from West Chester.
 Jorge Luis Borges, “Kafka and His Precursors,” in Selected Non-Fictions, New York: Penguin Classics, 1999 pp. 365.
 Richard Wagner, “Speech at Weber’s Last Resting-Place,” in Pilgrimage to Beethoven and Other Essays, Trans. William Ashton Ellis. Lincoln NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1994 pp. 235.
about 9 hours ago