Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wagner's Beret

Wilhelm Richard Wagner (1813 –1883) was a German composer, theatre director, polemicist, and conductor who is primarily known for his operas (or, as some of his later works were later known, "music dramas"). Wagner revolutionised opera through his concept of the Gesamtkunstwerk ("total work of art"), by which he sought to synthesise the poetic, visual, musical and dramatic arts, with music subsidiary to drama, and which was announced in a series of essays between 1849 and 1852. Wagner realised these ideas most fully in the first half of the four-opera cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung).
Until his final years, Wagner's life was characterised by political exile, turbulent love affairs, poverty and repeated flight from his creditors. His controversial writings on music, drama and politics have attracted extensive comment in recent decades, especially where they express anti-Semitic and racist sentiments. The effect of his ideas can be traced in many of the arts throughout the 20th century; their influence spread beyond composition into conducting, philosophy, literature, the visual arts and theatre.
Some biographers have asserted that Wagner in his final years came to believe in the racialist philosophy of Arthur de Gobineau, notably Gobineau's belief that Western society was doomed because of miscegenation between "superior" and "inferior" races.
Adolf Hitler was an admirer of Wagner's music and saw in his operas an embodiment of his own vision of the German nation; in a 1922 speech he claimed that Wagner's works glorified "the heroic Teutonic nature ... Greatness lies in the heroic." There continues to be debate about the extent to which Wagner's views might have influenced Nazi thinking. While Bayreuth presented a useful front for Nazi culture, and Wagner's music was used at many Nazi events, the Nazi hierarchy as a whole did not share Hitler's enthusiasm for Wagner's operas and resented attending these lengthy epics at Hitler's insistence.

2 comments:

  1. But why did Wagner, a German, wear this sort of hat?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Why? The easiest answer would be "read this blog". Wagner obviously had good taste and aesthetics, chose to wear a hat that is both simple and humble, yet beautiful, comfortable, loaded with history and offering that magical something that no other hat does.

    ReplyDelete