R. Wagner's musical nationalism with a special focus on the prose work "Beethoven"

Graduate Thesis uoadl:2937957 10 Read counter

Department of Music Studies
Library of the School of Philosophy
Deposit date:
Parastatidou Sophia
Supervisors info:
Ιάκωβος Σταϊνχάουερ, Επίκουρος Καθηγητής, Τμήμα Μουσικών Σπουδών, Φιλοσοφική Σχολή

Νικόλας Μαλλιάρας, Επίκουρος Καθηγητής, Τμήμα Μουσικών Σπουδών, Φιλοσοφική Σχολή

Ιωάννης Φούλιας, Επίκουρος Καθηγητής, Τμήμα Μουσικών Σπουδών, Φιλοσοφική Σχολή
Original Title:
Ο μουσικός εθνικισμός του R. Wagner με ιδιαίτερη εστίαση στο δοκίμιο "Beethoven"
Translated title:
R. Wagner's musical nationalism with a special focus on the prose work "Beethoven"
The research carried out during the processing of my thesis, on the topic: The musical nationalism of R. Wagner with a special focus on the prose work "Beethoven", aims to analyze the aesthetic and philosophical aspects of the musical nationalism of Richard Wagner, who is also the main representative of German musical nationalism in general.
The delayed urbanization of Germany and the effects of the French Revolution influenced ideologically and politically many artists and intellectuals of the time, including Richard Wagner. The work presents the composer's views, which ranged from radical humanism to German conservatism and how the theorizing of his art seems to have had a huge cultural impact as a symbol of modernity. It also examines how politics has been a decisive factor for aesthetic configuration for Wagner, and that is why it is at the main topic of my research.

A thorough study of Richard Wagner's musical nationalism required a comprehensive study of his life, musical and theoretical work, political action, ideological course, and philosophical background and that’s why the first chapter of the work presents the life, political action and the musical and theoretical work of the German composer. In the second chapter, the musical nationalism of R. Wagner is analyzed on a philosophical and aesthetic level through the study of the relevant references of the composer himself in the treatise of 1870. The choice of this prose work, in fact, was made because it is essentially a flashback to socio-political and philosophical-aesthetic issues that occupied Wagner throughout his life, already mentioned in his previous theoretical writings. Last but not least, in the third chapter, in order to understand deeply the nature of Wagner’s music nationalism, a comparison is made with other musical nationalisms, in order to distinguish the points of differentiation and convergence of Wagner with them.

The four main bibliographic sources of my research were the book of G. Maniatis: "Richard Wagner: the purely human" (Athens 2004), the book of F. Papathanassiou: "Richard Wagner, the music of the gods and the Wagnerian mysteries" ( Athens 1996), the book by A. Siopsi: "Music in nineteenth century Europe" (Athens 2005) and of course the translated version of R. Wagner's 1870 treatise: "Beethoven. a contribution to the philosophy of music "(translated by I. Foulias, edited by M. Tsetsos, Athens 2013). The first source helped me to delve into both the personality and the ideological-political dimension of Richard Wagner's musical and theoretical work. The second was the ideal expedient to figure Wagnerian aesthetics out on the topic of his artistic formation. The third source was necessary to frame my research in the circumstances of the Romantic era, the events and conditions in which the German composer lived and acted. Finally, the most important source is the fourth, as I have studied and analyzed it on a philosophical and aesthetic level and it includes Wagner's own words on the issue of his German musical nationalism.

The following conclusions emerge from the research:
• It seems that Richard Wagner's musical nationalism is a result of both his current socio-political circumstances and his philosophical influences.
• Despite his extremist temperament and the sharp changes in his ideological and political course, the whole Wagnerian worldview seems to be moving in the sphere of humanism and guided by the redemption of human existence only through Feuerbachian love.
• The socio-political vision of the composer for a "social radical change only through the arts and culture", is realized through the musical drama and the integration of fiction in the realistic data of his time. This fact, combined with the spectacular stage experience of the musical drama, ultimately creates an imaginary excitement of the national spirit in the German audience, which seems to be philosophically founded by Schopenhauer’s theories of metaphysics of will and music, dreams and ghost-seeing.
• The main element of differentiation of the musical nationalism of the German composer in relation to other musical nationalisms is located in the way of the abstraction of the popular element. Wagner did not in any way embrace folklore as a synthetic practice, but he handled the folk element with a more aesthetic approach and interiority. He did not limit himself to the original use of the rhythmic melodic, traditional material of his country, but tried to combine speech, movement and music in the overall work of art, emphasizing the human element, through the revival of the myth and the placement of music as its main component in his musical drama and his theory of metaphysics of drama.
Main subject category:
Philosophy - Psychology
Wagner, Musical Nationalism, Beethoven, Schopenhauer, Germany, Romanticism, Classical Music
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