Art and Politics

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Overview


A master of mystery and paradox, Wagner spent his life composing himself while composing music. Written between 1864 and 1878, the essays in Art and Politics converge upon Wagner’s desire to define and reform German culture. He was deeply annoyed that Germany seemed to satisfy itself with cheap theater, vulgar songs, and clumsy imitations of French art. In “What Is German?” he declared that German culture must rise above the common ruck. Citing “Music’s wonderman” Johann Sebastian Bach as his precursor, Wagner fought to persuade his readers that German culture had a historic destiny, and that destiny was shaped first and foremost by music.
 
As usual, embroiled in the defense of his operas and his person, Wagner recognized that his rescue from attack and poverty could not be expected from “Franco-Judaico-German democracy.” He instead fixed his hopes elsewhere: “the embodied voucher” for fundamental law, the Monarch. He found himself at a turning point in his career. In 1864 King Ludwig II of Bavaria befriended Wagner and gave him badly needed financial support. This alliance aroused Wagner’s enemies into further fits of jealousy. Yet, amid the public scorn, he worked on the production of Tristan und Isolde, drafted the libretto for Parsifal, and composed sections of Siegfried and Die Meistersinger.
 
In these essays Wagner resumes his considerations of the close ties between religion and art. He calls art “the kindly Life-saviour who does not really and wholly lead us out beyond this life, but, within it, lifts us up above it and shews it as itself a game of play.” These essays express his artistic credo and the knowledge of German literature that underpinned his claims for German genius. Following his ideals, he proclaimed his intention to raise the quality of German opera, by himself if necessary.
 
This edition includes the full text of volume 4 of the translation of Wagner’s works commissioned in 1895 by the London Wagner Society.

Originally published: Richard Wagner's Prose Works. Vol. 4, Art and politics. London : Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., 1895.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803297746
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
  • Publication date: 11/1/1995
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 436
  • Product dimensions: 0.97 (w) x 5.00 (h) x 8.00 (d)

Table of Contents

Translator's Preface
To the Kingly Friend (Poem) 1
On State and Religion 3
German Art and German Policy 35
App. The Vaterlandsverein Speech 136
App. Letter to Von Luttichau 145
What is German? 149
A Music-School for Munich 171
Ludwig Schnorr of Carolsfeld 225
Notices 245
Introduction 247
W. H. Riehl 253
Ferdinand Hiller 261
A Remembrance of Rossini 269
Eduard Devrient 275
About Conducting 289
Three Poems 365
Rheingold 367
On the Completion of Siegfried 367
August 25th, 1870 368
Summary 369
Index 385
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