Richard Wagner: Self-Promotion and the Making of a Brand

Overview

All modern artists have had to market themselves in some way. Richard Wagner may just have done it better than anyone else. In a self-promotional effort that began around 1840 in Paris, and lasted for the remainder of his career, Wagner claimed convincingly that he was the most German composer ever and the true successor of Beethoven. More significantly, he was an opera composer who declared that he was not composing operas. Instead, during the 1850s, he mapped out a new direction, conceiving of works that would ...

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Overview

All modern artists have had to market themselves in some way. Richard Wagner may just have done it better than anyone else. In a self-promotional effort that began around 1840 in Paris, and lasted for the remainder of his career, Wagner claimed convincingly that he was the most German composer ever and the true successor of Beethoven. More significantly, he was an opera composer who declared that he was not composing operas. Instead, during the 1850s, he mapped out a new direction, conceiving of works that would break with tradition and be literally 'brand new'. This is the first study to examine the innovative ways in which Wagner made himself a celebrity, promoting himself using every means available: autobiography, journal articles, short stories, newspaper announcements, letters, even his operas themselves. Vazsonyi reveals how Wagner created a niche for his works in the crowded opera market that continues to be unique.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"It is ... a cracking good read as we learn about Wagner's abilities to turn himself into a 'brand' or to act as his own 'PR agent'. An important book, too, as Vazsonyi foregrounds an aspect of Wagner we hear too little about, re-aligning a great 19th-century figure through the filter of an avowedly 21st-century sensibility." —Opera

"...written with panache and élan, conveying with refreshing brevity a palpable sense of Wagner's indefatigable industry...the first scholarly text to take seriously Wagner's incessant self-promotional activity, Mr. Vazsonyi's book assumes considerable importance not only in musicology but also in the history of marketing." —Conor Farrington, Wall Street Journal

"The scholarship of Vazsonyi's study is solid; he knows the literature and is well read in current theory. Despite this, I am happy to report that his book is largely free of scholarship jargon. It also is relatively short, especially given the magnitude of the subject. Most importantly, it offers us a truly novel and illuminating take on the great, wily magician. This book is a most welcome addition to the library of literature on Wagner." —The Wagner Society of New York

'Vazsonyi's rigorous study is marvellously enlightening ...' —Laura Silverman, whatsonstage.com

"In a series of pithy, highly readable yet thoroughly documented chapters, Vazsonyi examines the way in which Wagner worked to develop what we would nowadays call his image..."
-Daniel Snowman,Opera

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781107404397
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 5/10/2012
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 236
  • Product dimensions: 7.44 (w) x 9.69 (h) x 0.51 (d)

Meet the Author

Nicholas Vazsonyi is Jesse Chapman Alcorn Memorial Professor of Foreign Languages and Professor of German and Comparative Literature, Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures at the University of South Carolina. His first book, Lukács Reads Goethe (1997), was followed by two edited volumes, one on German national identity formation between 1750 and 1871 (2000) and the other entitled Wagner's Meistersinger: Performance, History, Representation (2003). Richard Wagner: Self-Promotion and the Making of a Brand recently appeared in German translation as Richard Wagner: Entstehung einer Marke (2012). He is co-organizer with Anno Mungen (University of Bayreuth) of the WagnerWorldWide 2013 project, a series of linked lectures and conferences around the world, to be capped by an edited volume. In 2013, he joined the editorial team of the German journal wagnerspectrum.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments; A note on translation and style; Abbreviations; Introduction; 1. Image; 2. Publicity; 3. Niche and branding; 4. Consumers and consumption; 5. Hub; Epilogue: the Wagner industry; Bibliography; Index.

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