New Course


Richard Wagner’s Role in German Culture

Fall 1999



Tu/Th: 2:30-3:45 Prerequisite: Junior or Senior Standing

Instructor: Dr. Edward Larkey GFR designation:C

Office: ACIV B-Wing, Room 129 Offered in English

Tel: 410-455-2109/2104

Office Hours: Tu/Th 11-12 am or by appt.




This course will look at the complex relationships of an enigmatic figure of German cultural life, drawing from a variety of different viewpoints to discuss the diverse and ambivalent position of Wagner with regard to other institutions, artists and ideas circulating in German cultural life both during his lifetime as well as in the subsequent decades. Students will become familiar with different disciplinary approaches to evaluating Wagner – history, music, philosophy and literature. Students will learn how German culture can simultaneously embody cultural progress and artistic achievement, while propagating some of the most inhumane and racist ideas.

Class Work

We will delve into important aspects of Wagner’s life – his conflict with Nietzsche, his idiosyncratic use of traditions for defining German identity, the Bayreuth festival, , his Anti-Semitism, and the Ring of the Nibelung tetralogy.

In addition to class readings for each meeting of class about Wagner by the leading experts in the disciplines, we will be reading selections from Wagner’s essays and prose explaining his viewpoints as well, in order to gain insights into his unique way of thinking and his positioning vis-a-vís society.

You will be expected to listen to the music of the Ring of the Nibelung tetralogy before and outside of class time on your own.


Grading will consist of two exams during the semester (50%), class participation (15%) and one final exam (35%). If the need arises, unannounced quizzes will be given intermittently to ensure that the readings are done. These will add to your class participation grade.

Honors Projects:

Students may earn Honors credit for a project consisting of a presentation of one of the readings and a term paper (10-15 pages) on a topic related to a particular class. Please sign up within the first two weeks of class.



In Bookstore

David C. Large, William Weber (Eds.), 1984. Wagnerism in European Culture and Politics, Cornell University Press.

Ullrich Müller, Peter Wapnewski (Eds.), 1992. Wagner Handbook, Harvard University Press.

Rudolph Sabor, 1997. Der Ring des Nibelungen: A Companion. Phaidon Press

Wagner’s Writings on Library Reserve

Other Writings on Library Reserve


Friedrich Nietzsche, Birth of Tragedgy

Judaism in Music

Amanda Glauert, The Reception of Wagner in Vienna 1860-1900

What is German

Thomas Mann, Pro and Contra Wagner

Opera and Drama

Hermann Hesse, Klein und Wagner

The Public and Popularity

Robert Hartford, Richard Wagner and the Idea of the Festival

The Work of Art in the Future

Millington, Spencer (Eds), Wagner in Performance

On Conducting

Schopenhauer, The World as Will and Idea

Audio-Visual Reserves:

The Ring of the Nibelungs will be available as a music cassette or CD as well as a videocassette of the performances in the AV area of the library

Schedule of Classes (Subject to adjustment during the semester)




Th Sept. 2


Weber & Large, Introduction Pp. 15-27

Koppen (HB), Wagnerism as Concept and Phenomenon. Pp. 343-353.

Tu Sept. 7

Philosophical Roots

Weber, Wagner, Wagnerism, & Musical Idealism, Pp. 28-72

Th Sept 9

Philosophical Roots

Wagner, The Work of Art in the Future

Tu Sept. 14

Philosophical Roots

Nietzsche, Birth of Tragedy

Th Sept. 16

Philosophical Roots

Hartmut Reinhart, Wagner and Schopenhauer, Pp. 287-296.

Tu Sept 21

Sources-Traditions-Stylistic Syncretisms

Dahlhaus, Wagner´s place in the History of Music, Pp. 99-117

Th Sept 23

Sources-Traditions-Stylistic Syncretisms

Müller, Wagner and Antiquity, Pp. 227-235

Tu Sept 28

Sources-Traditions-Stylistic Syncretisms

Volker Mertens, Wagner´s Middle Ages, Pp. 236-268

Th Sept 30

Sources-Traditions-Stylistic Syncretisms

Wagner, Beethoven (1870)

Tu Oct 5

Exam No. 1

Wagner´s Aesthetic and Philosophical Roots

Th Oct 7

Libretti, Composition and Performance Practice

Werner Breig, The Musical Works, Pp. 397-484.

Tu Oct 12

Libretti, Composition and Performance Practice

Discussion: Ring/Das Rheingold

Th Oct 14

Libretti, Composition and Performance Practice

Oswald Bauer, Performance History: A Brief Survey. Pp. 502-523.

Tu Oct 19

Libretti, Composition and Performance Practice

Discussion: Ring/Die Walküre

Th Oct 21

Libretti, Composition and Performance Practice

Jens Malte Fischer, Sprechgesang or Bel Canto., Pp. 524-546

Tu Oct 26

Libretti, Composition and Performance Practice

Discussion: Ring/Siegfried

Th Oct 28

Libretti, Composition and Performance Practice

Selections from Wagner: Opera and Drama

Tu Nov 2

Libretti, Composition and Performance Practice

Discussion: Ring/Die Götterdämmerung

Th Nov 4

Exam No. 2:

Music Compositions and Libretti

Tu Nov 9

Wagners Bayreuth Project

Manfred Eger, The Bayreuth Festival and the Wagner Family, Pp. 485-501.

Th Nov 11

Wagners Bayreuth Project

Robert Hartford, Richard Wagner and the Idea of the Festival, Introduction to Bayreuth, the Early Years. Pp. 15-41.

Tu Nov 16

Wagners Bayreuth Project

Wagner, Public and Popularity

Th Nov 18

Wagner´s Bayreuth Project

David C. Large, Wagner´s Bayreuth Disciples, Pp. 72-133.

Tu Nov 22

German and Austrian Reactions to Wagner

Amanda Glauert, The Reception of Wagner in Vienna, 1860-1900. In Millington and Spencer, Wagner in Performance, Pp. 120-129

Th Nov 24



Tu Nov 29

German and Austrian Reactions to Wagner

Thomas Mann, Selections from Pro and Contra Wagner

Th Dec 2

German and Austrian Reactions to Wagner

Hermann Hesse, Klein und Wagner

Johann Nestroy, Tannhäuser Parody

Tu Dec 7

Wagner and Nazi Culture

Readings TBA

Th Dec 9

Wagner´s Anti-Semitism

Dieter Borchmeyer, The Question of Anti-Semitism, Pp. 166-185.

Tu Dec 13

Wagner´s Anti-Semitism

Wagner: Judaism in Music

Wagner, What is German?


Final Exam

Wagner and Tradition

Possible Projects Topics


Comparative Performance Practices

Ring Works

Non-Ring Works

Music Traditions


Wagner and Nietzsche

Wagner and Schopenhauer


Wagner in France

Wagner in US

Wagner in Russia

Wagner in Great Britain

Wagner in Italy

Wagner in Israel


Literary Heritage

Reception in Literature

Reception in Film