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CLASSICAL  August 2000

CLASSICAL August 2000

Subject:

Re: Why is Wagner Problematic?

From:

Achim Breiling <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 9 Aug 2000 12:58:56 +0200

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (55 lines)

Satoshi Akima replies to me:

>I can think of so many operas, movies, novels which fail to have the
>profundity and depth that the Ring conveys.

Of course!  But I also can think of quite many works that are as profound
or even more so than the Ring.  The Ring is not a special case concerning
profoundity.  Furthermore (IMHO) the Ring is not a work that transmits in
a extraordinary clear way the deep thoughts of its composer about life and
humanity to the listener and the language used by Wagner is not only dated
its just bad and affected poetry.  And even if the message is a good one
that does not raise the quality of the language used.

>Yes it is true that the Romantic Idealism, the aesthetics, the style
>of diction is very late 19th century.  But why condemn Wagner for that?
>We cannot expect a late 19th century writer to write like Mallarme, any
>more than we can expect Brahms to write 12-tone music.  That would be like
>condemning Bach for his 'old fashioned' musical aesthetics.  You could make
>derisive comments of anyone on that sort of basis whether that be Wagner,
>Goethe, Schiller, Hoelderlin, Shakespeare, Chaucer, or Dante.  It is
>important to appreciate their aesthetics as an necessary expression of its
>time.

True enough, but I enjoy reading Goethe, Schiller and Hoelderlin and
I certainly take into account when these *poets* wrote their works but
with Wagners libretti its different.  As Robert Peters already made clear:
*(Wagners poetry) is obscure, full of pathos, unintentionally funny,
eccentric and full of weird words.* Fully agreed!  I am not a German
literate, but just when you read Wagner its not *music* in the ears as
the poetry of e.g.  Goethe, Schiller, Hoelderlin or Heine (just listen to
Schuberts *Doppelgaenger* to understand what I mean).  Its just funny, and
I think its funny not because I react with bewilderment to this complex
philosophical language and laughing is the only thing I can to to hide my
non-understanding.

>Quite true, in that Hegel is a thinker so difficult to read most (even,
>or perhaps especially the average "educated") Germans would find it almost
>impossible to read beyond the first paragraph of his Phenomenology of
>Spirit....

Thus you want to tell me that Wagner is a philosopher on a related level
than Hegel and that he wrote the Ring to tell his view of the world and
thus uses such a terrible language I and most educated people just do
not understand and can just react with laughter? In my post I was just
commenting on the quality of Wagners language, not the philosophy behind it
(which I maybe really do not underdstand).  I do not think from the fact
that Wagner apparently wanted to express Hegelian philosophy follows that
he has to do this in the poor language he uses.

I have the impression that Wagners musical dramas can be and have been used
and interpreted in many ways beyond its musical content.  For me Wagner
remains as a truely important composer and that is what counts for me.

Achim Breiling

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