A Telephone from the Beyond
The legacy of musical idolatry outlined in the previous chapters culminates in the historical character of Wagnerism. As a phenomenon broader than the composer himself, Wagnerism was the general force propelling musical idolatry through the arts in the late nineteenth century. Furthermore, Wagnerism inspired the dream of a unified artistic field. This chapter amasses anecdotal evidence of the peculiarities of Wagnerism, arguing that this phenomenon set the stage for the subsequent cascade of isms associated with modernism. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche is profiled as a victim of Wagnerism’s neurotic propensity, widely disseminated across the arts as a boundless “ineffable yearning.”
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