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The Politics of AppropriationGerman Romantic Music and the Ancient Greek Legacy$
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Jason Geary

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199736119

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199736119.001.0001

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The Wagnerian Turn

The Wagnerian Turn

(p.197) Chapter Seven The Wagnerian Turn
The Politics of Appropriation

Jason Geary

Oxford University Press

This pivotal chapter offers a reassessment of Wagner’s engagement with the Greeks in light of the German revival of Greek tragedy with music, in particular the 1841 Antigone. In his series of influential reform essays, Wagner made several negative references to this trend in self-conscious opposition to the Gesamtkunstwerk that he envisioned as the modern embodiment of ancient Greek tragedy, namely his own music dramas. He rejected the Antigone as a misguided attempt to re-create Greek tragedy, which he opposed to his own effort to reinvent classical drama on wholly modern and Germanic terms. This reassessment of Wagner’s Hellenism not only affords new insights into his reform principles but also clarifies the role of the Oedipus myth as it relates to both Opera and Drama and to certain aspects of Der Ring des Nibelungen, including a hitherto unacknowledged affinity between the central figures of Antigone and Brünnhilde.

Keywords:   Wagner, Ring cycle, Music drama, Gesamtkunstwerk, Opera reform, Oedipus, Anti-Semitis

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