It is undeniable that Richard Wagner was one of the most prominent and influential composers of his time. His influence was obvious throughout Germany, and clearly spread throughout surrounding European nations. Wagnerism was not contained, however, strictly to European cultures. Across the Atlantic, Wagnerism also generated a significant following in America. A key element to America’s relationship with Wagner was the recurrent theme of nationalism. This presentation will examine the concept of nationalism as an important element of Wagnerism in America based on primary research conducted at the Newberry Library in May 2008.
Wagner’s rhetorical use of nationalism, German-American ties to nationalism, American’s use of nationalism in producing Wagner’s works, and American’s changing view of nationalism, are all examples of how nationalism played a multifaceted role in the development of Wagnerism in America. After examining the role of nationalism, it becomes clear that both the rise in popularity and downfall of Wagnerism in America can be attributed to nationalism.
Anna Yeagle, ’10 Berthoud, CO
Sponsor: James Martin