Guest blogger Jane Miller appears to have come down with a touch of Wagner-fever, so best not get in her way……

Richard Wagner inspires a range of responses – from adoration……

 

Wilhelm Beckman, 1880
Wilhelm Beckman, 1880

 

……..to exhaustion:

 

Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine, 1900
Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine, 1900

Known principally for his operatic works, his compositions are celebrated for their emotional range, complexity and musical innovation, a key influence for romantic and modern composers, writers and artists. Wagner strove to unite all aspects of a work: the musical, theatrical and literary/mythical inspiration, into the single ideal of Gesamtkunstwerk, the “total work of art”.

The 200th anniversary of Wagner’s birth (1813), is being celebrated in Melbourne through performances by Opera Australia of his monumental work, Der Ring des Nibelungen, (aka. the Ring Cycle) – 4 operas featuring over 15 hours of music.

Australian Marjorie Lawrence as Brunnhilde
Australian Marjorie Lawrence as Brunnhilde

Alongside these performances, Melbourne University and the Richard Wagner Society are hosting a symposium, Wagner and Us, exploring his relevance to the performing arts and cultural life generally, as well as his more conflicted legacy – including his anti-Semitic writings and their place in German National Socialism. In Brahms vs. Wagner the Melbourne Festival is running a series of events to explore the differing approaches and legacies of the two composers.

Wagner vs Brahms
Wagner vs Brahms

 

Bayreuth, home to the Festspielhaus where Der Ring des Nibelungen was first performed in 1876, has also marked this occasion with a program of concerts and lectures. Developed by the Saxon State and University Library of Dresden, this online exhibition celebrating Wagner’s jubilee covers music, correspondence, photographs, and links to digitised resources.

Bayreuth Festspielhaus
Bayreuth Festspielhaus

The State Library of Victoria’s collections include a wide range of materials that discuss and critique Wagner and his musical and literary works. Along with scores, our collection includes audio and video recordings which can be used inside the Library, as well as many titles available to our offsite registered Victorian users through the online  Naxos Music Library and Naxos Video Library.

So, whether you’re an afficionado or novice explorer there is plenty to discover about Wagner, his music, and its social and political contexts here at the Library.

And if you’re particularly game, why not try this on your next visit to the supermarket!

Jane Miller

We even have a postcard of the great man in our Picture Collection:

 

Richard Wagner postcard
Richard Wagner postcard

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