I preface these remarks with the free admission that I am NOT an ‘expert’ on the music and dramatic art of Richard Wagner [1813-1883]. I recommend the following for a good overview of his life and work – Great Composers: Richard Wagner.
My recent explorations of Vikings and Nordic pagan mythology lead me almost inevitably to the work of Wagner. Practically all of his music is based on the ancient themes, gods, goddesses, the semi-divine, magical and mere mortal of Germanic legend. Wagner cleverly interweaves these with German-glossed Olympic Greek themes, creating an extremely complex psychological stew of motivations, contradictions, betrayals, revenge, death and finally – redemption.
But given all this, there are profound problems with Wagner (IMHO). Especially when we look back (as we must do) through the horrendous lens of Hitler and Nazism. Even though I always liked his ‘Ride of the Valkyries’ ["I love the smell of napalm in the morning... it smells like VICTORY!" ], the word ‘bombast’ must have been created especially for Richard Wagner. He was an ego-maniacal ultra-nationalist who hated Jews and blamed all of the nascent* Germany’s woes on them. In short, Wagner would have been an enthusiastic Nazi!
Some brilliant if overblown music… but WHAT AN ASSHOLE!
* Germany was not first united until 1871.