P&P Live!: Alex Ross – Wagnerism: Art and Politics in the Shadow of Music – with Anne Midgette and The Wagner Society of Washington D.C.
This event will be streamed online as part of our P&P Live! Series, in partnership with the Wagner Society of Washington, D.C.
For better or worse, Wagner is the most widely influential figure in the history of music. Around 1900, the phenomenon known as Wagnerism saturated European and American culture. Such colossal creations as The Ring of the Nibelung, Tristan und Isolde, and Parsifal were models of formal daring, mythmaking, erotic freedom, and mystical speculation. A mighty procession of artists, including Virginia Woolf, Thomas Mann, Paul Cézanne, Isadora Duncan, and Luis Buñuel, felt his impact. Anarchists, occultists, feminists, and gay-rights pioneers saw him as a kindred spirit. Then Adolf Hitler incorporated Wagner into the soundtrack of Nazi Germany, and the composer came to be defined by his ferocious antisemitism. For many, his name is now almost synonymous with artistic evil. Neither apologia nor condemnation, Wagnerism is a work of passionate discovery, urging us toward a more honest idea of how art acts in the world.
Alex Ross has been the music critic for The New Yorker since 1996. His first book, the international bestseller The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and won a National Book Critics Circle Award. His second book, the essay collection Listen to This, received an ASCAP Deems Taylor Award. He was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2008 and a Guggenheim Fellow in 2015.
Anne Midgette was for 11 years the chief classical music critic of The Washington Post. A regular contributor of classical music and theater reviews to The New York Times for seven years, she has also written for Vanity Fair, The Wall Street Journal, Opera News, and many other publications. The co-author of The King and I, written with Luciano Pavarotti’s long-time manager Herbert Breslin, and of My Nine Lives, the memoir of the pianist Leon Fleisher, she is currently working on a historical novel about the woman who built pianos for Beethoven.
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