20th September 2014, 11.45am – Wagner talk (Oxford University alumni weekend)


Talk and book signing at Oxford University alumni weekend

Saturday 20 September at 11.45am–1.00pm
Maths Institute
Andrew Wiles Building
Radcliffe Observatory Quarter
Woodstock Road

This event argues for Richard Wagner as one of prophets of the 19th Century. It emphasises Wagner’s importance as a supreme musician and a myth-invoking dramatist, but also his significance culturally, politically, and sociologically, for telling us things of importance for us and our time, perhaps for all time.

This runs against the common notion that Wagner was bad, an evil influence, a misguided notion which stems partly from the belief that he was a trailblazer for Hitler and Nazi Germany. These beliefs are erroneous, as this event makes clear.

The event then goes into the Wagner Experience as a whole, explaining what it is, how it works, and what makes it extraordinary, “not a new pleasure but a new kind of pleasure, if indeed pleasure is the right word, rather than trouble, astonishment, ecstasy, a conflict of sensations without name”. The plan is to illustrate the event with musical examples but it will become clear that the Wagner Experience is not simply a musical one but something more like falling in love or religious conversion. The event goes into some of the vital ideas which Wagner modelled in his dramas, both for living life more abundantly and for creating a better world.

For more information about the talk and the weekend, please see the Oxford Alumni website PDFs below.

Oxford alumni weekend planner (PDF)

Oxford alumni weekend brochure (PDF) – details of Wagner event on page 19