Musician Richard Wagner would be 200 years old this year (if he were alive) and the kind folk at Zurich festival are honouring this with a very wide range of events. Similar events to mark his bi-centennial are being held in New York and Syndey.
Wagner was a controversial figure, brilliant, bigoted, and often broke. Born in Germany in 1813, he spent 12 years of his adult life in Switzerland.
Wagner’s music is loved by many. His most famous champion being one Adolf Hitler who no doubt appreciated Wagner’s anti-semitic leanings. In 1922 Hitler apparently said of him “Wagner’s works glorified the heroic Teutonic nature … ” Needles to say, seeing as Wagner died in 1883, Wagner cannot be blamed for who took a fancy to his work. Nor can he be held to blame for the atrocities that followed later after his death. Eerie anti-semitism aside, his music is deep in texture, moving and emotive. And while it is rumoured that Wagner’s was played in Nazi camps, there is no proof, other than the flimsy evidence that film makers tend to gravitate towards using Wagner in World War 2 films.
Listen to some music here.
The centre of this is the advertised “Wie ich die Welt wurde”, which you will see on posters all over Zürich. According to the official festival website:
Zurich was a kind of greenhouse for Richard Wagner, providing an environment in which he was able to flourish.
This is a play on the “Im Treibhaus” (in the Green house), a series of poems penned by Mahtilde Wesendonck, set to music by Wagner and known as the “Wesendock-Lieder”:
The line-up includes musical theatre, opera, plays, concerts, exhibitions, debates and much more. The programme’s centrepiece is the premiere of Richard Wagner – Wie ich Welt wurde by Hans Neuenfels at the Schiffbau Theatre.
Richard Wagner – Wie ich Welt wurde
Valkyries over Zurich
Opening matinee – festival lecture by Nike Wagner
Greenhouse on the Green Hill
Tristan oder Isolde
Dieter Ilg «Parsifal»
Welcome to the “Wagner Greenhouse”
Programme in English here.