The New Yorker's Alex Ross On 'Wagnerism' | Connecticut Public Radio

The New Yorker's Alex Ross On 'Wagnerism'

Jan 5, 2021

Nietzsche called Richard Wagner "a volcanic eruption of the total undivided artistic capacity of nature itself," and Thomas Mann said he was "probably the greatest talent in the entire history of art."

More than a thousand movies have Wagner on their soundtracks, including classic scenes from Apocalypse Now, The Blues Brothers, Bugs Bunny cartoons, and Charlie Chaplin.

But, there's a reason Woody Allen says too much of Wagner's music gives him "the urge to conquer Poland." Wagner is nothing if not a problematic figure. As the new book Wagnerism: Art and Politics in the Shadow of Music puts it, "An artist who might have rivaled Shakespeare in universal reach is undone by an ideology of hate."

This hour, a look at Wagnerism with New Yorker music critic Alex Ross.


  • Steve Metcalf - Director emeritus of the University of Hartford's Presidents' College
  • Alex Ross - Music critic at The New Yorker and the author of Wagnerism: Art and Politics in the Shadow of Music

Join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

Colin McEnroe and Cat Pastor contributed to this show, which originally aired September 30, 2020.