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date: 24 February 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter compares interventions in the shaping of the operatic canon by Richard Wagner and Pierre Boulez, proposing that those of the latter, increasingly influenced by the former, proved as influential on the Modernism of the second half of the twentieth century as Wagner’s had during the first half. Both were guided by markedly Hegelian thinking, in terms of dialectics (the chapter stresses that all canonic discourse is dialectical) and of idealism (reshaping the past in their own Modernist image). Both, moreover, also had first-hand practical experience of the realities—especially the frustrations—of operatic repertory production as conductors, giving rise to different yet related Modernist critiques. Their perspectives resulted not only in the same kind of self-programming as canonic reform but also ultimately in their similar stances toward the canon. This chapter is paired with Cormac Newark’s “Canons of the Risorgimento then and now.”

Keywords: Richard Wagner, Pierre Boulez, Bayreuth, resistance, Arnold Schoenberg, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, dialectical Modernism, Wieland Wagner, revolution

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