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date: 21 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter traces the evolution of Wagner’s engagement with Schopenhauer’s philosophy from the 1850s through 1883. It considers Wagner’s three Schopenhauerian operas in relation to the composer’s contemporary writings, suggesting that both music and prose were vehicles through which he sought to extend and correct what he perceived as shortcomings in Schopenhauer’s work. In Tristan und Isolde and related correspondence, Wagner identified a pathway to redemption from suffering born of Schopenhauerian will, attainable through the experience of erotic love. In Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and the essay “Beethoven,” Wagner elaborated Schopenhauer’s theory of dreams to account for the origins of artistic creativity. In Parsifal and a series of essays appended to “Religion and Art,” Wagner extended Schopenhauer’s notion of compassion to include all living beings, identifying vegetarianism as one of its principal tenets and the Eucharist as its cardinal expression in ritual.

Keywords: art, compassion, creativity, love, metaphysics, music, opera, religion, Schopenhauer, vegetarianism, Wagner

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