Dear Discussion Forum friends:
I recently had the pleasure of discovering that Wagner WorldWide 2013, a collaborative celebration of the bicentenary of Wagner's birth sponsored by the Univ. of South Carolina, The Univ. of Bern (Switzerland), and the Univ. of Bayreuth (Germany), has a website which includes youtube/podcast video of lectures presented as part of this celebration.
While experiencing audio/video of Dr. Nicholas Vazsonyi's (Jesse Chapman Alcorn Professor of Foreign Languages at the Univ. of South Carolina, where he teaches German and Comparative Literature) lecture "The Global Marketing of Wagner" yesterday, I listened with amazement as Dr. Vazsonyi began his lecture with the proposition that Wagner was in contradiction with himself for the following reason:
(1) On the one hand, Dr. Vazsonyi said that the global marketing of Wagner deserves special attention because Wagner's case is different and special. Wagner was one of a set of new composers who were the first to commit themselves to marketing their artworks in a global marketplace, not just locally.
(2) On the other hand, and, as Vazsonyi said, in contradiction to the first proposition, Wagner was at the same time committed to the genuine artwork, which exists for its own sake, which for that reason need not take the marketplace into consideration. So, in effect, Wagner is both concerned with marketing his art, and denies that this is the case. Vazsonyi added that the entire Wagner industry, so to speak, suffers from this contradiction.
I enjoyed Dr. Vazsonyi's lecture and found it quite interesting, but I also noted that the apparent contradiction he described in his lecture can be easily resolved. To be fair, I haven't yet had an opportunity to read his new book on the Wagner Brand, and therefore don't know whether Vazsonyi has already resolved this contradiction, but here's my solution:
I haven't the time just now to go scouting through Appendix II of http://www.wagnerheim.com to find the two or three extracts from Wagner's writings and/or recorded remarks which address this question, but there are two or three passages there the sum of which is that Wagner developed a theory of statistical probability in relation to the global marketing of his art which shows the contradiction of which Vazsonyi speaks to be an illusion. Wagner said that in order to disseminate his art, and awareness of his art, to the relatively small number of authentic lovers of art who would be capable of grasping his unique art, who are perforce widely dispersed in time and space among a far larger number of humans who are incapable of grasping his art, he would have to disseminate his art and its example (and his ideas about art) as widely and deeply as possible, to produce a statistical probability that he could reach those few, who would then carry the ball for him, so to speak.
This resolves Vazsonyi's contradiction, since it shows that Wagner needed to address a truly global marketplace to have any chance at all of finding what in the end would be a comparatively small audience, a select few, who could grasp his art and help to carry it forward into the future. In other words, Wagner's art for art's sake, his concern for genuine art, and contempt for the kind of marketing which seeks to generate mere popularity and profit through dubious means, is entirely consistent with his quest to reach as many potential audience members as possible, both in time and space, so that he would increase his chances of reaching those few capable of appreciating his genius and furthering its ends.
As soon as time permits, I will read Vazsonyi's new book on the Wagner Brand, and post a review of it in this discussion forum.
Your friend from Wagnerheim,
Paul alias alberich00
General Discussion about Wagner and The Ring of the Nibelung
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