RICHARD WAGNER on joy, creativity, society and … money.
I’ve decided to go off the deep end today, and post quotes by Richard Wagner, the composer best known for the wrong reasons. Notorious for his anti-Semitism and for his most improbably complex opera saga “The Ring”, many people associate him exclusively with the horrors of WWII goose-stepping Nazism and/or with the trumpets and cymbal clashing Ride of the Valkyries. At most the wedding march from “Lohengrin”. Shocking to say, his documented anti-Semitism was not unusual in his time, but he’s also on record as having had a number of Jewish friends and colleagues his whole life. He wasn’t around when Nazis appropriated his music to provide a soundtrack for their Third Reich, a good 50 years after his death. Hitler was indeed made welcome at the Bayreuth Festival, but it was at the enthusiastic invitation of controversial English-born Winifred Williams, the widow of Wagner’s son Siegfried. Apparently, Wagner wasn’t even Hitler’s favourite composer, Anton Bruckner was.
What’s less well-known are his social and revolutionary ideas that got him exiled from his native Germany, the fact he owned one of the largest private libraries of his time in Europe. He notated most of his books and discussed them in his extensive correspondence. He was a prolific writer of books, poems and articles and had a deep interest in Far Eastern philosophies and music. He’s said to have been personally obnoxious and arrogant, but he was also an eclectic intellectual giant who is credited with having laid the foundations of modern theater and cinema.
Horns and cymbals to the contrary, he composed some of Western music’s most emotional and romantic music with “Tristan and Isolde”. Many regret he never got around to writing the “Buddhist” opera he had mentioned in his diaries and letters and worked on for years. In the end though, that material morphed into the lyrical-spiritual “Parsifal”.
So here are four quotes by Richard Wagner. He writes about joy, creativity, society and … money.
“Joy is not in things, it is in us.”
“One supreme fact that I have discovered is that it is not willpower but fantasy imagination that creates. Imagination is the creative force. Imagination creates reality.”
“I hate this fast growing tendency to chain men to machines in big factories and deprive them of all joys in their efforts – the plan will lead to cheap men and cheap products.”
And to finish off, a quote I find wise but rather humorous, if you consider his love affairs, philandering and marital woes… and financial straights:
“Divorce is one of the most financially traumatic things you can go through. Money spent on getting mad or getting even is money wasted.”
Comments and quotes on JOY, CREATIVITY, SOCIETY and MONEY welcome!
Photos mine: covers of Wagner’s “My Life” and of two books on his works – “Wagner” by Michael Tanner 1996, – “Aspects of Wagner” by Bryan Magee 1988