Regeneration and re-enchantment: British music and Wagnerism, 1880–1920

Atkinson, Peter John (2017). Regeneration and re-enchantment: British music and Wagnerism, 1880–1920. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis considers the pervasive and multifaceted influence of Richard Wagner’s music, aesthetics, and politics on British composers during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Drawing on music analysis, hermeneutics, and various archival sources (composers’ writings, contemporary reviews, and unpublished music), each chapter of the thesis focusses on case studies that bring British musical Wagnerism into dialogue with a number of other prominent artistic and cultural currents during the period under consideration: notably, Celticism, Pre-Raphaelitism, Arthurianism, nationalisms, mysticism, pantheism, eroticism, and ideas relating to the integration of or translatability of the arts.

Despite the sometimes widely divergent aesthetic, political, and social ends for which these composers called on Wagnerian ideas and techniques, this thesis argues that all these manifestations of Wagnerism were united by their composers’ desire to regenerate or re-enchant a world that was perceived to be in a state of crisis or decay. Ultimately, by viewing these composers and works through the lens of British Wagnerism, this study enriches our understanding of British music of the period and situates it the context of a wider European phenomenon.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music, Department of Music
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
M Music and Books on Music > M Music
M Music and Books on Music > ML Literature of music


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