Richard Wagner's Rienzi and revolution in the name of art
Guillou, Gregg Carlin
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This investigation will concentrate on Wagner’s early development (pre-Holländer) as an artist and musician, establish what specific influences guided or changed him artistically before and during the composition of Rienzi, and determine to what extent Rienzi contains the seeds of Wagner's mature ideas about art, music and drama, social revolution, and politics. The focus will be to determine to what extent Wagner identified with his Rienzi material and how this appropriation influenced his development of new artistic and philosophic ideas. We will address Wagner's essays on art, music and drama, history, politics, and aesthetics written before, during, and after the completion of Rienzi. These early essays demonstrate that Wagner’s break with traditional opera style was inevitable. His artistic philosophy develops in his early years as musician and culminates in a radical break with the traditional art world during the composition of Rienzi.