- "Was deutsch und echt…": Articulating a German operatic identity, 1798-1876
- Award date
- 13 September 2016
- Number of pages
- Document type
- PhD thesis
- Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
- Amsterdam School for Regional, Transnational and European Studies (ARTES)
In nineteenth-century Europe, music was an important tool to cultivate a national culture. Particularly opera became a widespread emblem of national identity. In the German-speaking world, however, a national musical culture was often formulated as opposing the operatic cultures of Italy and France, associated with Roman culture, entertainment, and frivolity. On the contrary, instrumental and church music genres were deemed to exhibit elements of a German national identity such as seriousness, profundity, and complexity. At the same time, a part of the German musical world desired to have a native German opera tradition, embodying these German characteristics while simultaneously being dramatically effective and musically enjoyable. These composers, librettists, and critics were confronted with what I have coined as the 'German Opera Problem': the question how to formulate an operatic national identity in a music culture that in many cases was articulated in opposition to opera? This question forms a thread throughout this dissertation, which chiefly investigates answers and solutions formulated by composers, librettists, and opera critics in a vast body of nineteenth-century music journals, as well as in the creation of operas themselves. Each of the six chapters focuses on a sub-aspect of the larger German Opera Problem and/or illuminates an important stage in the formulation of a German operatic national identity and its concrete realization in the form of operatic works. Themes are: German opera and Romanticism, the endurance of a Singspiel esthetic, musical style, German opera abroad, operas on political-historical themes, and Richard Wagner’s appropriation of the German operatic legacy.
- Research conducted at: Universiteit van Amsterdam
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