Richard Wagner e il plagio musicale: modalità di creazione e di nascondimento PDF Print Email

Annie Yen-Ling Liu


Although on one occasion Richard Wagner admitted to his wife Cosima that he had «stolen» from Liszt’s Dante Symphony, he was otherwise unwilling to disclose his creative debts to Liszt. Wagner’s attitude concerning influence and appropriation is indicative of the «originality paradox», a concept proposed by Thomas McFarland to describe the perpetual tension in literary culture between inescapable artistic influence and the requirement for originality. This essay proposes an interpretive model based on this «paradox» and the dynamics of conscious and unconscious production, centered on Wagner’s prose writings and the thematic and formal network linking Wagner’s Parsifal to the Dante Symphony and cantata The Bells of Strasbourg Cathedral of Liszt. In appropriating techniques and ideas from Liszt, Wagner’s intention may have been to transcend as well as absorb his model. Although concealing this influence, he was also consolidating an advanced musical language that realized a communal vision of artistic progression.


Annie Yen-Ling Liu is Associate Professor of Music History in the School of Music at Soochow University. Her research and teaching interests include the symphony in the nineteenth century, the new German school, German romanticism, and aesthetics across the visual arts and literature. Her doctoral research was recognized with a Geballe Dissertation Prize and a year-long residency at the Stanford Humanities Center.


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