My Books on Wagner

Hannu Salmi: "Die Herrlichkeit des deutschen Namens..." Die schriftstellerische und politische Tätigkeit Richard Wagners als Gestalter nationaler Identität während der staatlichen Vereinigung Deutschlands. Annales Universitatis Turkuensis, Ser. B. Tom. 196. Turku 1993 (320 p.) ISBN 951-880-899-6, Price: 100 FIM or 20 USD

To order this book, write to hansalmi@utu.fi or to Department of Cultural History, University of Turku, FIN-20014 Turku, Finland.


Hannu Salmi: Imagined Germany: Richard Wagner's National Utopia. German Life and Civilization, Vol. 29. General editor: Jost Hermand. Peter Lang Publishing: New York 1999 (229 p.) ISBN 0-8204-4416-2, Price: USD 50,95. You can order the book via amazon.com

Richard Wagner (1813-1883) has often been regarded as a symbol of "Germanness". Despite this view, only a few studies have been undertaken regarding his nationalistic thinking. Imagined Germany focuses on Wagner's idea of Deutschtum, especially during the unification of Germany, 1864-1871. How did Wagner define what German is? What kind of stereotypes, ideas, and sentiments did he attach to Germanness? What kind of state could realize his national ideals?

"Salmi makes an important contribution to our understanding of one of the most fascinating, artistic figures in German politics and culture, particularly his political role."

Michael Meyer, California State University, Northridge

"Salmi lays forever to rest the myth, propagated by some of Wagner's older apologists and by many of his more recent critics, that there existed a communality of interests between Wagner and Bismarck, as well as between the new 'Reich' and the Wagnerian cultural enterprise. Salmi shows, more clearly than anyone has done thus far, how Wagner at first styled himself as the 'most German of Germans' only to realize, in the end, that he had been crucified 'am Kreuz des deutschen Gedankens'."

Hans Rudolf Vaget, Smith College


Hannu Salmi: Wagner and Wagnerism in Nineteenth-Century Sweden, Finland, and the Baltic Provinces: Reception, Enthusiasm, Cult. Eastman Studies in Music. University of Rochester Press, Rochester, NY 2005 (310 p.) ISBN 1580462073, Price: USD 65. Buy via amazon.com.

Although Richard Wagner is, of course, a figure of world importance, he and his work have had a particularly distinctive impact within the Baltic Sea region--in Sweden, Finland, and the cities of what are today Poland, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. This story--or, rather, these overlapping stories--are here told for the first time in all their richness, starting with Wagner's own years as an apprentice conductor in Königsberg (in East Prussia, now the Russian city Kaliningrad) and Riga (Latvia) as well as his eventful concert tour to Russia in 1863.

Wagner and Wagnerism in Nineteenth-Century Sweden, Finland, and the Baltic Provinces explores how Wagner's operas were performed and received in the theaters of Stockholm and other cities of the region and how excerpts from them were arranged for amateur performances in private homes. Wagner's music and his polemical writings aroused lively discussion around the Baltic, as they did everywhere else in the Western world. Thanks to detailed accounts in newspapers, journals, contemporary literature, and writings of music historians (including some by Sibelius's teacher and friend Martin Wegelius), we are privileged, in Hannu Salmi's book, to "listen in" on these debates, which often deal with crucial questions of national self-determination and of cultural independence from Europe (especially Germany, in this case) and imperial Russia.

Finally, this text reveals the surprising extent to which music lovers and operagoers from the various countries, many of them women, traveled to Wagner's Bayreuth Festival to attend performances. It also reconstructs the imaginative and patient efforts by which confirmed Wagnerians established Wagner societies in order to promote an understanding of the composer's work. Each country, each city, each local composer and conductor shows a distinctive approach--welcoming, resistant, or some of each--to the challenge of Wagner. In the process, we see music history and cultural history in the making.

Wagner's connections with Scandinavia and the Baltic countries are more far-reaching than generally supposed, and Hannu Salmi's exhaustively researched study throws fascinating light on the contemporary reception of his works and ideas in that part of the world.
--Barry Millington, Wagner Scholar and author of Wagner, editor of The Wagner Compendium, and co-editor of Selected Letters of Richard Wagner

Hannu Salmi adds significantly to our knowledge, . . . [using] material in languages inaccessible to most readers, and with attention to [Wagner's] effect on domestic music-making and his impact in the opera house. A wide-ranging and highly readable book that fills a genuine gap in Wagner studies, and does so with distinction.
--Dr. John Warrack, University of Oxford and author of German Opera from the Beginnings to Wagner


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