First Advisor

Richard H. Beyler

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in History






Richard Wagner (1813-1883), Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844-1900), Bayreuther Festspiele, Music -- Germany -- Bayreuth -- History and criticism



Physical Description

1 online resource (215 p.)


A rich relationship unites the composer Richard Wagner (1813-1883) and the history of psychology, especially if one considers his attempt to make music speak with the clarity of verbal language. Wagner's musical discourse participated in the development of psychology in the nineteenth century in three distinct areas. First, Wagner shared in the non-reductive materialist discourse on mind that characterized many of the thinkers who made psychology into an autonomous intellectual pursuit. Second, Wagner's theories and theatrical productions directly influenced two important psychologists - Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) and Christian von Ehrenfels (1859-1932). Finally, the experiences of music achieved by Wagner at his Bayreuth festivals created greater sensitivity toward psychology, especially among the more sympathetic participants.

In tracing a narrative from Wagner's first conception of a festival in 1849 to the premiere of Parsifal in 1882, one can also see several arcs in the evolution of Wagner's musical discourse. These include the shift from mnemonic to hypnotic techniques for giving music a voice, as well as the transition from a socially critical festival to one of personal affirmation. Connected to both of these augmentations of musical discourse was the volatile relationship between music and text in Wagner's compositions. Important in facilitating these transformations was not only Wagner's discovery of Schopenhauer's philosophy, but also the larger contingencies of instituting a festival in the Griinderzeit. In looking at the reception side of theatrical productions, in addition to their staging, this thesis has been able to identify psychologically-related links important to the history of music, science, and culture.


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