Wednesday, February 21, 2018
In 1861, Charles Baudelaire published an essay entitled “Richard Wagner and Tannhäuser in Paris,” setting in motion a singular chapter in cultural history: the international, cross-disciplinary phenomenon known as Wagnerism. By the end of the century, poets, novelists, painters, architects, dancers, and theatre artists had all registered Wagner’s influence, which took the form not merely of the grandiose mythological tendencies commonly associated with the word “Wagnerian” but also of dream narratives, streams of consciousness, and abstraction. Alex Ross, the New Yorker’s music critic, will examine Wagner’s ambiguous presence among literary modernists, particularly James Joyce and Virginia Woolf.
Alex Ross has been contributing to The New Yorker since 1993, and became the magazine’s music critic in 1996. He writes about classical music, covering the field from the Metropolitan Opera to the downtown avant-garde, and has also contributed essays on pop music, literature, twentieth-century history, and gay life. His first book, “The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century,” a cultural history of music since 1900, won a National Book Critics Circle award and the Guardian First Book Award, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.
Mr. Ross's Athenaeum presentation is co-sponsored by the Gould Center for Humanistic Studies at CMC.
Photo credit: David Michalek