<< -- 2 -- Malcolm Miller THE BAYREUTH EXPERIENCE
To this end there are, within Bayreuth, several public lecture series as well as, for the connoisseur, visiting groups and seminars. One such is the uniquely stimulating two-week seminar 'Wagner, Aesthetics, Politics and Music', given annually at the University of Bayreuth by the Wagner scholars William Kinderman and Katherine Syer of the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign. (Their next course runs in 2007.) I was fortunate enough to attend for a week in August 2005, along with a group of some dozen scholars and music lovers from the USA, Switzerland, Canada and Britain.
Professor William Kinderman with his wife, Dr Katherine Syer, outside the Festspielhaus. Photo © 2005 Malcolm Miller
Renowned as a Beethoven scholar, William Kinderman, Musicology Professor at the University of Illinois, has long been involved in Wagner studies and his latest book, together with his wife Dr Katherine Syer, A Companion to Wagner's Parsifal (Camden House, Boydell & Brewer Inc, 2005) was published aptly in time for this year's festival, with Boulez' conducting of Parsifal forming a highlight alongside The Flying Dutchman, Tannhäuser, Lohengrin and Tristan und Isolde.
The seminar programme comprised daily classes which featured in-depth explorations of Wagner's musico-poetic strategies, focusing on key elements in each work in preparation for the performance itself. We also covered the history of the Bayreuth Festival, and there was ample time to discuss and appraise each production following the performances. In the week I was there, I was privileged to attend all the operas except Lohengrin, offering an intriguing cross section of different approaches to staging and performance, all of them stimulating in different ways, whether traditional, psychologically innovative, provocatively political or minimalist.
Copyright © 25 July 2006
Malcolm Miller, London UK