The Wagner Journal

Barry Millington, Wagner and the ‘English Musical Renaissance’

Barry Millington, Wagner and the ‘English Musical Renaissance’

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March 2024, Volume 18, Number 1, 4–26.

Any account such as this of the interaction of Wagner and his works with the phenomenon known as the ‘English Musical Renaissance’ – the upsurge of music that took place in Britain in the second half of the 19th century – has first to acknowledge the musicological debate around that phenomenon in recent decades.

The conventional historiography of a musical renaissance, initiated circa 1880 by a handful of composers spearheaded by Charles Hubert Hastings Parry and Charles Villiers Stanford, has controversially been challenged by scholars seeking to establish a broader view, taking into account socio-political and cultural influences with regard to the canon. Stimulating as much of the argumentation is, the revisionists’ case hardly undermines the notion of a seismic shift in the country’s musical affairs in the final decades of the century – one moreover crucially precipitated by Wagner.

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