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A personal satirical iconography is a valuable source of information about composers. Developing under the influence of many factors – public opinion, private and professional reputation, friendly or hostile relations with critics and artists – it complements pure facts of musician biographies and analytical materials with an emotionally colored perception. The article examines the satirical images of Richard Wagner, which reflect the peculiarities of the approach to his personality and creativity: internationalism, accentuated publicism, grotesque, denunciation and prolongation to the future. Wagner’s iconography was created by the caricaturists of different countries and peoples for a long time. In different periods, the perception of the German composer as a person and an artist was supplemented by new nuances, mostly of negative character. Thus, “Wagnerian myth” appeared in the world of caricature, interpreting its creative path as a chain of annoying delusions and insidious atrocities that had long-term negative consequences in musical art and world history. The composer is shown as a vain and an arrogant man, obsessed with his power delusions, a self-interested person, a demonic personality, the destroyer of classical orchestra standards. In recent decades, there has been the tendency of Wagner’s personality “rehabilitation” in a caricature, the perception of his heritage as a stable element of the world musical culture in all the complexity of its components.
Richard Wagner is one of the most controversial figures of musical art and he served as a favorite “target” for caricaturists not only throughout his creative path, but also after death. Different facets of his artistic nature, different works and ideals were in the focus of artist attention. And until now the objects of Wagner’s heritage make an ambiguous reaction of the public periodically, becoming an occasion for a heated discussion in society – whether it is the fate of the Bayreuth Festival or the performance of his opera works.
The satiric images examined by us show Wagner in a sharp satirical and grotesque vein as a proud man, a greedy man and an anti-Semite. His position is unstable: between triumph and failure, fame and oblivion, talent and mediocrity. Later, Wagner was also accused of pro-fascist sentiments development in Germany that led the country to humanitarian and cultural catastrophe in the 1930s and 1940s. A German romanticist emerges as a demonic personality associated with the world of evil and darkness.
Wagner’s iconography was created by the caricaturists of different countries and peoples for a long time. In different periods, the perception of the German composer as a person and an artist was supplemented by new nuances, mostly of negative character. In recent decades, there has been the tendency to “rehabilitate” Wagner’s personality in a caricature, to perceive his heritage as a stable element of the world musical culture. Wagner’s caricatures are characterized by open publicism and an accusatory tone as a rule.
The results of the study will contribute to the deepening of the existing knowledge about the change of stylistic paradigms in the history of music in their interconnection with related art forms, the spiritual climate of the epoch, as well as with public opinion and perceptions. At the same time, the ideas are developed about the thematic and species diversity of a caricature interpreting the phenomena of musical creativity
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