The initial reception of Wagner in Australia seems to mirror the promotion of heroic themes that accompanied the conquest and transformation of a British penal colony by inland explorers and squatter-settlers into the federated nation of Australia.
By the early twentieth-century, however, Wagner’s musical and intellectual legacy was being mined for a very different purpose. Was this shift simply a case of post-federation Australian artists losing confidence in the ‘heroic’ potential of the new nation, or was it a reflection of an attempt to find a more mature aesthetic response to the European settler experience of Australia?
Professor Peter Tregear is the Head of School, ANU School of Music
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