When Wagner was born in Leipzig, Germany as such did not exist: it was a set of more than 250 independent principalities. In this context, the circulation of the aesthetic ideas had an almost political role, in the sense that the unitarian aspirations were represented in the cultural realm. The republican ideals of Junge Deutschland that Wagner got to know through Heinrich Laube (and which were inspired in Mazzini's Giovine Italia) and the Revolution of 1848 (in which he actively participated together with Bakunin) merged in his works with the romantic symbols that combined the supernatural universe with the material reality: for Wagner, building his work was also aspiring to the completing of a German mythology in which Das Nibelungen Lied and Des Kabes Wunderhorn would share the spot with Proudhon's utopian socialism, Nietzsche's Dionysian sense, and Schopenhauer's pessimism, all in the impossible dream of a sort of national and artistic religion: only the beauty of the music would allow for the illusionary materialization of such mirage.
A Music of the Future
José Luis Téllez
Wagner represents the most transcendental step in the renewing not only of the scenic music, but of all the harmony and instrumentation of the 19th century: in this sense, the influence of his work is projected to all genres, and it could be said that none of his contemporaries and successors have remained immune to it. The liberation of chromaticism, the role of the orchestra as an organism with an importance equivalent (if not superior) to the voices, as well as the conception of the opera form as a continuous speech ruled by the principle of thematic development, imply a diametrical change of perspective, at the same time as it implies the absorption of symphony by opera. But Wagner is also responsible for a new scenic conception, materialized in Bayreuth under his own direction: Wagner did not only transform music, but the conception of the lyrical space itself.