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UC's College-Conservatory of Music Celebrates German Composer Richard Wagner at 200

This October, CCM commemorates the bicentenary of renowned composer Richard Wagner with an unprecedented series of events featuring New York Times Chief Classical Music Critic Anthony Tommasini, distinguished film director Tony Palmer and more.

Date: 10/3/2013 12:00:00 AM
By: Curt Whitacre
Phone: (513) 556-2683
Other Contact: Kiley Brodeur
Other Contact Phone: (513) 556-2683

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Film actor Richard Burton as composer Richard Wagner, from the 1983 Tony Palmer film 'Wagner.' Image provided through the courtesy of Tony Palmer.
Film actor Richard Burton as composer Richard Wagner, from the 1983 Tony Palmer film 'Wagner.' Image provided through the courtesy of Tony Palmer.

The University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) celebrates the 200th anniversary of composer Richard Wagner’s birth (May 22, 1813) with an unprecedented series of events this month. Beginning on Friday, Oct. 11, and running through Thursday, Oct. 24, CCM explores Wagner’s iconic work and enduring legacy with a series of guest lectures, film screenings and a concert performance by the CCM Philharmonia. Aside from the Oct. 12 Philharmonia performance, these events are free and open to the general public.

Richard Wagner was a 19th century German composer, theatre director, polemicist and conductor. He revolutionized opera through his concept of the Gesamtkunstwerk ("total work of art"), in which he combined the poetic, visual, musical and dramatic arts. His Gesamtkunstwerk also greatly influenced many filmmakers, as detailed in the book Wagner and Cinema, co-edited by Jeongwon Joe, Associate Professor of Musicology at CCM, and Sander L. Gilman, Distinguished Professor of Germanic Studies at Emory University. According to Wagner and Cinema, early 20th century film critic W. Stephen Bush once declared, “Every man or woman in charge of the music of a moving picture theatre is, consciously or unconsciously, a disciple or follower of Richard Wagner.”

CCM’s bicentenary celebration opens at 2:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 11, with a guest lecture by Anthony Tommasini, Chief Classical Music Critic for the New York Times. Other highlights include the CCM Philharmonia’s Oct. 12 concert, “Wagner – Redemption Through Love,” which features selections from Wagner’s operas to be performed with the cinematic images from Tony Palmer’s biographical film about Wagner, starring Richard Burton. CCM will also welcome director Tony Palmer to campus for a discussion on his films on Thursday, Oct. 24.

To celebrate this towering figure of German Romanticism and the indelible impression he made on the cinematic arts, CCM will also present a series of free film screenings exploring Wagner’s life and legacy.

Please see individual listings below for additional information on the festival’s public events.

About Anthony Tommasini
Anthony Tommasini is the chief classical music critic of the New York Times and the author of three books. Born in Brooklyn, he grew up in Long Island, graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Yale University and later earned a Master of Music degree form the Yale School of Music and a Doctor of Musical Arts Degree from Boston University.

Tommasini taught music at Emerson College in Boston and gave nonfiction writing workshops at Wesleyan University and Brandeis University. His interest in the work of the composer and critic Virgil Thomson culminated with his book Virgil Thomson: Composer on the Aisle, published in 1997 by W. W. Norton & Company. Among the reviews the book received was Jack Sullivan’s in the Washington Post: “…a thoroughly original biography, detached yet intimate, learned yet entertaining, one that does full justice to its feisty, iconoclastic subject.” Robert Craft, in the New York Review of Books, deemed the biography “indispensable to anyone concerned with American cultural history of the period.”

His last book, released in November of 2004 and published by Times Books/Henry Holt, part of the New York Times Essential Library series, is Opera: a Critic’s Guide to the 100 Important Most Important Works and the Best Recordings. It beings with a primer for newcomers to opera and includes 100 original essays on the chosen works.

As a pianist, he recorded two Northeastern Records compact discs of Thomson’s music, one titled Portraits and Self-Portraits and the other Mostly About Love: Songs and Vocal Works. Both were funded through grants Tommasini was awarded by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Prior to joining the New York Times, he covered music and theater for the Boston Globe. Over the years as a journalist, he has also written about dance, jazz, rap, books and AIDS.

About Tony Palmer
Tony Palmer is a British film director and author, specializing in biographical films and documentaries about musicians. Tony Palmer’s vast filmography includes more than 100 films, ranging from early works about popular musicians, such as The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and Frank Zappa (200 Motels), to his famous portraits about classical composers and performers, including Benjamin Britten, Stravinsky, Puccini, Wagner, Maria Callas and Yehudi Menuhin. His seven-hour, 45-minute-long film on Wagner, starring Richard Burton, Laurence Olivier and Vanessa Redgrave, was described by the Los Angeles Times as “one of the most beautiful films ever made.”

Palmer has received more than 40 international prizes for his work, including 12 Gold Medals at the New York Film and Television Festival, as well as numerous BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television) and EMMY nominations and awards. He is the only person to have won the Prix Italia twice.

Palmer is also a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and honorary citizen of both New Orleans and Athens. He is also a stage director of theatre and opera.

CCM will screen Palmer’s recent documentary, The Wagner Family (2009), as part of this celebration.


2:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 11
• The Joseph and Frances Jones Poetker "Thinking About Music" Lecture Series •
A Critic Reflects on Wagner and Wagner Productions
Anthony Tommasini, Chief Classical Music Critic for the New York Times
The Thinking About Music Series welcomes Anthony Tommasini for a special talk
presented in conjunction with CCM’s bicentennial celebration of Richard Wagner.
Location: Baur Room
Admission: FREE

4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 12
The Wagner Family (film)
Tony Palmer, director
CCM presents a free screening of the 2009 documentary The Wagner Family.
Location: MainStreet Cinema, Tangeman University Center
Admission: FREE

8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 12
• Orchestra Series •
Wagner – Redemption Through Love
CCM Philharmonia
Mark Gibson, music director and conductor

Featuring faculty artists Amy Johnson, soprano; Tom Baresel, tenor; and Kenneth Shaw, bass
CCM presents a concert of selections from Wagner’s operas to be performed with images from Tony Palmer’s film Wagner, starring Richard Burton.
PLEASE NOTE: The footage from the 1983 film Wagner featured during this concert includes some imagery intended for mature audiences.

Location: Corbett Auditorium
Tickets: $12 general, $6 non-UC students, UC students FREE. This concert can be included in a flex-ticket package.

2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 13
Silent Wagner (film)
Carl Froelich, director
CCM presents a free screening of the 1913 silent film Silent Wagner.
Location: MainStreet Cinema, Tangeman University Center
Admission: FREE

4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 20
Magic Fire (film)
William Dieterle, director
CCM continues to explore the life and legacy of composer Richard Wagner with a free screening of the film Magic Fire.
Location: MainStreet Cinema, Tangeman University Center
Admission: FREE

5 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 24
A Discussion with Film Director Tony Palmer
Film director Tony Palmer talks about his Wagner- and Britten-related projects, focusing on Nocturne, his 100th-anniversary film about Benjamin Britten. CCM will also host a free screening of Nocturne on Saturday, Oct. 26, as part of our upcoming Britten Centenary Celebration.
Location: MainStreet Cinema, Tangeman University Center
Admission: FREE

Purchasing Tickets
Tickets to the CCM Philharmonia's Oct. 12 concert “Wagner – Redemption Through Love” are $12 for general admission, $6 for non-UC students, and FREE for UC students with a valid ID. This concert can be included in a flex-ticket package.

Tickets can be purchased in person at the CCM Box Office, over the telephone at 513-556-4183 or online at

All other Wagner Bicentenary Celebration events are free and open to the general public.

Parking and Directions

Parking is available in the CCM Garage (located at the base of Corry Boulevard off Jefferson Avenue) and additional garages throughout the UC campus. Please visit for more information on parking rates.

For detailed maps and directions, please visit Additional parking is available off-campus at the new U Square complex on Calhoun Street and other neighboring lots.

For directions to CCM Village, visit

CCM Season Presenting Sponsor: The Otto M. Budig Family Foundation

Community Partner: ArtsWave

Visiting Artists Sponsor: The Joseph and Frances Jones Poetker Fund of the Cambridge Charitable Foundation, Ritter and Randolph, LLC, Corporate Council

A Discussion with Tony Palmer is sponsored in part by UC Forward: The Innovation Collaborative and by CCM’s Division of Electronic Media.