Online Registration

S20C20 The Myth and Music of Richard Wagner's "The Ring of Nibelung"

Dates: June 23 - July 23, 2020

Meets: Tu and Th from 10:30 AM to 2:30 PM

Location: James Madison University

Registration Fee: $99.00

Online registration is now closed. Please contact our office for more information.

Please note: this course requires membership in Lifelong Learning Institute Membership 2019-2020 or Lifelong Learning Institute Membership 2020-2021

This course will focus on Richard Wagner's epic 4-part music-drama, The Ring of Nibelung. We'll watch and discuss the entire cycle, an act at a time, on DVD. We'll also read together the great 13th-century Icelandic epic, The Volsunga Saga, and we'll consider how Wagner's Ring and JRR Tolkien's Ring, which both come from the same sources, are alike and different. We'll also look at Wagner's profound influence on film music, specifically that of John Williams.

What is The Ring? In one sentence, it is: "a German Romantic view of Norse and Teutonic myth influenced by Greek tragedy and a sense of destiny, told with a sociopolitical deconstruction of contemporary society, a psychological study of motivation and action, and a blueprint for a new approach to music and theater." (from Wagner without Fear, by William Berger)

Everything that can be said about a work of art has been said about the Ring saga. Like any truly great work of art, it has as many meanings as there are people to interpret. It has been seen as a justification for governments and a condemnation of them. It speaks to traditionalist and forward-thinkers. It is distinctively German and profoundly pan-national. It is the basis of most analyses of Wagner, and the most "conceptualized" theater piece in history. It provides a lifetime of study for musicologists and thrilling entertainment for the tone-deaf. It is an adventure for all who approach it.

This new experimental format includes 35 hours of intensive study spread across 10 sessions. Lunch breaks are included and students are to bring their own to eat onsite.

Paul Hildebrand is a recently-retired professor of Theatre and Communication. He currently is an adjunct instructor at the Shenandoah Valley Governor's School, teaching a survey course in Western Culture for juniors, and Intro to Communication for seniors. He has been a passionate Wagnerian since he was a young teenager, and has led guided journeys through the RING over many years for people young and old.

Additional requirement: Purchase (on your own) "Volsunga Saga" available from Amazon for $7-$9. You should also purchase M. Owen Lee's "Wagner's Ring: Turning the Sky Round" Order at least 2 - 3 weeks in advance of course start.
Volsunga Saga link:
Wagner's Ring: Turning the Sky Round link:

Tuesday & Thursday
10:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Week 1 - June 23 & June 25
Week 2 - June 30 & July 2
Week 3 - July 7 & July 9
Week 4 - July 14 & July 16
Week 5 - July 21 & July 23
Fee: $99.00

James Madison University

More details regarding location will be sent in orientation/welcome email.
Date Day Time Location
06/23/2020Tuesday10:30 AM to 2:30 PM James Madison University
06/25/2020Thursday10:30 AM to 2:30 PM James Madison University
06/30/2020Tuesday10:30 AM to 2:30 PM James Madison University
07/02/2020Thursday10:30 AM to 2:30 PM James Madison University
07/07/2020Tuesday10:30 AM to 2:30 PM James Madison University
07/09/2020Thursday10:30 AM to 2:30 PM James Madison University
07/14/2020Tuesday10:30 AM to 2:30 PM James Madison University
07/16/2020Thursday10:30 AM to 2:30 PM James Madison University
07/21/2020Tuesday10:30 AM to 2:30 PM James Madison University
07/23/2020Thursday10:30 AM to 2:30 PM James Madison University


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