1813~1883. A German composer. He is the representative composer both as a opera writer and a 19th century composer. The
famous operas of his are Tannhäuser und der Sängerkrieg auf Wartburg, Der Ring des Nibelungen and others.
Vernon Lee mentions Wagner many times. The protagonist of 'A Wicked Voice' tries to compose Wagner-like opera but fails due to the voice of a castrato's ghost. 'The Gods and Ritter Tannhäuser' is a parody of Wagner's Tannhäuser. She writes on the reason to write this short story: she wants to correct false information spread by Wagner.
In 'Signor Curiazio' in Juvenillia, Lee writes on Wagner's Tristam and Yseult: "this composer, who denies the legitimate existence of music when separate from dramatic action, had completely failed to inspire me with the very smallest interest in the men and women whose joys and woes his music professed to express. I remembered how it had struck me that all this world of Tristram and Yseult was utterly unreal, with real emotions, real actionsーnay, real actors." Furthermore, she writes: "I was so strongly conscious of complete absence of interest in Wagner's hero and heroine, of complete indifference to their woes and welfare." She asserts that for Wagner, the mission of music is "overwhelming the souls of the hearers with that terrific flood of passion," and what the opera brings us is "love itself in all its fearful irresistibleness."
In 'Beauty and Sanity' in Laurus Nobilis, comparing the music of Gluck and Wagner, she writes: "Historically, all you know is that Gluck's Orpheusmade our ancestors weep; and that Wagner's Tristram makes our contemporaries sob."
Lee argues that the music of Wagner is lacking in 'musical form' and 'musical individuality.' And she writes: "Because the music which Wagner has composed on to the words expressive of their vicissitudes and of their feelings, is, even like the music of Palestrina's great Mass, music insufficiently distinct in form: music of the infinite; music all about nothing at all; music without personality." According to Lee, the mission of music for Wagner is to overcome listeners with 'terrific flood of passion.' She rejected to accept such ideas.
In Music and Its Lover, Lee classifies music into two categories following Nietzsche's classification: Dionysian music and Apollonian music. She loves Apollonian music and according to her, Wagner's music is Dionysian music.
Thus, Lee's attitudes toward Wagner are generally negative. She writes: "the school of Wagner―is dramatic and "the dramatic declamation of melody is inevitably destructive of its musical shape, since it implies that the accentuation required by the music is to be sacrificed to the totally different accentuation belonging to spoken passion." The music Lee loves is that that rules emotions with intellects.
According to Peter Gunn, Artists engaging in sculpture, painting, and music are "form-regarding artist", while literary artists put more value on their own personality, not on form. Wagner didn't understand this difference and tried to invade the sphere of literature by music. That is why Lee dislikes him. (Peter Gun, Vernon Lee, P.115.）
Max Nordau in Degeneration attacks Wagner. For example, he writes as follows: "Wagner's imagination is perpetually occupied with woman." And he also writes: "In the Walküre Wagner's imagination surrenders itself to unbridled passion."