Nexus Conference 1997 -

3 September 1997
10.45 – 21.30
Tilburg University

The Trial of Richard Wagner

The influence of Richard Wagner on the art, culture, and politics of this age was so great that he might be considered the godfather of the twentieth century. Both admired and vilified during his lifetime, Wagner remains a highly controversial artist. He assigned himself a single task in life: redemption. People had to be delivered from their lust for power and money in order to receive the gift of a new art and a new religion. Der Ring des Nibelungen (performed by the Dutch Opera in 1997) is the foremost expression of his ideas on art, man, and world. But what or who is redeemed? Modern society is essentially the same as society in Wagner’s time: the human predicament is largely unchanged, and the yearning for redemption has  not ceased. Where can such redemption be found? What is the current value of Wagner’s works and of his ideas on art, religion, and society? Does art not appear to be ‘folly and lies’, as Thomas Mann once wrote? What is art? What is its potential, and what is the value of art for our society?


Lebanon, 1957

Pierre Audi

former director of the Dutch Opera
Friedrich Dieckmann

Germany, 1937

Friedrich Dieckmann

German art scholar

United Kingdom, 1965

Lydia Goehr

art philosopher

Canada, 1947

Michael Ignatieff

politician, intellectual and moral philosopher

Czech Republic, 1931

Ivan Klíma

Czech writer; his works were blacklisted under the communist regime

Germany, 1945

Rüdiger Safranski

writes about German Romanticism

United Kingdom, 1944 - 2020

Roger Scruton

conservative philosopher and art expert

Germany, 1945

Nike Wagner

great-granddaughter of Richard Wagner

United Kingdom, 1929 - 2003

Bernard Williams

moral philosopher

United Kingdom, 1941

Graham Clark

opera singer

Serbia, 1950 - 2011

Dragan Klaić

dramaturgist and cultural entrepreneur

The Netherlands, 1948

Ronald de Leeuw

former director Rijksmuseum

The Netherlands, 1959

Josine Meurs

defends the interests of cultural audiences

The Netherlands, 1944

Eveline Nikkels

president of the Dutch Gustav Mahler Foundation

United Kingdom, 1962

Julian Reynolds

conductor, DNO