[FOUNTAIN] Wagner and KoizumiThe pleasure of listening to music, especially classical music, is in the way it stirs deeply our sense of humanity. Let your eyes, exhausted from receiving a barrage visual information, close comfortably. Concentrate your ears, your auditory nerves and the right side of the brain, which controls your senses, only on absorbing the dancing sounds. After the fresh energy of grand, melodious sound sweeps through the base of your humanity for one or two hours, your soul grows clearer and your eyes brighter, to better see the world.
Last week, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi of Japan participated in the Wagner Festival in Germany with Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and listened to opera for five hours. When he visited Poland, he visited the church where Chopin’s heart lies in state, and in the Czech Republic, he visited the tombs of Antonin Dvorak and Bedrich Smetana.
Europeans, whose pride in culture is strong, must have viewed the “music diplomacy” of the Japanese prime minister with pleasure.
Mr. Koizumi, 60, has been divorced for 20 years and is familiar with a single life of freedom. His hobbies are camping in summer and skiing in winter, but he counts listening to classical music as his most enjoyable hobby.
In his days as a legislator, perhaps driven by his thirst for absolute freedom, he often took part in classical music concerts alone without any companions, and sometimes caused a stir because his whereabouts were unknown.
Mr. Koizumi is especially infatuated with the music of Richard Wagner (1818-83).
It seems that a common, inherent rhythm of mind seems to flow between Wagner and Koizumi, beyond the differences of time,130 years; West and East and artist and politician.
Wagner destroyed the orthodox Italian opera form that valued singing. Instead, he established a new style of opera by mobilizing dramatic structures and the flow of a story. He was both a destroyer and a creator of form.
In the content of his music, Wagner gave pride to 19th-century German nationalism by transforming the Middle Ages legends of Germany like “Der Ring des Nibelungen” and “Tannhauser” to grand opera.
Wagner’s attributes match Mr. Koizumi’s mindset: the destruction of traditional politics, right-wing tendencies and passionate reformer.
By Chun Young-gi
The writer is a deputy political news editor
of the JoongAng Ilbo.