The Nibelungenleid, which is translated as The Song of the Nibelungs is our first Telling in the Global Myth Series. It has been written by a good friend of the Bard, Peter Wucherpfennig. Peter is a storyteller and a harpist and gives live performances challenging the lament of Walter Benjamin that we have lost the art of storytelling.
The Epic Poem was composed around 1200 by an unknown Austrian. It tells the story of the encounter of Siegfried and Brunhild with two of the royal figures of the Burgundians, the princess Kriemhild and the King Gunther. Brunhild is a warrior-queen from Iceland. Gunther seeks her as his bride. But, as becomes evident, the first half of the epic sees this powerful woman treated in ways that are a recurring motif in patriarchal world mythologies – disempowered in a variety of ways!. The consequence of this kind of value and world view are evident in the tragic second half of the Epic as the now widowed Kriemhild accepts an invitation to visit the court of Etzel, King of the Huns.
Of particular interest to the Bard is the way the epic became the German national epic and was appropriated for propaganda purposes in the 19th and 20th Centuries. The epic was used as a motivating and inspiring story for the German military in the 19th Century among other uses. It was particularly used by Hitler and the Nazis for anti-democratic, reactionary and propaganda purposes before and during the 2nd World War. It role was central in Richard Wagner’s great operatic work Der Ring des Nibelungen.
We will be running a 8 week Bard Mythologies Program in 2023, The Nibelung and the Spirit of German Nationalism. This will be with Peter as the Teller and under the guidance of Professor Emeritus Eda Segarra, whose expertise is on the Social History of Germany in the 19th and 20th centuries.
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