Never Explain, Never Apologize!

Wolfgang Rihm (born 1952) is a prolific German composer of several operas and over a hundred string quartets. Among those who have commissioned works by him is the New York Philharmonic. A new opera of his, the Nietzsche-inspired Dionysos, will open this year’s Salzburg Festival.

Rihm was asked whether the audience will understand it.

“You don’t have to explain anything,” he replied. “I don’t want to explain anything. As soon as you start explaining things, it becomes so school-teachery, with all that pointing and knowing better. I make art, I don’t know any better. And this not-knowing is what I do best. This not-knowing is not a cross I have to bear, this ability not to know is a gift.”

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7 responses to “Never Explain, Never Apologize!

  1. A person is never happy except at the price of some ignorance. — Anatole France

    Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge. — Charles Darwin

    The most important product of knowledge is ignorance. — David Gross, co-winner of 2004 Nobel prize in physics

  2. Horace Krever

    Dionysos will not be the first German opera that is hard to understand and I don’t mean because it’s not in English.

  3. If an opera is in Italian and I don’t speak Italian, should I not explain that ?

  4. David Schatzky

    Yes, as do scenery, costumes, lighting and audiences; which is why opera is much better appreciated aurally on CD’s in the privacy of our homes.