Udo Bermbach

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Udo Bermbach (born March 28, 1938 in Berlin ) is a retired political scientist from the University of Hamburg . His special interest is the political and social aspects of opera , especially Richard Wagner .


Udo Bermbach studied German , history , international law and political science at the Universities of Marburg and Heidelberg . In 1966, Bermbach was awarded a doctorate degree with his dissertation on the subject of preliminary forms of parliamentary cabinet formation , which deals with the intergroup committee . phil. PhD at the University of Heidelberg. From 1970 to 1985 he worked as an editor at the magazine for parliamentary questions , of which he was editor-in-chief from 1970 to 1971.

From 1971 to 2001 he was Professor of Political Science at the University of Hamburg with a focus on political theory and the history of political ideas , from 1999 to 2000 a fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin and in 2006 Professor et doctor jurisprudentiae at the University of Budapest .

In 2000 Udo Bermbach took over the conceptual dramaturgy for Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen in the production by Jürgen Flimm at the Bayreuth Festival . Since 2005, Bermbach has been co-editor alongside Dieter Borchmeyer of the magazine wagnerspectrum , of which he is the founder and which is published every six months by Königshausen & Neumann .

Bermbach is one of the three "companions of many decades" to whom Dieter Borchmeyer wrote his book Was ist Deutsch? A nation's search for itself is devoted "in gratitude and friendship".


Research areas

Udo Bermbach's research areas were initially in the area of parliamentarism , councilor communism , and later the history of political ideas since the 16th century ( Hobbes , Scottish moral philosophy, Kant , Hegel , Marx , German constitutional law of the 20th century). Beginning in the 1990s, his preoccupation with Richard Wagner and the relationship between politics, society and music theater in general became the focus of his interest.


Forms of parliamentary cabinet formation

In his dissertation, Preforms of Parliamentary Cabinet Formation, Bermbach relates the emergence of the Weimar Republic and its prehistory to the establishment of a democratic system in the Federal Republic of Germany after the Second World War . The aim is to analyze the parliamentary system, the political conditions and functions with regard to the historical conditions in Germany. The focus is particularly on the relationship between the Reichstag and the Reich government , combined with Theodor Eschenburg's question of the extent to which the Reichstag was capable of democratization. Udo Bermbach expands this question by examining the state of consciousness and the ideas of leading parliamentarians of the Reichstag majority in 1917/18 on the parliamentary system of government: Many of these members of parliament previously played an important role in the Weimar National Assembly and in the beginning Weimar Republic.

Udo Bermbach examines the model character of the aspired parliamentary system in a constitutional analysis. He deals with the theory of that time and its implementation from today's perspective. Bermbach makes his considerations clear in the crises of the Reich Chancellor and the government in autumn 1917/18.

Democracy Theory and Political Institutions

The book, published in 1991, contains earlier essays by Udo Bermbach. The essays have not been processed or updated. They deal with the relationship between the organization of political institutions, their stability and the self-determination of the governed. The book is divided into three parts.

I. The first part is in the context of the 1968 movement . At that time the parliamentary system was criticized by the students. They looked for counter-proposals. Since the student movement was strongly influenced by Marxism and Leninism , the students saw the alternative in the workers 'and soldiers' councils. The author does not agree. He wants to show that the alleged alternative has to struggle with the same organizational problems. Udo Bermbach advocates an analytical approach with the aim of adopting elements of the council concept for the parliamentary system.

II. In the second part, the political institutions are brought to the fore, with the background of the debate about the implementation problems of a direct democracy . Bermbach criticizes those who stand up for direct democracy on the grounds that they do not have enough knowledge of institutionalization processes and the intrinsic logic of institutional tradition.

III. The essays in the third section deal with political theory. The author sees this branch of political science at risk. He recognizes a contradiction between esteeming on the one hand and neglecting political theory on the other. He wants to show that the history of ideas, at least in the early years of the reintroduction of political science in Germany, did not, as is often claimed, predominate.

Richard Wagner

Richard Wagner is one of the greatest modern composers for Udo Bermbach. He tried to use his own knowledge and opinion about politics and society in his works. There are many contradictions, especially in Wagner's reflection on himself. Udo Bermbach, however, sees continuities in the composer's life. Wagner primarily incorporated social and cultural issues into his works, and primarily represented the opinions and views of the radical democratic left. This approach had a strong influence on the aesthetics of his works. In Der Wahn des Gesamtkunstwerk, Udo Bermbach concentrates on the early works up to “ Rienzi ” and the Zurich art publications (“The Art and the Revolution” [1849], “The Artwork of the Future” [1849], “Opera and Drama” [1850] / 1851]), in which Richard Wagner draws up a balance sheet of his work. Without the socio-political claims and without knowledge of the basic political convictions, Wagner is difficult to understand.

A second, revised and expanded edition was published in 2004 by Metzler-Verlag, Stuttgart / Weimar. Here the work interpretations are replaced by chapters on Wagner's anti-Semitism, his Schopenhauer reception, his attitude to Christianity and his understanding of what is German.

In the publication Blooming Suffering. Politics and society in Richard Wagner's musical dramas , Bermbach starts out from Wagner's political-aesthetic revolutionary writings from 1848 to 1852. The musical works are interpreted and it is shown that Wagner deals with the problems of his time in them, just as he propagates the utopia of an art through which nature and man, individual and social life are to be reconciled.

In Richard Wagner in Germany. Reception - Falsifications , Bermbach investigates the changing interpretations and interpretations of Wagner's thought and works since the German Empire, the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich , right up to the early beginnings of the Federal Republic. It shows how Wagner's heir administrators, above all Houston Stewart Chamberlain and the editor of the Bayreuther Blätter , Hans von Wolhaben , first fitted Wagner's worldview into the conservative, then the völkisch-nationalist and later the National Socialist ideology. It is the first systematic evaluation of the Bayreuth papers and the most important publications by authors belonging to the closer Bayreuth circle.

History of the opera

For many people who deal with operas, the musical and artistic aspects, such as B. Text knowledge, singing technique and musical forms, in the foreground. The background of an opera , which often reflects contemporary problems and conflicts, is ignored in the analysis. The reason is often given that art and politics or society do not belong together. With this book, Where Power Rests Completely on Crime, Udo Bermbach wants to show that this attitude is unfounded. Using a few examples, he wants to give a little insight into the social and political themes of operas in different epochs.

In Bermbach's opera splinters , the emergence of aesthetic thinking is discussed as a separate scientific discipline and the question as to what status the musical genre of opera can still have in society today is raised.


  • Preliminary forms of parliamentary cabinet formation in Germany. The Intergroup Committee 1917/18 and the parliamentarization of the Reich government . Cologne, Opladen 1967.
  • Democracy Theory and Political Institutions . Opladen 1991.
  • The madness of the total work of art. Richard Wagner's political-aesthetic utopia . Frankfurt am Main 1994.
  • Where power rests entirely on crime. Politics and society in the opera . Hamburg 1997.
  • Blooming sorrow. Politics and society in Richard Wagner's musical dramas . Metzler, Stuttgart, Weimar 2003.
  • The madness of the total work of art. Second, revised and expanded edition . Metzler, Stuttgart, Weimar 2004.
  • Opera splinters. Essays. Essays . Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg 2005.
  • Richard Wagner. Stations of a restless life . Ellert & Richter, Hamburg 2006.
  • Richard Wagner in Germany. Reception and adulteration . Metzler, Stuttgart, Weimar 2011, ISBN 978-3-476-01884-7 .
  • Mythos Wagner , Rowohlt Verlag, Berlin 2013, ISBN 978-3-87134-731-3 .
  • Houston Stewart Chamberlain. Wagner's son-in-law - Hitler's mastermind. Metzler, Stuttgart, Weimar 2015, ISBN 978-3-47602-565-4 .
  • Richard Wagner's path to life reform . Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg 2018.
Editor and Associate Editor
  • Götterdämmerung. The new Bayreuth Ring . Together with Hermann Schreiber. Propylaea, Berlin, Munich 2000, ISBN 3-549-07131-0 .
  • "Everything is of its kind". Figures in Richard Wagner's "The Ring of the Nibelung" . Metzler, Stuttgart, Weimar 2001. ISBN 3-476-01840-7 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Udo Bermbach: Forms of parliamentary cabinet formation in Germany. The Intergroup Committee 1917/18 and the parliamentarization of the Reich Government Cologne / Opladen 1967 - Foreword pages 11-14
  2. Udo Bermbach: Democracy Theory and Political Institutions , Opladen 1991 - foreword, pages 7-10
  3. Udo Bermbach: The madness of the total work of art. Richard Wagner's political-aesthetic utopia , Fischer Taschenbuchverlag GmbH, Frankfurt am Main 1994 - foreword pages 9–13