Arts & Culture

Discover All Things Regional in Central PA’s art and culture scene. Join hosts Cary Burkett and Joe Ulrich as they make artistic discoveries throughout the midstate. From music and visual arts to theatre, museums, literature and more! Listen every Wednesday and Friday on witf 89.5 and 93.3 for features highlighting the best and brightest cultural happenings in the region.

Landis House/Richard Wagner Connection

Written by Cary Burkett, Arts & Culture Desk and witf Host | Mar 27, 2014 12:15 PM
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A connection between the Landis family of Newport, PA in Perry County and the family of the great composer Richard Wagner goes back to the days right after World War I.

Arthur Claire Landis was originally from Newville, PA.  His wife, Bertha Rippman, was from Millerstown.  Landis worked for the meat-packing concern of Swift and Company, which supplied meat to the army during the Spanish- American war. The Landis Family spent a number of years in Cuba.

After World War I, the Landis Family was transferred to Germany. With the German economy in shambles, Landis was able to purchase a palatial home in Hamburg, complete with furnishings and artwork, including many pieces inspired by Richard Wagner’s operas.  He also got in touch with the widow of Wagner, Cosima, who was living in austerity like many of the German populace.

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Bust of Wagner on Display at Landis House

The Landis Family developed a relationship with Cosima and her family, providing them with provisions and financial aid. In gratitude, Cosima made gifts to the Landis family of a number of Wagnerian artifacts, including props from opera productions and a page of a sketch for the score of Lohengrin in Wagner’s own hand.

The Landis family moved back to America as the Nazis came to power, and brought their possessions with them to furnish their house at 67 N. 4th Street in Newport, PA. The Landis House was bequeathed to the Perry County Council of the Arts by Mary Landis, and the organization took possession in 2007.

On Sunday, April 6 at 3 pm, the PCCA presents a Wagner-themed Sunday Arts Hour in which musicologist and Wagnerian scholar Beth Bullard will speak about the composer and a number of the Wagnerian artifacts that will be on display. These include bronze sculptures of the Norns, Wotan and Brünnhilde from the Ring cycle of operas as well as props used in various opera productions.

Tenor Jonathan Hudson, accompanied by pianist Truman Bullard, will perform a short program of arias from opera’s earliest days to Wagner’s music. PCCA Executive Director Roger Smith will discuss Landis history and related artifacts at the Landis House. A reception will follow the performance and lecture.

Below you can hear our interviews with Beth Bullard and Roger Smith.

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Statue of Wotan on Display at Landis House

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