The Sorcerer of Bayreuth: Richard Wagner, His Work and His World

Overview


Richard Wagner (1813-1883) is one of the most influential - and also one of the most controversial - composers in the history of music. Over the course of his long career, he produced a stream of spellbinding works that challenged musical convention through their richness and tonal experimentation, ultimately paving the way for modernism. This book presents an in-depth but easy-to-read overview of Wagner's life, work and times. It considers a wide range of themes, including the composer's original sources of ...
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The Sorcerer of Bayreuth: Richard Wagner, his Work and his World

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Overview


Richard Wagner (1813-1883) is one of the most influential - and also one of the most controversial - composers in the history of music. Over the course of his long career, he produced a stream of spellbinding works that challenged musical convention through their richness and tonal experimentation, ultimately paving the way for modernism. This book presents an in-depth but easy-to-read overview of Wagner's life, work and times. It considers a wide range of themes, including the composer's original sources of inspiration; his fetish for exotic silks; his relationship with his wife, Cosima, and with his mistress, Mathilde Wesendonck; the anti-semitism that is undeniably present in the operas; their proto-cinematic nature; and the turbulent legacy both of the Bayreuth Festival and of Wagnerism itself.

Making use of the very latest scholarship - much of it undertaken by the author himself in connection with his editorship of The Wagner Journal - Millington reassesses received notions about Wagner and his work, demolishing ill-informed opinion in favour of proper critical understanding. It is a radical - and occasionally controversial - reappraisal of this most perplexing of composers. The volume's arrangement - unique among books on the composer -combines an accessible text, intriguing images and original documents, thus ensuring a consistently fresh approach. Bringing new insights to an endlessly fascinating subject, The Sorcerer of Bayreuth will charm anyone interested in music and in the wider cultural life of the 19th century and beyond.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Few, if any, Wagner scholars could cull such a cornucopia of vital anecdotes, observations, and pictures as has Barry Millington in this compact treatment of Wagner and Wagnerism." --Joseph Horowitz, author of Wagner Nights: An American History and Moral Fire: Musical Portraits from America's Fin-de-Siecle

"Barry Millington has now written the book that many opera lovers have sought: a discussion of Wagner the man and his works in clear English, not too involved, not lost in musicological terms but covering all that an intelligent operagoer needs. All in all, this is a book that enlightens generally, contains much of Millington's own personal reactions to Wagner, and is marvelously readable." --Speight Jenkins, General Director, Seattle Opera

"An admirably succinct and thoughtful treatment of Wagner." --Wagner Notes

"Outstanding...The entire musicological and theatrical communities will profit greatly from Millington's careful and revealing research. This book will stand in perpetuity as one of the great biographical works on the composer and will be of immense benefit to present and future researchers on this 'sorcerer of Bayreuth.'" --The Wagnerian

"In the venerable tradition of Ernest Newman, Millington here adroitly manages to restore balance and sanity and sharp focus to the endless debate about the most controversial artist of the last two centuries...An admirably succinct and thoughtful treatment of Wagner "and all that."" --Wagneriana

"Readers at every level will appreciate this excellent book...Highly recommended." --Choice

Library Journal
Wagner is a controversial figure, in particular because of the anti-Semitism underlying his music. Here Millington (chief music critic, London Evening Standard; The Wagner Compendium: A Guide to Wagner's Life and Music) attempts a new approach to the composer's life and works. Millington's research is exhaustive, but the book often feels like a collection of essays rather than a cohesive whole. The thematically based chapters are arranged chronologically to correspond with the timeline of Wagner's life, but there is little flow from one chapter to the next. Millington's attempts to clarify misconceptions about the composer often feel didactic, as he assumes knowledge that the casual reader may not possess. VERDICT The title is perhaps a bit disjointed for those more used to a straightforward biographical or musicological approach. Still, for the breadth and depth of material, it is recommended to students and lovers of music history, opera, and of Wagner himself.—Virginia Johnson, Weymouth P.L., MA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199933761
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 10/29/2012
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 602,104
  • Product dimensions: 6.60 (w) x 9.60 (h) x 4.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Barry Millington is chief music critic for the London Evening Standard and the editor of The Wagner Journal. He has written and edited, or co-edited, seven books on Wagner, including The Wagner Compendium (1992), The Ring of the Nibelung: A Companion (1993), and the New Grove Guide to Wagner and his Operas (2006). In addition to his writing, he has also acted as dramaturgical adviser to several international music festivals.

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Table of Contents

Preface

1. Father of the Man: Paternity and Childhood
2. Learning the Craft: Youthful Apprenticeship
3. Earning his Keep: First Professional Appointments
4. Under the Yoke: Kapellmeister in Dresden
5. The Eternal Wanderer: Der fliegende Holländer
6. Desperately Seeking Venus: Tannhäuser
7. Swansong to Traditional Opera: Lohengrin
8. Revolutionary Road: Uprising in Dresden
9. The Rise and Fall of Valhalla: Der Ring des Nibelungen
10. The Zurich Years: Wagner's Exile in Switzerland
11. 'Most Excellent Friend': Franz Liszt
12. Muses, Mistresses and Mothers: Wagner's Women
13. The Behemoth of Bayreuth: Wagner's Personality
14. Always Short: Wagner and Money
15. In the Pink: The Role of Silks and Satins in Wagner's Life
16. 'My Adored and Angelic Friend': King Ludwig
17. Fatal Attraction: Tristan und Isolde
18. 'Art is What Matters Here': Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
19. Grit in the Oyster: Anti-Semitism in Wagner's Life and Work
20. Creative Spark: Sources of Inspiration in Wagner's Work
21. The Silent Sufferer: Cosima Wagner
22. Tribschen Interlude: The Lucerne Years
23. A Home for the Gods: The Bayreuth Project
24. 'My Last Card': Parsifal
25. Death in Venice: The Events of Wagner's Last Day
26. Perfect and Imperfect Wagnerites: The Spread of the Wagner Cult
27. Panning for Gold: Wagner and Cinema
28. Swastikas Over Bayreuth: Wagner and the Third Reich
29. Regime Change: The Grandsons Usher in the Era of New Bayreuth
30. Renewing the Legacy: Bayreuth Today and in the Future

Notes
Further Reading
Discography
Index

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