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

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

by Barry Millington
     
 

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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

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.

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

"Millington succeeds brilliantly..." —Revista de Libros

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

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199933761
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
10/29/2012
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
747,690
Product dimensions:
6.60(w) x 9.60(h) x 4.70(d)

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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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