John Deathridge presents a different and critical view of Richard Wagner based on recent research that does not shy away from some unpalatable truths about this most controversial of composers in the canon of Western music. Deathridge writes authoritatively on what Wagner did, said, and wrote, drawing from abundant material already well known but also from less familiar sources, including hitherto seldom discussed letters and diaries and previously unpublished musical sketches.At the same time, Deathridge suggests that a true estimation of Wagner does not lie in an all too easy condemnation of his many provocative actions and ideas. Rather, it is to be found in the questions about the modern world and our place in it posed by the best of his stage works, among them Tristan und Isolde and Der Ring des Nibelungen. Controversy about Wagner is unlikely to go away, but rather than taking the line of least resistance by regarding him blandly as a "classic" in the Western art tradition, Deathridge suggests that we need to confront the debates that have raged about him and reach beyond them, toward a fresh and engaging assessment of what he ultimately achieved.
John Deathridge is King Edward Professor of Music at King's College London. He is the author, with Carl Dahlhaus, of The New Grove Wagner, co-editor of the Wagner-Werk-Verzeichnis (WWV) and editor of, and contributor to, the English language edition of the Wagner Handbook.
Preface part i. a few beginnings 1. Wagner Lives Issues in Autobiography 2. "Pale" Senta Female Sacrifice and the Desire for Heimat 3. Wagner the Progressive Another Look at Lohengrin part ii. der ring des nibelungen 4. Fairy Tale, Revolution, Prophecy Preliminary Evening: Das Rheingold 5. Symphonic Mastery or Moral Anarchy? First Day: Die Walkure 6. Siegfried Hero Second Day: Siegfried 7. Finishing the End Third Day: Gotterdammerung part iii. the elusiveness of tragedy 8. Don Carlos and Gotterdammerung Two Operatic Endings and Walter Benjamin's Trauerspiel 9. Wagner's Greeks, and Wieland's Too Contents part iv. tristan und isolde 10. Dangerous Fascinations 11. Public and Private Life Reflections on the Genesis of Tristan and Isolde and the Wesendonck Lieder 12. Postmortem on Isolde part v. mature polemics 13. Strange Love, Or, How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Parsifal 14. Mendelssohn and the Strange Case of the (Lost) Symphony in C 15. Unfinished Symphonies part vi. Operatic Futures 16. Configurations of the New 17. Wagner and Beyond List of Abbreviations Notes Acknowledgments Index