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Hermann Levi: From Brahms to Wagner

Hermann Levi: From Brahms to Wagner


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Jewish conductor Hermann Levi strove for excellence and recognition as a composer and conductor of classical music in 19th-century Germany. He unerringly devoted himself to the orchestral performance of works by the two major figures of the time: Johannes Brahms and Richard Wagner. In spite of the anti-Semitic atmosphere, Levi saw the conducting of Wagner's works as a major calling: one that pinnacled in the premier performance of Parsifal in Bayreuth.

In this biography, newly translated into English by Cynthia Klohr, opera scholar and conductor Fritjof Haas surveys the life and work of this remarkable individual. Born of a long line of rabbis and raised on the ideals of political emancipation of Europe's Jews, Levi sought to break the social constraints and boundaries imposed upon him because of his religious heritage by the power brokers of the classical music scene. Like so many German Jews of his generation, Levi struggled nearly all his life to dissolve the battle between personal lot and social prejudice.

Drawing on the wealth of material from the "Leviana" repository in Munich, Germany, Haas artfully weaves together Levi's personal history with his musical milieu to paint a portrait of this ambitious and ambivalent figure in the world of 19th-century German music. This work will be of special interest to musicologists, musicians, opera fans, classical music listeners, and historians and scholars of Judaic studies.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780810884182
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date: 08/17/2012
Pages: 296
Product dimensions: 6.24(w) x 9.29(h) x 0.98(d)

About the Author

Frithjof Haas, retired, was kapellmeister and head of studies at Baden's National Theater in Karlsruhe from 1948 to 1987.

Translator Cynthia Klohr, PhD, teaches philosophy at universities in Karlsruhe, Germany. She has translated several books and essays in philosophy, psychology, the theory and history of science, and music.

Table of Contents

Preface to the English vii

Edition Artwork Permissions xi

Introduction xiii

Abbreviations xv

1 Family, Studies, and First Positions 1

From Giessen to Mannheim 1

Studies in Leipzig and Paris 10

Years in Saarbrucken, Mannheim, and Rotterdam 26

First Intermezzo: The Composer Hermann Levi 43

2 Karlsruhe and Brahms 51

Chief Conductor at the Court Theater in Karlsruhe 51

Friendship with Johannes Brahms 60

From A German Requiem to The Mastersingers of Nuremberg 75

Farewell to Karlsruhe, Triumphlied 94

Second Intermezzo: The Conductor Hermann Levi 113

3 Bavarian Court Conductor Levi 119

An End to Friendship with Brahms 136

Society around Paul Heyse and Franz von Lenbach 147

The Spell of the Grail 158

Third Intermezzo: Editor Hermann Levi 185

4 The Struggle over the Bayreuth Legacy 193

From Perfall to Possart-And the Advent of Anton Bruckner 200

Cosima Wagner and Her "Major" 220

Literary Ambition: Mozart and Goethe 236

Epilogue: Levi's Religion 253

Appendix: Works by Hermann Levi 257

Bibliography 265

Index 267

About the Author 279

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