by Michael Tanner


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While no one would dispute Wagner's ranking among the most significant composers in the history of Western music, his works have been more fiercely attacked than those of any other composer. Alleged to be an unscrupulous womanizer and megalomaniac, undeniably a racist, Wagner's personal qualities and attitudes have often provoked, and continue to provoke, intense hostility that has translated into a mistrust and abhorrence of his music.

In this emphatic, lucid book, Michael Tanner discusses why people feel so passionately about Wagner, for or against, in a way that they do not about other artists who had personal traits no less lamentable than those he is thought to have possessed. Tanner lays out the various arguments made by Wagner's detractors and admirers, and challenges most of them. The author's fascination for the relationships among music, text, and plot generates an illuminating discussion of the operas, in which he persuades us to see many of Wagner's best-known works anew—The Ring Cycle, Tristan und Isolde, Parsifal. He refrains from lengthy and detailed musical examination, giving instead passionate and unconventional analyses that are accessible to all lovers of music, be they listeners or performers.

In this fiery reassessment of one of the greatest composers in the history of opera, Tanner presents one of the most intelligent and controversial portraits of Wagner to emerge for many years.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780691102900
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 09/15/2002
Edition description: REPRINT
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 1,000,342
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

Michael Tanner was educated in the RAF and at Cambridge University where he lecturerd in Philosophy from 1961-1997. He was also a Fellow at Corpus Christi College. He is the author of Nietzsche and Schopenhauer and is the opera editor of the Spectator.

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgements ix

1 The Case of Wagner 1

2 Prejudices and Banalities 14

3 Getting under Way 31

4 Domesticating Wagner 48

5 Grandeur and Suffering in Wagner:Some Case Studies 63

6 Lobengrin and its Prelude 83

7 Wagner Ponders 95

8 What is the Ring about? l09

9 Men and Gods 119

10 The Fearless Hero 131

11 The Passion of Passion 140

12 Art, Tradition and Authority 156

13 The Ring Resumed 168

14 Redemption to the Redeemer 184

15 Posdude: Wagner and Culture 201

Chronology 213

Select Bibliography 222

Index 227

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