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Richard Wagner
Suggested Reading



"The error in the art genre of opera consists in the fact that a means of expression-music-has been make the object, while the object of expression-the drama-has been made the means. "

The Wagner Operas
(Ernest Newman )
In this classic guide, the foremost Wagner expert of our century discusses ten of Wagner's most beloved operas, illuminates their key themes and the myths and literary sources behind the librettos, and demonstrates how the composer's style changed from work to work. Acclaimed as the most complete and intellectually satisfying analysis of the Wagner operas, the book has met with unreserved enthusiasm from specialist and casual music lover alike.

The Wagners : The Dramas of a Musical Dynasty
(Nike Wagner, et al)
The great-granddaughter of a very, very famous man, Nike Wagner is a music critic and culture writer based in Berlin. The Wagners gives her own perspective--albeit filtered through a trenchant historical and psychoanalytical intelligence--on one of the most complicated families this side of the House of Atreus. Wagner interprets the patriarch's music dramas and then turns her focus to the Festival's role in his legacy. She addresses head-on the disturbing realities of Bayreuth in the Third Reich, as well as the visionary breakthroughs of Wieland's productions, and she considers the Festival's fate as Wolfgang seeks to control the transition of power.

Twilight of the Wagners: The Unveiling of a Family'sLegacy
(Gottfried Wagner, translated by Della Couling)
Gottfried Wagner is a man clearly wrestling with the past. He grew up in a loveless atmosphere in Bayreuth--a mecca for German devotees of composer Richard Wagner, his great- grandfather. But it wasn't until he was an adult that he learned of the far darker overtones of the family home-- their close links with Hitler and a pattern of anti-Semitic beliefs that he traces back to the famous composer. Gottfried, who was born in 1947, has spent years publicly castigating the anti-Semitism of the Wagners and what he calls the "Wagner cult," and this book is his summation of that campaign. Much of his story is not new, but he provides some indelible new details. As late as the 1970s, his grandmother Winifred carefully stored a cache of Hitler's letters in a steel-lined cabinet and kept a photo of him on her desk, inscribed "From Wolf to his Winnie." At its heart, this is neither a historical study nor a family expose. It is the sad story of a son who spent decades rebelling against an icy father and trying to make peace with him. He also searched for his own career in the shadow of his famous family. Gottfried maintains that his outspokenness ruined his chances in the German opera world, where Bayreuth casts a heavy influence. Gottfried finally severed his ties to his domineering father in 1990 when he conducted a lecture tour in Israel. He now calls himself an "anti-Wagnerian," and he has formed a group to foster German-Jewish understanding.

Wagner Remembered
(Stewart Spencer)
A well-recognized name in Wagner studies from his essays and ubiquitous translations, Stewart Spencer tackles the thorny topic of the composer's life story--many elements of which remain controversial and disputed today--by cleverly fashioning a mosaic of memories and impressions recorded by Wagner's contemporaries. More than 60 voices are represented--from Schumann to Queen Victoria--as translated into English (in some cases, for the first time), along with extensive annotated commentary.

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