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Richard Wagner: The Sorcerer of Bayreuth Hardcover – 22 Oct 2012

4.1 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Thames and Hudson Ltd (22 Oct. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 050051643X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0500516430
  • Product Dimensions: 17.4 x 3.6 x 24.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 264,734 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

[Barry Millington] depicts Wagner's warmth, charm and frequent generosity of spirit, and the admiration his intellect and energy commanded even from skeptics. --BBC Music

Millington's unquestioning adoration of his subject is moving --Classical Music

[The] structure both makes the book accessible for reference and opens it up to readership of different levels of Wagnerian scholarship or interest --The Wagner Journal

Millington has an easy pen, writing with exemplary lucidity whether outlining an opera plot or musical structure, unravelling a complex philosophical argument or adjudicating a contentious socio-political issue ... Millington's variegated skills come together impressively in his latest book ... As Millington steers us through his vivid voyage of rediscovery, he navigates his way skilfully around a succession of rocks ... a good book --Opera

The plain man's Wagner a balanced and beautifully illustrated compendium of life works, written in Millington's easy-to-read style --Best Books of 2012, The Financial Times

This is ... the most readable of books, engagingly presented and beautifully produced - with striking illustrations on good paper that make it a pleasure to turn the pages. --Ham & High

An excellent book ... lavishly illustrated, with photographs and portraits of the leading participants in Wagner's astounding life ... the liveliness and dry humour of [Millington's] style add to the attractiveness ... this book should be on every budding Wagnerian's shelves. --Opera Now

Masterful ... it's hard to imagine that anyone will put the case pro and contra Wagner with as much lucidity, humour and intelligence as Barry Millington --Country Life

The Wagner book of the bicentenary ... sumptuous ... If you only read one book about Wagner, make it this one ... Puts the great man into context and perspective, and this is a wonderfully readable book about a musical genius. Simply fantastic. --Books Monthly

Superbly illustrated ... an ideal starting point for understanding the importance of the bicentennial of the composer's birth --Camden New Journal

Handsome, highly illustrated ... a highly desirable addition to any serious classical buff's bookshelf. --Good Book Guide

Draws on recent scholarship to paint a fresh picture of its subject ... Engagingly written, comprehensively illustrated and leaving the reader wanting more ... the perfect short introduction to the man who, so the legend goes, has had more books written about him than anyone except Jesus or Napoleon. --Fortean Times

Superbly illustrated ... an ideal starting point for understanding the importance of the bicentennial of the composer's birth --Camden New Journal

Draws on recent scholarship to paint a fresh picture of its subject ... Engagingly written, comprehensively illustrated and leaving the reader wanting more ... the perfect short introduction to the man who, so the legend goes, has had more books written about him than anyone except Jesus or Napoleon --Fortean Times


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By S. J. Williams TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 26 Oct. 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Wagner's bicentenary in May 2013 is likely to prompt an avalanche of books, cds and dvds: Barry Millington, an acknowledged, if polarising, expert on the composer has presented his offering early.

This is a richly illustrated and visually attractive publication: there are over 250 illustrations, many in colour and unfamiliar. Millington's book is broadly organised in chronological/biographical order, and manages to balance the need for detail without swamping any embryonic enthusiast with too much information. Each of the major works is given a chapter: though there are no synopses, each covers the central interests and background information to give a solid starting point for getting to grips with each work. For the Ring we have subsections covering 'sources ... genesis of the cycle ... theoretical essays ... the influence of Greek drama ... leitmotif ... stabreim ...' and so on.

There are also useful chapters within the broadly chronological 30 which can be read as mini-essays on a particular aspect of Wagner's work, life, context and legacy. So chapter 20 focuses on 'Sources of Inspiration', chapter 26 is 'Perfect and Imperfect Wagnerites: The Spread of the Wagner Cult', chapter 28 looks (inevitably) at 'Swastikas Over Bayreuth: Wagner and the Third Reich'. All are thorough, informative and illuminated by a life-time of research compressed into relatively brief accounts, making the book something to dip into for reference as well as a more straightforward history.
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By D&D TOP 50 REVIEWER on 13 Jan. 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Like too many other books about Wagner the author often gets lost in petty detail and cannot resist the usual cliches. As other have commented his prose style takes some getting used to and may prove too challenging for many.

Having said that I was above all struck by the outstanding illustrations that accompany the ouevre (to quote the author's somewhat pompous use of foreign language to hide perhaps his inability to find the right english word - particularly annoying with some of his longer german words) and for the generally broad coverage of Wagner's background and development.

Many Wagner aficionados (whoops I have fallen into the trap) will find a skim through the book and the occasional dip more rewarding than a cover-to-cover read as much of the "intellectual" and psychological analysis of the works adds little to the enjoyment of hearing or watching a good performance although it may well add depth to the enjoyment subsequently from a good scholar and writer.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Let's get one gripe out of the way first - there are a few typographical errors which really should have been picked up, including one mistake with Wagner's year of death which if true would have him dying before he had written his greatest works and before he had built the Festspielhaus at Bayreuth. In addition, Mr Millington seems to rate no-one's opinion other that his own, including damning Robert Donington's excellent book on "The Ring". Also, there is a certain amount of repetition presumably because of his intention to avoid a chronological presentation of his extensive knowledge. Having got that off my chest, I have to admit that I read the complete book in one week, and found many facts of which I was previously unaware. The book is clearly written and very accessible, despite the depth of knowledge on offer. This book could act as "My First Wagner" book, to be followed by others which examine particular elements of Wagner's life - especially the diaries of his wife - Cosima Wagner. Very highly recommended.
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Format: Kindle Edition
First, the good things. BM is a well-known Wagner scholar and I am confident about both the detail he gives, and its being up to date. The illustrations are superb, and come out extremely clearly and well-printed on good quality paper, itself bound properly in signatures (rather than glued together a la Faber). Even the thick boards are of American opulence.
His judgment, not obviously defective, does give rise to certain doubts. It is quite wrong, for example,to describe Hans Sachs, unqualifiedly, as 'benevolent', when Wagner goes to great lengths to inform us - it is mentioned thrice - that he regularly and viciously beats his apprentice David. He is a little fanatical about ridiculing traditional stagings in favour of 'eurotrash' - the Ring cycle in a disused swimming pool is his sort of thing. Surely both have a place?
The structure of the book in thematic chapters rather than in a chronological narrative is quite a good idea, but here it does not work, as the length of the book ensures that one is unpleasantly aware of repetition too soon after first mention.
The real problem is his complete inability to express himself cogently in English. One can put up with errors of punctuation, even constant cliches and French-inspired circumlocutions (It would not have been a great surprise for us to find that .... It might be possible for us today to offer the view that ..) which are used to pad out the text; but being unable to convey your meaning clearly (because of the haste to produce the coffee table book in time for the centenary?) is inexcusable. Whole passages are found to be meaningless.
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