Have really enjoyed reading this book. It clearly states the main issues and points of interest of Wagner's life in a very concise form. Definitely recommend for anyone interested in an informative introduction to Wagner in general.
The story that more books have been written about Wagner than about anyone other than Jesus or Napoleon is undoubtedly apocryphal, nevertheless there are an awful lot to choose from! This is one of the shortest, and also, I believe, one of the best. Bryan Magee tackles head on some of the most striking and perplexing issues surrounding Wagner and his works. He traces the quite phenomenal influence that Wagner has had on music and also in the arts more widely. He describes, and attempts to account for, the extreme love ("Wagnerolatry") and loathing ("Wagnerphobia") that Wagner and his works have inspired and continue to inspire. He also sheds some light on the important and disturbing question of Wagner's anti-Semitism. One chapter is devoted to the controversial question of how to stage Wagner's operas today. Perhaps most interestingly of all he offers an explanation for the uncanny potency of Wagner's music: how it induces in some feelings of ecstasy, sometimes likened to being in love, and in others feelings of disgust, whilst it has (allegedly) driven some people to madness. If you want to know more about Wagner's music and its influence, read this book.
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