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Wagner Beyond Good and Evil

John Deathridge (Author)

Available worldwide

Hardcover, 324 pages
ISBN: 9780520254534
July 2008
$58.95, £46.00
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John Deathridge presents a different and critical view of Richard Wagner based on recent research that does not shy away from some unpalatable truths about this most controversial of composers in the canon of Western music. Deathridge writes authoritatively on what Wagner did, said, and wrote, drawing from abundant material already well known but also from less familiar sources, including hitherto seldom discussed letters and diaries and previously unpublished musical sketches. At the same time, Deathridge suggests that a true estimation of Wagner does not lie in an all too easy condemnation of his many provocative actions and ideas. Rather, it is to be found in the questions about the modern world and our place in it posed by the best of his stage works, among them Tristan und Isolde and Der Ring des Nibelungen. Controversy about Wagner is unlikely to go away, but rather than taking the line of least resistance by regarding him blandly as a "classic" in the Western art tradition, Deathridge suggests that we need to confront the debates that have raged about him and reach beyond them, toward a fresh and engaging assessment of what he ultimately achieved.

part i. a few beginnings

1. Wagner Lives
Issues in Autobiography

2. “Pale” Senta
Female Sacrifice and the Desire for Heimat

3. Wagner the Progressive
Another Look at Lohengrin

part ii. der ring des nibelungen

4. Fairy Tale, Revolution, Prophecy
Preliminary Evening: Das Rheingold

5. Symphonic Mastery or Moral Anarchy?
First Day: Die Walküre

6. Siegfried Hero
Second Day: Siegfried

7. Finishing the End
Third Day: Götterdämmerung

part iii. the elusiveness of tragedy

8. Don Carlos and Götterdämmerung
Two Operatic Endings and Walter Benjamin’s Trauerspiel

9. Wagner’s Greeks, and Wieland’s Too

part iv. tristan und isolde

10. Dangerous Fascinations

11. Public and Private Life
Reflections on the Genesis of Tristan and Isolde and the Wesendonck Lieder

12. Postmortem on Isolde
part v. mature polemics

13. Strange Love, Or, How We Learned to Stop
Worrying and Love Parsifal

14. Mendelssohn and the Strange Case of the
(Lost) Symphony in C

15. Unfinished Symphonies

part vi. Operatic Futures

16. Configurations of the New

17. Wagner and Beyond

List of Abbreviations
John Deathridge is King Edward Professor of Music at King's College London. He is the author, with Carl Dahlhaus, of The New Grove Wagner, co-editor of the Wagner-Werk-Verzeichnis (WWV) and editor of, and contributor to, the English language edition of the Wagner Handbook.
“Writes authoritatively”—Comment
“The elegant yet acerbic prose style thankfully lacks any trace of disfiguring musicological jargon, whilst a well-judged lacing of humour avoids any portentousness. . . . Few Wagner scholars writing in any language can equal John Deathridge in his command of scholarly method and prodigious knowledge of primary and secondary sources. . . . Essential reading for all who take an intelligent, informed interest in Wagner.”—Wagner Journal
“Engaging.”—Australian Book Rev
“A solid and stimulating read.”—George Hall Opera
“Wide-ranging and eclectic, this volume presents the latest Wagner scholarship and criticism.”—S. Edwards Choice
“An engaging portrait”—Music Educators Journal
"This collection provides us with that rarest of objects: a genuinely new book on Wagner. Virtually every page offers fresh perspectives, some of them mined from the most unlikely of sources; indeed, the sheer eclecticism of the book, its willingness to range widely and irreverently through both popular and elite culture, is one of its greatest strengths."—Roger Parker, author of Remaking the Song: Operatic Visions and Revisions from Handel to Berio

"John Deathridge is one of the most authoritative, widely-regarded Wagner scholars around in any language. Few can match his command of scholarship and primary sources, and no one else knows how to put them to such clever, provocative uses. In addition, Deathridge enjoys an impressive range of critical, historical, and literary reference. The writing is consistently lively and engaging. The collection will provide a welcome change of diet for those tired of the usual Wagnerian fare. This is a welcome contribution, indeed."—Thomas Grey, author of Wagner's Musical Prose: Texts and Contexts

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