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Beyond Reason

Wagner contra Nietzsche

Karol Berger (Author)


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Beyond Reason relates Wagner’s works to the philosophical and cultural ideas of his time, centering on the four music dramas he created in the second half of his career: Der Ring des NibelungenTristan und IsoldeDie Meistersinger von Nürnberg, and Parsifal. Karol Berger seeks to penetrate the “secret” of large-scale form in Wagner’s music dramas and to answer those critics, most prominently Nietzsche, who condemned Wagner for his putative inability to weld small expressive gestures into larger wholes. Organized by individual opera, this is essential reading for both musicologists and Wagner experts.

Prologue: Beyond Autonomy
The Uncanny Grace: A Gloss on Kleist’s Marionettes
Beyond Reason
Religion, the Enlightenment, the Counter-Enlightenment: The New Configuration

part one
1. The Secret of Music-Dramatic Form: Music Drama as Opera
2. Der Ring des Nibelungen: The Anarchist Utopia
Das Rheingold: The Fall
Die Walküre: How One Becomes Human
 Act 1: Becoming Wagner
 Act 2: Becoming Brünnhilde
 Act 3: Waiting for the Hero
Siegfried: How One Becomes a Hero
 Act 1: Getting the Sword
 Act 2: Using It
 Act 3: The Awakening
Götterdämmerung: The Apocalypse
 Prologue: The Past and the Future
 Act 1: The Entrapment 1
 Act 2: The Entrapment 2
 Act 3: Death and Transfiguration
 The Myth of Revolution

part two
3. Tristan und Isolde: The Erotic Utopia
 The Lyrical Axis
 The Narrative Axis
 The Orchestral Strand
 The Music-Dramatic Form
 The Myth of Will
4. Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: Politics after Tristan
 Act 1: The Knight’s Failure
 Act 2: The Clerk’s Failure
 Act 3, Part 1: A Lesson in Poetics
 Act 3, Part 2: The Shoemaker’s Triumph
 The Myth of Nation
5. Parsifal: Ethics after Tristan
 The Communion Sequences of Acts 1 and 3
 The Monologues of Acts 1 and 3
 Act 2: The Kiss of Self-Knowledge
 The Music-Dramatic Form
 Eros and Agape
 The Myth of Redemption
 Epilogue: Wagner contra Nietzsche
 Wagner and Nietzsche: A History of the Relationship
 Becoming Nietzsche
 Nietzsche contra Wagner, Wagner contra Nietzsche

Appendix 1. Das Rheingold: The Music-Dramatic Plan
Appendix 2. Die Walküre: The Music-Dramatic Plan
Appendix 3. Siegfried: The Music-Dramatic Plan
Appendix 4. Götterdämmerung: The Music-Dramatic Plan
Appendix 5. Tristan und Isolde: The Music-Dramatic Plan
Appendix 6. Die Meistersinger: The Music-Dramatic Plan
Appendix 7. Parsifal: The Music-Dramatic Plan
Abbreviations Used in Notes
Works Consulted
Karol Berger is the Osgood Hooker Professor in Fine Arts, Department of Music, Stanford University. His award-winning books include Musica Ficta; A Theory of Art; and Bach’s Cycle, Mozart’s Arrow
"This study is Wagnerian in its ambition and achievement. Karol Berger makes several astonishing claims: Wagnerians from Nietzsche through Dahlhaus have misunderstood the musical forms; Wagner derived his forms from Italian operatic models; and Nietzsche was wrong about the ideological import of the music dramas. Revisionist history at its very best."—Christopher Alan Reynolds, author of Wagner, Schumann, and the Lessons of Beethoven's Ninth

“For the first time in decades, Karol Berger is going back to the fundamental question of musical and compositional dramaturgy in Wagner. Now, in opposition to the discredited work of Alfred Lorenz and the important studies of Carl Dahlhaus, he finds a way to discuss compositional dramaturgy within intellectual history—defining Nietzsche not as a counterpart of Wagner but rather Wagner as a counterpart of Nietzsche. Beyond Reason is full of new and unexpected insights, and without doubt outstanding in every respect. Highly original and intellectually brilliant, it is a milestone in Wagner research."—Laurenz Lütteken, Chair of Musicology at the University of Zurich and editor of Wagner-Handbuch

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