Richard Wagner

Richard Wagner : Theory and Theatre

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Description

Richard Wagner has come to be seen as the quintessential artist of the nineteenth century, whose work embraces all the arts of the period. Dieter Borchmeyer here provides the first systematic and comprehensive account of Wagner's aesthetic theory, examining his hitherto neglected prose writings and his ideas on music drama from the various standpoints of literature, the linking of ideas, and the sociology of art. The pre-eminent importance for Wagner of classical Greek art and mythology emerges with particular clarity, while his links with the great figures and forms of world theatre - Shakespeare, the commedia dell'arte, the popular theatre, and the puppet theatre - are traced in detail. The influence on Wagner of the historical and social novel is also discussed. The author provides the first comprehensive analysis of Cosima Wagner's Diaries, and throws unexpected sidelights on Wagner's relationship with Nietzsche, in particular his important contribution to Nietzsche's The Birth of Tragedy. Central to the present study are Wagner's music dramas from Die Feen to Parsifal.
These are examined in their literary, ideological, and socio-political contexts (including the problem of anti-Semitism). First published in German in 1982, this book has become established as a standard work of Wagner scholarship, and now appears for the first time in English in a completely revised edition incorporating a number of new chapters on the music dramas.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 444 pages
  • 158 x 232 x 38mm | 821.02g
  • Oxford University Press
  • Clarendon Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • New
  • 019315322X
  • 9780193153226

Review quote

'There can be little doubt, that this erudite and passionate explication of Wagner's "theory and theatre" will turn out to be a landmark in Wagner studies.'
Hans Rudolf Vaget. The Germanic Review. Summer '94 'Dietier Borchmeyer's exhaustive study of Wagner's aesthetic theory is unparalleled in the literature and is obligatory reading for anyone wishing to come to grips with the literary, philosophical and socio-political background to the composer's works. So encyclopaedic is Borchmeyer's knowledge of world literature, not to mention of the Wagnerian source material ... that one could read this book several times without exhausting its riches. In this specially
prepared English edition the pleasure is enhanced by the elegant and marvellously lucid translation of Stewart Spencer.'
Barry Millington, The Musical Times, March 1993 'Borchmeyer's remapping of Wagner's theory of the theater is bound to have consequences for the long-standing debate on the limits of directorial and interpretive freedom; it should, I think, broaden them even more. There can be little doubt ... that this erudite and passionate explication of Wagner's "theory and theatre" will turn out to be a landmark in Wagner studies.'
Hans Rudolf Vaget, The Germanic Review 'a diligent perusal of Cosima Wagner's diaries, is amply reflected in the present bpook, which demonstrates an impressive command of Wagner's legacy as a writer and thinker ... Borchmeyer's expertise as a historian of theater serves him well in establishing a context for Wagner's various theatrical ideologies in ancient Greek and "Classical" German theatrical traditions ... The quality of Stewart Spencer's translation is consistently high, as is to be expected
from one who has established himself as a leading figure in the field of Wagnerian translation (and research).'
Thomas Grey, Stanford University, Notes, June 1993 `the work of Dieter Borchmeyer stands out...This, in short, is "Wagner in context", but made distinctive by the richness of Borchmeyer's knowledge of and response to Wagner's own writings...he is one of the very best guides to the whole tortuous question of what taking the "extra-musical" seriously in Wagner involves. Musicologists - new and old - will ignore his work at their peril.'
Arnold Whittall, Music & Letters, Vol. 73, No. 4, November '92 `Dieter Borchmeyer's exhaustive study of Wagner's aesthetic theory is unparalleled in the literature and is obligtatory reading for anyone wishing to come to grips with the literary, philosophical and socio-political background to the composer's works...so encyclopaedic is Borchmeyer's knowledge of world literature, not to mention of the Wagnerian source material...that one could read this book several times without exhausting its riches. In this specially
prepared English edition the pleasure is enhanced by the elegant and marvellously lucid translation of Stewart Spencer.'
Musical Times `Borchmeyer has researched, and delivers, an exhaustive history of the private and public discourse of a creative giant...Borchmeyer's text is dense, to be read slowly, and often pondered - and a pleasure to ponder. His translator Stewart Spencer has produced an English edition of native elegance...the whole reads chasteningly, and urgently, as good scholarship must, in our age of subliminal vandalism and institutionalized illiteracy.'
David Rudkin, Theatre Research International `the work of Dieter Borchmeyer stands out...formidable historical and literary knowledge that Borchmeyer brings to the topics he does discuss...the result is a rich tapestry of original commentary on some of the most stimulation ideas in the history of opera...he is one of the very best guides to the whole tortuous question of what taking the "extra-musical" in Wagner involves. Musicologists - new and old - will ignore his work at their peril.'
Music and Letters `new and extensively revised version, intelligently translated by Stewart Spencer'
John Deathridge, Times Literary Supplement `the work of Dieter Borchmeyer stands out...the value of his book is in its creation of a context whereby that "essential key to understanding" may be better defined and explored by those who wish to pursue it...a rich tapestry of original commentary on some of the most stimulating ideas in the history of opera...he is one of the very best guides to the whole tortuous question of what taking the "extra-musical" seriously in Wagner involves. Musicologists - new
and - will ignore his work at their peril.'
Music and Letters 'Wagner-lovers may find the third Part the more fascinating, but all three parts are likely to interest readers of this journal. The writing is dense and scholarly. Through his analysis Borchmeyer impressively unravels the psychological mythic and political strands of Wagner's thinking.'
British Journal of Aesthetics
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Table of contents

I. The Artist and his Public; II. Opera - Spoken Theatre - Musical Drama; III. Wagner's Dramatic Poetry
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About Dieter Borchmeyer

Spencer is editor of the journal of the English Wagner Society and co-author with B. Millington of Selected Letters of Richard Wagner
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