Thomas Mann – Pro and Contra Wagner

Substantially based on „Wagner und unsere Zeit“ (Wagner and Our Time, which was edited by the author’s daughter, Erika, Blunden’s new translation and the inclusion of items not found in the earlier collection cast different light on Mann’s image of Wagner, making it possible, as Patrick Carnegy notes in the preface, „to follow the continuities and discontinuities in Mann’s lifelong preoccupation with the composer.“

For example, in a 1933 lecture, appearing here as the essay „The Sorrows and Grandeur of Richard Wagner,“ Mann stated: „A passion for Wagner’s enchanted oeuvre has been a part of my life ever since I first became aware of it and set out to make it my own, to invest it with understanding.“ In the same piece he describes Wagner’s work as „a case of dilettantism that has been monumentalized by a supreme effort of the will“ and calls it „the music of an oppressed soul, lacking the elan of dance.“ Compelling.

Brigitte Hamann, Winifred Wagner – A Life at the Heart of Hitler’s Bayreuth

Winifred Wagner’s story is a remarkable one. The Welsh-born orphan became Richard Wagner’s daughter-in-law, one of Adolf Hitler’s closest personal friends. Brigitte Hamann presents the first major, unbiased biography of the First Lady of Hitler’s Bayreuth.

Born Winifred Williams in 1897, she was adopted, aged nine, by distant English relatives and in 1915 the eighteen-year-old Winifred married into the Wagner family when they needed an heir to secure the Wagner heritage and the festival site at Bayreuth. In 1923, shortly before the Munich Putsch, Hitler made a pilgrimage to Wagner’s grave in Bayreuth. And so began a close, lifelong friendship between ‚Winnie‘ and ‚Wolf‘. She became a founder member of the Nazi party and from 1933 the town of Bayreuth at festival time was the centre of the German political world. Described as ‚the last Nazi in Germany‘, she remained loyal to the memory of ‚Wolf‘ till her death in 1980. Drawing on previously untapped sources, this book presents a portrait of an extraordinary woman, as well as revealing glimpses of the ‚private Hitler‘, offering the best insight yet into his relationship with Bayreuth and its central place in twentieth-century German history.

Nike Wagner – The Drama of a Musical Dynasty

In this virtuoso piece of cultural history, the great-granddaughter of Richard Wagner narrates the Wagner family’s turbulent history. In the process, she shares her considerable insights into the operas and gives an inside account of the internecine struggles that have surrounded the Wagner family jewel: the Bayreuth Festival.

Nike Wagner draws on history, biography, and psychoanalysis to interpret both her family’s history and her great-grandfather’s operas. She focuses on Bayreuth, revealing how this showcase for Wagner’s sublime art so readily served the Third Reich. With clear, often ironic eyes, she examines her family’s extraordinary role in German culture–and its connections to right.

In this virtuoso piece of cultural history, the great-granddaughter of Richard Wagner narrates the Wagner family’s turbulent history. In the process, she shares her considerable insights into the operas and gives an inside account of the internecine struggles that have surrounded the Wagner family jewel: the Bayreuth Festival.

Nike Wagner draws on history, biography, and psychoanalysis to interpret both her family’s history and her great-grandfather’s operas. She focuses on Bayreuth, revealing how this showcase for Wagner’s sublime art so readily served the Third Reich. With clear, often ironic eyes, she examines her family’s extraordinary role in German culture–and its connections to right-wing ideology.

Particularly fascinating is the tug-of-war between Nike’s visionary but enigmatic father, Wieland, and her astute but aesthetically stodgy uncle, Wolfgang. It was Wieland Wagner who inaugurated a daring new style of Wagner production–characterized by absence of scenery, spare acting, and dramatic lighting–that led to a wider revolution in how operas are produced. But Wolfgang Wagner, now entering his eighties, has controlled the Festival and quarreled with family members since Wieland’s premature death in 1966. The author concludes with a look at the current contenders for this family throne, herself among them, and presents her vision for the Festival’s future.

Wagnerites will need this book on their shelves. As an example of cultural journalism at its finest, it will also appeal to readers interested in German cultural history or those simply drawn to the melodrama that is the Wagner family story.

Paul Lawrence Rose Wagner – Race and Revolution

In this compelling narrative of antisemitism in German thought, Paul Rose proposes a fresh view of the topic. Beginning with an examination of the attitudes of Martin Luther, he challenges distinctions between theologically derived (medieval) and secular, „racial“ (modern) antisemitism, arguing that there is an unbroken chain of antisemitic feeling between the two periods.

Marc A. Weiner – Richard Wagner and the Anti-Semitic Imagination

‚Nobody in their right mind denies that Wagner was an anti-Semite, and a virulent one at that. But is there actual evidence of anti-Semitism in the works themselves? …Weiner’s brilliant book gathers the evidence more meticulously and comprehensively than any has done before,¬†and is essential reading.‘
Barry Millington, „Opera“

‚A serious attempt to place Wagner’s dramatic work into proper context both in the field of music and in the repertoire of antisemitic literature, and it deserves to be studied carefully.‘
Cecil Bloom, „Judaism Today“

‚A tremendous advance in the study of Wagner and the cultural influences that informed his work.‘
Hillary Hope Herzog, „Modern Language Notes“

‚An immensely informative cultural history‘
„German Life“

‚Certainly the most important work on Wagner that I have read in the last decade. It opens up fresh approaches and is likely – no, certain – to have a major impact on Wagner studies as well as the history of antisemitic mentality.‘
Paul Lawrence Rose, Author of „Wagner: Race, Revolution and Redemption“

Marc A. Weiner is a professor of Germanic studies and film studies at Indiana University and the author of Undertones of Insurrection.

Barry Millington, Wagner in Performance

This book, addressed to both specialists and the opera-going public, brings together a team of acknowledged authorities from round the world to examine the performance history and reception of Wagner’s works in Europe and America.

A connected sequence of essays on conducting, singing, production and stage design explores the nature of Wagner’s demands on his interpreters. The book raises questions about the realization of opera on the stage: about the authority of the composer vis-a-vis the director and the audience: about the sanctity of the text, score and stage directions; and about the role of art itself in society. The volume also considers the explosion in popularity of Wagner’s music dramas and their ability to assume new meanings, on stage and in recordings, for successive generations. It looks at the debate over vocal and conducting styles, at the origins of Bayreuth, and at the impact of Wagner on the musical life of New York and Vienna.