Book Store

Richard Wagner: A Life in Music

Richard Wagner: A Life in Music

By Martin Geck
Translated by Stewart Spencer

“Geck adds to the crowded field of literature on Richard Wagner with this intriguing exploration of the composer’s life and thought as exemplified by his music. . . . An excellent biography.”—Library Journal

"Geck succeeds in what he originally set out to do: to uncover the ways in which Wagner still holds a poignant mirror to the face of our own age and time. A better incentive to commemorate the composer’s 200th birthday can hardly be imagined."—Nexus Institute

“Geck describes a Wagner who is grounded, focused and even cautious, a savvy realist and ironist rather than a flamboyant, flailing ideologue. . . . Suffused with his readings of contemporary productions of the operas, Geck’s musical analyses are succinct and superb, and he is skilled at finding clues to Wagner in the interstices of his career, like the early rarity ‘Rienzi’ or what he calls ‘the revolutionary drafts’ of never-completed works that Wagner envisioned before embarking on the ‘Ring’ cycle.”—New York Times

Best known for the challenging four-opera cycle The Ring of the Nibelung, Richard Wagner (1813–83) was a conductor, librettist, theater director, and essayist, in addition to being the composer of some of the most enduring operatic works in history, such as The Flying Dutchman, Tannhäuser, and Tristan and Isolde. Though his influence on the development of European music is indisputable, Wagner was also quite outspoken on the politics and culture of his time. His ideas traveled beyond musical circles into philosophy, literature, theater staging, and the visual arts. To befit such a dynamic figure, acclaimed biographer Martin Geck offers here a Wagner biography unlike any other, one that strikes a unique balance between the technical musical aspects of Wagner’s compositions and his overarching understanding of aesthetics.

Wagner has always inspired passionate admirers as well as numerous detractors, with the result that he has achieved a mythical stature nearly equal to that of the Valkyries and Viking heroes he popularized. There are few, if any, scholars today who know more about Wagner and his legacy than Geck, who builds upon his extensive research and considerable knowledge as one of the editors of the Complete Works to offer a distinctive appraisal of the composer and the operas. Using a wide range of sources, from contemporary scholars to the composer’s own words, Geck explores key ideas in Wagner’s life and works, while always keeping the music in the foreground. Geck discusses not only all the major operas, but also several unfinished operas and even the composer’s early attempts at quasi-Shakespearean drama.

Richard Wagner: A Life in Music is a landmark study of one of music’s most important figures, offering something new to opera enthusiasts, Wagnerians, and anti-Wagnerians alike.
 
Hardcover
464 pages
43 halftones, 37 line drawings
The University of Chicago Press, 2013
ISBN 9780226924618
Biography, Music, Theater, Opera 

EVERY PURCHASE SUPPORTS THE NEUE GALERIE
$35.00 $35.00