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Richard Wagner's Zurich: The Muse of Place (11) (Studies in German Literature, Linguistics, and Culture)

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Richard Wagner's Zurich: The Muse of Place (11) (Studies in German Literature, Linguistics, and Culture)

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    Available in PDF Format | Richard Wagner's Zurich: The Muse of Place (11) (Studies in German Literature, Linguistics, and Culture).pdf | English
    Chris Walton(Author)
When the people of Dresden rose up against their king in May 1849, Richard Wagner went from Royal Kapellmeister to republican revolutionary overnight. He gambled everything, but the rebellion failed, and he lost all. Now a wanted man in Germany, he fled tChris Walton teaches music history at the Musikhochschule Basel in Switzerland. He is the recipient of the 2010 Max Geilinger Prize honoring exemplary contributions to the literary and cultural relationship between Switzerland and the English-speaking wor

Just when one thinks everything that could possibly be written about Wagner has been written, along comes a new point of view.... There are real surprises here and many an obscurity brightened up or revealed .... The writing is erudite... an important addition to the Wagner bibliography. AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE The connections and meetings among contemporary composers such as Hunerwadel, Baumgartner, Eschmann and Wagner that Walton brings out are striking, (as are) the similarities that he establishes between Wagner and Brahms, like Wagner a friend of Swiss landscape and culture. SCHWEIZER MUSIKZEITUNG Walton's deep knowledge of his subject allows him to draw subtle and unexpected connections throughout.... meticulously researched and highly readable...packed with information and insight on a crucial decade of Wagner's life: a must-buy for Wagner scholars and enthusiasts. THE WAGNER JOURNAL Filling in many gaps ..., (this book) has the feel of freshly discovered research materials.... In a detailed analysis of (Mathilde Wesendonck's) relationship with Wagner ... Walton presents the convincing (and still quite novel) view that, far from being Wagner's "white piece of paper," she "became an important sounding-board for (his) plans and theories." GRAMOPHONE (Examines) details of extant scores and orchestral parts from Wagner's performances of, for instance, Mozart's "Jupiter" Symphony ... almost recreating in our minds a few moments from actual concerts. This chapter was thrilling from start to finish. MUSIC & LETTERS Anyone interested in Wagner the man and composer should seek out this work. NOTES (Walton's) virtuoso knowledge of day-to-day data enables (him) to trace in detail Wagner's dealings with musicians, publishers and others, with some surprising conclusions about Wagner the man and artist. .. His depth of research, his discovery of important aspects of Wagner's Zurich period, and his comments on the music, stylistic rather than analytical, enrich us with a fuller than ever picture of Wagner's personal and artistic development at a crucial period. NINETEENTH CENTURY MUSIC REVIEW

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Book details

  • PDF | 310 pages
  • Chris Walton(Author)
  • Boydell & Brewer (2 Oct. 2007)
  • English
  • 9
  • Music, Stage & Screen
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Review Text

  • By R. Castleden on 5 June 2017

    This book is an outstandingly detailed and original view of Wagner's time in Zurich, turning many common assumptions about Wagner, mid-nineteenth century Zurich, and Wagner's relationships with the citizens of Zurich upside down. It is especially revealing about Mathilde Wesendonck, who was patroness not only to Wagner but to a succession of composers, apparently flirted with them as part of her role as 'muse', while nevertheless remaining faithful to her husband. Wagner famously dramatized her as both Sieglinde and Isolde (and her husband as Hunding and King Mark, but her emotions were not roused in quite the same way as Wagner's. She did not have an affair with Wagner, as is often imagined. In fact Wagner himself seems to have misunderstood the nature of their relationship, and made a fool of himself on a grand scale when he tried to persuade Mathilde to elope with him. This is an unusually rewarding book, as the author has gone to a great deal of trouble to find out new things about an episode on Wagner's life that perhaps we already thought we understood. I did not know, for instance, that after Wagner was forced to leave Zurich, Mathilde tried hard to persuade Brahms to take his place as her 'guest', but Brahms wisely turned the siren down.

  • By John Todd on 19 January 2013

    One of Wagner's most interesting published writings about how songs should be written was an article which William Ashton Ellis translated but did not include in the Prose Works, putting it instead in an Appendix to his Life of Wagner. The reason is that much of the article consists of praise for some songs written by one Baumgartner, a Zurich composer who has not lasted the test of time. Clearly Wagner wanted to do Baumgartner a good turn, & to do so without being insincere. So who was Baumgartner, were there others like him in Zurich & how much (if at all) did they influence Wagner's own work? This book addresses this question & furthermore sheds some light on the genesis of the Ring. For example: the Wagner-Jahrbuch for 1907 documents that in 1850 when at the top of the Rigi, Wagner experienced the natural phenomenon normally referred to as the "Brocken spectre" because also seen there. I had not seen this reference before. Wagner's experiences in the Alps were fairly clearly influential in forming his conception of the Ring (another example which I expect had an impact, not quoted here, is the near-total eclipse of 28 July 1851). Here is another fact: Semper's original design for the Bayreuth Festspielhaus exists not only in drawings but in concrete reality, since it was used for the Parliament building in Zurich after it was discarded for Bayreuth. That means that a chamber in the Parliament looks like a theatre, & indeed a landscape was painted where the stage would have been - of the intoxicating view from Seelisberg, where Wagner insisted on being when he composed Walkure Act II. Such gems as these far outweigh the fact that (as ever) the author has opinions that the reader may not share.

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