Wagner and Philosophy by Bryan Magee
This is a remarkable book. It covers the intellectual framework of Wagner, describing a story of which I was completely unaware. Wagner was one of the most intellectual composers and deeply interested in the politics and then philosophy of his era. His personal journey from left-wing radical, associate of Bakunin through the philosophical critique of religion of Feuerbach to the meta-physics of Schopenhauer was remarkable. Music moves from a vehicle to liberate the masses to a form that can free the individual from the world. The book itself covers some aspects of the philosophy of music.
Wagner’s relationship with Nietzsche was a fascinating part of the story. The sad and fragile young man who breaks free from the dominant Wagner and then descends into madness is quite tragic. I did find Nietzsche polemic that Bizet was preferred to Wagner quite amusing.
Magee’s treatment of some darker aspects of Wagner was good. He covers the use the Nazis made of Wagner (personally by Hitler). He also discusses Wagner’s reprehensible anti-semitic views.
One aspect he describes is modern attitudes to Wagner, where educated but ill-informed (about Wagner) people often make assumptions about Wagner. I have personally experienced similar reactions to those that Magee describes.
I should read this again soon.