Monthly Archives: October 2015

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.





The Rules of the Game: Jutland and British Naval Command by Andrew Gordon

This is a description of the battle of Jutland. It has an emphasis on the concepts of command and control of the naval forces from a British perspective. It covers the culture and context of the Royal Navy and how this influenced the battle. There is a lot of detail of the Victorian navy going covering in great detail the sinking of HMS Victoria in 1893. One of the main causes was the order given by Admiral Tryon was followed without question by his subordinates even though it was going to lead to a collision.

Perhaps by 1916 the Royal Navy had not adopted all of the changes in naval technology and this had an impact on Jutland. This was rectified by later in the way and certainly by WW2.