The Wagner Clan: The Saga of Germany's Most Illustrious and Infamous Family

Open Road + Grove/Atlantic
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This chronicle of renowned composer Richard Wagner and his descendants features “a cast of characters who are positively operatic in their histrionics” (The Guardian).
 
Richard Wagner was many things—composer, philosopher, philanderer, failed revolutionary, and virulent anti-Semite—and his descendants have carried on his complex legacy.
 
In his “lively and wry” history of the legendary composer and his family, biographer Jonathan Carr also offers fascinating glimpses of Franz Liszt, Friedrich Nietzsche, Arthur Schopenhauer, Arturo Toscanini, Joseph Goebbels, Hermann Göring, and Adolf Hitler—a passionate fan of the Master’s music and an adopted uncle to Wagner’s grandchildren (The New York Times).
 
Stretching from the revolutions of 1848 to the darkest days of World War II and through to the present incarnation of Wagner’s Bayreuth Festival, The Wagner Clan is “a smart, insightful look into German history” and a family whose saga is as gripping as any opera (New York Post).
 
“Jonathan Carr’s history is formidable . . . [A] compendious and enthralling story.” —The Economist
 
“The grandiose life of Richard Wagner—the pronouncements on art and the German soul, the petty groveling for money and favors, the intermittently atrocious politics and intermittently glorious music—was a tough act to follow. Carr . . . follows Wagner’s descendants through three generations as they fight each other for control of the Bayreuth Festival and, at opportune times, embrace, reject or sweep under the rug their forebear’s status as Nazism’s spiritual godfather. . . . Carr’s sprightly, fluent narrative places the family in its historical and intellectual context without reducing it to the symbolic effigy it has often become.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
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An Economist Best Book of 2007, Jonathan Carr’s The Wagner Clan proves, with the sweeping scope of a Wagnerian opera, that the history of Europe and that of the infamous composer’s family are inextricably intertwined. Carr presents not only Richard Wagner himself— musician, philosopher, philanderer, failed revolutionary, and virulent anti-Semite—but also a colorful cast of historical figures who feature in Wagner’s story: Franz Liszt (whose illegitimate daughter Cosima married Wagner); Friedrich Nietzsche; Arthur Schopenhauer; Richard Strauss; Gustav Mahler; Arturo Toscanini; Joseph Goebbels; Hermann Göring; and the “Wolf ” himself, Adolf Hitler, a passionate fan of the Master’s music and an adopted uncle to Wagner’s grandchildren. Wagner’s British-born daughter-in-law, Winifred, was a close friend of Hitler’s and seemed momentarily positioned to marry him after the death of her husband. All through the war the Bayreuth Festival, begun by the Master himself, was supported by Hitler, who had to fill the audience with fighting men and SS officers. After the war’s devastation, the festival was dark for a decade until Wagner’s offspring—with characteristic ambition and cunning— revived it. The Wagner Clan is a riveting chronicle of the ascent, decline, and rehabilitation of the German nation and its most infamous family.
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5.0
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Additional Information

Publisher
Open Road + Grove/Atlantic
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Published on
Jan 19, 2009
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Pages
432
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ISBN
9781555848477
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Language
English
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Genres
Music / Genres & Styles / Children's
Music / Genres & Styles / Opera
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Richard Wagner (1813-1883) is one of the most influential - and also one of the most controversial - composers in the history of music. Over the course of his long career, he produced a stream of spellbinding works that challenged musical convention through their richness and tonal experimentation, ultimately paving the way for modernism. This book presents an in-depth but easy-to-read overview of Wagner's life, work and times. It considers a wide range of themes, including the composer's original sources of inspiration; his fetish for exotic silks; his relationship with his wife, Cosima, and with his mistress, Mathilde Wesendonck; the anti-semitism that is undeniably present in the operas; their proto-cinematic nature; and the turbulent legacy both of the Bayreuth Festival and of Wagnerism itself. Making use of the very latest scholarship - much of it undertaken by the author himself in connection with his editorship of The Wagner Journal - Millington reassesses received notions about Wagner and his work, demolishing ill-informed opinion in favour of proper critical understanding. It is a radical - and occasionally controversial - reappraisal of this most perplexing of composers. The volume's arrangement - unique among books on the composer -combines an accessible text, intriguing images and original documents, thus ensuring a consistently fresh approach. Bringing new insights to an endlessly fascinating subject, The Sorcerer of Bayreuth will charm anyone interested in music and in the wider cultural life of the 19th century and beyond.
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