Many music lovers find Wagner's operas inexpressibly beautiful and richly satisfying, while others find them revolting, dangerous, self-indulgent, and immoral. The man who W.H. Auden once called "perhaps the greatest genius that ever lived" has inspired both greater adulation and greater loathing than any other composer.
Bryan Magee presents a penetrating analysis of Wagner's work, concentrating on how his sensational and deeply erotic music uniquely expresses the repressed and highly charged contents of the psyche. He examines not only Wagner's music and detailed stage directions but also the prose works in which he formulated his ideas, as well as shedding new light on his anti-semitism and the way in which the Nazis twisted his theories to suit their own purposes. Outlining the astonishing range and depth of Wagner's influence on our culture, Magee reveals how profoundly he continues to shock and inspire musicians, poets, novelists, painters, philosophers, and politicians today.
`you can do no better than rush out and buy Aspects of Wagner, one of the most stimulating books on music and opera it has been my priviledge to read.'
`this set of essays makes an ideal introduction to Bayreuth's favourite son'
`the best short book on Richard Wagner in English'
New Statesman & Society
`One of the best, most illuminating, and shortest, discussions of Wagner's work ever written...one of the most stimulating books on music and opera it has been my privilege to read'
`This 20-year-old instant classic, pithy, thoughtful, illuminating, now gains a new chapter on - oddly enough - the least discussed side of Wagner, the music itself.'
Christopher Grier, London Evening Standard
`the intensely readable style as well as the interest of the subject-matter holds the attention from beginning to end ...Magee's book remains one which no-one who ventures to give an opinion on Wagner should have failed to read.'
S. A. Music Teacher
`Each of these essays offer much that is thought-provoking, examining not only the musical works but also the prose works in which Wagner formulated and set out his ideas on art literature, poetry and the theatre. It is good to have a new edition of this highly readable little volume, which was first published in 1968.'
`Altogether, among the millions of pages written about one of the most complex minds in European history, this little book makes a contribution both original and thought provoking, quite out of proportion to its size.' Sir Charles Mackerras
From reviews of the first edition...
`The revised edition of this brief but near-classic analysis of Wagner's work has not lost its most distinctive quality; usually for a book of this kind, it demands to be read at one sitting - or even, one admirer has insisted, in a single bathtime.'
`Original and stimulating...the most lucid attempt I have yet read to explain the reasons for the continuing compulsive fascination of Wagner's music over friend and foe alike.'
Music and Musicians
`Excellent...conspicuous for two virtues that Wagner lacked, brevity and lucidity.'
Times Literary Supplement
`Short but splendidly meaty.'
`Includes more thinking in its 112 pages than most authors expend in a lifetime...every essay in this book abounds in perception.'
`Fresh, individual, intelligent.'
`When I first read Aspects of Wagner nearly 20 years ago, I thought it one of the admirable books ever written on the subject. Whereas most books on Wagner tend to emulate the faults of the Master himself in their inordinate length and complexity, Magee gives us many new aspects and much food for thought...among the millons of pages written about one of the most complex minds in European history, this little book makes a contribution both original
and thought provoking, quite out of proportion to its size.'
Sir Charles Mackerras
`Bryan is never dull and he speaks with the authority of many years devotion to Wagner.'
`To be read by every opera goer, whether he be a Wagnerian or not.'
`you can do no better than rush out and buy Aspects of Wagner, one of the most stimulating books on music and opera it has been my privilige to read'
`a splendid contribution to a debate which should run and run...The Wagner literature is so extensive and so often mind-numbingly oblique that it takes a bright light indeed to add further illumination. The philosopher Brian Magee manages it in his brilliantly lucid Aspects of Wagner.' Yorkshire Post
`a delight to read'
`one of the best available introductions to Wagner's operas...This is a splendid book in which the author's own enthusiasm communicates itself to the reader.'
John Standen, TCM Bulletin
`excellent...one's attention is absorbed throughout
History of European Ideas
`Magee's book provides a valuable reminder of the extent to which Wagner's "Magnum Opus" drew on the literary and scholarly endeavors of his contemporaries and of the Romantic generation that preceded him.'
Thomas S. Grey, Notes, December 1992
`written with vigour and elegance and the author obviously cares about his subject'
Andrew W. Barker, University of Edinburgh, German History
'elegant essay collection ... a lucid and readable sequence of insights and propositions that remain lastingly valuable and thought-provoking'