This book is a study of the prose writings of Richard Wagner and their relevance to an understanding of his music and drama, as well as their relation to music criticism and aesthetics in the nineteenth century in general. As a by-product of Wagner's many-faceted career as musician, conductor, cultural critic, and controversial ideologue, the writings are documents of undisputed interpretative value. This study focuses on Wagner's words on music, and interprets them in the light of the musical, aesthetic, and critical contexts that generated them. Professor Grey considers Wagner's ambivalence concerning the idea of 'absolute music' and the capacity of music to project meaning or drama from within its own system of referents. Particularly relevant are Wagner's appropriation of a Beethoven legacy, the metaphors of musical 'gender' and 'biology' in Opera and Drama, and the critical background to ideas of 'motive' and 'leitmotif' in theory and practice.
"...we are very fortunate to have this new study, which deals with Wagner's writings in an intelligent, authoritative, and probing manner. Thomas S. Grey seems to have read not only everything Wagner wrote but everything written about him from his own day to the present and about the principle aesthetic issues relevant to the Wagner 'case.'...the scope and command of Grey's book is...magisterial." The Opera Quarterly "This is a serious study that no Wagnerian scholar should ignore." Warren Darcy, Notes