Synopses & Reviews
Richard Wagner's works are among the most controversial in the history of European music because of their powerful aesthetic qualities and, in wider political terms, because of their eventual assimilation into the official culture of the Third Reich.
This concise synoptic account by the most brilliant exponent of Frankfurt School Marxism subtly interweaves these artistic and ideological qualities. It provides deft musicological analyses of Wagner's scores and of his compositional techniques, orchestration and staging methods, quoting copiously from the music dramas themselves. At the same time it offers incisive reflections on Wagner's social character and the ideological impulses of his artistic activity.
"An astonishing book, comparable only to the later Wagner tracts by Nietzsche . . . essential reading for anyone seriously involved with the composer, and now we can read it thanks to a superior translation by Rodney Livingstone." New York Review of Books
This new edition includes a lengthy foreword by Slavoj Zizek, entitled "Why is Wagner worth saving?"
Written in exile from Germany, this potent study of Europe’s most controversial composer explodes the frontiers of musical and cultural analysis. Measuring key elements of Wagner’s oeuvre with patent musical dexterity, Adorno sheds light on a nineteenth-century bourgeois figure whose operas betray the social gestures and high-culture fantasies that helped plant the seeds of the modern Culture Industry. A foreword by Slavoj Zizek situates Adorno’s reflections within present debates over Wagner’s anti-Semitism and the moral status of his work, proving why this book remains one of the most important character studies of the twentieth century.
About the Author
Theodor Adorno was director of the Institute for Social Research at the University of Frankfurt from 1956 until his death in 1969. His works include In Search of Wagner; Aesthetic Theory; Negative Dialectics; and (with Max Horkheimer) Dialectic of Enlightenment and Towards a New Manifesto.Slavoj Žižek is a Slovenian philosopher and cultural critic. He is a Professor at the European Graduate School, International Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, Birkbeck College, University of London, and a senior researcher at the Institute of Sociology, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. His books include Living in the End Times, First as Tragedy, Then as Farce, In Defense of Lost Causes, four volumes of the Essential Žižek, and many more.