Tuesday, October 17, 2006

More Wagner Bloggin'

Trevor of Natural Harmonics has posted a complimentary review of Wagner's Flying Dutchman that is exponentially more thoughtful and funny than my own too-brief dismissal of the work. I still hold that Tannhauser is Wagner's first true masterpiece, but Trevor gives some credit to this work where it's due.
Besides these, he rates the work numerically, which Pitchfork Media has proven to be the best method of judging the creative products of humanity. A brilliant touch- he also has a rating of Anti-Semitism (Dutchman scores a pleasant '0' out of 10). It really isn't until the Ring that Wagner got his Jew-hating on in full, and it reaches its zenith in the truly despicable politics behind the musically sublime Parsifal.
This all reminds me of a difficult but charming game I played recently at the University of Minnesota's music library. The game was this: try to read something about Wagner.
It's harder than you think. The library's section devoted to composer bios and analyses contains about 11 shelves dedicated to Wagner. In my experience of leafing through some of them, it follows that there has maybe %0.00000059 of all that has been written about Wagner is in any way useful, well-written, objective and intelligent. Many of the books are authored by forgotten priests of the long lost Wagner cult, whom must have lived very sad lives indeed, fawning over such a man in such an embarassing way. I wish that we could go back in time to meet them and try to turn them on to new and diverting hobbies; if only Electric Model Trains had met their zenith in the late 1800s! Sadly, time travel is not possible as of yet, and we are left with millions of pages of silliness.

Among the ridiculous writings contained therein are the prose writings and essays of Herr Wagner himself, which fill up a hefty 5 or 6 volumes. These works serve more the scholar of Wagner than anyone else, but a quick survey of them attests to Wagner's mental powers and more often than not, Wagner's incredible batshit craziness. Unless you enjoy 200 page essays on why Mendelssohn's multiparted string writing in the Fingal's Cave Overture is an example of "Jewish trickery" or whatever, it's best to stay away.

Ignore Wagner's writings on Wagner, or Adorno's, or Newman's, or Gutman's or anyone else. They are not fit to discuss the man. Me and Trevor alone, both writing on the free and unattractive Blogspot personal blogging network, are up to the task.


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