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The Self-Help Guide to Wagner : NPR

The Self-Help Guide to Wagner
TOM HUIZENGA and KATIE DAUGERT May 29, 2008 1:01 PM

Hear the Complete Profile of Wagner and His Music

www.npr.org/2008/05/29/90286740/the-self-help-guide-to-wagner

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author of Wagner Without Fear. and legacy continue to inspire and confound listeners and critics. the controversial composer who made sweeping changes in the arts.13 The Self-Help Guide to Wagner : NPR i Hulton Archive/Getty Images Top 5 Wagner See and hear a list of Wagner recordings. yet it was also the soundtrack to tragedy. if you're a fan of classical music. recommended by William Berger. Wagner's music contains the loftiest aspirations of humankind.05.npr. Love him or hate him. His mammoth operas have inspired www.org/2008/05/29/90286740/the-self-help-guide-to-wagner 2/8 .22. you have to contend with Richard Wagner. music. His life. and especially opera.

Wagner's music. composers. you don't just get the signs of a journey. Wagner for Dummies Wagner's Dark Legacy In his book Wagner Without Fear. "If he's going to ask you to sit in the theatre for five or six hours." Berger says. It's not surprising that his works would later be adopted by Adolf Hitler to symbolize his notion of the Third Reich.npr. you go through that journey. I would ask people to believe that he's got that much to say. and height of music-theater.22. changing it forever. to his obsessive specifications. authors. "You don't have to be a complete lunatic. and even dictators. So we're dealing with a difficult artist but a truly unique one. William Berger tries to demystify some of the anxiety the mere mention of Wagner's name generates." Berger adds. as well as his overt Demystifying Wagner Wagner's Unusual Background anti-Semitism.05. seem unfazed by the length of his extra-long operas — especially the full 18-hour Ring 3/8 Wagner on Stage www.org/2008/05/29/90286740/the-self-help-guide-to-wagner . He exploded the length." as fans are sometimes called. is taboo in Israel. He's the one who decided it would be a good idea to turn the house lights down and watch a drama in the dark." "The entire human experience can be found in his music. Germany. breadth. "With Wagner. directors." i AFP/Getty Images Lord of the Ring Loyal "Wagnerheads.13 The Self-Help Guide to Wagner : NPR A Guide to Surviving Wagner Hear sections of the Wagner profile with NPR's Lisa Simeone and author William Berger. He built a radically new theater at Bayreuth. to this day. you don't have to sign your life over in order to appreciate Wagner. But Wagner's creative genius has been tainted by his personality — by his overzealous references to militarism and nationalism.

from the formation of the world to its fiery end. "You can write books just about the first four notes.13 The Self-Help Guide to Wagner : NPR Watch excerpts from two Wagner operas from the Metropolitan Opera in New York." Wagner's endless melody builds and constantly moves forward throughout Tristan und Isolde's five-hour running time. soprano) The Ring Cycle may represent Wagner at his most ambitious. "at how it feels — in both Die Meistersinger: 'Prize Song' (Lauritz Melchior.org/2008/05/29/90286740/the-self-help-guide-to-wagner 4/8 . noting that one magazine in the 1970s referred to the opera as "the soundtrack to The Joy of Sex. recorded 1931) Götterdämerung: Final Scene-Brünhilde's immolation (excerpt. Ben Heppner. is populated with gods and goddesses. water-spirits." Wagner's series of notes is in no known key signature. scoring tickets to wherever the Ring Cycle is performed. it doesn't finish until the very last note of the opera. The Ring of the Niebelungs (Der Ring des Nibelungen). the series of four operas designed to be heard over four consecutive days. giants. but his opera Tristan und Isolde is perhaps his most influential. conductor) www. with soprano Helga Dernesch) 'Siegfried Idyll' (Vienna Philharmonic. tenor. And.npr. Germanic folk poetry. in fact. and to this day retains its unsettling tone. Jam es Morris." "It's really a very intense look. hours and hours later. dragons. He creates an entire universe. called the 'Tristan chord.05." Berger says. as it's officially called. and his own head. Matthew Polenzani and Jill Grove) Wagner You Must Hear Tristan und Isolde: 'Liebestod' (Jessye Norman. like Harry Potter's invisibility cloak.22. "This redefined music for Europeans. and consequently quite a lot of other people." Berger says. Cycle. even today. The Tristan Effect Watch Ring Cycle: 'Siegfried'--Act 2 Siegfried Kills the Dragon (w ith Siegfried Jerusalem and Matti Salm inen) Watch Die Meistersinger: Act 3 "Quintet" (w ith Karita Mattila. Wagner's story is drawn from Norse mythology. Some even travel the world. and objects from the powerful golden ring to a magic helmet that makes its wearer disappear. Berger says it mimics the path of love. "It's still going to make you twitch a little. "The beauty of this chord is that it sounds unfinished in some way. dwarves. Georg Solti.'" Berger says.

05. "By all accounts. Ultimately." Wagner was Adolf Hitler's favorite composer. this is the lesson we take from Wagner for all art. without any doubt." Berger says. We cannot let anything be defined for us by any demagogues. "There was the basic material for a Nazi fetish in Wagner's art right from the start. "There was the xenophobia and anti-Semitism. Even his devotees acknowledge this. it's there. given that Wagner was resolutely anti-Semitic. But at the same time." Berger says. Berger says it's no surprise that Israel has kept an informal ban on Wagner performances.13 The Self-Help Guide to Wagner : NPR positive and negative terms — to be in love. "I think it's imperative to reclaim this music.npr. The unlikable Beckmesser in Die Meistersinger and the greedy Alberich in The Ring Cycle. Hitler attended a grand production of Wagner's Lohengrin at Bayreuth and was bowled over by it. and I think that lesson is profoundly illustrated by Richard Wagner. Hitler's admiration isn't surprising. Berger also focuses on Wagner's dark side. some theorists say." Berger writes. "Wagner was an impossible human being. "and not let something as powerful as this music be appropriated permanently by the Third Reich." "The ability of art to inspire." Darth Wagner In Wagner Without Fear." Even a few of Wagner's operatic characters have been singled out as examples of his anti-Semitism.org/2008/05/29/90286740/the-self-help-guide-to-wagner 5/8 . Berger adds that it's important not to let the music be controlled by its dark connotations.22. Because of the music's Nazi connections. but also the limits of art to make us good or bad — that's still up to us. In 1936. were given perceived Jewish characteristics by Wagner and thus portrayed in a denigrating way." Related NPR Stories www.

org/2008/05/29/90286740/the-self-help-guide-to-wagner 6/8 . 2008 Janice Baird Debuts in a Troubled 'Tristan' Wagner's 'Rienzi' Jan.05.22. 12.13 The Self-Help Guide to Wagner : NPR Show-Stopping Aria Encored at the Met Richard Wagner April 4. Just Add Video Web Resources Wagner Bio Featured Artist Jessye Norman Whatever Happened To The Classical Christmas Album? Jessye Norman: Back To Her 'Roots' Opera Diva Norman Brings the Arts Back to Schools www. 2008 Verdi's 'Simon Boccanegra' Wagner's 'Die Walkuere' April 12. 2007 March 28. 2008 April 23. 26. 2007 'Tristan Project': For Epic Wagner.npr. 2007 Oct. 2008 Oct. 18.

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