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Through his reading of primary and secondary classical sources, as well as his theoretical writings, Richard Wagner developed a Hegelian-inspired theory linking the evolution of classical Greek politics and poetry. This book demonstrates how, by turning theory into practice, Wagner used this evolutionary paradigm to shape the music and the libretto of the Ring cycle. Foster describes how each of the Ring's operas represents a particular phase of Greek poetic and political development: Das Rheingold and Die Walküre create epic national identity in its earlier and later stages respectively; Siegfried expresses lyric personal identity; and Götterdämmerung destructively culminates with a tragi-comedy about civic identity. This study sees the Greeks through the lens of those scholars whose work influenced Wagner most, focusing on epic, lyric, and comedy, as well as Greek tragedy. Most significantly, the book interrogates the ways in which Wagner uses Greek aesthetics to further his own ideological goals.Read more
- Includes extensive and well-documented lists of all classical primary and secondary sources that it can be proved Wagner knew
- Each section begins with a thorough analysis of three of the most important poetic genres in the West: epic, lyric, and drama
- Addresses in detail Wagner's theoretical works, which are infamously difficult and confusing
Reviews & endorsements
"Foster writes in a lucid, readable style with extensive annotation, and the book has been handsomely designed and produced by Cambridge University Press."
-Michael Ewans,University of Newcastle,AustraliaSee more reviews
"The prose is clear and persuasive, and the book is a valuable addition to any music library. It will appeal to scholar and student alike, especially those interested in nineteenth century opera, the influence of Greek classicism in modern Europe, and Wagner’s ideological and intellectual world."
-Stephen Thursby,University of South Carolina Sumter
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- Date Published: March 2010
- format: Hardback
- isbn: 9780521517393
- length: 398 pages
- dimensions: 235 x 160 x 24 mm
- weight: 0.77kg
- contains: 14 music examples
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
Part I. Epic:
1. Introduction: what is epic?
2. Retrospective narrative and the epic process
3. The orchestral narrator and elementary epic
4. Spiritual and factual realities in epic
Part II. Lyric:
5. Introduction: what is lyric?
6. Orpheus and lyric liberation
7. First-person opera and lyric identity
8. Lyric and the rebirth of tragedy
Part III. Drama:
9. Introduction: what is drama?
10. Opera and tragedy
11. Opera and comedy
12. Resolution and ambiguity in comedy and tragedy
Epilogue: Time, the Ring, and performance studies
Appendices: Wagner's primary and secondary sources: Introduction
Appendix A. Wagner's primary sources
Appendix B. secondary scholarship by authors Wagner knew personally
Appendix C. Secondary scholarship by authors Wagner knew by reputation or by reading
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