For some, Richard Wagner is infamous as the favorite composer of Hitler, who seems to have admired Wagner as an early exponent of his own racist ideology and worldview. Impressed by this assumption victims of Hitler have also associated Wagner and his music with Nazism to such an extent that in Israel a ban on public performance of that music is upheld to this day. Jacob Katz, a scholar of international repute, approaches the highly charged issue of Richard Wagner’s anti-Semitism with the tools of a critical historian, asking two central questions: What role did anti-Semitism play in the life and work of Richard Wagner? And how did his anti-Jewish thoughts and sentiments contribute to the development of political anti-Semitism and Nazism? In this first comprehensive and judicious treatment of Wagner’s anti-Semitism, Katz analyzes the composer’s attitudes in their own time and place and in the context of Wagner’s life and aspirations. He traces Wagner’s feelings toward Jews chronologically, showing that the composer was ultimately obsessed by a deep-seated Judeophobia generated by conflict with his Jewish mentors and competitors. But he argues against reading the later emergence of Nazism back into Wagner’s life and work. While not absolving Wagner from responsibility for his views, Katz contends that contemporary Jews have paradoxically and uncritically adopted the Nazis’ assumptions about Wagner. Katz argues that Wagner’s music is untainted by his anti-Semitism, that there is, in fact, very little in Wagner’s art that, without forced speculation, can be related to his racist views.
From Midwives to Medicine examines the development of modern medical treatment of women and the related history of women's health in the mid-1800s. McGregor looks not only at the medical figures who devised and practiced the innovative therapist, but also at the history of the patient experience in the development and the professionalization of a medical specialty. In exploring the controversial career of J. Marion Sims, "the father of gynecology," and the history of the Woman's Hospital of the State of New York, McGregor chronicles the emergence of a practice involving previously untried medical techniques and the use of experimentation on patients according to a social hierarchy based on race and sex.
Using patient records and archival material from the female governors and administrators at the hospital, From Midwives to Medicine shows how a new medical practice developed out of the changing patterns and historical experiences of childbirth, as well as out of the context of the social relations f the sexes. Sim's patients were slave women in the antebellum South, poor Irish immigrants in the industrial North, and upper-class white. Protestant, Manhattan socialites who sought help for their "hysterical" symptoms. During his career, which began in the South and flourished at the Women's Hospital in New York. Sims performed and perfected his technique to "cure" vesico-vaginal fistulas, the tears of childbirth, from which so many women suffered. But Sims achieved these successes on the operating table only after years of practicing his "silver suture" technique on unanesthetized slave women, who he believed "by the nature of their race... had a specific physiological tolerance for pain unknown to whites."
Today, more than a century after its first performance, Richard Wagner’s The Ring of Nibelung endures as one of the most significant artistic creations in the history of opera. This monumental work not only altered previously accepted concepts of music and drama but also inspired creative and intellectual efforts far beyond the field of opera.
Previous studies of the Ring have appealed only to those already acquainted in some way with the Wagnerian art. For the uninitiated, Wagner and his landmark creation have seemed forbidding, and those eager to learn about the masterpiece have faced a vast and frequently esoteric body of commentary. Professor Cord addresses the interests of the non-specialist by taking the reader first into Wagner’s unique intent, and then through the complete history of the Ring.
Cord, who has attended forty performances of the Ring, considers the conception of the poem, its development into a music-drama exemplifying Wagnerian thought, its introduction to the world, and the reactions and interpretation it elicits.
Nietzsche and Music
Georges Liébert University of Chicago Press, 2003 Library of Congress ML423.N56L5413 2004 | Dewey Decimal 780.92
"Without music, life would be an error."—Friedrich Nietzsche
In his youth, Friedrich Nietzsche yearned to become a great composer and wrote many pieces of music. He later claimed to be "the most musical of all philosophers." Yet most books on Nietzsche fail to explore the importance of music for his thought.
Nietzsche and Music provides the first in-depth examination of the fundamental significance of music for Nietzsche's life and work. Nietzsche's views on music are essential for understanding his philosophy as a whole. Part biography and part critical examination, Georges Liébert brilliantly demonstrates that despite failed attempts at a professional career as composer, Nietzsche never fully removed himself from the world of music, but instead, became a composer of philosophy, utilizing the musical form as a template for his own writings and creative thought. Liébert's study surveys Nietzsche's opinions about particular composers and compositions, as well as his more theoretical writings on music and its relation to the other arts. He also explores Nietzsche's listening habits, his playing and style of composition, and his many contacts in the musical world, including his controversial and contentious relationship with Richard Wagner. For Nietzsche, music gave access to a realm of wisdom that transcended thought. Music was Nietzsche's great solace; in his last years, it was his refuge from madness.
A virtuoso exploration of this little-known but crucial aspect of Nietzsche's life and work, this volume will be of enormous value to scholars of philosophy, music, aesthetics, and literature.
In the high country of the northern Wasatch Mountains, lies what is left of one of the West’s largest ranches. Deseret Live Stock Company was reputed at various times to be the largest private landholder in Utah and the single biggest producer of wool in the world. The ranch began as a sheep operation, but as it found success, it also ran cattle. Incorporated in the 1890s by a number of northern Utah ranchers who pooled their resources, the company was at the height of successful operations in the mid-twentieth century when a young Dean Frischknecht, bearing a recent degree in animal science, landed the job of sheep foreman. In his memoir he recounts in detail how Deseret managed huge herds of livestock, vast lands, and rich wildlife and recalls through lively anecdotes how stockmen and their families lived and worked in the Wasatch Mountains and Skull Valley’s desert wintering grounds.
Philosopher Marcel Hébert developed his Religious Experience in the Work of Richard Wagner (1895) from this background of sustained popular interest in Wagner, an interest that had intensified with the return of his operas to the Paris stage. Newspaper debates about the impact of Wagner's ideas on French society often stressed the links between Wagner and religion. These debates inspired works like Hébert's, intended to explain the complex myth and allegory in Wagner's work and to elucidate it for a new generation of French spectators.
Best known for the challenging four-opera cycle The Ring of the Nibelung, Richard Wagner (1813–83) was a conductor, librettist, theater director, and essayist, in addition to being the composer of some of the most enduring operatic works in history, such as The Flying Dutchman, Tannhäuser, and Tristan and Isolde. Though his influence on the development of European music is indisputable, Wagner was also quite outspoken on the politics and culture of his time. His ideas traveled beyond musical circles into philosophy, literature, theater staging, and the visual arts. To befit such a dynamic figure, acclaimed biographer Martin Geck offers here a Wagner biography unlike any other, one that strikes a unique balance between the technical musical aspects of Wagner’s compositions and his overarching understanding of aesthetics.
Wagner has always inspired passionate admirers as well as numerous detractors, with the result that he has achieved a mythical stature nearly equal to that of the Valkyries and Viking heroes he popularized. There are few, if any, scholars today who know more about Wagner and his legacy than Geck, who builds upon his extensive research and considerable knowledge as one of the editors of the Complete Works to offer a distinctive appraisal of the composer and the operas. Using a wide range of sources, from contemporary scholars to the composer’s own words, Geck explores key ideas in Wagner’s life and works, while always keeping the music in the foreground. Geck discusses not only all the major operas, but also several unfinished operas and even the composer’s early attempts at quasi-Shakespearean drama.
Richard Wagner: A Life in Music is a landmark study of one of music’s most important figures, offering something new to opera enthusiasts, Wagnerians, and anti-Wagnerians alike.
The 1859 exploration of the Great Basin by army topographical engineer James Simpson opened up one of the West's most important transportation and communication corridors, a vital link between the Pacific Coast and the rest of the nation. It became the route of the Pony Express and the Overland Mail and Stage, the line of the Pacific telegraph, a major wagon road for freighters and emigrants, and, later, the first transcontinental auto road, the Lincoln Highway, now Highway 50.
No one has accurately tracked or mapped Simpson's original route, until now. Jesse Petersen shows in words, maps, and photos exactly where the explorer went. Sharing his detective-like reasoning as he walked or drove the entire trail west and Simpson's variant route returning east, Petersen takes readers on a mountain and desert trek through some of America's most remote and striking landscapes.
Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, and Siegfried. Parsifal. Tristan und Isolde. Both revered and reviled, Richard Wagner conceived some of the nineteenth century’s most influential operas—and created some of the most indelible characters ever to grace the stage. But over the course of his polarizing career, Wagner also composed volumes of essays and pamphlets, some on topics seemingly quite distant from the opera house. His influential concept of Gesamtkunstwerk—the “total work of art”—famously and controversially offered a way to unify the different media of an opera into a coherent whole. Less well known, however, are Wagner’s strange theories on sexuality—like his ideas about erotic acoustics and the metaphysics of sexual difference.
Drawing on the discourses of psychoanalysis, evolutionary biology, and other emerging fields of study that informed Wagner’s thinking, Adrian Daub traces the dual influence of Gesamtkunstwerk and eroticism from their classic expressions in Tristan und Isolde into the work of the generation of composers that followed, including Zemlinsky, d’Albert, Schreker, and Strauss. For decades after Wagner’s death, Daub writes, these composers continued to grapple with his ideas and with his overwhelming legacy, trying in vain to write their way out from Tristan’s shadow.
The Trouble with Wagner
Michael P. Steinberg University of Chicago Press, 2018 Library of Congress ML410.W15S74 2018 | Dewey Decimal 782.1092
In this unique and hybrid book, cultural and music historian Michael P. Steinberg combines a close analysis of Wagnerian music drama with a personal account of his work as a dramaturg on the bicentennial production of The Ring of the Nibelung for the Teatro alla Scala Milan and the Berlin State Opera. Steinberg shows how Wagner uses the power of a modern mythology to heighten music’s claims to knowledge, thereby fusing not only art and politics, but truth and lies as well. Rather than attempting to separate value and violence, or “the good from the bad,” as much Wagner scholarship as well as popular writing have tended to do, Steinberg proposes that we confront this paradox and look to the capacity of the stage to explore its depths and implications.
Drawing on decades of engagement with Wagner and of experience teaching opera across disciplines, The Trouble with Wagner is packed with novel insights for experts and interested readers alike.
Though his image is tarnished today by unrepentant anti-Semitism, Richard Wagner (1813–1883) was better known in the nineteenth century for his provocative musical eroticism. In this illuminating study of the composer and his works, Laurence Dreyfus shows how Wagner’s obsession with sexuality prefigured the composition of operas such as Tannhäuser, Die Walküre, Tristan und Isolde, and Parsifal.