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New Wagner book: The Sorcerer of Bayreuth

Written By The Wagnerian on Tuesday 15 May 2012 | 1:01:00 pm

It's been a while since the last Wagner book from Barry Millington and they are always interesting and worth the wait. This one seems well illustrated and from the editor of the Wagner Journal we might indeed  find something new. I do note however, that in the overview provided below from OUP it notes: "...the anti-Semitism that is undeniably present in the operas..." There are some that would dispute that claim but it is a recurrent theme throughout Millington's work - if at least not an obsessive one.  But we can't all be perfect I suppose. Due to be published in October 2012

The Sorcerer of Bayreuth

Richard Wagner, his Work and his World

The power of Wagner's music to enchant, to cast a spell, to transport the listener to states of hedonistic delight, has often been remarked--sometimes appreciatively and sometimes not. Indeed, no other composer arouses such fiercely divergent responses as Richard Wagner. For Baudelaire, Wagner's music induced a feeling of being engulfed, intoxicated. For Nietzsche, Wagner was like a disease: "Everything he touches falls sick." 

In The Sorcerer of Bayreuth, Barry Millington, a leading authority on Wagner, presents an engaging, accessibly written overview of the life and works one of the world's most influential and controversial composers. This richly illustrated book considers a wide range of themes, including Wagner's original sources of inspiration; his compositional process; his relationship with his wife, Cosima, and with his mistress, Mathilde Wesendonck; his perplexing ideology; the anti-Semitism that is undeniably present in the operas; their proto-cinematic nature; and the turbulent legacy both of the Bayreuth Festival and of Wagnerism itself. Millington illuminates these issues in a series of chapters, each exploring a theme through text, illustrations, and documents in elegantly designed spreads, thus avoiding the conventional formats of illustrated biography and documentary study. The results are often surprising. Drawing on the very latest biographical and musicological scholarship--much of it undertaken by the author himself--Millington reassesses received notions about both Wagner's life and his music, demolishing tired cliches and ill-informed opinion in favor of proper critical understanding. 

Marking the bicentenary of the birth of Richard Wagner, The Sorcerer of Bayreuthoffers readers a fascinating reappraisal of this most provocative of composers and the incomparable music he made.


  • Features over 300 illustrations, both in color and black and white
  • Written in an engaging style by a top Wagner scholar
  • Presents a new take on many accepted notions about Wagner's life and work

Product Details

320 pages; over 300 b&w and color illustrations; 6-1/2 x 9-1/4;ISBN13: 978-0-19-993376-1ISBN10: 0-19-993376-6 

Table of Contents


1. Father of the Man: Paternity and Childhood
2. Learning the Craft: Youthful Apprenticeship
3. Earning his Keep: First Professional Appointments
4. Under the Yoke: Kapellmeister in Dresden
5. The Eternal Wanderer: Der fliegende Hollander
6. Desperately Seeking Venus: Tannhauser
7. Swansong to Traditional Opera: Lohengrin
8. Revolutionary Road: Uprising in Dresden
9. The Rise and Fall of Valhalla: Der Ring des Nibelungen
10. The Zurich Years: Wagner's Exile in Switzerland
11. 'Most Excellent Friend': Franz Liszt
12. Muses, Mistresses and Mothers: Wagner's Women
13. The Behemoth of Bayreuth: Wagner's Personality
14. Always Short: Wagner and Money
15. In the Pink: The Role of Silks and Satins in Wagner's Life
16. 'My Adored and Angelic Friend': King Ludwig
17. Fatal Attraction: Tristan und Isolde
18. 'Art is What Matters Here': Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg
19. Grit in the Oyster: Anti-Semitism in Wagner's Life and Work
20. Creative Spark: Sources of Inspiration in Wagner's Work
21. The Silent Sufferer: Cosima Wagner
22. Tribschen Interlude: The Lucerne Years
23. A Home for the Gods: The Bayreuth Project
24. 'My Last Card': Parsifal
25. Death in Venice: The Events of Wagner's Last Day
26. Perfect and Imperfect Wagnerites: The Spread of the Wagner Cult
27. Panning for Gold: Wagner and Cinema
28. Swastikas Over Bayreuth: Wagner and the Third Reich
29. Regime Change: The Grandsons Usher in the Era of New Bayreuth
30. Renewing the Legacy: Bayreuth Today and in the Future

Further Reading