BBC Radio 4 Documentary Series: Richard Wagner - Power, Sex And Revolution

Written By The Wagnerian on Thursday, 25 April 2013 | 3:20:00 am

A new two part documentary about Wagner from BBC Radio 4. Presented by Paul Mason, part one will broadcast 30 April at 11.30am. It will then be available on Iplayer for 7 days.

Two hundred years after the composer's birth, Paul Mason takes a fresh look at the man whose music has gripped him for as long as he can remember.

The megalithic 15 hours of The Ring cycle dominates people's view of Wagner, but behind it lies a man whose complex personality leaves people still struggling to understand him. He was a revolutionary, not just in music but also in politics, even finding himself a wanted man in exile.

He was determined to transform drama into something which would be a powerful force in society, and a man driven by ambition to revitalise a Germany which he saw as critically unwell. There were the darker instincts too, not least an attitude to racial purity which leaves deep questions about his validity as an artist.

In the first programme, Mason peers into the murky depths of a tale of desire and obsession. Tristan And Isolde takes the listener deep into the mind of its composer, a man with powerful sexual urges of his own, and whose approach to life was totally reshaped by his discovery of one of the greatest philosophers of his age.

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