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Complete:The Tale Of Lohengrin. Rolleston & Pogány

Written By The Wagnerian on Tuesday 25 February 2014 | 7:37:00 pm

This is extraordinary book but you really need to use the "fullscreen" button to truly enjoy it. 

Pogány, Willy (illustrator). E W Rolleston, Richard. The Tale of Lohengrin, Knight of the Swan after the Drama of Richard Wagner by T.W. Rolleston. Presented by Willy Pogany. London: G.G. Harrap, n .d. [1913].

William Andrew ("Willy") Pogany (born Vilmos Andreas Pogány) (August 1882 died 30 July 1955) was a prolific Hungarian illustrator of children's and other books. Pogany's best known works consist of illustrations of classic myths and legends done in the Art Nouveau style. He also worked as an art director on several Hollywood films, including Fashions of 1934 and Dames.

The publication of Pogány's Lohengrin was the final act in his trilogy of masterworks focused on Wagner's Germanic tales, and one of the quintet that is considered his finest work

If you would like to download the full book, freely,  as a PDF please CLICK THIS LINK
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Parsifal: Illustrated By Willy Pogany

Willy Pogány's illustrations for  E W Rolleston retelling of Parsifal.Co-produced by G G Harrap and Co. (London) and Thomas Y Crowell & Co. (New York) in 1912.

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A Wagner Poem By Charles Bukowski. Illustrated by Pat Moriarity

This was brought to our attention by a very kind reader. My German Buddy is a poem by Charles Bukowski illustrated by Pat Moriarity and is centered around listening to Wagner. As Moriarity explains:

 "During the last two years of his life, Charles Bukowski allowed me to create comics out of a few of his poems. I drew four or five of them, mostly for Big Mouth but also for Zero Zero. The deal was this — to send him the finished comic book plus a check for 25 bucks, for each story he wrote. So now I have several cashed checks with Bukowski’s signature on the back! I originally got in touch with Bukowski through Dennis Eichhorn. Buk was reading Eichhorn’s comic book Real Stuff, (with some of my comics work therein) around the time I started drawing Big Mouth. This is the first Bukowski adaptation I did, called "My German Buddy," about the composer Wagner. Charles liked the results, and even wrote a letter with one of his own cartoons, which appeared in the letters pages of Big Mouth."

To Read Fully Please Click Here - Recommended
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Wagnerians Readers Choice Awards: One Ring To Rule Them All

Written By The Wagnerian on Sunday 23 February 2014 | 1:15:00 am

“One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them, one ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them” – J.R.R. Tolkien

Edit: For those accessing only the Newsletter: Please click this Link to vote. Not: No personal data is collected and there is no need to register.

In the next few weeks we will be running our Wagnerian Readers Choice Awards of 2014 (and thank you to the many, many people who took part in the nomination stages early this year. Sorry for the delay in the "finals" but it is taking longer than we thought it might). However, in the mean time we would like you to help us answer a rather vexing question: What is the greatest Ring cycle on Cd - of all time? Normally when this question is asked one or two experts are brought in and they ultimately just list their favourite. Alas, it is much rarer for a greater number of people to be asked - or indeed anonymously. Time to change that a little

To make things a little "easier" we have broken things down into categories. This are:

Which Is The "Greatest" Ring Cycle On CD - Overall Winner?
Which Is The Greatest Furtwangler Ring? On CD
Which Is The Greatest Studio Ring?
Which Is The Greatest Bayreuth Ring On CD?

There will be recordings missing. For this we apologise but only included those we thought the most people would have listened to. So, and we apologise to all concerned, no Young, Bodanzky, etc, etc. This is partly for logistical purposes but we shall look at it again in the next year or two.

It should take you less then a minute to complete and a special surprise will greet everyone who completes it. Winners to be announced within two weeks
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Eva Wagner-Pasquier To Leave Bayreuth

Written By The Wagnerian on Friday 21 February 2014 | 11:29:00 pm

Parting is such sweet...

Reports are coming out of Germany that Eva Wagner-Pasquier has decided that she does not want to continue as co-director of the Festival from 2015. She does however, want to stay on as some form of "adviser" concentrating mainly on the Wagner Societies.

This would mean that if successful in her contract negotiations, her sister Katharina Wagner, would stay on as sole director of the festival.This would perhaps allow her greater freedom to commission more highly successful, critically acclaimed, audience favorites  such as the Castorf Ring, Baumgarten Tannhauser and we are sure to be as equally successful Jonathan Meese, Parsifal coming in 2016.

Eva Wagner-Pasquier has not as yet given any reasons for standing down

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Is This The Nibelung Hoard?

Written By The Wagnerian on Thursday 20 February 2014 | 2:36:00 am

If it is, lets hope they haven't found the Ring...

Update: Alas, it would seem not. See this update from Adrian Murdoch. You might also want to check out his book "The Last Pagan" 

A hobby archaeologist with a metal detector has discovered a trove of gold and silver in a German forest dating back to late Roman times, fuelling speculation that it could be the legendary Nibelung treasure?

The haul from the western state of Rhineland Palatinate, which is worth about €1m, includes silver bowls, brooches and other jewellery from ceremonial robes, as well as small statues that would have adorned a grand chair, archaeologists say.

“In terms of timing and geography, the find fits in with the epoch of the Nibelung legend,” Axel von Berg, the state’s chief archaeologist was quoted by German media as saying.

“But we cannot say whether it actually belongs to the Nibelung treasure,” he said, adding that whoever owned it had “lived well” and could have been a prince.

The haul, which was found near Ruelzheim in the southern part of the state, is now at the state cultural department in Mainz, but officials suspect they may not have all of it.

Prosecutors have begun an inquiry into the hobbyist who discovered the treasure because they suspect he may have sold some of it, possibly to a buyer abroad, the department said.

“The spot where the find was made was completely destroyed by the improper course of action,” it said in a statement.

Whether the treasure is the famous “Rhinegold” or not, it seems to have been buried in haste by its owner or by robbers in around 406-407 AD, when the Roman Empire was crumbling in the area along the Rhine, Mr von Berg said in a statement.

According to Nibelung legend, the warrior Hagen killed the dragon-slayer Siegfried and sank his treasure in the Rhine river. The Rhine has shifted its course many times over the centuries, so the treasure need no longer necessarily be hidden under water.

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Will The Return Of Levine & Meistersinger Revive MET's Declining Audience?

Written By The Wagnerian on Sunday 16 February 2014 | 1:41:00 pm

The MET has announced its 2014-15 season with sadly on one Wagner production, another revival of Otto Schenk's “Meistersinger von Nürnberg (a surprising move given that there had been rumors it would never see the light of day again after its last outing). The production will also make-up part of the MET in HD series being broadcast in cinemas world wide on December 13, 2014

The cast will consist of Johan Reuter as Hans Sachs, with Johan Botha as Walther, Annette Dasch as Eva, Karen Cargill as Magdalene, Paul Appleby as David, Johannes Martin Kränzle in his Met debut as Beckmesser, and Hans-Peter König as Pogner.

This season - and this production -  will also see the return of James Levine. Whether that and Wagner, will see an upturn in MET audience figures next season (21% of seats were left unfilled this season) will prove interesting to observe
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LFO Receive Opera Award Nomination. Wagner Well Represented

The finalists for the 2014 The International Opera Awards have been announced with Wagner appearing extensively. At the same time Longborough Festival Opera - who last year staged their first entire Ring cycle were nominated as a finalist in Festival category. A full list of nominations can be found below.

Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe
Opera Australia—Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour
Ruhr Triennale
Scottish Opera
Teatro Sociale di Como

Anniversary Production


Peter Grimes on the beach (Aldeburgh Festival)
A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Parque Lage, Rio de Janeiro)
Gloriana (Hamburg Staatsoper/Royal Opera)

La forza del destino (Bayerische Staatsoper)
La traviata (La Scala)
Les Vêpres siciliennes (Royal Opera)
Verdi trilogy (Hamburg Staatsoper)

The Melbourne Ring (Opera Australia)
Parsifal (Metropolitan Opera)
Parsifal (Vlaamse Opera)
Das Rheingold (Grand Théâtre de Genève)

CD (Complete Opera)
Belisario (Donizetti), c. Mark Elder (Opera Rara)
Der fliegende Holländer/Le Vaisseau fantôme (Wagner/Dietsch), c. Marc Minkowski (Naïve)
Königskinder (Humperdinck), c. Sebastian Weigle (Oehms Classics)
Otello (Verdi), c. Riccardo Muti (CSO Resound)
The Rape of Lucretia (Britten), c. Oliver Knussen (Erato/Warner Classics)
Serse (Handel), c. Christian Curnyn (Chandos)
Written on Skin (Benjamin), c. George Benjamin (Nimbus)

CD (Operatic Recital)
Andrzej Dobber: Arias (DUX)
Ann Hallenberg: Hidden Handel (Naïve)
Bejun Mehta: Che puro ciel (Harmonia Mundi)
Xavier Sabata: Bad Guys (Aparte)

Bayreuth Festival
Deutsche Oper Berlin
Metropolitan Opera
MusicAeterna—Perm State Opera
Welsh National Opera
Wexford Festival

Teodor Currentzis
Mark Elder
Andris Nelsons
Gianandrea Noseda
Kirill Petrenko
Simone Young

Paul Brown
Aleksandar Denić
Robert Jones
Brigitte Reiffenstuel
Leslie Travers

Calixto Bieito
Tatjana Gürbaca
Barrie Kosky
Martin Kušej
Dmitri Tcherniakov
Graham Vick

David et Jonathas (Charpentier), c. William Christie, p. Andreas Homoki (Bel Air Classiques)
The Gambler (Prokofiev), c. Valery Gergiev, p. Temur Chkheidze (Mariinsky)
Médée (Cherubini), c. Christophe Rousset, p. Krzysztof Warlikowski (Bel Air Classiques)
Moby-Dick (Heggie), c. Patrick Summers, p. Leonard Foglia (Euroarts)
Pelléas et Mélisande (Debussy), c. Stefan Soltesz, p. Nikolaus Lehnhoff (Arthaus)
The Rape of Lucretia (Britten), c. Paul Daniel, p. David McVicar (Opus Arte)
The Tempest (Adès), c. Thomas Adès, p. Robert Lepage (DG)

Female Singer
Diana Damrau
Christine Goerke
Anja Harteros
Christiane Karg
Petra Lang
Adrianne Pieczonka
Krassimira Stoyanova


Male Singer
Stéphane Degout
Bryan Hymel
Peter Mattei
Luca Pisaroni
Stuart Skelton
Michael Volle
Ludovic Tézier

New Production
Die Frau ohne Schatten, Bayerische Staatsoper
Guillaume Tell, Rossini Opera Festival, Pesaro
Lulu, Welsh National Opera
Norma, Salzburg Festival
Die Soldaten, Oper Zurich
Les Vêpres siciliennes, Royal Opera
Wozzeck, ENO

Opera Company
Bayerische Staatsoper
Komische Oper, Berlin
Metropolitan Opera
Royal Opera, Covent Garden
Vlaamse Opera
Oper Zurich

Edgar Foster Daniels
Alan and Jette Parker
Club des Mécènes
The Neubauer Family Foundation

Readers’ Award
Piotr Beczała
Joseph Calleja
Joyce DiDonato
Renée Fleming
Juan Diego Flórez
Anna Netrebko
Bryn Terfel

Rediscovered Work
Cristina, regina di Svezia (Foroni), Wexford
Elena (Cavalli), Aix-en-Provence
L’Olympiade (Myslivešek), Dijon-Caen-Luxembourg-Prague
Oresteia (Taneyev), Bard SummerScape

World Premiere
Champion (Terence Blanchard), Opera Theatre of Saint Louis
The Merchant of Venice (André Tchaikowsky), Bregenz Festival
Oscar (Theodore Morrison), Santa Fe Opera
Qudsja Zaher (Paweł Szymański), Polish National Opera
Spuren der Verirrten (Philip Glass), Landestheater Linz

Young Singer
Emöke Baráth
Jamie Barton
Helena Dix
Joyce El-Khoury
Joélle Harvey
Duncan Rock
Corinne Winters
Pretty Yende
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Richard Wagner & The Case Of The Missing Boarding House

Written By The Wagnerian on Thursday 13 February 2014 | 11:46:00 pm

Wagner as he looked at the time of his London stay
Our editor pops on a Deerstalker (a rather daft looking hat by the way) and becomes lost in Soho. 

Arriving in London on August 12,  1839, on the run, again, from debtors - this time from those in Riga - Wagner,  Minna and Newfoundland dog Robber needed a place to stay. Wagner tells us that after disembarking the Thetis (the small 7 man schooner on which they had made their troubled voyage) they ".. soon sought safety in a cab, which took us, on our captain's recommendation, to the Horseshoe Tavern [Ed: Hoop and Horseshoe, 10 Queen Street, Tower Hill], near the Tower, and here we had to make our plans for the conquest of this giant metropolis."

However, it quickly became apparent that "...the neighbourhood in which we found ourselves was such that we decided to leave it with all possible haste. A very friendly little hunchbacked Jew from Hamburg suggested better quarters in the West End, and I remember vividly our drive there, in one of the tiny narrow cabs then in use, the journey lasting fully an hour. They were built to carry two people, who had to sit facing each other, and we therefore had to lay our big dog crosswise from window to window. The sights we saw from our whimsical nook surpassed anything we had imagined, and we arrived at our boarding-house in Old Compton Street".

But what was the address of this boarding house. Luckily, Wagner goes on, "...Although at the age of twelve I had made what I supposed to be a translation of a monologue from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, I found my knowledge of English quite inadequate when it came to conversing with the landlady of the King's Arms. But the good dame's social condition as a sea-captain's widow led her to think she could talk French to me, and her attempts made me wonder which of us knew least of that language". With this, numerous biographers - and Wagner - confirmed that this is where they stayed for Wagner's first stay in London 1;. And it is here that the case of the missing Kings Arms begins.

Returning to London for the third and last time in 1877, Wagner spent much time with members of what would be the first London Wagner Society: Edward Dannreuther and Julius Cyriax. As one might expect, they were as curious about his first stay in London as they were about much else. So much so that Edward Dannreuther took Wagner to Old Compton Street to point out the famous "Kings Arms" But somehow, neither Wagner or Edward Dannreuther where able to locate it. In volume one of Glasenapp's 6 volume Life Of Richard Wagner Glasenapp explains this by referring to Julius Cyriax of whom he claims checked and believed that Wagner could not find it because it had been pulled down. And this is a story continued by a number of more detailed Wagner biographers,. Although in volume one one of his Wagner biography,  Ernst Newman is less positive saying the site of the King Arms "...cannot now be determined".

However, travel writer Ed Glinert in: "London Walks - London Stories" confounds every Wagner specialist since the 19th century According to Glinert the Kings Arms was located at 23-25 Old Compton Street, now the site of Soho Bar. However, as the only individual to make this connection I was lead to research further (This is especially so as he states with much certainty that Wagner began writing the Dutchman at this address!) and this is when things become complicated.

No 7, Old Compton Street
Researching  the postal records,  business directories,  Freemasonry records (The Kings Arms, Old Compton St was the meeting place of at least three separate, if consecutive, Lodges over two centuries), court records (there had been a prominent burglary there in 1846)  it quickly became apparent that there had only ever been one Kings Arms on Old Compton Street during the 19th century. Indeed so easy is it to find I was left wondering why so many, highly respected, early, Wagner biographers claimed that either it had been demolished or that, following Wagner, they could not find it. But this is not the end of the story, for historical records do not place the Kings Arms at 23-25 Old Compton Street, as Glinert maintains,  but at no 7! The mystery deepens. Not only does the Kings Arms become invisible when Wagner and his biographers go looking for it but, if we accept Glinert's assertion, it appears that on occasion it gets up and moves around.

However, looking a little deeper it appears that this is exactly what happened - in a sense. By accident I found records that stated that "The Kings Arms - although by then it had another name (more of this shortly) did indeed seem to relocate sometime after 1898; from No 5-7 (more of this latter) to no 23-25 Old Compton Street.

The mystery, at least this part, seems resolved. Wagner stayed at the "original"  Kings Arms and Glinert was unaware that it had moved. And indeed, the original no 7 Old Compton Street does still exist (although 1-3 were demolished and then rebuilt in 1907). But the more I looked at this building the more I thought it simply did not look like a "tavern" - less so where a Freemasonry Lodge would meet2. And then we have the fact that according to records sometime in the 1850s it expanded and became 5-7 Old Compton Street and yet looking at both buildings they look both much different and unlikely to have ever been modified into one building.. It was then that two accidental findings led to a possible answer. The Coach & Horses  Old Compton Street has a long history for various reasons yet strangely around 1900 it too relocated!

A possible answer then presented itself: the Coach and Horses was formerly listed at  the no longer existing 17 Little Compton Street. This is a possible reason for it moving of course - if the street was demolished there was little other alternative.  However, while it is true that part of Little Compton Street was demolished (it used to link Old with New Compton Street) much of it still exists but was simply "added" (and thus renamed)  to Old Compton Street (Little Compton Street used to start at the junction of Greek street yet this section is now renamed Old Compton St - as can be clearly seen by comparing old and new maps of the area). The answer thus becomes clear: neither the Coach and Horses or more importantly the Kings Arms were relocated, they were simply renumbered - as all of of Old Compton St must have been  after it was "expanded". This might, at least in part, explain where the misconception about the boarding house being demolished originated.

The "real" Kings Arms?
But this still does not explain why Wagner was unable to find the Kings Arms in 1877 - before any renumbering or merging of the street had accorded. Again , however, the answer maybe very simple. At this stage Wagner had not been back to Old Compton Street in  28 years and even then he had only been there for 12 days - and his autobiography admits he spent very little time there and much more "sight-seeing" (using various justifications to do so). Perhaps he had simply forgotten exactly what the building looked like? This would not have been helped by the fact that the Kings Arms had been renamed around 29 years earlier to "The Hibernian Stores 3  - with no-doubt accompanying "face-lift" (it should also be noted that around this time the post office seemed to change the address of this rather large building giving it an extra house number (from no 7 to no 5-7 Or did it "expand" gaining a side property? There is certainly no record of the site being rebuilt. And site plans prior to that time to seem to show one large building, much like it is today - if clearly altered.). That Wagner was unable to find it may have simply been the result of poor memory of a building now altered and renamed.

So, the "missing" Kings Arms seems to have been found - even if it is in a form that Wagner would not recognise today. Or at least this is the case unless any reader can suggest otherwise. Indeed the help of anyone who can check, as whether the building was or was not,  demolished and rebuilt sometime in 1860 would be appreciated.

 Now if only we could find Robber too....



1 The only exception is Wilhelm Praeger in his book "Wagner as I Knew Him". In this he states that Wagner did not stay at the Kings Arms but at  a boarding house across the street. As he says, "He recommended Wagner to a small, uninviting hotel in Old Compton Street, Soho, much resorted to by needy travellers from the continent. The hotel, considerably improved, still exists. It is situated a dozen doors or so from Wardour Street, and is opposite to a public house known then, as now, as the “King’s Arms.” While Praeger's account is not totally unreasonable - it it might be possible to read Wagner's description as such,  it seems unlikely for two reasons: By the time Praeger wrote those words the Kings Arms had changed name yet again becoming the Helvetia and secondly his description places the building on the wrong end of Old Compton Street.

Balans. Opposite the "Kings Arms". The Buliding 
identified only by Praeger as Wagner's first London Residence

2 It should also be noted while not impossible, the building seems hardly large enough to accommodate boarders, and the occasional business that seems to have operated from it during this time. Of particular interest here is that during Wagner's time the "The German Society Of Benevolence And Concord". was based above the Kings Arms. This was a charity that specialized in providing financial help to poor Germans abroad - even providing then with money to return to German. One can't but help think that someone like Wagner would have made use of its services - perhaps explaining why his intended "short stop-over" lasted much longer then was intended? He certainly noted that he and Minna had little money - not even enough to visit the opera.

3 Under this name, it has yet another claim to fame, for in 1872 Paul Verlaine and Arthur Rimbaud attended Communist/Anarchist lectures here after they had fled Paris. Of further interest, in the next century it became the Helvetia, famous for - among other things - being the pub where the missing manuscript of Dylan Thomas Under Milk Wood was found by BBC producer Douglas Cleverdon
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In Chicago? Course: The Ring Cycle - Wagner's Mythic Sources

Written By The Wagnerian on Monday 10 February 2014 | 1:09:00 pm

Illustration Franz Stassen

Taught by Dr. Karl E. H. Seigfried of The Norse Mythology Blog

This course is open to the public. No previous study is necessary.

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Free Kindle Book: "Wagner as I knew him" - Praeger

A Wagner biography written by some one who knew him and the book H.S. Chamberlain tried to ban. There is a wonderful overview of this over at Monsalvat which I repeat below, in part  and is much better than anything I could attempt. If you have not visited Monsalvat than I seriously recommend you should..

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Wagner Madness Repeats Itself In London: 1839 & 2014

Written By The Wagnerian on Sunday 9 February 2014 | 6:35:00 pm

London Docks: 1839
"We were on board a merchant vessel of the smallest type. She was called the Thetis; a bust of the nymph was erected in the bows, and she carried a crew of seven men, including the captain. With good weather, such as was to be expected in summer, the journey to London was estimated to take eight days.

Our desire for a complete release from our detested confinement led us, after we had sailed a little way up, to hasten our arrival in London by going on board a passing steamer at Gravesend. As we neared the capital, our astonishment steadily increased at the number of ships of all sorts that filled the river, the houses, the streets, the famous docks, and other maritime constructions which lined the banks. When at last we reached London Bridge, this incredibly crowded centre of the greatest city in the world, and set foot on land after our terrible three weeks' voyage, a pleasurable sensation of giddiness overcame us as our legs carried us staggering through the deafening uproar. Robber seemed to be similarly affected, for he whisked round the corners like a mad thing, and threatened to get lost every other minute. But we soon sought safety in a cab, which took us, on our captain's recommendation, to the Horseshoe Tavern [Ed: Hoop and Horseshoe, Queen Street, Tower Hill], near the Tower, and here we had to make our plans for the conquest of this giant metropolis.
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Beardsley’s The Wagnerites & Shaw’s The Perfect Wagnerite

Written By The Wagnerian on Saturday 8 February 2014 | 4:19:00 am

"Shaw does mention the fact that the leitmotif which accompanies Brünnhilde’s renunciation of the ring and her glorification of Siegfried’s love during the apocalyptic ending of the opera is the same as that which we hear when Siegfried’s birth is predicted in Die Walküre, he sees no particular sense in this. It was no coincidence, however, that Wagner, a composer renowned for his masterful use of the leitmotif technique, linked Shaw’s anarchic liberator and the revelatory power of love (which leads to the renunciation of worldly power and capitalism, symbolised by the ring) in this way. The strength that was able to break Wotan’s spear and reject Alberich’s riches is incomplete without the wisdom of love." 

Face(t)s of British Wagnerism: Aubrey Beardsley’s drawing The Wagnerites (1894) and George Bernard Shaw’s essay The Perfect Wagnerite (1898), Siri Kohl

In the 1890s British Wagnerism was at its height. The works of Richard Wagner were admired and condemned equally for their daring musical innovations and unusual subject matter; namely, the artist’s precarious position in society in Tannhäuser, eternal love against all conventions in Tristan und Isolde, the end of divine rule and man’s ascent in the Ring of the Nibelung tetralogy. The Decadent movement reacted strongly to Wagner’s portrayals of eroticism, morbidity and suffering, as apparent in Aubrey Beardsley’s oeuvre (1872-98). Other artists, such as George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950), rejected these aspects in favour of socio-political readings of the operas. Through their works, this essay will explore some of the debates about Wagnerism and the implications of being a ‘Wagnerite’ in late 19th-century Britain.
G. B. Shaw
When Richard Wagner’s operas were performed in England from the 1870s onwards, many heard in them ‘the voice of the future, especially as it announced itself as such’. What came to be known as ‘Wagnerism’ did not only denote enthusiasm for Wagner’s musical innovations but also for his theoretical writings, which aimed at opera as a Gesamtkunstwerk (total work of art) in which poetry and music no longer competed for attention but formed an organic whole. The realisation of these ideas in Wagner’s music dramas seemed artificial and tedious to many who believed that Wagner the artist stifled his creativity by trying to make 
his works conform to the preconceived ideology of Wagner the thinker. It was, however,precisely this artificiality that appealed to those who, like Oscar Wilde, believed that ‘to be natural … is such a very difficult pose to keep up’and that personality, like an artwork, was actively constructed by each individual. In this essay I explore the discussions Wagnerism triggered in fin-de-siècle Britain and how these were reflected in two works by major artists of the period: Aubrey Beardsley (1872-98) and George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950).

When Beardsley published his drawing The Wagnerites in 1894, he had already become a leading figure of the British Aesthetic (or ‘Decadent’) movement, whose members reacted to the perceived ‘philistine hypocrisy’of the Victorian era by works that valued the artificial instead of the naïve, emphasising poses and mannerisms and drawing attention to issues outside the mainstream, such as gender and (deviant) sexuality. Simultaneously, the term ‘decadent’ was used in morally charged discourses to denote degeneration,
homosexuality , and ‘effete’ aesthetic sensitivity. Many British Decadents were Wagnerites, such as Wilde, Beardsley and the poet John Gray, who was considered by contemporaries to have been the inspiration for Wilde’s character Dorian Gray (himself a Wagnerite). Their enthusiasm for Wagner’s music and writings contributed to Wagnerism being identified with and suspected of causing ‘degeneration’ by scientists such as Max Nordau, who in his magnum opus Entartung (Degeneration, 1892), accused Wagner of ‘megalomania and mysticism; … anarchism, a craving for revolt and contradiction’.
Aubrey Beardsley

It was in this socio-cultural climate that Aubrey Beardsley, in 1894, co-founded the quarterly periodical The Yellow Book, featuring contemporary literature (e.g. stories by Henry James) and art (e.g. Beardsley’s own works). The title left no doubt about the magazine’s intended audience and programme as ‘yellow was … the decor … of the allegedly wicked and decadent French novel’.The Wagnerites (fig. 1) was part of a group of four works by Beardsley (Portrait of Himself, Lady Gold’s Escort, The Wagnerites, and La Dame aux Camélias) which appeared in The Yellow Book’s third volume in October 1894.

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Video: Aubrey Beardsley's Siegfried

The V&A's 'Cult of Beauty' exhibition curator Stephen Calloway discusses one of Aubrey Beardsley’s great early masterpieces, Siegfried, and takes a look at Beardsley’s short but extraordinary life as one of the most important and distinctive artists of the late 19th-century Aesthetic movement.

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Audio:Wagner And Turn-of-the-century British Culture,

Aubrey Beardsley: The Wagnerians

Simon Russell Beale explores the impact of Wagner on turn-of-the-century British culture, from the works of Aubrey Beardsley and George Bernard Shaw to Elgar, Bantock and Rutland Boughton. He talks to Emma Sutton and David Huckvale.

First Broadcast: BBC Radio 3, 8:10PM Sun, 28 Jul 2013

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Watch Now: The Marriage of Figaro - Wichita Grand Opera

Written By The Wagnerian on Thursday 6 February 2014 | 9:06:00 pm

There are of course many opera productions available on youtube but this is one of the few made available by a company itself. For that reason alone it merits more than passing attention. Its also a most enjoyable performance and production. More about the company bu clicking: Wichita Grand Opera

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's "THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO"
Wichita Grand Opera
March 16, 2013

Executive Producer: Parvan Bakardiev
Production Concept: Margaret Ann Pent
Conductor: Dean Williamson
Director: Stanley M. Garner

FIGARO - Patrick Carfizzi
COUNT ALMAVIVA - Jason Detwiler
COUNTESS ALMAVIVA - Zvetelina Vassileva
SUSANNA - Ava Pine
CHERUBINO - Kaitlyn Costello
MARCELLINA - Erin Mundus
DR. BARTOLO - Charles Turley
DON BASILIO - Brian Frutiger
DON CURZIO - Brian Frutiger
ANTONIO - John Stephens
BARBARINA - Alyssa Nance

Set Designer - Stefan Pavlov
Lighting Design - Tyler Lessin
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Finally Available: The Life of Richard Wagner - Ernest Newman

Newman's masterful 4 volume Wagner biography The Life of Richard Wagner is, at last, finally available once more. Although, we originally mentioned this reprint nearly two years ago, various issues meant that its publication was delayed. However, it is now finally available to buy; either as an entire set or as a more affordable four separate volumes. Whichever way. we can only recommend that you buy or at least lend this set. Despite its age, Newman's scholarship and research - conducted over  2673 pages - make this the greatest and most detailed biography of Wagner ever printed - in any language (the footnotes alone are worth the entry price). There has been - and probably never will be - a Wagner biography that not only references Newman's work but is deeply indebted to it.

It may seem pointless for such a well known set of volumes but we shall carry a review of it shortly.

Although the publisher states it is available from February 24 Amazon UK state they have copies available now.

For those that have never had a chance to read this work,  a very generous sample of volume 2 is included below to give you some flavor of what you might expect.
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New CD: Schubert’s Winterreise: Jonas Kaufmann

Written By The Wagnerian on Wednesday 5 February 2014 | 8:38:00 am

To be released 25 February 2014. Below is the official release information from Kaufmann's website. 

However much he loves opera, Kaufmann (says) he cannot live without lieder. For the German tenor, interpreting the classical lieder repertory is “the haute école of singing”. It demands far more detailed work than any other vocal discipline, more colour, more nuances, a greater range of dynamics and a more subtle approach to the music and words.

And if there is an acid test for any lieder singer, it is undoubtedly Schubert’s Winterreise, a cycle of twenty-four settings of poems by Wilhelm Müller that is generally regarded as the pinnacle of lieder singing, a sequence of songs as thrilling for listeners as it is for the performer. “

Against the background of all the horror stories that bombard us today, we are undoubtedly rather more hardened than Schubert’s contemporaries, and yet even today’s listeners can still find this cycle affecting,” Kaufmann describes his experience of the work. “Even as interpreters we always find ourselves sucked into the emotional undertow of these songs, although we know perfectly well what to expect. I think that Winterreise has the same sort of cathartic effect as a Greek drama: the emotional experience purges the soul. On me, the work has an almost meditative effect because Schubert expressed these emotional depths with clarity and simplicity that I ultimately find consoling and that allows me to regain my own inner balance.”

After working together closely for many years and giving a number of recitals of Schubert’s great song cycles, Jonas Kaufmann and Helmut Deutsch have now made their first recording of Winterreise. The recording was made in October last year in the August Everding Hall in Grünwald in Munich and documents the current state of a very special partnership that began many years ago at the Munich Academy of Music and Theatre. Over the years the initial teacher-pupil relationship has been transformed into a wonderful example of artistic communication that has found expression not only in the recording studio but also at countless song recitals, most notably at the Metropolitan Opera in New York on 30 October 2011, the first solo recital heard at the Met since Luciano Pavarotti’s recital in 1994. The performance was greeted with the sort of acclaim that is normally reserved for a major operatic concert.

Jonas Kaufmann and Helmut Deutsch will make their Carnegie Hall recital début on 20 February, before going on tour with Winterreise, starting on 28 March. Their journey will take them from the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona to Geneva, Berlin, Graz, London, Paris, Prague and Moscow, ending at La Scala, Milan, on 14 April 2014.
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Audio Book & Text: A Wagner Matinée. Willa Cather

Written By The Wagnerian on Tuesday 4 February 2014 | 9:51:00 am

"The first number was the Tannhäuser overture. When the violins drew out the first strain of the Pilgrim's chorus, my Aunt Georgiana clutched my coat-sleeve. Then it was that I first realized that for her this singing of basses and stinging frenzy of lighter strings broke a silence of thirty years, the inconceivable silence of the plains. With the battle between the two motifs, with the bitter frenzy of the Venusberg theme and its ripping of strings, came to me an overwhelming sense of the waste and wear we are so powerless to combat."

The audio book can be found after the text - scroll to the bottom of the page. It is in a short story collection and is the last story listed.

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Video: Roger Scruton - Wagner and Philosophy

How are Richard Wagner's operas shaped by his interest in philosophy? How can Immanuel Kant's vision of the human condition inform our understanding of Tristan und Isolde? Can the same interpretation be applied to Der Ring Des Nibelungen? How does that alter our understanding of the moral framework of the opera? And what are we to make of Wagner's last opera, Parsifal, which Nietzsche described as "a secret attempt to poison the very presuppositions of life"? Does Parsifal represent a rejection of the moral spheres of Tristan and the Ring, or can we arrive at a more subtle interpretation of it?
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In Discussion With Nicholas Vazsonyi. The Cambridge Wagner Encyclopedia

Written By The Wagnerian on Monday 3 February 2014 | 3:51:00 am

"Since the 1840s, Wagner has been in the headlines, and people have been very passionate about him, both pro and contra. Why? So I began to think about it, and realized that Wagner had fueled most of the controversy himself by making claims about his work and himself, and also about related political and cultural issues." Nicholas Vazsonyi

Nicholas Vazsonyi, has a set of credentials that make him imminently respected in Wagner studies: Professor of Foreign Languages and Professor of German and Comparative Literature at the University of South Carolina author and and editor of a number of books on Wagner, co-organiser, along with with Anno Mungen , of WagnerWorldWide 2013 and now member of  editorial board of the German Wagner journal WagnerSpectrum . Oh and also rather a pleasant chap. His latest project is as editor of The Cambridge Wagner Encyclopedia - which we reviewed recently. With this in mind we were more than pleased to get the opportunity to discuss this work with him.
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Zoë South. "Don’t do this as a job. It’s hard, it’s ungrateful, no one will thank you"

Written By The Wagnerian on Sunday 2 February 2014 | 3:24:00 pm

Zoë South. Photo: Richard Wiegold
"Zoë South's Brünnhilde would grace many stages far, far larger than this. Her singing was phenomenal and her portrayal of the goddess turned into a fallible, vulnerable woman was captivating, heartbreaking and, when she rose to her full power in Acts II and III, awe-inspiring. She is surely destined for a significant Wagnerian career. This is a name to watch, and when I see her play Brünnhilde in larger venues in years to come, I will be proud to know that I saw her here first". Katie Barnes Wagner News

"Don’t do this as a job. It’s hard, it’s ungrateful, no one will thank you, and you’ll hold yourself up for criticism not just of your musicianship but of yourself every single day of your career. ZS

"There’s no such thing as “difficult” music, just natural likes and dislikes". ZS

In-between rehearsals for Fulham Opera's first entire Ring cycle (two during February and March) we had chance to catch-up with a most extraordinary Brünnhilde, Zoe South. During that time, we discussed her career before opera, who Brünnhilde really is, the difficulties of being an opera performer, TV soaps, Siegmund as teen idol and Poundland! Zoe South is not just any old Brünnhilde and this is not any old interview

TW: I am always interested in a performers background, where they come from, their childhood, the things that make them the people that they are - apart from their musical education, their Wagner interests, etc. And I find it something that interviewers in opera ignore all of the time, or discuss only superficially. With that in mind, could you tell us a little about yourself before opera?
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ETO On Tour: The Magic Flute March - May 2014

"Meanwhile Wagner had been doing his best to raise the standard of opera in Zurich. As we have seen, he opened the season on the 4th October, 1850, with Der Freischutz. He further conducted La Dame Blanche of Boieldieu on the llth and 18th, Norma on the 21st, Freischutz again on the 27th, Don Giovanni on the 8th and 18th November (again on the 26th March, 1851), the Magic Flute on the 29th November"THE LIFE OF RICHARD WAGNER VOLUME TWO 1848 1860 - Newman

"I was furious ", Bulow wrote to his father, " when I remembered how it used to be said in Dresden that Wagner conducted Mozart's operas badly on purpose, because in his vain self-esteem he could not tolerate this music! He shows towards Mozart a warm, living, unselfish, but rational piety to which none of Mozart's pseudo-worshippers will ever attain." THE LIFE OF RICHARD WAGNER VOLUME TWO 1848 1860 - Newman

The most tremendous genius raised Mozart above all masters, in all centuries and in all the arts.
- (Richard Wagner)
English Touring Opera are a marvelous company - and one of those rarities: a touring company that manages to put on interesting and fine productions in places where people rarely get to see opera. Now, if only we could get them to stage some Wagner....
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Review: DVD Set: Wagner's Ring - A Tale Told In Music

Written By The Wagnerian on Saturday 1 February 2014 | 9:30:00 pm

Originally published in January's Wagner News (issue 2012) the official publication of the Wagner Society Of England. Editor Rodger Lee reviews Heath Lee's ambitious project, "Wagner's Ring - A Tale Told In Music


Retired Professor of Music and Wagner specialist Heath Lees is a well-known broadcaster in Australia and New Zealand. These four 40 minute TV programmes were filmed in Melbourne, Bayreuth, Lucerne, Zurich and Munich with the musical examples played by Lees himself on the piano and the Clemens Krauss recording of the 1953 Bayreuth Ring when a full orchestral sound is required. Clever animation brings illustrations by Arthur Rackham and Hugo L Braune to life to provide very effective visual effects.

For a music lecturer there is nothing quite like being able to demonstrate your point on the Steinway, and as well as using the instrument to give his explanations clarity for all viewers he provides a number of singers with a most able accompaniment. Prominent among these is the very versatile Merlyn Quaife who can perform in all three female voices, singing as Brünnhilde, Fricka, Sieglinde, The Woodbird, Gutrune and, yes, Erda.
This is quite simply the best account of the motivic architecture of The Ring since that of Deryck Cooke  

We get no dead-eyed autocued delivery from Heath Lees but a genuine sparkle of enthusiasm throughout, and the chuckles are quite obviously spontaneous too! We move rapidly from the Melbourne Recital Centre recording studio to the Bayreuth Festspielhaus and so on, enj oying those animated images when it is our j ob just to listen. Lees’ aim is to deliver a synthesis of education and entertainment which shows how Wagner brought language and music together to tell his story.

This is quite simply the best account of the motivic architecture of The Ring since that of Deryck Cooke. He had the benefit of the Solti / Vienna Philharmonic recordings whereas Lees’viewers have the advantage of his playing the illustrations live in a medium which provides images as well as sound. Let us right away address the question as to whether this set offers as much to Wagner lovers who make no claims upon musical literacy as for those who do. Terms such as “chromatic scale” or “diminished chord” need be no problem for any viewers because they are all clearly demonstrated on the piano. Musical terminology is used sparingly so
as to be nae bother (as they say in Heath Lees’ native Scotland) to any viewer.

Other musicians are brought in such as conductor Asher Fisch and cellist Zoe Knighton. To illustrate the change in musical style from that of Das Rheingold to the more emotionally expressive “human music” which draws you into Die Walküre she shows how Siegmund’s sorrowful descending theme becomes completed by Sieglinde’s, as though they were two halves of the one personality, fusing into that love theme on the solo cello. From the point at which Siegmund and Sieglinde have fallen in love, instead of just telling the tale, the music has now become the tale.

Lees loves to show how the integrity of the music of the Ring is maintained from the beginning to the end by means of its motivic development. When we come to that “love theme” for example, he explains how one reason we are seized immediately by that music is because we have heard it before. It is derived from Freia’s music in Das Rheingold. “The reason we immediately associate the theme with falling in love is that Wagner has planted the idea in our minds already.”
We go to Zurich to be appraised of the influence of Mathilde Wesendonck. “One reason why this music is emotionally tingling is because Wagner had fallen in love.” We are  shown    some   of  the  coded    messages    to  Mathilde   which   appear    on  Wagner ’s manuscripts such as LDMM ? (Liebe du mich, Mathilde?) which Lees sings to demonstrate how  well  it  fits  with  the  love  theme  at  that  point in  the score.  He  argues  that  the significance of the fact that the piano sonata which Wagner wrote for her begins with a tune almost the same as that of the Todesverkündigung theme is that, deep down, he knew that, like the love between  Siegmund and Sieglinde, his love for Mathilde was doomed. Among the musical inventions which appear in “Wotan ’s Farewell” we are shown a new type of cadence whose two chords carry the three-note “Destiny” motive on their backs. For  Lees  the  fascination   of  this  musical scrap  is  that  it  is  linked  back  to  Mathilde Wesendonck.  Mathilde  becomes  Isolde  and  the  “Destiny”  chords  of  Die  Walküre  are embedded  in  the  opening  chords  of  Tristan  und  Isolde.  (Of  course  this  needs  to  be
demonstrated    at  the  piano  to  become   convincing.)   So,  according  to  Lees,  Wagner ’s renunciation of Mathilde stands behind Wotan ’s renunciation of Brünnhilde: “This utterly personal involvement is what moved Wagner into writing such amazing music for Wotan ’s Farewell and indeed for the whole of Die Walküre.”

The “Siegf ried” programme starts with “Forest Murmurs” which Lees describes as “the crossroads of The Ring .” We go off to Lucerne to discuss that 12 year hiatus in its composition from 1857 to 1869. One of the reasons which Lees suggests for this is that, at the peak of his infatuation with Mathilde Wesendonck, Wagner was desperate to write Tristan. Among the influences which helped Wagner to restore his libido for the Ring j ob was Schopenhauer ’s idea that, of all the arts, music is the richest, the most direct and the most transforming, taking immediate possession of one’s imagination. For him music is not the representation of an idea but the idea itself. Wagner was beginning to let the music be the story and was ready to free his music from absolute obedience to the drama. Instead of themes as signposts they would now become more independent, more obviously musical. From this point on he allowed himself to write passages of symphonic music.

And so we are guided through the first Ring music for 12 years: the Prelude to Act III of Siegfried with its dozen themes arising from the “galloping” motive from Die Walküre. Lees demonstrates how Wagner underlays this with “Erda”, grafts on top the theme for “The Need of the Gods”, yielding place to a desperate form of Wotan’s “Spear”, turns the “Rhine” music around to become “The End of the Gods”, introduces the crushed “Rheingold” semitone, brings in a bit of Brünnhilde’s sleep motive, and so on.… It may not mean much here on page, but it all becomes wonderfully apparent when those links which you will have intuitively recognised are made abundantly clear as Lees demonstrates his points at the piano in support of his argument that no-one had previously written such a complex symphonic picture to begin an act of an opera: “It’s a new, liberated music and Wagner uses it with enormous skill and exhilaration right through to the end of The Ring .”

We discover how, in the closing pages of Götterdämmerung, Wagner finds a way of elevating his themes so that they gain, according to Lees: “a mythic, almost supernatural power.” Finally, we are shown in detail how the composer reaches back into the four operas and plucks out all the themes that, by now, we know so well. “They provide a majstic summing up of what has happened and the final closing of the circle of the Ring.”

Available from: Wagner's Ring
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Free Kindle Book: Wagner And His Isolde

"The world has been overcome. Through our love, our sorrow, it has overcome itself. It no longer is an enemy before which I flee, but an object wholly indifferent and unessential to which I can turn without fear or pain; therefore, even without any real disgust. This I realise all the more because, theoretically, my impulse to withdraw from the world no longer is as strong as formerly. Until now that impulse was the result of unstilled longing, seeking and yearning, which have now— I feel it—been assuaged. The later developments as between ourselves have made me fully conscious that we have nothing further to seek, nothing further to long for. Considering how completely you have given your self to me, I cannot characterise my feeling as resignation, least of all as despair. This daring interpretation of my state of mind appeared to me formerly as an impossible result of my yearning quest. Now, made happy by you, I am absolved from it. A holy peace is mine. The impulse is dead be cause it has been satisfied.

This calm state of mind (the result of in numerable struggles with the world, and finally of my salvation through your love), probably will lead me eventually to settle in some spot where the means of exploiting my art will be at my disposal, something that will be a sore trouble to me (since the game no longer seems worth the candle), so that, according to my humour or caprice, I can arrange for occasional and at least tolerable performances of my works. Of course any thing like a position or an appointment does not enter my mind. Moreover, I have not the least preference for one place or another, for —nowhere would I seek anything definite or individual, and least of all intimate. I am free of any such desire! On the contrary, I will grasp only at that which will enable me to maintain the most ordinary, indeed superficial, relations with my surroundings, and this may prove the easier the larger the place is. The possibility of falling back upon some intimate relationship such as I might establish in a place like Weimar, I do not for a moment consider. Such an idea is decidedly repulsive to me. I can show due regard for my deep-rooted prejudice against the world only by dealing with humanity in its totality, without any closer, individual relationship. An effort, like that in Zurich, where I sought to attract everyone toward me, I never could be capable of making again". RW

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