Member Blogs > Pistil BlogMusical Oddities I by Kamposer*

  • Thu, 21 Jan 2016 04:43:00    Permalink
    Richard Wagner is said to be one of the most biographed (if one may coin the word) historical figures, alongside Napoleon.  His music has been exhaustively analyzed, as have his writings.  But there is always room for a fresh approach.  For instance, Richard Wagner: A Mystic in the Making, by Alan David Aberbach (1991, Longwood Academic).

    A bookplate featuring a winged horse bestriding a rainbow beneath the crescent moon (a nighttime rainbow, no less) gives a clue to the type of previous reader we are here concerned with.

    According to the preface, "no study has tried to systematically explore (split infinitive at no extra charge) the development and evolution of Wagner's religious, spiritual, and mystic ideas."  The two parts of the book are entitled "Self-Realization" and "God-realization."  The author touches on Wagner's remarks on Jewishness (inevitably), as well as his brushes with Sufism, Schopenhauer, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Meister Eckhart.

    A skim through the volume (which your correspondent intends to read some day) suggests the thesis that, like Proust, Wagner came eventually to believe in salvation through Art.  This sort of mysticism works admirably for the artist, but: what about the rest of us?  Well, fortunately there remain garden-variety mysticism, which is so to speak an open book-- and of course reading; though few can be famous composers, all may read about them.

    Next up: Anton Bruckner:Wagnerian toady or symphonic genius?

    *Kamposer is a composer manqué and musical correspondent (plus book photographer) for Pistil Books.

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