Discovering and Engaging Wagner

Born on this date. It’s worth giving a listen to this curated bunch of podcasts presented under the auspices of the BBC’s “Composer of the Week” series. As the one and only Bernard Williams wrote: “You can have a well-formed, deep relation to Western music while passing Wagner’s works by, finding them boring or not to your taste. But it is clear, equally, that a passionate engagement with these works is not a mistake or a misunderstanding. They are amazing, and there is much to engage with. It is no accident not only that Wagner is voluminously discussed but that immense efforts, expenditure, and imagination are still devoted to producing these pieces”. Unlike Williams however, don’t expect a nuanced view emanating from the monomaniacal-rationalist-authoritarian-professional-grievance-mongering-censorious-cleric (i.e. Taleb’s “The Intellectual Yet Idiot”) — beyond reflexively squawking “Naziiiiiiiiiii!!!” and deeming Wagner persona non grata. I’ve never made it to Bayreuth but a philosopher chum of mine, after being a member of the Wagner Society for nigh on 35 years, has finally secured tickets this summer. I’m very much looking forward to his reporting back.

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