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Solti’s Parsifal

Below is Stephen Follows’ entry for Solti in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Solti, Sir Georg (1912–1997), conductor, was born György Stern in Vérmezö utca, in the Buda district of Budapest, on 21 October 1912, the younger of the two children of Moricz (later Móric) Stern, a businessman originally from Balatonfökajár in southern Hungary,…

Delvaux + Wagner + Williams

1957. Oil on canvas, 270 x 200 cm. Koninklij Museum voor Schone Kunsten A Dictionary of Modern and Contemporary Art (3 ed.), John Glaves-Smith and Ian Chilvers Here is a late piece by the one and only Bernard Williams from The New York Review of Books. (It’s easy to imagine the crass approach the regressive…

The Case Of Wagner: A Musician’s Problem

Chose your digital format of “The Case Of Wagner: A Musician’s Problem” made available by Project Gutenberg. Of course, one should also give a close listen to this version of Parsifal from Bayreuth 2016. And yet this other question can certainly not be circumvented: what business had he actually with that manly (alas! so unmanly) “bucolic simplicity,” that…

Williams on Wagner & Politics

New York Review of Books November 2, 2000. My point here is not to reinstate the distinction between the work and the man, which I have already said is not a helpful device in Wagner’s case. The point is just that one cannot decide in advance, either positively or negatively, what facts about the man,…

Parsifal: the greatest meditation on death?

I’ve been watching James Levine‘s version of Parsifal. Though quite the production, it doesn’t come near the experience of the starker Simon Rattle production I saw at the Royal Opera House some years back in which I thoroughly appreciated Vera Dobroschke’s lighting design (see photo below). Here is the NYT review, far more receptive than the reviews of…