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Verdi and/or Wagner: Two Men, Two Worlds, Two Centuries Hardcover – November 7, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Thames & Hudson; 1 edition (November 7, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 050051593X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0500515938
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.9 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 1.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #961,992 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Well-researched, immensely absorbing...adds captivating context.

” (Cool Hunting)

“Epic in scope. . . . An intriguing . . . study in contrasts. For opera buffs, cultural critics, and fans.” (Library Journal)

About the Author

Peter Conrad is the author of over twenty books, including Creation and Verdi and/or Wagner.

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Customer Reviews

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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By W. Gillham on October 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Conrad's thesis is that Verdi was a more likable personality than Wagner; therefore his music is better. He too closely blends what M. Owen Lee distinguishes in his book WAGNER: THE TERRIBLE MAN AND HIS TRUTHFUL MUSIC. Conrad draws out endless spurious contrasts like a student trying to fill up so many pages for a paper, when he lacks sufficient solid substance. If this diffuse, overlong tome has a central thesis, it is that healthy-minded, loving, progressive humanitarian Verdi produces good music; whereas perverse, egotistical Wagner pathologically drags us back into a decadent past of irrelevant and poisonous myth and despair. A pedal point of Conrad's line is that religion in general, not just Wagner's bizarre myths of gods and redeemers, is all archaic nonsense. He cites with approval Feuerbach's assertion that "Hebrew egotism" enshrined in the Bible claims Creation was [literally??] an instantaneous moment when nothing became something. He bizarrely thinks the beautiful and moving Good Friday Spell in PARSIFAL, where Gurnemanz points out the polar connection of Kundry's tears [suffering, death] and the creative renewal of life in the landscape in Spring [resurrection] is incompatible with Christianity. {Ps. 19: "The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament showeth his handiwork."} Verdi, he says, wisely dispenses with all cosmic nonsense. Music is the new substitute for religion. Conrad is clueless concerning metaphysics and living religion, like a tone-deaf man dismissing music, or a blind man dismissing visual art. If we can't depend upon an Oxford literature professor understanding how myth, metaphor and analogy mean and work--where are we in our culture?Read more ›
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34 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Stanley Hauer VINE VOICE on December 28, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a complete train-wreck of a book. No one can doubt Conrad's love and appreciation of Verdi and Wagner, but he does those gifts little service here. The method is ostensibly thematic. But the result is a free-form association, a welter of loosely connected observations that amount to little at all. After a few chapters Conrad's whimsy becomes irritating. He is simply all over the place, unable to stick to a topic for more than a few sentences. I am amazed that so distinguished a publisher as Thames and Hudson would allow this dreadful book to appear under their imprint.

In sum, the great book on Verdi and Wagner remains to be written. Maybe Conrad will try again and do better next time.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Steve Louck on May 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Conrad spews a jumble of facts and information in more or less chronological order on the cultures that gave birth to the composers and their impact on them, the tensions between them artistically and personally as well as their admirers and their detractors, in almost free association. One snippet of data or thought leads to another with no direction or coherence. At best it's a book to browse for curious bits of information. It's definitely not a cover to cover read without a high tolerance for migraines.
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