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Wagner Remembered Paperback – July 1, 2000


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Paperback, July 1, 2000
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber (July 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571196535
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571196531
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,125,353 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"A wonderful collection . . . indispensable to those seeking an inkling of the range of Wagner's character." -John Deathridge -- Gramophone, July 2000

About the Author

Stewart Spencer is the co-editor of several books on Wagner, including Selected Letters of Richard Wagner, and has translated books on Wagner, Liszt, Mozart, and Bach.

Customer Reviews

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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Helen Mitford on June 10, 2000
A delightful book. It really is a must for anyone who is interested in Wagner. What emerges from Mr Spencer's skillful co-ordinating of personal recollections of Wagner is a fully rounded portrait of the composer, seen, as it were, through a kaleidoscope of time and chance. There are some charming vignettes of Wagner being entirely spontaneous, when for instance, he greets an old friend who has travelled far distances to be with him for a special occasion, and later, when he is hiding from importunate sightseers. Sometimes, of course, Wagner is less than pleasant, but when he is a musician among other musicians he emerges as a rather likeable man. When he is a famous figure holding his own among other famous figures one gets the impression of his need to dominate everyone and everything. I won't say anymore, I don't want to spoil it for you.
It's a well constructed book, and none of the recollections are overlong. There is also a marvellous chronology of events that puts the time and place of each of these encounters within their historical framework.
As I have said: A must!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Laon on May 7, 2001
Here is a fascinating collections of memoirs, letters, diary extracts and articles by people who spent time with Wagner.
They show an extraordinary force of nature, a man of astonishing energy, by turns charming and unbearable, astonishingly quick both to rage and to forgive, and childish beyond belief. A famous example, given here, is the soiree where the guests - not Wagner's guests, by the way - briefly paid attention to another person in the room. Wagner solved the problem by screaming, literally, with rage; when the astonished company turned back to Wagner he carried on his "conversation", or monologue, as if nothing had happened. Other less well-known stories appear here, illustrating a similar outrageousness. The ugly and unpleasant antisemitism is also fully represented. Though the different excerpts all find this mercurial man in different moods, all accounts have one thing in common: the writers are all aware that they have just encountered something absolutely extraordinary.
Not appearing is (I've forgotten the original source and the exact form of the quote, though it's cited in a well-known article on Wagner by Deems Taylor) Wagner's own observation on what people who put up with his demands, financial and emotional could expect: they were well recompensed because they would be able to tell stories about having known Wagner, for the rest of their lives. He was right, of course, as this book, among thousands of others, so richly proves.
This is an excellent portrait and resource book, offering a more vivid and arguably truer picture of Wagner than any of the available biographies. (Wagner may be the historical figure of whom secondary sources are most unreliable.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By jerry i h on January 27, 2005
This interesting little book is a collection of rather brief eyewitness accounts of people who actually met Wagner. It is entertaining, and endlessly fascinating. However, the veracity of many of these memories is questionable, so the reader has to be careful about accepting the text at face value. I recommend it to anyone who is interested in Richard Wagner, keeping the previous caution in mind.

Literature about Wagner is not in short supply, and neither are analysis, critiques, and essays about his personality and behavior. It is refreshing to read first hand reports about him from a variety of viewpoints. On the other hand, many of these brief letters and diary entries were written many years or even decades after the fact. Some are obviously colored or altered by the eyewitness for various reasons. The childhood reminisces by Avenarius (Wagner's half-nephew) is a laughable prevarication, yet most writing about Wagner's childhood is based on it. Likewise, the account of Wagner's death by someone who was not there is also manufactured from whole cloth.

I do have a few objections to the book's format. Each chapter merely has a year span as its title (1813-42, 1842-49, 1849-58, 1858-64, 1864-72, and 1872-83). There is no listing in the table of contents or chapter heading of the names in that chapter. Also, the date the reminisce was actually written is usually not listed. Likewise for the specific date the encounter supposedly occurred, even then only in an elliptical footnote.
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