By Richard Wagner

ISBN: 9780714544403

96 pages

RRP: £8.00

What can explain Wagner’s obsession with Tannhäuser, which he first conceived in 1845 and still considered unfinished at his death in 1883? Describing of the struggle of a man torn between erotic love and spiritual fulfilment, the opera contains the kernels of all his later works: man’s need for love and artistic satisfaction, his desire for an existence beyond death, the operation of memory and the nature of madness. The essays in this volume examine the legends which Wagner chose to weave into his text, while Carolyn Abbate also considers the effect of his many revisions upon the score, pointing out that the initial idea already involved a contrast of musical language to focus the conflict.

Contents: ‘Tannhäuser’ – an Obsession, Mike Ashman; Tanhusære, Danheüser and Tannhäuser, Stewart Spencer; Wagner’s Most Medieval Opera, Timothy McFarland; Orpheus and the Underworld: The Music of Wagner’s ‘Tannhäuser’, Carolyn Abbate; Tannhäuser: Poem by Richard Wagner; Tannhäuser: English translation by Rodney Blumer

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  • All these will provide the new opera-goer with food for thought.

    Daily Telegraph

  • Brilliantly produced and superb value.

    Sunday Times

  • Wholehearted recommendation of this valuable new series.


Richard Wagner

Richard Wagner (1813–83) was a composer who drew inspiration from Christian and Nordic mythology, as well as the philosophy of Schopenhauer, to pioneer dramatically new forms of music. His concept of the “Total Artwork” led to the construction of the Bayreuth Festspielhaus, an opera house he designed specifically for productions of his own operas. He also wrote widely on music and art. His operas include Tristan und Isolde, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and the four parts of Der Ring des Nibelungen.