The New Grove Guide to Wagner and His Operas

The New Grove Guide to Wagner and His Operas

The New Grove Guide to Wagner and His Operas

The New Grove Guide to Wagner and His Operas


One of the most controversial figures in the history of ideas as well as music, Richard Wagner continues to stimulate debate whenever his works are performed. Drawing upon the scholarship of The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, the most comprehensive dictionary of opera in the world, Barry Millington offers a concise, portable survey and guide, which will make a welcome addition to the shelf of anyone who loves opera.

Millington has completely updated the original pieces and contributed four new chapters on Wagner, including a summary of Wagner productions from 1876 to the present day, a suggested listening and viewing gyide, complete chronology of Wagner's operas, and a glossary of terms that will delight any opera-goer. In addition, there are detailed entries on each of Wagner's operas, a main biographical section, and a group of separate articles on such topics as Leitmotif and Gesamtkunstwerk, as well as a newly revised updated article on Bayreuth.

Complete with a new preface, updated bibliography, glossary, and discography--including first release dates of each recording--The New Grove Guide to Wagner and his Operas furnishes both seasoned Wagner-lovers and neophytes with all they require for an in-depth appreciation of this unique historical figure.


The rich, multi-textured operas of Wagner have always provided fertile ground for commentators from a wide variety of disciplines. Aspects of the text have been examined by philosophers, philologists, historians, political analysts, and many others, affording varying degrees of illumination. Only in the last few decades have the analytical tools of musicology been sharpened on the whetstone of Wagner's music dramas, contextualizing them with relation to 19th-century German thought, examining their large-scale tonal structure and motivic organization, and bringing to bear the insights of narrative, feminist, and other critiques in a broad range of hermeneutical enquiry.

Some of the most significant work is acknowledged in the 'Suggested Further Reading' section of this book. The publication originally took the form of entries on Wagner, his operas and related subjects, along with other material, all culled from the New Grove Dictionary of Opera (1992). For this new edition I have completely overhauled the material, radically revising and updating several sections in the process. The entries on Wagner's life and works remain substantially the same, but I have compiled a new chronology, glossary, bibliography, and discography. An updated entry on the staging of Wagner's works (also from Opera Grove) has been incorporated, as has one on Wagner's orchestration (from the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, revised edition, 2001). All the above material, along with the entry on 'Gesamtkunstwerk', is my own. I have brought the late Geoffrey Skelton's excellent 'Bayreuth' article up to date and am delighted to include once again Arnold Whittall's magisterial entry on 'Leitmotif', as deployed by both Wagner and later composers.

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