An Introduction to Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen: A Handbook

An Introduction to Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen: A Handbook

An Introduction to Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen: A Handbook

An Introduction to Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen: A Handbook

Synopsis

Today, more than a century after its first performance, Richard Wagner's "The Ring of Nibelung" endures as one of the most significant artistic creations in the history of opera. This monumental work not only altered previously accepted concepts of music and drama but also inspired creative and intellectual efforts far beyond the field of opera.

Previous studies of the "Ring" have appealed only to those already acquainted in some way with the Wagnerian art. For the uninitiated, Wagner and his landmark creation have seemed forbidding, and those eager to learn about the masterpiece have faced a vast and frequently esoteric body of commentary. Professor Cord addresses the interests of the non-specialist by taking the reader first into Wagner's unique intent, and then through the complete history of the "Ring."

Cord, who has attended forty performances of the "Ring," considers the conception of the poem, its development into a music-drama exemplifying Wagnerian thought, its introduction to the world, and the reactions and interpretation it elicits."

Excerpt

Some ten years have passed since the first edition of this work became available. That decade has been witness to an ever-broadening attitude toward Richard Wagner and his music. Larger, more encompassing writings about that art appear now, if not literally each day, at least metaphorically so. Then, too, the number of shorter pieces, on all facets of the man and his work, seem almost to overwhelm reputable journals. Today, the music dramas of the man from Leipzig, their sound and their text, and the concepts and perceptions that they convey, have mesmerized world audiences. There can be little doubt that the man Wagner and the Wagnerism which he generated have become the most studied and discussed artistic bent in human history. This manifest fact, surfacing as it has well over a hundred years after the man's death, may well indicate that the artistic world is presently experiencing the Golden Age of Richard Wagner.

Yet, today, with the world awash in Wagnerian matters, there is that ever-growing company of new arrivals drawn into the fold, where they tend to remain, transfixed. Yet, unfortunately, these newcomers most often stand alone, unaware of what questions to ask, unaware of who or what or when or why or how are the things Wagnerian in the world of today. They are very much aware that they are present in a new world in which powerful forces are at work. It is the Wagner cosmos which can be summarized if not defined by the two words music drama. (Those two words in the English language should rightfully be fused into a single term referring to the musico-dramatic works of Richard Wagner!) Then, stepping one pace beyond the term music drama, one discerns that those powers that drive so dynamically and compel so intensely generally are those that ensue when the issue is Der Ring des Nibelungen, the Ring, the Cycle, the Tetralogy, that massive art work that has so captivated a world, its generations, its epochs, and its cultures.

It is to these newly arrived that this present work attempts to speak, and it is that artwork, the Ring, which shall be the single subject. Such . . .

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