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Thursday, January 21, 2016

Musical Oddities I by Kamposer*

Richard Wagner is said to be one of the most biographed (if one may coin the word) historical figures, alongside Napoleon.  His music has been exhaustively analyzed, as have his writings.  Yet there remains room for fresh approaches.  For instance, Richard Wagner: A Mystic in the Making, by Alan David Aberbach (1991, Longwood Academic).

A bookplate featuring a winged horse bestriding a rainbow beneath the crescent moon (a nighttime rainbow, no less) seems appropriate to the esoteric subject matter treated within.

According to the preface, "no study has tried to systematically explore the development and evolution of Wagner's religious, spiritual, and mystic ideas."  The two parts of the book are entitled "Self-Realization" and "God-realization."  The author touches on Wagner's remarks on Jewishness (inevitably), as well as his brushes with Sufism, Schopenhauer, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Meister Eckhart.

A skim through the volume (which your correspondent intends to read some day) suggests the thesis that, like Proust, Wagner came eventually to believe in salvation through Art.  This sort of mysticism may be well-tailored to the artist, but: what about the rest of us?  Happily there remains garden-variety mysticism, which is so to speak an open book-- and of course reading; though few can be famous composers, all may read about them.

Next up: Anton Bruckner:Wagnerian toady or symphonic genius?

*Kamposer is a composer manqué and musical correspondent (plus book photographer) for Pistil Books.

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