Saturday, March 17, 2007


Baudelaire said of Wagner "I love Wagner, but then again, the music I prefer is that of a cat hung up by its tail outside a window trying to stick to the panes of glass with its claws."

Wagner is thought to be a fascist dwarf with big ideas. Big ideas like that short arse Napoleon who marched on Moscow. Big ideas like stumpy Adolf who marched on Moscow. Don't you just hate short people, you have to pick them up even to say hello.

But short people tend to over-compensate in other ways. Wagner for instance indulged in multicoloured crushed velvet suits that would have turned Jimi Hendrix green with embarrassment, but regardless of his stature he did big music that took ages to perform.

For example the four-opera cycle "Der Ring des Nibelungen" (1876) takes over 14 hours to perform and if you want to hear a performence of it at Wagner's spirtual home at the Bayreuth Festspielhaus then you have to book 14 years in advance. God it is almost as difficult as getting a child into Eaton, and the end result is often in both cases, a long fruitless wait, with little to show for it in the end.

Wagner was always in debt. He was always running away from people he owed money to. It began in Riga in 1839 where he amassed such huge debtsand had to flee to escape his creditors. Oh and he did not have much luck with his missus either, she run off with a russian army officer. Perhaps this sorry start to married life led him to be infatuated by other women such as Cosima who was the illegitimate daughter of Franz Liszt. Cosima who was 24 years younger than Wagner, gave birth to Wagner's illegitimate daughter, who was named Isolde. Now where did they come up with a name like that? Why old short pants himself and just written Tristan and Isolde based on and arthurian legend dealing with the love of a knight for a married woman. Art imitating life.

But the big project was the "Dwarf's ring" Trust a short arse to write an opera about dwarves.
  1. Das Rheingold 149 minutes
  2. Die Valkyrie 216 minutes
  3. Siegfried 233 minutes
  4. Twilight of the Gods 245 minutes
When he was not writing big music that would incorporate the meaning of life, the universe and everything by taking music, song, dance, poetry, visual arts, and stagecraft and throwing them into a big washing machine, and putting them through a spin cycle of a million rpm.

Did he worry about mixing whites with colours? Yes of course he did, and that is why he turned his hand to writing such essays as "Das Judenthum in der Musik" (German, "Jewishness in Music", but normally translated Judaism in Music). Wagner, attacked Jews in general and the composers Giacomo Meyerbeer and Felix Mendelssohn in particular. It was reissued in a greatly expanded version under Wagner’s name in 1869. It is regarded by many as an important landmark in the history of German anti-Semitism.

So I have gone to the library and got 3 of these big Wagner operas out. I failed to get Siegfried, or was it Siegmund or Sieglinde or SiegHeil, but I thought what the hell, it might be about inscest, so I will leave that for later. Instead for a substitute I got a MOJO compilation of Sgt Pepper by various artists and I listened to it at one sitting, sort of easing myself into a long listening session of Wagner.

If the Beatles Sgt Pepper was thick and hearty pea soup then the MOJO compilation was dishwater. I don't want to sup that again. I wonder if I will come to the same conclusion about Wagner.

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