Peter Conrad: Verdi and/or Wagner; and Jonathan Brown: Great Wagner Conductors

Two contrary and paramount composers

Robert Gibson

 

Verdi and/or Wagner: Two Men, Two Worlds, Two Centuries
by Peter Conrad
Thames & Hudson, $49.95 hb, 384 pp, 9780500515938

 

Great Wagner Conductors: A Listener’s Companion
by Jonathan Brown
Parrot Press, $55 hb, 820 pp, 9780987155603

 

 

Two households. Two household names. Verdi and Wagner. To the north of the Alps, Haus Wahnfried, the Wagner compound in the otherwise unremarkable Bavarian town of Bayreuth. To the south of the Alps, Sant’Agata, the Verdi farmhouse outside Busseto, a marshy and little-visited corner of Emilia-Romagna. The respective residences reveal something of their owners’ personalities and priorities. For Giuseppe Verdi, Sant’Agata was a retreat; a place where he could escape from the hubbub of Milan, plant trees, grow vegetables, go fishing, tend livestock, and oversee his tenant farmers. For Richard Wagner, Wahnfried was headquarters of the greater Wagnerian project; a place to compose, write pamphlets, receive visitors, tend to his personality cult, and oversee his band of disciples.

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Published in June 2012 no. 342
Robert Gibson

Robert Gibson

Robert Gibson has lectured in music at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, the University of Regensburg, and St Catherine’s College, University of Oxford. He has written for Opera Australia, State Opera of South Australia, Victorian Opera, Opera Queensland, Friends of the Barcelona Opera House (Gran Teatre del Liceu), Hamburg Symphony Orchestra, Wigmore Hall, Aldeburgh Festival, Snape Proms, ABC Classics, Australian Book Review, Limelight magazine, and many other organisations and publications. A graduate of the University of Oxford (DPhil), he is currently Publications Editor at the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra.

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