Wagner, According to His Critics


“One can’t judge Wagner’s opera ‘Lohengrin’ after a first hearing, and I certainly don’t intend hearing it a second time.” -Gioacchino Rossini

“Wagner’s music is better than it sounds.” -Edgar Wilson Nye, quoted in Mark Twain’s autobiography

“[The Prelude to Tristan und Isolde] reminds one of the old Italian painting of a martyr whose intestines are slowly unwound from his body on a reel.” -Eduard Hanslick

“Wagner’s music, in spite of all its wondrous skill and power, repels a greater number than it fascinates.” –The Era (newspaper)

“I can’t listen to that much Wagner, ya know? I start to get the urge to conquer Poland.” -Woody Allen, Manhattan Murder Mystery

“I cannot explain very well to myself what they have that distinguishes them from the rest, something arborescent or of the sky, not Wagner, not clouds on wheels; written above an abscess and not out of a cavity, a statement and not a description of heat in the spirit to compensate for pus in the spirit.” -Samuel Beckett

“Is Wagner a human being at all? Is he not rather a disease? He contaminates everything he touches – he has made music sick.” -Friedrich Nietzsche

“After the last notes of Götterdämmerung I felt as though I had been let out of prison.” -Peter Tchaikovsky

“I like Wagner’s music better than any other music. It is so loud that one can talk the whole time, without people hearing what one says.” -Oscar Wilde

One thought on “Wagner, According to His Critics

  1. As Tristan pines for and misses Isolde, he waves his arms about and sings and carries on like a madman. Remember, Butterfly who also was awaiting a ship with her loved one on, singing in the most beautiful way to the most beautiful of music. The intermezzo music as she finally awaits the scoundral Pinkerton must be the most expressive and hauntingly touching sequence ever composed. If you are going to muck around with love potions, wouldnt any sane person think that Donizetti in L’elisir d’amore handled it more realistically and entertainingly.

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