WAGNER AND NIETZSCHE by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau


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The celebrated baritone recounts the story of the stormy seven-year friendship between Wagner and Nietzsche, with chief emphasis on the intellectual development of the latter. He examines Nietzsche the young thinker struggling to adapt and correct Schopenhauer's ideas on the relationship between will and art, aided by the inspiring example of Wagner. Effortfully but sometimes pungently, he narrates the course of Nietzsche's intellectual and personal disillusionment with Wagner the ""betrayer"" of integrated, affirmative art. For Fischer-Dieskau, Nietzsche is the prophet par excellence of the artistic quandaries of our time, and it was the inner wrestlings with Wagner that crystallized his sweeping ""revaluation of values."" In his opinion, Nietzsche's own musical ambitions (and his bitter envy of Wagner) are central to any understanding of his thought. But this suggestion remains at a tantalizingly general level; the author fails to describe any of Nietzsche's little-known music in analytical detail. This Nietzsche is also a bit softened down by concentration on the aesthetic rather than social implications of his thought. The book is not graceful; Fischer-Dieskau has trouble integrating the story of the relationship with the discussion of aesthetic issues. (The clumsy language of the translation does not help.) The sources are also apparently limited to those available in German. Nonetheless, there are witty moments (Cosima Wagner's grandiose annual celebration of Christmas ""with religious flatulence""), some sharp judgments, and wonderful quotations from Nietzsche's correspondence and notes. Not a masterly summation, but something more than a publishing curiosity.

Pub Date: Oct. 11th, 1976
Publisher: Seabury