An admirable, welcome effort to illuminate one of the most significant artistic achievements of the modern age.



The noted philosopher and writer takes on Richard Wagner's operatic masterpiece in this thorough critical study.

The cultural resonance of "Ride of the Valkyries" has helped ensure the lasting fame of Wagner's four-opera cycle Ring of the Nibelung, which premiered in 1876, outside of the world of opera, while its continued influence on music and the dramatic arts secures its creative legacy. Though that legacy has been tainted by the historical association of Wagner's music with the Nazi regime, as well as his own anti-Semitic writings, there is no denying the greatness of his artistic achievement. Scruton (Confessions of a Heretic: Selected Essays, 2017, etc.) views the stigma attached to Wagner's work as a mistake in need of correction. Despite Wagner’s personal failings, his "vision is nevertheless as important to the times in which we live as it was to those of its creator.” The author argues that most modern productions of the cycle fail to adhere to this vision: to illuminate the truth of the human condition, with art replacing religion in that role. Though the scope of the subject matter may seem intimidating, Scruton lays out his argument in a clear, coherent, and readable manner. He addresses—but does not dismiss—the controversy over Wagner's personal views, details the cultural and historical background that informed his writing, and helpfully recaps the story before turning to his own interpretation and analysis. The author also deals with the challenge of discussing the crucial import of the music on the meaning of the drama—not merely as an accompaniment to the words, but rather "the channel through which the emotions of the drama flow." An index detailing the various leitmotifs used in the cycle, while not unique to this work, is nonetheless of great use to readers seeking further insight. Scruton’s status as a pillar of British conservatism is reflected in his analysis, but it need not discourage readers of any political stripe from appreciating his wisdom.

An admirable, welcome effort to illuminate one of the most significant artistic achievements of the modern age.

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4683-1549-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Overlook

Review Posted Online: July 12, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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