Beyond Reason relates Wagner’s works to the philosophical and cultural ideas of his time, centering on the four music dramas he created in the second half of his career: Der Ring des Nibelungen, Tristan und Isolde, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, and Parsifal. Karol Berger seeks to penetrate the “secret” of large-scale form in Wagner’s music dramas and to answer those critics, most prominently Nietzsche, who condemned Wagner for his putative inability to weld small expressive gestures into larger wholes. Organized by individual opera, this is essential reading for both musicologists and Wagner experts.
“The author develops his new interpretative perspective with so much mastery and such highly reflective circumspection that he is sure to convince even some inveterate Nietzscheans. … Karol Berger has written a great and momentous book, and only now the work begins. What more could one wish from the contemporary Wagner research?” (Wagnerspectrum) From the Inside Flap
“This study is Wagnerian in its ambition and achievement. Karol Berger makes several astonishing claims: Wagnerians from Nietzsche through Dahlhaus have misunderstood the musical forms; Wagner derived his forms from Italian operatic models; and Nietzsche was wrong about the ideological import of the music dramas. Revisionist history at its very best.”—Christopher Alan Reynolds, author of Wagner, Schumann, and the Lessons of Beethoven’s Ninth
“For the first time in decades, Karol Berger is going back to the fundamental question of musical and compositional dramaturgy in Wagner. Now, in opposition to the discredited work of Alfred Lorenz and the important studies of Carl Dahlhaus, he finds a way to discuss compositional dramaturgy within intellectual history—defining Nietzsche not as a counterpart of Wagner but rather Wagner as a counterpart of Nietzsche. Beyond Reason is full of new and unexpected insights, and without doubt outstanding in every respect. Highly original and intellectually brilliant, it is a milestone in Wagner research.”—Laurenz Lütteken, Chair of Musicology at the University of Zurich and editor of Wagner-Handbuch