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Wagner was one of the few major composers who studied philosophy seriously. Bryan Magee places the composer's artistic development in the context of the philosophy of his age, and gives us the first detailed and comprehensive study of the close links between Wagner and the philosophers - from the pre-Marxist socialists to Feuerbach and Schopenhauer. Magee explores the relationship between words and music, between the conscious and the unconscious mind, between art and philosophy. It tackles soberly and judiciously the Wagner whose paraia, egocentricity and anti-semitism are repugnant, as well as the Wagner of artistic genius. The resulting text illuminates Wagner and the music-dramas in altogether new ways.
Bryan Magee has had a distinguished and varied career as scholar, broadcaster and parliamentarian. His previous books include Aspects of Wagner (1968), On Blindness (with Martin Milligan, 1996), The Philosophy of Schopenhauer (1997) and Confessions of a Philosopher (1997). He was a Labour MP from 1974 until joining the SDP in 1982.