Richard Wagner's works are among the most controversial in the history of European music -- because of their powerful aesthetic qualities and, in wider political terms, because of their eventual assimilation into the official culture of the Third Reich. This concise synoptic account by the most brilliant exponent of Frankfurt School Marxism subtly interweaves these artistic and ideological qualities. It provides deft musicological analyses of Wagner's scores and of his compositional techniques, orchestration and staging methods, quoting copiously from the music dramas themselves. At the same time it offers incisive reflections on Wagner's social character and the ideological impulses of his artistic activity.
Theodor W. Adorno was director of the Institute for Social Research at the University of Frankfurt from 1956 until his death in 1969. His works include Minima Moralia, Quasi una Fantasia, Aesthetic Theory, Negative Dialectics and (with Max Horkheimer) Dialectic of Enlightenment.