After Wagner

After Wagner

Histories of Modernist Music Drama from Parsifal to Nono

Mark Berry


Boydell Press



Offers histories of music drama beginning with Wagner's Parsifal and then looking at works by Arnold Schoenberg, Richard Strauss, Luigi Dallapiccola, Luigi Nono and Hans Werner Henze.
This book is both a telling of operatic histories 'after' Richard Wagner, and a philosophical reflection upon the writing of those histories. Historical musicology reckons with intellectual and cultural history, and vice versa. The 'after' of the title denotes chronology, but also harmony and antagonism within a Wagnerian tradition. Parsifal, in which Wagner attempted to go beyond his achievement in the Ring, to write 'after' himself, is followed by two apparent antipodes: the strenuously modernist Arnold Schoenberg and the æstheticist Richard Strauss. Discussion of Strauss's Capriccio, partly in the light of Schoenberg's Moses und Aron, reveals a more 'political' work than either first acquaintance or the composer's 'intention' might suggest.
Then come three composers from subsequent generations: Luigi Dallapiccola, Luigi Nono, and Hans Werner Henze. Geographical context is extended to take in Wagner's Italian successors; the problem of political emancipation in and through music drama takes another turn here, confronting challenges and opportunities in more avowedly 'politically engaged' art. A final section explores the world of staging opera, of so-called Regietheater, as initiated by Wagner himself. Stefan Herheim's celebrated Bayreuth production of Parsifal, and various performances of Lohengrin are discussed, before looking back to Mozart (Don Giovanni) and forward to Alban Berg's Lulu and Nono's Al gran sole carico d'amore. Throughout, the book invites us to consider how we might perceive the æsthetic and political integrity of the operatic work 'after Wagner'.
After Wagner will be invaluable to anyone interested in twentieth-century music drama and its intersection with politics and cultural history. It will also appeal to those interested in Richard Wagner's cultural impact on succeeding generations of composers.

MARK BERRY is Senior Lecturer in Music at Royal Holloway, University of London.


October 2014
12 line illustrations
325 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
ISBN: 9781843839682
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
Boydell Press
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Table of Contents

Introduction: 'After Wagner'
Wagner 'After Wagner': Parsifal
Arnold Schoenberg's 'Biblical Way': Towards Moses und Aron
Richard Strauss: Paths to (and from) Capriccio
Luigi Dallapiccola, Il Prigioniero: Imprisonment, Liberty, and the Word
Luigi Nono, Intolleranza 1960
Hans Werner Henze: The Path to (and from) Natascha Ungeheuer
Stefan Herheim's Parsifal
Staging Lohengrin, or not
From Wagner to Nono


Berry presents a wide range of sometimes unconventional interpretations of the works in question..(the book) can be recommended to anyone looking for new ideas about the influence of Wagner on later music dramas. WAGNERSPECTRUM

Not only a history of opera after Wagner, but an attempt to make a case for Wagner in twenty-first-century composition and performance. TEMPO

An enticing project and a worthwhile read. BBC RADIO 3, MUSIC MATTERS

Compelling. GRAMOPHONE