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Richard Wagner Wunderkind or MonsterRichard Wagner remains the most controversial genius in music perhaps in all the arts The controversy began during his life - over ten thousand books about him were published before Wagners death in 1883 - and continues still The musical world is divided in Wagnerians sometimes called Wagnerites and anti-Wagnerians Many have switched positions as the discover more about their genius or their monster In the case of most artists knowledge of their private lives is not essential to an understanding of the nature of their work Although Wagners life doesnt explain his work it cannot be ignored in an analysis of his work because it is often the direct antithesis of his creative spirit Furthermore bad people are generally more interesting than good ones Wagner is fascinating an incredible music-dramatic genius who was an undiluted monsterWagner is that enigmatic blend of good and evil great and cruel that sporadically appears in Germany the country of Kant and Himmler of Bach and Walter Ulbricht of Goethe and Goebbels Wagners conceit was almost pathological He read everything aloud to his relatives and friends He didnt expect criticism only applause In Of Mice and Music Deems Taylor writes Wagner had the emotional stability of a six-year-old child When he felt out of sorts he would rave and stamp or sink into suicidal gloomHe was almost innocent of any sense of responsibility He was convinced that the world owed him a livingHe was equally unscrupulous in other ways His second wife had been the wife of his most devoted friend from whom he stole her And even while he was trying to persuade her to leave her first husband he was writing to a wealthy woman whom he could marry for her moneyHe had a genius for making enemies He would insult a man who disagreed with him about the weather But he also concludes that this undersized sickly disagreeable fascinating little man
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