New BooksRenzo Cresti is professor of the History of Music at the Conservatory in Lucca. He is a well known musicologist and author of 40 books, some of which have been traslated, variously, into English, German, French, Portuguese, Spanish an Japanese. His musical interests are not limited to classical works, however, but include jazz - he set up the "Anfiteatro Jazz Festival" and was chairman of the "Barga Jazz" judging panel for a number of years.
His latest publication is a study of Richard Wagner and his music and comes in two formats, one in Italian and called La poetica del puro umano, the other in English, The Poetics of the Pure Human. The Italian version runs to 735 pages, the English traslation to 240, though this doesn't give an accurate idea of the difference in length since the longer book is also larger in format. Each deals not only with operas and other works but also with his hectis, turbulent life, his travels, his operas, his relationships with women, his wife Cosima, his fellow composers, his friends and his enemies.
The first chapter analyses the Romantic context in which he grew up, his early compositions, his interest in theatre and the years spent in Paris which wer fundamental to his musical development. The second exsamines Rienzi, The Fliegende Hollander, Tannhauser and Lohengrin and gives an acount of the part he played in the revolutionary rising in Dresden in 1849. Chapter 3 rangers from his arrival in Switzerland, writings such as relationships with Liszt eand Ludwig II, and Tristan and Die Meistersinger. In the last chapter, we have the thought and symbolism in Der Ring, the new theatre in Bayreuth, Nietzsche, the writings on regeneration, nationalism and anti-Semitism, and Parsifal. In all, the story of an estraordinary man, his life and his music.
The author notes that you need to have been interested in Wagner all your life in order to write about him. I guess we might say his living has not been in vain.
"Grapevine", Lucca, year XIX, n. 4, May 2012