Book Musik 030 – Wagnerism: Art and Politics in the Shadow of Music by Alex Ross

Wagnerism: Art and Politics in the Shadow of Music by Alex Ross Cover graphic

Tosh and Kimley discuss Wagnerism: Art and Politics in the Shadow of Music by Alex Ross. A famous quip goes “Wagner’s music is better than it sounds.” Whether you find Wagner’s music to be sublime or bombastic, this is an essential read. It is not a biography or an examination of his music but, more interestingly, it’s a very deep dive into the enormous cultural and political influence Richard Wagner has had on his contemporaries and everyone since, from writers to painters, dancers, philosophers, politicians, and filmmakers. The diversity of those who’ve come under the spell of Wagnerism is beyond compare. And this is despite Wagner’s well-known antisemitism and association with Hitler and the Nazi regime. Cancel culture hasn’t quite figured out what to do with Wagner but Ross leaves no stone unturned in this enormous and hugely satisfying read.

Theme music: “Behind Our Efforts, Let There Be Found Our Efforts” by LG17


Book Musik Episode 7: “Doctor Faustus” by Thomas Mann

Tosh & Kimley tackle a work of fiction on this episode – Doctor Faustus by Thomas Mann. A twentieth-century, German composer (very loosely based on Arnold Schoenberg) makes a devilish deal. We get into the esoteric weeds on this one and focus on the themes of what it means to be an artist in society and why the work of an artist is so mysterious and mythologized. A little Nietzschean nihilism, some blood, sweat and tears and a backdrop of warfare drive this conversation. This book is far too deep for us to cover in full, but we have fun scratching a bit of the surface.

Theme music: “Behind Our Efforts, Let There Be Found Our Efforts” by LG17