The Uncivil Servant: Richard Wagner, Made (Too) Simple

by Mitchell Abidor   Discussed in this essay: Being Wagner: The Story of the Most Provocative Composer Who Ever Lived, by Simon Callow. Vintage, 232 pages, 2017   IN THIS AGE of doorstop biographies, the actor and biographer Simon Callow’s breezy 200+ pages on Richard Wagner, Being Wagner, appear to be a quirky, quixotic venture. How to squeeze so tumultuous a […]

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Liszt’s Greatest Pupil

Carl Tausig, a virtuoso pianist considered to be Franz Liszt’s most accomplished pupil, died in Leipzig at age 29 on this date in 1871. Born in Warsaw to a pianist-composer father, Tausig was introduced to Liszt at 14 and became his favorite student, accompanying the master on concert tours. He was also close friends with Richard Wagner, many of whose operas he adapted for piano, and  Johannes […]

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January 9: Heine’s Baptism

“I regret very deeply that I had myself baptized,” wrote German poet, memoirist, and essayist Heinrich Heine (1797-1856) on this date in 1826. “I do not see that I have been the better for it since. On the contrary, I have known nothing but misfortunes and mischances.” Famous as a lyric poet (many of whose […]

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