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Wagner: A Genius in Exile / Mikhail Rudy, Antoine Wagner [DVD]

Conductor Ensemble
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Notes & Reviews:

In this biographical and musical road movie by Andy Sommer, Antoine Wagner heads to Switzerland on the trail of his great-great-grandfather, renowned composer Richard Wagner. In order to apprehend the composer's complex personality, Antoine Wagner returns to sites where his ancestor lived, meeting historians, musicologists, musicians, and enlightened amateurs, and exploring the landscapes that inspired Richard Wagner in one of his most artistically rich periods.

Notes & Reviews:

Run Time: 133 min.
Region: 0
Picture Format: NTSC, 16:9, Color
Sound Format(s): Stereo,
Subtitles: English, German, French


Extremely interesting Wagner documentary
This documentary by Andy Sommer details Wagner’s life while in exile in Switzerland, how what he saw there served as part of the inspiration for the music in the Der Ring des Nibelungen and Tristan and Isolde that we Wagnerians know and love, as well as detailing his two great loves, Mathilde Wesendonck and his future wife Cosima Liszt. The film also features Antoine Wagner, a photographer, who can claim that Richard Wagner was his great-great grandfather. Antoine essentially visits many of the places that Wagner himself visited, taking pictures and movies, and interviewing experts on his famous relative. While portions of interviews with Historical Musicologist Eva Reiger, conductor Philippe Jordan, and Armin Trosch (Wagnerian Society Switzerland) are shown during the film as events unfold, the Bonus material features full interviews with Ms Reiger and Mr. Jordan and each is quite illuminating with respect to Wagner’s history, mindset, musical construction (Mr. Jordan demonstrates and plays several passages on the piano), and way of grabbing the listener’s attention and taking him/her on the very special Ring journey.

Wagner’s anti-semitism is also touched upon and dealt with matter-of-factly, but the music is spectacular, as are the views in Switzerland that inspired Wagner who was, in fact, an avid hiker.

This is a wonderful documentary, informative and well shot, with archival photos and fascinating interviews. If you want to know more about Richard Wagner, human being, this documentary is worth checking out. Highly recommended.

Submitted on 11/08/13 by KlingonOpera 
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