Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Archive for Richard Wagner – Page 2

Richard Wagner: What Ever Happened To Wagner’s Manuscripts?

The scope of Nazi Germany’s crimes against humanity will forever boggle the mind. Incredibly, almost seventy years after the end of World War II, art and treasure pillaged by Nazi Germany continues to be found even as treasure hunters search for billions of dollars worth of missing gold, platinum, and diamonds. The stories of these treasure hunts read like fictional WWII thrillers by such authors as Len Deighton, Ken Follett and Jack Higgins. But sometimes the clichés hold true and fact is stranger than fiction. Hitler came to power on January 30, 1933 and blew out his diseased brain on April 30, 1945. His projected “Thousand Year Reich” lasted all of 4473 days, 4472 days too long. During the course of those 12 years the Nazis plundered art and treasure from across Europe. As the War entered its terminal phase in 1945, a frantic effort was made to hide the loot from the advancing Allies. The recent movie Monuments Men (2014) tells the story of some of the missing art, but gives no sense of the incredible scope of what was stolen and hidden. According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Nazis stole at least 16,000 pieces of […]

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Revisiting “The Music of Richard Wagner” – The Ring – Part Two and Three

I’m off to Berlin tomorrow to escort a group and attend Wagner’s epic Ring Cycle at the Staatsoper, to be conducted by the ageless Daniel Barenboim. In the spirit of “spreading the informational joy” for all who might be interested, I’ve posted two more excerpts from my The Great Courses survey “The Music of Richard Wagner”: portions of Lectures 18 and 19:The Ring, Parts 2 and 3. That we will be hearing the Ring conducted by an Argentinian/Israeli Jew in Berlin is a fact so extraordinary that we must consider it for a moment. More than any other place on the planet, Berlin was the Valhalla of the twentieth century: a place of would-be gods who were put to the torch thanks to their own deranged cruelty and arrogance. We’ll be attending the Ring just a few hundred yards away from the site of Hitler’s Bunker, where he stage-managed his own “Gotterdammerung”/self-immolation as the Russians closed in during late April of 1945 and where many of Wagner’s hand-written manuscripts burned along with the Nazi leadership (an extraordinary story that I’ll save for a future posting). I had the opportunity to spend over six weeks in Berlin over the course of […]

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Revisiting “The Music of Richard Wagner”

In honor of Richard Wagner’s 200th birthday (which falls on May 22), and in anticipation of my upcoming trip to Berlin to hear the Berlin Staatsoper and Daniel Barenboim perform The Ring (about which I will blog endlessly once on site), I offer a twelve minute introduction/teaser on the Ring Cycle drawn from Lecture 17 of my Great Courses survey, “The Music of Richard Wagner”. Say what you want about Wagner – certainly, everybody else has – the man was a hellaciously great composer with a vision unique in the history of Western music. Any way you look at it, Wagner’s four evening extravaganza that is The Ring is the single most audacious creative accomplishment since the Creation itself, which, as Wagner would have happily pointed out, took six days to carry off. Many of us would deny ourselves the revelatory experience of Wagner’s art due to bladder-busting length of his works and the fact that he was, by pretty much every estimation, an awful person. Yes, Richard Wagner was capable of being a repulsive, sometimes even hateful human being. As was Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and John Belushi. Does that mean we must deny ourselves the pleasures of the […]

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