Faculty Spotlight: Professor Michael Steinberg's "The Trouble with Wagner"

May 2, 2019

It behooves the Department of Music to call attention to Brown University Professor of Music Michael P. Steinberg who recently published the book "The Trouble with Wagner" (University of Chicago Press). "The Trouble with Wagner" is available to borrow from the library as well as for purchase through your local bookseller. The following is the publisher's description of Steinberg's book:

In this unique and hybrid book, cultural and music historian Michael P. Steinberg combines a close analysis of Wagnerian music drama with a personal account of his work as a dramaturg on the bicentennial production of The Ring of the Nibelung for the Teatro alla Scala Milan and the Berlin State Opera. Steinberg shows how Wagner uses the power of a modern mythology to heighten music’s claims to knowledge, thereby fusing not only art and politics, but truth and lies as well. Rather than attempting to separate value and violence, or “the good from the bad,” as much Wagner scholarship as well as popular writing have tended to do, Steinberg proposes that we confront this paradox and look to the capacity of the stage to explore its depths and implications. 

Drawing on decades of engagement with Wagner and of experience teaching opera across disciplines, The Trouble with Wagner is packed with novel insights for experts and interested readers alike.

Review Quotes

Leon Botstein, music director and principal conductor of the American Symphony Orchestra

“Unlike any other composer, Wagner continues to fascinate. Michael P. Steinberg has added to the vast literature a thought-provoking look at the composer from the perspective of not only history and criticism, but also the challenges of mounting a contemporary production. Through Steinberg’s uncommon grace and learning, readers will encounter why Wagner is still with us today as a force in the arts and culture.”

Lydia Goehr, Professor of Philosophy, Columbia University

“An exquisitely learned and sensitive journey through ambiguities that make the case against Wagner always also a case for. Readable and often very witty, this new book is perfectly reflective in its novel combination of two kinds of expertise that rarely come together. While offering sophisticated philosophical insight into the Ring Cycle, the author recalls his first-hand involvement in producing the work for the stage. Most highly recommended.”

Daniel Herwitz, Fredric G. L. Huetwell Professor, University of Michigan

“After thirty years of writing on music in relation to history, politics, and ideology, Steinberg has produced the book he was brought into the world to write. The Trouble with Wagner explores Wagner ambivalence with unparalleled erudition, breathtaking mastery of the Ring, deep understanding of Wagner's conception of modernity, and an astonishing ability to integrate the history of performance into the story of how Wagner’s work has been understood. The book is brilliant and riveting. The Trouble with Wagner will be discussed for many years to come.”



The information above was copied from the University of Chicago Press website.