Time to lighten up with book on Wagner’s life

Wortham, Suffolk. Terry Quinn who has written a book about the classical composer Richard Wagner
Wortham, Suffolk. Terry Quinn who has written a book about the classical composer Richard Wagner

For many, the vast talent of German composer Richard Wagner is shrouded by his antisemitic writings and the Nazi appropriation of his work. Hitler reputedly idolised him.

So perhaps a new book by Wortham’s Terry Quinn called Richard Wagner: The Lighter Side, is exactly the sort of antidote needed to the often dark and serious analysis of the man.

The book features a collection of curious facts, thought-provoking quotes, lively anecdotes, and inspirational tales from the life and works of the composer. The New York Times describes it as “a delicious read and surprisingly difficult to put down.”

It has been 20 years in the making, with Mr Quinn over that time collecting information on each of Wagner’s thirteen completed operas and the challenges encountered in staging them, as well as detail on those he came into contact with, including dysfunctional family members.

Mr Quinn is of course no apologist for Wagner’s views and says that he was not someone that would have made a good friend, notorious for, among other things, borrowing money and not repaying.

But he said that “Hitler was the worst thing that could have happened to Wagner”, and that for many, the composer and Nazism are almost inseparable.

The two never met, and Hitler was only five years old when Wagner died. Mr Quinn said: “I am now in my 70s and have been a Wagner fan for most of that time. The first time I heard his music, I was blown away.

“He changed classical music in many ways, but was very controversial.

“In the States, my lectures on him were titled, ‘Wagner: Genius, Jerk’.”

Mr Quinn has dedicated a huge amount of time and money in his life seeing performances of Wagner’s work.

He describes Wagner’s famous The Ring cycle of four operas as: “One of the most incredible products of the human.”

Mr Quinn’s book is published worldwide by Amadeus Press . It is widely available including locally at Diss Publishing bookshop, Diss.