Lies and Epiphanies' offers case studies of "inspiration" in five composers -- Richard Wagner, Gustav Mahler, Wilhelm Furtwängler, Richard Strauss, and Alban Berg. Their own tales of their "epiphanies" played a determining role in the reception history of their works: the finale of Mahler's Second Symphony was supposedly inspired by a "lightning bolt" of inspiration at the funeral of Hans von Bülow, while Alban Berg's Violin Concerto was purportedly his direct response to the tragic early death of Alma Mahler's daughter. Chris Walton looks behind these lightning bolts to explore instead these composers' dual roles as author and self-commentator, laying bare the fissures and inconsistencies within their testimonies and revealing how the supposedly extra-rational world of creative inspiration intersects with the highly rational world of money and politics. It has often been the composer himself who was intent on imposing on his audience an interpretation of a work and its genesis that was as superficial as his score itself is not. This study seeks to answer why. Chris Walton lectures in music at the Musikhochschule Basel in Switzerland and Stellenbosch University in South Africa. He is the author of 'Othmar Schoeck: Life and Works' (URP, 2009) and 'Richard Wagner's Zurich' (Camden House, 2007).
Lies and Epiphanies