Ernest Newman’s four-volume Life of Wagner, originally published between 1933 and 1947, remains a classic work of biography. The culmination of forty years’ research on the composer and his works (Newman’s first Study of Wagner was first published in 1899), these books present a detailed portrait of perhaps the most influential, the most controversial and the most frequently reviled composer in the whole history of western music. Newman was aware that no biography can ever claim to be complete or completely accurate: ‘The biographer can at no stage hope to have reached the final truth. All he can do is to make sure that whatever statement he may make, whatever conclusion he may come to, shall be based on the whole of the evidence available at the time of writing.’ In this aim he triumphantly succeeds.
Volume IV completes the story from 1866 to Wagner’s death in 1883. It covers the composition of Die Meistersinger and Parsifal, the completion of the Ring, Wagner’s marriage to Cosima Liszt von Bülow, and the building of Bayreuth.