I don’t object to his music, I find some of it sublime. And film-scores from Star Wars to Lord of the Rings would be all the poorer without his influence, even though he himself inherited the Leitmotif from Berlioz. I’m sure his chordal progressions – for example in Ride of the Valkyries – informed rock’s metamorphosis into psychedelia and thence to proto-metal; one might even say no Wagner, no Iron Maiden.
What grates is the interminable histrionic caterwauling and bellowing his music often accompanies. Even Richard Dawkins, who you’d think would be a fan of the concept of the old gods fading before German Idealism’s new man, can only bring himself to say in The God Delusion that "Wagner’s music is better than it sounds".
Of more interest to me personally is The Essay this week, featuring philosophers analysing Wagner’s relationship to the thinkers who informed his world and whose worlds he informed. It’s a shame it’s only 15 minutes per night: if he’d had longer, perhaps Roger Scruton could have went into how Kant sent the modern world down the path to post-modernism by standing on the shoulders of British philosophe David Hume, who set the ball rolling by abolishing any availability of real things to our senses.
The Essay: Wagner and German Idealism part 1 of 5 of Wagner and the Philosophers, BBC Radio 3
Composer of the Week: Wagner and his World part 1 of 5, BBC Radio 3
Wagner Week Live Blog - BBC Radio 3