Richard Wagner: The Brilliant Egomaniac

Oct 19, 2006

Boyce Lancaster talks with Maestro Albert-George Schram, the resident staff conductor of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, about Richard Wagner, whose long, massive works makes some classical lovers to recoil. [audio src=""] Highlights From This Interview: Boyce: "I'm sure you've conducted plenty of Wagner's music, and, of course, there are some real gems in almost all of Wagner's operas. But when you say the 'Wagner' to some people, they recoil a little bit." Albert-George: "I think it's all because of the length. Unless you're willing to have your mind be taken away for four-and-a-half hours, then you cannot listen to a Wagner opera otherwise. I must say, in everybody's defense who thinks Wagner is too long, I sort of agree." Albert-George: "I can never quite get away from the kind of person Wagner was. I'm always sort of mesmerized by the pictures I see of him, and by the stuff I've read about him. He was such an egomaniac. And he was, basically, not a pleasant person. And I'm always aware of that, and the dichotomy between having somebody who was probably not a very nice person - nasty, and, at the same time, the very same person creates these incredible works of art." Albert-George: "I think he would have never managed to get any of it staged, and performed, and performed well, if would not have been a real bastard on some level. Because the tenacity he must have had, the audacity to come across with four-and-a-half, five-hour operas, and expect everybody, 'Well of course it's that long, and I've got things to tell, and sit back and listen. This is great.'"