Frank Lewin, Composer

Reflecting on Wagner

List of Works
Burning Bright
Reflecting on Wagner


    A detailed examination of text and music
    in the mature works of Richard Wagner,
    with particular attention to the four dramas
    of The Ring of the Nibelung

Frank Lewin studied Wagner’s music dramas throughout his life, approaching them as both a composer and an opera lover. When Lewin stopped writing music after losing his eyesight, he decided to set down his thoughts about Wagner’s works. This monograph includes insights about the texts and their literary sources; an examination of textual, musical, and dramatic devices; and observations about the potential of contemporary media to realize Wagner’s dramatic intentions.

“Instead of the copious facts of a scholar, Lewin offers the special insights of a composer who analyzes Wagner’s music as though he composed it himself. All his reflections on Wagner are ruled by a supreme prudence, which never becomes irritated by the dark sides of Wagner’s character--not even by his explicit anti-Semitism, which had to have been especially distressing to Frank Lewin, considering his fate as a German Jewish emigrant. But in this regard, Lewin--like the blind Teresias in Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex--is the one who truly sees; while the one who supposedly sees--in this case Wagner--is the blind one.”

-- Dieter Borchmeyer, President of the Bavarian Academy of the Arts, Munich; author of Richard Wagner: Theory and Theatre, Drama and the World of Richard Wagner, Richard Wagner, and Richard Wagner and the Jews

“The range of Frank Lewin’s meditation on Richard Wagner is immense: from Greek tragedies to Hollywood, and from poetics to dramaturgy. Add to this Lewin’s practical experience as a successful composer for stage and screen, and the result is a uniquely probing treatment of the language, music, and cinematic potential of the Wagnerian music drama. Singers, directors, dramaturgs and many other students of Wagner will profit handsomely from these pages.”

--Scott Burnham, Professor of Music, Princeton University

“Frank Lewin’s ‘Reflections on Wagner’ makes interesting reading and rewards the reader continuously with new insights into Wagner’s major operas, especially the Ring der Nibelungen. Based on circumspect research he demonstrates in each section of his study an independent and original interpretation of Wagner’s specific discoveries which probably only as dedicated a fellow composer as Frank Lewin could so persuasively and adequately describe.”

-- Walter Hinderer, Professor of German, Princeton University