Upbeats: OPERA AND IDEAS: FROM MOZART TO STRAUSS

OPERA AND IDEAS: FROM MOZART TO STRAUSS

It is common enough to assert that Mozart was a child of the Enlightenment or that Verdi was much involved with nationalist politics, but is it possible to illuminate such assertions in terms of their music? Or, more interesting, to illuminate their music in terms of their ideas?

Perhaps not. But Paul Robinson, a professor of intellectual history at Stanford, makes an enthusiastic effort, like one of those tycoons who suddenly indulge a suppressed yearning to step onstage and conduct Mahler or sing Puccini. Though some clinkers are almost inevitable, an onlooker can hardly help admiring the combination of chutzpah, high...

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