Just as Richard Wagner's music deeply stirred the musical world and inspired a generation of composers, so his many performances on the podium with Europe's leading orchestras galvanized nineteenth-century audiences and shaped a generation of conductors. Wagner wrote eloquently on his theories of conducting and musical interpretation, and in 1869 he published the famous essay reprinted in this volume, a work that abundantly reveals both the wellsprings of his musical genius and the qualities that made him a figure of controversy. Reading this important work, one encounters the man who launched the cult of the conductor as an all-wise and omnipotent dictator, the man considered by many to have been the strongest conducting force of the nineteenth century. A conductor of remarkable power and imagination, highly creative in his interpretations, thoroughly knowledgeable about the orchestra, capable of absorbing a score until it was part of him, Wagner was, perhaps above all, a supremely confident perfectionist. Much of what Wagner thought and felt about the interpretation of music is as exciting and valid today as when he first expressed it. This is a book that composers, conductors, and students of music and musical interpretation should have. Lovers of serious music will treasure the insights it provides not only into Wagner himself but also into the often highly subjective elements that make up musical performance.