BILL HENSON writes:
Re-visiting the great filmmaker Syberberg’s strange and haunting Requiem For a Virgin King, I was struck, once more, by the psychological parallels between Ludwig 2nd, the ‘mad King’ of Bavaria, and Richard Wagner. Looking at Syberberg’s film I was particularly reminded of what makes the music so compelling. It is the unreasonableness of its beauty. An almost terrible beauty that defies explanation.
We can draw all manner of conclusions about the unsavoury, even obnoxious character of the composer and his eccentric patron but eventually we come up against the ultimate and unassailable fact of the composer’s genius.
As Elias Canetti observed, ‘virtuosity is the last refuge of art’. Tens of thousands around the world can play the piano very, very well, but, only a handful can play the piano and make us feel like we’re in a thunderstorm - and there’s no way around it.