Well over a century after Wagners death, the man and his music are as controversial as ever. Praised for his profound insights into the workings of the human heart, he has also been condemned as a dangerous libertine, a proto-fascist and an arrogant bore. His vast four-part operatic Ring cycle has been elevated as one of the greatest achievements of western culture and dismissed as an unparalleled example of creative megalomania. This book makes no attempt to gloss over the darker sides of Wagners character, personally or artistically, but argues that the finer aspects of his vision transcend its flaws. It tells the story of an extraordinary life, and charts Wagners development, from unpromising beginnings, into the creator of some of the most brilliantly innovatory and seductively beautiful music ever composed.