Big guns go head-to-head in a celebration of two of classical music’s most revered figures.

Israeli conductor Asher Fisch, a noted Wagnerian who conducted Australia’s only Ringto date, in Adelaide in 2004, will thrash out the issue of tradition versus innovation this weekend with two events looking at the work of two equal and opposite forces.

Brahms and Wagner shared arguably one of the most famous – and pivotal – rivalries in the history of the arts, not just classical music. With a nod to the imminent presentation of Melbourne’s first RingCycle, Melbourne Festival is presenting a series of performances, talks and discussions over the weekend that explores the ongoing influence of these two composers.

In one corner: Johannes Brahms, an unrepentant Romantic and a melodic genius, who aspired to the symphonic wonders of Beethoven and the divine order of Bach. In the other: Richard Wagner, an avant-garde, grim-faced prophet of change – a man whose epic, infinitely complex compositions were as controversial as his virulent anti-Semitism. From Brahms’s academic rigour to Wagner’s total re-definition of music theatre, Brahms v Wagner should see some sparks fly.

With a vast repertoire that spans three centuries from Gluck to Adams, Fisch is particularly...

This article is available to Limelight subscribers.

Log in to continue reading.

Access our paywalled content and archive of magazines, regular news and features for the limited offer of $3 per month. Support independent journalism.

Subscribe now