has Wagner ever written anything better?
Nietzsche heard the Prelude to Parsifal [Wagner] for the first time in Monte-Carlo in January 1887 :
"When I see you again, I shall tell you exactly what I then understood. Putting aside all irrelevant questions (to what end such music can or should serve?), and speaking from a purely aesthetic point of view, has Wagner ever written anything better? The supreme psychological perception and precision as regards what can be said, expressed, communicated here, the extreme of concision and directness of form, every nuance of feeling conveyed epigrammatically; a clarity of musical description that reminds us of a shield of consummate workmanship; and finally an extraordinary sublimity of feeling, something experienced in the very depths of music, that does Wagner the highest honour; a synthesis of conditions which to many people - even "higher minds" - will seem incompatible, of strict coherence, of "loftiness" in the most startling sense of the word, of a cognisance and a penetration of vision that cuts through the soul as with a knife, of sympathy with what is seen and shown forth. We get something comparable to it in Dante, but nowhere else. Has any painter ever depicted so sorrowful a look of love as Wagner does in the final accents of his Prelude?"
[Letter to Peter Gast (Heinrich Köselitz), January 1887]
YouTube: Wagner, Parsifal,Prelude Act I.
Bayreuth Festival Orchestra, Hans Knappertsbusch
Recorded live, 1962.