The subject-matter of Salome is neither mythological nor highflown. The story is Biblical. But the subject is sex, and sex in a direct physical form which Wagner himself, in his librettos if not always in life, avoided. There is none of the soulful eroticism, shot through with Schopenhauerean philosophy, of Tristan, the psychological complexity of Parsifal or the guilt-laden religiosity of Tannhauser: sex, instead, is presented as a simple battle of wills between Salome and her stepfather. If it be acknowledged that a work’s aesthetic quality cannot be separated from its composer’s technical mastery, then the ‘tawdriness’ of Salome can be seen to have its positive side. Yet music drama is but a genre, a set of conventions and possibilities embracing such matters as musico-dramatic unity and continuity, the use of leitmotive and other thematic material, the composer’s treatment of the orchestra and so on.