A Conversation for Richard Wagner - Composer
evilwombat Started conversation Jan 24, 2001
Wagner was an anti-semitic b*****d who advanced the idea of a superior White-Germanic race in much of his works. This is also why he was a favorite of Hitler and why he is still often associated with the Nazis; they shared similar beliefs. Shoving this aside as a "tenuous" link does not seem correct to me. How this issue affects one's appreciation of his music is up to the individual, but it should not be glossed over.
Gnomon - time to move on Posted Jan 25, 2001
I disagree. I have made it clear that he was anti-semitic. I also think I have made it clear he was a b*****d and that he believed in all things German being great. I don't think this comes through in the music. I also don't think I glossed over it. I presented the facts. The only value judgement I made was to call it a "tenuous link", which is a matter of opinion, but it is my opinion.
Researcher 219087 Posted Feb 12, 2003
I think anyone who goes through Wagner's libretti would have to admit there there is no overt anti semitism. whenever I ask someone to come up with a racist quote from any of the works silence is the stern reply.
His prose works certainly do contain overt racist ideas. Especially the notorious "Judaism in Music" and the late prose works like "Art & Religion". However I find those who see "Parsifal" as a work of racialist ideology very wide of the mark. Wagner clearly thought that he was presenting a mythic expression of Schopenhaurian self knowledge and the ethical values of compassion for all humannity and indeed all creation. Similarly those who see Beckmesser in "Die Miestersinger von Nurnburg" as a caricature of the Jew are hopelessly wide of the mark. Is it not transparently obvious that he is what he comes over as being: - a pedant of the kind that Wagner hated for failing to appreciate his work. These people were Germans not Jews. The only scene in Wagner which makes me slightly uneasy is the Act 1 Scene in "Siegfried" where Mime could be regarded as an insulting caricature of a Jew.
There are many who make good money by writing about the anti-semitism of Wagner's music dramas. I would be more prepared to take their views seriously if their work was less dependent upon assumption, non sequitors and an unaccountable unwillingness to reason from the evidence of the works themselves.
Recumbentman Posted Mar 10, 2005
Wagner certainly engaged in horrendous anti-semitism; but curiously he continued to employ Jewish conductors and musicians. How must they have felt?
The contradictions involved were immense; one can get a taste of them from the story of Wittgenstein, who was technically not Jewish (his mother was Catholic, though of Jewish extraction); he was counted Jewish by Hitler's reckoning (through his grandfather who became a Protestant and took the name Christian); his family changed Hitler's mind by persuading him that Christian was not the son of his father Moses Maier, but of Moses's employer (their donation of the equivalent of 1.7 metric tonnes of gold to the Nazi party may have improved their argument - the Wittgensteins were vastly rich).
Despite all this, when Ludwig Wittgenstein decided to bore all his friends by confessing his faults to them, he did not mention his homosexuality (then a crime, though not a fault) but did mention his Jewishness, which he felt responsible for his inability to be creative!!
Was there ever such a contradiction in such a brilliant mind?
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