Richard Wagner Judaism In Music And Other Essays

Richard Wagner Judaism In Music And Other Essays-52
"The only way to counter this abyss of forgetfulness is through ritual or institutional forms of remembrance.The Israeli ban on Wagner is a pre-eminent rite for warding off the dissolution of one of the core experiences of Jewish history and memory." In Tel Aviv today, the New Israeli Opera still has no plans to perform Wagner, although the question is hotly debated.

"The only way to counter this abyss of forgetfulness is through ritual or institutional forms of remembrance.The Israeli ban on Wagner is a pre-eminent rite for warding off the dissolution of one of the core experiences of Jewish history and memory." In Tel Aviv today, the New Israeli Opera still has no plans to perform Wagner, although the question is hotly debated.

" But a fellow Jew, the American academic Marc Weiner, has traced anti-semitic images through the Wagner canon.

"Wagner's anti-semitism is integral to an understanding of his mature music dramas," he says.

"What is happening here is Israeli society taking an easy way out," he says.

"We have German cars now, we have German electric machines in our homes.

Zubin Mehta, musical director of the Israeli Philharmonic, has tried on four occasions to programme Wagner but has always been dissuaded by the force of public anger.

The musical director of New Israeli Opera, Asher Fisch, has made no secret of the fact that he'd like to hear Wagner performed."If time renders ridiculous the ban on Wagner, then the simple passage of time will also cause the Holocaust itself to fade into a distant memory.Appalling as this possibility is it seems likely to eventuate." Rose has no truck with either seeking to understand Wagner's anti-semitism or separating it off from his musical output."Wagner actually addresses the Jews, by saying, 'Remember that one thing alone can redeem you from the curse which weighs upon you: the redemption of Ahasverus - destruction!' This cannot mean that Wagner is literally calling for the destruction of the Jews, since in the same breath he is offering them redemption.Around 150 years ago, a failed composer and revolutionary used an assumed name to publish his latest 25-page pamphlet.Although Richard Wagner's ideas were to find their final form 20 years later in his opera cycle The Ring, his early attempts at philosophy reflect recognisably Wagnerian concerns: that nature is destroyed by industry; that it is unnatural to pursue power at the expense of love; that capitalism is corrupt; that the state often at odds with the people; that we live in an age where entertainment is considered more important than art. But what people today remember from Wagner's quasi-philosophical period is his contention that it was the Jews who were responsible for much that was going wrong in art and society.Surprisingly, though, Weiner refuses to write off what Wagner does with them."Wagner's racism led him to create some of his most complex, rich, and enigmatic dramatic figures, as well as some of his most haunting, iconoclastic, and beautiful music," he says.Certainly we would probably not find his music banned in Israel today, nor a whole academic industry involved in mining his musical texts for seams of anti-semitism.The notion that artists don't have to be as beautiful as the works they create is a commonplace now - except in the case of Wagner.

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