"Don't be afraid of Wagner. He's not a ..."

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"Don't be afraid of Wagner. He's not a ..."

Wagner is probably the most 'off-putting' composer in all of music*, if not for the fact his operas are incredibly long**, then certainly because of his obvious anti-semitism and supposed influence on Nazism.

* if you can think of better candidate please start a new topic :-)

** "Parsifal is the kind of opera that starts at six o'clock. After it has been going for three hours, you look at your watch and it says 6.20." - David Randolph

So, if you've ever felt guiltily interested in Wagner, an article by Simon Heffer in The Telegraph on Saturday may help you overcome your reluctance to explore further...

"Don't be afraid of Wagner. He's not a Nazi
"The idea that Nazism can be traced back to a moment in 1905 when Hitler, aged 16, had some sort of epiphany after seeing 'Rienzi' in Linz is simply potty, says Simon Heffer"

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/simonheffer/7575769/Dont-b...

Rgds

Spider

"Louder! Louder! I can still hear the singers!"

- Richard Strauss to the orchestra, at a rehearsal.

RE: Home

I'm really not sure why the subject line of my post has been bowdlerized to

"Don't be afraid of Wagner. He's not a ****"

but it just goes to illustrate the problem with automated editing, as it now comes across as substantially more offensive than the reality (the asterisked word is"Nazi").

 

Rgds

Spider

"Louder! Louder! I can still hear the singers!"

- Richard Strauss to the orchestra, at a rehearsal.

RE: "Don't be afraid of Wagner. He's not a ****"

SpiderJon wrote:

Wagner is probably the most 'off-putting' composer in all of music*,

If you mean "the must 'off-putting' man who wrote great music" then I couldn't agree more. Liar, cheat, egotist, serial adulterer, betrayer of friends, anti-semite...it's hard to find something to like about him. He was fond of animals? Er, no, wait ,so was Hitler.

"The man is dead, the music lives" is rather a pat response. How far can (should) we seperate the composer from the music (and, in Wagner's case, libretti) that he writes?

My web-pseudonym rather gives the game away*, I'm an avid Wagnerian, and have been since my teenage years when I got the Solti "Rheingold", and was completely swept away. Later discoveries about what kind of man wrote this music were troubling (still are, sometimes). But I find the idea that, because of Hitler's obsession with the music it's somehow tainted, ludicrous. After all, Der Fuhrer presumably sat through many performances of the last act of Gotterdammerung completely deaf and blind to the fact that Wagner had depicted Hitler's own doom. I don't think he really "got" the message of The Ring.

Others will, presumably, disagree. The Wagner controversy looks set to rumble on indefinitely. Maybe it's just part of the fascination....

(* Niklaus Vogel, for non-Wagnerians, is the Mastersinger who doesn't appear in the opera because he has a sick note. I like to think that if he hadn't been ill he'd have written a better song than either Walther or Beckmesser and waltzed off with the hand of Eva Pogner!)

 

RE: Home

Andrew Everard wrote:

SpiderJon wrote:

I'm really not sure why the subject line of my post has been bowdlerized

The fact it has been asterisked in the header but not in the body of the post is an inconsistency in our filtering. I've alerted JD and asked him to look into it

Which he is doing...

RE: Home

And I have now amended that filter so it puts '...' instead of '****', so it doesn't make the OP look like he was saying something much worse.

Audio Editor, Gramophone

RE: "Don't be afraid of Wagner. He's not a ****"


Quote:

If you mean "the must 'off-putting' man who wrote great music" then I couldn't agree more. 

I was rather leaving that judgement hanging for others to aver/reach - but yes, that would be my position, too


Quote:

I find the idea that, because of Hitler's obsession with the music it's somehow tainted, ludicrous.

Indeed - Hitler also went to the toilet and metabolized oxygen, but those activities seem largely unaffected by the adverse historical association :-)

I'm currently listening to the Barenboim/Berlin Phil 'Parsifal' (working from home has its benefits), and there's some utterly sublime music in it.

Spider

"Louder! Louder! I can still hear the singers!"

- Richard Strauss to the orchestra, at a rehearsal.

RE: Home

SpiderJon wrote:

Your site, your choice, of course

Thank you. And also for showing your familiarity with eluding such filters.

Audio Editor, Gramophone

RE: Home

otterhouse wrote:

Na-zi

nasi's

n(a)zi

It's alright, we've turned that particular filter, off after lengthy debate. You can type Nazi, or indeed nazis, to your heart's content now...

"...with his cigars, and his brandy, and his ROTTEN paintings! ROTTEN!
Hitler, there was a painter! He could paint an entire apartment in one
afternoon! Two coats!"

Audio Editor, Gramophone

RE: Home

Andrew Everard wrote:

It's alright, we've turned that particular filter, off after lengthy debate. You can type Nazi, or indeed nazis, to your heart's content now...

Well, yes, though I hasten to add that if it's used by anyone adjectivally rather than in the context of a serious historical discussion, you'll quickly find the post moderated.

Editor and Publisher, Gramophone

RE: "Don't be afraid of Wagner. He's not a ..."

  Blaming Wagner for Hitler,the Nazis ,WW2 and the holocaust makes about as much sense as blaming Christ for the Spanish Inquisition. 

  And Wagner was by no means the only composer to have been guilty of anti-semitism. In Israel, where his music has been unoficially banned for so many years, the two most popular composers are Chopin and Tchaikovsky, both of whom were anti-semites ! 

  One has to be wary of reading Naziism into Wagner's great works. There are no Jewish characters in the operas,no discussions of Jews and Judaism in them,and not a single anti-semitic statement by any of the characters. 

  The Ring, far from being a glorification of Naziism and antisemitism, is a dark tale of how Wotan and the Gods are destroyed by his lust for power and riches . And although Wagner's anti-semitism was reprehensible, it never came remotely close to Hitler's insane hatred, and Wagner never advocated genocide of the Jews or any other group.

  Don't let the man blind you to the greatness of his music. 

RE: "Don't be afraid of Wagner. He's not a ..."

 

Re Wagner, has anyone read the book Twilight of the Wagners by his grandson Gottfried Wagner? It is a real eye-opener. I heard Gottfried speak about his family and grandfather at the Jewish Community Center in Tucson, Arizona. It seems Winnifred Wagner was an especially good friend of Hitler.

A music lover currently living in the middle of nowhere. 

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