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Wolfgang calls a truce cosima
Sat Jul 28 2001 14:45
I don't see how Mr Wolfgang Wagner is ever going to leave Bayreuth. As long as he is alive, he'll be in charge of Bayreuth. And he'll get his way - his wife will take over and then the reins will pass to his daughter. He'll rule from the grave - just as his grandfather tries to do with his music. All the Wagnerians I know are totally obsessed by Wagner's works and they even put up with his anti-semitism. Barenboim should apologise for playing Wagner in Israel. Quite honestly, who cares who runs Bayreuth? It's days are numbered and the subsidies are being withdrawn. Turn it in to a brewery is what I say.
re: Wolfgang calls a truce cosima
Tue Jul 31 2001 02:06
If you look at today's London Times, you'll see that even Placido Domingo has turned his back on Bayreuth and he had criticized Wolfgang Wagner. Everyone knows that the Festival is being badly run and the top singers will eventually desert the place.
re: Wolfgang calls a truce Stewcro
Sat Aug 4 2001 16:28
It is a mystery to most music lovers why the subject of Bayreuth and who runs it is so emotive. The internecine squabbles of the Wagner family are secondary to the incontrevertible fact that Bayreuth has flourished under Wolfgang's Directorship. If he was not the World's most innovative and thoughtful producer himself, he was not backward in engaging those who were, and from all political stances-Friedrich, Rennert, Chereau, Ponnelle,Hall and Kupfer to name but a few!
The disgraceful and ill-informed comments of cosima are not really worthy of comment,except to say that Wagner refused to pander to Domingo's superstar status, his habit of not attending rehearsals, and general insufferability which is renowned. Perhaps if Bayreuth staged some Zarazuela...
In conclusion, Bayreuth will most certainly survive and flourish-it will also evolve, and we may see other works performed, more performances,more recordings and all to the good I say!
As for Barenboim apologising for performing Wagner in Israel, he is a Jew. A preponderance of great Wagner interpreters since the war were Jewish. Wagner was not responsible for Hitler or the Holocaust, any more than Elgar was responsible for the British opening the first Concentration camp in the Boer War! If apologies are called for, Israel has more than its fair share to make-but won't, because it takes the view that it can excuse its own calumniies by forever preying on the conscience of the West!
Against attitudes like this, it takes a feisty character like Wolfgang Wagner to repel the bigots and keep one of the most extaordinary artistic projects alive, and we all know that in Artistic Politics, nice guys come second!!
re: Wolfgang calls a truce cosima
Thu Aug 9 2001 00:47
If Stewcro thinks Wolfgang Wagner's work is wonderful, then he missed his last "Parsifal" at Bayreuth - which was a real joke. As for Wolfgang Wagner engaging wonderful directors - the Peter Hall "Ring" was a fiasco - Solti and Hall never came back to Bayreuth after the first year chaos. Stewcro's comments that Bayreuth should allow Domingo to sing Spanish songs suggests racism - something that most Wagnerites seem to be guilty of.
Israel is a sovereign country and does not need interference in its internal affairs. Stewcro wasn't in a German concentration camp - he has no idea how the Jews suffered and as long as there are survivers of the holocaust around - Wagner will never be played in Israel. If Stewcro was not so ignorant, he would know how Richard Wagner relied on Schopehauer's racist theories and that Richard Wagner was the German anti-semitic example on which Hitler modelled himself. Hitler probably couldn't understand some of the nuances in "The Ring" for example - but he did know that his hero, Richard Wagner, was the king of anti-semites. Yes, we all know that Wagner died before Hitler was born, but the composer left a powerful legacy of anti-semitism.
re: Wolfgang calls a truce Stewcro
Thu Aug 9 2001 18:29
Oh Dear! cosima seems to have revealed a rabidly anti-pathetic attitude to all things Wagnerian, which renders her opinions more than suspect. I will take no lectures from her?on the history of the Wagner family, Wagner's philosophy, the views of Schopenhauer or Nietzsche, or his anti-semitism.
Anti-semitism was not peculiar to Wagner or Germany-Britain, France Italy all had a very highly developed sense of it.
Shakespeare( Merchant of Venice), Marlowe( Jew of Malta), even Walter Scott in Invanhoe,who is really suggesting that not ALL Jews are bad are just a minimum of examples!!
This does not excuse Wagner! However, as with most anti-semitism at that time it was honoured more as a principle than practiced in tangible terms. Wagner's own anti-semitism was confused by his suspicion that he was really the son of the actor Geyer, his Mother's lover,whom Wagner believed was Jewish, and his enmity towards Meyerbeer , the darling of Paris , whom he believed to have been responsible for the failure of Tannhauser in Paris.

Wagner did not ever advocate the deportation or persecution of Jews-he concentrated his bile more on the degenerstive influence of Jews in art,as he saw it, which did not stop him engaging Hermann Levi as Conductor.! Liszt and Cosima were by contrast rabid anti-semites of the worst kind!
Wagner was a great artist and a complete **** as a human being, no argument, but he didn't cause the Holocaust.
Many other great artists were not so nice guys and anti-semitic to boot, but their works are not banned in Israel, but of course their work was not hi-jacked by the Nazis.
My point is that many Jews in Israel accept the greatness of Wagner's works in their true context, and want to hear them performed in concert and great Jewish Artists like Barenboim, Levine etc are willing to perform them. No one in Israel HAS to attend these concerts or listen to the broadcasts. Stop throwing the guilt-trip on Wagner-Israel itself has plenty to be ashamed of, and its present Prime Minister should arguably be alongside Miloscevic in The Hague!
But this is not the point-Back to Bayreuth!
My remark about Zarazuela was intended as a light hearted dig at Domingo, who tries to impose it on Opera Houses Worldwide! I simply sought to infer that Bayreuth might have kept the services of Domingo if they had staged some Zarazuela performances, but cosima sees racist remarks at every turn.
Her opinion of Production Standards at Bayreuth are no more than that-her opinion. The Hall/Solti Debacle reflects no credit on them-Solti refused to have Wagner's nominated Wotan Simon Estes because he was black, and said so publicly; Reiner Goldberg did not learn the part of Siegfried in time and Hall's well documented antics, incompetence and expenditure do him no credit in this case-not the fault of Bayreuth or Wagner! Why didn't cosima mention W. Wagner's staunch defense of the Chereau Marxist Ring when half the Bayreuth regulars refused to take part and Siemens among others threatened to withdraw their subsidies?
I don't suggest that everything is wonderful in Bayreuth-it ain't,any more than it is in the U.K-the last Covent Garden/Haitink Ring for example-yecch! That's no reason to tear apart the institution though, because over a period, the good outweighs the bad-as with Covent Garden. Bayreuth is a unique institution, and I and many others want to see it evolve in the hands of the Wagner Family. cosima doesn't-my suggestion is don't go there, don't attend Wagner performances or listen to recordings if it offends you, but spare those of us who take adifferent view your vituperation. I am not a racist or a right-winger. At 50 odd I am a lifelong Labour supporter, and will not listen to the music of Hindemith because he tried fervently to be accepted as ReichsKomponist under the Nazis, and he was very vexed when they rejected him as degenerate-no hero there-butI am intelligent enough to see the achievement of Wagner in its true context. I am now bored with this correspondence. I am off to Europe for a month, culminating in early Sptember with Don Carlo at the Wiener Staatsoper, and Die Meistersinger at the Volksoper.
Regrettably, no tickets for Bayreuth. Maybe cosima can send me hers? Genug!! Stew Cro!
re: Wolfgang calls a truce cosima
Sun Aug 12 2001 06:28
I gather that Stewcro has not read "Das Judentum in der Musik" in its original German form. Wagner cannot be redeemed - in the essay he states that the "rootlessness" of the Jews in Germany as well as their traditional role as businessmen have made them culturally sterile.
As for Stew cro's views on Sharon, why then are other alleged war criminals like Idi Amin moving about freely? Has Stewcro ever been to Israel - or to Auschwitz? He should go. And let me remind him that it was his countrymen, the British, who invented concentration camps. And it is Britain where refugees and asylum seekers are attacked - I refer of course to the incidents in Glasgow.
Nothing anyone says or does can deny the great link:
And of course, Hitler's great friend, Winifred, was British.
re: Wolfgang calls a truce Stewcro
Sun Aug 12 2001 17:44
Drat! Caught me before I left! This really is the last message.
cosima is as selective with her reading of my comments as she is with her view of history. I specifically drew attention to the fact that we British instigated the first concentration camp in the Boer War, and as I intimated, Elgar and composers of jingoist music cannot be held responsible for British Racism-we did not need it!I can see it on my screen-cosima apparently did not seeing only my comments about Sharon.
Dear cosima, I have indeed read all of Wagner's writings, and reprehensible as they are-and boring too except for Opern und Musikdramen-they do not advocate persecution or extermination of Jews, or anyone else. I have sought to illustrate that these views are not abnormal for the time, but must be seen against a background of Wagner's own life, and even the fact that under the Hohenstaufens, Prussia had been the first state in the World to issue an edict of toleration of Jews and freedom from persecution.
No-one can seriously suggest that Wagner started anti-semitism in Germany, or that his writings and music specifically influenced the Nazis racial views and directly caused the Holocaust!
The Holocaust would have happened without Wagner!
Jews were being slaughtered in pogroms in Eastern Europe before Wagner was born- most Historians accept that at least as many, if not more Jews perished at the hands of Stalin as did under Hitler.
Was Wagner resonsible for all of this too?
Anti-semitism and racism are indefensible in ALL states, and it is the case that many of the actions perpetrated in the name of defence of their state by Israel have an uncomfortable resonance with events in Europe in the 30's and 40's, and they do not occupy a sufficiently high moral high ground to be advocating the banning of Wagner's Music. It is perfectly understandable that for many who suffered under the Nazis, the associations of Wagners music are too painful to bear. Many others take a different view.
What about those who suffered under Stalin? Should we banning racist literatue and music from Russia-there's plenty of it?!
During the 1948 Uprising in the Palestine, when Jewish Irgun terrorists were blowing up women and children as well as British soldiers for a cause which, as a dispossessed people they felt was just(Sound Familiar?), the American Jewish Writer Ben Hecht (..Story by William Shakespeare, Additional Dialogue by Ben Hecht..) stated publicly that he "took a holiday in his heart every time he heard of the death of a British Soldier".
Nice or what?
His writings are not banned in Britain, nor should they be.
I won't read them if I don't want to-as it happens , he is an observant and funny writer- and I hope my point is at last getting through.
No-one is defending racism or anti-semitism, but it is
historically and morally wrong to heap the blame for all of this on Wagner, who was one small cog in the engine of racism.By the way,Israel still bans the Music of Richard Strauss,which is even more absurd.
I wholly agree that Idi Amin and a long list of others deserve to be locked up, many still actually in power, but they are not heads of a state which so often and so loudly expresses its moral idignation about what has been done to it, and simultaneously and arrogantly ignores the crimes for which they have been responsible, and Israel stands condemned in several U.N.Resolutions which it ignores !
Both sides stand codemned in this struggle, but this is a separate issue.
This is an Arts Forum-the original point was about Wolfgang Wagners's Direction of Bayreuth, and cosima has hi-jacked this into a debate about the moral acceptance of Wagner.
For the avoidance of doubt-Wagner was a Racist. Racism is Wrong. Wagner did not cause the Holocaust, but his works are indellibly associated with Nazism for many. For many more, however, including Diaspora and Israeli Jews. his work is seen its true context and they want to hear it and perform it. They should be allowed to without criticism. The world is not perfect. Racism existed before and after Wagner and was and is worse elsewhere than in Germany. Bayreuth since the War has not been and is not a racist institution, anything but! Wolfgang Wagner has done a fair job in keeping Bayreuth Alive &Controversial.
cosima does not appear to want there to be any performances of Wagner's Works anywhere. The Majority of Music Lovers don't share that view, including me, and i find cosima's views as offensive as she evidently finds mine.We will never agree on the main point, but in fact we do share a lot of common ground. I really am off now.Bye!!
re: Wolfgang calls a truce cosima
Mon Aug 13 2001 04:58
Try as you might, you cannot turn Richard Wagner into a good person and Bayreuth into a good place. Bayreuth has a legacy of anti-semitism. Cosima herself, then the English woman Winifred and the husband of her daughter Eva - Houston Stewart Chamberlain.

If you bother to read Gottried Wagner's book,"He who does not howl with the wolf", you will see that he quotes Winifred as saying "You still don't know the Jews. Just wait one day you'll understand me and Hitler will be seen differently in world history." Really?

Gottfried reports the following statement from the mouth of Wolfgang Wagner:
"The Jews themselves have been the worst racists in history," and
"Jews themselves made an essential contribution to the Nuremberg race laws".
All this from the head of the Bayreuth Festspiele?

And Bayreuth tries to cover itself by inviting academics from Israeli universities there for "discussions". What is there to discuss? Richard Wagner was an anti-semite, so was Cosima, so was Winifred, and, if Gottfried is to be believed, the stigma of Nazism is still with Bayreuth.

Leave the last word to Gottfried about his father. He says
"I wanted to find answers to the question of why he (Wolfgang) represses his own and his family's past - as the head of the Bayreuth Festspiele, as a Wagner and as my father."

I recommend that you read Gottfried's book - it is available in English. Maybe then you will comprehend the problems that most sane people have with Richard Wagner.

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