[Pt. III – Proj. 4] ~ Research point- Was Wagner a Nazi?
Research point/ Wagner Nazi?
Both during his lifetime and after his death, Wagner has been a controversial figure for many because of his supposed anti-Semitism and later influence on Adolf Hitler and the Nazi vision of the German nation. Do some research into the links between Wagner and Nazism. Can you find evidence in Wagner’s writing that he was an advocate of anti-semitic or racist policies, or is there something within the music itself that made it attractive to Hitler and his Nazi ideologues? How far do you think audiences should concern themselves with a composer’s political views or should they simply judge the music on its own merits?
Even though I am also a fan of Richard Wagner’s music I can’t get behind his views of Nationalism nor his antisemitism. It has not stopped me from listening to and appreciating his music, but I can’t help but think that perhaps my tolerance of him comes from the fact that he is far removed in time. I see him as a relic and product of his time. I ask myself if I would be quite as forgiving if faced with similarly racist views from a contemporary musician. I doubt I would, but perhaps it is an unfair comparison since I live in a post – Holocaust era and have seen the horrors that resulted from the Nietzschean inspired anti semitism. Wagner did not have the benefit of history to help shape his views. Regardless of whatever ignorance lay behind his ‘beliefs’ I do struggle to consolidate them with his wonderful music. I was recently in Switzerland and visited one of his residencies, now a museum. I found a lot of information about him there and there was a pamphlet he’d written about the ‘jews’.