Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Wagner and the Jews

I've written a lot on this blog about Wagner and the relationship between his music and his anti-Semitism, i.e. can a bad man still produce transcendental art?  Fr. Owen Lee thought so, and now there's a very good article by Terry Teachout that revisits the question, with perhaps a different answer.

Hence the uncanny timeliness of “Wagner and the Jews,” in which Nathan Shields takes a searching and persuasive look at the ways in which Wagner’s operas embody his anti-Semitic obsessions. The human capacity for self-deception is and will always be infinite, but I cannot imagine that any lover of Wagner’s music who reads Shields’ essay with an open mind will thereafter find it possible to erect a cordon sanitaire separating the composer’s operas from his ideas. They are consubstantial, as he meant them to be, and those who think otherwise are ignoring the self-evident assertions of their creator, who believed his work to be the New Testament of a religion of art.

Very interesting.   Read the whole article - questions such as these are seldom more relevant than they are today.  I don't know if I agree with him or not, but I've always felt that Teachout's opinions were worthy of deep consideration.  I know Mitchell does as well, having linked to him several times both here and at his TV blog, so I'm in good company.

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