He was a brilliant composer, a confirmed anti-Semite and an undeniably significant influence on the history of music. And today, he would have been 200 years old.
That man, of course, was Richard Wagner.
“Only Jesus, Napoleon and Hitler had more written about them,” said the German newspaper Die Welt’s culture affairs critic Manuel Brug recently.
Wagner is considered one of the more revered and most vilified composers in the annals of the classical music. He was not only an anti-Semite; his compositions were practically the theme music for the Third Reich. In Israel, he is boycotted.
As the 200th anniversary of his birth approached, a number of books were published on Wagner, one of the more critical volumes being written by his own great-grandson. Gottfried Wagner is a 66-year-old musicologist now living in Italy. In “You Shall Have No Other Gods Before Me,” he claims that one can discern in Wagner’s compositions a deep-rooted anti-Semitism as well as misogyny.
“His works contain a wide diversity of racist and sexist writings,” Wagner recently told the AFP. “He developed his own racist theories. Given what we know today, one can no longer ignore the facts and state that ‘this is only beautiful music.’”
For more, go to Haaretz