The Israel Chamber Orchestra and members of the Israel Symphony Orchestra, Rishon Lezion have aroused the hostility of Israeli politicians and have been threatened with funding cuts ahead of a planned concert in which they will play a piece by Richard Wagner at the German composer’s Bavarian home town of Bayreuth on July 26.

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What say ye, thoughtful readers?

7 Comments

  1. I think that regardless of who Wagner was as a person, his impact on musical history speaks for itself. It’s unfortunate that something like this could potentially 1) prevent the performance of quality music; and 2) be taken so far as to eliminate funding. It seems like an almost barbaric solution.

  2. My feelings too, Matt, but I’m not Jewish, so I wonder if that makes a difference. I always prefer to be sensitive to things I might not fully understand.

  3. Vladimir Gurevich

    In other news… Symphonic orchestra in some unnamed Bible Belt State lost funding after playing Tchaikovsky. 😉

  4. Truly!? Was it because of the composer or because of the work? Being a Christian, things like that really drive me bonkers.

    ALTHOUGH … that being said … I’m not exactly a Tchaikovsky nut. I know, I know, I should be ashamed. Maybe it’s just that I’ve played Nutcracker for far too many years?!

  5. … or are you pulling my leg, Vladimir? Sometimes I can be rather SLOOOOWWWWW ….

  6. Vladimir Gurevich

    Sorry for being even slower… Yes, that was just a joke, but as we say in Russian “every joke is only partly a joke”…

    I think this whole attitude in Israel towards Wagner is too much. First of all, yes, he was quite antisemitic and quite vocal about that, but how do we know that Schubert or Bach or any other Western European or Russian weren’t for that matter? Just because they didn’t write about that? Everyone, who wasn’t a Jew was antisemitic at that time.

    Second, regardless of whoever he was as person, is his music antisemitic? I do not know how music can be “anti” anything. He wasn’t denigrating Jewish music or anything like that… Some people say that Alberich and Mime represent Jews (they are nasty, short and have all the gold), but I think this is up to the stage director to portray them one way or another. You can imagine whoever you like and there is nothing inherently Jewish in them.

    These kind of incidents should be a vivid reminder that the First Amendment is good, even for the musicians.

  7. I really appreciate your comment, Vladimir! Thanks so much for filling me (and other readers) in on your thoughts. (I’m curious; is Shakespeare allowed in Israel? I would think not, perhaps.)

    Yes, most were antisemitic back then. I’ve been reading about other composers and, well, if I met them I am guessing we might not see eye to eye on many things. But of course if they were around today they also might think differently about things. We are always in a state of change. When I think about the words that were common when I was a child … some would not dare be spoken today!

    And yes, the music is not anti anything. And it IS glorious! 🙂

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