Great-granddaughter of German composer Richard Wagner canceled a trip to Israel after the leaked news of the visit prompted criticism over her anti-Semitic ancestor.
Katharina Wagner was scheduled to visit the Jewish Country and invite the Israel Chamber Orchestra to open next summer’s Wagner Festival in Bayreuth, Germany.
The visit, which according to Haaretz had been kept secret for a year, was leaked to the Israeli media to the reception of hot and cold reactions both from Israel and abroad.
Usually, Wagner’s works are not performed in Israel where he is unloved for his reputation as an outspoken anti-Semite whose work was venerated by Hitler.
Chairwoman of the orchestra’s board of directors, Erella Talmi told Israel’s Army Radio that the orchestra will play in the opening of the month-long festival of Richard Wagner operas.
“The decision was not to break a taboo,”
“The decision was to accept an invitation that showed a new openness.”
Hence, she drew a distinction between performing Wagner in Israel and abroad.
The new Austrian conductor of the orchestra, Roberto Paternostro is a friend of Katharina Wagner’s.
Some musicologists date the beginning of modern classical music to the first notes of Wagner’s Tristan – the Hendrix-esque “Tristan Chord”.
His music is especially known for its early introduction to 20th century atonality.
During the 1870’s, philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was part of the composer’s in-crowd – and in fact, Nietzsche (also known to have an anti-Semitic edge, though less sharp) proposed in his first work, The Birth of Tragedy, that Wagner’s music is the “Dionysian rebirth of European culture in opposition to Appollonian rationalist decadence”.
A prolific writer, Wagner wrote a famous essay in 1850, “Das Judenthum in der Musik” (“Jewishness in Music”), a polemic in opposition to Jewish composers in general, and in particular one Giacomo Meyerbeer. He was also well-known for his mistreatment of German-Jewish composer and conductor, Hermann Levi.