Magazine article Tablet Magazine

Israeli Orchestra Plays Wagner in Germany

Magazine article Tablet Magazine

Israeli Orchestra Plays Wagner in Germany

Article excerpt

The Israel Chamber Orchestra has become the first Israeli ensemble to play a piece by the notoriously anti-Semitic German composer (and Hitler favorite) Richard Wagner in his homelandindeed, in his home town of Bayreuth, site of the annual, official festival for his works. At the close of a program dedicated to Jewish composersthey led off with "Hatikvah," and also dipped into the oeuvres of Gustav Mahler and Felix Mendelssohnthe orchestra, conducted by Roberto Paternostro (who has relatives who perished in the Holocaust), offered the Siegfried Idyll.

Commentary's Jonathan S. Tobin has an excellent post defending them. "While Wagner's anti-Semitic screeds are today read only by scholars, his life-affirming music dramas continue to be enjoyed by audiences around the world who know little or nothing of his politics," he argues. "Those who seek to project the composer's racial and political opinions onto the broad canvas of his myth-based theater works are inevitably reduced to strained analogies and symbolism that never holds up to scrutiny. …

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