Courting Oblivion

More insidious than Wagner’s hateful ideas are his passions, which reside in his music and stir answering passions in others.

Annette Dasch in a 2010 production of Lohengrin in Bayreuth. APN Photo/Eckehard Schulz.

Annette Dasch in a 2010 production of Lohengrin in Bayreuth. APN Photo/Eckehard Schulz.

Last Word
Jan. 26 2015
About the author

Nathan Shields, a composer whose works have been performed by various orchestras and chamber ensembles, is associate faculty at the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research. He earned his doctorate at the Juilliard School in New York, and has received fellowships from Tanglewood and the American Academy of Arts and Letters.


I thank Edward Rothstein, Terry Teachout, and James Loeffler for their sympathetic and illuminating responses to my essay. They have raised a number of issues, like the sordid history of Nazi-era Bayreuth, and the dramatic significance and purported “Jewishness” of certain Wagnerian villains, that I think any adequate account of Wagner must address, and I will try to do so in the bulk of my comments below.

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More about: Anti-Semitism, Arts & Culture, Music, Richard Wagner