Moses Mendelssohn’s grandson was raised a Christian, but his compositions reflect his Jewish roots.
These two ex-friends saw Jews as the embodiment of the evils of liberalism.
A moral virtuoso.
More insidious than Wagner’s hateful ideas are his passions, which reside in his music and stir answering passions in others.
Hating Wagner is a debilitating Jewish habit. So is loving him.
Wagner’s totalizing anti-Judaism is still alive. It just has a new face, fully revealed in this month’s attacks in Paris.
As Wagner illustrates, anti-Semitism is more than a mere dislike of Jews—it’s a metaphysical condition that shapes the very way the world is perceived.
Two centuries after the great composer’s birth, his anti-Semitism remains a bitterly contested issue. Perhaps that’s because no one has yet come to grips with its, or his, true nature.
In addition to its poisonous political effects in Germany, the composer’s anti-Semitism helped solidify anti-Jewish myths in Western music that persist to this day.
Despite his contemptible beliefs and reprehensible behavior, the composer made a unique contribution to the world of music and expanded our awareness of human possibility.
While Wagner’s nationalist anti-Semitism is vilified, the anti-Semitism of contemporaneous Russian composers remains widely ignored.