BONN (Jan. 24)
Richard Wagner’s grandson, Gottfried Wagner, who just returned from a successful lecture tour in Israel, understands why his grandfather’s music is generally boycotted in that country.
As a member of the family, he has no right whatever to criticize Israel for that, he told the Berlin newspaper Der Tagesspiegel in an interview published this week.
Wagnerian music’s close association with the Nazi era is responsible for negative attitudes toward it in a nation of Holocaust survivors.
According to his grandson, the composer’s personal anti-Semitism should be considered in the context of his times.
Richard Wagner lived from 1813-1883. Anti-Jewish attitudes were widely held at the time, and there was fierce competition with Jewish composers, mainly in Paris, said Gottfried Wagner, who is also a composer.
“One should have enough courage to break with horrible traditions, even in one’s family. For me, the anti-Semitism in my family is something horrible,” he said.
Wagner delivered four lectures at Tel Aviv University to packed audiences last week.
“They received me very warmly and I am extremely grateful. I know that I was among friends,” the 42-year-old Wagner said of the Israelis.