Richard Wagner (1813-1883)

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stalingrad
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Richard Wagner (1813-1883)

Post by stalingrad » 21 Sep 2003 10:24

[Several posts dealing with Richard Wagner and his works have been merged by the host, Ivan Ž.]

Can anyone enlighten me about Wagner, his works that Hitler liked, his beliefs and maybe his short bio.

Thanks.

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Post by CHRISCHA » 21 Sep 2003 11:53

Have you done a search?

Richard Wagner (1813-1883, born in Leipzig) was a strong nationalist, and his works promoted the romantic belief in the strength of the aryans, and the lesser races (dwarves, etc.) being dominated or overcome by them.
He was anti-semetic, and I believe he wrote about his beliefs regarding this.
He lived in poverty in Paris (1839-1842) before becoming famous.
His works, called operas, combined poetry, music and dance.
He died in Venice.
He commented on Jewish music '.. of horror migled with the absurd, at hearing that sense-and-sound confounding gurgle, yodel, and cackle, which no unintentional caricature can make more repugnent than as offered here in full'.
He was in constant praise of 'German Herrlichkeit!' (German glory!).

Hitler regarded Wagner as a spititual master and often made reference to him and his works.

Hitler was firm freinds with the English widow of Wagners dead composer son Seigffied. Many thought she would be the next Mrs Hitler.
Her son became a W-SS officer.

(PS. Ride of the Valkylries is the chopper attack music in 'Apocolypse Now').

Disjointed information taken from 'Encyclopedia of the Third Reich' by Louis L. Snyder, and some known information.

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Post by michael mills » 21 Sep 2003 14:01

Wagner did not use the word "Aryan" in any of his artistic works.

In some of his works, German culture and nationality is emphasised, eg "Die Meistersinger" and "Lohengrin".

However, in others Germanness plays no overt role whatever, for example "Parsifal" and the Ring Cycle. In fact, the basic theme of the Ring Cycle is the Gods' lust for power, embodied in the Ring, and their obtaining of it through deceit, which in the end leads to their destruction; hardly a theme that would have given much comfort to National Socialist Germany.

The concept of Wagner as some sort of spiritual forerunner of National Socialism is something cooked up long after his death by the National Socialists themselves, who hoped to ride on his coat-tails, rather than something derived from his actual works.

In 1850, Wagner wrote a pamphlet with the title "Jewishness in Music", in which he violently attacked the influence of Jewish composers such as Meyerbeer whom he accused of corrupting genuine German music. He certainly regarded Jews as an alien element who had penetrated German society and were corrupting its culture. Even so, he had good relations with quite a few Jewish musicians and intellectuals, and he himself had a large number of Jewish admirers.

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Post by Johnny » 21 Sep 2003 14:07

I am sick to death of this debate. Havn't this been discussed here before?
Wagner was a child of his time and like many europeans at the time he was an anti-semite. But I doubt he'd support an idea like the holocaust. Anyway saying Wagner was a nazi is like saying Nietzsche Hegerl or any other person from German history that the nazis used to better themselves.

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Post by CHRISCHA » 21 Sep 2003 14:23

I think your comments are quite correct, but I disagree this is a debate, more answering Stalingrads question.
If your sick to death of the subject, why answer? (Said with humour, not an attack :) ).

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Post by Johnny » 21 Sep 2003 15:43

Just expressing my loathing that's all :wink: Since I am a great Wagner fan, visited his grave and so on.. I've come to the conqlusion that one has to devide the art from the artist. It's like Woody Allen the person or the director or Winston Churchill the doped up alcoholic bomber of civilians or the great speaker. You can argue and say that Wagner was a bit of an a-hole, and yeah he probably was but linking him CLOSELY to nazism is just plain wrong.

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Post by CHRISCHA » 21 Sep 2003 16:58

I agree he was unconnected to nazism from his perception of race, etc, as it's an anacronism to combine the two.

The general anti-semetic feeling was a lot more apparent during the period of his life than later.

And although I disagree, your point of the two perceptions of Churchill is well illustrated.

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Post by stalingrad » 22 Sep 2003 05:12

Thanks Crischa, No I did not do a search for the specific reason that I have an exceptional pool of knowledge conerning subjects like this, right here in the Axis History Forum; but yes indeed I will do more research into the great composer as I have already started collecting some of his works. Thank-you for your exceptional summary and the start of an outstanding discussion.

Stalingrad

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Post by CHRISCHA » 22 Sep 2003 12:46

No problem Stalingrad.
When re-reading some of the info', it inspired me to play a bit of his music, much to my wifes and son's anoyance! :)

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Post by Johnny » 22 Sep 2003 12:56

stalingrad:
just don't start listening to the guy just beacuse of the anachronistic connections with nazism :lol:

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Post by stalingrad » 23 Sep 2003 07:20

I guess like Fredrick the Great the nazis needed founding forefathers also, But I guess Wagner doesnt fit in this category he was more like an artistic icon, a synonym for the third reich a code of being a good and true nazi was to like Wagner...I suppose if an officer didn't like Wagner or Heydrich(the composer), you'd be subject to an inquisition. Anyway thanks for the advice Johnny...

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Post by Ivan Ž. » 30 May 2006 10:27

Wagner with his wife Cosima, daughter of his friend and famous composer Franz Liszt.

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Parsifal banned?

Post by tz0o » 17 Jun 2006 00:20

Hello.

I did some research and found out that "Parsifal" was [allegedly] banned in the Third Reich. Why was that? I mean, it's by Wagner, and Hitler loved Wagner, right?

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Post by Ivan Ž. » 26 Aug 2012 15:47

"Parsifal" was very much played during the Third Reich.

From John Deathridge's Wagner Beyond Good and Evil, University of California Press, Berkeley, 2008, pp. 173-174 (notes: pp. 272-273):
The music of Parsifal has had a powerful effect on composers such as Mahler and Berg, who certainly cannot be accused of sharing in Wagner’s barmy racial universe. The distinguished musical lineage is perhaps one reason why many historians have been reluctant to discuss ideas about race in Parsifal. A few less cautious scholars, however, have simply distorted history in order to keep the lineage and the undeniable aesthetic power of the work intact. Their tactics have been breathtaking, including the one grasped at by Bryan Magee and Friedrich Spotts, among others, with the claim that the Nazis found Parsifal ideologically unacceptable and always tried to ban it, and indeed succeeded in doing so during the Second World War.49

An important source of the Nazi’s skepticism, as both Magee and Spotts correctly say, was the party ideologue Alfred Rosenberg. Yet neither of them mention the opinion of seasoned biographers of Hitler and the Third Reich that “too much has been made” of Rosenberg’s role as chief ideologist of the Nazi party,50 and that he was “arrogant and cold, one of the least charismatic and least popular of Nazi leaders [who] united other party bigwigs only in their intense dislike of him.”51 Rosenberg’s rejection of Parsifal as ideologically unsound, in other words, probably counted for less than it seemed to in the Nazi hierarchy, especially if the Führer himself was an admirer of the work.

But even this last point is in dispute. The index to Magee’s book has an entry “Parsifal: Hitler dislikes,”52 and Spotts states categorically that in a conversation with Goebbels in the winter of 1941 in Berlin Hitler declared that “After the war, he would see to it either that religion was banished from Parsifal or that Parsifal was banished from the stage,”53 which certainly suggests that he harbored significant doubts about it. What Goebbels actually dictated for his diary on 22 November 1941 was this: “Contrary to what has been reported to me, the Führer does not want Parsifal to be performed solely in Bayreuth again; he only means that one should modernize the décor and costumes of Parsifal somewhat. Either we have to get away from this Christian mystical style, or Parsifal in the long run won’t be able to retain its place in the modern repertory. The Führer gives me several suggestions, which I will immediately put into effect.”54

Far from wanting to banish Parsifal or its “religion,” Hitler had qualms that were clearly directed at the overly reverential treatment of it by theater directors who were in danger of alienating modern audiences by mistaking its sacral content for something specifically Christian.Worried that the public would turn its back on Parsifal, Hitler wanted a fresh approach to it, and moreover one in keeping with Wagner’s own forthright assertion (cited in the second paragraph of this chapter) that, despite its use of imagery and doctrinal niceties borrowed from the Church, it is a denial of “the whole phenomenon of Christianity in history.”

And how did Goebbels think he was going to implement Hitler’s suggestions immediately if Parsifal were banned? The simple answer is that a ban did not exist. In fact, there had been a performance of Parsifal the previous day in Berlin, and another was due to take place that very evening, both of them with a young Elisabeth Schwarzkopf singing the first Esquire and one of the Flower Maidens. Indeed, we need look no further than Alan Jefferson’s biography of Schwarzkopf to see that even during the war, groups of three or four performances of Parsifal were a yearly, and sometimes twice-yearly, feature in the repertoire of the Deutsche Oper, one of Berlin’s principal opera houses. Between 1939 and the end of 1942, when Schwarzkopf began to set her sights on Vienna, there were, according to Jefferson’s list of her appearances, no fewer than twenty-three performances of Parsifal in this theater alone.55

Coupled with the fact that the archives of the Deutsche Bühnenverein record no fewer than 714 performances of Parsifal within the borders of the German Reich between 1933 and 1939,56 which hardly sounds like a ban either, the continued presence of Parsifal on German-speaking stages after Hitler’s ascent to power does not exactly suggest that either he or Goebbels, whose Propaganda Ministry kept a close watch on theater repertoire, were lukewarm about its actual content.Wagner’s grandsons Wieland and Wolfgang were also witness to Hitler’s ideas about the restructuring of the Bayreuth Festival Theatre after the war, ideas that included Parsifal.57 Indeed, the only reservation Hitler seems to have had, apart from his objections to the dated productions already in existence, is that Bayreuth should never again have a monopoly over the work, suggesting that in his view as many people as possible should get a chance to experience it.


49. Bryan Magee,Wagner and Philosophy (London:Allen Lane, 2000), 366; Frederic Spotts, Bayreuth: A History of the Wagner Festival (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1994), 166, 192; see also Robert R. Gibson, “Problematic Propaganda: ‘Parsifal’ As Forbidden Opera,”Wagner (Journal of the London Wagner Society) n.s. 20 (May 1999): 78–87.
50. Joachim C. Fest, Hitler, trans. Richard Winston and Clara Winston (New York and London: Penguin, 1974), 137.
51. Ian Kershaw, Hitler 1889–1936: Hubris (New York and London: Allen Lane, 1998), 225.
52. Magee,Wagner and Philosophy, 391.
53. Frederic Spotts, Hitler and the Power of Aesthetics (London: Hutchinson, 2002), 236.
54. Die Tagebücher von Joseph Goebbels, ed. Elke Fröhlich, II/2 (October–December 1941) (Munich: Saur, 1996), 344.
55. Alan Jefferson, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (London: V. Gollanz, 1996), 230–36.
56. Drüner, Der Opernführer:Wagner “Parsifal,” 205.
57. See letter of April 1942 (draft) from Wieland to Wolfgang Wagner in Michael Karbaum, Studien zur Geschichte der Bayreuther Festspiele (1876–1976) (Regensburg: Bosse, 1976), 109.

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Missing Wagner manuscripts

Post by Jim S » 30 Jan 2014 02:19

I am reading Speer's "Spandau, the Secret Diaries" In it he says that Hitler received a bunch of original Wagner music scores, manuscripts, etc. for his 50th birthday. Towards the end of the war, Frau Winifred Wagner asked him about them and wanted to have them put away in Bayreuth for safe keeping. He told her they were in a far safer place. Evidently they never surfaced after the war - or at least as far as Speer knew in 1973 they hadn't.
Is there is any more known about this now? I wonder what safe place Hitler was talking about.

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