Wagner's Jews

Wagner's Jews

Downloadable Video - 2014
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German composer Richard Wagner was notoriously anti-Semitic, and his writings on Jews were later embraced by Hitler and the Nazis. But there is another, lesser-known side to this story. For years, many of Wagner's closest associates were Jews - young musicians who became personally devoted to him, and provided crucial help to his work and career. They included the teenaged piano prodigy Carl Tausig; Hermann Levi, a rabbi's son who conducted the premiere of Wagner's Parsifal; Angelo Neumann, who produced Wagner's works throughout Europe; and Joseph Rubinstein, a pianist who lived with the Wagner family for years and committed suicide when Wagner died. Even as Wagner called for the elimination of the Jews from German life, many of his most active supporters were Jewish. Why were they drawn to him? And how could Wagner even accept their embrace? These questions are at the heart of "Wagner's Jews, " the first film to focus on Wagner's complex personal relationships with Jews. Filmed on location in Germany, Switzerland, and Italy, "Wagner's Jews" reveals this remarkable story through archival sources, re-enactments, interviews, and performances of original musical works by Wagner's Jewish colleagues the first such performances on film. Featuring Zubin Mehta and Leon Botstein among others, the film also explores the ongoing controversy over performing Wagner's music in Israel. The same questions asked in Wagner's time still resonate today: is it possible to separate the art from its creator? Can sublime music transcend prejudice and bigotry, and the weight of history?
Publisher: [United States] : First Run Features : Made available through hoopla, 2014.
Branch Call Number: eVideo hoopla
Characteristics: 1 online resource (1 video file (ca. 55 min.)) : sd., col.
Additional Contributors: Warshaw, Hilan
hoopla digital


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Nov 21, 2014

Interesting if frustrating history which states the case that Jews were and still are fascinated with the anti-Semitic persona and writings of German composer Richard Wagner. Author Hilan Warshaw researches the influential Jews as well as the Jewish musicians who worked for and collaborated with Wagner during his lifetime, including Tausig, Rubenstein, and Levi. Where Warshaw fails is finding the root causes of Wagner's hatred of Jews in light of his growing need for the their support and adulation. It's hinted that perhaps Wagner resented the fact that he had to depend on Jews throughout his lifetime and that his anti-Semitism was deep-seated and not rare for the times, but this is ultimately unsatisfying for such an academic exercise. Fine performances of Wagner's music and other contemporaries abound to keep one's interest, but without more depth into Wagner's prejudice, one must keep searching for motives.

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