Richard Wagner was the famous and genial composer, conductor and theatre director whose operas with complex texture, rich harmonies and orchestrations were the real masterpieces. His talent impressed and his music inspired and encharmed. He continued to develop the classical music composing symphonies, overtures, song cycles, operas and chamber pieces. His music was symphonic in nature.
However in spite of his talent and his music Richard Wagner was controversial and contradictory figure in music history. For one people he was the greatest opera composer, for others he was anti-Semite who supported Nazi ideals. Indeed Wagner's anti-Semitism was the unpleasant and enormous shadow on him as a personality and as a composer. At first his anti-Semitism was felt in the article in which Richard Wagner criticized music of Meyerbeer and stood against Hebrew flavor in music. The followers of Nazi Germany used Wagner's music for their purpose. The Nazi government's use of Wagner was so widespread that even nowadays musical organizations in Israel refuse from playing Wagner's music respecting their nation and having painful memories with music of Richard Wagner.
The controversy between R. Wagner and Jewish nation was caused in 1850 by a tractate of the composer in which he said that Jewish music was deprived of the bright expression and emotion, Jewish music was characterized by coldness, indifference, banality, triviality and nonsense. Indeed, it was the impudent and very sharp statement. Without doubt the reason of the conflict was understandable because R. Wagner claimed that the Jew had no passion and that is why they could not be inspired to creating music. According to Wagner the Jewish composer can create only any mess of styles and forms. In his tractate the German artist touched not only Jewish music but the morality of this nation. R. Wagner said that Jewry influenced badly on the morality of the nation and the composer was sure that Jewry had the subversive power to the German psyche.
Manfred Eger, the organizer, museum director said that there were Germans, as well as Israelis who hated R. Wagner. Even at present time the issue of anti-Semitic composer is not interesting for Germans, however in Israel this problem is remaining hot and painful. Manfred Eger supposed that R. Wagner's anti-Semitism was the enormous stain on his reputation, his talent and his music. Even now R. Wagner is supposed to be the follower of Holocaust. The exhibition “Wagner and the Jews” was organized in Wagner's home was an indication that even there Wagner is still highly controversial and disputable personality.
In 1981 the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra had intention to play Wagner's music in spite of the prohibition. Daniel Barenboim played Wagner’s music and received the enthusiastic ovations from the great part of the audience and the unsatisfied and furious shouts from the vocal minority. D. Barenboim included Wagner's opera in his program but after the protests of Holocaust survivors and pressure of government, he had to change Wagner into Schumann and Stravinsky. However at the end of the concert D. Barenboim asked the audience if they wanted to listen to Wagner’s music and most of audience applauded with the enthusiasm but the teacher in Judaism protested shouting “Disgrace!”
I am convinced that the negative reactions that many Jews had toward R. Wagner were justified because Jews were really abused and humiliated by the German composer. To my mind nobody has right to humiliate and disrespect the dignity of another people. In any case, under any circumstances we should be kind-hearted. The attitude of R. Wagner provoked hatred not only to his personality but to his music. In my opinion R. Wagner's music has right to exist because his works are the real masterpieces of art. One can not protest against his talent but against his moral qualities and attitude to people.
Without doubt Richard Wagner made an outstanding and valuable contribution to music. His operas are characterized by heaviness and pretension. The talented composer supposed that the legendary “fat lady” who sang was adorned the breastplate and spear of a Valkyrie. The plots of R. Wagner's work were parody and burlesque. Wagner's music is full of passion and some hidden and mysterious energy. His music is able to provoke great emotions and love to art. R. Wagner's music can be moving, thrilling and aggressive at the same time. R. Wagner created an idealistic view of opera and that is why he inspired other famous composers such as Richard Strauss, Bruckner, Berg, Gustav Mahler etc. R. Wagner was genial personality who devised a musical instrument, the Wagner tuba.
As for me I like Wagner's music because the dark, pessimistic and gloomy moments in his works alternate with the light, elevated and triumphant ones. Wagner's music has a more personal impact on me, because it reflects my state of mind: optimistic, elevated and light. To my mind, we should listen to the music of this composer according to the mood and state of soul. I am convinced that Wagner’s works are the masterpieces which must be listened and passed to the future generation as the best examples of classical music.
Wagner's political beliefs did not change my opinion about his classical music. I adore his music and I am convinced that the real art can not be destroyed even by political beliefs and national contradictions. I think that this music should live forever and present us only satisfaction.
Without doubt there are similarities between Wagner's “Ride of Valkyries” and John Williams' “Star Wars March”. Both musical works are heavy for perception, intricate, sophisticated and elevated. Williams' “Star Wars March” is more gloomy and dark. Wagner's “Ride of Valkyries” is more optimistic and elevated. “Star Wars March” associates with the beginning of war. “Ride of Valkyries” associated with the glorious event and honouring of winners. I think that George Lucas took the motives of Wagner to make his films brighter. It was not plagiarizing because it was the intrication and combination of music and cinema production.
As we see R. Wagner's music is the eternal art which inspire to perform, to follow, to use and to combine with another kinds of art. R. Wagner was and will be the genial composer whose works will give other legendary artists.
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