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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000258.txt from 2005/05

From: Tony Pay <>
Subj: [kl] Wagner again
Date: Sun, 15 May 2005 12:45:58 -0400

On 15 May, "danyel" <> wrote:

> Living in bloody Germany I have ever so often to avoid concerts, shut down
> the radio or reject records including the music of Wagner and other fascist
> composers. What escapes me in this indeed very serious and important
> discussion (btw. thanks a lot for the detailed and thoughtful
> contributions, Sarah and Dan), is "why would anybody WANT to listen to
> Wagner's music?"

I suppose that some of us find that Wagner's music is quintessentially
expressive of some of the deepest and most important things about being
human. It's not that we *decide* this, but that it's the way the music shows
up to us.

(Of course, my recent experience of playing Das Rheingold to great acclaim
with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment under Simon Rattle in
Baden-Baden probably had that quality largely because I was using my
Ottensteiner copies, without the silly thin reeds and short lay mouthpieces
of many modern clarinets. And in a way, I'm serious about that.)

> Whether his anti-Judaic obsessions surface in the music or lyrics as such
> or not, the music (and lyrics) are both unspeakably vulgar and nothing less
> than a musical expression of early or, if you like, proto-fascism.

I wonder whether you would be willing to read "Wagner and Philosophy" by
Brian Magee.

Having been disturbed myself by the sorts of remarks you make, when they have
been made by other people, I found this book very illuminating, both of
Wagner himself and of the philosophies of Schopenhauer and Nietzsche. It
turns out that Wagner had very different things in mind when composing his
operas than most people realise.

I know it would be hard for you to be happy if you came to think that Wagner
had more to be said for him than you had thought hitherto. That's because
it's difficult not to enjoy hating and dismissing someone who you think
deserves that hatred and that dismissal; and it takes a big character to turn
that around, even partially.

On the other hand, you might find something worthwhile.

But perhaps not. You will find in Magee's book nothing excusing Wagner's

> The same holds true for other disgusting composers like List, Egck or Orff
> (either fascists or proto-fascists). It's no surprise to me however: music
> being an emanation of thought, what kind of music do you expect a cretin to
> compose?

Of course, you cannot reasonably call Wagner a 'cretin'. That's just silly
and ignorant. I suggest that much of what you think about Wagner derives
from what some foolish others have written about him.

Perhaps it's time for you to read some other books, and even to listen again
to some of the music.

_________ Tony Pay
|ony:-) 79 Southmoor Rd
| |ay Oxford OX2 6RE
tel/fax 01865 553339

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