SCHOLAR ISLAND

WAGNER

 

"My baton will become the scepter of the future."

Wagner

 

"Hitler recognized no predecessors-with one exception: Richard

Wagner. "

 

"It would be more to my purpose to be a shadow of Wagner than a shadow of Darwin."

Pierre Teilhard De Chardin, S.J.

 

"But why do people go, and why do they still go to these  performances, and why do they admire him? The question naturally presents itself: How is the success of Wagner's works to be explained ?"

Leo Tolstoy .

 

 

"Do you really believe it possible, that a composer of Lohengrin has enemies? It is unthinkable: who could possibly remain unmoved by this magical fairy--tale, by this heavenly music!"

King Ludwig

 

"After we two are long dead, our work will still be a shining

example to a distant posterity...."

(Letter from King Ludwig to Wagner))

 

 

"Whoever wants to understand National Socialist Germany must know Wagner"

Adolph Hitler

 

 

"The Parsifal articles in the Bayreuther Blatter and the drama itself provided an outline the following generation filled in with the ineffably appalling detail. Certainly Wagner was not the only proto-Nazi with a program for racial regeneration. But his musical genius and the increasing popularity of his works gave his theorizing a unique and fateful power. Lohengrin was the twelve-year-old Hitler's first opera, and he was only by that tender romantic sentiment popularly associated with the swan knight, but also of those ferocious passages of nationalism erupting throughout the German king's impassioned call to end 'the need of the Reich' through a crusade against the eastern villains menacing German soil, and the blood-curdling cry of the armed men in the final act (a passage often cut outside Germany) 'A German sword for the German land! ' 'Thus will the power of the Reich be established! ' Indeed before departing, Lohengrin turns to the king to predict Germany's victory over the 'eastern hordes'. Hitler Treasured the rich tomes of Wagnerian prose and declared the composerís political writing his favorite reading."

""" Richard Wagner: The Man,

His Mind, and His music

Robert W. Gutman (Time-Life)

 

   "When we consider Wagner's posthumous relationship with the Nazis we need to draw a clear distinction between Hitler as a person and the Third Reich as a society. Hitler was unquestionably a passionate devotee of some (not all) of Wagner's operas, and ordered performances of them for special occasions; and he also cited the composer's anti-Semitism with approval. Wagner was one of the small handful of his culture-heroes. But this was something personal to him. It was not the case that the Nazi regime in general was devoted to Wagner, or did anything to promote his works. Many people nowadays write and talk as if Wagner provided a sort of sound-track to the Third Reich, and that the history of the Nazis took place to a musical accompaniment composed by Wagner; and that on organized party occasions there was always, or usually, Wagner. This conception has become a clichť on film and television, where it is usual for any depiction of the Nazis to be literally accompanied by Wagner's music, for preference at its most brassy and bombastic, as in the Ride of the Valkyries or the Prelude to Act III of Lohengrin, and played very loud. The whole picture that this conjures up and is meant to conjure up, is false. Performances of Wagner's operas in Germany did not increase in frequency under the Nazis, they diminished, and very markedly. In the theatrical year in which the Nazis came to power, 1932-3, there were 1,837 separate performances of operas by Wagner in Germany; this number went down steadily, until by the end of the thirties, 1939-40, it stood at less than two thirds of that figure, 1,154.....

Bryan Magee

The Tristan Chord

 

"Is this still German? Out of a German heart, this sultry screeching? A German body, this self-laceration? German, this priestly affectation, This incense-perfumed sensual preaching? German, this halting, plunging, reeling, this so uncertain bim-bam pealing? This nunnish ogling, Ave leavening, This whole Falsely ecstatic heaven overheavening? -Is this still German? You still stand at the gate, perplexed? Think: What you hear is Rome- Rome's faith without the text."

Nietzscheís comment on Parsifal

 

 

"I heard Wagner's Parsifal the other day.,..He made sounds that are really and truly ( I assure you, and I ought to know) the very sounds that were to be heard in the San Graal chapel,"

Burne-Jones

1884

 

 

"To what an extent people of our circle and time have lost the capacity to receive real art, and have become accustomed to accept as art things that have nothing in common with it, is best seen from the works of Richard Wagner."

Tolstoy

 

"In the Deutsch-Franzosische Jabrbucher of 1834 and 1844, Karl Marx published a series of articles, 'On the Jewish Question,' in which he declared, 'The social emancipation of Jewry is the emancipation of society from Jewry. ' For him, the problem was to be solved by the Jews' own repudiation of Judaism and capitalism, ideas to be found in Wagnerís earlier writings."

Tolstoy

 

 

"In Parsifal, with the help of church bells, snippets of the Mass, and the vocabulary and., paraphernalia of the Passion, he set forth a religion of racism under the cover of Christian legend. Parsifal is an enactment of the Aryan's plight, struggle, and hope for redemption, an idea characterized not only by the composer's natively obscure and elliptically literary style, but also by the indigenous circumlocutions of allegory, the calculated unrealities of symbolism, and, especially, the sultry corruptions of decadence. The temple scenes are, in a sense, Black Masses, perverting the symbols of the Eucharist and dedicating them to a sinister idea. And the black Mass, so fascinating to the 'fin de siecle decadents, was but one of their obsessions weaving its spell around the aging Wagner and his Parsifal.

"Great solution' (grosse Losung) he foresaw as uniquely within the reach of the Germans if they could conquer false shame and not shrink from ultimate knowledge. Parsifal showed the way. The shattering 'Erkenntnis' that came to the hero in the magic garden would be Wagner' s final revelation to his countrymen.' Germany, Awake ! ' Deutschland erwache! ' was the slogan under which Hitler brought the 'grosse Losung' to reality. How much of Marx Wagner read is not clear, but certainly he had heard much of him from Bakunin in Dresden. The vulgar, obsessive, vitriolic anti-Semitism of Marx, who descended on both sides of his family from rabbis, grew from the same desire to deny as Wagner's. However the physical destruction of the Jews never entered Marx's: mind; one would like to believe the same of Wagner, but his late essays reveal complete moral collapse."

ibid

 

 

"But Klingsor has never been part of the elect and can never be; nor is he worthy of Wagner's pity. He stands outside the Mystical processes of Wagnerian redemption-the Jew as the composer had finally come to see him, the figure he described as the 'incarnation of the characteristic evil that brought Christianity into the world. ' Klingsor represented not only the Jew, Wagner told Cosima, but the Jesuit, too."

Robert W. Gutman

 

"Wagner's faith was philosophical, not religious, a metaphysics of compassion and renunciation, deriving its essential elements from Schopenhauer's World as Will and Representation and-via Schopenhauer-from Buddhism."

-Carl Dahlhaus

Richard Wagner's Music Dramas

 

 

"As a devout anti-Semite he found unacceptable the Biblical explanation of mankindís origin in an act of the Jewish God. Sweepingly, he declared Aryan and human history to be one, for, without fortifying themselves with an admixture of godly white blood, the colored races could achieve nothing."

ibid

 

 

"Wagner told them that his music required brains-Aha! said the German, he means me; that his music was not cheap, petty, and sensual, but spiritual, lofty, ideal-Oho! cried the German, he means me again."

James Huneker; Old Fogy 1913

 

 

" "Wagner's anti-Semitism is strikingly similar in its personal origins to Hitler's. The worst period of deprivation and humiliation he ever had to suffer was the two and a half years during which he tried and failed to establish himself in Paris, which was then the capital of opera, at a time when the roost was ruled by Meyerbeer, a Jew, and the next figure to him was Halevy, also a Jew. It came close to breaking his spirit. (His fears found expression in a short story he wrote at the time about a young German composer dying in Paris in neglect, poverty and despair.) Even in its duration the period of the humiliation was roughly, the same as Hitler's in the Vienna dosshouse. Both men were sons of petty officials, both were megalomaniac, and in both of them the experience of being brought to the edge of starvation by societyís total disregard of them seems to have activated a sense of persecution which bordered on paranoia, which cast "the Jews" as the villains, and which became a mad hatred that never afterwards died."

Bryan Magee

'

"Wagner--ferociously conscious of his neglected genius and utterly destitute--hated the works whose popular acceptance barred the way to his own. He saw them as gimcrack and fraudulent, which they were. In retrospect he hated them all the more because in desperation he had succumbed to the temptation to write-like them himself."

Bryan Magee

 

 

"Of necessity what comes out of attempts by Jews to make art must have the property of coldness, of non-involvement, to the point of being trivial and absurd."

Wagner

 

 

"The devotion aroused in some people by Wagner's music is different in kind from that aroused by any other composer's. It is like being in love: a kind of madness, a kind of worship, an irrational commitment yet abandonment which, among other things, dissolves the critical faculty."

Bryan Magee

 

"Wagner's work is a perfectly unique eruption of talent and genius; the achievement, at once deeply serious and completely ravishing, of a magician... ."

Thomas Mann

 

 

"I can only adore you, only praise the power that led you to me. More clearly and ever more clearly do I feel that I cannot reward you as you deserve: all I can ever do for you can be no better than stammered thanks. An earthly being cannot requite a divine spirit."

King Ludwig II of Bavaria

(a letter to Wagner)   

 

 

"Most of us are at present so helplessly under the spell of the "Ring's" greatness that we can do nothing but go raving about the theatre between the acts in ecstasies and deluded admirations."

'G.B. Shaw

 

. I merely stated that Wagner was the greatest man who had ever existed, and I went no further. I didnít say that he was God himself, though indeed I may have thought something of the sort."

(except from a letter written to

Debussy" by Pierre Louys)

 

 

"My passion for the Wagnerian enchantment has accompanied my life ever since I was first conscious of it and began to make it my own and penetrate it with my understanding."

Thomas Mann

 

 

"When I was a schoolboy at Mulhausen at the age of sixteen, I was allowed for the first time to go to the theatre, and I heard there Wagner's Tan Hauser. This music overpowered me to such an extent that it was days before I was capable of giving proper attention to the lessons in school."

Albert Schweitzer

Out of my life and thought

 

 

"The authority which most people erroneously suppose genius to confer has enabled Wagner's anti-Semitism to do terrible harm. Quite apart from anything else, Hitler made use of it. So there is poetic justice, although neither logic nor justification, in the fact that among the people who have been most severely damaged by it is Wagner himself."

 

Bryan Magee

 

 

"This is what is so spellbinding about it: it fulfills in art our most heartfelt wishes, which can never be fulfilled in life. This is why it seems to transcend--and to expand the consciousness of its listeners beyond the bounds of what is possible; why it is so commonly spoken of as a form of wizardry or hypnosis; why even such a writer as Mann is moved to use words like "magic" "enchantment" and the rest." 

Bryan Magee

Aspects of Wagner

 

 

"The red specter of Wagner. . .does not let go of me. I reach the point of detesting him. Then I look through his pages, trying to find hidden vices in him, and I find them."

Chausson

 

 

 

"I suppose I know better than anyone the prodigious feats of which Wagner was capable, the fifty worlds of strange ecstasies to which no one else had wings to soar; and as I am alive today and strong enough to turn even the most suspicious and most dangerous things to my own advantage, and thus to grow stronger, I declare Wagner to have been the greatest benefactor of my life."

Nietzsche

 

 

"Prejudice affects judgment of Wagner more than that of any other composer . "

Grover ' s Dictionary of Music

 

 

 

"We should remember how enthusiastically Wagner once followed in the footsteps of the philosopher Feuerbach. In the thirties and forties, Feuerbach's slogan of 'healthy sensuality' sounded to Wagner, as to many other Germans-they called themselves the 'young Germans'-like the words of redemption. Had he learned differently in the end? For it seems, at least, that he finally had the will to 'teach' differently. Did the hatred against life become dominant in him, as in Flaubert? For Parsifal is a work of perfidy, of vindictiveness, of a secret attempt to poison the presuppositions of life-a bad work. The preaching of chastity remains an incitement to anti-nature: I despise everyone who does not experience Parsifal as an attempted assassination of basic ethics."

:Nietzsche

Nietzsche contra Wagner

 

 

"Wagner's music is better than it sounds."

Mark Twain

 

 

"I am the most German being; I am the German spirit. Consult the incomparable magic of my works, compare them to everything else: you have no choice but to say-this German."

 

" "The notion that there is something inherently evil in it, a notion as old as the music itself, received its greatest boost from Hitler's worship of Wagner, and the composers subsequent association with Nazism. To this day there are many people who think there is something fascist in the music."

Bryan Magee

 

"My central contention, then, is that Wagner's music expresses, as does no other art, repressed and highly charged contents of the psyche, and that this is the reason for its uniquely disturbing effect. To make a Freudian pun, it gets past the Censor. Some people are made to feel by it that they are in touch with the depths of their own personalities for the first time. The feeling is of a wholeness yet un-bounded ness-hence, I suppose, itís frequent comparison with mystical or religious experience. The passionate nature of it, its unwonted depth and its frequently erotic character also explain why it is like being in love. Most important of all, it is the abandoned utterance of what has been in some way forbidden, and thus presents us with the life of feeling which we all in our heart of hearts would like to live but which in the real world, we can never live, a life in which our most passionate desires and their expression are unrestrained--life as it would be if the Id could have its way. To listen to Wagner's music simply :as music, without regard to the words or the drama, is to miss all this. It is to abstract the music from a very much larger but still single medium of expression verbal-musical-dramatic-of which it is less than the whole. The music is so good that it is easy to do this and lose sight of what one misses. But how much one does miss astonishes those who, after half a lifetime of enjoying the music, for the first time study the texts and see the operas in performance."

Bryan Magee

Aspects of Wagner

Panther books 3 upper James St

London

 

"I don't say that Wagner isn't magnificent or that I didn't enjoy him. What I say is that an ideal of power and glory appealing to racial saga is fatally easy to misconstrue and has, as a matter of fact, been misconstrued. Struggle, ambition, heroic energy-these are noble, as potentially noble as anything in man; but when they decline into a mere love of domination they are evil."

   -Alfred North Whitehead (dialogues of)

 

"No artist has known a fiercer urge to create than Richard Wagner. None has labored more mightily to indoctrinate mankind with his convictions. None has been more scathing in his contempt of reaction, or pretense, of outdated mannerisms. He wanted his works to be sagas of epic spiritual and moral power; and, whether or not he achieved his aims, he wrote music that is voluptuous and emotionally overwhelming."

Robert Bagar

Wagner and his Music-Dramas

 

"One May morning in 1849, at Dresden ,capital of the kingdom of Saxony, a man climbed across the barricades and went over to the troops of the king. The soldiers, Saxon mercenaries, had been vainly attempting to storm the city, defended by its citizenry. Unable to subdue his own people, the king of Saxony had asked for 'foreign aid', that is, the troops of the king of Prussia. The foreigners were on their way. That is why the man climbed over the barricades. He went over to the soldiers, who were enemies, but none the less Saxons, and handed them leaflets, which read 'Are you with us against the foreign troops?"

   That afternoon, the same man stood on the three-hundred-foot steeple of the Church of the Cross, watched the Prussians marching up in the distance, and dropped slips of paper describing developments to the defenders. Enemy sharpshooters fired at the observation tower; revolutionary sharpshooters, lying behind the breastworks, returned the fire. When the firing grew too violent, a comrade wanted to draw him away. He said with a smile: "Don't worry, I am immortal!"

   He was a man of thirty-five , a conductor of the royal opera, and had composed operas of his own. His contemporaries were not yet aware of it-but in these operas human longing had been expressed in new, enchanted tones; and more than by the shots that sputtered around the tower, the century was to be shaken by the swelling, darkly beautiful melody, the immortal cry of rejoicing: "To thee O goddess of love, let my song resound...."

That man was Richard Wagner."

Konrad Heiden

Der Fuehrer

 

   "Allen Ginsberg had already tripped out on mescaline, peyote, and LSD when he got wind of the Harvard research project and made arrangements to be a guinea pig in one of Dr. Leary's little experiments. With his long-time lover Peter Orlovsky, he paid the professor a visit. According to biographer Barry Miles, about an hour into the trip.....Suddenly, out of the window, Allen saw a flash of light, which reminded him of the Star of Bethlehem, and as the music of Wagner's Gotterdammerung thundered in the room, "like the horns of judgment calling from the ends of the cosmos-calling on all human consciousness to declare itself into the consciousness," it seemed to Allen as if all the worlds of human consciousness were waiting for a Messiah, "Someone to take on the responsibility of being the creative God and seize power over the universe and become the next consciousness....I decided I might as well be the one to do so-pronounce my nakedness as the first act of revolution against the destroyers of the human image. The naked body being the hidden sign."

   Allen though of Milton's Lucifer and wondered why Milton sided with the rebel in Heaven. He got up from the bed, put on his eyeglasses, and walked downstairs naked, closely followed by Peter. They headed for the study, where Frank Barron, Leary's co-worker, who shared the house, was sitting at his desk. They stopped in front of him, as Leary came into the room, having ushered his young daughter up to the safety of the third floor, Allen raised his finger in the air and waved it. "I'm the Messiah," he said. (If the twentieth century taught us one thing, it's that charismatic visionaries with leadership potential shouldn't listen to Wagner!) "I've come down to preach love to the world. We're going to walk through the streets and teach people to stop hating."

   To prove he was the Messiah, Ginsberg asked Leary to remove his glasses, so he could heal his vision. Leary did this, and then pointed out that Ginsberg was still wearing his glasses. When Ginsberg wanted to call Kerouac to tell him that "It's time to seize power over the universe and become the next consciousness," he had to off squinting in search of his address book, at which point he realized some limits to his new godlike powers. "

Ken Goffman

Counter Culture Through the Ages: From Abraham to Acid House

 

See Article: New York Times Sept 2, 2008

Bayreuth Chooses 2 Wagners To Manage Its Festival   by Daniel J. Wakin

*********************

Book: "The Tristan Chord" by Bryan Magee

Book: "My Life" by Richard Wagner

Book: "The Flying Dutchman: Black Dog Opera Company Library" by Robert Levine

Book: "Twilight of the Wagner's: The Unveiling of a Family's Legacy" by Gottfried Wagner

Book: "Nietzsche and Wagner: A Lesson in Subjugation" by Joachim Kohler

Book: "Richard Wagner: The Last of the Titans" by Joachim Kohler, trans. by Steward Spencer

Book: "The Perfect Wagnerite" G.B. Shaw

Book: "Richard Wagner-The Man, His Mind, and His Music" by Robert W. Gutman

Book: "Ring Resounding" by John Culshaw

© 2007

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