Brian Wise covers the classical music business for WQXR, including aspects of performance, technology, philanthropy and institutional trends. He produces the Café Concerts series and the podcast/show Conducting Business. He manages the station's homepage and makes sure what you hear on air is what you see online. Follow him on Twitter at @Briancwise.
Israeli Orchestra to Break Wagner Boycott
Wednesday, May 30, 2012 - 05:14 PM
An Israeli orchestra is set to perform a work by Adolf Hitler's favorite composer, Richard Wagner, in a taboo-breaking concert in Tel Aviv.
On June 18, a freelance orchestra of about 100 musicians will present selections from Wagner's Ring, among other works, at an academic symposium at Tel Aviv University.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported this week that the performance will break a ban that against Wagner's music has existed in Israel since 1938.
The June event won't be the first time the ban has been broken, however. In 2001, the conductor Daniel Barenboim led a concert in Jerusalem that featured an encore performance of a selection from Wagner's Tristan und Isolde.
In 2000, the Israeli Rishon Letzion orchestra, conducted by Holocaust survivor Mendi Rodan, played Wagner's Siegried Idyll. It was considered a lesser offense at the time because it was not part of a national cultural festival.
Some Israelis find the associations in Wagner's music distressing, particularly its ties to Nazi cultural propaganda. The rare performances of the composer's works in the country have been controversial. Barenboim's 2001 performance was met with a standing ovation as well as shouts of "go home" and "fascist" by protesters in the concert hall.
The June symposium is titled "An Academic Musical Encounter: Herzl-Toscanini-Wagner," and, according to the announcement, will explore "the interesting and intriguing connection between the seer of the state, the conductor Arturo Toscanini and Wagner's music."
What do you think of the ban against Wagner in Israel? Please leave your comments below: