Talk:Richard Wagner/Archive 4

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Archive 3 | Archive 4 | Archive 5


I have put the alternative link back in: there is absolutely no reason not to have it there. If Clutch thinks there is a reason not to have it, then he should at least tell us what that reason is. It is useful because sometimes links break, or are temporarily unavailable (either to everyone, or just some people). The fact that the other articles lack alternative links doesn't make this one any less useful. Please do not take it out again. I have also replaced the sentence "Wagner was also an essayist, and his views on Jewish people have aroused endless controversy" at the start of the article, removed by Clutch as not being NPOV. I cannot see how it is not NPOV, and it is certainly useful to mention the anti-semitic controversy at the outset, because, like it or not, to many people this is the most interesting aspect of Wagner. --Camembert

Wagner is primarily known for his music, not for anti-Semitism. Giving his anti-Semitism a whole paragraph at the very beginning of such a large article, when it was such a small part of his historical importance, is very unbalanced. There is far more space devoted to Wagners anti-Semitism than is appropriate in the article as it is; there is no need to bludgeon people over the head with it. --Clutch 20:31 Feb 20, 2003 (UTC)

Well, it's certainly not what he is most famous for, but he is famous for it nontheless, and I think it's useful to say that at the outset - as I already said, to many people this is the most important aspect of Wagner, and much has been written which concentrates purely on that aspect. Perhaps that is an arguable point, however, and I can see why you might disagree with it - what I cannot understand is why you insist on removing that alternative external link. There is no reason for removing it that I can see, and you have not offered any reason for doing so. Finally, please do not remove my comments from this page. If I want to remove them, I'll do it myself, thankyou. --Camembert

I believe that much of the above discussion (and parts of the article) miss the point -- which is that there is a complex relationship between art and politics. I am not saying that the article should be dominated by Wagner's anti-semitism. But neither should it present his music in purely aesthetic or entertainment terms. The last time I read the article there was a short note that a minority of scholars view politics (or maybe it was even anti-semitism specifically) as an integral part of Wagner's music. Such a dismissive note is disappoionting in an encyclopedia, which after all is meant to educate. There is a debate among scholars over the relationship between Wagner's operas and his politics (especially German nationalism and anti-semitism) and this debate should be covered in an NPOV way. But my main point is that no one should think of anti-semitism as a tangential issue, whether it occupies one paragraph or 100. Slrubenstein

Let me recap your position, Monsieur Rubenstein. Let us suppose that the Hula-hoop manufacturing company had a low level employee on the shop floor who was found to be an anti-Semite. They fired him after being pressured by the Anti-Defamation League. It made the local papers. According to your position, this should be mentioned, and discussed in detail in the article on the Hula-hoop manufacturing company because "noone should think of anti-semitism as a tangential issue"? How about the Jello-Gelatin company? --Clutch 21:43 Feb 20, 2003 (UTC)

Apparently, you are not capable of recapping my position. Slrubenstein

"Wagner only claimed that Hebrew music was inferior to the extent that it was a product of a static, dead culture, the same way that Latin is a dead language."
I only have one question: Wasnt he in the Austin Powers movies?

Music is music. All this politics bullshit in an article that is supposed to be about a musician serves only to detract from the one and only thing that makes it worth having an article about Wagner in the first place - the music he wrote. The fact that Wagner's political views have been significant in determining who played his works, and what meaning they read into them, is worthy of mention. Allowing it to dominate an entire entry, however, is a peversion of good sense. Unfortunately, there are contributors who insist on turning this entry about a composer into an extended critique of his political views. Why on earth anyone bothers taking seriously the nonsensical political views of a man who was demonstrably eccentric to the point of being unbalanced is beyond me. And to make matters worse, there is the wholesale reversion mania of the other, opposing contributor, which makes it impossible to do anything sensible with the entry at all. Tannin 22:04 Feb 20, 2003 (UTC)

I replaced the link to Judaism in Music at Clutch's website ( with the one at the Wangner Library. There are three reasons: 1) The fact that Clutch is demanding that his link be used is suspicious, 2) the Wagner Library is a better overall resource, and 3) all the other essays are from the Wagner Library, so it is more consistant. -- Stephen Gilbert 22:08 Feb 20, 2003 (UTC)

Eloquence:"The Jew [..] is innately incapable of enouncing himself to us artistically through either his outward appearance or his speech, and least of all through his singing."

Well, I have to go with Elo here, except to say this; To the degree that "White" people, particularly those between 1CE and perhaps 1979 CE, were anti-Semitic is almost axiomatic, in a sense: You can sorta forgive ommiting it in A Beautiful Mind, cause its a big term to drop, in our culture. The idea that each person in history needs to be scoured for their anti-Semitic connections is Judeocentric, and harmful, overall, to peace on the planet. However, Wagner, being an infuential German figure at a time when ideas of anti-Semitism were forming in Germany leading to... a terrible event... is not inconsequential, and valid for stating here. -'Vert

This is an article about Richard Wagner, the person. There may and probably will eventually be detailed articles about Richard Wagner's works. However, when I read about Wagner I want to know about his life and views, and I want to find out what this alleged Wagner-Hitler connection is all about. (Wagner's defenders do not realize that this article actually does correct popular misconceptions in that regard.) His anti-Semitism -- and other eccentric views -- are part of his biography and need to be covered here. The solution to put things into perspective is to expand, not to delete or worse, mischaracterize.

Clutch has, here and in the past elsewhere, demonstrated that he is incapable of working with others. His usual strategy is to "sit on" articles instead of working out differences through constructive debate. Aside from that, he is deliberately lying to defend his views (e.g. the claim that Wagner wrote about "Hebraic influences"). His behavior is that of the classical historical revisionist; he should be banned from Wikipedia for good before he does any more damage. --Eloquence 22:25 Feb 20, 2003 (UTC)

Tannin, you are simply wrong, and I really do not understand your reaction. Also, with all due respect, I do not agree with Stevertigo's (and others) point about how the Nazis used Wagner. I consider that a separate issue. But a number of scholars have argued that one cannot understand Wagner's art without understanding his anti-semitism. See Bernard Williams "Wagner and Politics" in the New York Review of Books 11/2/2000; also see Paul Rose's book Wagner: Race and Revolution (Yale University Press 1996). I have also heard Peter Gay lecture on the Wagnerian opera as anti-semitic allegory. This is legitimate scholarship and a good encyclopedia article should provide an account of it (and of course an account of alternate views and an account of the context for the debate). But to claim the "music is music" and a discussion of the relationship between music and politics is bullshit is -- well, surprisingly anti-intellectual for you, Tannin. It certainly reflects an ignorance of contemporary music criticism. People like Suzanne Cusick, Martha Mockus and Susan McClary are all good examples of musicologists arguing that the history of Western music is necessarily political (although they are concerned with sex and gender rather than race). Slrubenstein

I'm aware of the school of musical criticisim that insists on reading a seperate political meaning into every movement, a precise and specific individual cry of emotional expression into every bar. It's bullshit. In the end, composers write music because it sounds nice. (Or dramatic, or whatever other effect they are striving for.) In non-vocal music it's an obvious non-starter, and in most vocal music it's possibly even more ridulous - just read the libretto of a few randomly chosen operas; that will soon demonstrate that, on the whole, most composers are more interested in getting an "oooh" sound at the end of the third verse than they are in anything to do with politics. And even if, at the moment of creation, the composer did' have a precise political view in mind, it is the nature of non-vocal music (and of a good deal of vocal music) that this cannot be communicated to the listener.
The detailed psudo-intellectual discussion one sees of the specific meanings one should apply to particular parts of an inherently abstract form of expression like music is not new, of course. The tendency of intelligent, articulate people to wade off into a sea of wild speculation about things they like or are interested in is an age-old one. From time to time, people with more sense debunk it (notably with all that angels on the head of a pin wank), but mostly we just ignore it.
The history of music is undoubtedly riddled with politics, just as everything in life is full of politics. How many Mozarts or Mahlers have we missed out on because they had the misfortune to be born female in the wrong century? However the music itself cannot be political, save only insofar as listeners subsequently write their own particular beliefs and fantasies into it. The intention of the composer is irrelevant to the use later made of the work or the meaning subsequently given to it by listeners - consider La Marseillaise - if it were to be suddenly discovered that it had been written by the Queen of Prussia, would that make the slightest differenceto its importance as the anthem of revolution in France? Of course not. The first step to understanding music is to resist the temptation to start making up intellectual wank about it. Tannin

I never said the Nazis "used" him. I said that his place as an anti-Semite German history is more than nomial considering... Do we enter into the bio's of every German his ties to anti-Semitism? Nein! Why would that be encyclopedic?

If you want to talk about musicology as a science, and within this topic speak of its anal ysis of anti-Semitism as a political issue in music, then that is valid, and its valid to have a little here to point to it. "...Peter Gay lecture on the Wagnerian opera as anti-semitic allegory" I have never heard the the HUA quotient; the utter rubbishness and time-on-their-hands pursuits of academia espoused so plainly. -'Vert

I hope we do enter in the bio of every German (or, in fact, every person) we have an encyclopedia article about verifiable information about their views and ideas, which obviously includes anti-Semitic views.--Eloquence 23:13 Feb 20, 2003 (UTC)
Anti-Semitism is too subjective to be "verifiable" - Im sure God made you Elo, and anyone else, for more worty pursuits than to be such a particular kind of historian. -'Vert
Wagner's anti-Semitism is neither subjective nor unverifiable. I don't believe in God. --Eloquence 23:40 Feb 20, 2003 (UTC)

My point is simply that many scholars of Wagner have argued that his anti-semitism, far from being tangential to an underswtanding of his music, is central. Sv, I am sorry I misgquoted you, I just hope you see that I was making a different point than you -- my point is about Wagner the composer, and Wagner's music. Tannin, you express some strong views about musicology and history. Frankly, they are irrelevant -- as are my views. What is relevant is scholarship on Wagner, not what you or I think about that scholarship. Isn't this what NPOV is all about? It is not an article on what SLR, or Tannin, or Sv or Clutch think about Wagner, it is an article about Wagner drawing on established scholarship. And given the amount of scholarship written on Wagner's anti-semitism, as well as the claims (by scholars) that Wagner did not just write music in order to write music, but that he had a political and cultural agenda in which anti-semitism held a central place, and this agenda determined much of his composition, I cannot see how an encyclopedia article can present his anti-semitism as tangential. (By the way -- although this really is a point for an article on musicology -- since Kerman's Contemplating Music in 1985 I think most musicologists would say that one really cannot talk about music "itself," music always and only exists in a specific historical and social (including political) context that determines its meaning and value)Slrubenstein

SR- no apologies necessary - As far as "scholarship", and including all the flavors it comes in... well... my bull-dar goes off anytime anyone says that. It perhaps is out of bounds for an encyclopedia. See my answer to Elo. -'Vert

Why should we have an article about Richard Wagner?
Because he wrote some famous music.
So what should our article about Richard Wagner discuss?
His politics.
Huh? Tannin

No, it goes this way:

Why should we have an article about Wagner?
Because he wrote some famous music.
So what should our article entail?
an account of his music and of the scholarship on his music
So what would that include?
Technical and political issues (like his use of motifs and anti-semitism) that scholars have argued are central to his music.
Huh? What can politics possible have to do with music?
Well, that is why you need to read an encyclopedia article, or better yet, some scholarly books -- to add to your education.


Down to his underwear Tannin. Every little thing, down to his underwear.-'Vert

The article should discuss Richard Wagner. Not merely one aspect of Richard Wagner, but the totality of Wagner. Susan Mason

"that scholars have argued are central to his music." Im wondering where the line is here. No doubt other scolars contest this idea of the anti-Semitic "theme" - and if it is a "theme" then how can this be generalized? 'Wagnerian opera is xenophobic and ethnocentric in nature" Very very interesting, but... 'Vert

No-one is objecting to a discussion of the totality of Wagner (except Clutch, if you count Clutch, that is, which I don't). However an entry about a musician that manages to spend most of its time talking about side issues and not his music is unbalanced and should be corrected. Tannin

The question is, "what is a side issue" and the article should represent the current state of scholarship, including those scholars who claim that anti-semitism is a side isssue of course, but also including the scholars that claim that it is not at all a side issue. For you to declare that a topic scholars consider central is in fact a side isssue reflects ignorance and a lack of NPOV. Slrubenstein
We've had this discussion before. Add balance by adding information, not by removing it. --Eloquence 23:40 Feb 20, 2003 (UTC)
Well, that's just ethnocentrism in general - only applied to the Wikipedia - Ive made one or two comments about that myself - but your'e all in agreement, it seems, and only the balance is required. -'Vert
Tannin, bear in mind that this is a work in progress. There is indeed a great deal with can be said on the subject of Richard Wagner (anti-semitism), and the fact the amount here currently is greater than that regarding Wagner's music does not mean we should delete or halt such work. Eventually, the article will discuss Wagner's music in more detail. Susan Mason
Good point, Susan. I'm glad someone sensible finally chimed in. Besides, Wikipedia needs a policy on airing dirty laundry. --Uncle Ed 23:42 Feb 20, 2003 (UTC)

Are people getting accustomed here to assymetric comments - bumping people to add a note underneath? perhaps using indents consistenly might be proper.-'Vert ps. There are plenty of links with the wordfragment 'semitism' in it. Its probably overdone to say its overdone at this point...

Is it necessary to say "He was one of the most influential composers of the 19th century.", who are the other most influential composers? Is there a list of the most influential composers of the 19th century? It seems somewhat arbitrary to me. Susan Mason

It's certainly appropriate - and I say this as someone who's not terribly fond of Wagner's music personally. As for a list, I'd say the top 3 most influential composers of the 19th century are pretty undisputed:
Mkweise 00:22 Feb 23, 2003 (UTC)
(ran into an edit conflict, but I'll post this anyway): The other most influential composers, you might say, are people like Beethoven, Brahms, Mahler (if he counts as 19th century), and others. There's no "list" of influential 19th century composers, of course, but some composers were more influential than others (Raff wasn't influential, for example, nor were some quite well known composers, like Mendelssohn), and Wagner is one of them, for sure. Arbitrary? I don't think so - lots of later composers talk about the influence of Wagner, and his impact on the music of later times is undisputed even by people like me who don't much like Wagner's music itself. --Camembert

Id hate to see somebody decide that we needed to determine the most influential tanks of World War II. Susan Mason

You're comparing war to music there. I'm not sure that's a very good comparison. --Camembert

shrug superlatives seem pov to me. at the very least somebody could try saying that "Modern Composer so-and-so feels that he was most influenced by Wagner" Susan Mason

I see what you mean, although, to be picky, it's not actually a superlative (it says "one of the most influential" not "the most influential") - if it was, then I'd agree it would need to be changed. If you want to change it to something like "...widely reagarded as one of the most influential composers..." then I think that would be OK. I won't do it myself, however, because I tend to feel that this isn't something that really needs qualifying in that way - it just seems true to me. But if somebody else were to do it, I wouldn't change it back (hint hint ;). I'm not sure "composer X feels Y" is a good formula, though - it suggests his influence is quite limited, which it isn't. --Camembert

it wont let me edit it for some reason Susan Mason

Hmm, the page is still protected (meaning only sysops can edit it). User:Brion VIBBER protected it a while ago, if I remember correctly, to investigate a bug - he must have not sorted it out yet. I've left him a message asking if it's OK to unprotect it. I guess it'll just have to stay as it is for now (I'm a sysop, and I'd edit it myself, but I don't want to break anything). --Camembert

I've now unprotected the page. Editing had been disabled because the editing frenzy had triggered a race condition whereby two exactly simultaneous saves can result in one being overwritten incorrectly in the history. (I should be able to dig it out of MySQL's binary log if anyone cares sufficiently.) With Clutch gone, I expect there should be a little less contention on this page and the problem shouldn't occur again before the bug is fixed. --Brion 00:56 Feb 23, 2003 (UTC)

The N in NPOV stands for "neutral", not "no". Is it a point of view that Wagner was an influential composer? Yes. Is it a biased view? I think not. Any neutral observer would conclude he was influential. There's no need to use qualifying adjectives for every statement. Is there some significant critic that has argued that Wagner was not influential? -- Someone else 01:29 Feb 23, 2003 (UTC)

How about "his music has proven to be remarkably influential for later composers as diverse Smith, Doe and Stravinsky" or something? It provides actual information on who was influenced by him but doesn't understate the influence by implying these three are the only ones influenced by him. Tuf-Kat
I think it's fine to just say he was influential. If there's specific instances where his influence can be pointed out, that's fine too, but by pointing them out particularly you will necessarily be implying that these are particularly important instances. <G> -- Someone else 01:56 Feb 23, 2003 (UTC)
were it not for the NPOV policy, the article would have to start out something like this:
Richard Wagner was an arrogant bastard who wrote pompously bombastic music which, even a century and a half later, remains inexplicably popular.
<g> --Mkweise

Was there some survey which determined that Ride of the Valkyries is even more recognizable than Du Hast, Like a Virgin, Jingle Bells, La Cucaracha, and Township Rebellion? Susan Mason

Susan, do you know Lir/Vera Cruz? Your arguing reads a lot like his hair splitting. -- Zoe

For what it is worth, I agree with Someone else. Almost every discussion of opera I have read, for example, has contrasted Wagner and Verdi as late 19th century models for opera; I bet he is discussed in every general college survey course on Western music. I don't think that we need a survey, I think this is really general knowledge. And, as I think everyone - 1 understands, the claim that Wagner is among the most influencial 19th century composers in no way involves the claim that any one work of Wagner's is "more recognizable" than any other work. Influence is not measured in this way, and "among the most influencial" is an inclusive claim that in no way excludes other categories; moreover, it does not characterize that influence as positive or negative so I think it is NPOV. Slrubenstein

Zoe, are you on another witch hunt? Slru, you aren't keeping up to date on the article, it no longer states that Wagner was one of the most influential. The article now states that the work Ride of the Valkyries is one of the most recognizable. A question raised by all this mostness are

  • What other articles qualify as the most something or other, where will we draw the line?

It currently reads:

Wilhelm Richard Wagner (May 22, 1813 - February 13, 1883) was an influential 19th century German composer and essayist primarily known for his operatic works. His Ride of the Valkyries is one of the most widely recognized pieces of music ever written.

I suggest:

Wilhelm Richard Wagner (May 22, 1813 - February 13, 1883) was an influential 19th century German composer and essayist primarily known for his operatic works. His Ride of the Valkyries is a popular piece of music.


Wilhelm Richard Wagner (May 22, 1813 - February 13, 1883) was an influential 19th century German composer and essayist primarily known for his operatic works. His Ride of the Valkyries is a well-known piece of music.

Susan Mason

Personally, I'd rather we dropped the Valkyries reference from the first paragraph altogether. It is indeed very well known, but putting it in the first paragraph sort of overshadows everything else he wrote, which I don't think is right. With someone like Paul Dukas, who is only really known for one piece, mentioning that piece in the first para is fine, but with Wagner, I'm not so sure. Better to mention its fame in the body of the article, I think. And I'll add a sound sample of it as well so people can hear it and decide for themselves whether they know it or not. --Camembert
Actually, now I check, I see the Dukas article doesn't mention "The Sorceror's Apprentice" in the first para, but I think you see what I mean - it would be OK if it did. --Camembert

The Ride of the Valyries is not Wagner's most famous piece of music. I don't see how it's more famous than the Bridal Chorus. In any case, I have reverted to the old sentence "He is one of the most influential composers of th4e 19th century", simply because that's more appropriate. -- CYD

The fact of his having written two pieces of music instantly familiar to the general public is worth noting here, because it shows the widespread fame of his music, many years after his death. The Anome

Well, I don't feel strongly enough to change it. I've added a sound sample - I just stuck it at the bottom of the page. If there's a better place for it, can somebody move it there. --Camembert

Wagner's music in Israel 2003

Note from Tel Aviv, Israel, August 2003 -- the unofficial "ban" on performances of Wagner's music is still very much in force. The performance of Act I of Die Walkure that was supposed to take place in 2001 (referred to in the text) never occurred, Daniel Barenboim backed down at the last moment. He did, however, conduct a snippet -- I think the Siegfried Rhine Journey music, but I can't remember -- as an encore in a concert, but only after a long and heated argument, in hebrew, with the audience. This caused so much trouble that no one has attempted to repeat it since. It is now apparent that for the moment, the anti-Wagnerites have won and the ban will stay in force, if only out of respect for the remnant of holocaust survivors in the society, who are felt to have suffered enough. In the meantime the economic situation here has become so dire that the question is now more whether there will still be orchestras, operas, public venues at all, rather than what in particular they will be performing.

Please note that government-owned radio and television stations broadcast Wagner's works frequently, it is only public performances that are problematic. And Richard Strauss's music-- he really WAS a Nazi -- is performed here, though not perhaps with the regularity seen elsewhere.

I found this article on Barenboim conducting Wagner in Israel. [1]

--Chicken45 21:14, 10 January 2007 (UTC)

Bayreuth circle

An article (or non-article) exists entitled 'Bayreuth circle'. I have posted it for deletion. Do take a look and contribute votes (for deletion I hope, but otherwise if you really must!)--Smerus 21:30, 6 May 2006 (UTC)

he fell victim to erysipelas -> If I am not mistaken it was actually shingles which left him with pains for much of his later life. Who can confirm? Bart van Herk.

Isn't the sentence "Due to the Nazi association, Wagner's works have not been publicly performed in the modern state of Israel." false if this BBC web page is correct? Even if the performances were interrupted. - The Merciful

Indeed; [2] states, On Oct. 26 [2003], Supreme Court Justice Jacob Turkel gave the green light for the first Israeli concert featuring music by Wagner, upholding an Oct. 24 decision by a Tel Aviv District Court judge.
perhaps language like Wagner's works have not been pperformed without controversy in the modern state of Israel.Nobs01 16:26, 21 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Flame Organ

From this URL:

"About 15 years ago, I attended a very weird lecture sponsored by the "Visual Music Alliance" in Los Angeles. The presenter was a very eccentric UCLA professor who studied the history of "visual music." He traced the history back as far as the ancient Greeks, who had concerts accompanied by a "light organ" which had little candles behind colored pieces of glass with a shutter, to project colors on a screen. But the one thing of this lecture that most impressed me was his tales about the Flame Organ. Apparently, back in the 19th century, in the heyday of pipe organs, there were quite a few flame organs. These were usually made with transparent glass tubes, and flammable gasses would be fed into the tubes, ignited by a sparking electrode under the organist's control. Different gasses that burned in different colors would be used in different tubes, the effect was as much visual as musical, and the colors were said to be quite vivid. He says that Wagner was particularly enamored by the flame organ, and there is still one remaining vintage flame organ, Wagner's personal machine, in the Wagner museum (wherever the hell that is). Considering the long history of this device, I'm not impressed with the new "hot pipe organ." Stuff like this has been done before, and better, by groups like Survival Research Labs. Its just another huge emitter of greenhouse gasses."