Richard Wagner
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Richard Wagner

Comments on Wagner's music

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The different portrayals of Wagner on the covers of these books reflect the sharply divided opinions people have about Wagner.

“Every time I listen to Wagner, I get the urge to invade Poland.”

– Woody Allen

“Wagner has great moments but dull quarter hours.”

-Giacomo Rossini

“Wagner is, for me, background music to a pogrom. I hate the bastard, I hate his music, but I do believe that people like [Daniel] Barenboim have every right to play it in Israel, if they want to. As for me … I’ll take ‘Cosi fan Tutte’ every time.”

– Sol Gittleman, professor of Judaic studies, Tufts University

In music there was Beethoven and Wagner, and “after them, nobody.”

– Gustav Mahler, composer and conductor who was born a Jew and converted to Christianity

“Wagner’s music is better than it sounds.”

– Mark Twain

“I like Wagner’s music better than any other music. It is so loud that one can talk the whole time, without people hearing what one says.”

– Oscar Wilde

“I have witnessed and greatly enjoyed the first act of everything which Wagner created, but the effect on me has always been so powerful that one act was quite sufficient; whenever I have witnessed two acts I have gone away physically exhausted; and whenever I have ventured an entire opera the result has been the next thing to suicide.”

– Mark Twain

“To me, anybody who can create such beauty, whether he be half-Jewish, anti-Semite … or Royalist, is first and foremost a musical genius and will remain so as long as civilization lasts.”

– Sir Georg Solti, Jewish conductor

“I’ll listen to and perhaps enjoy Wagner’s music at the Bard Music festival, but for the very first time in years I will forgo buying a T-shirt honoring the composer.”

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