Richard Wagner, "Racist Ass"
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Richard Wagner, "Racist Ass"

Richard Wagner, that “Racist Ass”

“A racist ass” is what Leon Botstein, president of Bard College, called composer Richard Wagner, and truer words were never spoken.
Yet in the April 2010 issue of BBC Music, the self-designated “best-selling classical music magazine,” a writer defended Wagner, claiming that he was no anti-Semite.
That elicited the following letter from Paul Lawrence Rose, director, Center for Research on Anti-Semitism, The Pennsylvania State University, in the June 2010 issue:
“Michael Scott Rohan asserts that Wagner (April) ‘never suggested violence against Jews’; but in the “Elucidations to Judaism in Music” of 1869 Wagner mischievously raises the possibility of ‘a violent ejection of this alien element’ from Germany. And in 1881, reading the reports of the Russian pogroms, he burst out ‘That’s what these fellows (the Jews) need, a good thrashing and throwing out.’ Scott Rohan also airily declares that Wagner never entertained any delusions about ‘racial purity’; but in the Parsifal essays of 1881-82 he insists that Jesus was of Aryan rather than Jewish ancestry. As to the assertion that ‘unlike Chesterton, his works aren’t anti-Semitic,’ what about Wagner’s description of Parsifal as ‘race music’ (and the racial explanations of the opera in his essays)?”

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