black and white portrait photograph of Wagner, shown at 3/4 angle. He wears a white shirt and loose tie, with black jacket, and has light skin, dark hair, and a cropped chin beard.

Wagner and Anti-Semitism

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The question of 19th century German composer Richard Wagner’s personal and musical anti-Semitism became a topic of enormous controversy during and after World War II, when Wagner’s children welcomed Hitler to Bayreuth, the scene of the annual Wagnerian opera festival. Arguments about this question, however, often seem to deadlock in rival claims of “bad man” and “great music.” This panel will attempt to expand the discussion by focusing on the following issues: what does Wagner actually say in his infamous essay, “Jewishness in Music”? Moreover, how do contemporary productions of Wagner’s operas reflect or deflect the question of anti-Semitism in his works. Join Leon Botstein (President of Bard College and music director and principal conductor of the American Symphony Orchestra), David J. Levin (University of Chicago), Kenneth Reinhard (UCLA), andMarc A. Weiner (author of Richard Wagner and the Anti-Semitic Imagination and Professor of Germanic Studies at Indiana University) in a discussion of composer Richard Wagner, his politics and his music.

In conjunction with Ring Festival LA, a citywide series of special exhibitions, performances, symposia and events centered on LA Opera’s upcoming presentation of Wagner’s Ring cycle, the first time that the epic masterwork will be presented in its entirety in Los Angeles.

Public programs are made possible, in part, by a major gift from Ann and Jerry Moss. 

Additional support is provided by Bronya and Andrew Galef, Good Works Foundation and Laura Donnelley, an anonymous donor, and the Hammer Programs Committee.