Renovated Wagner museum addresses anti-Semitic essays
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Renovated Wagner museum addresses anti-Semitic essays

Museum director explains any examination of composer’s life must touch on the issue, as well as his familial ties to Nazism

Composer Richard Wagner (YouTube screen capture)
Composer Richard Wagner (YouTube screen capture)

A renovated museum in Germany devoted to Richard Wagner addresses the 19th-century composer’s anti-Semitism and his family’s ties to Hitler.

The museum in Bayreuth, in northern Bavaria, was rededicated on Sunday in conjunction with the annual Bayreuth Wagner Festival, Reuters reported, following a five-year, $22 million renovation project. Several speakers at the opening mentioned the Wagner family’s links to Nazism.

Opened originally in 1976, the museum comprises the composer’s home and the home of his son. It now exhibits the anti-Semitic tracts published anonymously at first by the composer and then under his name, and includes displays showing his family’s close links to Hitler and the Nazi movement that occurred after his death in 1883, according to Reuters.

Wagner was Hitler’s favorite composer and he often attended the festival in Bayreuth.

“At the age of twelve,” Hitler wrote in “Mein Kampf,” “I saw … the first opera of my life, ‘Lohengrin.’ … I was addicted. My youthful enthusiasm for the Bayreuth Master knew no bounds.”

Museum director Sven Friedrich said during a media tour on Friday, according to Reuters, “When the museum was opened almost 40 years ago it was not complete. It should be not only about his music and his operas, but also the reception of his work in later decades and the relations of his family with Hitler.”

Wagner’s anti-Semitic essays are displayed on video monitors in the museum. There also is a temporary exhibition showing the Wagner family’s Nazi ties.

An informal ban on the public performance of Wagner’s music in Israel has been in place since the founding of the Jewish state.

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