The Case of Wagner -- Again

Israelis still protest the issues of his anti-Semitism and Nazi overtones, but his works live on and should be heard

What is it about Richard Wagner that so ignites the passions? Since the mid- 19th century, the man, his mind and his music have been among Western culture's brightest flames, firing the imagination and illuminating the inner reaches of the human spirit. Yet his intellect had a destructive side as well: a deep-rooted, Germanic hostility to the Mediterranean wellsprings of European culture and in particular to the Jews. "Wagner is one of the most complex phenomena in the history of art and intellect, and one of the most fascinating," wrote Thomas Mann in 1940, "because he offers the most profound challenge...

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