Richard Wagner is clearly the first composer we think of when we contemplate anti-Semitism. My paper, “Deciphering the Madness: A Glimpse into the Racial Mind of Richard Wagner,” is an essay dealing with some aspects of his anti-Semitism. I discuss in my paper the many relationships he has with various Jews which surprisingly are more positive than negative. Jews were instrumental to Wagner’s start in music and many of his closest friends and inspirational figures were Jews. However, one cannot overlook Wagner’s declarations and essays expressing his condemnation of the Jewish race and religion. For example, Wagner wrote many essays dealing with the topic of Jews. His most infamous is his essay “Judaism in Music,” in which he has no reservations about verbally bashing and degrading Jewish contributions to music. There is no doubt that some of his preoccupation with Jews is due to the general anti-Semitism during his time period. But he stands out as an anti-Semite, and thus we can and should pay some attention to his actions and relationships with Jews.
Jennifer Farley, ’01 Hazel Crest, IL
Majors: Biology, Environmental Studies
Sponsor: James Martin