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Wagner’s Loge was Jewish, says Israeli musicologist

Irad Atir, a fresh-baked Israeli PhD, argues in his doctoral thesis that Richard Wagner wasn’t all bad towards the Jews. Some of his best friends were Jewish, you know…. ‘Wagner, a non-Jewish composer, knew and worked with more Jews than any other significant composer.’ (Oh, really?)

Loge, in the Ring, is Jew-ish. ‘He is cunning but also acts in a positive way, helping good people; a Jew who has undergone change.’ (Ahem)


Wagner didn’t think Jews were totally awful. ‘The fact that he attached Jewishness to a number of different characters in his operas shows that his approach to Jews was not one-dimensional.’

And more of the same (here).  It just gets more tortuous and perverse.



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  1. Michael Hurshell says:

    As curator of the new Wagner Museum outside Dresden, I can only respond to Mr. Atir’s theory with a heartfelt: OY,

  2. David Boxwell says:

    He’s also usually portrayed and staged as gay.

  3. Well, it’s different any way, albeit completely batty. I suppose he had to think up something original for his PhD

  4. Mr. Atir is on the right track but from what I read in this interview he’s taking some of his hypothesis’ too far. Admittedly, one would have to read his entire doctoral thesis to make a definite judgement but this Loge theory…I hope it is a case of Mr.Atir just summarizing his arguments in an incoherent manner. Loge is indeed a complex character who expresses sympathy for the Rhinemaidens and Mime and along with Erda,is a voice of reason in the Ring(albeit to a lesser extent and more cynical) but why would that make him Jewish escapes me. Also, his conclusion about “Jewishness in music”/the correct translation) made me, an unabashed Wagner defender, stop in my tracks with a “WTF???” expression on my face! I’m all for dispelling the myth that in it Wagner advocated the annihilation of Jews but let’s not wander into the realm of fantasy on the other side of the spectrum, please.

    The best part by far is Mr. Atir’s answer to the question whether Wagner should be played in Israel because in it he centered in on the problem and gave the solution at the same time and it does not lie in the abstract and vague notions of “freedom of expression” or “separating the music from the man”. One must show, as Mr.Atir is trying and I personally applaud him for that his exaggerations notwithstanding, that “the man” is not what he is cracked up to be.

  5. On a somewhat related note: if the article I’m linking to below is correct, it seems that one of the leading proponents of “Wagner inspiration for Hitler” fantasy, Joachim Kohler, has had a complete change of heart concerning the subject. He apparently even wrote a book in which he shows the lighter side of Wagner. Here’s the link, scroll down somewhat to see Kohler’s statements.(It is supremely ironic that just above Kohler is Barry Millington doing his usual Jew-spotting in Wagner’s works. He’s been promoting Kohler and his half-baked ideas in the “Wagner journal” for more then a decade and now for his trouble he got good old Joachim saying “Whoops! Sorry, I was wrong, Wagner in fact was not even much of an antisemite”)

    Call me cynical, but Herr Kohler could do worse then to publish retractions or at least and addendums to the awful books he has written so far. Also, I have to note that in spite of apparently coming over to the realm of light Kohler still has a penchant for making fantastic claims. Just where in the world did he come up with the idea that Wagner wanted Angello Neumann to buy off Bayreuth?

  6. Michael Endres says:

    Gosh I am so relieved that this musicologist ,who obviously has lost some of his marbles, is an Israeli,imagine he would have been from Vienna or Berlin……

  7. These perpetual amateur ravings about alleged anti-Semitism in Wagner are very VERY tedious, and this one is typical for also being superficial. There is no anti-Semitism in the Ring, but if you want to find it, you can find it under every rock or bit of Rhinegold:

    Every “geschlecht” in the Ring can be taken to be Jewish if you want to take it that way:

    1) The Rhinemaids can be expressions of Jewish cupidity, if you think Jews are guilty of that;

    2) The Nibelungs are often thought to be depictions of Jews, because of the blatant negative imagery (despite certain key instructions in Wagner’s stage instructions);

    3) The Giants can be understood as Moses and Aaron figures, working directly for Jehovah to build his paradise (according to this notion, they would perhaps be the “post-WWII strong man Zionist types”);

    4) The Gods can be understood as Jewish bankers or other, similar types, with all kinds of cliches that go along with same;

    5) The Humans can be understood to be Jews, if you consider that the only ones we meet before Goetterdaemmerung are the “elect” of the chief god, but oh let’s not forget how treacherous the Gibechungs are – maybe they are an unsympathetic depiction of Jews?

    And so it goes. The bottom line is, that people will find a conspiracy wherever they want to find one, and you can always get what you poll for.

    The Ring is not about race, it is about ruthless power being wrongly used to destroy the Earth. Race is merely as aspect of the world of the Ring, but in a way that cannot be pinned to any particular group. The Ring has never been more relevant than now, when the ocean’s temperatures are rising due to the irresponsible use of technology in the interests of the greedy. Deflecting the actual concerns in the Ring for lesser matters is a debasement of what the Ring is really about.

    • Michael Endres says:

      Thank you ,Christopher, I could not agree more ! Recently here in Christchurch ,New Zealand for the very first time ever the Walkuere was performed ( concert performance ). This was an audience where most would have experienced that music for the first time ever live.The performance was truly excellent,and the reaction of those listening for 3 and 1/2 hours was absolutely enthusiastic . Apart from the spellbinding music the drama unfolding obviously had caught people’s imagination. It is what you said: it’s message is relevant and it probably always will be.

      • Thank you Michael. It is a pleasure whenever someone agrees with me.

        The end of Goetterdaemmerung stipulates that the waters rise and the whole world burns down – that is exactly what is happening to the planet: the oceans are rising and the sky is burning up. Wagner found a way to communicate this urgent problem so that some people would be willing to consider the problem as something to “think about.” He may have believed that the problem was literally a problem but now we are facing the real deal in a way we do not have reason to believe he ever suspected could actually come true.

        The idea that some believe is expressed in Wagner’s music at the very end of the Ring, that there can be a “redemption through love” of the catastrophe at the end of all life is not, however, one we can believe in any longer. Romanticism as a philosophy ended in 1945, and a too-great reliance on key Romantic notions is discredited and capabler of being used dangerously in human affairs. Modern artists have the greater problem of not working with merely an “extended metaphor” of the world reaching catastrophic ecological (not to say political) failure, but the actual catastrophe. Love does not clean schmutz from the sky. Love will not lower the ocean’s rising levels.

        Maybe this is more than seems called for from my earlier post, but permit me if I may extend the message a bit to the present time, to say I believe we cannot be limited to beauty and seduction in effete Romantic or arriere-garde or simplistic messages. The less the world’s real problems are properly attended to, the greater the duty of artists to be cognizant of the danger that their work will merely act as an entertainment, and therefore as a soporific, and therefore as a part of the problem, and not of the solution, of the great issues of civilization. So the less the world’s real problems are attended to, the more urgent the expressive message of responsible artists needs to be.

        Wagner’s message was the utmost of urgency of his time, and if some people get the message from his music, that’s very good.

  8. oh please don’t leave out the guildsmen of Nurnberg and then there are the nazis of rienze and so on.

    • You draw attention to Rienzi – are you saying that because that’s based on a Roman story, and the Romans had the “Ave, Caesar” salute, then Rienzi must therefore be about Nazism, since the Nazi salute is clearly derived from the Roman salute? Hey, that is some kind of insight, who else knows about that? And it has been there in front of us all this time. And that silly Wagner thought he could avoid recriminations just because he cleverly managed to die 50 years before Nazism. (Or did he stage his death? And who is that pretty young woman following him around?)

  9. Michael Hurshell says:

    Actually it was Loge who was mentioned as “usually portrayed as gay.” In any case, Mime does have an agenda: he raises the boy so that Siegfried can one day kill Fafner and get the Ring and the Hoard for Mime. But it is true that he is brought to this state of mind by having been tormented and persecuted by Alberich. there are no anti-Semitic “coded messages” of course. If only musicologists would learn to read scores.

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