The Israeli Chamber Orchestra will play works by Richard Wagner Tuesday at Bayreuth, Wagner’s home town. Wagner was a virulent anti-
Semite who claimed that Jews were “vermin” and parasites who produced “artificial” and “imitative” music and culture.
Wagner concluded that the solution to the problem should be what he called an “Untergang” – a word whose primary meaning is “destruction” – of Jews in general.
He was greatly admired by Adolf Hitler.
Zionist group My Israel wrote a furious post about the performance on its Facebook page, which has over 57,000 readers.
The group urges its readers to express their disgust with the performance on the Orchestra’s Facebook page. It also asks the Orchestra’s members: “Do you have no Jewish self respect? Have 70 years been enough for you to forget the anti-Semitism that led to the terrible Holocaust?”
The group notes that the Orchestra is supported by Israel’s Ministry of Culture as well as the Municipality of Tel Aviv, Bank HaPoalim and Isrotel hotels.
German newspaper Der Spiegel wrote in December that the idea to perform in Bayreuth belongs to the Roberto Paternostro, the musical director of the Orchestra. The orchestra is supposed to play Wagner's Siegfried Idyll along with works by the composers Gustav Mahler and Felix Mendelssohn – both Jews whom Wagner held in contempt – and a contemporary Israeli composer.
"I realize that parts of Richard Wagner's weltanschauung and Bayreuth's relationship to the Nazi regime can neither be justified nor whitewashed," Paternostro said in a statement. "Yet I am convinced that it is possible to convey the musical significance of Wagner in a new and sophisticated way to the generation which is now coming of age without having to ignore the burdens or historic responsibility."
Der Spiegel added that Katharina Wagner, the composer's great-grandaughter who is co-director of the annual opera festival in Bayreuth, said Paternostro had approached her and the city of Bayreuth with the idea and that she had agreed to be its patron.