German composer's anti-Semitic letter sold for $42,000

Anti-Semitic letter written by German composer Richard Wagner sold at auction house in Israel.

Ben Ariel,

Wagner's bust in Bayreuth
Wagner's bust in Bayreuth
Flash 90

An anti-Semitic letter written by German composer Richard Wagner sold for $42,000 at an auction house in Israel, JTA reported Wednesday.

The letter was sold to a Jewish collector from Switzerland who remained anonymous.

The handwritten letter sold Tuesday at the Kedem Auction House was dated April 25, 1869, and was sent from Lucerne, Switzerland, to the French philosopher Edouard Schure.

Wagner, whose grandiose and nationalistic 19th century work is infused with anti-Semitism, misogyny and proto-Nazi ideas of racial purity, was Adolf Hitler's favorite composer.

While there is no law in Israel banning his works from being played in Israel, orchestras and venues refrain from doing so because of the public outcry and disturbances accompanying past attempts.

In the letter that was sold Tuesday, Wagner wrote that the assimilation of Jews into French society prevents the French from distinguishing the “corroding influence of the Jewish spirit on modern culture.” He also discussed the importance of distinguishing between a Jewish-German individual and a “true” German, according to the auction house’s catalog.

The letter alleged the German press is entirely in Jewish hands.

Wagner expressed his anti-Semitic worldview in, among other places, his essay “Judaism in Music,” which was published in 1850 under the pen name K. Freigedenk, and in 1869 under Wagner’s full name. In the essay, which he references in the letter, Wagner argued that the Jews are incapable of engaging in music and warned against the “Judaization” of art in general and of music in particular.

In 2013, a German opera house cancelled Wagner's notoriously anti-Semitic Tannhaeuser opera, which features graphic Nazi imagery. following a wave of public protests on opening night.








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