Wagner Reclaimed: A Review of “The Ring of Truth” by Roger Scruton, Part 1

Brenton Sanderson


Roger Scruton is Britain’s (many would say the world’s) leading conservative philosopher and intellectual. His prolific output includes books on philosophy, politics, art, architecture, music and aesthetics. Scruton, who was knighted in 2016, writes with unusual clarity and fluency and is a model for how to combine analytical rigor with lucidity and accessibility. His critiques of leftist thought are, however, ultimately hamstrung by his unwillingness to stray outside the bounds of acceptable thought. Scruton has assiduously avoided straying into the forbidden fields of race realism or an honest discussion of the Jewish Question.

Despite his timid and ultimately ineffectual brand of intellectual conservatism, Scruton has much to offer readers on the Alt-Right. He has a profound knowledge of European high culture and particularly the Western musical tradition. His analyses of the German composer Richard Wagner are always insightful, and his 2016 book The Ring of Truth: The Wisdom of Wagner’s Ring of the Nibelung is no exception. It offers readers a rich account of Wagner’s masterpiece though an examination of its drama, music, symbolism and philosophy. Scruton’s goal is to interpret one of the supreme works of the European imagination to “show its relevance to the world in which we live.”

Wagner’s Ring cycle is enormous in every way. Performed over four evenings, and made up of Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung, it lasts some fifteen hours. Its composition began in 1848, a year when Europe was torn by nationalist and democratic revolutions, but not finished until 26 years later. The final product is widely considered the finest piece of musical theatre ever written, and even critics of Wagner grudgingly acknowledge the magnitude and importance  of his achievement, agreeing with Tchaikovsky’s assessment that: “Whatever one might think of Wagner’s titanic work, no one can deny the monumental nature of the task he set himself, and which he has fulfilled; nor the heroic inner strength needed to complete the task. It was truly one of the greatest artistic endeavors which the human mind has ever conceived.”[1] The German critic Wilhelm Mohr, who had originally dismissed Bayreuth as “cloud-cuckoo land,” left the 1876 premiere of The Ring comparing Wagner to the “two masters of all masters, Shakespeare and Beethoven.”[2]

The Ring began life as a single drama, devoted to the story of Siegfried’s death as Wagner had extracted and embellished it from his reading of the old German Nibelungenlied and the Icelandic Völsunga saga. The original is a far cry from the masterpiece that Wagner eventually composed from its useable fragments. He looked for a subject that would provide a suitably large-scale vehicle for his vision of contemporary German society and destiny. The result, notes Scruton, while “far from authentic as an account of Viking theology,” is nevertheless “a remarkable attempt to give coherence and meaning to the pagan narratives.”[3] The final product, which Wagner intended to “involve all life” encompasses an emotional spectrum wider than any other opera, from superhuman rage and self-annihilating heroism to the meanest of base emotions.

The opera revolves around a ring, fashioned in gold stolen from the Rhinemaidens by the dwarf Alberich — a ring that grants its possessor the power to rule the world. Alberich is tricked out of the ring by the god Wotan who uses to it pay the giants Fafner and Fasolt for building Valhalla. It is subsequently hoarded by Fafner, then won by Wotan’s grandson Siegfried who slays Fafner (who has magically transformed himself into a dragon). Siegfried and his betrothed Brunnhilde later foil Alberich’s son Hagen’s plan to acquire the ring, which is finally returned to the Rhinemaidens when Siegfried is killed by Hagen as the old world is destroyed by fire and water. Certain themes recur throughout the tetralogy: the abuse of power, the immutability of fate, the need for atonement and redemption, and the status of love as the “final true and knowing redeemer.”

Many of these themes will be familiar to readers of the Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien who unconvincingly denied he had been influenced by Wagner. As the composer intermittently worked on the dramatic poem and music over a quarter of a century, it was reconceived as a quasi-religious festival, with the Oresteia of Aeschylus in mind. It was to unfold “a world-embracing myth, through intimate human dramas.”[4]  Its characters were conceived both as believable people and symbols of universal powers. By following their fate the audience would be led by natural sympathy towards a vision of redemption in which human beings stand higher than the gods.

Sir Roger Scruton

The essence of Wagnerian opera lies in the music which deepens and subtilizes the overt meaning of the storyline. Profound, far-reaching psychic changes are accomplished through the music with little or no help from the words, and The Ring includes some of the most powerful scenes in all opera: the opening which conjures up the Rhine in a single, extended and elaborated chord; the Entry of the Gods into Valhalla at the end of Rheingold; the Ride of Valkyries and Magic Fire Music in the third act of Die Walküre; or Siegfried’s funeral march from Götterdämmerung.

The Ring is notable for its 150 or so leitmotifs, musical phrases associated with an idea or character. Not simply accompanying the libretto, they reveal the subconscious feelings of the characters or anticipate what will happen later in the story. There is no one-for-one correspondence between a leitmotif and the concept, idea or emotion that is first attached to it. The leitmotif has a potential to develop — but to develop musically. Scruton observes how “by implanting the principal of musical development in the heart of the drama Wagner is able to lift the action out of the events portrayed on the stage, and to endow it with a universal, cosmic and religious significance.”[5]

The construction of Wagner as anti-Semitic moral defective

As I have previously discussed at length, a full appreciation of Wagner’s genius and remarkable artistic and intellectual legacy has, in recent decades, been occluded by the preoccupation of our Jewish-dominated intellectual establishment with Wagner’s “anti-Semitism” and his putative status as the intellectual and spiritual forerunner to Adolf Hitler. Even Scruton, while mostly dismissive of the aura of moral turpitude that now disfigures the composer’s memory, feels compelled to mildly validate the construction of Wagner as “anti-Semitic” moral defective. The task the author sets himself in The Ring of Truth — of conveying the intellectual and artistic meaning of Wagner’s great masterpiece — is made all the more difficult, he notes, by the fact that

enormous obstacles stand in the way of this endeavour, by no means the least of them being Richard Wagner, whose vast ambitions and titanic character have made him into a regular target of denigration in our anti-heroic age. From the point of view of his posthumous reputation, Wagner’s life was riddled with mistakes. He made no secret of his anti-Semitism, and broadcast it to the world in a notorious pamphlet. He provided the story and the characters that would, in their Nazi caricature, become the icons of German racism. …

Nor did his mistakes end with his death. Not only did he become Hitler’s favourite composer, but the Nazi caricature of the Jew was read back into Wagner’s villains. Alberich, Mime and Klingsor were regularly presented on the German stage as though imagined by Dr Goebbels, and his theatre in Bayreuth was used to turn Wagner into the founder and high priest of a new and sinister religion.[6]

The denigration of Wagner in the post-World War II era, spearheaded by Jewish musicologists and intellectuals (e.g., T.W. Adorno), established the pattern of treating his works as expressions of a deeply pathological personality, where the musicological task at hand was to “analyse them as exhibits in a medical case study, and to create the impression that we can best understand them not for what they say but for what they reveal about their creator.”[7] Wagner’s autobiography is regularly trawled for evidence of psychopathology and “for the proof — however fleeting and arcane — that in this or that respect he was just as ordinary as the rest of us, even though the mind revealed in the book is one of the most extraordinary and comprehensive that has ever existed.”[8]

This approach can be traced back to the late-nineteenth century when Nietzsche tried to break the spell Wagner had cast on him in The Case of Wagner (1888) and Nietzsche Contra Wagner (1895). In these books the philosopher rejected Wagner’s moral vision which, he claimed, translated directly into aesthetic faults in music that corrupted listeners by encouraging surrender to a polluted ideal. Nietzsche insisted that Wagner’s music is disingenuous, only pretending to the emotion it proclaims. The noble music only serves to disguise the fact that the “heroic” characters seeking redemption in his operas are just analogues of the morally sick refuse of nineteenth century society. Nietzsche also repeatedly attacked Wagner for his personal “anti-Semitism.”

Wagner was surprised, but not displeased, by the backlash that resulted from the publication of his Judaism in Music. In a letter to the composer Franz Liszt he noted that “I seem to have struck home with terrible force, which suits my purpose admirably, since that is precisely the sort of shock I wanted to give them.”[9] In panicked response to Wagner’s cogent and incisive critique of Jewish influence on German art and culture, Jewish critics soon settled on the response of ascribing psychiatric disorders to the composer, and this has been the stock approach ever since. As early as 1872 the Jewish psychiatrist Theodor Puschmann, offered a psychological assessment of Wagner which was widely reported in the German press. He claimed Wagner was suffering from “chronic megalomania, paranoia … and moral derangement.”[10] Cesare Lombroso, the famous nineteenth-century Jewish Italian criminologist branded Wagner “a sexual psychopath.”[11]

Later, with the advent of Freudian psychoanalysis and expressionism in art and music, the habit arose of treating works of art as journeys into the inner life of their creator. Scruton observes:

From the first days of psychoanalysis, Wagner’s works were singled out as both confirming and demanding a psychoanalytic reading. Their super-saturated longing, their cry for redemption through sexual love, their exaltation of Women as the vehicle of purity and sacrifice — all these features have naturally suggested, to the psychoanalytic mind, incestuous childhood fantasies, involving a fixation on the mother as wife. Such is the interpretation maintained by [the Jewish psychoanalysts] Max Graf and Otto Rank, both writing in 1911. Thereafter the habit of reading the works in terms of the life became firmly established in the literature.[12]         

It was only, however, after World War II that the notion that Wagner’s music dramas contained implicit fascism and “anti-Semitism” gained traction. Frankfurt School intellectual Theodor Adorno led the assault, condemning Wagner as a symbol of all that was hateful in the culture of nineteenth-century Germany. Scruton notes how Adorno’s criticisms of Wagner were deeply influenced by “the Holocaust and all that it meant concerning the roots of German nationalism.”[13]

Theodor Adorno

Adorno attacked Wagner as a purveyor of “phantasmagoria” whose aim and effect is to falsify reality, and likened Wagner’s system of leitmotifs to advertising jingles in the way they imprinted themselves on the memory. Adorno detected a sinister agenda behind Wagner’s stated purpose regarding The Ring that: “I shall within these four evenings succeed in artistically conveying my purpose to the emotional — not the critical — understanding of the spectators.” Adorno here echoed Nietzsche in dismissing the Wagnerian magic as a kind of manipulation. Wagner’s musical innovations (ironically later imitated by Hollywood) intoxicated audiences, leaving them dangerously susceptible to political indoctrination. In every crowd applauding a Wagnerian work, Adorno insisted, “lurked the virulent old evil” of “demagogy.” Elizabeth Whitcombe points out how

Adorno believed that Wagner’s work is “proselytizing” and “collective-narcissistic.” Adorno’s complaint about the “collective-narcissistic” quality of Wagner’s music is really a complaint that Wagner’s music appeals to deep emotions of group cohesion. Like the Germanic myths that his music was often based on, Wagner’s music evokes the deepest passions of ethnic collectivism and ethnic pride. In Adorno’s view, such emotions are nothing more than collective narcissistic, at least partly because a strong sense of German ethnic pride tends to view Jews as outsiders — as the “other.” It is also not surprising that Adorno, as a self-consciously Jewish intellectual, would find such music abhorrent.[14]

Adorno set the template for a generation of Jewish intellectuals and musicologists, including Robert Gutman who, in his egregious 1968 book Richard Wagner: The Man, The Mind and His Music, portrayed his subject as a racist, psychopathic, proto-Nazi monster. Gutman’s scholarship was questioned at the time, but this did not prevent his widely reviewed and promoted book from becoming a best-seller. One source notes how “An entire generation of students has been encouraged to accept Gutman’s caricature of Richard Wagner. Even intelligent people, who have never read Wagner’s writings or tried to penetrate them and failed … have read Gutman’s book and accepted his opinions as facts.”[15] The long-time Jewish music critic for the New York Times, Harold Schonberg, was one of them, describing Wagner in his Lives of the Great Composers as “amoral, hedonistic, selfish, virulently racist, arrogant, filled with the gospels of the superman … and the superiority of the German race…; he stands for all that is unpleasant in human character.”[16]  

Gutman’s characterization was obsessively reinforced by Marc A. Wiener in his 1995 polemic Richard Wagner and the Anti-Semitic Imagination. Putting Wagner on the psychoanalyst’s couch, Wiener insisted that “Wagner’s vehement hatred of Jews was based on a model or projection involving a deep-seated fear of precisely those features of the Self (diminutive stature, nervous demeanor and avarice, as well as lascivious nature) that are projected upon and then recognized and stigmatized in the hated Other.”[17] Modern audiences have been encouraged by the likes of Gutman and Wiener to read into Wagner’s operas latent signs of “anti-Semitism,” where, for instance, the gold-loving Nibelung lord Alberich in Siegfried is a symbol of Jewish materialism.

 

For Jewish music writer Larry Solomon, Alberich is clearly “the greedy merchant Jew, who becomes the power-crazed goblin-demon lusting after Aryan maidens, attempting to contaminate their blood, and who sacrifices his lust in order to acquire the gold.” Declaring that virulent racism “permeates all aspects of his music dramas through metaphorical suggestion,” Solomon insists that Wagner is always “just a step away from actually calling his evil characters ‘Jews,’ even though it was obvious to his contemporaries.” According to this analysis, Wagner’s operas are unquestionably “tools of racist, proto-Nazi hate propaganda, written for the purpose of redeeming the German race from Jewish contamination, and for expelling the Jews from Germany.” Moreover, Wagner’s malign influence continues insofar as “the subtext of racist metaphors has not diminished in Wagner’s operas, so they will continue to exert a subliminal influence.”[18]

Scruton notes how such interpretations have strongly influenced the discussion of Wagner’s works, where “revenge on Wagner” has for some time been “an almost obligatory part of the intellectual’s apprenticeship.”[19] Books like Jean-Jacques Nattiez’s Wagner Androgyne and Joachim Kohler’s Richard Wagner: Last of the Titans continue a now venerable tradition in regarding “anti-Semitism as the meaning and Oedipal confusion as the cause of just about everything the master composed.” Even the respected British musicologist Barry Millington frequently writes “as though anti-Semitism is somewhere near the top of Wagner’s musical and intellectual agenda.”[20]

The invidious construction of Wagner as “anti-Semitic” moral pariah, and the psychoanalytical interpretation of his works to confirm this tendentious preconception, continues despite the discredited status of Freudian psychoanalysis, and despite Wagner scholars Michael Tanner and Brian Magee having offered powerful rebuttals of this approach. Wagner explicitly stated in Judaism in Music that what makes Jews such unsatisfactory characters in real life also makes them unsuitable for representation in art, including dramatic art.

In ordinary life the Jew, who as we know possesses a God of his own, strikes us first by his outward appearance which, whatever European nationality we belong to, has something unpleasantly foreign to that nationality. We instinctively feel we have nothing in common with a man who looks like that. … Ignoring the moral aspect of this unpleasant freak of nature, and considering only the aesthetic, we will merely point out that to us this exterior could never be acceptable as a subject for a painting; if a portrait painter has to portray a Jew, he usually takes his model from his imagination, and wisely transforms or else completely omits everything that in real life characterizes the Jew’s appearance. One never sees a Jew on the stage: the exceptions are so rare that they serve to confirm this rule. We can conceive of no character, historical or modern, hero or lover, being played by a Jew, without instinctively feeling the absurdity of such an idea. This is very important: a race whose general appearance we cannot consider suitable for aesthetic purposes is by the same token incapable of any artistic presentation of its nature.[21]         

In this passage (first published in 1850 and then again unchanged in 1869), Wagner totally rejects the idea of Jews playing characters and characters playing Jews on stage, stating categorically that the Jewish race is “incapable of any artistic presentation of his nature,” and leading in to this statement with the words: “This is very important.” Magee observes that here “Wagner positively and actively repudiates the idea of trying to present Jews on the stage; and if we seek an explanation of why he never did so, here we have it.”[22] Wagner would not, contrary to the wishes of many of his friends (and his own professional and pecuniary interests) have gone out of his way to publish this again in 1869, if, as widely alleged, he had just done the opposite and made Beckmesser a Jewish character in his Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg which had premiered the previous year.

Richard Wagner

Wagner produced thousands of pages of written material analyzing every aspect of himself, his operas, and his opinions on Jews (and innumerable other topics); and yet the purported Jewish characterizations identified by Gutman, Wiener and others are never mentioned; nor are there any references to them in Cosima Wagner’s copious diaries. It can hardly be argued that Wagner was hiding his true feelings for he took great pride in speaking out vociferously on the Jews, and did not care whom he offended — famously labelling them “the plastic demon of decomposition.” Moreover, none of Wagner’s supposedly obvious characterizations were ever used in the propaganda of the Third Reich. Accordingly, to identify such characters as Beckmesser, Alberich, Mime, Klingsor and Kundry as Jewish caricatures is entirely speculative.

Even Nietzsche, who attacked Wagner on numerous occasions for his personal hostility to Jews, never alleged there was “anti-Semitism” in the operas. Furthermore, the audiences that flocked to Wagner’s works all over the world did not perceive their supposedly obvious anti-Jewish subtexts for, as Magee points out, “in the huge literature we have on the subject, unpublished as well as published, the question arises rarely until the middle of the twentieth century.”[23] Magee observes that many critics (especially the Jewish ones) are “simply swept forward by the momentum of their own anger” into alleging the omnipresence of anti-Semitism in Wagner’s operas. He notes that “to a number of them it comes easily anyway, for they are adept at finding anti-Semitism in places where no one had detected it before. … At the root of it all is an unforgiving rage at the mega-outrage of anti-Semitism — and at the root of that in the modern world is the Holocaust.”[24]

Wagner was the first artistic giant who was an avowed German (and later White) nationalist. After reading Gobineau’s bestselling An Essay on the Inequality of the Human Races, he declared that “we should have no History of Man at all, had there been no movements, creations, and achievements of the White man.”[25]  As a man genuinely committed to prioritizing the interests of his own people, it was inevitable Wagner would confront the Jewish Question. In 1878 he confessed that “it is distressing for me always to come back to theme of the Jews, but one cannot escape it as one looks to the future.”[26] For the hyperbolic Larry Solomon, no other composer had a greater impact on history than Richard Wagner, and “his devastating political legacy is second only to Hitler.”[27] Despite the paucity of evidence for Wagner having exercised the high level of intellectual influence on Hitler that is often alleged, for the Jewish music critic David Goldman, Wagner is eminently worthy of execration on the basis that he “mixed the compost heap in which the flowers of the 20th-century’s greatest evil took root.” For Goldman, “The Jewish people have had no enemy more dedicated and more dangerous, precisely because of his enormous talent.”[28]

The Jewish obsession with Wagner shows no signs of abating almost two decades into the twenty-first century. A new play by the Jewish playwright Victor Gordon entitled You Will Not Play Wagner revolves around the fact that “since the Holocaust, performing works by the composer Richard Wagner has been taboo in Israel.” This play, soon to be premiered in Sydney, is set in contemporary Tel Aviv, where a young Israeli conductor “causes a storm” by performing Wagner, “whose anti-Semitism and the use of his music by the Nazis are well known,” in the finals of an international competition for conductors. His decision brings him “into conflict with Esther, Holocaust survivor and competition patron who has her own tragic connection with Wagner’s music.”

Promotional banner for You Will Not Play Wagner

While keen to move beyond this Jewish construction of Wagner as proto-Nazi embodiment of evil, Scruton does single out the famous forging scene from Siegfried as one that is “uncomfortably near the bone for those sensitive to the ‘blond beast’ interpretation of Wagner.”[29] Here the fearless Siegfried files, smelts, casts and hardens the steel of his father Siegmund’s shattered sword while the malevolent Mime, the hateful, sycophantic dwarf who has raised Siegfried (and is ultimately killed by him), exults in the background over his prospective future as lord of the Ring. For Solomon, Mime is here depicted by Wagner “as a stinking ghetto Jew,” while “Siegfried represents the conscience-free, fearless Teuton, he feels no remorse. … He is glorified as the warrior hero of the Ring, the archetype proto-Nazi.”[30] Scruton calls the scene “a musical and dramatic triumph” and notes that whether Wagner used stereotypically Jewish elements in his characterization of Mime is unknowable and ultimately irrelevant because the composer’s artistry transcends the elements of which it is made.

In offering politically incorrect assessments like these, and for being insufficiently deferential to the orthodox conception of Wagner as proto-Nazi anti-Semitic monster, Scruton incurred the disapproval of one reviewer of The Ring of Truth who protested that:

Sir Roger is not always so attuned to historical and philosophical context. Take his discussion of anti-Semitism, which looms large in the popular understanding of Wagner. Scholars enjoy mining the operas for evidence of how anti-Jewish Wagner “really” was (Alberich, the money-grabbing dwarf, is a particularly controversial character). But in Sir Roger’s view, these critics’ single-minded focus on Wagner’s anti-Semitism means that they fail to understand the many other ideas explored in the operas. While this has some truth, in his own analysis he overcompensates, choosing to ignore the anti-Semitism theme almost entirely. It is a bizarre choice, which leaves the discussion incomplete.

The Jewish dominated cultural-Marxist establishment’s success in pathologizing Wagner is reflected in how Wagner and his works are discussed in university courses, in popular culture and in the media. It is also reflected in productions of the operas. The result, according to Scruton: “The antagonism has made it almost impossible now to experience these works as their creator intended, since they are regularly produced in such a way as to satirize or deny their inner meaning.” No work of Wagner’s has suffered more from this type of creative censorship that The Ring of the Nibelung, which tells the story of civilization from beginning to end.

Go to Part 2.


[1] Quoted in Martin Kitchen, The Cambridge Illustrated History of Germany (London: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 195.

[2] Matthew Boyden, The Rough Guide to Opera (London: Penguin, 2002), 269.

[3] Roger Scruton, The Ring of Truth: The Wisdom of Wagner’s Ring of the Nibelung (London: Allen Lane, 2016), 28.

[4] Ibid., 6.

[5] Ibid., 9-10.

[6] Ibid., 1.

[7] Ibid., 2.

[8] Ibid., 3.

[9] Bryan Magee, Wagner and Philosophy (London: Penguin, 2000), 352.

[10] Quoted in Martin Kitchen, The Cambridge Illustrated History of Germany, Ibid.

[11] Christopher Nicholson, Richard and Adolf: Did Richard Wagner Incite Adolf Hitler to Commit the Holocaust (Jerusalem: Gefen Publishing House, 2007), 131.

[12] Scruton, The Ring of Truth, 2.

[13] Ibid., 300.

[14] Elisabeth Whitcombe, “Adorno as Critic: Celebrating the Socially Destructive Force of Music,” The Occidental Observer, August 28, 2009.

[15] Monsalvat website, “Parsifal and Race: Wagner’s Last Card,” Undated. http://www.monsalvat.no/racism.htm

[16][16] Harold Schonberg, Lives of the Great Composers (New York: W.W. Norton, 1997), 268.

[17] Marc A. Weiner, Richard Wagner and the Anti-Semitic Imagination (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1997), 6.

[18] Larry Solomon, Wagner and Hitler, (Online article: 2002) http://solomonsmusic.net/WagHit.htm

[19] Scruton, The Ring of Truth, 3.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Richard Wagner, “Judaism in Music,” trans. By Bryan Magee, In: Wagner and Philosophy (London: Penguin, 2000), 375.

[22] Magee, Wagner and Philosophy, Ibid., 375-76.

[23] Ibid., 374.

[24] Ibid., 373; 380.

[25] Richard Wagner, “Hero-dom and Christianity,” trans. by William Ashton Ellis, In: Richard Wagner’s Prose Works Vol. 6 (London: 1897; repr. 1966), 275-84.

[26] Richard Wagner, “Religion and Art,” trans. by William Ashton Ellis, In: Richard Wagner’s Prose Works, Vol. 6 (London: 1897; repr. 1966), 211-52.

[27] Solomon, Wagner and Hitler, Ibid.

[28] David P. Goldman, “Muted: Performances of Wagner’s music are effectively banned in Israel. Should they be?” Tablet, August 17, 2011.

[29] Scruton, The Ring of Truth, 102.

[30] Solomon, Wagner and Hitler, Ibid.

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34 Comments to "Wagner Reclaimed: A Review of “The Ring of Truth” by Roger Scruton, Part 1"

  1. Lynda's Gravatar Lynda
    May 1, 2017 - 12:20 am | Permalink

    Say rather that J.R.R. Tolkien worked from the same sources as Wagner: the Nibelungenlied and the Volsunga Saga. As a professor of Anglo-Saxon and a philologist, unlike Wagner, Tolkien could read old Icelandic.

    And he perceived that the spirit of Ragnarok had arisen in his own time. He presented a paper on this subject at Oxford.

    Tolkien’s saga ‘The Lord of the Rings’ is much closer to the ancient matter than Wager’s romanticised version. Wagner’s music might be sublime, but his knowledge of ancient Northern mythology is not.

    One of the areas where the ancient matter breaks down in the popular versions, including Wagner’s, is this idea of a ring which confers dominion over the entire world/s in the possession of nymphs.

    Tolkien’s reforging of the mythology is a more coherent narrative of dominion. The seven rings given to the Dwarf Lords which bound them to the master ring will take the saga to places that should greatly interest the White nations’ project.

    The tapping into ancient Orkhon words, extant from the Land of Magog, the Uratu, the Ashkhenaz across the Oxon to Mongolia is another fascinating insight. As one of the influences of the Orc languages and Black speech, the limited use of some Orkhon opens up to the reality of captive populations which become weaponised by their Overlords. Tolkien’s saga delves into this idea and elaborates on the ruin of entire peoples by the fallen powers of an ancient world. They were re-made into monsters.

    To a readership that is also familiar with trauma based mind control, Tolkien’s saga is taps this knowledge through the ancient matter.

    The ancient North made no apologies for the appearances of dragons (conceived as world devouring powers) in their stories and song – neither does Tolkien. In Wagner, however, Fafnir (who became a dragon) is merely a prop.

    The Bardic resources of the North’s ancient matter and the re-envisioning of its heroic code in the modern saga allow us to go in story and understanding where Wagner can take us muslcally.

    • David Ashton's Gravatar David Ashton
      May 1, 2017 - 12:59 pm | Permalink

      There is a root western mytheme of the Divine Hero in Cosmic Combat with the Evil Reptile.

    • m's Gravatar m
      May 1, 2017 - 1:36 pm | Permalink

      “…Fafnir (who became a dragon) is merely a prop.”

      I would not so casually dismiss the role of Fafner (or Fasolt), anent the corrupting influence of the forged gold. Also, compare the idea of “sleep” that you discuss (“trauma based mind control”) with the dialog between Wotan, Alberich, and Fafner prior to Siegfried and Mime’s arrival on the scene. The dynamic interaction among Fafner, Alberich, Mime, and the disguised Wotan cannot, I don’t think, be lightly dismissed as “filler.”

      On the other hand, I have nothing significant to add regarding your mention of how Tolkien’s retelling of the ancient story was, as you say, much closer to the original storyline than whatever Wagner composed over a longish period of his life.

  2. Olaf's Gravatar Olaf
    May 1, 2017 - 12:59 am | Permalink

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tiYeZGbPAe8

    “Regin Smiður” (Regin the Smith), Faroese ballad (124 stanzas).
    Referring to myths from the 9th century, put to rhyme probably in the 14th century, it was written down 1851 by V. U. Hammershaimb in the New Faroese language (in FÆRÖISKE KVÆDER).

    Burden (refrain):
    Grane bore the golden hoard,
    Wroth did Sigurd swing his sword,
    There he slew the Dragon grim,
    Wroth did Sigurd swing his sword.

    1.
    Now shall ye lithe & listen well
    Unto this song I sing
    Of warfare, & of warriors,
    & many a mighty king.
    2.
    Sigmund now name I,
    Of Volsung the son;
    & ’twas the youthful Hjørdis
    That for his wife he won.
    3.
    Drank they right gaily
    Glad yule-tide in;
    Mighty their men-at-arms
    Tribute to win.
    4.
    Swiftly came sorrow
    To their high hall,
    For many a foe was fain to see
    That mighty monarch’s fall.
    5.
    One & all, the warriors
    Weapon took in hand;
    Wagèd was the warfare
    In King Giur’s land.
    6.
    Wagèd was the warfare
    In King Giur’s land;
    There did they join battle
    All on the South sea-strand.
    7.
    Many fared forth to battle,
    But none returned again;
    Queen Hjørdis sat a-waiting
    In sorrow & in pain.
    8.
    Forth fared Queen Hjørdis
    In mantle of grey,
    To seek for King Sigmund,
    On battle-field lay.
    9.
    ‘ Lie soft, thou Sigmund,
    Dearest to me!
    All in this hour of sorrow
    I come to seek for thee.
    10.
    ‘ Dearest of mine
    In woe as in weal,
    Is no green herb a-growing
    Avails thy hurt to heal?
    11.
    ‘ Wide mayst thou wander
    Ere leeches be found,
    With store of salves availing
    To heal my deadly wound.
    12.
    ‘ Hunding’s sons in battle
    Wrought my downfall;
    Venom was on the sword-points
    They pierced me withal.
    13.
    ‘ Or ever that venom
    Brought me my bane,
    My goodly brand was broken
    Asunder in twain.
    14.
    ‘ Or ever my second wound
    Touched me with smart,
    The venom was seeping
    Thro’ to my heart.
    15.
    ‘ The fragments of my goodly sword
    To weapon-smith shalt bear,
    & bid him forge a weapon
    that our young son may wear.
    16.
    ‘ For that thou bear’st within thee
    Shall prove a gallant boy;
    Sigurd shalt thou name him,
    & foster him with joy.
    17.
    ‘ Lithe now & listen,
    For scant is my breath,
    Sigurd our son
    Shall avenge me my death.
    18.
    ‘ The smith by the river
    His dwelling hath made;
    Bid him re-fashion
    Sigmund’s bright blade.
    19.
    ‘ Fávnir hight the Fire-drake
    Of Glitter Heath is Lord;
    Regin is a cunning smith,
    Yet none can trust his word.
    20.
    ‘ No longer, my Hjørdis,
    Talk I with thee!
    Methinks ’tis now my dying hour
    That cometh fast on me. ’
    21.
    Weeping went Hjørdis
    From the place where he lay,
    The ladies of her household
    Led her away.

  3. May 1, 2017 - 2:52 am | Permalink

    I think it says something of the Jews’ self-conception that they recognise themselves in the likes of Alberich and Mime.

  4. m's Gravatar m
    May 1, 2017 - 3:01 am | Permalink

    First, in spite of Nietzsche’s often perceptive gaze, when it came to Wagner the former had little introspection into his own failings. A man in love with another man’s wife is not the best arbiter regarding the worth of her husband. At least that is one angle to explore, and one that is likely relevant.

    Second, Wagner cannot be denied his place, simply because of his superb musical genius (in league with Bach, Mozart, Beethoven). If it were otherwise, his works would never be performed in places like New York, but instead we’d have to suffer third rate composers such as Mahler, and watch endless productions of West Side Story at the Met.

    Third, every season at Bayreuth cultural elites sully Wagner with their ridiculous “Eurotrash” staging. But the music rises above it all, mocking these moderns and their infantile silliness. Ironically, the creepy James Levine (the Met–on Deutsche Grammophon video) conducted one of the best visual productions (James Morris as Wotan, etc.) using traditional costumes and backdrops. How that happened is anyone’s guess.

    • Pierre de Craon's Gravatar Pierre de Craon
      May 1, 2017 - 12:31 pm | Permalink

      How that happened is anyone’s guess.

      Dear m: It’s rather more than a guess, my friend. Yet a man better able than I to make a long story short would still need several thousand words to supply you with a proper answer; so in lieu of that, please accept these fragments of an answer from someone who was on the inside at the relevant time—relevant, that is, if I am correct in assuming that you refer to the Met’s excellent “traditional” Ring production (1987–1990) directed by Otto Schenk and designed by Günther Schneider-Siemssen.

      (1) During these years, when the general manager was Bruce Crawford, the real administrative and artistic power was exercised by a strongly motivated segment of the Met’s board of directors, not by Crawford (who was their choice [by no means a bad one] for the leadership post) nor still less by Levine, whose power base of supporters on the board had not yet regained the influence they had had ten years earlier.

      This was the period when Levine’s sexual degeneracy, which involved pre-adolescent boys, had been a hair’s breadth away from going fully public. (Indeed, Renata Scotto, then well past her prime, was able to blackmail Levine into giving her an opening night by coming to his aid when the Philadelphia police had arrested him.) The elements on the board hostile to Levine used his scandal-ridden state to hint in the press, including the Times, that poor health might soon force him to retire, with Marek Janowski as his bruited replacement (this died on the vine, alas). This was also the period when his diminished status undercut Levine’s otherwise constant refusal to allow far superior conductors (rather than sycophantic newcomers or has-beens or never-wasers) to be engaged to lead operas that he wanted to have associated with himself alone. Levine’s loss of influence and that fact alone accounted for the management’s engagement of Carlos Kleiber to conduct Otello, Bohème, Traviata, and Rosenkavalier, all of which Levine had reserved for himself. Haitink and Tennstedt were also engaged then, but the Levine faction’s recovery of influence in the nineties limited these two giants’ appearances to one opera each, that being Fidelio. It also accounted for the mounting of a Ring production that Levine had no interest in being associated with—until, that is, the Times and the rest of the brown-nose press told the world how great he was.

      (2) Before (((Peter Gelb))), the senior management and a preponderant segment of the board were reluctant to allow (((Eurotrash))) directors and productions to make inroads at the Met in large part because private-source donations (mostly from old WASP money) and ticket sales accounted for a vastly larger proportion of the institution’s operating budget than was the case anywhere in Europe. As these two cash cows mostly detested “modern” productions—as did the overwhelming majority of deep-pocket Europeans and Japanese who spent small fortunes to flock to the Met to see its more or less traditional stagings, which were then anything but thick on the ground in the Old World—the anti-white and Christophobic elements at the Met and in the New York press got very short shrift indeed. The Met’s success in getting more (((government))) funding and in allying itself with the (((broadcasting mavens))) during the Volpe years changed things once and, seemingly, for all. The appointment of (((Peter Gelb))) may with reason be taken as an indication that the Met’s interest in true re-creative art has now sunk without trace.

      • m's Gravatar m
        May 1, 2017 - 3:36 pm | Permalink

        Thanks PdC for the (kind of) brief summary. I’d heard bits and pieces here and there, but your discussion succinctly uncovers motives behind it all. As an aside, as modern stagings become more and more ridiculous, we find ourselves thinking how, now, Patrice Chereau’s “Bernard Shaw Perfect Wagnerite” socialist production seems almost traditional, if not quaint.

        One could, I suppose, contrast the degeneracy in European (and by association, American) anti-traditional Wagnerian opera stagings with the still traditional Chinese opera variants. The latter’s stagings remain as alien as ever to the Westerner, but true to form as always (although political and social aspects are often highlighted in non-traditional, i.e., non Confucian, ways).

      • Brenton Sanderson's Gravatar Brenton Sanderson
        May 1, 2017 - 11:44 pm | Permalink

        Fascinating Pierre.

        • Pierre de Craon's Gravatar Pierre de Craon
          May 2, 2017 - 11:52 am | Permalink

          It’s a red-letter day for me when something I write catches your attention, Dr. Sanderson!

          May I flesh my earlier comment out with an anecdote? When the gossip about Levine’s Philadelphia arrest and Scotto’s bailout began to spread through the opera company,* I noted it with moral distaste but without surprise. Shortly thereafter, I had occasion to tell the tale to my oldest friend. Not uncharacteristically, he dismissed it as a patent and vicious slander and hence as impossible to credit.

          A month or two later, my friend and I met for dinner at a restaurant I frequented in part because it was owned by a guy I knew who had once worked in the Met’s hair and makeup department. Lo and behold, our waiter was a boy who was a member of the Met’s corps de ballet; he was moonlighting at the restaurant while waiting for a minor thigh muscle injury to heal. As he and I also knew each other slightly, we chatted a bit. Feeling mischievous, I asked him whether he’d still been dancing with the corps when Levine was arrested in Philadelphia. He answered with a big, very gay “oh yes!” To which I replied, “My friend here is sure the story can’t be true.” The boy, looking amazed, said to my friend, “It’s absolutely true, honey! Jimmy was arrested and Scotto saved his ass.”

          Need I add that to this day my friend still doesn’t believe it? Being a white guy from New England who did postgraduate work at Harvard, he believes nothing unless it’s been reported by PBS or the New York Times.
          __________________________
          *Back in the still-“bigoted” seventies and eighties, one of the inevitabilities of working in a place, such as Lincoln Center, where homosexuals constituted either a sizable minority or even a majority was that one quickly came to see that “dishing the dirt” about the sexual (mis)adventures of others, especially other queens, was this group’s nonstop occupation.

  5. john cully's Gravatar john cully
    May 1, 2017 - 3:04 am | Permalink

    Excellent, this. I have always felt that there was something tendentious about the opinions of Wagner that blow about in the wind of general discourse. This essay has clarified much for me.

  6. Seraphim's Gravatar Seraphim
    May 1, 2017 - 4:04 am | Permalink

    It is ironic, to say the least, that the creator of Wagner’s image of the ‘mad genius’, the insane ‘antisemite’, was the clinically insane Nietzsche. Because of Wagner’s ‘conversion to anti-Semitic Christianity’!
    Did you know that actually Hitler’s favorite Wagnerian creations and his most profound inspiration were Lohengrin, Parzival and The Meistersingers of Nurnberg? The Holy Grail, the Medieval Germany’s folklore, not the rather turgid Tetralogie and the Volsugasaga. His hero was Rienzi, the tribune of the people who wanted to revive the glory of Rome, more than Siegfried?

  7. Art's Gravatar Art
    May 1, 2017 - 4:04 am | Permalink

    Quote:

    in 1878 he confessed that “it is distressing for me always to come back to theme of the Jews, but one cannot escape it as one looks to the future.”
    ___

    From the point of view of Jewish intellectuals almost all Great Europeans were “Anti-Semites”, speak they were “Haters”.
    It seems that love and hate are two sides of the same coin.
    You can only be a great artists if you passionately love your own group.
    This natural love is the prerequisite of creating immortal works.
    But if you love something, then you inevitably hate the forces that you feel are endangering the things you love.
    Even if you do not name these forces explicitly, your feeling can be recognised as “Anti-Something”.
    So we have just a banal conflict of interests. You are an “Anti-Something” if you love your own group and do not support the agenda of another group that preaches “universalism” and “tolerance” to the host society, while maintaining their own closed group, that managed to survive due to intolerance and exclusiveness.
    In plain language, you are not a “Hater” according to the definition of the Newspeak, if you do not care about your own group.

  8. Anonymous White Male's Gravatar Anonymous White Male
    May 1, 2017 - 12:27 pm | Permalink

    “Tchaikovsky’s assessment that: “Whatever one might think of Wagner’s titanic work, no one can deny the monumental nature of the task he set himself, and which he has fulfilled; nor the heroic inner strength needed to complete the task. It was truly one of the greatest artistic endeavors which the human mind has ever conceived.”

    You noticed that Tchiakovsky never said anything about whether he liked or respected the music, just the “monumental nature”, the “task”, the “endeavor”. I love Rossini’s purported opinion about Wagner. Someone told him that Wagner had some beautiful moments, to which Rossini responded, yes, and some terrible quarter-hours.
    Opera was the best musical and theatrical convention that mankind had invented, prior to the invention of movies. Now, it is an anachronism. It is only good if the music is good. To me, Wagner’s music just meanders aimlessly, never achieving a resolution. I do enjoy the “Ride of the Valkyries”.

    • m's Gravatar m
      May 1, 2017 - 3:59 pm | Permalink

      To me, Wagner’s music just meanders aimlessly, never achieving a resolution.

      This is certainly not the case with the Ring music. On the other hand, one could make a point of it when considering Parsifal. What is significant, here, is that Wagner was essentially the end of Western music composed in (to borrow Nietzsche’s phrase) “the grand style.” Think about it. After Wagner (an evolution from Bach through Beethoven), what could be done? Bruckner attempted as much, but, to use an analogy from Spinal Tap, once you’ve turned it to ten, where can you go from there?

      In opera we were left with odds and ends such as the strangeness of Debussy’s Maurice Maeterlinck play Pelléas et Mélisande, a depressing thing that really meanders into the land of musical and spiritual nowhere. On the other hand, nothing in opera is as uninspired as the material that makes up Nixon in China, which may well have been intended as a comedy–I’m not sure.

    • Pierre de Craon's Gravatar Pierre de Craon
      May 1, 2017 - 4:21 pm | Permalink

      For Tchaikovsky’s ambivalent attitude toward Wagner and his music, see here. See also several of the many letters in Tchaikovsky’s famous correspondence with Mme. von Meck, “To My Best Friend”.

      I love Rossini’s purported opinion about Wagner.

      The reported/purported opinion cited has no basis in fact. Rossini complained frequently and bitterly about the hundreds of lies and misrepresentations that journalists and society hangers-on in Paris attributed to him. In 1860, Wagner was in Paris, and having for some time been acquainted with Rossini’s close friend Edmond Michotte, Wagner asked him whether he could arrange a meeting with Rossini, one at which Michotte could also be present. As Michotte reported in Souvenirs: La visite de R. Wagner à Rossini (Paris 1860) (trans. Herbert Weinstock), when he approached Rossini, the latter “replied at once: ‘But that goes without saying; I’ll receive M. Wagner with the greatest pleasure. You know my hours; come with him when you wish.’ Then he added: ‘Have you at least made him understand that I am an utter stranger to all the stupidities about him which have been attributed to me?'”

      The meeting, an extended one, went extremely well, with no trace of sarcasm or rancor on either side. Michotte concluded his account of the afternoon and evening with an extended postscript, the last paragraph of which is as follows: “The two masters, then, never saw one another again; but I can certify that whenever Rossini’s name came from Wagner’s lips or pen, the latter never departed from the deference and profound esteem that he had conceived for him. It was the same with Rossini, who later on often asked me about the success that Wagner’s operas were meeting with in Germany, and regarding which he often charged me to transmit to the latter his congratulations and remembrances.”

    • AnotherAmalekite's Gravatar AnotherAmalekite
      May 1, 2017 - 5:22 pm | Permalink

      Much like Mozart, whom I once heard described as having written “musical exercises”, rather than supposedly beautiful music.
      To a layperson like me, his music does mostly sound like tedious exercises, with a couple of smallish exceptions.
      I’ll pretty much take a composer of practically any nationality, including jewish and especially Italian, over a German.
      Matter of taste, perhaps.

      As an aside, I also prefer Brutalist architecture, when done right, over most Classical styles. I’m a minimalist. A bare concrete wall can be beautiful.

    • AnotherAmalekite's Gravatar AnotherAmalekite
      May 1, 2017 - 5:29 pm | Permalink

      Oh, and if you like the Valkyries thing, give a listen to the Tannhäuser March and to a somewhat lesser extent, the Tannhäuser Overture.

  9. Pierre de Craon's Gravatar Pierre de Craon
    May 1, 2017 - 2:39 pm | Permalink

    I look forward happily to reading anything written by Brenton Sanderson, and so I am completely unsurprised by my enthusiasm for the first part of this article. I hope that no one will misread my offering of two reference glosses and one small disagreement as a criticism of this piece.

    (1) Apropos Scruton and Wagner, though I read only fragments of Death-Devoted Heart, they impressed me so much that in 2007 I told several friends that they constituted the first sound commentary on Tristan und Isolde that I had read in more than thirty years. Also see Scruton’s dismissive essay-review, “Wagner: Moralist or Monster?,” of the Köhler rubbish that Doctor Sanderson refers to. It appeared in the New Criterion.

    (2) I don’t know whether Doctor Sanderson or anyone else here is familiar with Deryck Cooke’s volume (sadly, three quarters unfinished) I Saw the World End. To say that in its profundity it towers over everything else ever written about the Ring hardly does it justice. Cooke’s suicide deprived lovers of music of an incomparable work of scholarship and aesthetic insight.

    (3) As Lynda has already done (see below), I respectfully submit that Doctor Sanderson is being a mite unfair in calling Tolkien’s disavowal of Wagner’s influence on his own epic work “unconvincing.” Rather than repeat what she wrote, with almost all of which I fully agree, I shall here point to another factor. Although Tolkien loved music almost to distraction—indeed, he made it the very vehicle of God’s creation of the universe—he detested the stage and everything written for it. A man with no liking for Shakespeare or for Mozart’s operatic works is hardly likely to make an exception for so sawdusty a theatrical genius as Wagner. There is also the fact that the roots of LotR date from the time of the Great War’s aftermath. Whether Tolkien’s familiarity with Wagner’s music or dramaturgy was small or nil at that time is unknown to me (or else once known but now forgotten), but it could hardly have been then what it became in the thirties and forties.

    I eagerly await the later parts of this valuable essay.

  10. Gaylord Retclyffe's Gravatar Gaylord Retclyffe
    May 1, 2017 - 4:45 pm | Permalink

    It is articles like this one, enriched by insightful, highly cultured comments that make TOO the premier source for all things White and Nationalistic. Having spent a lifetime of sailing in the safe and calm waters of classical music, listening to, and playing (singing) Bach, Mozart, and Brahms, it took the leisure of retirement to listen to all of Wagner’s operas, including the early and rarely, if ever, performed ones. It was a glorious and sad experience. Glorious, because this man’s work best describes what Dewey termed a “unified experience”, a masterful and harmonious coming together of word, sound, history, Volk and myth. Sad, because it somehow ruined for me the erstwhile pleasures in music that is easy on the ear. After Wagner, what is there? What can there be? He is the end of music, the highest apogee beyond which there can only be silence. And pace Judah, Klezmer doesn’t even come close, nor do Mahler or Mendelsohn-Bartholdy or Jacques Offenbach!

  11. AnotherAmalekite's Gravatar AnotherAmalekite
    May 1, 2017 - 5:12 pm | Permalink

    German mysticism is precisely what this so-called movement needs more of.[/sarcasm]

    • May 2, 2017 - 3:45 am | Permalink

      And commentators like Scruton who never mention truths about Jews are precisely what this movement needs more of

      • May 2, 2017 - 6:09 am | Permalink

        [/more sarcasm] (I used the wrong markup)

        • David Ashton's Gravatar David Ashton
          May 2, 2017 - 1:26 pm | Permalink

          @ Rerevisionist

          We shall just have to make do with Scruton’s devastating criticism of the actual “ideas” and corrupting influence of Adorno, Derrida, Dworkin, Lukacs, Marcuse &c &c. And leave hobby-horses to other riders.

  12. Right_On's Gravatar Right_On
    May 1, 2017 - 5:40 pm | Permalink

    Re Nietzsche’s turn against Wagner . . . see what Wagner wrote to Nietzsche’s doctor: “In assessing Nietzsche’s condition I have long been reminded of identical or very similar experiences with young men of great intellectual ability. Seeing them laid low by similar symptoms, I discovered all too certainly that these were the effects of masturbation. Ever since I observed Nietzsche closely, guided by such experiences, all his traits of temperament and characteristic habits have transformed my fear into a conviction.”
    If you learned that the artist you had hero-worshipped from your youth had called you a wanker it would rather take the shine off your relationship.

    • Seraphim's Gravatar Seraphim
      May 2, 2017 - 4:18 am | Permalink

      But the letter (which was certainly motivated by concern about Nietzsche’s increasing mental imbalance) was written in 1876 and was making allusions to sodomy as well (rather trying to explain away the much graver suspicion of sodomy).
      In 1873 Nietzsche started a suspiciously ‘fröhliche’ friendship with Paul Rée, a philosopher of ‘Jewish origin’ who “was opposed to what Bayreuth stood for”! Most of the themes of ‘Nitzscheanism’ are due to the influence of Ree (his rabid anti-Christianism in the first place).
      In 1876 when the first Bayreuth festival took place Nietzsche suddenly found the ‘cult of Wagner’ unpalatable. Pleading ill health, he left the event for a time, returned to hear some performances, but left before the end. Shortly after and with no apparent reason, Nietzsche published the fourth of his “Untimely Meditations” – “Richard Wagner at Bayreuth” in which he stated that Wagner was “not the prophet of the future, as perhaps he would wish to appear to us, but the interpreter and clarifier of the past.” Hardly a ringing endorsement of Wagner as the savior of German culture!
      Later in 1876 Nietzsche and Rée found themselves staying in Sorrento at the same time as the Wagners. Wagner warned Nietzsche to be wary of Rée on account of his being Jewish. He also discussed his next opera, Parsifal, which to Nietzsche’s surprise and disgust was to advance Christian themes. Nietzsche suspected that Wagner was motivated in this by a desire for success and popularity rather than by authentic artistic reasons.
      The Wagners took, understandably, a very deem view of the friendship, comparing it with the pact of Faust with Mephistopheles. Nietzsche was the one who already started attacking (which were to grow increasingly vicious). He was to confess latter ‘because he was mortally offended by Wagner’s crawling back his way back to Christianity and to the Church’ which he took ‘as a personal affront’. We know that the Church is hated with so much passion because of her ‘repression of sexuality’, condemning sodomy and masturbation.
      So, why is Nietzsche considered an antisemite and the inspiration behind Hitler’s Weltanshauung is beyond me.

    • May 3, 2017 - 5:34 am | Permalink

      In the military such men are called underachievers! And Wagner urged Nietzsche to stop this hedonistic inversion and find himself a woman – this being a basic theme also within Wagner’s operas, and which also was Wagner’s concern with women who could not/would not love men, so the Walkyries are depicted as raging lesbians inspired by the power of serving Wotan, and who have to learn how to become women as embodied in Brunnhilde’s fate. Her love for Siegfried is limited and not unconditional and thus she betrays him. This is all good Wagner stuff that transcends the later nonsense espoused by Freud.

      • Seraphim's Gravatar Seraphim
        May 3, 2017 - 6:41 pm | Permalink

        There is little doubt that the origins of pederasty and paedophilia are in the initiations in the militaristic ‘Männerbund’ of berserkir ‘heroes’ prevalent in the ‘heroic-barbaric’ phases of human polities. In civilized societies these practices were roundly condemned and went underground (hence the aspect of ‘secret societies’ of committed pederasts) or were sublimated (Platonic love, friendship, brotherly love of monastics). It is not surprising that the charge of sodomy was one of the principal (if not THE principal) charges brought against the ‘Männerbund’ of the Knights Templars and that went hand in hand with the charge of ‘reviling Jesus Christ’ and ‘denying that his death redeemed man from sin’. Nietzsche’s case.

        • Hrafn's Gravatar Hrafn
          May 6, 2017 - 7:54 am | Permalink

          A particularly ironic misunderstanding of what Männerbünde are, considering that pederasty is one of the fundamental pillars of the Judeo-Christian mental condition, which represents the degeneration of the human cultural impulse (as illustrated by Wagner’s decline into ‘Parsifal’).

  13. Curmudgeon's Gravatar Curmudgeon
    May 2, 2017 - 7:33 am | Permalink

    A very enjoyable article.
    In my view, the pejorative “anti-Semite” has been overused to the extent of being meaningless. To (((those))), whose name must always be exalted, it always boils down to a Bush 43’s “if you’re not with us you are against us”. If Wagner had said nothing about (((them))), he would still have had “anti-Semitic” tendencies because he did not praise Mendelssohn or Meyerbeer, who as we all know, were the real paradigms of classical music. http://forward.com/culture/153449/dreyfus-of-the-classical-music-world/
    As for Wagner’s Operas, there is a redemption theme, of some sort, in all of them. His music, as I have long ago, posted envelopes you. Whether the stirring Ride of the Valkyries, the pensive Pilgrim’s Chorus, or the delicate Treulich Gefuhrt, you don’t listen to his music, you experience it.

    Completely off the Wagner topic, but part of the (((cultural Marxist))) mantra is the denigration, through “equalization” of all Western music. My piano tuner once remarked on the complex mechanical workings of a piano, and his tour of the Bosendorfer factory on a trip to Vienna. It started me thinking of all of the musical instruments developed in Europe and the genius needed to create them. The Big Lie of Equality crumbles before it. An Amerind chanting and beating on a skin disk will never equal a Wagner opera and/or the genius of those who created the instruments to play it.

    • Pierre de Craon's Gravatar Pierre de Craon
      May 9, 2017 - 12:43 pm | Permalink

      A comment on the margins. Did you know, Curmudgeon, that on the occasions they met, Wagner and Mendelssohn got along comfortably? In one sense, it’s hardly surprising, as Wagner was by temperament ebullient, Mendelssohn diffident. Such a personality conjunction often fares well, whatever stressors may also be present.

  14. Laura's Gravatar Laura
    May 5, 2017 - 2:01 pm | Permalink

    Is that true about Renata Scotto? I never could figure out how she made it big. I guess enough cunning gets you anywhere these days, this must have been her modus operandi. Not even a moderately good singer, and in the category of people allowed to sing because they have correct Italian(or whatever) diction. She really does stand out as above-average bad – as someone with, perplexingly, top-billing.

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