Richard Wagner is a popular man around town these days.
Well, not necessarily in a good way. This week's music column
very briefly recounts Wagner's controversial legacy, which was tarnished not only by Hitler's adoption of Wagner's work into the semi-official music of the Nazi party, but also by Wagner's own overtly anti-Semitic writings.
The same topic is cropping up all over Santa Fe and beyond, in the way of lectures, film and musical performances. Here's a brief recount of what's going on, past, present and future:
Last night, Professor Tom Franks spoke about "Forbidden Opera
." Franks, a Wagner expert, discussed some of the composers whose works suffered as a result of being labeled "degenerate music" by the Nazi party. Franks also provided musical samples to accompany his lecture.
On Sunday, Jan. 13, the Cinematheque
at CCA screened Wagner & Me
. The film is narrated by Jewish actor Stephen Fry, who tries to reconcile losing family members to the Holocaust with his love of Wagner's music. The screening, presented by the Santa Fe Wagner
Society, was unique in that it included a live talk-back session with Craig Barnes, Bernard Rubenstein and
Rabbi Marvin Schwab.
On Sunday, Jan. 20, Polyphony: Voices of New Mexico performs Donald McCullough's Holocaust Cantata
at the Cathedral of St. John in Albuquerque. McCullough's work is the result of a musicological experiment to bring to life songs composed by concentration camp inmates. Though not directly related to Wagner, the music is another instance of music forbidden by the Nazis. Details and tickets are available on Polyphony's website
Finally, on Tuesday, Jan. 29, Joseph Illick, Director of the Santa Fe Concert Association, speaks about Wagner's artistic accomplishments, as well as his controversies, in a lecture entitled "Notes on Music: Richard Wagner." More information and tickets can be found here