Israeli lawyer seeks end of ban on Wagner performances

18th November 2010, Comments 0 comments

An Israeli lawyer said Thursday he has launched a bid to try to end a long-standing taboo against performances in the Jewish state of music by anti-Semitic composer Richard Wagner.

"We have set ourselves the goal of promoting the production of Wagner's works, particularly at the Tel Aviv Opera, to put an end to the boycott of one of the most important composers of the 19th century," Jonathan Livni told AFP.

The Israeli organisation he has founded to promote broader acceptance of Wagner's music has already been accepted into the International Association of Wagner Societies, to the delight of the Jerusalem-based lawyer.

Since the Nazi Holocaust, musicians in Israel have largely honoured an unwritten ban on performing pieces by Wagner, Adolf Hitler's favourite composer.

Many Israelis are Holocaust survivors and find the associations provoked by the music distressing.

But Livni said there is no official ban on the performance of Wagner's works, and hopes he can encourage musicians here to open up to the composer's pieces.

The rare performances of Wagner's works in the country have been highly controversial.

In 1991, Israeli composer Daniel Barenboim led the Berlin State Opera in a performance of an excerpt from "Tristan und Isolde" in Tel Aviv, prompting catcalls and a walkout by several members of the audience.

In October, Germany's Bayreuth Festival withdrew an invitation for an Israeli orchestra to play at its annual Wagner gathering over fears it would create a backlash in the Jewish state.

Wagner loathed Jews and railed against them in his writings. He died a half-century before the rise to power of Hitler, who used his music as part of the Nazi regime's propaganda.

© 2010 AFP

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