Furtwangler conducts Die Meistersinger in 1942

Despite Wagner’s personal antisemitism, I always find his music to be much deeper than his personality and intellect. His music is timeless and universal in spite of the narrowness of Wagner’s own interpretation of his music. His creativity channeled beauty. He then proceeded to use his intellect and feelings to misinterpret his music in his statements and his writings. Even the librettos are problematic-Wagner talked about an Aryan Christ, but where is the racism in the music and libretto of Parsifal? Parsifal reveals a world-embracing universal Christ.

In Die Meistersinger, the late 19th self-consciousness of Wagner is superimposed upon his vision of the minds of medieval Germans of Nuremberg and this fusion creates an extreme nostalgia and longing. Although the music is more diatonic and employees traditional contrapuntal techniques, it still goes off into Romantic chromaticism. It’s as if Wagner uses Bach as a way of conceiving a medieval time. Baroque music becomes a means of historical perception employed by a late 19th century sensibility. Wagner may have intended Beckmesser as a racial stereotype, but he’s more of an archetype of a certain conservative approach to art where rules are more important than creative vision. Hanslick, of the Beautiful in Music, comes to mind.

All the Wagner contradictions are in this video-IMO one of the greatest pieces of music ever composed beautifully conducted and executed in a film which is essentially a Nazi propaganda film. Notice the staged audience reaction shots and of course the swastikas and Nazi big wigs:

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One Response to “Furtwangler conducts Die Meistersinger in 1942”

  1. Sibelius’s Fifth: Romantic musical language condensed into new forms « Klogger Says:

    […] is how the beginning of this movement is reminiscent of certain contrapuntal sequences in the Prelude to Die Meistersinger-a whirlwind of strings that fades to reveal a “nostalgic”, calm theme on horns. This […]

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