I was recently reading a book on the Holocaust and the author mentions in passing that the music of Wagner is banned in Israel. Is this true? If it is, I have to admit I’m surprised. I know Wagner was regarded as an anti-semite and was a favorite of the Nazis, but this seems an overreaction. The Israeli government might as well ban the sale of Ford automobiles.
Wagner is not officially banned in Israel, not by any legal method, and anyone is free to buy a CD and play it at home. However, he is never performed live, nor is any of his musc ever broadcast on the radio. The driving force behind this is the public, not the government; any conductor wishing to perform any of his music can expect demonstrations, picket lines and condemnation by media pundits and elected officials - including the ones who control cultural budgets.
As Alessan says, there’s no law preventing musicians from playing Wagner, and no one will go to jail for it. In fact, every now and then, a classical orchestra DOES play some Wagner in Israel.
Now, as the linked article shows, musicians who play Wagner in Israel are usually condemned and vilified, so there IS a price to pay if you decide to play Wagner (or stage a production of “The Merchant of Venice”) in Israel. But you wouldn’t be breaking any laws.
Probably only Daniel Barenboim could have gotten away with it, IMO.
A previous thread on this topic: Was Wagner Really Banned in Israel?
In that thread astro provides a link to an article (“Israel shatters long taboo with Wagner performance”) that answers most of your questions about the Wagner taboo.
Little Nemo–why do you say that you are surprised?
The issue is how to respect the very, very deep emotions that are raised.There are still many people alive in Israel who suffered very,very terribly in Nazi Germany. Wagner’s music is not just symbolic of Nazism,–for these people it is truly traumatic. So why insult them?
A good analogy from American culture is the “blackface” acting of the 1920’s.In that era, respected white actors imitated black people in way that we today all agree is a disgustingly racist stereotype. So blackface theater is “banned” today in America–because to show it on stage today would deeply insult many people.
Well, because Wagner died before Hitler came to power- thus wasn’t a Nazi, or a supporter of Nazism? Nor is his work in any way racist, or pro-Nazi- it’s just music? Now true, many Nazi’s liked Wagner- but Hitler liker Motherhood, too- so should we revile that? Just becuase the Nazis liked it- doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with it.
The analogy is false as the blackface acting was racist even at the time- it was just accepted racism.
Now- I can see their point about the swastika, Nazi regalia & such. Of course, pre-Hitler, there are also legit uses of the flylflot. I can also see that playing the “Horst Wessel” song- which was a Nazi tune- would be derided.