New Wagner Documentary: "Wagner’s Jews"

Written By The Wagnerian on Wednesday, 29 May 2013 | 1:28:00 pm

It goes with out saying that despite Wagner's antisemitic writing, many of Wagner’s closest associates were Jews—young musicians who became personally devoted to the composer, and provided indispensable help to his work and career. They included Hermann Levi, a rabbi's son who conducted the premiere of Wagner’s Parsifal; Angelo Neumann, who produced Wagner's works throughout Europe; and Joseph Rubinstein, a pianist who lived with the Wagner family for years and committed suicide when Wagner died.


Much, and much nonsense, has been written about these people over the years.  The documentary "Wagner's Jews" attempts to ask, who were these people, what brought them Wagner and why did so many stay with him. To do so, it uses archival sources, interviews, visual re-enactments, and original performances of musical works by some of the central characters—the first such performances on film.

Produced by  Overtone Films LLC in co-production with WDR,it will be broadcast on WDR and ARTE in 2013. If you are in London it will also be shown at sometime during Wagner 200 (Date to be confirmed. See here for updates


Those interviewed for the film include:

  • Yossi Beilin, Israeli politician and negotiator of the Oslo peace accords
  • Leon Botstein, President of Bard College; Conductor Laureate of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra
  • John Louis DiGaetani, Wagner scholar
  • Asher Fisch, Israeli conductor
  • Robert Gutman, Musicologist and Wagner biographer
  • Uri Hanoch, Deputy Chairman, Central Organization of Holocaust Survivors in Israel
  • Jonathan Livny, President, Israel Wagner Society
  • Zubin Mehta, Music Director, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Dina Porat, Chief Historian, Yad Vashem; Chair, Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry, Tel Aviv University
  • Paul Lawrence Rose, Professor of Jewish Studies, Penn State University
  • Jan Swafford, Brahms biographer
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