14 4 mins 6 yrs

I feature the divine music of  Beethoven’s ‘Fur Elise’ this morning for many reasons. Partly my own enjoyment, because to watch and to hear a talented virtuoso perform this enchanting piece is like balm to a wounded soul; but also to ask, as I attempt to do so in my headline, a very important  question. Does, or should, a composer’s or artiste’s politics or beliefs have any place in the performance of that composer’s or artiste’s works?

Consider Wagner: his works feature majestic themes, fantastic sweeping lyrical overtures and superlative works such as the ‘Ring of the Nibelung’ and ‘Lohengrin’; the majesty of ‘Gotterdamerung’ from that same ‘Ring’ series, and many, many more. His works espoused nationalistic pride, and deep fervour, and those works still speak to many today. But he was also a vehement and vicious anti-Semite, and his efforts to keep Jews out of his orchestras and audiences are well documented. But should we allow his beliefs to intrude on our enjoyment of his superb musical works?

Now I would move to the young lady who performed with skill and verve in that performance featured in the video. She is Russian, and besides being extremely well-known for her skills at the piano, she is also well-known for her pro-Russian and –Putin pronouncements especially on the subject of the Ukraine, and Russia’s involvement with that unhappy State. She is a fervent Nationalist, and whilst I might have an argument as to the target of her adoration; namely the Russian federation, and Putin as its boss: I have no qualms at all with her philosophy, which is Nation above all. There is nothing wrong, in my view, with expressions of a deep love for the country of one’s birth, and allied to that love, a hope that that country will prosper. But that is why Miss Lisitsa has been told that she is no longer welcome to play the piano with the  Toronto Symphony Orchestra, which had booked Lisitsa to perform Rachmaninov’s 2nd Piano Concerto with the orchestra last Friday.

It seems as though the local chapter of the Ukrainian Nut-Cases National (Canadian Branch) was ‘deeply offended’ by Miss Lisitsa’s tweets and comments, and threatened legal action. So, because of a so-called ‘hate-speech’ agenda, a vivacious, charming and talented pianist will not be playing Rachmaninov in Canada; and yet another nail has been driven into the already-dormant body which is labelled ‘Freedom of Speech’ in this once tolerant world in which we live. So, enjoy those fragrant moments ‘Fur Elise’, and sympathise, if you will, with the citizens of Toronto, whose orchestra management caved in at the slightest sound of the noise and fury of the so-called Liberal Left!

 

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14 thoughts on “and so, Mr. Wagner, would you have approved of Auschwitz?

  1. Woody Allan once said that every time he hears Wagner he feels like invading Poland.

    But even if a writer or a composer or painter created works for their propaganda effect, he must still be judged only by the quality of his writing, music or pictures. Just like a commedian is to be judged only by the quality of his jokes, regardless of who or how they might hurt. As Oscar said, there’s no such thing as an immoral book, only a badly written one.

    But before we get too pompous, how many of us can resist condemning a politician, and declaring him unfit to hold office merely on the basis of some conduct or opinion that has nothing to do with how he performs his job?
    We regularly see politicians here, and most often in the US, condemned for a range of things like an “inappropriate” sexual encounter or practice, defrauding on taxes or even being gay. These may or may not be a poor reflection on the man or woman, but they have no bearing on his aptitude for doing what he’s paid to do. This “moral” bar excludes talented people and opens the way for idiots, again most frequently in the US.
    I for one would much sooner vote for a sex pervert who can do his job well than a moral paragon who happens to be an incompetent fool.

  2. you are wrong Noel.

    Everything you just wrote can be summed up with “character doesn’t matter”. To you it may not, which is probably why you get so many things wrongs.

    If you paint or compose a piece that glorifies a crime or an immoral act you damn well will be judged on the subject matter.

    Oh the Swordsman stance and swing are excellent you can tell he studied fencing from a great master… never mind he’s chopping the heads off of Christians look at his form.

    I for one would much sooner vote for a sex pervert who can do his job well than a moral paragon who happens to be an incompetent fool.

    That guy may rape little boys, but he got our taxes lower.

    That guy may rape little boys, but damn does he give a good sermon.

    That’s what you just endorsed, Noel.

  3. Noel – I think we can judge the work for the work, but the artist may also be judged for the content. Spencer is a writer who no Irish Catholic could admire, but his work certainly can be admired.

  4. Actually Mike I don’t think it was the pro-putin rhetoric the audience objected to it was calling all Ukrainians “dog shit” and other colourful expresions

  5. If she really said things like that, she’s a slob, no matter her pretty red dress, no matter her piano talents.

    I don’t understand how any public figure would ever send things like that out under their own name. She’s unwise on at least two levels.

    Ukranians and Russians are very similar peoples, which many cultural and human overlaps, with much common history and intermarriage and all of it.

    If she calls Ukranians dog shit, then she’s basically calling her mother and father that if she takes five minutes to think it through.

  6. Just spent nearly two hours on you tube listening to a superb pianist playing Beethoven sonatas , not interested in her nationality or politics . Only interested in her sublime playing , this is one talented lady ( who is allowed her freedom of speech ) . The Toronto S.O. are cowherds and cultural Philistines .

  7. to put it plainly some as the doc proves will overlook character in awe of talent.

    If there was a devil would he wrap evil in beauty or ugliness ? Make sin sound sweet or disgusting ?

  8. Troll , I note your point , however I do not agree with you . Dr. Mengele was a truly evil man who undertook medical research in the most terrible ways ,he was a war criminal ; results from his work was used by post-war researchers in their work and good came out it . So it is possible to separate the person from the artist .

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