Orchestra performs Wagner in Bayreuth
The Israel Chamber Orchestra has broken a longstanding taboo by performing music by Hitler’s favourite composer. The orchestra included Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll in its concert in Bayreuth yesterday, as part of the fringe festival linked to the town’s annual Wagner opera festival. It was the first time an Israeli orchestra has played Wagner in Germany.
An unofficial ban on playing Wagner’s music was instituted by the Palestine Orchestra (now the Israel Philharmonic) in 1938 after Nazi attacks on German Jews, and remained in place after the founding of Israel ten years later. When Daniel Barenboim broke the tradition in 2001 by conducting the Berlin Staatskapelle in music from Tristan und Isolde in Jerusalem, dozens of audience members walked out in protest.
Tuesday’s concert in Bayreuth went ahead despite protests from Zionist groups in Israel and the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants. The conductor of the Israel Chamber Orchestra, Roberto Paternostro, declared ahead of the concert that his intention was to separate Wagner’s ideology from his music.