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Wagner reconsidered

September 27, 2009

What's with this recent deconstruction of Richard Wagner ("Loving Wagner Anyway," Sept. 20) -- someone's pathetic 21st century revisionist attempt to blame the Holocaust on the composer and portray the Bismarcks and Hitler as victims?

Mark Swed's article reminds us that while Wagner had many and obvious repugnant traits, he also had a gigantic musical talent. It is, however, one thing for a composer to get music on paper -- but quite another to arrange and orchestrate those notes into a coherent piece worth playing and listening to.

Wagner constantly reviled his hired assistants, many of whom were Jews. We should not overlook the possibility that his persistent anti-Semitic remarks were, at least in part, a shrewd manipulative device to disparage and downplay their work, because there could be only one Great Composer.

As we sit spellbound by those soaring operatic works, is that Wagner's voice we hear or his Jewish assistants'?

L. Page Shaffer

Moorpark

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