Middle East

Israel public radio apologises for playing Richard Wagner music

Richard Wagner Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Richard Wagner was Hitler's favourite composer

Israel's public broadcaster has apologised to listeners after music by Richard Wagner was played on the radio.

The 19th-Century German composer remains controversial in the country because of his virulent anti-Semitism and because Hitler was a great fan.

But on Friday a leading classical music station played part of Wagner's Götterdämmerung (Twilight of the Gods).

In its apology, the broadcaster said the editor had erred in his "artistic choice" and Wagner would not be played.

The Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation added that it recognised the pain such a broadcast would cause among Holocaust survivors.

Wagner's work contains views on racial purity. The composer was also the author of a pamphlet entitled Judaism in Music, in which he said that "the Jew" was "incapable of artistic expression".

Wagner's music is not banned in Israel but is not played due to widespread public opposition.

On Friday the presenter on the Kol Hamusica station played a recording of the final act of Götterdämmerung.

The piece was directed by Daniel Barenboim - who is Jewish - and performed at the Bayreuth Festival, which celebrates Wagner, in 1991.

The subsequent apology was criticised by those who argue that his abhorrent views do not invalidate his work.

"There are just as many Holocaust survivors who love the music as there are those who object to it. You have to listen to his music and his music is absolutely beautiful," said Jonathan Livny, head of the Israel Wagner Society.

In 2011 an Israeli orchestra played a Wagner composition in Germany. At the time, Israeli Chamber Orchestra Conductor Roberto Paternostro said that while Wagner's ideology was "terrible", the aim was "to divide the man from his art".

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