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[humanities.music.composers.wagner] Wagner General FAQ
Section - U. Was Wagner a Freemason?

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No.  Wagner was not a Freemason.  Perhaps you were thinking of Mozart?
Nor did Wagner have dealings with the Rosicrucians, the Illuminati or
the Priory of Sion.  Especially the last of these, which did not exist
before 1956.


-----------------------------

Subject: W. Was Wagner a Vegetarian?

No. Wagner was not a vegetarian; he always liked a good steak, preferably 
washed down by champagne. It was his young friend Nietzsche who was the 
vegetarian. 

Like Nietzsche, Wagner was concerned for the welfare of animals and
opposed anything that caused unnecessary suffering to them, including
hunting and vivisection. Like Schopenhauer, Wagner found the Buddhist
attitude to animals preferable to the Judaeo-Christian tradition, in
which man had received divine permission to use or abuse animals. 

In 1880 Wagner read a pamphlet about vegetarianism written by Gleizès.
He became convinced that mankind's change to a meat-based diet was one
factor that had contributed to a degeneration of mankind. This is one 
of the theories advanced by Wagner in his so-called "regeneration essays". 

Wagner's drama 'Parsifal' (libretto published in 1877) does not, as some
commentators have alleged, advocate vegetarianism. The Grail knights do
abstain from meat; they live on the food and drink provided by the Grail
and, when this is denied, survive on herbs and roots. There is no evidence 
that Wagner intended this to promote vegetarianism, although there is a 
subtext against hunting. 


-----------------------------

Subject: Y. Was Wagner's music played in the Nazi concentration camps?

Many musicians, most of them Jewish, were sent to concentration camps.
Some of them took their instruments and played in the camp orchestras.
Unfortunately for those who claim that Wagner's music was played in the
camps, almost all his published compositions are for large orchestras;
the only piece that would have been within reach of one of these bands
would be the 'Siegfried Idyll'. There is no record either of this or of
any other piece by Wagner having been played in a Nazi concentration
camp.

The idea that Wagner's music was played in the camps is an example of an
"urban legend".  Everybody "knows" that Wagner's music was played in the
concentration camps, just as everybody "knows" that there are alligators
living in the New York sewers.

The legend of Wagner's music in the camps is associated with the wide-
spread belief that Wagner wrote the musical score for the Third Reich.
In fact, the composer who was most praised by Nazi ideologues such as
Alfred Rosenberg was Beethoven (see Spott's 'Hitler and the Power of
Aesthetics', page 228); and the composer whose music was most associated
with the Nazi party was Franz Liszt, whose symphonic poem 'Les Preludes'
provided the music that preceded official announcements on radio. So the
music that was most likely to have been heard in the camps would have
been written by Liszt and Beethoven.


-----------------------------

Subject: Z. What should I know before my first visit to the Bayreuth
     Festival?

Formal or semi-formal evening dress (for men, dinner suit and black
tie) is the norm at Festival performances, although anything smart
and comfortable would do just as well.  The auditorium can get quite
warm, so lightweight suits and dresses are advisable.  

During the Festival there are invariably a few evenings with
thunderstorms and heavy rain, so you should take a raincoat and an
umbrella; it might be a warm, sunny afternoon when you stroll up the
Green Hill but by the time the performance is over, the rain might
have arrived.

Some Bayreuth hotels provide bus or minivan transport to and from the
Festspielhaus.  In fine weather many people walk back to their hotel
but in wet weather a ride home is usually a better option.

In addition to the official program of the Festival, musical and
literary events take place at many different venues while the
Festival is on.  You will find posters around the town but you might
also like to visit the tourist information centre, near the town
hall (where there is usually an interesting Wagner-related exhibit).




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