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James Loeffler on Wagner's antisemitism

A very interesting interview: James Loeffler, pianist and scholar, discusses how Wagner's antisemitism affected Jewish composers and musicians in Europe (most certainly including the composers in my project). 

Listen here!

"James Loeffler is an associate professor of history and Jewish studies at the University of Virginia. He is a trained pianist, ethnomusicologist, and specialist on Jewish classical music. In our latest Voices on Antisemitism podcast, Loeffler discusses German composer Richard Wagner's antisemitism. The influence of Wagner's ideas on Adolf Hitler is well known, but as Loeffler explains, Wagner's antisemitism also adversely affected Jewish musicians in Europe during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. "

Another article that may interest you after listening is this one on Forbidden Music, by Michael Haas, which discusses Mendelssohn, Mahler, Zemlinsky, and Schoenberg with relation to Wagner's legacy.

"Mahler did represent one Wagnerian trait that would be passed on to future generations of Vienna’s Jewish composers: he was not a performer on the piano or violin, or indeed, any instrument. Wagner resented the fact that all of the prominent Jewish composers of his day happened to be virtuosi: Meyerbeer, Hiller, Mendelssohn and Rubinstein dazzled as pianists. Indeed, it was the only means by which a Jewish composer could be noticed. Neither Mahler, Schoenberg or Schreker claimed to be more than competent on any particular keyboard or stringed instrument. Zemlinsky was a marvellous pianist but this was not his means of establishing his compositional credibility. This sea change is important as all of these composers developed a uniquely fine ear for the ‘distant sound’ that defined fin de siècle musical Vienna."

Alma Mahler, on Mahler and Schoenberg

From Alma Mahler's Gustav Mahler: Memories and Letters, page 182.

Eighth Symphony, 12th September 1910

We took up our quarters with my mother, as usual. One evening we asked Zemlinsky and Schoenberg in. Schoenberg took me aside. “I promise you,” he said, “never to argue with Mahler again. From today on he can shout at me as hard as he likes. I shall never take offence.” I was more alarmed than pleased. “My mind is made up,” he went on. “And it is because I love him.”

I remember a discussion Mahler once had with Schoenberg about the possibility of creating a melody from one note played successively on different instruments. Mahler strenuously denied that it could be done.

Alma Mahler, on Mahler's relationship with Schoenberg and Zemlinsky

Alma Mahler, on Mahler's relationship with Schoenberg and Zemlinsky

As soon as the door had shut behind them, Mahler said; ‘Take good care you never invite that conceited puppy to the house again.’ On the stairs Schoenberg spluttered: ‘I shall never again cross that threshold.’ But after a week or two Mahler said: ‘By the way, what’s become of those two?’