GLOBAL ECONOMIC VIEWPOINT
Bronislaw Hubermann founded the Israel Philharmonic
Orchestra in 1936, when no taboo existed against Wagners works.
At that same time, Arturo Toscanini, a well-known anti-Fascist, decided
to stop performing at the Bayreuth Festival because of Hitlers presence,
while conducting works of Wagner at the second inaugural concert of the
Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.
The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra is autonomously managed and did not decide until after Kristallnacht in November 1938 to stop performing Wagner because of its misuse by the Nazis. After several failed attempts, the Israel Festival has invited me to conduct a concert, including, among other works, music by Wagner on July 7, during the Israel tour of the Berliner Staatskapelle.
I have the greatest compassion for Holocaust survivors
and understand their terrible associations with Wagners music. Therefore,
Wagners works should not be played during concerts for regular season
ticket holders so that faithful subscribers would not be confronted with
music that raises painful memories. However,
the question must be asked if any person has the right to deprive another
who does not have these same associations of
After all, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestras
decision to cease
An example is the position taken by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra after World War II not to engage conductors and soloists who had converted from Judaism before or during the war, such as Bruno Walter and Otto Klemperer.
Given the circumstances at that time, this decision was understandable. However, over time it was ignored, as conversion was no longer considered to be a sign of weakness or an attempt to improve ones personal fate through assimilation.
It has always been said that Israel is a state for Jews, and this is as it should be. However, almost 20 percent of Israels population is non-Jewish, and Israel has an obligation to treat these inhabitants as equal citizens.
This entails not preventing people who are free of Nazi associations from listening to Wagners music. It is not my intention to wage a missionarys war in favor of Wagner in Israel. I do feel, however, that this is a case where Israel can and should define itself as a democracy.
(c) 2001, Focus. Distributed by Los Angeles Times