Thursday, February 27, 2014


It looks like Blogger is back!

Now; Where was I?

Oh Yeah!

Sunday night I watched a show on Netflix called Wagner and Me. The star/narrator was an Englishman named Stephen Fry. It was an interesting hour and some.

Basically, Richard Wagner was an 19th Century German composer who wrote, among many other things, The Flight of the Valkyries; brought into popular culture in the movie Apocalypse Now as the music the helicopter squadron would play as they were attacking the North Vietnamese. Wagner also had the misfortune to be the favorite composer of Adolph Hitler. At least, that's the way the relationship was always portrayed.

This show got a little deeper. Fry, who is Jewish (and lost relatives to the Holocaust), has always loved Wagner's music; something he felt guilty about. This show was his journey into that guilt.

Now; how to describe the show and not have to pronounce a SPOILER ALERT?

We usually don't have to 'navel gaze' over our likes and dislikes. I love the movie 9-5 but hate Jane Fonda being in it. I watch it very seldom for that reason. Or, closer to point, you may have a musician who's music you like, but who's politics you hate. But even that is only close, not on, point.

Imagine that you had a visceral connection with the music of Louis Armstrong, and then found out that Bonnie and Clyde were his biggest fans (not true, as far as I know). And then remember that Bonnie and Clyde had killed your Grandfather, a Louisiana Deputy Sheriff. That gives you a better feel, I think. Except that in this case, Hitler killed millions.

And it wasn't just that Hitler was a fan; Wagner's descendants were supporters of Hitler in the late 1920's, before he was powerful. And Wagner himself was anti-Semitic.

Now you may begin to understand Mr. Fry's guilt.

As I said; it is a fascinating journey.

There is a theater in Germany dedicated solely to the music of Richard Wagner, built by King Leopold specifically for Richard Wagner, and every year they perform Wagner's Ring Opera series; a show that lasts over 8 hours. EIGHT HOURS OF OPERA!!! And tickets are sold out for this year. If you wish to attend you will need to buy tickets for the 2021 show. Yes; they are sold out for the NEXT SEVEN YEARS.

Stephen wants to attend, but is still having Guilt Issues. The power of the music versus the power of the guilt.

He travels all over Europe, including a visit to the Wagner Theater in Bayrueth, Germany during rehearsals and a visit to the massive outdoor venue Hitler had built in Nuremberg, site of his most well known speeches, trying to decide which is more powerful.

He has one more visit to make; to see a Holocaust survivor, and it is talking to her that he decides which has the greater power.

What? you thought I was going to tell you which choice he made?

I thought about doing so, but then I thought this: some of you will be interested; interested enough to watch the video. Others of you will just not care; the information on his final choice isn't of any importance.

So by telling, I will have ruined the show for those who care, and not affect those who don't.

See? I think I have chosen wisely.

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