There’s a lot not to like about Richard Wagner the man. The fact that he was a jew-hating believer in the “Master Race” and a big inspiration to Adolph Hitler is plenty reason for the performance of his music in Israel to be a source of great controversy. But aside from the man’s personal failings, his music is quite often a marvel of the Romantic Era.
I’m always struck my how I either think Wager’s works are genius, or completely uninspiring. There’s not much in between for me. In the uninspiring realm, I recently got a hold of modern recordings of his Symphony in C Major and uncompleted Symphony in E Major. I suppose I should not be surprised by this, as Wagner wrote his only completed symphony at age 19 before the Romantic Era had firmly taken root. The classical influence to it can probably be attributed to the times, and the lack of real direction attributed to youth. I think it’s safe to say that most of us were not composing symphonies at the age of 19. But Wagner definitely found his compositional voice later in life, to become one of the great Romantic Era composers. I think it’s safe to say if we had just known him for his symphony, we would not have known Richard Wagner at all.