Klett-Cotta-Verlag Psychology

Reflexe der Unsichtbarkeit

Wagner, Hanslick und Das Judenthum in der Musik

Januar 2018, 22. Jahrgang, Heft 85, pp 5-26

Reflexes of Invisibility: Wagner, Hanslick and »Judaism in Music« – The bourgeois anti-Semitism of the later 19th century kept ›the Jews‹ at a distance as ›invisible‹ outsiders. The constant demand to assimilate forced them to be as inconspicuous as possible, and simultaneously fomented the suspicion that they were undermining the majority culture from within by ingratiating themselves with no identity of their own. The calculus of political power in anti-Jewish sentiment can be clearly seen in the supposedly antithetical figures of Richard Wagner and Eduard Hanslick, who was of Jewish descent on his mother’s side. Wagner combines his distrust towards ›invisible‹ Jews with a warning of cultural decline, as well as an aggressive self-stimulation as an artist. Hanslick uses his reservations about the ›Jewish‹ as an attribute for a socio-cultural self-examination as an assimilated Jew, and also as an ironic weapon against Wagner. This can be observed in exemplary fashion in the debate about the figure of Beckmesser in Die Meistersinger, who is suspected of being an anti-Semitic caricature.

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