James Loeffler: What should Jews do with “their” Wagner?

James Loeffler, associate professor of history at the University of Virginia and scholar-in-residence at Pro Musica Hebraica, has a new essay in Mosaic:

Wagner used the figure of the Jew to criticize the ills of his own society. He built his vision of the German future by imagining a world in which Jews vanish. In doing so, as I have argued elsewhere, he bequeathed a racial myth to modern music that has still not received its full reckoning.[…]

The fact that an Israeli Jew is defending Wagner is not incidental. For it is in Israel that we can see the clearest way in which Jews today map their own meanings onto Wagner. It is there that Wagner has become a proxy for Jews arguing about cultural identity and Holocaust memory in an otherwise fluid, globalizing musical marketplace.

Read the rest here.