When Jews were inspired by the composer associated with Hitler.
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The orchestral rolling thunder of Hitler’s favorite composer Richard Wagner is almost as taboo in Israel as Hitler himself. To even suggest that Wagner’s music be performed in Israel is to invite a maelstrom of outrage, as if “Der Ring,” Wagner’s operatic cycle (now being performed around the world in celebration of the bicentennial of Wagner’s birth), is morally indistinguishable from the Horst Wessel, the Nazi anthem. And yet, when Wagner died in 1883, the idea that his music would be virtually banned in a future Jewish state would have been baffling to Wagner’s Jewish contemporaries. The Jews of the 19th century thought his music was terrific and, OK, Wagner was anti-Semitic but who in Europe wasn’t?