Writing Assignment 6: Richard Wagner


Richard Wagner is a controversial figure in music history. Some call him the greatest opera composer in history, while others see him as an anti-Semite whose music supported Nazi ideals. Still, his legacy in drama and storytelling is unmistakable.

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Read this article on The Wagner Controversy- https://mfa.gov.il/MFA/MFA-Archive/1998/Pages/The%20Wagner%20Controversy.aspx

Be sure to consider both sides of the argument.

Now watch this video of Wagner’s famous Ride of the Valkyries.- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P73Z6291Pt8

Then listen to this other famous overture. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_D0ZQPqeJkk

Finally, read this article on Wagner and connections to Star Wars. https://houstonsymphony.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/before-luke-skywalker-there-was-siegfried/

Respond to the following prompts:
What did Wagner say about Jewish music in 1850 that helped lead to the controversy?
What does Manfred Eger blame Wagner’s antisemitic rages on?
What happened in 1981 when the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra tried to play Wagner’s music?
Do you think that the negative reactions that many Jews have toward Wagner’s music are justified? Why or why not?
What are the main characteristics of Wagner’s music?
Do you like Wagner’s music? Why or why not?
Does knowledge of Wagner’s political beliefs change your opinion of his music? Why or why not?
What are the similarities you can hear between Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” and John Williams’ “Star Wars March”? What differences can you detect?
What is your take on the article comparing Star Wars with Wagner’s Ring Cycle? Do you think George Lucas intentionally copied the story? Does this mean he was plagiarizing?

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