Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Art and the Man

I've loved composer Richard Wagner since I was in high school. The "Good Friday Spell" from Parsifal is one of my favorite pieces of music. He wrote the librettos for his own operas - unheard of in his day - and seemed to espouse a doctrine of redemption through self-sacrifice. Of course, he was Hitler's favorite composer, and Wagnerian music was a must at all Nazi rallies. I'd like to say it's not Wagner's fault. He was long dead by then. But I think the only reason Wagner wasn't a Nazi is because he died in 1883. His book Jewry in Music, some selections from which I have recently had the misfortune to peruse, is proof enough that he was an asshole.

Does that mean I'll stop listening to him? No. His music elevates and inspires me. It's proud and beautiful, strong and sad, and has the perfect synthesis of words and music.

For me, art must be divorced from the man or woman who created it. In some types of art - popular music, for example - this is not possible. The artist is the art, sometimes. But as long as the art of an offensive person is not suffused with what offends me, I think it's O.K. to appreciate that artist's work.

Paying for it, and by extension helping to fund their offensive agendas, is a different ethical conundrum entirely. Wagner, at least, is dead, so I don't have that problem.

As for Orson Scott Card, well...that's another story. 

No comments:

Post a Comment