I’m an Israeli citizen, born in Jerusalem in 1958. My parents had Brahms on ’78s, but no Wagner. I never heard the name at home and I really didn’t know a lot about the controversy in Israel at the time. In short, it was never an issue for me.

My Wagner journey began when Daniel Barenboim came to Israel on the eve of the first Gulf War. Tenor Siegfried Jerusalem was supposed to sing in  Das Lied von der Erde but he cancelled because he didn’t want to come if missiles were going to be flying in from Iraq. They called in a strange tenor called Louis Gentile and, because I was the pianist at the opera, they asked me to play for the rehearsal. Daniel liked it and said: “come to the rehearsals with the Israel Philharmonic”. So I sat there and one day he turned around and said, “Asher, I would like to hear the balance – can you please conduct a little bit?” It was shocking, because I was not prepared and the orchestra was not prepared. But I did it and then a few days later I got a call at 6pm: “Daniel Barenboim is sick and says...

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