Controversy and outrage mark a milestone performance at the Bayreuth Festival.

Today the Israeli Chamber Orchestra will make history by performing the music of Hitler’s favourite composer at the annual Wagner festival in Bayreuth, Germany.

Conducted by maestro Robert Paternostro, a descendent of Holocaust survivors, the orchestra will play Wagner’s Siegfried Idyllin a poignant program that includes two Jewish composers despised by Hitler: Mahler and Mendelssohn.

It will be the first time an Israeli orchestra has played Wagner in Germany; with a boycott on the anti-Semitic composer in place throughout Israel since 1938. Paternostro has pointed out that the orchestra did not rehearse Siegfried Idyllin the state.

Although Wagner died half a century before Hitler rose to power, the Nazi dictator admired the composer’s writings on Germanic racial purity and drew on his polemical writings on Germanic racial purity, which called for the destruction of the Jewry.

The venture has the official support of Israel’s Ministry of Culture but has sparked heated debate in the wider community. One of the most outspoken detractors is Zionist group My Israel, which asks the orchestra via Facebook, “Do you have no Jewish self-respect?”

Tensions flared last year when Richard Wagner’s great-granddaughter Katharina, now co-director...

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