Auction 61 - Rare and Important Items

Letter with Anti-Semitic Content Handwritten and Signed by Richard Wagner - Luzerne, 1869

Opening: $5,000
Sold for: $42,500
Including buyer's premium
Letter handwritten and signed by German composer Richard Wagner. Apparently sent to the French author, philosopher and musicologist Édouard Schuré. Luzerne (Switzerland), 25 April 1869. German.
In the letter, Wagner expresses his anti-Semitic opinions on French and German Jews, while attempting to explain to his friend the idea at the basis of his essay "Judaism in Music". Among other things Wagner writes that the assimilation of Jews into French society prevents the French from distinguishing the "corroding influence of the Jewish spirit on modern culture", discusses the importance of distinguishing between a Jewish-German individual and a "true" German (regarding which he writes: "To lump together Heine, Goethe, Meyerbeer, and perhaps myself, that ends in the kind of confusion suffered by the French conception of the German character"), and notes that the German press is entirely in Jewish hands.
At the beginning of the letter Wagner refers to an essay published by his friend (the letter's addressee) in the French periodical Revue des Deux Monde.
The addressee is apparently Édouard Schuré, a French author, philosopher and musicologist whose essay on Wagner's works, "Le drame musical et l'oeuvre de M. Richard Wagner" , was published in Revue des Deux Monde about two weeks before Wagner wrote the present letter.
The German composer and essayist Wilhelm Richard Wagner (1813-1883) gained fame mostly for the operas he composed. His works, considered original and pioneering in his time, influenced the development of the musical language of opera and classical music in general. Wagner was known for his stark anti-Semitism, often voicing his opinions against the assimilation of Jews into German culture. He expressed his anti-Semitic worldview in, among other places, his essay "Judaism in Music" (first published in 1850 under the pen name K. Freigedenk, and again in 1869 under Wagner's full name). In this essay Wagner argued that the Jews are incapable of engaging in music and warned against the "Judaization" of art in general and of music in particular.
Due to Wagner's anti-Semitism, his works were not played in public in Israel and for many years were not broadcast on public media channels.
[1] leaf, folded in two (four written pages), 18.5 cm. Good condition. Folding marks and light stains.