richard_wagner_1909755Richard Wagner’s birthday is this Wednesday. For Spo-fans unfamiliar with this composer, the more you know about him the less you like him. He was so self-centered he makes Donald Trump look good. He used people and he was horrid to everyone. On top of it all he was a racist and anti-Semitic. Hitler adored him. It is hard to believe (or stomach) this louse of a person managed to make some of the most marvelous music ever made. He was certainly not the only awful man who made good art he was arguably the one of the worst – or the worst. I think so anyway. So – how do I manage my love for his music? *

We do terrible things. It is easy to focus on our Shadow elements. We forget we are also capable of marvelous things, which are often expressed through Art in all its forms. This is particularly so for music. Sometimes I sit at the symphony, feeling sorrowful by all the ills of the world, but I listen to the divine music emanating from stage and I find solace. Art does that. Art comforts me in the axiom despite ourselves we can create beauty. Herr Wagner is not unique; he is merely the extreme example of all of us and what we have. What belongs to Art belongs to all men. We cringe at the artist yet rise by his or her creation. 

In the end I just can’t hate him as he has enriched my life so much. He helps me remember not to focus on the Shadow but on the Light. 

Viking horns

 

*I know many Jewish art patrons who won’t attend any operas or symphonies doing Wagner. In Israel Wagner is not played at all. In Bayreuth Germany at the Wagner Festival they play nothing but Wagner. As a Jungian I like the notion a place that is ‘all Wagner” is balanced with a place that is ‘no Wagner”.