Recently, I read a news item on Zubin Mehta, the world-famous conductor of Western Classical music. The Mumbai born, Vienna trained Mehta is Music Director for Life of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. His association with the orchestra goes a long way…he was only 25 when he was invited to substitute for an indisposed conductor. Though Mehta remains an Indian at heart, he also considers Israel as one of his spiritual homes. The Israelis too love him immensely and yet once they booed him and walked out of his concert. Reason: Mehta had played Richard Wagner.
This is not the first time I read about this antipathy towards Wagner and in fact there was a time that I thought Wagner was himself a Nazi, a contemporary of Hitler. It’s only when I googled his name that I found that he was actually a nineteenth century Music composer who was a favourite of Hitler.
Determined to hear something of Wagner, I listened to his composition with a very evocative name: Götterdämmerung orTwilight of the Gods which is the last in his cycle of four operas titled Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung or The Ring for short) that is based on Norse mythology and talks about a war between Gods and other beings and ends with the fall of the Gods.
According to contemporary reports, this was the last performance of the Berlin Philharmonic before their evacuation in WW II. They played it even as the Eagle fell and the Red Army advanced towards Berlin. Here’s how it must have been outside the music hall:
Entry for Tuesday’s Overlooked Films and/or Other Overlooked A/V @ Sweet Freedom. Please head over there for the other entries.