Richard Wagner's "Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg" Analytical Essay by sinkopayshun

Richard Wagner's "Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg"
Examines the question of anti-Semitism in Richard Wagner's "Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg" (The Mastersingers of Nuremberg).
# 112536 | 3,110 words | 22 sources | MLA | 2007 | US

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This paper argues that, by looking at Wagner's political writings in conjunction with his opera "Die Meistersinger", only one conclusion can be reached: Wagner coded the character Beckmesser as a Jew, whom the community fears and who disrupts the growth of musical art. The author examines Wagner's view of the threat of foreign influence on German art especially as re-enforced by the appropriation of the opera by the Nazi party as an ideological tool. Within the opera, the paper investigates further the character of Beckmesser and his place among his peers in the opera and the exalted 'Sacred German Art' as the opera ends on a C major chord, a sound dissonant in the wake of the Third Reich.

From the Paper:

"The roots of Wagner's anti-Semitism can be traced to his jealousy of the success of two Jewish contemporaries, composers Giacomo Meyerbeer and Jacques Fromental Halevy. Meyerbeer's and Halevy's operas were especially successful in Paris; Wagner himself was never able to gain a foothold in the "capital of opera" during his lifetime. Furthermore, Wagner had come to passionately despise the "grand operas" which had made Meyerbeer and Halevy so popular and had kept Wagner impoverished and in obscurity."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Borchmeyer, Dieter. "The Question of Anti-Semitism." Wagner Handbook. Ed. Ulrich Muller and Peter Wapnewski. Trans. John Deathridge. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1992. 166-185.
  • Dennis, David B. "'The Most German of all German Operas': Die Meistersinger through the Lens of the Third Reich." Wagner's Meistersinger: Performance, History, Representation. Ed. Nicholas Vazsonyi. Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2003. 98-119.
  • Douglas, A.C. "A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste." Sounds and Fury (accessed 8 Mar 2007). <>.
  • Eylon, Lily. "The Controversy over Richard Wagner." Jewish Virtual Library (accessed 8 Mar 2007). <>.
  • Glasgal, Ralph. "Wagner, Hitler and Anti-Semitism." La Folia Online Music Review (accessed 8 Mar 2007). <>.

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