Sunday, April 6, 2014

Richard Strauss - Elektra

I consider the Streicher-Goebbels Jew-baiting as a disgrace to German honour, as evidence of incompetence—the basest weapon of untalented, lazy mediocrity against a higher intelligence and greater talent.
- Strauss, from a 1933 entry in his diary

Unfortunately we still need him, but one day we shall have our own music and then we shall have no further need of this decadent neurotic.
- Joseph Goebbels,  from an entry in his diary
Vengeance can be a terrible thing.  The ancient Greek Iliad describes the events of the Trojan War, filled with bloodletting.  The Greek leader Agamemnon had sacrificed his daughter Iphigenia on what was to have been her wedding day, to propitiate the Gods and win a fair wind for his fleet to sail to Troy.  His wife Klytaemnestra plans vengeance, and murders Agamemnon when he returns from the war.  It falls to his daughter Elektra to wreak bloody vengeance on her mother.  As you can imagine, this work was much admired by the Nazi regime.

But fast forward to today, and the defenestration of Brendan Eich as CEO of Mozilla, creator of the popular Firefox web browser.  It seems that some eight years ago he had given a donation to a political cause not approved by the Right Sort™ of people.  And so they wreaked their vengeance on him.

Elektra is one of the first modernist operas, demanding to perform - and some would say, demanding to watch.  It's a bloody tale, one with no winners.  The ancients well knew human nature, and that many will in the end turn to the blade.  Strauss was one of the few who rose above this.
Do you believe I am ever, in any of my actions, guided by the thought that I am 'German'? Do you suppose Mozart was consciously 'Aryan' when he composed? I recognise only two types of people: those who have talent and those who have none.
- Strauss, in a1935 letter to his Jewish friend Stefan Zweig
That letter ended his career, although he was too famous for the Nazis to get rid of.  Strauss stood up to the mob.  It would be nice to see some others do so in this corrupt age of Political Correctness run amok.


libertyman said...

Not sure i would make it through that opera.

Your tie in with l'affaire Eich is apt.

Always learning something on a Sunday morning, thanks!

Brigid said...

I so like how you get my mind going on a Sunday morning. I think I have my muse for today. Thanks (or do I bake the batch of homemade croissants first, decisions, decisions)

waepnedmann said...

When you start citing historical outcomes of the implementation of Fascist ideology and facts then moderate them with logic, reason, and common sense you are teetering on the brink of Hate Crime.

Borepatch said...

libertyman, it's not easy to watch, especially this scene.

Brigid, thanks. It would be nice to have some lighter fare to offer, though.

waepnedmann, something that's making the rounds on the 'Net lately is "If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a homophobic face - forever."