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Wednesday, 30 May, 2001, 17:09 GMT 18:09 UK
Protests stop Wagner concert
Wagner was a known anti-Semite and Hitler favourite
A performance of an opera by Richard Wagner at a Jerusalem festival has been cancelled after public protests and opposition from the Israeli parliament.

Holocaust survivors, politicians, and members of a Nazi-hunting organization urged the festival to cancel the concert and conductor Daniel Barenboim agreed to their demands after initially standing firm.

Daniel Barenboim
Barenboim: "I do not want to fight like a missionary"
He was to have conducted the first act of Wagner's opera Die Walkuere with the Berliner Staatskapelle and solo singers on 7 July.

The programme will be replaced by Schumann's Symphony No. 4 and Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring.

'Dignity'

Tenor Placido Domingo, who was due to perform at the concert, will now not appear.

"It was not only an insult to survivors but painful to many Jews who felt that Richard Wagner never deserved the honour of being played in the Jewish state, said Efraim Zuroff, who heads the Israeli branch of the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal centre, which tracks down Nazis.


No one should be allowed to ban anyone else from listening to Wagner

Daniel Barenboim
He added: "We welcome this decision which not only spares so many Jews and especially Holocaust survivors an insult but also the dignity of the Jewish people and the Jewish homeland."

There was a steady stream of protest against the performance since the event was announced in May

Israeli members of parliament, Jerusalem's mayor Ehud Olmert and culture minister Matan Vilnai expressed their difficulties with Wagner's Nazi associations.

Inspiration

Wagner was born in Leipzig in 1813 and was an acknowledged anti-Semite.

He provided anti-Semitic inspiration for the Nazis and was the favourite composer of Adolf Hitler.

However, some Holocaust survivors did support a performance of Wagner's music in Israel.

They included two members of the festival board.

"No one should be allowed to ban anyone else from listening to Wagner," said Barenboim, who was born in Argentina but has lived in Israel since he was young.

"I do not want to fight like a missionary for Wagner in Israel," he added.

See also:

07 Jun 98 | Middle East
Tel Aviv opera drops plans for Wagner
27 Oct 00 | Middle East
Israeli orchestra breaks Wagner taboo
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