Monday, June 6, 2016

Richard Wagner and anti-Semitism, on a romance blog - WHAT?

Many words are associated with Richard Wagner – Composer, Writer, controversial, anti-Semitism.

Prior to 1850 there is no record of Wagner expressing any particular anti-Semitic sentiment. However, as he struggled to develop his career he began to resent the success of Jewish composers such as Felix Mendelssohn and Giacomo Meyerbeer and blamed them for his lack of success, particularly after his stay in Paris in 1840–41 when he was impoverished and reduced to music copy-editing.

Wagner was promoted during the Nazi era as one of Adolf Hitler's favorite composers. Historical perception of Wagner has been tainted with this association ever since, and there is debate over how Wagner's writings and operas might have influenced the creation of Nazi Germany. 

Now why would I tell you about such a person on Sweet American Sweethearts Blog?  

This is the gentleman who wrote, Here Comes The Bride.  It was written for his opera – Lohengrin in 1850, which is actually about marital infidelity, tragedy, and paganism and death.  It wasn’t until the marriage of Queen Victoria’s daughter in 1858 that it became a popular selection at weddings.

Weddings in Victorian England were typically small and simple.  The bride rarely wore white and there was usually no music played at all.  Even royal weddings were subdued and conducted out of the public eyes.  All this changed when the Queen’s eldest daughter, Princess Victoria, married in 1858.  A the queen’s insistence, the Princess’s hand in marriage came with a publicly funded dowry of 40,000 pounds (which today would be approximately, $58,060) and an annuity of 8,000 pounds.  For such an exorbitant sum, the London press demanded that the taxpaying public be given unprecedented access to the ceremony.  The Royal Family agreed and a spectacular, grandiose affair was planned.

Because of all Wagner’s controversy, “Bridal Chorus” was an unusual choice for the ceremony, but the English people were so enamored with the wedding that none of this seemed to matter.  Before long, English brides were emulating every aspect of the ceremony, from the white dress to the musical selections.

Though the piece is extremely popular, many Christian churches do not allow the score to be played during their ceremonies, and the Catholic Church has also expressed disapproval of the music. And, understandably, many Jewish synagogues have banned the “Bridal Chorus” because of Richard Wagner’s outspoken anti-Semitism! 

 Though the above has nothing to do with any stories I'm working on, I thought it was an interesting tidbit of information!  I hope you enjoyed it and thanks for stopping by!

Penny Estelle


  1. Penny,
    I love that you shared a piece of history. Who knows, someone might end up using this bit in a future story. Thank you for the gift of your research. Angela/Doris

    1. Thanks Doris. I thought it was interesting!