Xian Zhang, Conductor
Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi
Royal Albert Hall 2013
Chinese-American conductor Xian Zhang directs the 'Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi' in the Byronic epic that closes the season's Tchaikovsky symphony cycle.
Written between Tchaikovsky's Fourth and Fifth Symphonies, Manfred is Russia's Harold in Italy, a work inspired by the programmatic symphonies of Berlioz and depicting the death of a tormented Faustian hero with supernatural gifts and a guilty secret.
It seems Robert Gutman did a great job in discrediting and "demonizing" Richard Wagner's character. Now it is time for the truth!
"In 1968 Robert Gutman published a popular book about Wagner (Richard Wagner: the Man, his Mind and his Music) in which he portrayed his subject as a racist, psychopathic, proto-Nazi monster. Despite the reservations expressed by reviewers about the quality of Gutman's scholarship, this book has been a best-seller; especially in the USA, where an entire generation of students has been encouraged to accept Gutman's caricature of Richard Wagner. Even intelligent people, who have either never read Wagner's writings or tried to penetrate them and failed -- the situation is not made any more favourable to Wagner in the English-speaking world by the scarcity of good translations -- have read Gutman's book and accepted his opinions as facts. Since Gutman's book was a seminal contribution to the ill-tempered debate about Wagner's alleged racism, the relevant sections of the book will be considered at length in this article."
"Wagner had a lot of Jewish friends and colleagues, including his favorite conductor Hermann Levi; one of his arrangers, Joseph Rubinstein; pianist Carl Tausig; writer and choirmaster Heinrich Porges; his public relations man Herr Neumann; and French writer Judith Gautier, with whom he had what might be called a long-distance love affair. Wagner said in his autobiography one of the most beautiful friendships of his life was with Samuel Lehrs, a Jew. He had a deep appreciation for Jewish composers, such as Mendelssohn. He was asked several times but always refused to sign any public declarations against the Jews."