"And once more: I become a better man when Bizet speaks to me. Also a better musician, a better listener. Is it in any way possible to listen better? -- I even burrow behind this music with my ears. I hear its very cause. I seem to assist at its birth. I tremble before the dangers which this daring music runs, I am enraptured over those happy accidents for which even Bizet himself may not be responsible. -- And, strange to say, at bottom I do not give it a thought, or am not aware how much thought I really do give it. For quite other ideas are running through my head the while. ... Has any one ever observed that music emancipates the spirit? gives wings to thought? and that the more one becomes a musician the more one is also a philosopher? The grey sky of abstraction seems thrilled by flashes of lightning; the light is strong enough to reveal all the details of things; to enable one to grapple with problems; and the world is surveyed as if from a mountain top—With this I have defined philosophical pathos -- And unexpectedly answers drop into my lap, a small hailstorm of ice and wisdom, of problems solved. Where am I? Bizet makes me productive. Everything that is good makes me productive. I have gratitude for nothing else, nor have I any other touchstone for testing what is good." -- From the introduction of Friedrich Nietzsche's The Case of Wagner
"Man will never be that which he can and should be, until his Life is a true mirror of Nature, a conscious following of the only real Necessity, the inner natural necessity, and is no longer held in subjugation to an outer artificial counterfeit,—which is thus no necessary, but an arbitrary power. Then first will Man become a living man; whereas till now he carries on a mere existence, dictated by the maxims of this or that Religion, Nationality, or State.—In like manner will Art not be the thing she can and should be, until she is or can be the true, conscious image and exponent of the real Man, and of man's genuine, nature-bidden life; until she therefore need no longer borrow the conditions of her being from the errors, perversities, and unnatural distortions of our modern life. "The real Man will therefore never be forthcoming, until true Human Nature, and not the arbitrary statutes of the State, shall model and ordain his Life; while real Art will never live, until its embodiments need be subject only to the laws of Nature, and not to the despotic whims of Mode. For as Man only then becomes free, when he gains the glad consciousness of his oneness with Nature; so does Art only then gain freedom, when she has no more to blush for her affinity with actual Life. But only in the joyous consciousness of his oneness with Nature does Man subdue his dependence on her; while Art can only overcome her dependence upon Life through her oneness with the life of free and genuine Men.
The silence now funereal of a pallSpreads more than one fold on this furniture Which must with lack of memory bestir A collapsing of the central pedestal.
Our old triumphal sport of the magic book, Hieroglyphs exciting many still To spread with wings a too familiar thrill! -- Bury it rather in a cupboard-nook.
From smiling loathed original uproar To those of mighty splendors has sprung forth In temple courtyard for their image fashioned,
Loud golden horns aswoon on vellum, the god Richard Wagner glittering consecration Ill silenced even by ink in sibylline sobs.
"Taking everything into consideration I could never have survived my youth without Wagnerian music. For I was condemned to the society of Germans. If one wishes to escape from unbearable pressure then one needs hashish. Well, I needed Wagner. Wagner is the antidote to everything essentially German -- the fact that he is a poison too I do not deny. From the moment that Tristan was arranged for the piano -- all honour to you Herr von Bulow! I was a Wagnerian. Wagner’s previous works seemed beneath me -- they were too commonplace, too "German”. But to this day I am still seeking for a work which would be a match to Tristan in dangerous fascination and possess the same gruesome and sweet quality of infinity; I seek among all the arts in vain. All the quaint features of Leonardo da Vinci’s work lose their charm at the sound of the first bar in Tristan. This work is without question Wagner’s non plus ultra; after its creation the composition of the Mastersingers and of the Ring was a relaxation to him. To become healthier—this in a nature like Wagner’s amounts to going backwards. The curiosity of the psychologist is so great in me that I regard it as quite a special privilege to have lived at the right time and to have lived precisely among Germans so as to be ripe for this work. The world must indeed be empty for him who has never been unhealthy enough for this "hellish voluptuousness": it is allowable, even obligatory to employ a mystic formula here. I suppose I know better than anyone the prodigious feats of which Wagner was capable, the fifty worlds of strange delights to which only he had wings to soar; and as I am alive today and strong enough to turn even the most questionable and most dangerous things to my own advantage and thus to grow stronger, I declare Wagner to have been the greatest benefactor of my life. The bond which unites us is the fact that we have suffered greater agony even at each other’s hands than most men are able to bear nowadays and this will always keep our names associated in the minds of men. For just as Wagner is merely a misunderstanding among Germans so in truth am I and ever will be. You lack two centuries of psychological and artistic discipline my dear countrymen! But one can never catch up that amount of lost time." From Ecce Homo: "Why I Am So Clever", section 6.
"What are we to do with Wagner’s anti-Semitism? The recent Wagner anniversary has brought a predictable amount of equivocation and hand-wringing about the German master’s role in the history of hate. We know by now not to read history backward. A nineteenth-century composer who died in 1883 cannot logically be accused of personal complicity in a twentieth-century genocide. Yet that does not mean that the broader question of his responsibility for the spread of modern anti-Semitism can be simply ignored. The issue cannot be brushed aside merely by reference to the fact that, as Daniel Barenboim and other commentators relish pointing out, Wagner loved a handful of Jews (albeit conditionally) and that many Jews (even Zionists) loved Wagner. The fact that there were and are Jewish Wagnerians is not a coherent answer to the question of Wagner’s prejudice against the Jews. Irony is no disclaimer. Nor, conversely, does the musicological obsession over whether Wagner secretly encoded anti-Jewish tropes into his compositions matter much beyond the precincts of academia. The real legacy of Wagner, one with which we are still living today, is nothing less than the sweeping imprint of racial ideology across the length and breadth of modern classical music."