By Eileen Wingard
LA JOLLA, California — Yoav Talmi peppered his talk with humorous anecdotes as he described the development of orchestras in Israel, several coming into being because of the large influx of Russian-born musicians.
The January 11 lecture in the JCC’s Garfield Theare drew a large and appreciative audience.
When Talmi spoke about why the music of Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss are not played in Israel, he became serious. Strauss, according to Talmi, was not anti-Semitic. He was merely an opportunist who went along with the Nazis and headed Germany’s music division. Wagner, on the other hand, was a virulent anti-Semite who wrote extensively, first anonymously, then openly, venting his hatred for Jews. But it was Hitler’s love of Wagner’s music that gave it additional Nazi symbolism.
Talmi told of his own uncle, a survivor of Auschwitz, who had recurring nightmares, dreaming about the loudspeakers blaring Wagner’s music as he and the other inmates left the barracks for hard labor.
“It is not a matter of logic, it is a matter of heart,” said Talmi.
He told of three incidents with strong reactions when music by these composers were played. When the great violinist Jascha Heifetz programmed the Strauss Sonata in a recital in Jerusalem, he suffered an injured wrist from an attacker. When Zubin Mehta added for an encore the Love Death music from Tristan and Isolde, it caused an uproar . And when Daniel Barenboim conducted the same music with a visiting orchestra, the Israeli public was scandalized, especially because Barenboim had promised not to program Wagner and he, as an Israeli, should have known better.
The question and answer period began with Natasha Josefowitz, a former neigbor of Heifetz in Beverly Hills, describing how she had discussed Heifetz’s program choice with him and tried to pursuade him not to play Strauss in Israel. Heifetz felt strongly that the music and the composer were separate entities and should be treated that way.
Ernest Schoen, a remarkable gentleman 102 years old, asked what Talmi would have done in his shoes. As a violin student at the Vienna Conservatory, Wagner’s music was an important component of the curriculum. Should he as a Jew not have played it? And when he arrived in San Francisco and auditioned, as a singer, for the San Francisco Opera, only to be cast in a Wagner opera, should he not have taken the job?
Talmi’s response was, “You did what was right for you.”
Dr. Norman Mann inquired whether Talmi thought there was anything anti-semitic in Wagner’s operas. “No, replied Talmi, but they glorify the Aryan race.”
The evening program opened with Talmi’s “Three Ghetto Songs” for flute and strings, sensitively performed by four San Diego Symphony musicians as part of the orchestra’s educational and outreach program. The musicians were Sarah Tuck, flute, Eddy Stein, violin, Dorothy Zeavin, viola and Marcia Bookstein, cello. This was followed by a video of Talmi’s professional life compiled by his son, Gil, a New York-based composer of movie and TV musical scores. The video was made for the recent celebration of Talmi’s decade with the Quebec City Symphony and his 40th year as a conductor. It included footage from the spectacular performance of Mahler’s Symphony of a Thousand in Quebec’s Hockey Stadium with 12,000 in attendance, celebrating the 400th anniversary of that distinguished city.
Prior to the free lecture, there was a dinner honoring Yoav Talmi and his wife, Er’ella in the Astor Judaica Library. Proceeds went to the library and the America-Israel Cultural Foundation which sponsors scholarships for deserving young performers and artists. The Talmis were AICF scholarship recipients.
Talmi, who was music director of the San Diego Symphony for eight years, attracted many San Diego friends to the evening. Attending the dinner were a dozen musicians who played under him, former members of the symphony board. and a former president of the symphony association.
The dinner was hosted by David Amos, Nancy Calderon, Raquel Cohen, Naomi Crosby, Sigrid Fischer, Jackie Gmach, Lucy Goldman, Susan Hagler, Sylvia Liwerant, Ted Parker, Roz Pappelbaum, Charlotte Siegel, Norene Shenhav and myself.
Wingard is a freelance writer based in San Diego
SAN DIEGO (Press Release) To recognize and encourage residents who provided much needed cash to help aid Haiti in the recovery process, the Legislature is moving a bill (AB 347) to allow a tax deduction for cash contributions made between January 11, 2010 and March 1, 2010 for the rescue and recovery efforts to be applied toward the contributors 2009 tax returns.
“Many in our state are suffering the dire effects of our troubled economy,” said Assemblymember Marty Block (Democrat-San Diego) who is a principal co-author of the bill, “and yet residents have responded in full measure to the calamitous situation in Haiti. It is my hope that AB 347 will give at least a small amount of relief to those who have helped others.”
AB 347 now moves to the state Senate for consideration. For additional information on AB 347 contact Assemblymember Marty Block’s Sacramento office at (916) 319-2078.
Preceding provided by Assemblyman Marty Block
Now, why would anyone be pessimistic in Israel? by Rabbi Dow Marmur in Jerusalem
Talmi tells of Wagner ban in Israel … by Eileen Wingard in La Jolla, California
REGENSBURG, Germany (WJC)–A court in Germany has summoned the Catholic Bishop Richard Williamson to attend a trial in April where he is to face charges of incitement for his belittling of the Holocaust, which is a crime in Germany. In comments broadcast on Swedish television in January 2009, Williamson said he believed no more than 300,000 Jews had perished in the Holocaust and that there had been no gas chambers.
The district court in the Bavarian city of Regensburg has set a hearing for 16 April, because Williamson refused to pay a fine of € 12,000 handed down last year. The court has ordered the 69-year-old bishop of the ultra-conservative Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), to face questioning in person.
Although authorities cannot force him to attend, if Williamson is not represented at the hearing, then the appeal against the fine would be thrown out, a court spokesman said. “Then the fine becomes legally binding,” he said.
Williamson’s remarks were recorded near Regensburg, within the court’s jurisdiction.
Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress
STRASBOURG, France (WJC)–A Jewish cemetery in the eastern French city of Strasbourg was vandalized by anti-Semites. The attack occurred on the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Over 30 gravestones at the Cronenbourg cemetery were either spray-painted with swastikas and the Nazi slogan “Juden raus!” [Jews out], or toppled, according to the French Jewish community organization CRIF.
Laurent Schmoll, president of the 1,000-member Jewish community in Strasbourg, told reporters that he believed the cemetery was defiled in connection with International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which was being observed on Wednesday. “These are absolutely inscriptions from the Nazi period… I think there has to be a link.”
French President Nicolas Sarkozy issued a statement in which he “firmly condemns this unbearable act, the expression of odious racism.” The mayor of Strasbourg said that the perpetrators were “evil cowards. It is no coincidence that the attack came on the international day when the Holocaust is commemorated.”
Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress