May 102011

In response to an article by Alex Ross in the New Yorker, Les Dreyer has written to the editor:

As a Jewish violinist who played Wagner’s operas for forty-six years in the Met Opera Orchestra, I found Alex Ross’s analysis of the ten-bar “microlude” in “Die Walküre” fascinating, and appreciated the ruminations of the German conductor Christoph von Dohnányi (A Critic at Large, April 25th). Several of my colleagues in the Met orchestra were Holocaust victims, and three of them had survived concentration camps. To my amazement, only one of them begged to be excused from playing Wagner, and his request was mercifully granted by Felix Eyle, our orchestra manager. The other Holocaust survivors actually seemed to savor playing Wagner. I recall one veteran violinist of the Vienna Philharmonic with tears in his eyes during Wagnerian operas, who exclaimed to me about the Met version that “it was sacrilege to make so many cuts in such a work of genius!”

Les Dreyer, New York City

  2 Responses to “Jewish violinist Les Dreyer’s touching letter on Wagner”

  1. Les, I like your comment very much. I’m wondering if this 10-bar microlude is available to see (manuscript) or hear. I heard the Met do it last night at the Encore series (Live in HD) and completely forgot to listen for that part; dang! Would love to know what 10-bar phrase or motiv is referred to.

    Jane (violinist)

  2. Les, sorry about your memories and thank you for your service. I trust that you know that another vicious group is targeting the Jewish people, namely the Muslims, and I look forward to you calling that out from your bully pulpit.

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