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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