German composer: ‘Luther’s views on Jews are outrageous’

German composer: ‘Luther’s views on Jews are outrageous’


norman lebrecht

August 14, 2015

The composer Seigfried Matthus has written an opera about Martin Luther for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, which arrives in 2017.

Matthus, 81, describes himself as a Christian but not a churchgoer. He has been shocked by Luther’s outbursts aganst the Jews after they refused to join his breakaway sect.

When he starts to rant against Jews, says Matthus, he gets the orchestra to overwhelm him and the chorus to yell ‘stop!’

Anfangs brachte er den Juden eine große Hochachtung entgegen. Dann ist er ausgeflippt in wahnsinnigen furchtbaren Sätzen, die ich ihn in der Oper geifern lasse, aber ich halte mich im Orchester völlig zurück. Alle Sänger treten dann aus ihrer Rolle heraus und sagen: „Halt ein!“




  • John Borstlap says:

    Because of the reformation, Europe was torn apart with religious wars for a century.

  • will says:

    ‘tee hee’ to Mendelssohn’s ‘Reformation Symphony’ one of the biggest ‘Christian con tricks’ ever perpetrated… plus the fact that – oh yes – musically it is a pile of garbage.!

    • PDQ.BACH says:

      Dance criticism is all but abolished.
      Music critics were on the verge of extinction.

      We must gratefully hail the impromptu emergence of a new distinguished member of the guild, and applaud his eloquence, which only the gravitas and momentum of his argumentative powers can surpass.

    • harold braun says:

      Will,this is certainly the most disgusting comment ever here.Accusing Mendelssohn of playing a con trick by writing a christian piece smells like Nazi crap,in fact,it is exactly,what the Nazis said about Mendellsohn.On the idiotic and respectless comment on the symphony i’d rather be silent now…”Piles of garbage”like your drivelhere should banned from here…..

      • will says:

        No, no, you have ‘got it wrong’ Mr Braun, I am NOT a ‘Nazi’ and generally speaking I LOVE Mendelssohn’s music. I just think that he got it terribly wrong with this 5th symphony which is in no way the equal of the other four!
        By the way, my great grandfather was Jewish!

    • Paul-André Bempéchat says:

      This comment is absolutely ludicrous in the extreme. I suggest you read my article on the genesis of this ECUMENICAL work, and its extraordinary significance in the Western musical canon:

  • John says:

    This isn’t really news. Luther’s works, including his anti-semitic views, have been on library shelves for centuries.

    • Arturo says:

      Yes indeed,I not read one letter of his publications,ordinary people do not reading his books.

    • Holger H. says:

      Scholarly comment: Luther held no antisemitic views at all. The term “antisemitic” is a (clumsy and misleading since most Arabs in the region are of Semitic origin as well) terminology invention of the 19th century, when the racial madness hunted all sides.

      Luther was antijudaistic in his views. They had nothing to do with blurry ethnical concepts, but were all about religious identities and ideas.

  • cabbagejuice says:

    Martin Luther was obnoxious, period!

  • Eric Koenig says:

    People who claim Hitler got his antisemitic views from Wagner must be ignorant of Martin Luther’s writings. In “On the Jews and their Lies” Luther advocates the building of concentration camps. Hitler did exactly that a few centuries later and upped the ante by adding poison gas to the formula. I’m glad my father’s family was able to make it out of Austria in 1938 or they would have been sent some cozy place like Auschwitz. Thanks heaps, Mr. Luther.

    • John says:

      Antijudiastic (see Holger H above) views were not uncommon in Luther’s Germany any more than Hitler’s Germany. It’s part of the historic fabric of Europe. I doubt if AH needed any help from ML (or Wagner for that matter, though he liked the operas and was pals with Winifred and her kids) to move forward with his ‘final solution’.

  • Pirkko says:

    Jews, christians, muslims, pastafarians… So what’s the deal with all these religions? Should they be taken seriously?

  • Hilary says:

    If it wasn’t for religion we wouldn’t have the paintings of Bosch or Messiaen’s Saint François d’ Assise.