Ernest Bloch, Richard Wagner, and the Myth of Racial Essentialism
Composer Ernest Bloch’s Jewish identity is ironically rooted in the notoriously anti-Semitic writings of Richard Wagner. Rather than an indication of self-loathing, Bloch’s assimilation of Wagner's ideas into his own thinking exemplifies the seductiveness of racial essentialist thought in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. An examination of the effects of racial essentialism and Jewish assimilation in post-Emancipation Europe puts Bloch’s identity as a Jewish composer in context. Next, a biographical sketch of Bloch’s life sheds light on how he grappled with Judaism in his music. Finally, a discussion of Bloch’s relationship with Judaism shows the danger of defining Jewish music in racial terms.
Copyright (c) 2018 Aaron Klaus
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
All content in SCJR, unless otherwise noted, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License. Under this license, authors retain copyright to their work, though mention of its original publication in SCJR would be appreciated. Users are free to copy, distribute, display, and perform the work; to make derivative works; and to make commercial use of the work, provided that attribution is given to the original author and that the license terms are made clear in any reuse or distribution.
Authors are required to agree to the following license terms:
I grant to Boston College the right to include and publish my submission in the online journal Studies in Christian-Jewish Relations. I will retain copyright ownership but hereby grant to Boston College the non-exclusive, world-wide, royalty-free right to use, copy, distribute, and display my submission in any format or medium for any educational, non-commercial purposes, including as part of the online journal. Boston College will apply the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License to all works published in Studies in Christian-Jewish Relations.
These rights include, without limitation, the right to maintain one or more copies of the submission in multiple formats for security, back-up, and preservation purposes, and to allow a third party to hold one or more copies solely for such purposes.
I represent and warrant that the submission is my original work, that I have the right to grant the permission in this agreement, and that, to the best of my knowledge, the submission will not infringe upon anyone’s intellectual property rights. I have obtained all necessary permissions to include in my submission any materials created or owned by third parties and any such third party material is clearly identified and acknowledged within the content of the submission.
If the submission is based upon work that has been sponsored or supported by an organization or agency other than Boston College, I certify that I have fulfilled any right of review or other obligations required by any contract or agreement with such agency or organization.
Boston College will clearly identify my name as the author or owner of the submission.
Nothing in this agreement shall be deemed to obligate Boston College to publish the submission.