The Sound of Perseverance: Combatting Anti-semitism with Narratives in Music

Open Access
Nagle, Annette M
Area of Honors:
Letters, Arts, and Sciences (Altoona)
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Steven Curry Andrews, Thesis Supervisor
  • Laura Rotunno, Honors Advisor
  • Richard Wagner
  • Adolf Hitler
  • Gila Flam
  • Fania Fenelon
  • Anti-Semitism
  • Genocide
  • Culture
  • Music
  • Europe
  • Nazism
  • Germany
As each year passes since the world was introduced to the atrocities of the Holocaust, humanity feels as if each year is an effective barrier to falling prey to hatred and attempting to destroy a peoples based on cultural identity. Time is not an effective barrier, however, and in this thesis the idea of reapplying Richard Wagner's controversial ideas that music and art is a transformative force in the world can be a more effective and unconventional barrier towards resurfacing genocidal hatred. Even though Wagner was using his ideas as an argument against the Jewish people, I believe his idea that art is transformative was correct, and an essential component of humanity is contained in a peoples' culture. Therefore, in order to combat resurfacing anti-Semitism towards Jews in Europe in the 21st century, we must expose the world to the stories of life, death and perseverance contained in the musical activities of the Jewish peoples persecuted during the time of the Third Reich by discovering their stories and playing their music. The research contained in this thesis aims to contribute ideas between what music has been to Jews and non-Jews in recent Europe, how it has defined the Jewish people and how this form of culture can combat hatred.