Friday, June 24, 2011

SOLIDARITY - and why Hans Sachs was right

The LPO and Vladimir Jurowski, filmed at Glyndebourne and introduced by Martin the Chairman, play 'Solider of Orange' in solidarity with our arts friends in the Netherlands, where culture is being threatened with excision by a government that's crucially propped up by Geert Wilders and his far-right "Freedom Party". Orchestras around the world are moving to show their solidarity. The anthem is an underground song from the Second World War. On the stage you can glimpse the Meistersinger set.

It's time to ditch the universal shudder, by the way, at the words of Hans Sachs about the vitality of German art. He is not prefiguring the Nazis when he declares that even if Germany were to be under foreign rule, the German people will still have their great art. He is saying that art is what keeps a nation's sense of identity alive. He is right. The opera is set in Germany and Sachs was a German poet - so of course he's talking about German art. But it is true for every nation and every culture and it is something we forget at our peril. An artistic output of which a country can be proud - great art that shows individuals giving the best of their own spirits to everyone else - takes years, decades, centuries to build. But it can be destroyed overnight. Shame on Wilders and those philistine thugs.