Richard Wagner has been thoroughly excoriated by the postmodern crop of scholarly music historians for, among other things, his extreme German nationalism, the impetus and ground for that excoriation a poisonous artifact of Wagner having been for Adolph Hitler a true German hero (Hitler considered Wagner one of "three of our greatest Germans," the other two being Martin Luther and Frederick the Great), and the consequent false coupling of Wagner's name and thinking with the Nazis. These professional Wagner-bashers are especially — and absurdly — fond of adducing as a "proof" of the virulency of Wagner's German nationalism the final monologue of Hans Sachs, one of the protagonists of Wagner's opera, Die Meistersinger, the closing lines of which read:
Beware! Evil tricks threaten us:
if the German people and kingdom should one
day decay under a false, foreign rule
soon no prince would understand his people;
and foreign mists with foreign vanities
they would plant in our German land,
what is German and true none would know, if it
did not live in the honor of the German Masters.
Therefore I say to you:
honor your German Masters,
then you will conjure up good spirits!
And if you favor their endeavors,
even if the Holy Roman Empire
should dissolve in mist,
for us there would remain
holy German Art!
Compare that with the following, taken not from the text of one of Wagner's operas, but from a letter:
At this point I cannot give you any news about the future of the German Opera; things are rather quiet in this area, except for the renovations that are carried out at the K___ Theater intended for a German stage. The opening is supposed to be in the beginning of October, but I, for my part, have no great hope that it will go well. Judging from what's happened so far, it seems to me that they are more intent on destroying the German Opera ... than on revitalizing and maintaining it. My [German] sister-in-law ... is the only singer permitted to join the German Opera. C___, A___, [and] T___, all of them Germans of whom Germany can be proud, are obliged to stay with the Italian theater, and will be made to compete against singers from their own country! If we had only one director with a sense of patriotism everything would acquire a different face! But it also might mean that the National Theater, which began to sprout so handsomely, would actually bear some fruit, and it would certainly be an everlasting embarrassment for Germany if we Germans had the audacity to act as Germans, think as Germans, speak in German, and perhaps even sing in German!!!
Please forgive me, dearest Herr P___, if I have gone too far in expressing my true sentiments! Wholly convinced that I am speaking to a true German, I have allowed my tongue free rein, which is so rarely possible these days that one might well get drunk after such an outpouring of the heart....
Now that's as bald an expression of German nationalism as could be wished for by anyone looking for such evidence with which to damn the writer, and a direct personal expression of it into the bargain rather than taken at second-hand from the text of one of the writer's operas. Problem for these postmodern Wagner-bashers, however, is that the letter wasn't written by Richard Wagner. It was written by one, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
A very dangerous fellow that Mozart, surely, and one whose life ought to be reassessed in the light of his clearly virulent German nationalistic sympathies.
[Note: English translation of Mozart's letter by Robert Spaethling from his, Mozart's Letters, Mozart's Life. The proper-name ellipses employed for the express purpose of avoiding perhaps telegraphing the punch line are mine.]