Germany Celebrates Composer Richard Wagner's 200th

10:06 AM, May 22, 2013   |    comments
People hold an umbrella as they walk by the newly unveiled sculpture of late German composer Richard Wagner in Leipzig, eastern Germany, on May 22, 2013. The sculpture by Stephan Balkenhol was unveiled on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of Wagner's birth on born on May 22, 1813 in Leipzig. (ROBERT MICHAEL/AFP/Getty Images)
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BERLIN (AP) - Germany is celebrating the 200th anniversary of Richard Wagner with the unveiling Wednesday of a monument in the composer's birthplace of Leipzig.

Wagner's compositions such as the opera cycle "Der Ring des Nibelungen" have been hailed as sublime works of art that belong to the core canon of Western culture.

But the composer's visceral hatred of Jews has also been cited as inspiring Adolf Hitler's anti-Semitism.

His association with the Nazis, despite dying 50 years before Hitler came to power, means Wagner's music is rarely played in Israel.

The monument by German artist Stephan Balkenhol shows a young Wagner overshadowed by his older, famous self.

Some of Wagner's works will be performed later in the day in Bayreuth, where the composer's descendants organize an annual music festival.

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