LETTER: Wagner in an uncertain world

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The Independent Online
From Ms Helen Sprott

Sir: Humphrey Burton's sentimental recall (Letters, 19 April) of his own Wagner programmes of 13 years ago is understandable but meaningless for the new generation of viewers who will be innocent of the "good old days" of BBC history.

Channel 4's Wagnermania season should be assessed on its merits, and the impression Mr Burton gives is unjust. Of course we covered the issue of Wagner's anti-Semitism - for prominent and respected Wagnerians today it is of the greatest significance. However, we also went backstage in Munich to show the making of a new production of Tannhauser, which was then broadcast in its four-hour entirety; commissioned a "Reduced" Ring; featured five short opinion pieces from Wagner fans and phobes; and in Wagner's Women explored the connection between Wagner's emotional and creative lives (contrary to Mr Burton's account, there was but one brief underwater sequence).

Such a high-profile TV event should be applauded by Humphrey Burton, who has devoted his professional life to the broadcast of music on television. We work in a more perilous age than when Mr Burton presided over the BBC's Music and Arts Department and our Wagnermania week was a brave move.

Yours faithfully

HELEN SPROTT

Deputy Commissioning Editor

Arts and Music

Channel 4

London, SW1

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