Tuesday 13 August 2019

I’m following in father’s footsteps, I’m following dear old dad

Wolfgang Wagner
Wolfgang Wagner
This year marks the 100th anniversary of former Bayreuth director, Wolfgang Wagner(1919-2010), son of Siegfried Wagner and Richard Wagner’s grandson, who directed the Bayreuth Festival alongside his elder brother Wieland from 1951 until the latter’s death in 1966 and then assumed total control until he retired in 2008. He prophetically exclaimed: ‘There’s only one star in Bayreuth and his name is Richard Wagner.’ That profound statement still holds true today.

Therefore, to mark Wolfgang’s centenary (whose anniversary actually falls on 30th August) a commemorative opening concert took place on the eve of this year’s Bayreuth Festival in which conductor, Christian Thielemann, remarked on how he had to thoroughly relearn conducting techniques to fit the requirements of the Bayreuth Festspielhaus about which Wolfgang Wagner knew every detail. Appropriately, the area in front of the Festspielhaus is now named after Wolfgang.

A fabulous concert by all accounts, the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra was joined by such Wagner heavyweights as Günter Groissböck, Stephen Gould and Waltraud Meier, the latter giving a moving rendition of the ‘Liebestod’ from Tristan und Isolde. And to add to the centenary celebrations, an exhibition entitled ‘The Principal’ - chronicling Wolfgang Wagner’s professional life as artistic director, stage designer and director - is running at the Richard Wagner Museum (Villa Wahnfried) to Sunday 3rd November.

Naturally, the anniversary concert was hosted by Wolfgang’s daughter, Katharina - great-granddaughter of Richard Wagner and, indeed, great-great granddaughter of Franz Liszt - who now, of course, gloriously follows in her father’s footsteps.

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