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Our motto: "Critical thinking in the cheap seats." Unbiased, honest classical music and opera opinions, occasional obituaries and classical news reporting, since 2007. All written content © 2019 by Paul J. Pelkonen. For more about Superconductor, visit this link. For advertising rates, click this link. Follow us on Facebook.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Obituary: Wolfgang Wagner (1919-2010)

Wolfgang Wagner has died at his home in Bayreuth. He was 90. Wagner was the director of the Bayreuth Festival for 57 years. The sole surviving grandson of the composer Richard Wagner, he was also the great-grandson of composer Franz Liszt.

Founded in 1876, the Bayreuth Festival takes place in the town of Bayreuth, at the Festspielhaus designed and built by Wagner himself for the first performances of The Ring and Parsifal. Today, the theater is home to one of the most important opera festivals in the world.

Devoted to performing the ten "canon" operas of Richard Wagner (as well as occasional performances of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony), Bayreuth attracts an international audience of devoted opera lovers, and has a ten-year waiting list for tickets.

Although the Festival fell under the shadow of the Nazis and closed in 1943, Wolfgang and his brother Wieland reopened the Festspielhaus in 1951. The renewed Festival was a an important workshop for opera in the second half of the 20th century, embracing experimentation and new theatrical styles, often to the consternation of its patrons. During his tenure, Wolfgang directed and produced his grandfather's operas, including The Ring, Tristan und Isolde and Parsifal.

Wieland died in 1966, leaving his brother in sole control of the festivaVarious members of the next generation struggled to control the Festival, but Wolfgang ran things until 2008, when heUltimately, Wolfgang appointed his daughters Katharina Wagner and Eva Wagner-Pasquier as co-directors of the Festival.

For more on Wolfgang Wagner, pick up his fascinating autobiography, Acts, available on

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