• Germany's news in English

Wagner's grandson steps down as Bayreuth director

AFP · 30 Apr 2008, 08:09

Published: 30 Apr 2008 08:09 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

"Wolfgang Wagner has announced his resignation," Markus Gnad, spokesman for the Bavarian culture ministry, told AFP on Tuesday.

Toni Schmid, head of Bayreuth's decision-making body, the Stiftungsrat, said that a new director will be appointed in time to take over from Wolfgang when he steps down after this summer's festival.

Observers see it as a done-deal that his two daughters, Eva, 63, and Katharina, 29, will run Bayreuth jointly.

Wolfgang has always insisted that his appointment was for life, and stubbornly refused to step aside, despite pressure from the Stiftungsrat. But earlier this month he indicated that he might compromise and allow Eva and Katharina to take over. The two are half-sisters, Eva is Wolfgang's daughter by his first marriage to Ellen Drexel, Katharina his only child by his second wife Gudrun.

Alongside them, there is a third pretender to the throne, Nike Wagner, the 62-year-old daughter of Wolfgang's late brother Wieland.

Gnad said only that candidates had four months to apply.

Wolfgang Wagner, 88 years old and increasingly frail, has been in charge of the annual festival dedicated exclusively to the music of his grandfather since 1951. His departure will mark the end of an era but the question of who will now take over has hung unanswered over the festival for decades. Relations between members of Wolfgang's family - and between him and the Stiftungsrat - are clearly anything but harmonious.

In 2001, the Stiftungsrat ordered Wolfgang to hand over the sceptre to his 63-year-old daughter Eva, but he and Eva have not been speaking terms since he divorced Eva's mother Ellen Drexel in 1976.

Despite her experience from working for the festival in Aix-en-Provence, he openly dismissed Eva as incompetent for Bayreuth and vowed to hold on to his life-long tenure, at least until Katharina - his only child by his second wife Gudrun - was old enough to succeed him.

Katharina is now 29 but, given her lack of experience, the most palatable solution so far had been for her to run Bayreuth alongside star German conductor Christian Thielemann and opera manager Peter Ruzicka, even if that constellation was not viewed favourably by the Stiftungsrat.

However, the unexpected death last November of Gudrun - largely seen as responsible for the estrangement between Wolfgang and his first family - appeared to change matters considerably.

The shock of her death and Wolfgang's ailing health appear to have made him more open to a reconciliation with Eva and earlier this month he floated the possible solution of Katharina and Eva jointly running Bayreuth. Like Eva, Nike is an experienced festival manager, running the high-brow Pelerinages KunstFest in Weimar.

Story continues below…

Eva and Nike had themselves submitted a proposal to run Bayreuth jointly as a rival proposition to Katharina taking sole charge.

In an interview with the German news agency DPA this month, Nike ruled out a possible ruling triumvirate, and she has also been consistently dismissive of Katharina's directorial work.

Nevertheless, the all-powerful "Society of Friends of Bayreuth" appears to like the idea of a leadership duo between Katharina and Eva.

"I hope that the Stiftungsrat will appoint both sisters as Wolfgang Wagner's successors," the head of the society Karl Gerhard Schmidt said in a radio interview earlier this month.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Obama to visit Berlin in last presidential trip to Germany
President Barack Obama and Chancellor Angela Merkel during a Berlin trip in 2013. Photo: DPA.

The White House announced on Tuesday that US President Barack Obama will be paying one last unexpected visit to the German capital - his last before he leaves office.

Hostility towards minorities 'widespread in Bavaria'
A village in southern Bavaria. Photo: DPA.

Hate and hostility towards groups deemed to be different are not just sentiments felt by fringe extremists, a new report on Bavaria shows.

Hated RB Leipzig emerge as shock challengers to Bayern
RB Leipzig. Photo: DPA

RB Leipzig's remarkable unbeaten start to the Bundesliga season has seen them suddenly emerge at the head of the pack chasing reigning champions and league leaders Bayern Munich.

Munich taxi driver in hospital after attack by British tourists
Photo: DPA

A taxi driver had to be hospitalized in Munich on Monday evening after three British tourists refused to pay their fare and then attacked him.

German police carry out nationwide anti-terror raids
Police outside a building in Jena during raids on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

Police forces in five German states carried out raids on Tuesday morning with the aim of tackling the financing of terror groups, police in Thuringia have reported.

The Local List
10 ways German completely messes up your English
Photo: DPA

So you've mastered German, but now it's time to learn English all over again.

Iconic German church being eroded away by human urine
Ulm Minster towering over the rest Ulm surrounding the Danube. Photo: Pixabay

It will now cost you €100 to spend a penny. That’s if you get caught choosing to pee against the world-famous Ulm Minster.

German small arms ammo exports grow ten-fold
Photo: DPA

The government has come in for criticism after new figures revealed that Germany exported ten times the quantity of small arms ammunition in the first half of 2016 as in the same period last year.

14-year-old stabs 'creepy clown' in prank gone wrong
File photo: DPA.

A 16-year-old in Berlin decided he wanted to scare some friends, but his plot backfired in a violent way.

Four Ku Klux Klan groups active in Germany, says govt
An American member of the KKK at a gathering in Georgia. Photo: EPA.

The German government estimates that there are four Ku Klux Klan (KKK) groups currently active in the country, according to a report by the Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) on Tuesday.

Germany's 10 most weird and wonderful landmarks
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd