Wagner, Wieland

BORN 5 Jan 1917, Bayreuth, Bayern - DIED 17 Oct 1966, München, Bayern
CAUSE OF DEATH lung cancer
GRAVE LOCATION Bayreuth, Bayern: Stadtfriedhof

Wieland Wagner was the son of the composer and conductor Siegfried Wagner (1869-1930) and the grandson Siegfried's far more famous father, the composer Richard Wagner (1813-1883). He grew up in Bayreuth where Adolf Hitler, a close friend of his mother, was a frequent visitor during his youth. The children called him 'Uncle Wolf'. In 1938 Wagner joined the NSDAP after Hitler had insisted personally. In 1941 he married dancer and choreographer Gertrud Reissinger (1916-1998). They had four children, Iris (1942-2014), Wolf (b.19543), Nike (b.1945) and Daphe (b.1946).

During the Second World War he still visited Hitler in Berlin. He avoided entering the army as a soldier by becoming a deputy civilian leader at the Institut für physikalische Forschung in Bayreuth in 1944. This research institute was also a satellite (Aussenlager in German) of the Flossenbürg concentration camp. It was founded by Bodo Lafferentz, who had married his sister Verena in 1943. There he developed models of stage sets and stage lightning systems, assisted by the prisoner Hans Imhof. After the war he was classified as a 'Mitläufer' (follower) in 1948 and he told his children that his mother Winifred had been a supporter of the nazis but that he hadn't.

Together with his brother Wolfgang he became festival director of the Festspiele in Bayreuth when the festival reopened in 1951, replacing their mother Winifred who was blamed for the close connections with the nazis. As stage director and designer, he introduced a new style to the operas that had mostly been performed in the exact way that Richard Wagner had created them in the previous century. His 1951 version of "Parsifal" was staged for a long time in Bayreuth. Apart from Bayreuth he worked in Naples, London, Paris and other cities.

In 1960 the young singer Anja Silja took over as Senta at the Festspiele in Bayreuth after Lenie Rysanek cancelled. She impressed the public and certainly she impressed Wieland. He fell in love with her, left his family for her and casted her in many roles in Bayreuth. In 1965 he received the German Pour le Mérite order. The next year he died of lung cancer.

• Father: Wagner, Siegfried
• Mother: Wagner-Williams, Winnifred
• Wife: Reissinger, Gertrud (1941-, Nußdorf, Bodensee)
• Brother: Wagner, Wolfgang

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• cooperated with Brouwenstijn, Gré
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29/3/1918Cosima plays the Steinway piano in Bayreuth for the first time since Richard Wagner's death. She played parts of the "Siegfried-Idyll" because of the birth of Wagner's first grandson Wieland. "The Siegfried-Idyll" was composed by Wagner after his son Siegfried was born. Afterwards Cosima would never play the Steinway again. [Wagner, Cosima][Wagner, Richard]
29/7/1951Opening of the first Festspiele in Bayreuth after the Second World War. After the Second World War, the Festspielhaus in Bayreuth stood under American command. After a while the Americans granted the Wagner family permission to resume the Festspiele. Winifred Wagner wasn't allowed to return to her post as director. She was succeeded by her son Wieland Wagner. [Wagner, Richard][Wagner-Williams, Winnifred]


The grave of Siegfried, Wieland and Winnifred Wagner at the Stadtfriedhof, Bayreuth.
Picture by Androom (25 Aug 1996)


The Wagner gravesite at the Stadtfriedhof, Bayreuth.
Picture by Androom (24 Jan 2006)


Biografisch Worterbuch zur Deutsche Geschichte, Francke Verlag, München, 1975
• Gutman, Robert, Richard Wagner, Der Mensch, sein Werk, seine Zeit, Wilhelm Heyne Verlag, München, 1989
• Hamann, Brigitte, Winifred Wagner oder Hitlers Bayreuth, Piper, München, 2003
• Hamann, Brigitte, Die Familie Wagner, Rohwolt Taschenbuch Verlag, 2018
• Marek, George R., Cosima Wagner, Ein Leben für ein Genie, Knaur, München, 1993
• Wagner, Friedelind, Nacht über Bayreuth, Die Geschichte der Enkelin Richard Wagners, List Taschenbuch, München, 2002
Wieland Wagner - Wikipedia

Wagner, Wolfgang

Published: 27 Dec 2008
Last update: 05 May 2024