Even more than 130 years after Richard Wagner’s death, and over 140 years since the first festivals, discussions over the assessment and evaluation of Wagner’s personality, and analyses and interpretations of his work remain as lively as ever. The historical figure, his works, his significance both culturally and historically, and the consequences of these, still provoke interpretation and controversy. “Richard Wagner” is simultaneously a cipher who stands equally for artistic genius and for ideological chasms, as well as for trailblazing theatrical designs, full of contradictions, and an intriguingly debatable Utopian spirit.
“Bayreuth Discourse” is therefore the most apposite name for a new supporting programme to accompany the Bayreuth Festival. It will offer a dialogue on Wagner’s work and impact in the form of academic presentations, debates, and musical programmes, with the aim of stimulating critical analysis. In 2017, a symposium and a four-part concert series will take place in Villa Wahnfried, arguably a symbolic location for a “Bayreuth Discourse”. Academics, publicists, theatre practitioners and artists will lead this “Discourse”, which will focus on the controversial and by no means satisfied range of issues surrounding “Wagner’s Work and National Socialism” and the multifaceted consequences of these, as well as the legend of an alleged “zero hour”.
I should like to express my gratitude to the contributors and organisers, the always generous Gesellschaft der Freunde von Bayreuth (Society of the Friends of Bayreuth) e.V. and the Richard Wagner Museum. I wish all participants and visitors an exciting and stimulating time at the Discourse.
Prof Katharina Wagner