Friedelind Wagner

Friedelind Wagner

Richard Wagner's Rebellious Granddaughter

Eva Rieger

Translated by Chris Walton

Personal eBook

Boydell Press



The first-ever biography of Richard Wagner's artistically gifted granddaughter who fought against Hitler's Germany but achieved no personal success for her troubles.
She was not the 'black sheep' of her family, as often claimed, but a heroic rebel. Friedelind Wagner (1918-1991), Richard Wagner's independent-minded granddaughter, daughter of Siegfried and Winifred Wagner, despised her mother's close liaison with Adolf Hitler and was the only member of the Wagner clan who fled Germany in protest. Although Winifred warned her that the Nazis would 'exterminate' her, should she continue her open opposition, she travelled to London and published articles pillorying the Nazi élite. All the same, her former proximity to Hitler & Co. made her suspicious in the eyes of the authorities, who promptly interned her. Even the British Parliament debated her fate. Only with the help of the world-famous conductor Arturo Toscanini was she able to gain an exit visa. Once she arrived in New York she broadcast, lectured and published against the Nazis, wrote an autobiography, and became friends with many other emigrants including singers who had themselves abandoned Bayreuth. After the war the Mayor of Bayreuth asked her to run the Festival, but she declined in favour of her brothers. They showed little gratitude, however, for after Friedelind returned to Germany in 1953 she found herself manoeuvred out of any role in the Festival management. She still made a remarkable effort to find a niche in post-war German society and culture, and did her best to cope with a family notorious for its intrigues past and present. Friedelind Wagner remained a staunch friend of artists such as Wilhelm Furtwängler, Frida Leider, Otto Klemperer, Erich Kleiber, Leonard Bernstein, Walter Felsenstein, Michael Tilson Thomas and many others.
Drawing on archival research in many countries, Eva Rieger has here written the first-ever biography of Richard Wagner's talented, artistic granddaughter who fought against Hitler's Germany, but achieved no personal success for her troubles. Her book gives many new insights into wartime and postwar musical life in Germany, Europe and the United States.

EVA RIEGER is a feminist musicologist and author of many books on music.


26 black and white, 1 line illustrations
364 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Personal eBook, 9781782042266, October 2013
Hardback, 9781843838647, October 2013
Library eBook
Boydell Press
BISAC BIO004000, HIS037070, MUS028000
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Table of Contents

A 'giant Easter egg'. Mausi's home and family
The noisy child. 1924 to 1931
'She should learn to cope with drudgery'. At boarding school. 1931 to 1935
'Impudent, endearing and witty'. Friedelind and her aunts. 1936 to 1937
'Is it German, what Hitler has done for you?' 1938 to 1939
'It's precisely because I'm German that I'm not living in Germany'. The farewell. 1940
In England, behind barbed wire. 1940 to 1941
'My heart is overflowing'. From Buenos Aires to New York. 1941 to 1943
'Only you could still save our inheritance!' 1943 to 1945
After the War is over. 1946 to 1950
Friedelind returns. 1950 to 1955
The master classes begin. 1956 to 1960
Heyday of the master classes and their end. 1960 to 1966
Sibling conflict. 1967 to 1970
Schemes and setbacks. The 1970s
'A foster mother, a guiding light'. The 1980s


Eva Rieger, in her impeccably researched and highly readable biography of Friedelind Wagner . . . is both admirably forthright and even-handed. . . . The biography, published originally in Germany, has been translated sympathetically and accurately by Chris Walton. THE WAGNER JOURNAL

A scrupulously researched book. . . . Photographs are handsomely presented, as indeed is the book as a whole. MUSIC & LETTERS Packed with scrupulously researched detail and judicious evaluations. Rieger is eminently balanced in her assessment of Friedelind's virtues and weaknesses. The life she describes is a life of missed opportunities and thwarted ambition, in which a compassionate, free-willed, principled woman pays a heavy price for her independence of spirit. WAGNER JOURNAL

A fascinating biography. . . . Chris Walton's translation of Eva Rieger's compelling narrative reads well. . . . Her story made an equalling uplifting read. MUSIC WEB INTERNATIONAL

A loving, illuminating tribute to this unusual, bighearted woman who was all too often written off as a silly eccentric and traitor after the war. BLOOMBERG NEWS, January 2014

This disturbing book will arouse a decent measure of sympathy for the dispossessed Friedelind, an unsung victim of the Wagner fantasy. WALL STREET JOURNAL, January 2014

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