Nike Wagner

Nike Wagner (German pronunciation: [ˈniːkə ˈvaːɡnɐ])[1] (born 9 June 1945) is a German dramaturge, arts administrator and author. She directed the festival Kunstfest Weimar [de], and has been the director of the Beethovenfest from 2014. The daughter of Wieland Wagner, she is a great-granddaughter of Richard Wagner, and a great-great‑granddaughter of Franz Liszt. She devoted books to the Wagner family and its cultural and political influence.

Nike Wagner
Nike Wagner.png
Wagner in 2014
Born (1945-06-09) 9 June 1945 (age 75)
EducationNorthwestern University
  • Author
  • Festival director
AwardsOrder of Merit of the Free State of Thuringia


Wagner was born in Überlingen on Lake Constance in Germany, the daughter of Wieland Wagner and the choreographer Gertrud Reissige. Her paternal great-grandfather was Richard Wagner, and she is also the great-great‑granddaughter of Franz Liszt.[2]

She grew up in Wahnfried, Bayreuth,[3] until her father's death in 1966, whereupon her uncle Wolfgang Wagner had the house measured and asked her widowed mother to pay rent.[4] She studied musicology, literature and theatre in Berlin,[3] and holds a Ph.D. from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, obtained in 1980 under the direction of Erich Heller.

She is the author of several important books on a variety of subjects, which include Karl Kraus (Geist und Geschlecht: Karl Kraus und die Erotik der Wiener Moderne, Frankfurt am Main, Suhrkamp, 1982 — a work based on her doctoral dissertation) and the Wagner family (The Wagners: The Dramas of a Musical Dynasty, Princeton, New Jersey, Princeton University Press, 2001). Her article questioning the propriety of public subsidies given to high-profile cultural events in general, and the Bayreuth Festival in particular (at present c. US$6.5 million annually), Im Fadenkreuz der Kulturpolitik, published in the July 2006 issue of Cicero: Magazin für politische Kultur, engendered controversy within Germany.

In 1999 Wagner became a member of the Deutsche Akademie für Sprache und Dichtung, and has served as its vice president since 2011.[3] In 2001, she made a bid for directorship of the Bayreuth Festival, together with Gérard Mortier, who had changed the Salzburg Festival, but did not expect to win.[5] In 2004, Wagner became the director of the Kunstfest Weimar [de], which she named Pèlerinages in honour of Liszt. She stood down from the post in September 2013.

In 2013, she was named the director of the Beethovenfest,[6] and assumed this post in January 2014.[7] She has recognized Wagner's relation to Beethoven, who modeled his first composition on Beethoven's works.[5] She focused less on Beethoven's symphonies, but presented more chamber music, often in contrast with contemporary works in the genre.[8]

Other activitiesEdit

  • Bonner Akademie für Forschung und Lehre praktischer Politik (BAPP), Member of the Board of Trustees[9]
  • Deutsche Bank, Member of the Advisory Board (since 2017)[10]
  • Goethe Institute, Member of the Committee for the Goethe Medal[11]

Selected publicationsEdit

  • Nike Wagner, et al., Mann, sei nicht so hysterisch (Munich, Matthes und Seitz, 1991).
  • Nike Wagner, Wagner-Theater (Frankfurt am Main, Insel-Verlag, 1998).
  • Nike Wagner, Traumtheater: Szenarien der Moderne (Frankfurt am Main, Insel-Verlag, 2001).


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Duden Aussprachewörterbuch (in German) (6 ed.). Mannheim: Bibliographisches Institut & F.A. Brockhaus AG. 2006. ISBN 3-411-04066-1.
  2. ^ Anastassia Boutsko (2011-10-20). "Nike Wagner on her great-great grandfather Liszt". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 2015-06-28.
  3. ^ a b c "Nike Wagner". Beethovenfest. Archived from the original on 4 November 2016. Retrieved 4 November 2016.
  4. ^ Kurbjuweit, Dirk. (12 April 2013). ' Wagner's Dark Shadow: Can We Separate the Man from His Works?' Spiegel Online. (Germany),
  5. ^ a b Ivan Hewett (15 August 2014). "Nike Wagner: I was bitter at my Bayreuth ousting / Defeated in the battle to rule Bayreuth, Nike Wagner has moved on to Beethoven". The Telegraph. Retrieved 4 November 2016.
  6. ^ Marita Berg (2013-05-24). "Wagner meets Beethoven in Bonn music festival". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 2015-06-28.
  7. ^ Rick Fulker (2013-09-27). "Nike Wagner: Handle artists with kid gloves". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 2015-06-28.
  8. ^ "Beethovenfest Bonn / Beethoven von Wagner frisch entstaubt" (in German). Deutschlanfunk. 4 October 2015. Retrieved 7 October 2016.
  9. ^ Board of Trustees Bonner Akademie für Forschung und Lehre praktischer Politik (BAPP).
  10. ^ Members of the Regional Advisory Board, 2017 Archived 2017-07-17 at the Wayback Machine Deutsche Bank.
  11. ^ Organization Goethe Institute.
  12. ^ PH Heidelberg bestellt Dr. Nike Wagner als Honorarprofessorin PDF


  • Jan Brachmann, ‘Das Zertrümmern ist langweilig geworden: Nike Wagner über Heimweh, Autoritäten, Bayreuther Marktlärm und ostdeutsche Kaffeepausen’, Berliner Zeitung, August 21, 2004, p. M4 (Magazin Section) [an interview with Nike Wagner].
  • David Littlejohn, [untitled review of Nike Wagner's The Wagners: The Dramas of a Musical Dynasty], Notes: Quarterly Journal of the Music Library Association, vol. 58, No. 4 (June 2002), pp. 828–831.

Further readingEdit