A gay museum celebrates Siegfried Wagner

A gay museum celebrates Siegfried Wagner


norman lebrecht

February 24, 2017

One of the less discreditable secrets guarded at Bayreuth is that Richard Wagner’s son was, behind the facade of marriage, primarily homosexual.

Now, Berlin’s gay museum has begun research on an exhibition to celebrate his complicated life.

Don’t expect Katharina Wagner to attend.

Details here.


  • John Borstlap says:

    It is always painful to see these portraits of SW with the look of angst into the camera. Also, photos during R. Wagner’s later years with his young son show the body language of an entirely destroyed psyche, a nervous kid being pulverized between the two mighty and thoroughly neurotic parental personalities who projected their own wishes and demands into their offspring apparently without any consideration for its own personality. It is a miracle this son survived at all into adulthood in a climate of hysterial tension and grandiloquence on a daily basis. Maybe his ‘secret life’ was an escape route from those pressures.

  • DESR says:

    What a load of psychobabble and unprovable rubbish.

  • Stefan Treddel says:

    The exhibition opened on the 17th of February! So it’s not true that they just have begun research. It’s very clear in the article in Tagesspiegel that you linked and on the homepage of Schwules Museum. Research please!

    • Carlos Solare says:

      Indeed it did. I guess “has begun research” is Google-Translate for “begibt sich auf Spurensuche”.

      But don’t worry: this blog’s stated policy is “to acknowledge mistakes, correct them and apologise for them”, so it can only be a matter of minutes before all this happens…

  • Robert Holmén says:

    I’d like to see research on why his family destroyed some of his manuscripts after he died, if that story is true.

    • John Borstlap says:

      Since RW did not live-up to the 19C preferred image of the Great Man (no talent for it and did not want to), his wife had the greatest difficulty to create such image after her husband’s death, with the result that the burning of papers and letters became a Wagnerian tradition. But the plaster fake image of RW never survived biographical scrutiny, in spite of all the efforts.

      • Robert Holmén says:


        There has to be more to it than that since some things of SW got burned and others didn’t.

        • John Borstlap says:

          As far as I have read, almost all members of the family were keen to censor written material, to conform to the preferred image of the great man for posterity.

          The irony is, of course, that all those efforts which created peculiar contradictions, made biographers suspicious, who consequently began to dig deep and deeper into history, and as a result RW is the composer we know the most of. And everything has been blown-up to Wagnerian proportions.

  • herrera says:

    Like father like son.

    Siegfried had a brief affair with Klaus Mann that began in Venice where they were introduced to each other by a mutual friend.

    • John Borstlap says:

      ? As far as I know, Richard Wagner lived long before Thomas Mann. And it was preferably the female sex he was interested in.