Wagner’s Parsifal conductor is kicked out of his grave

Wagner’s Parsifal conductor is kicked out of his grave


norman lebrecht

August 27, 2018

The good Volk of Garmisch-Partenkirchen do not want Hermann Levi, premiere conductor of Parsifal, to remain in their midst, in the town where he died.

Levi’s grave was desecrated by the Nazis and has been neglected ever since.

Agreement has now been reached to transfer Levi’s remains to the Jewish cemetery in Munich, where Levi was music director at King Ludwig’s court.

It’s a shabby end for a dignified man who coped with Wagner’s antisemitism in his lifetime and its legacy ever after.



  • Gm says:

    Typo Norman
    Partenkirchen not Cherry town 😉

  • Michael Endres says:

    According to the Nordbayerischer Kurier the current mayoress of Garmisch Partenkirchen Siegrid Meierhofer is already 4 years in office and has seemingly done nothing to restaure the desecrated grave of Levi, but pointed instead to her predecessors for failing to act.
    It is indeed a shabby end and I was reminded of the old German saying:
    “ein Schelm wer Boeses dabei denkt”…

  • SteelyTom says:

    A great early champion of Bruckner’s music as well.

  • basotxoria says:

    Richard Strauss is also buried in the Garmich cemetery

  • Caravaggio says:

    Shabby and shameful treatment indeed

  • Andrew Powell says:

    Hermann Levi did a LOT more than conduct the first Parsifals; if we are going to talk about him, let’s take a proper look (Wagner was a minor tranche). And I’m sure Frau Knobloch will just love the term “shabby end” for her cemetery idea, even if the site is rather in the boonies and on the opposite side of Munich. I personally think Levi deserves a place on Jakobsplatz. He was an honorary citizen of Partenkirchen (before Hitler forcibly merged the two towns), which is to say he was venerated by the people. Today of course awareness of him is scant, so it is unfair to characterize local opinion.

  • JoBe says:

    Not fresh news, unfortunately. Bavaria’s most important newspaper, the Süddeutsche Zeitung, already had an article about it in July: https://www.sueddeutsche.de/bayern/geschichte-das-unehrengrab-von-partenkirchen-1.4054888

  • David K. Nelson says:

    For a time at least Levi managed the, shall we say, challenging task of being a friend to both Wagner and Brahms. How many tombstones could say that? Brahms broke with him eventually, as he was prone to do with friends.

  • luigi nonono says:

    It is a grave sin, no pun intended, to remove a Jewish body from its resting place, particularly by non-Jews. A most hostile act, indeed, to have to segregate his body. Sick. Everything to do with Wagner should be eradicated.

    • David K. Nelson says:

      Wagner had much to answer for, and his views on Jewish music and musicians cannot be stomached, but surely he’d be horrified to think that the grave of his friend, and a trusted associate, Levi, would be desecrated and disrespected in this manner. Cosima … maybe not so much.

    • Michael Hurshell says:

      “Everything to do with Wagner should be eradicated.” That would certainly be a big surprise to the many distinguished Jewish artists (esp. conductors) who loved his music and performed it throughout their careers (to name a very few: Bruno Walter, Otto Klemperer, Fritz Reiner, George Szell, Serge Koussevitzky, George Solti etc etc etc.). And, I might add, the Jewish music lovers that you will meet whether in the States, in Europe or anywhere else, at any important opera production of Wagner’s works.

      Do you think all those people should be “eradicated”…?

      • Ms.Melody says:

        I can understand that it can be difficult to reconcile Wagner the pathological anti-Semite and Wagner the creator of great, profound beautiful music. I think our soul strives for harmony. Someone who can create beauty should also be beautiful inside and out. It goes back to fairy tales from our childhood, the good sister was beautiful and kind and the bad sister mean and ugly. Mozart in Pushkin’s “Mozart and Salieri” says that “villainy and genius,
        As you’ll agree, my friend, sit ill together”. To think of Wagner is to experience cognitive dissonance. He was an evil genius, but I would not want to eradicate his music or memory and legacy of the great interpereters

      • Joel T says:

        Reply to Michael Hurshell: Mahler too was quick to recognize Wagner’s masterworks. If you look at the Vienna State Opera seasons under his direction- say 1897-8- you will see at least four of Wagner’s operas. No one did more to establish Wagner as a staple of any reputable opera house.

      • mark schuck says:


    • Eberhard Schefold says:

      The article is a little sketchy. It was the President of the Israelitische Kultusgemeinde München und Oberbayern (Jewish Community of Munich and Upper Bavaria), Charlotte Knobloch, who decided that the body should be moved to Munich. Of course it’s still the fault of the local authorities and citizens to let the grave get into the state that it’s in. Shameful.

      Burning art is never the solution though.

  • Allan Leicht says:

    Little did we know that as Hermann Levi’s mortal remains were being moved to Munich, we were in rehearsal in New York for MY PARSIFAL CONDUCTOR, A WAGNERIAN COMEDY of which I am the playwright. MY PARSIFAL CONDUCTOR had it;’s official opening last night (October 11) at the Margery S. Dean Theater a block from the Metropolitan Opera House for a limited engagement through November 3rd. Go to https://myparsifalconductor.com/

  • Eddie Korbich says:

    David K Nelson

    According to our play, Levi broke with Brahms to join Wagner not the other way around.

  • Joel T. says:

    Levi was right on point as far as the contemporary music of his time, a kind of Tamayo or Scherchen of the 19th. century (two conductors who have championed Xenakis). He was a great aid to R. Strauss as well when he premiered the teenage composer’s Symphony with the orchestra Strauss’s father played horn in. When Franz asked Levi about compensation Levi requested that he play horn in the world premiere of Parsifal. I believe Franz took Richard along to Bayreuth and it is possible the two Richards were in the same hall at the same time (did Wagner pass before the premiere?)!!! It probably was a huge turning point in Richard S.’s artistic outlook…There should be many more conductors like Levi today.

  • Kenneth Dinin says:

    It is the village of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, together with its “good Volk” that should be erased from the face of the earth.