Bayreuth press chief dies suddenly at 61

Bayreuth press chief dies suddenly at 61


norman lebrecht

December 12, 2019

The death has been announced of Peter Emmerich, press spokesman of the Bayreuth Festival for the past 30 years.

His job was to present the Wagner hegemony’s position and defend it against all comers. He did so without flinching.

News of his death took the institution by surprise. Katharina Wagner said: ‘I am completely shocked. Incomprehensible. I’m lost for words.’

Emmerich arrived at Bayreuth in 1989 from the Semperoper in Dresden. It emerged in 2010 that, as a young man, he had been a Stasi spy – an unofficial employee of the Ministry of State Security.

This would have provided excellent training for his Bayreuth career.

Our sympathies to his loved ones.



  • Leporello says:

    Defending the once-great Bayreuth Festival’s downward spiral under Katharina would be a soul-destroying assignment for anyone.

  • John Rook says:

    Really sorry to hear this. Peter was a lovely man. My condolences to his family.

  • Larry L. Lash says:

    I am shocked and saddened. Peter was always good-natured and fun to chat with, and could then turn around and issue a statement that nowhere hinted that it came from such a nice chap.

    He also worked amicably with his ex-wife, Friederike Emmerich, who is in charge of the Bayreuth press office.

    By the way, a few years ago when an issue was made of this, Peter told me that Wolfgang Wagner brought him to Bayreuth when he was very young, and that his Stasi membership was a teenage phase required of most East Germans before the reunification.

    My deepest condolences to his family, friends, and co-workers.

    • HugoPreuss says:

      “Stasi membership was a teenage phase required of most East Germans before the reunification.” I’m sorry, but this is a despicable justification of a despicable action. Becoming a Stasi “informal collaborator” was not required of anyone, and there were many, many people who refused. He may have been the nicest man later on, but signing on with the Stasi is not a “phase”, but the action of a traitor to friends and colleagues.