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Music

Wagner's great-granddaughter Iris dies at 71

Though at times distancing herself from her famous family's heritage, Richard Wagner's great-granddaughter Iris Wagner became a critic of decisions in Bayreuth in recent years. She died on Thursday in Berlin.

Iris Wagner, a great-granddaughter of composer Richard Wagner, died at age 71 on Thursday (09.01.2014) after struggling with serious illness in her adopted home of Berlin. Wagner, who worked as a photographer and translator, also belonged to the Richard Wagner Foundation's steering committee. As the foundation's most important decision-making body, its responsibilities include determining who leads the annual celebration of Richard Wagner's work and legacy at Bayreuth.

In the years leading up to her death, Iris Wagner repeatedly denounced moves involving her family home and the Bayreuth Festival, which is currently co-headed by her cousins Katharina Wagner and Eva Wagner-Pasquier. In a 2012 interview with German newsmagazine "Focus," she questioned whether the Wagner family needed to be involved with running the festival at all.

A scene from Twilight of the Gods in Bayreuth's 2013 production (c) Bayreuther Festspiele/Enrico Nawrath

Frank Castorf staged a controversial "Ring" cycle production at Bayreuth in 2013

Iris Wagner also criticized those running the festival for abandoning the principles she believed should guide the event. "In Bayreuth, social vanity, surface appearances and networking have now come to the fore. What's left over is more or less emptiness, a hollow Richard Wagner cult," she told the newspaper "Fränkischer Tag" (German: Link to the interview).

Born in 1942 as the eldest child of former Bayreuth Festival head Wieland Wagner, Iris Wagner is survived by her three siblings Wolf Siegfried, Daphne and Nike Wagner, who is assuming leadership of the Beethovenfest Bonn beginning in the 2014 season.

gsw (dpa)

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