Brief report on the International Wagner Congress in Graz, May 2014

Posted on 10, Jun, 2015 in Uncategorized

Photo: Heinz Weyringer, organiser of the Congress and President of the Wagner Forum, Graz addressing the delegates meeting.

International Richard Wagner Congress, Graz 2014

From the website of the Richard Wagner Verband International


From May 29 to June 1 2014 around 370 Wagner friends, Wagnerians and music lovers gathered in the Styrian capital of Graz not only to attend the annual Congress, but also to attend the finals of the International Competition for Stage Direction and Design (Ring Award) that took place at the same time, and to cast their votes for the Audience price. Most delegates were greeted by steady rain when they first arrived, and then experienced interesting, and at times exciting and dramatic days in the best of early summer weather.

The Congress content was wholly successful, as was the setting, that left nothing to be desired. There was something for everyone, and those who attended the plenary delegates‘ meeting did not lose out on the opportunity to discover the region, its inhabitants and its cultural and touristic riches. The UNESCO World Heritage site, the chance to uncover hidden treasures, the Steiermark region and the Styrian wine routes offered something for everyone. Only those who had decided not to participate in this year’s Congress could conceivably have any regrets.

The programme began with the inauguration of the exhibition „Honour the German Masters – Richard Wagner and Graz“ in the Graz Museum. This presented a historical perspective, which, in addition to providing many answers, also provoked many new questions. The main Congress opening ceremony took place in the opulent Stephaniensaal, in the Graz Congress Hall and was a wonderful and stimulating event. Taking Heinz Weyringer‘s place as Master of Ceremonies – he being fully occupied with his organisational responsibilities for both the Congress and the Ring Award Finals – were his wife Claudia and their daughter Laura Theres, who both rose to the occasion magnificently. A group of young and talented musicians performed both classical and modern works, while a fevered election campaign was taking place in the hall for the Presidential vote the next day. In addition to the local dignitaries from the Steiermark and the City of Graz, the evening was graced by the prescence of the Mayor of Bayreuth, Brigitte Merk-Erbe, with her husband Thomas Erbe, and Bayreuth Festival Director Eva Wagner-Pasquier.

Both women were also present on the next day, at the annual delegates‘ meeting. The meeting voted in favour of holding the next Young Singers competition in Karlsruhe, supported the next steps in preparing for proxy voting and, principally, voted for the new Praesidium that would be in place for the next five years. The election process afforded many lessons to be learned, although the outcome of the votes was indisputable. Alongside Thomas Krakow, the new President, and four former Praesidium members, nine new faces would ring in the changes. The day ended with a performance of Lohengrin at the Graz Opera.

The next two days were given over to pleasures for the eyes and ears, along with a feast of culinary offerings. As they rightly should, the delegates sampled the local restaurants and cafés, took part in tours of the city or went on wine tours in Southern Styria. Many however spent time in the Graz Schauspielhaus for the Ring Award Finals, which was a moving tribute to the recently deceased Gerard Mortier. There were three very different interpretations on offer and several prizes were awarded at the end of the competition, including a special prize from the Richard Wagner Verband International. A schools project on Lohengrin at the opera house clearly showed how one can introduce the young, and even the very young to Wagner’s works, thereby igniting their enthusiasm. This was followed by a moving concert in Graz cathedral, where the music of Bernstein, Liszt and Bruckner blended harmoniously with the architecture.

This harmony was also evident at the farewell lunch in the auditorium of the old university. Heinz Weyringer extended his personal thanks to the delegates, which was acknowleged with long and loud applause. The Praesidium extended its particular thanks to the Wagner Forum Graz and to the Weyringer family for organising and creating a Congress with interesting events in such an elegant and tasteful manner. They also thanked the City of Graz and the region of Styria for their support.

At the end, the President of the RWVI, Thomas Krakow gave his personal thanks and extended a warm invitation to the next Congress.

We welcome you all heartily to Dessau for the International Richard Wagner Congress 2015.