Simon Heffer

The Master & The Fuhrer

The Wagner Clan

By

Faber & Faber 409pp £20 order from our bookshop

Winnie and Wolf

By

Hutchinson 362pp £17.99 order from our bookshop

It often seems that the lives of the Wagner clan are even more fascinating – and, many might contend, more entertaining – than the operas of the Master himself. They certainly seem to generate an endless supply of books, and these two (one non-fiction but one, unusually, fiction) come at an interesting time in the fortunes of Bayreuth’s first family. Old Wolfgang Wagner, grandson of the Master, eighty-seven years old and in charge of the Festival since the death of his brother Wieland in 1966, is on the way out. Various women – his daughter Eva by his first marriage and his niece Nike, both in their sixties, and his preposterously glamorous daughter from his second marriage, Katharina – are fighting like rabbits in a sack to succeed him. One is tempted to observe that the family needs collective psychiatric help rather than a world-famous cultural event to run: and these two books, in their different ways, help us to see why.

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