The Wagner Journal

Adrian Müller, Kurt Overhoff and Wieland Wagner’s Bayreuth

Adrian Müller, Kurt Overhoff and Wieland Wagner’s Bayreuth

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July 2023, Volume 17, Number 2, 4–24.

Kurt Overhoff (1902–86), a fascinating and iridescent personality, was excluded from the classical music scene after the Second World War. My research on the composer, conductor and writer, who has since remained little known, has concentrated among other things on making available the first full, reliable biography. This article spotlights the period, starting before the war, in which Overhoff came into close contact with Haus Wahnfried, especially Wieland Wagner, and the artistic world of Bayreuth. Much recent scholarship has bypassed Overhoff, although he was clearly influential behind the scenes during years of substantial change on the Green Hill. By bringing to light Overhoff’s analytical methods, together with details of his complicated relationship to Haus Wahnfried, we can more fully grasp his central role in the development of Wieland’s evolving aesthetic, as well as the fraught nature of efforts to launch Bayreuth anew.

A pivotal moment in Overhoff’s relationship with Wieland, as the accomplished composer recalled in his unpublished autobiography, occurred in the summer of 1940.

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