© Simo Blöchel, Götterdämmerung, Würzburg

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The 2017 Wagner Congress in Budapest proved to be highly successful and enjoyable.  Our hosts, the Wagner Society of Budapest, did us proud with a wonderful programme of events, showcasing not only their phenomenal concert hall, Mupa and their glorious 19th century gilded opera house, but also the extraordinary quality of the musical scene in Hungary.  Several highly talented young artists performed for the delegates in two concerts, along with the famous and established conductor, cast, chorus and orchestra for one of the most thrilling performances of Parsifal in recent years.  The complex, dark and psychologically challenging Bluebeard's Castle, along with the unsettling Mario and the Magician made for a thought-provoking evening at the opera.  This was a very well thought-out and varied cultural programme.

The tours showcased the fascinating history and extraordinary beauty of the city and its unique architecture.  And finally we have to mention the wonderful coffee and cakes (some of the best in the world -to rival those in Vienna) and the other culinary and oenological delights that we were privileged to sample.

Thank you Andras Bajaj, Krisztina Hudomel and your team for a highly memorable time in Budapest.

Reports on the opening ceremony and the Annual Delegates' Meeting can be found below.

Congress Opening Ceremony

In his opening remarks, RWVI President Horst Eggers from Bayreuth, noted that every year the Congress of the great Wagner community from all over the world, currently comprising 125 Wagner Societies, affords a unique opportunity to meet like-minded people and to exchange ideas in an appropriate cultural environment with the aim of arousing and expanding knowledge, understanding and appreciation for the works of Richard Wagner.

President Eggers also pointed out that the Richard-Wagner-Verband International (RWVI), when deciding on the congress venue in any particular year, acts in a neutral fashion according to its mandate as a worldwide association, and does not presume to comment on political events in the countries of its member societies. Regarding the current situation in Hungary the President stated: "It is our duty to promote the works of Richard Wagner in the context of the mutual influence of art and its liberal development!"

Mr Eggers also referred to the long-standing Wagner tradition in Budapest, looking back on its close relationship with the composer. This was due in no small way to his friend and patron, the composer and pianist Franz Liszt, who would later become his father-in-law.

Richard Wagner came to Hungary for the first time in 1863 and gave two concerts in the National Theatre, which were triumphantly acclaimed by the audience.  On his second visit, Wagner and Franz Liszt conducted together at a concert on March 10, 1875, in this Redoute Hall, where our opening ceremony took place.

Shortly after the Second World War, in 1948, extracts from Wagner’s Lohengrin were performed in Budapest in Hungarian under the baton of the conductor Otto Klemperer.

In 1958, 1959 and 1967, the Hungarian Heldentenor, Sándor Kónya, performed the role of Lohengrin at the Bayreuth Festival. This was one of his finest roles, and earned him his breakthrough at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

Horst Eggers then extended a special welcome to the joint patron of the Congress, Professor Eva Marton, who has long been acclaimed internationally as a star Wagner performer. Her performances of the dual roles of Venus and Elisabeth in the Götz-Friedrich production of Tannhäuser at the end of the 1970s became legendary.

Horst Eggers also welcomed the representative of the Wagner family and Ambassador of the Bayreuth Festival for the Wagner Societies, Mrs. Eva Wagner-Pasquier.

Finally he gave a special greeting on behalf of all the Congress participants to the Chairman of the Richard Wagner Society of Budapest Mr Andras Bajai for his work in organising the event.

Delegates Meeting

In the name of the International Richard Wagner Congress, the Annual General Meeting of the RWVI takes place every year for the 125 member societies. 

According to tradition, at the beginning of the meeting the Mayor of Bayreuth, Mrs. Brigitte Merk-Erbe, presented the greetings of the town of Bayreuth.

In the annual report of his activities, President Horst Eggers stated that, after two years in office, he could present a positive outlook for the RWVI. This was particularly reflected by the inclusion of four new member Wagner societies and the resumption of membership of five societies, after a three year absence from the RWVI. President Eggers said the following:

"The positive development of the RWVI, which I have indicated in my report, is a motivation and an incentive for me and the members of the Board to continue our work in the coming years. With the allocation of Bayreuth Festival tickets, with our regular newsletter and our user-friendly website, we have provided services to our member societies which have proved very popular. "

With regard to the 2016 Bayreuth Festival season, Horst Eggers noted the following:

 "The new production of Parsifal, along with the other productions were received very positively by both the media and the audiences. I received an especially positive response from the overseas Wagner Societies.

In mid-August 2016, the Managing Director of the Richard Wagner Scholarship Foundation, Dr. Stefan Specht and I welcomed to the Festival 250 young scholars from 41 countries. Our up-and-coming young artists were equally enthusiastic about the performances and of course also about the atmosphere in the Festival House and that of the Festival in general. We all, especially all the Wagner Societies, must always emphasise the uniqueness of the Bayreuth Festival. It is unique in this world that a composer has created his own opera house and that his works have been played there for 140 years. It is equally unique that this Festival is still under the direction of the Wagner family. Another important feature is that the Scholarship Foundation, created by Richard Wagner a year before his death, has been able to welcome 250 scholars every year in Bayreuth, thanks to our member societies. The large number of former scholars who have been performing for many years as soloists at the Bayreuth Festival, speaks for itself "

Subsequently, the annual accounts report of the RWVI Treasurer Georg Riesner from Bayreuth was unanimously adopted, and at the proposal of the Auditor Elisabeth Bauriedel from Bayreuth the Board was unanimously discharged.

At the request of Professor Alessandra Althoff-Pugliese, Vice-President of the RWVI, and Chair of the Richard Wagner Association of Venice, the delegates' meeting resolved to support the continuation of the Richard Wagner Museum and death chamber of the composer at the Palazzo Vendramin in Venice. This resolution would be addressed to the City of Venice, as it was noted that the city administration was considering the closure of the Richard Wagner Museum. The text of the resolution was as follows:

 1) Since 1995, the Richard Wagner Association Venice (ARWV) has been responsible for the Wagner Museum in Venice in the Palazzo Vendramin Calergi, where Wagner spent the last 6 months of his life and died on 13 February 1883. These rooms are the only ones that are still in the original state.

2) The ARWV wishes to ensure that the collection in this museum, essentially consisting of items donationed to the ARWV, can remain permanently in the Palazzo Vendramin Calergi.

3) The RWVI congratulates the ARWV for the reconstruction work that has been carried out over the years and wishes to ensure that the museum and its valuable collection as an important testimony to the worldwide importance of the work of Richard Wagner, will be able to continue its valuable and secure development in this historically significant place in Venice.

4) The approval of the Annual General Meeting was requested for this purpose.