© Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe, Siegfried 2019

News from the Committee

Obituary Stefan Mickisch 1962-2021 by Rainer Fineske
Berlin, 22.02.2021

For decades, Stefan Mickisch was one of the most active and committed musicians and musicologists, who is and will remain of the utmost importance for the work of Richard Wagner, as evidenced not only by his many legendary recordings on DVD and CD and his live performances with his introductory lectures in Bayreuth at Festival time. 

These always guaranteed a sold-out house and they took place in the early years as a collaboration with the Richard Wagner Association Bayreuth. After they parted company, he continued to give his introductory lectures on his own as an independent musicologist to sold-out audiences. His lectures in Bayreuth at the time of the Festival were not only introductory lectures to the evening's performance of Richard Wagner's works in the Festspielhaus, but musical events in their own right with the highest "audience ratings" and sold-out seats.

At this point I would like to remind you that the first musical lecture on Wagner's works at the Vienna State Opera, which he accompanied on his grand piano, was completely sold out within two hours.

Stefan Mickisch could do more than just "Richard Wagner"! When he spoke like no other, for example in Berlin about Richard Strauss as a guest with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra about his work and played and spoke passages from memory, the guests literally hung on his lips and he visibly enjoyed his effect on "his audience"! 

His musical lectures not only encompassed the oeuvre of the respective composer he placed at the centre of his event, but he also always succeeded in making cross-connections to other composers.

But where there is a lot of light, there is also a lot of shadow; health-wise, things were not always good for him, especially in the last few years. When he declared that he wanted to clear Richard Wagner of the accusation of anti-Semitism, he met with a strong headwind and was accused of trivialising the Holocaust. 
Now, in 2020, in times of the Corona virus, he hit the headlines again with statements such as, "The German government's health policy is Corona fascism" and he warned of the threat of total surveillance and compared himself to the Nazi resister Hans Scholl. Unmistakable signs, no doubt, of his health problems, which had been plaguing him for some time. 

What remains is his ingenious musicality and his truly unique work for Richard Wagner's oeuvre and his great musical dramas, as well as his ability to have delighted, enthused and downright inspired so many people with his aura and his musical recitals at his grand piano.

Rainer Fineske