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News from the Committee

International Richard Wagner Congress Dessau-Roßlau 2015
Opening ceremony, St. Marienkirche zu Dessau, 14 May 2015
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Please allow me to hold my welcoming speech in the three official languages of the International Association of the Wagner Societies.

Please join me in standing for a minute’s silence, remembrance and commemoration of Dessau’s former association chairman Günter Hinsch, who passed away in the midst of preparations for this congress during the night of 1 September 2014, to our inconceivable loss. Günter was a passionate cultural ambassador for Dessau and a great friend of Richard Wagner’s heritage. This congress shall take place very much as he had in mind, I’d like to emphasize.


Dear Mr Mayor of the Wagner town of Dessau, Peter Kuras,
Dear Mrs Chairwoman of the Richard Wagner Society of Dessau-Rosslau, Kristina Hinsch,
Dear Mr General Music Director Antony Hermus as representative of the Anhaltisches Theater Dessau,
Dear Mrs Eva Wagner-Pasquier, Co-Director of the Bayreuth Festival,
Dear participants of the 2015 International Richard Wagner Congress,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am very pleased you have all come together here today for the opening of our congress, in St Mary’s Church in Dessau in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt, and thus in the capital city of the historical state of Anhalt. And I am grateful that the political representatives, institutional maintainers of the work and memory of Richard Wagner, and those who do so on a voluntary basis in the town of Dessau-Roßlau have welcomed us as good hosts. Since the election of the first German King Heinrich at the beginning of the 10th century, whom you all know from “Lohengrin”, Saxony-Anhalt has been the core state of German history and united Germany. Richard Wagner could work with pan-German history and made productive use of it in his work.

As I’ve already said, Dessau is a Wagner town and has rightly gained the honorary title of “Bayreuth of the North” since its commitment at the beginning of the Bayreuth Festival and with its own festival weeks in the 1950s and 60s. The local representatives will be glad to confirm this longstanding dedication. So it is all the more important that our congress honours this regional commitment to the cosmopolitan Wagner. His birthplace in central Germany played an outstanding role in the first half of his life, for the character and development of his mastery.

For this reason, I would like to mention the hard work and commitment of André Bücker, Director General of the Anhaltisches Theater Dessau. André Bücker immediately picked up the idea of combining our congress with Dessau’s great Wagner tradition and with the idea of the city of Bauhaus. People of his kind are, in the best sense of the term, advertisers and marketing managers for a region, and their departure is an existential loss. Mr Bücker and Mr Hermus, I still remember with gratitude and enthusiasm your first Fundraising Dinner for the production of the “Ring des Nibelungen” in the Hotel Radisson Blue, back in 2011.

But let us return to Günter Hinsch. May I remind those present at the time of his emotionally moving appeal at the end of the 2014 delegates’ meeting in Graz, when he called for balance, unity and harmony. He was a genuine Anhalter – a man who translated the spirit of enlightened, educated absolutism to the here and now. Let us remember his words at the 2015 delegates’ meeting.

I wish you and all of us a wonderful, insightful and forward-looking congress. Many thanks that we can be here today.

Thomas Krakow, President
International Association of the Wagner Societies