Date of Award

May 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Music



First Advisor

Gillian Rodger


Adolf Hiter, Bayreuth, Opera Reform, Parsifal, Richard Wagner, Winifred Wagner


Winifred (née Williams) Wagner (1897-1980) is notorious in history for her relationship with Adolf Hitler. Winifred married Siegfried, Richard Wagner's son, in 1915 and took over the Bayreuth Festival after his death in 1930. In 1923, Winifred met Adolf Hitler and formed a quick friendship with the charismatic man. This personal relationship drives much of Winifred’s story and when it has been told, her contributions as the head of the Bayreuth Festival are rarely discussed. Often musical historians give credit for the artistic changes she made at Bayreuth to Heinz Tietjen and Emil Preetorius, ignoring Winifred’s contributions. This thesis examines the reforms that were made at the Bayreuth Festival during Winifred’s directorship and how her friendship with Hitler allowed her to modernize, by examining how tradition was formed at Bayreuth through the previous directorships of Cosima and Siegfried Wagner.

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