For well over a century, the Wagner clan has run the Bayreuth Festival and played host to many of the greatest and ghastliest figures in the arts and politics. Its members have also regularly battled one another - indeed, with its jealousy, greed, passion and intrigue the Wagner family saga is as riveting as any opera. Drawing on extensive interviews with members of the family and on both archive and recent material, Jonathan Carr - author of a highly praised biography of Mahler - presents a balanced but gripping portrait of the Wagners and their circle. He takes a fresh look at hotly controversial matters such as Richard Wagner's antisemitism and the family's role during the so-called 'Third Reich'. Not least, he underlines the decisive roles played in Bayreuth over decades by two British-born members of the clan, both of them fervent admirers of Adolf Hitler.
For more than three decades Jonathan Carr (b.1942) served as a foreign correspondent, initially in Geneva, Paris and Brussels, later as bureau chief of the Financial Times and the Economist in Germany. A regular visitor to the Bayreuth festival since 1970, his interest has grown steadily in the saga of the Wagner family - above all as a mirror of German (and in part European) history. His other books include biographies of the former German chancellor Helmut Schmidt (1985) and of Gustav Mahler (1997), as well as Goodbye Germany (1993), a far from solemn obituary of the pre-unity Federal Republic. The winner of several press awards for his reporting from Germany, he received the CBE in 2000 for services to British-German relations.