Green Hill

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The Green Hill with the
Richard Wagner Festival Theater

A hill in the city of Bayreuth is called Green Hill , on which the composer Richard Wagner had an opera house , the Bayreuth Festival Hall , built between 1872 and 1875 to perform his works. At the same time, the name stands for both the festival hall itself and for the Bayreuth Festival, which was founded in 1876 and has taken place there every year since 1951 .


The driveway to the Green Hill (Siegfried-Wagner-Allee)
The Richard-Wagner-Festspielhaus, in the foreground the Königsbau

The name Green Hill is derived from the hill of the same name in Zurich, the Gabler, on which the Villa Wesendonck stands. Wagner lived from April 1857 to August 1858 in a modest summer house next door. Parts of his Ring des Nibelungen and von Tristan und Isolde as well as the Wesendonck songs were written there .

In local parlance, the term festival hill is often used instead of green hill.


The Green Hill is not an independent elevation, but a section of the southern slope of the Hohe Wart in the Hohe Warte ridge . At the same time, it represents the building boundary of the city of Bayreuth to the north. To the south-east it is framed by the garden city , to the east and north-east by city ​​quarters that were largely created after the Second World War .


Until the Festspielhaus was built, the area was an agricultural slope that was named Louisenburg. In addition to the forester's house of the same name and the Bürgerreuth inn, the original cadastre from 1850 only lists the “Wirthsgut” near today's Tristanstraße.

The Bayreuth Festival was brought to life by Richard Wagner himself. In 1864 his patron , King Ludwig II of Bavaria , gave him the assurance that he would build his own opera house. Munich was initially planned as the location ; the architect Gottfried Semper , Wagner's friend from Dresden's times , worked out the plans. Ultimately, Wagner favored Bayreuth, where he got to know the Margravial Opera House in 1871 , but found it unsuitable.

The city of Bayreuth made the property for his opera house available to him free of charge, with the Stuckberg and Schützenplatz next to the Green Hill, two other locations being discussed initially. Because of the high groundwater level there, the Schützenplatz was ruled out as a building site, the Stuckberg due to an objection by a brother-in-law of the manufacturer Louis Rose . The Bayreuth banker Friedrich Feustel convinced Wagner of the site that was ultimately chosen, and construction began in 1872. Wagner financed it largely through private donations by issuing so-called patronage certificates, and through loans from the Royal Treasury that were later repaid.

The first festival began on August 13, 1876 and was opened with the first full performance of the stage festival for three days and one evening before Der Ring des Nibelungen . Emperor Wilhelm I was present at the opening ceremony, but Ludwig II was absent. The festival park below the festival hall was laid out in 1927.

The National Socialist rulers of the Third Reich planned a comprehensive reconstruction of the Green Hill. In addition to a monumental expansion of the festival hall, the surrounding area was also to be redesigned. It seems to be thanks to Winifred Wagner's delaying tactics that this project could no longer be put into practice.

Larger-than-life bronze portraits of Franz Liszt, Richard Wagner and Cosima Wagner, which Arno Breker allegedly created on behalf of the city of Bayreuth from 1955 to 1979, are placed in the garden of the festival park below the Festspielhaus . The Wagner bust - it was added in 1976 - Breker had already created in 1939. At the entrance to the Festival Park, on July 9, 1963, a bronze statue of a man with arms outstretched to the side was erected, 'Prometheus' by Frans Huygelen . Karin Neukam wrote about Huygelens' creation: "His Prometheus is the powerful, proud and ingenious Titan who is connected to the people he created, teaches them the beginnings of culture and makes them happy with fire against the will of Zeus. In his right With his raised arm he holds the pithy stalk of a giant fennel, with which he brings the fire from Olympus to mortals as the fourth element to earth, air and water. With his left hand Prometheus originally held a bundle of lightning, which was stolen from him overnight in 1970. It has not been replaced until today. " (Festspielnachrichten 1993 'The Flying Dutchman', published by “Nordbayerischer Kurier”, pp. 32–34) In 1963, Bayreuth citizens were bothered by the figure's nudity (they lack a fig leaf), but not by the fact that it arouses associations with them Monumental sculptures "Wehrmacht" and "Party" by Arno Breker in the entrance area ("Ehrenhof") of Hitler's Reich Chancellery .

The festival traditionally takes place from July 25th to August 28th, the sole venue is the festival hall.


Silent voices. The Bayreuth Festival and the Jews 1876–1945 in Richard-Wagner-Park
Setsuzo Matsusaka's
dream , donated in 1996

The Green Hill begins at the foot of Richard-Wagner-Park, which is cut through in the middle by Siegfried-Wagner-Allee, named after Wagner's son Siegfried . The street that climbs in a straight line on the slope is the line of sight to the Festspielhaus, the porch (Königsbau) of which was built for Ludwig II in 1882. In front of the Festspielhaus she bends to the left and bypasses the building on its west side.

In the western part of the park, in the immediate vicinity of the Festspielhaus, Bayreuth Gauleiter Fritz Wächtler resided in a magnificent villa from 1936 to 1945 . The building was demolished in 1999. Across the street, in front of the festival restaurant next to the festival hall, the exhibition Mute Voices has been a reminder since 2012 of singers, orchestral musicians and members of the festival choir who worked in Bayreuth and were no longer allowed to perform during the Third Reich for various reasons - mostly because of their Jewish origins.

The festival restaurant to the east of the Festspielhaus served as a camp for around 500 refugees after the Second World War until 1950.

North of the Festspielhaus, behind the Alexander von Humboldt Realschule, which was handed over in 1962, is the Gasthaus Bürgerreuth, which was inaugurated in 1839 and which Richard Wagner and his wife Cosima frequented.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. How green is the "green hill"? ( Memento of June 2, 2011 in the Internet Archive ), accessed December 15, 2013
  2. ^ Herbert Popp: Bayreuth - rediscovered . Ellwanger, Bayreuth 2007, ISBN 978-3-925361-60-9 , pp. 199 .
  3. Kurt Herterich: In the southeast of Bayreuth . Ellwanger, Bayreuth 2000, ISBN 3-925361-38-3 , p. 161 .
  4. ^ Rainer Trübsbach: History of the City of Bayreuth . Druckhaus Bayreuth, Bayreuth 1993, ISBN 3-922808-35-2 , p. 237 .
  5. Bernd Mayer: Bayreuth in the twentieth century , p. 52.
  6. ^ Herbert Popp: Bayreuth - newly discovered, p. 203
  7. Information boards for the Breker busts. Works by the controversial sculptor are supplemented with information. Retrieved September 19, 2018 .
  8. One of the most sought-after . The sculptor Arno Breker is 90 years old. In: Nordbayerischer Kurier . No. 163 . Bayreuth July 18, 1990, p. 7 .
  9. Birgit Bressa: After-life of antiquity. Classic images of the body in the Nazi sculpture Arno Brekers. In: Dissertation. Phil. Fac. University of Heidelberg. 2001, p. Fig. 124 , accessed on November 5, 2018 .
  10. It was a small thing yesterday for three strong men to bring the bronze 'Prometheus' to its place in the Festspielhaus Park, which was selected for him by the building committee of the city council. In: Franconian press . July 10, 1963.
  11. Prometheus and his viewers . In: Bayreuther Tagblatt . Bayreuth July 12, 1963, p. 5 .
  12. ^ Kurt Herterich: From Bayreuth Castle Tower to Festival Hill . 2nd Edition. Ellwanger, Bayreuth 2009, ISBN 3-925361-47-2 , p. 178 .
  13. Bernd Mayer archive
  14. Bernd Mayer: “Where every tenth person owned a chair” in the Heimatkurier des Nordbayerischer Kurier, 3/2004, pp. 14–15
  15. Bernd Mayer: Bayreuth in the twentieth century , p. 118.
  16. Kurt Herterich: From Bayreuth Castle Tower to Festival Hill, p. 188

Coordinates: 49 ° 57 ′ 35 "  N , 11 ° 34 ′ 47"  E