#Gartmore 2018
#Our Stipendiatin 2018
#Summary of AGM
#Data Protection Form
#forthcoming events
#Wagner as Gambler
#News in Brief

If this newsletter reaches you late, it is because we have only just heard from the Festival organisers about our allocation of tickets for the 2018 Bayreuth festival.  Moreover, ‘owing to high demand’ we have been allocated only four tickets for one performance, Tristan and Isolde on 13thAugust 2018.

 E d i t o r i a l

If this newsletter reaches you late, it is because we have only just heard from the Festival organisers about our allocation of tickets for the 2018 Bayreuth festival.  Moreover, ‘owing to high demand’ we have been allocated only four tickets for one performance, Tristan and Isolde on 13thAugust 2018.  We all hope that now that the allocation has been made, the ticket administration will be smooth.  The ballot for the tickets which we have will now take place on 15th April 2018 at the regular monthly meeting at the Society of Musicians in Edinburgh.  An application form is included with this newsletter.  Please return it to Dale Bilsland in good time for the draw.

The wait which some national Wagner Societies have had to endure this year has been overlong.  It seems that the Bayreuth authorities are paying little regard to the fact that people come from all over the world to attend the summer festival most closely associated with the works of Richard Wagner.  The ticket administration should be slick because people have to make arrangements to attend Bayreuth.   These days the Internet is a great help, but with everyone having complex lives, Bayreuth should be in the forefront of helping the people who keep the memory of Wagner and the festival itself alive and relevant.  (It may be of interest to note that the Washington DC Wagner Society Branch seem to have received their ticket allocation in early January!).

All this means that we continue to feel that there are aspects of this great Festival which should be much better in the 21st Century.   Bayreuth is close to all our hearts given its importance in the life of Richard Wagner and its legacy as a place for innovative and inspirational productions (as well as a fair number of ‘challenging and bewildering’ efforts).   The continuing exclusion of ‘immature’ works seems difficult to understand as productions of these operas have shown them to be the works of a talented young composer which shine a light on the music dramas which were to follow.

The time may be coming where the connection to the Wagner family has to be finally put to one side as an anachronism and the future of the Festival is placed in the hands of really inspired professionals who simply want to do the very best that can be done at the ‘dear green hill’.


Our Gartmore Weekend led by Derek Watson B.Mus LRAM will take place from 14-17 September 2018.  Entitled Richard Wagner 1861-1871; The Wanderer: Ludwig II to the Rescue it is the fourth in our series of study weekends on Wagner’s life and works.  Details and booking forms have already been posted out but if you require a replacement please contact the editor at: the.mclennans@btinternet.com or telephone 0131 623 2920.

The Gartmore premises/organization has to paid by the beginning of June, so if you intend coming, can we ask that you get your details to Dale as soon as possible?  It would be a shame to have to cancel the weekend because members had not got round to completing their applications!


The Scholarship Sub-Committee (Derek Williams, our Chairman, Dale Bilsland and Ian McLennan) met with our applicants (in person and by FaceTime) in early January.   All the applicants this year were female singers contrasting with last year’s scholarship applicants and our award to a young Stage Designer.   It is a real cliché in these cases to say that the applicants were all very good and it was a difficult decision, but that really was the case here!   The applicants were all dedicated and talented singers and amongst the criteria that were applied, we tried to consider who would benefit most from the award and the experience of going to Bayreuth.

In the end (after quite lengthy deliberation) we chose Claudia Wood.  Claudia is from Scotland and is currently studying at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.   She is doing a Masters in Music Vocal Performance and is studying with Gail Pearson.   She has already graduated with distinction from the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.   Her musical credentials are outstanding, but interestingly she had served as a Police Constable in Dumfries and Galloway and she holds a first class Honours degree in Policing, Investigation and Criminology.   We were impressed that the draw of music was so strong that she left the police to make a career in singing.

We are certain that she will find her visit to Bayreuth at festival time and meeting her peer group to be a lasting inspiration for her career.

For more details she has a web site at www.claudiawood.co.uk


The meeting was attended by 20 members with apologies from six.  Dale Bilsland, Chair, reported on another successful season of meetings and the residential course at Gartmore at which Derek Watson presented Wagner’s ‘Years in Swiss Exile’.

The Stipendiatin (Bayreuth Scholarship) was awarded to Gillian Slater a graduate in theatre design of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland who attended the Festival in August 2017.

Members were told that tickets for the 2018 Bayreuth Festival would again be disappointingly small in number.

Dale thanked the Committee for its work during the season: John Anderton – Secretary, Peter Stuart – Treasurer, Maureen McLennan – Newsletter, Derek Williams – Website, Iain Miller – Bayreuth Scholarship, Christine Proudfoot – Catering and Ina Stewart, Tim Gould, Gabrielle Kuhn and Ian McLennan.

In the absence of the Treasurer, the Chairman reported that the accounts had been scrutinised by the Independent Examiner Scott Wilkinson and that the accounts were in a satisfactory state.  The closing balance for the year left the Society in a healthy position. The accounts were adopted.

Dale Bilsland indicated that he would be standing down as Chairman and that Derek Williams had agreed to stand for the position.

The Committee for 2017-18 was elected as follows:

Derek Williams                         Chair
John Anderton                          Secretary
Peter Stuart                             Treasurer
Maureen McLennan                   Newsletter Editor
Iain Miller                                 Bayreuth Officer
Ian McLennan                            Membership Secretary
Christine Proudfoot                  Catering Supervisor
Dale Bilsland                            Member
Tim Gould                                Member
Ina Stewart                              Member
Brenda Nesbitt                         Member

Derek Williams proposed a vote of thanks to Dale Bilsland for his four years of devoted service as Chairman of the Society during which time he had worked long and hard to maintain the high standards of the Society to the benefit and enjoyment of the members.


The Society sent out to every member a form dealing with the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) (Regulation (EU) 2016/679) which will come into force on 25 May 2018.   Please ensure that you complete the form and send it back to Ian McLennan, the Membership Secretary.   Ian will be pleased to answer any queries which you may have on this compliance exercise or any other matter relating to your membership of the Society.   His contact details are listed below.

The talk scheduled for 11 March by Derek Hughes was cancelled late in the day due to the ill health of the speaker.   Contact was made with as many members as possible by email or telephone informing them of the cancellation, but inevitably those members for whom we did not have contact details could not be reached quickly.

Can everyone give us email addresses so that we can contact you in these kinds of circumstances?   This will not affect whether you want to receive the Newsletter or other items by post.   It is just useful as a contact tool.

Forthcoming events

All Wagner Society of Scotland events start at 7.30pm at Edinburgh Society of Musicians, 3 Belford Road, EH4 3BL (by Dean Bridge).   Admission is £7 members, £15 non-members.  

Sunday 15th April at 7.30 pm 

A player’s perspective on the performing of Wagner, delivered by conductor John Logan who has enjoyed almost thirty years of playing in many of the UK’s top orchestras including the London Symphony Orchestra, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra with Simon Rattle, and a seventeen year tenure as Associate Principal Horn with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.  As well as having the position of Head of Brass at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, John is busy as a conductor, arranger, and composer and has a special interest in bringing the world of folk and traditional music together with the symphony orchestra.

The talk will be preceded by the members’ ballot for tickets for Bayreuth 2018.

Sunday 20th May at 7.30 pm

Dr David Gosling is a retired educationalist and lecturer in philosophy and an active member of the Manchester Wagner Society.  In recent years he has united his philosophical interests and his passion for Wagner on the influence of Schopenhauer on which he spoke to the Society last year. This year he will tackle the fascinating topic of Wagner’s stormy relationship with Nietzsche. 

Sunday 17th June at 7.30pm


‘Wahnfried’ was constructed from 1872 to 1874 under the supervision of Carl Wölfel, after plans from Berlin architect Wilhelm Neumann had been amended to the wishes of Wagner.  It sustained severe damage as a result of World War II bombing, but has now been fully restored, along with its gardens.  We’ll take a look at the background to its construction, what it was like to live in while the Wagners lived there, and what it is like today.  Derek Williams is a New Zealand born, Scottish resident composer, orchestrator, conductor and record producer and our current Chairman!   His website is at www.derekwilliams.net


Not widely known is that Wagner regarded himself, with some evidence, as a skilful and successful financial gambler.  Whilst a youthful student in Leipzig, he was for a time addicted to gambling at cards.  Entrusted with his mother’s pension, he lost it all down to the last taler.  Then, with that last taler as stake, he suddenly began to win, and accumulated so much that the bank was obliged to close.  Thereafter he renounced this addiction.

Many years later in Wiesbaden in the company of Hans and Cosima von Bulow, Wagner showed his skill at roulette by correctly predicting the numbers that would come up, and he helped Cosima to recoup her losses.    But he never himself again took up gambling.  If he had done so, his aptitude therein could have spared him many of his repeated financial entanglements.

Richard Wagner. My Life. Edited by Andrew Gray.  Translated by Mary Whittall.  Da Capo Press, New York, 1992, pp. 49-51, 684, 691.

Derek Watson. Money. The Cambridge Wagner Encyclopedia. Edited by Nicholas Vazsonyi. Cambridge University Press, 2013, pp. 313-7.

J Ian Robertson


Longborough Festival Opera’s 2018 Season includes Der fliegende Holländer and has announced a new Ring Cycle over four years 2019-2022, with a complete Cycle in 2023.

Budapest’s Wagner Festival in June 2018 features, der fliegende Holländer, Tristan und Isolde and Tannhäuser.

Following Rings in Dresden in January, opportunities are open for Cycles this year in Karlsruhe, Leipzig, Sofia, Munich and Covent Garden.  Announced so far for 2019 – New York, Leipzig, Dusseldorf and Minden, and in 2020 – Berlin (both Staatsoper and Deutsche Oper) and Bayreuth.

Metropolitan Opera, New York City:   Three Ring Cycles, 9 March – 27 April, 29 April – 4 May, 6 May – 11 May 2019 and Die Walküre will be transmitted as part of the Met HD Season in cinemas on 30 March 2019.

The RWVI Kongress in 2019 will take place from 28-30 March 2019 in Venice.