Nike Wagner (born on 9 June 1945 at Überlingen on Lake Constance in Germany) is the director of an arts festival held annually at Weimar, Germany (known as ‘Pèlerinages’ — Kunstfest Weimar, in 2006 held from 25 August to 17 September), and a noteworthy collaborator in the Bayreuth Festival, founded in 1876 by Richard Wagner, her paternal great-grandfather. Her parents are the theatre director Wieland Wagner, who directed the Bayreuth Festival until his death in 1966, and the choreographer Gertrud Reissiger; she is also the great-great‑granddaughter of Franz Liszt (in 2004 she renamed the Weimar festival in his honour — ‘Pèlerinages’ evokes Liszt’s Années de pèlerinage).
Nike Wagner holds a Ph.D. from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, obtained in 1980 under the direction of Erich Heller, and is the author of several important books on a variety of subjects, which include Karl Kraus (Geist und Geschlecht: Karl Kraus und die Erotik der Wiener Moderne, Frankfurt am Main, Suhrkamp, 1982 — a work based on her doctoral dissertation) and the Wagner family (The Wagners: The Dramas of a Musical Dynasty, Princeton, New Jersey, Princeton University Press, 2001). Her article questioning the propriety of public subsidies given to glamorous cultural events in general and the Bayreuth Festival in particular (at present c.US$6.5 million annually), ‘Im Fadenkreuz der Kulturpolitik’, published in the July 2006 issue of Cicero: Magazin für politische Kultur, engendered a storm of controversy within Germany. She lives in Vienna.
In August 2011, she suggested that the Bayreuth Festival might be better off without members of the Wagner family in charge.
- Nike Wagner, et al., Mann, sei nicht so hysterisch (Munich, Matthes und Seitz, 1991).
- Nike Wagner, Wagner-Theater (Frankfurt am Main, Insel-Verlag, 1998).
- Nike Wagner, Traumtheater: Szenarien der Moderne (Frankfurt am Main, Insel-Verlag, 2001).
- Jan Brachmann, ‘Das Zertrümmern ist langweilig geworden: Nike Wagner über Heimweh, Autoritäten, Bayreuther Marktlärm und ostdeutsche Kaffeepausen’, Berliner Zeitung, August 21, 2004, p. M4 (Magazin Section) [an interview with Nike Wagner].
- David Littlejohn, [untitled review of Nike Wagner’s The Wagners: The Dramas of a Musical Dynasty], Notes: Quarterly Journal of the Music Library Association, vol. 58, No. 4 (June 2002), pp. 828–831.