In his new documentary film Wagner & Me, director Patrick McGrady follows one of Britain's most loved performers, actor and writer Stephen Fry (Wilde, Bones), as he explores his life-long passion for the world's most controversial composer: Richard Wagner. As a Jew, when Fry enters the world of the Wagner creations he loves, he is intensely aware that it is the same music that was also loved by and inspired Adolf Hitler. Can he disentangle the music from the composer's dark associations with anti-Semitism and Nazis?
Fry's Wagnerian quest begins in southern Germany where he is granted unique access to the 2009 Bayreuth's Festival, a legendary annual opera event held in a theatre built by Wagner himself. He also travels to other key locations in Wagner's turbulent life. In Switzerland he discovers the origins of Wagner's masterpiece The Ring Cycle. In Bavaria he marvels at the fairytale castle inspired by Wagner's music, and in St. Petersburg meets the legendary conductor Valery Gergiev at the Marinsky Theatre to discover why Wagner fascinated Russian audiences.
In Nuremberg he investigates how Hitler appropriated Wagner's music, and in London meets a cellist who played in the prisoners' orchestra at Auschwitz – where some of Fry's relatives died. What will she think of his passion for Hitler's favorite artist?
Animated by Fry's trademark wit and intelligence, and featuring a soundtrack of Wagner's extraordinary music, Wagner & Me is a provocative and enjoyable exploration of the life and legacy of one of history's great creative geniuses.
Patrick McGrady is creative director of award-winning company Wavelength Films. After graduating with a First Class English Degree from Oxford University, he trained as a producer/director with the BBC, where he made short films for BBC2's arts strand The Late Show and worked as a drama script editor. Before establishing Wavelength Films with Lucy Ward, he worked as a freelance director, making films for ITV, BBC and Channel 4. For Wavelength he developed and directed Stephen Fry & the Gutenberg Press, which was nominated for a BAFTA in 2009 (Huw Wheldon Award for Specialist Factual Films). He also series-produced the RTS award-winning show Disappearing London and executive-produced Suggs' Italian Job (8 x 30' for Sky Arts HD). Wagner & Me is Patrick's first feature-length documentary.