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Franz Bauer

Ludwig II’s Trumpeter

Bauer had learned to play the E-flat trumpet and alto horn at a young age. His musicianship attracted attention when he reported for military services with the light cavalry in Bayreuth as an eighteen-year-old volunteer: He became a member of the regimental band under the 6th Chevau-léger Regiment’s staff trumpeter Peter Göttling (1815–1886). This Bayreuth original – the oldest noncommissioned officer in the Bavarian army celebrated fifty years of service in 1884 – was on a first name basis with Richard Wagner and a member of the composer’s festival orchestra.

The gifted trumpeter Franz Bauer was recommended to Ludwig II and assigned to be the king’s valet on October 1, 1885. This also included serving at meals, assisting with dressing and undressing, and serving as a mounted escort on the legendary excursions the king normally went on after dark in his carriage or in sleighs pulled by white horses. Franz Bauer was evidently highly valued by Ludwig II, who gifted him a precious gold pocket watch adorned with diamonds and a color portrait of the king on its lid. Such a gift was truly something exceptional – Richard Wagner had received an identical watch prior to this.

Franz Bauer was ordered back to Bayreuth on April 30, 1886, thus ending his service as Ludwig’s valet and trumpeter after a little more than half a year. Ludwig II was declared unfit to rule shortly afterward on June 10, taken into custody, and brought to Berg Castle. He died in Lake Starnberg under still unexplained circumstances three days later on June 13, 1886.

After the end of his military career, Franz Bauer became the longstanding caretaker of Hohenaschau Castle of the Cramer-Klett family in Chiemgau. He settled down in Weilheim where he died in 1946.

Information kindly contributed by the Dziuk family, Gössweinstein.