(9 March 1944 – 13 November 2022, 78 years old – ed.)
“Unlike his German colleagues, I never knew Wolfgang Bauernfeind as a broadcaster, as an editor or even as a producer.
Yet he was, for me, one of my dearest European colleagues.
He epitomised for me everything that was happiest and most rewarding in international friendships.
I’d already singled Wolfgang out as someone special from his insightful and thoughtful comments in Prix Europa discussions in the big studio in the Haus des Rundfunks.
But it was again in that same inspiring place that Wolfgang and I became firm friends.
Asked by Leo Braun to co-lead the Radio Documentary jury deliberations, Wolfgang and I developed a strange and impromptu double-act.
We were the Laurel and Hardy of that particular year in Masurenallee, and each occasion when we stood up to record attendance, remind people to be punctual or to introduce the next playback turned into a comedy routine.
I can’t say why, but it just happened; and that was when I developed a real love for this plump, funny-yet-serious, delightful man.
A delightful evening at Wolfgang’s beautiful flat with his wife and Peter Klein from ORF has remained in my memory ever since and, each time we met, usually between the stacks of pigeon-holes in the foyer of the Haus, we would head for one another to embrace like long-lost brothers.
“Eine kleine Glas Rotwein?” was the inevitable next remark by Wolfgang, eyes a-twinkle.
And there were many of those glasses of rotwein.
We’d shared a love of and often spoke about music.
And, when Wolfgang retired from RBB, I wanted London to salute the moment.
So I organised a pair of tickets – as rare as hen’s teeth, as we say in English – for him and his wife to attend the Last Night of the BBC Proms.
It’s always an amazing concert and was something that I had myself never been able to do.
But I wanted my friend Wolfgang and his wife to taste what is the most eccentric classical music occasion in the world.
The Controller of BBC Radio 3 agreed it was only fitting for Herr Bauernfeind to attend.
Which he did, spending a weekend in London and visiting me and my wife at home.
I remember Wolfgang said it was the first time he’d been to a classical music concert that resembled a football match!
Since he retired, he did tireless work in Cambodia and we shared an appreciation of that fascinating country.
We even had plans to work together there at one stage.
So I will deeply miss my dear German colleague who was one of the best of my international friends.
And now, for the last time, I raise eine kleine Glas Rotwein to you, dearest Wolfgang.
The world will be a less interesting – and less fun – place without you!”
Edwin Brys Belgium
Wolfgang was what we say in French “un homme du monde”.
Classy, dressed with taste and comfort fit (could have put more tweed), voluptuous gastronome, alert wine connaisseur, every inch a gentleman, funny spirit, optimistic world observer and a most seductive tango dancer.
And beside all of that of course an inspired radio documentary maker!
That is a lot to miss.
“Wolfgang, you were my radio-father.
A role model.
An outstanding feature maker and exceptional human being.
I am so thankful for this luck I had in life to work with you, learn from you, discuss and laugh with you.
Your wive told me you have been working on your new radio feature we planned together for rbb until the very last day before your transfer to hospital.
You almost succeeded to finish writing the manuscript and now we will do our very best to produce it in the studio with the spirit and sensitivity you were known for.
Please keep your unique sense of humour, wherever you might be right now.