MTH-V: Wagner Rarities

It’s still #WagnerWeek (an actual trend on Twitter, believe it or not). The actual anniversary this past Wednesday was nice; it was great to see the various cyber-celebrations and listen to the broadcasts. It was as if the global community was celebrating together, even if I only saw students and my wife that day. You can read my birthday post here, as well as watch last week’s videos here.

Below are a trio of videos featuring Wagner’s orchestral side. Furthermore, they’re not from the Bayreuth canon. Those ten operas are largely what Wagner is remembered for. However, composed three earlier operas that were later disavowed and have therefore never been performed at the Bayreuth Festspielhaus. Although, this summer, each of the operas will be performed in the city of Bayreuth but not at the Festspielhaus. (Consider it classical music’s Separate but Equal clause.) He also wrote a smattering of non-operatic works including a symphony and a half, select vocal works, and various orchestral compositions. Except for Siegfried Idyll and Wesendonck Lieder, however, these other pieces largely gather dust.

I attempted to get my own trend going on Twitter. Alas, the cheese tweeted alone:


Because I prefer to post actual performances instead of videos of pictures, finding usable clips for this collection was rather irritating. I wanted to include a performance of his Großer Festmarsch, written on commission to commemorate America’s bicentennial, but I couldn’t find video of a strong performance readily available. Given the limitations, though, some gems are below.

Das Liebesverbot (The Ban on Love) is Wagner’s second opera. And, considering Wagner met his first wife around this time, the title is a bit humorous. Anyway, it’s such a rarity that a 2008 staging in Cooperstown, NY claimed to be the American “fully-staged premiere.” Here is a spirited performance in Munich by the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra under Daniel Harding:

Rienzi, Wagner’s third opera, is perhaps the most well-known of the orphans. The overture isn’t easily confused with any material from Tristan or Meistersinger, but the style has matured beyond its predecessor. (I always enjoy those nagging violins.) Here is a 1988 performance by the London Philharmonic under Klaus Tennstedt:

Kaisermarsch is a standalone orchestral work written in 1871 to celebrate the outcome of the Franco-Prussian war. (I’m surprised there’s not a cameo for Hans Sachs.) Written decades after the above overtures, this is more representative of his mature sound. (And yes, Ein feste Burg is quoted…German through and through…) There is an optional choral ending that is not included here. Enjoy this 1996 performance by Venice’s Orchestra del Teatro La Fenice under Ricardo Muti (now a Chicago treasure!):

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