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Music with Ease > Classical Music > Concert Guide: Romantic Era > Prelude to "Lohengrin" (Wagner)


Prelude to "Lohengrin"

Richard Wagner
(1813-83)



The romantic opera of "Lohengrin" was written in 1849 and first performed at Weimar in 1850, under Liszt’s direction. The story of Lohengrin and Elsa, of Ortrud and Telramund, of the Swan boat and Elsa’s death, does not need retelling for any concert goer. The prelude to the opera takes for its subject the descent of the Holy Grail, the mysterious symbol of the Christian faith, and the Grail motive is the key to the whole composition. This mysterious motive is developed in various groups of instruments in a gradual crescendo, leading to a brief decrescendo. It is first announced in the far, airy distance in the violins pianissimo, then passes to the woodwinds, thence to the violas, cellos, horn, and bassoon, and reaches its climax in exultant outbursts in trumpets and trombones, after this dying away gradually and closing pianissimo in the flute and muted violins.





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