Music with Ease > Classical Music > Concert Guide: Romantic Era > Vorspiel to "Parsifal" (Wagner)
Vorspiel to "Parsifal"
"Parsifal," a "Bühnenweihfestspiel" ("Festival Acting Drama"), was completed in 1879, and was first produced at Bayreuth in 1882, seven months before the composers death. The subject of the work is taken from the cycle of the Holy Grail myths, to which "Lohengrin" belongs, and concerns Parsifal, the King of the Grail and father of Lohengrin. Like Siegfried, Parsifal represents free human nature, and its impulsive, spontaneous action. He is styled in the text "Der reine Thor" ("The guileless Fool"), who, bearing out the old mythical idea, overcomes the evil principle and gains the crown by dint by pure natural impulse.
The Vorspiel opens with the symbolic motive of the "Eucharist," at first unaccompanied, and then repeated with arpeggio accompaniment. After a pause the same motive reappears, but in the minor, followed by another pause. The second motive, the Grail, now appears, and is extended, followed by the motive of Faith, which is developed in an impressive manner, the Grail motive occasionally joining it. After a drum passage, followed by a tremolo of the strings, the Eucharist motive reappears, followed by the Lance motive. After brief development the Eucharist motive leads directly to the opening scene of the dialogue between Gurnemanz and his two companions of the Grail.