The Siegfried Idyll shines among Richard Wagner’s works as one of his most unique and esteemed gems. Stylistically removed from the composer’s lavish orchestral performances, its small ensemble (only fifteen performers) and intimate tone are explained by their original purpose: the composer used this short work as a birthday gift for his wife Cosima Wagner, arranging for it to be played on the stairs of their house on Christmas morning. Despite using some quotations from leitmotifs in the Ring Cycle, the title does not refer to the opera of the same name but to the name of his eldest son, Siegfried Wagner.
PROGRAM Carry on reading
Gustav Mahler, an expert conductor of Wagner’s music, composed The Song of the Earth with a grand symphonic structure: six translations of Chinese poems arranged into four blocks that make up the movements of a symphony. The lush sound world full of characteristic references by the composer is combined with the universe of Chinese evocations of the texts: a retreat, in the dramatic final years of the composer’s life, into the refuge offered by worldly beauty and transience from a quizzical and dualistic point of view. The play was premiered posthumously, directed by Bruno Walter.