Wednesday, October 29, 2008


"The term
Götterdämmerung is occasionally used in English, referring to a disastrous conclusion of events."

Well. Yes, Richard Wagner (1813 - 1883) was something of a pompous old f@ck. That much is incontestable. And given that those same hoary Norse ideals and mythologies form the cornerstone to the Third Reich's warped appropriation of an Ayran Valhalla, the spectre of jackboots and swastikas are also scarcely inescapable.

I am not, either, overly fond of Opera.

"Götterdämmerung" ("Twilight of the Gods") is the final installment in those four operas which comprise "Der Ring des Nibelungen" ("The Ring of the Nibelung"), composed by Wagner over the course of twenty-six years in total, between 1848 and 1874. It received its first public airing as summer drew to a close at the Bayreuth Festspielhaus on 17th August, 1876; the epic finale to Wagner's monumentally romantic vision of betrayal and sacrifice.

"The title is a translation into German of the Old Norse phrase Ragnarok, which in Norse mythology refers to a prophesied war of the Gods which brings about the end of the world in Völuspá. However, as with the rest of the Ring, Wagner's account of this apocalypse diverges significantly from his Old Norse sources."

Eminently enjoyable theatrical pish nonetheless; quite appropriate for the Halloween season, I feel. Ed Woods would have made a choice candidate, too, as director-in-chief on a budget civic production, with your local high school orchestra lending said event unwelcome gravitas. Assuming you have time to waste.

And, of course, if one happens to be somewhat intoxicated - on nefarious substances or not - it has the potential to change in tone to something altogether less comedic.

RICHARD WAGNER: SIEGFRIED'S DEATH & FUNERAL MARCH from "Der Ring Des Nibelungen: IV, Götterdämmerung" 1848 - 1874 (Germany)



Peewit said...

One of my ambitions before I die is to hear der Ring des Nibelungen in its entirety in one performance.

He was an unpleasant man liked by many other unpleasant men but damn but he could write a good tune.

have you ever heard anything by Adrian Wagner? I had a couple of his electronic prog albums and really quite liked them but they have long since disappeared in the great clearout. Trouble is I can't remember their names a nd I just can't be arsed to look it up on Wikipedia just now

ib said...

I confess, too, I've never heard the thing in its entirety either; though I'm not sure I could withstand it. "Götterdämmerung" alone allegedly can take up to 5 hours to perform.

I'm not sure if I've heard anything of Adrian Wagner's or not. I've heard something or other from a direct descendant, but I'm at a loss as to which one. There are several who have been drawn into music, I seem to remember. It was definitely from the prog school, though, so it could well be him. Did Melvin Bragg do a South Bank Show special on him, by any chance ?

Peewit said...

Yes I am fairly sure there was a South Bank Show.I believe Adrian Wagner was a grandson of The Wagner I've been having a fruitless search around the Web to try and remind me of the title of the album I particularly enjoyed. All I remember is that the album cover was a close up of some tree bark and involved prog synthesizers but I just can't find a picture or reference that will jog my memory

ib said...

I remember a guy with thinning blond hair and glasses who looked not unlike the more famous Wagner, bar a pair of white or cream flares. And a loud polyester shirt.

Mike said...

Very nice to be reminded of this piece. I've never gone out of my way to try to get tickets to the Ring Cycle, nor am I that sure that I want to... that said, I would love to see a portion of it in Bayreuth at some point. Some day when I have a lot of money I suppose. This piece that you posted is quite beautiful.

ib said...

Thanks, Mike. It is pretty beautiful, in spite of those general misgivings I have with regard to the "pomp and circumstance"...

Bayreuth has a specially designed stage tailored for optimum performance, I believe. The acoustics are reputed to be quite stunning.

Nazz Nomad said...

I heart Tor Johnson.