program notes by composition > E > Elsa's Procession to the Cathedral

Elsa's Procession to the Cathedral

Richard Wagner/trans. Lucien Cailliet

Elsa’s Procession to the Cathedral is a selection from the German romantic opera Lohengrin which premiered in 1850. The occasion for the procession is the imminent betrothal of heroine Elsa to Lohengrin, mystic Knight of the Holy Grail, come to deliver the people of Brabant (Antwerp) from Hungarian invaders. In the operatic presentation, a large double chorus adds its song of solemn praise to that of the orchestra. In this transcription for band the instrumental solo voices of the original are paralleled and the choral voices are deftly absorbed in the rich instrumental texture, recreating all the luxuriant Wagnerian color, drama, pageantry, power and mysticism of the original.

Richard Wagner (1813-1883) regarded himself as “the most German of men” and “the German spirit.” He is known for his thirteen operas and numerous other compositions, and also because of his influence on our understanding of German culture and history. He has been classified as an anarchist and a socialist and simultaneously, as a proto-fascist and nationalist, as a vegetarian and an anti-semite. His name has appeared in connection to almost all major trends in German history of the 19th and 20th centuries. Besides his activity as a composer and a librettist, Wagner wrote an astonishing number of books and articles, his literary spectrum ranging from theories of opera to political programs. His life and his music arouse passions like no other composer’s. His works are hated as much as they are worshiped, but no one denies their greatness.

Last updated on July 17, 2013 by Palatine Concert Band