Now, For Something Somewhat Different
|libretto from Parsifal|
This January 13, 131 years ago, the German composer, Richard Wagner, completed his last music drama, Parsifal. The five-hour work is loosely based on an epic poem by medieval poet, Wolfram von
Eschenbach. It tells the story of the Holy Grail and the search of the “Pure Fool” – Parsifal — for it. The story of Parsifal/Perceval has its origin as one of the legends of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. Wolfram von Eschenbach was one of the greatest of the German minnesingers of the 13th century. Similar to the French troubadours or Celtic bards, minnesingers wrote and performed lyric poetry at court. Minnesingers’ main compositions were love (minne) songs, but Wolfram’s long narrative Parsifal is considered his masterpiece and one of the great works of literature of the High Middle Ages.
Here is a modern example of the minnesinger, performing a composition of Wolfram von Eschenbach’s, Sigune’s Lamentation.
Below is a selection from Wagner’s Parsifal. It features the great German Heldentenor, Siegfried Jerusalem, with orchestral music performed by the orchestra of the Bayreuther Festspiel, conducted by Horst Stein. You may listen to the entire work (with English subtitles) on You Tube — if you have time! If you don’t, please enjoy the beautiful overture below. (You will have to listen to the first two clips to hear the whole overture.)