Richard Wagner


Siegfried Idyll for String Quartet or Piano Quintet

Today, the Siegfried Idyll is one of Richard Wagner’s best known works for orchestra. What is not known is that the general public was never supposed to hear it. It was a very private work, meant to be a surprise for and written to celebrate the birthday of Wagner's wife of four months, Cosima, on Christmas day 1870. In fact, the name Siegfried Idyll was coined much later. It was originally called Tribschen Idyll, named after Wagner's country retreat near Geneva.


The Idyll is a work of utmost delicacy, emotion and tenderness. Many of its themes date back to an unfinished string quartet, sketches of which still exist. The quartet had been begun several years earlier, when Wagner had first met Cosima. In its final form, Wagner decided to score it for a very small chamber orchestra and this is how it was performed for Cosima on Christmas Day 1870. But today, it is commonly performed by a standard orchestra.


It was not until 1878 that Wagner, pressed for funds, expanded the instrumentation to 35 players, changed the original title to Siegfried Idyll and sold the work to the publisher B. Schott. No sooner had Schott purchased it then they began to have arrangements of it made for all sorts of combinations with a view to increasing sales. Our arrangement for piano quintet is based on the famous Prindheim arrangement, perhaps the most successful arrangement ever made. It also includes two ad libitum parts. A Cello II part by Prindheim and a Double Bass part in lieu of the Cello II arranged by Dr. Anthony Scelba. The Siegfried title comes from Wagner's third child Siegfried (pictured above), who in 1870 had been an infant. The picture was taken about the time Wagner sold the work to Schott.


(A)  Siegried Idyll for String Quartet---Parts

(B) Siegfried Idyll for Piano Quintet---Parts $24.95




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