© Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe, Siegfried 2019

News from the Committee

A note from RWVI President Rainer Fineske
On 25 December 2020, the symphonic work by Richard Wagner known as the "Siegfried Idyll" celebrates its 150th anniversary
Berlin, 25.12.2020

Dear Wagner friends,

On 25 December 2020, the symphonic work by Richard Wagner known as the "Siegfried Idyll" will celebrate its 150th anniversary.

It was composed by the master in silence and secrecy for Cosima Wagner's 33rd birthday to commemorate the birth of their son Siegfried, also known as Fidi.

First performed within the smallest family circle and as a wake-up call to Cosima Wagner as she awoke, it was played on the morning of her birthday, 25 December, in the stairwell of the Tribschener Landhaus on Lake Lucerne with the original title: "Tribschener Idyll mit Fidi-Vogelgesang und Orange-Sonnenaufgang" (Tribschen Idyll with Fidi Birdsong and Orange Sunrise), by a small and exclusive circle of chamber musicians. Since the composition was considered a gift, Cosima Wagner refused her consent to its publication for a long time.

In the present day, this composition is one of the most beautiful and frequently played pieces in many contemporary symphonic performances. Cosima Wagner herself expressed herself  highly delighted and deeply touched by her husband's birthday surprise.

The name of the symphonic poem relates not only to Siegfried as a son, but also to the musical drama "Siegfried", the third part of the Ring of the Nibelung. Wagner mainly used motifs from this part of the Ring. It is his only contribution to the genre of symphonic poetry. Wagner described the composition as his only orchestral work for which he could present a complete programme.

The Siegfried Idyll is composed in E major and bears the number WWV 103.

The original version is scored for a chamber orchestra of flute, oboe, 2 clarinets, bassoon, 2 horns, trumpet (only 13 bars) and string quintet. In the version published in 1878 and most often performed today, the strings are multiple.

Rainer Fineske