Press Room

The 20th Annual Bard Music Festival: Wagner and His World

N.Y. – Described by the Los Angeles Times as “uniquely stimulating,” the world-renowned Bard Music Festival,
returning for its 20th annual season, fills the last two weekends of
Bard SummerScape 2009 with a thrilling
and illuminating exploration of “Wagner and His World.” 
Twelve concert programs over the two mid-August weekends, complemented
by preconcert lectures, panel discussions, and a symposium, make up Bard’s
examination of the composer more discussed and disputed than any other in
history.  The programs of Weekend
One—“The Fruits of Ambition” (August 1416)—delve
into Wagner’s beginnings, the musical world he set out to conquer, and his crowning
musical achievements.  Weekend
Two—“Engineering the Triumph of Wagnerism” (August 2123)—takes stock of Wagner’s outstanding self-marketing
ability as well as of the more disturbing aspects of his character, including
his well-documented obsessiveness, competitiveness, and venomous anti-Semitism.

Leon Botstein, co-artistic director of the Bard Music
Festival and music director of the resident American Symphony Orchestra, leads
the ASO and a select group of singers in four concerts of operatic and orchestral
works by Wagner.  Mendelssohn,
Brahms, Bruckner, and such lesser-known figures as Hermann Goetz, Heinrich von Herzogenberg, and Heinrich
Marschner are only a few of the many composers whose works have been selected
to illuminate the context of Wagner’s achievements and the impact he had on the
musical culture of his day.  Love
him or hate him, it was difficult for any composer of the time not to fall
under his influence. 

Many of the 19th century’s preeminent composers
are represented in the Festival. 
Some names are all but forgotten, but others still grace European street
signs or are engraved on the walls of the opera houses, conservatories, and
concert halls of the world.  The
composers are: Auber, Bellini, Berlioz, Brahms, Bruch, Bruckner, Chabrier,
Chausson, Cherubini, Chopin, Czerny, Debussy, Duparc, Dvořák, Flotow, Robert
Franz, Goldmark, Hermann Goetz, Granados, Griffes, Halévy, Hérold, Hiller,
Herzogenberg, Humperdinck, Joachim, Liszt, Loewe, Marschner, Mendelssohn,
Messager, Meyerbeer, Nietzsche, Offenbach, Palestrina, Alexander Ritter,
Rossini, Clara Schumann, Robert Schumann, Spohr, Spontini, Johann Strauss Jr.,
Richard Strauss, Arthur Sullivan, Suppé, Weber, and Wolf.

Creative programming

During the festival,
Leon Botstein leads the American Symphony Orchestra and guest artists in
excerpts from each of the 13 operas Richard Wagner completed.  The concept behind most of the
selections chosen is to present those parts of his operas that the composer
himself excerpted in concert, often well in advance of the premiere of the
complete work.  This offers an
unusual opportunity to appreciate Wagner’s own self-representation and
understand the way he so effectively marketed his music.  The opening concert on August 14 (one
of the Festival’s three all-Wagner programs) demonstrates aspects of the
composer’s remarkable artistic development: Botstein has programmed parts of Die
, Das Liebesverbot, and Rienzi (Wagner’s first three operas), alongside
selections from his later masterpieces Tristan und Isolde and Parsifal
This first concert will also feature a performance of Wagner’s lone
completed symphony, which he wrote at age 19.  It was lost for decades, and then performed one final time
shortly before the composer’s death—the last time he conducted his music.  The first version of Wagner’s Faust Overture, originally envisioned as a symphony,
rounds out the program.

At the second
orchestral concert, on August 15, The Flying Dutchman, Tannhäuser, and Lohengrin—all from the composer’s “middle period”—are excerpted
together with virtually unknown early Wagner compositions, including an 1840
chorus for “La descente de la courtille” —an obscure Parisian carnival parade—
and a substitute aria written for Vincenzo Bellini’s opera Norma.  On August 22, scenes from
the four “Ring” operas are
represented in a single program.  The
final concert, under the heading “Music
and German National Identity,” presents three large-scale patriotic choral
works.  Bruckner’s Germanenzug hails a multitude of Teutonic tribesmen “striding
through the forest primeval, onward to holy battle.”  Wagner’s grandiose and celebratory Kaisermarsch (Emperor March) celebrated German victory in the
Franco-Prussian war.  Johannes
Brahms’s Triumphlied for
eight-part chorus and full orchestra draws its texts from the Book of
Revelation, and also commemorates German military triumph. 
The concert—and the Festival—will conclude with the grand final scene of
Wagner’s Die
Meistersinger von Nürnberg

Besides the music of
Wagner, some of the other popular works to be performed are Schumann’s Piano
Quintet in E-flat major, Brahms’s Sonata for Two Pianos in F minor, Chopin’s Polonaise-fantaisie, Wolf’s Italian Serenade, and excerpts from Dvořák’s Cypresses.  Songs
and piano music by Wagner, rarely to be heard anywhere but Bard, appear on many
of the chamber music programs.  The
Wagnerian aesthetic agenda is contrasted with opposing positions, the so-called
“War of the Romantics” that pitted Wagner, Berlioz, Liszt, and their followers
against Mendelssohn, Schumann, Brahms, and theirs.

Before the era of
recordings and other electronic “home entertainment,” arrangements of operas
and orchestral works disseminated music and made it available for domestic
consumption.  To make money as a
struggling young composer in Paris, Wagner made many such arrangements of
popular operas, of which a sample will be presented.  In the hands of a virtuoso like Franz Liszt, arrangements
could become spectacular showpieces. 
“Wagner in Paris,” a concert on August 16 at 5:30 pm, is devoted to
several such blockbusters, including his dazzling transcription of Berlioz’s
“March to the Scaffold” from the Symphonie fantastique and, for those Festival visitors who also take
in one of the Bard SummerScape performances of Meyerbeer’s Les Huguenots earlier in August, the pièce de résistance—Liszt’s Réminiscences des Huguenots.

Wagner’s position
within the great German choral tradition is demonstrated in a program that
includes works by Palestrina, Bruckner, Liszt, and Brahms (August 15).  A notable program entitled
“Bearable Lightness: The Comic Alternative” (August 22) offers some lighter
fare to offset the Wagnerian gravitas. 
Excerpts from Johann Strauss Jr.’s Eine Nacht in Venedig, Gilbert and Sullivan’s Iolanthe, Offenbach’s Le roi Carotte and Rheinnixen, and Suppé’s Lohengelb,
among others, will show the humorous side of music theater in the latter half
of the 19th century.

Talks, illustrated lectures, panel discussions, and films

The Bard Music Festival will open, as is the tradition, with
a preconcert lecture by Leon Botstein, followed by an orchestral concert.  The next day begins with an illustrated
lecture by John Deathridge, on the subject of “Reality and Image: Wagner in Film,”
before the midday concert.  (Bard
SummerScape is screening no fewer than ten films with links to Wagner, between
July 16 and August 20).  Further
preconcert talks will be given by Byron Adams, Walter Frisch, Dana Gooley,
Michael Musgrave, Jann Pasler, Alexander Rehding, R. Larry Todd, and Christopher
H. Gibbs, co-artistic director of the Festival.  The two panel discussions will be moderated by Thomas S.
Grey (“Warring Aesthetics,” August 16) and Mr. Botstein (“Wagner and the Jewish
Question,” August 23).

The final segments of the Bard Film Festival—“Politics,
Theater, and Wagner”—will take place during “Wagner and His World.”  The two parts of Fritz Lang’s Nibelungen—Siegfried’s
and Kriemhild’s Revenge—will be screened with piano accompaniment by Ben
Model on August 16 and August 20, respectively.

Round-trip coach transportation from Columbus Circle in New
York City to Bard’s Fisher Center will be provided for Program Six on Sunday,
August 16.  Reservations are
required.  Call the Box Office at
(845) 758-7900 for more information.

Bard’s delightful destination-spot, the Spiegeltent, will be
open for lunch and dinner throughout “Wagner and His World,” and there will be
special opening and closing parties in the tent on August 14 and 23,

Bard Music Festival Books

Since the first Bard Music Festival—“Brahms and His
World”—in 1990, Princeton University Press has published a companion book of
scholarly essays written especially for the volume.  This year’s Wagner and His World is edited by Thomas S. Grey and will be issued in
time for Bard SummerScape.  A new and expanded edition of Brahms and His World—edited
by Walter Frisch and Kevin Karnes—will be published by Princeton this summer.

Bard Music Festival presents “Wagner and His World”

August 14–16 and August 21–23, 2009

Fruits of Ambition

(August 14–16)

The first weekend of
the Festival explores the transformation of the highly ambitious but obscure
young composer from his thoroughly inauspicious origin into a world-famous
revolutionary artist.  Wagner’s
earliest compositional efforts are placed in the context of musical cultural
life in German-speaking Europe before 1848, and in Paris, Europe’s literary and
operatic capital during the 1830s and 1840s.  By the mid-1840s, Rienzi, The Flying Dutchman, and Tannhäuser had been produced.  The years between 1848 and 1850 were decisive in Wagner’s
life and career: after struggling with several unfinished projects, he
published his book-length explorations on music and drama and thoughts on the
future of music, as well as his most polemical essay, “Judaism in Music”; Lohengrin was produced for the first time; and he started
work on the text of what would become The Ring of the Nibelung
Wagner emerged from obscurity as the apostle of a new music for a new
age and public.  He placed himself,
in opposition to the fashions of the day, as the true heir of Beethoven,
championing a new aesthetic and politics of music.



Fisher Center, Sosnoff Theater

7:00 pm      Preconcert
Talk: Leon Botstein

8:00 pm      Performance:
Christine Goerke, soprano; Daniel Mobbs, bass-baritone; American Symphony
Orchestra, conducted by Leon Botstein, music director

Richard Wagner (1813–83)

   Symphony in C major (1832)

   Overture to Rienzi, the Last of the Tribunes (1840)

   Faust Symphony,
First Movement WWV 59 (Faust
Overture, First Version) (1840)

   Excerpts from Die

(1834); Das Liebesverbot (1836); Tristan und Isolde (1859); and Parsifal (1882)

Tickets: $25, $40, $55


Reality and Image

Olin Hall

am                  Reality
and Image: Wagner in Film


Free and open to the public

Shadow of Beethoven

Olin Hall

1:00 pm      Preconcert
Talk: Alexander Rehding

1:30 pm      Performance:
Corey Bix, tenor; Danny Driver, piano; Erin Morley, soprano; Marjorie Owens,
soprano; Pei-Yao Wang, piano; Bard Festival Chamber Players

Richard Wagner (1813–83)

  Fantasy in F-sharp minor, for piano (1831)

   Der Tannenbaum

   From Seven Compositions from Goethe’s Faust (1831)

Louis Spohr (1784–1859)

   Nonet, Op. 31, for strings and winds (1813)

Carl Maria von Weber (1786–1826)

   Arias from Der
(1821) and Oberon (1826)

Carl Czerny (1791–1857)

   Variations brillantes, Op. 14 (1821)

Arias and songs by Carl Loewe (1796–1869); Heinrich
Marschner (1795–1861); Robert Franz (1815–92); Friedrich von Flotow (1812–83);
Ferdinand Hiller (1811–85); and Carl Maria von Weber (1786–1826)

Tickets: $35

and the Choral Tradition

Olin Hall

5:00 pm      Performance:
Bard Festival Chamber Players; Bard Festival Chorale, conducted by James
Bagwell, choral director 

Works by Richard Wagner (1813–83); Giovanni Pierluigi
da Palestrina (c. 1525–94); Anton Bruckner (1824–96); Johannes Brahms
(1833–97); and Franz Liszt (1811–86)

Tickets: $30

Triumphant Revolutionary

Fisher Center, Sosnoff

7:00 pm      Preconcert
Talk: Dana Gooley

8:00 pm      Performance:
Richard Brunner, tenor; Teresa Buchholz, mezzo-soprano; Christine Goerke,
soprano; John Hancock, baritone; Daniel Mobbs, bass-baritone; Scott Williamson,
tenor; Bard Festival Chorale, with James Bagwell, choral director; American
Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Leon Botstein, music director; and others 

Richard Wagner (1813–83)

   Excerpts from The Flying Dutchman (1841), Tannhäuser (1845), and Lohengrin (1848)

   Supplemental materials for La descente de la
(1841) by Th. Marion
Dumersan and Ch.-Désiré

     Dupeuty, Norma (1831) by Vincenzo Bellini, and Der Vampyr (1828) by Heinrich Marschner

Tickets: $25, $40, $55


PANEL ONE – Warring

Olin Hall

10:00 am – 12:00 pm

Thomas S. Grey, moderator;
Kevin Karnes; Lawrence Kramer; and others

Free and open to the public

Destructive Obsession: Mendelssohn and Friends

Olin Hall

1:00 pm      Preconcert
Talk: R. Larry Todd

1:30 pm      Performance:
Borromeo String Quartet; Edward Arron, cello; Bernadine Blaha, piano; Jeremy
Denk, piano; John Hancock, baritone; Stefan Jackiw, violin; Piers Lane, piano;
Jeffrey Lang, horn; Sophie Shao, cello

Richard Wagner (1813–83)

   Les deux grenadiers (1839–40)

Felix Mendelssohn (1809–47)

   From Songs Without Words, Opp. 19b, 38, and 67 (1829–45)

   Hebrides Overture, Op. 26, arr. piano duet (1830, arr. 1832)

   Piano Trio No. 2 in C minor, Op. 66 (1845)

Robert Schumann (1810–56)

   “Die beiden
Grenadiere,” Op. 49, No. 1 (1840)

   Piano Quintet in E-flat major, Op. 44 (1842)

   Andante and Variations, WoO 10 (1843)

Clara Schumann (1819–96)

   “Die stille Lotosblume,”
Op. 13, No. 6 (1840–43)

Tickets: $35

PROGRAM SIX – Wagner in

Fisher Center, Sosnoff

5:00 pm      Preconcert
Talk: Jann Pasler

5:30 pm      Performance:
Borromeo String Quartet; Randolph Bowman, flute; Jeremy Denk, piano; Danny
Driver, piano; Laura Flax, clarinet; Angela Meade, soprano; Erin Morley,
soprano; Pei-Yao Wang, piano; Scott Williamson, tenor 

Richard Wagner (1813–83)

   “Adieux de Marie Stuart,” for voice and piano (1840)

   “Attente,” for voice and piano (1839)

Luigi Cherubini (1760–1842)

   String Quartet No. 4 in E major (1835)

Daniel-François-Esprit Auber

   From “Zanetta,” arr. for flute and string trio (1840;
arr. Wagner)

Giacomo Meyerbeer (1791–1864)

   “Hirtenlied,” for voice, clarinet, and piano (1842)

Ferdinand Hérold (1791–1833)

   Overture to Zampa, arr. for piano four hands (1831)

Fromental Halévy (1799–1862)

   From Le Guitarrero, arr. for flute and string trio (1841, arr. Wagner)

Hector Berlioz (1803–69)

   “March to the Scaffold,” from Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14 (1830; arr. Liszt)

Fryderyk Chopin (1810–49)

   Polonaise-fantaisie, Op. 61 (1846)

Franz Liszt (1811–86)

   Réminiscences des Huguenots (1836–42)

Arias by Gaspare Spontini
(1774–1851); Gioachino Rossini (1792–1868); and Vincenzo Bellini (1801–35)

Tickets: $20, $35, $45

Round-trip transportation
by coach from Columbus Circle in NYC to the Fisher Center will be provided for
the August 16 performance of Bard Music Festival Program Six.  Reservations are required. Call the Box
Office for more information.

WEEKEND TWO: Engineering the Triumph of Wagnerism (August 21–23)

By the early 1870s,
Wagner’s music, poetry, and prose had sparked an open conflict about the nature
and future of music that would influence the discussion of art and culture
until beyond the outbreak of World War I. 
During the last three decades of his life, Wagner not only completed the
Ring cycle, Tristan, Meistersinger, and Parsifal, but also engineered the first modern marketing
scheme on behalf of an artist and his work.  By the time of his death in 1883, Wagner, his music, and his
aesthetics had become a near obsession for philosophers, painters, poets,
politicians, and—above all—musicians in Europe and America, and had made him
the most famous artist of his time. 
This weekend looks at many of the controversies surrounding Wagner,
including his relationship to Nietzsche; the opposition to his innovations,
centered around the figure of Brahms; the creation of Bayreuth; the impact of
Wagner’s music on composers from Bruckner to Granados, Wolf, and Debussy; and
the relationship between Wagnerian and late 19th-century racism and


SYMPOSIUM – Wagner and
the Transformation of European Culture

Campus Center, Multipurpose

10:00 am–12:00 pm

1:30 pm–3:30 pm

Marina van Zuylen, moderator;
and others

Free and open to the public

Pro and Contra

Fisher Center, Sosnoff

pm                  Preconcert
Talk: Walter Frisch

8:00 pm      Performance:
Bernadine Blaha, piano; Teresa Buchholz, mezzo-soprano; Catherine Foster,
soprano; Devon Guthrie, soprano; Ieva Jokubaviciute, piano; Soovin Kim, violin;
Piers Lane, piano; Blair McMillen, piano; Raman Ramakrishnan, cello

Richard Wagner (1813–83)

   “Wesendonck Lieder”

   Eine Sonate für das
Album von Frau M. W.

Franz Liszt (1811–86)

   “Die Lorelei” (1841)

arr. for piano trio (1853–54; arr. Saint-Saëns)

Johannes Brahms (1833–97)

   Vocal Duets, Opp. 20 (1858–60) and 61 (1852–74)

   Sonata for Two Pianos in F minor, Op. 34b (1864)

Joseph Joachim (1831–1907)

   Overture to Hamlet, arr. for two pianos, Op. 4 (c. 1855, arr. Brahms)

Tickets: $20, $35, $45


Lightness: The Comic Alternative

Olin Hall

am                  Performance With
commentary by Richard Wilson

Gabriel Fauré (1845–1924) and
Andre Messager (1853-29)

   Souvenirs de Bayreuth (1888)

Jacques Offenbach (1819–80)

   From Le roi Carotte (1872) and Die Rheinnixen (1864)

Franz von Suppé (1819–95)

   From Lohengelb, oder Die Jungfrau von Dragan (1870)

Arthur Sullivan (1842–1900)
and W. S. Gilbert (1836–1911)

   From Iolanthe (1882)

Johann Strauss Jr. (1825–99)

   From Eine Nacht in Venedig (1883)

Piano works and songs by
Emmanuel Chabrier (1841–94)

Tickets: $30

PROGRAM NINE – Competing

Olin Hall

1:00 pm      Preconcert
Talk: Michael Musgrave

1:30 pm      Performance:
Bard Festival String Quartet; Laura Flax, clarinet; Ieva Jokubaviciute, piano;
Soovin Kim, violin; Noreen Polera, piano; Raman Ramakrishnan, cello

Karl Goldmark (1830–1915)

   Romance, for
violin and piano (1913)

Johannes Brahms (1833–97)

   Six Choral Preludes, Op. 122 (1896; arr. Busoni)

Hermann Goetz (1840–76)

   Piano Quintet in C minor, Op. 16 (1874)

Heinrich von Herzogenberg (1843–1900)

   Piano Trio in C minor,
Op. 24 (1877)

Max Bruch (1838–1920)

   From Eight Pieces for clarinet, viola, and piano, Op.
83 (1910)

Antonín Dvořák (1841–1904)

   From Cypresses (1865)

Tickets: $35

Selling of the Ring

Fisher Center, Sosnoff

7:00 pm      Preconcert
Talk: John Deathridge

8:00 pm      Performance:
Catherine Foster, soprano; James Johnson, bass-baritone; Gary Lehman, tenor;
American Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Leon Botstein, music director; and

Richard Wagner (1813–83)

   Excerpts from: Das
(1854), Die Walküre (1856), Siegfried (1871), and Götterdämmerung (1874)

Tickets: $25, $40, $55


PANEL TWO – Wagner and
the Jewish Question

Olin Hall

pm                  Leon
Botstein, moderator; Paul Lawrence Rose; and others

Free and open to the public


Olin Hall

1:00 pm      Preconcert
Talk: Byron Adams

1:30 pm      Performance:
Bard Festival String Quartet; Melvin Chen, piano; Devon Guthrie, soprano; Piers
Lane, piano; Scott Williamson, tenor; students of The Bard College Conservatory
of Music

Richard Wagner (1813–83)

Siegfried Idyll (1870)

Henri Duparc (1848–1933)

   L’invitation au


Enrique Granados (1867–1916)

   From Goyescas, Op. 11 (1909–12)

Ernest Chausson (1855–99)

   Concert, Op. 21 (1889-91)

Charles T. Griffes

   De profundis

Hugo Wolf (1860–1903)

   Italian Serenade (1887)

Songs by Richard Strauss (1864–1949); Engelbert
Humperdinck (1854–1921); Alexander Ritter (1833–96); Claude Debussy
(1862–1918); Emmanuel Chabrier (1841–94); and Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900)

Tickets: $35

and German National Identity

Fisher Center, Sosnoff

4:30 pm      Preconcert
Talk: Christopher H. Gibbs

5:30 pm      Performance:
Corey Bix, tenor; Devon Guthrie, soprano; John Hancock, baritone; James
Johnson, bass-baritone; Scott Williamson, tenor; Bard Festival Chorale, with
James Bagwell, choral director; American Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Leon
Botstein, music director; and others

Richard Wagner (1813–83)

   Kaisermarsch (1871)

   Excerpts from Die
Meistersinger von Nürnberg

Anton Bruckner (1824–96)

   Germanenzug (1863)

Johannes Brahms (1833–97)

Op. 55 (1870–71)

Tickets: $25, $40, $55

Ticket Information

For tickets and further
information on all Bard SummerScape 2009 and Bard Music Festival events, call
the Fisher Center box office at (845) 758-7900 or visit

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