On the Wagner Trauermusik [1844]

David Whitwell

This score, con­sist­ing of music tak­en from Carl Maria von Weber’s opera, Euryan­the, arranged for large wind band in 1844 by Wag­n­er, is one of the most impor­tant com­po­si­tions in the band’s reper­toire. It is not a funer­al march,but rather an ele­gy in the mem­o­ry of Weber and has always been heard in con­cert per­for­mances as a par­tic­u­lar­ly mov­ing com­po­si­tion, an expe­ri­ence not com­mon in the band’s reper­toire. After a per­for­mance in 1927, for exam­ple, by the New York Phil­har­mon­ic, con­duct­ed by the famous Willem Men­gel­berg, the New York crit­ic, Her­bert Peyser, wrote this music,

was pro­found­ly mov­ing, so filled with spe­cious and majes­tic solem­ni­ty … mag­nif­i­cent and heart-shaking … 

And that is how audi­ences all over the world have con­tin­ued to hear this mas­ter­piece to the present day.

Carl Maria von Weber died on 5 June 1826, in Lon­don at age thir­ty-nine. In spite of his great pop­u­lar­i­ty in Lon­don, he was denied the use of the great cathe­dral, St. Paul, for his funer­al ser­vice because he was a Catholic. There­fore, his pub­lic memo­r­i­al ser­vice was held in a small Catholic Chapel, St. Mary Moor­fields, at the cor­ner of East Street, Fins­bury Circus.

Ear­ly on the morn­ing of 21 June 1826, a long funer­al pro­ces­sion left the house of Sir George Smart in Great Port­land Street, where Weber had been stay­ing while in Lon­don for the pre­miere of Oberon. We are told in Weber’s biog­ra­phy writ­ten by his son, Max, that throngs filled the streets to see the almost medieval pomp sur­round­ing the occa­sion. The Chapel itself was hung with black and blaz­ing with wax-lights and was filled with a crowd of 2,000 per­sons, sure­ly an exag­ger­a­tion. As the cas­ket neared the entrance of the Chapel, with priests stand­ing at the door, music from Mozart’s Requiem burst forth. The son recalled “the deep­est emo­tion was on every face … The singers trem­bled as they sang.“1 After this cer­e­mo­ny the cas­ket, made in the shape of a vio­lin, was deposit­ed in the crypt of St. Paul’s Cathe­dral, where it remained vir­tu­al­ly forgotten.

By 1841, some fif­teen years lat­er, there began in Ger­many a grow­ing con­cern that the remains of Weber be returned to Dres­den. There were news­pa­per arti­cles, com­mit­tees appoint­ed and con­certs giv­en to raise mon­ey, includ­ing one by the Dres­den­er Liedertafel and a sig­nif­i­cant one in Berlin con­duct­ed by Meyer­beer. All this inter­est had lit­tle actu­al result until 1844 and the involve­ment by the young assis­tant musi­cal direc­tor in Dres­den, Richard Wag­n­er. Fun­da­men­tal to Wag­n­er’s plans was to be a great pro­ces­sion which would wel­come the boat from Lon­don when it arrived on the Elbe Riv­er in Dres­den and would accom­pa­ny the cas­ket to the catholic ceme­tery where a vault had been pre­pared to tem­porar­i­ly deposit the casket.

On 25 Octo­ber 1844 the Eng­lish ship, John Bull, car­ry­ing Weber’s cof­fin docked at Ham­burg. Ships from all over the world fired their can­nons, dipped their col­ors in trib­ute and the Funer­al March from the Eroica Sym­pho­ny was played as the body was trans­ferred to a small boat for the jour­ney down the Elbe. But the riv­er froze at Wit­tem­berg and the boat became stuck. After the ship became frozen, the cof­fin was removed and placed on a rail­road car and con­tin­ued to a sta­tion in Dres­den, arriv­ing on the morn­ing of 13 Decem­ber.2 Here the cof­fin was placed on a cart and removed to a dis­em­barka­tion wharf3 on the left bank of the Elbe oppo­site the Pack­hof build­ing. Here in the late after­noon it was placed on a sim­i­lar ship, a ship made by the same mak­er of the ship which had left Eng­land and one already known to the res­i­dents of Dres­den for it had, on a sim­i­lar occa­sion, once brought the remains of King Antonus of Pill­nitz to Dres­den. Now the ship flags were at half-mast in hon­or of Weber.

On the fol­low­ing day, 14 Decem­ber, a dense crowd was wait­ing by the wharf and count­less mass­es of human beings in solemn silence lined the streets from the black-draped quay to the catholic ceme­tery in Friedrichsstadt.4 The par­tic­i­pants began to arrive at 6:00pm, includ­ing mem­bers of three singing clubs, the Orpheus, the Liedertafel and the Liederkranz, the cho­rus employed by the king and the cho­rus of the The­ater. In addi­tion, invit­ed were numer­ous mem­bers of the Roy­al Musi­cal Chapel, acclaimed and beloved mas­ters, Kapellmeis­ter Reis­siger and music direc­tor Röck­el, the twelve old­est for­mer mem­bers of the court musi­cal estab­lish­ment, togeth­er with more than one hun­dred men bear­ing burn­ing wax torch­es and lau­rel wreaths. There were three mil­i­tary bands from reg­i­ments of the line and one from the Com­mu­nal Guarde.5

The singers were formed in a large semi­cir­cle near the wharf and closed by a sea of fire of 120 torch­es, car­ried by mem­bers of the gar­ri­son artillery, in its midst were invit­ed friends of Weber, his sur­viv­ing son, Max­i­m­il­ian von Weber, mem­bers of the com­mit­tee who had orga­nized this cer­e­mo­ny and mem­bers of the Weber Foun­da­tion. Into this semi­cir­cle, on a black blan­ket, was now placed Weber’s lead cof­fin, formed in the shape of a vio­lin in a wood case which was stained black with brass han­dles and dec­o­ra­tions on the lid includ­ing a large cop­per plate with Weber’s name in Latin. Now the Antikenk­abi­net direc­tor, Herr Schulz, recit­ed an effec­tive­ly com­posed poem, “Gruss.” The 1200 choral mem­bers, under the direc­tion of Kapellmeis­ter Reis­siger, began to sing a solemn song, begin­ning with the words, “Be grate­ful for your glo­ri­ous cra­dle at its des­ti­na­tion in the Heav­en-land.“6 One news­pa­per states that Wag­n­er’s Trauer­musik was played at this time, before the pro­ces­sion began.7

Now a lau­rel wreath was placed on the cof­fin and it was moved to a near­by hearse, which was dec­o­rat­ed with the Arms of the Weber fam­i­ly, made in Lon­don as part of the depar­ture cer­e­mo­ny there. Next the pro­ces­sion began, with torch bear­ers in a line on both sides of the pro­ces­sion. The band was fol­lowed by the hearse, now hung with white silk rib­bons and sil­ver tas­sels, accom­pa­nied by mem­bers of the Weber Com­mit­tee, Weber’s son, Max­i­m­il­ian von Weber, Hofrath Win­kler, who had been the guardian of the Weber fam­i­ly and the cham­ber musi­cian, Furste­nau, who had accom­pa­nied Weber to Lon­don and had been present at his funer­al there. Final­ly there came friends and com­pan­ions and the singers amidst an inter­minable line of flam­ing torch­es which dim­ly showed the black ban­ner on which were inscribed the words, “Weber in Dres­den!” The accom­pa­ny­ing pub­lic crowd was described as “count­less.”

The whole scene offered an impres­sive and dig­ni­fied sight! Arriv­ing at the catholic ceme­tery the cof­fin was received in the chapel by the cler­gy and the Ladies of the Opera in mourn­ing robes, who adorned it with gar­lands and flower arrange­ments.8

The impor­tant ques­tion today is, how did Wag­n­er’s Trauer­musik func­tion in this cer­e­mo­ny? In Wag­n­er’s own account of the band’s par­tic­i­pa­tion one clear­ly gets the impres­sion that this was only pro­ces­sion­al music. But the real­i­ty of this is dif­fi­cult to imag­ine. Aside from the fact that the tem­po and nota­tion of this music, with its long note val­ues and soft dynam­ics is com­plete­ly unsuit­ed for march­ing, the absence of music stands and the dark of night makes imag­in­ing play­ing this music while march­ing down the street seem impos­si­ble. Fur­ther­more, since two news­pa­pers described Wag­n­er as the con­duc­tor of his music, I, for one, find it quite impos­si­ble to imag­ine Wag­n­er walk­ing back­ward in front of the bands and con­duct­ing dur­ing this very cold and dark procession.

More sig­nif­i­cant, the char­ac­ter of the music is that of an ele­gy, not a march. Indeed, the Leipziger Zeitung, gives a descrip­tion which sounds more like an ele­gy than a march, “based on the beau­ti­ful Weber song from Euryan­the, ‘A qui­et brook, where pas­tures stand.’ ” Also Wag­n­er orga­nized a poster before the cer­e­mo­ny [a copy can be seen in the Leipziger Deutsche All­ge­meine Zeitung for 11 Decem­ber 1844] seek­ing dona­tions for the event, which promis­es a “great musi­cal per­for­mance,” which, again, would not seem to reflect mere pro­ces­sion­al music. And we note that Wag­n­er him­self, in a let­ter, called this work a sym­phon­ic composition.

On the oth­er hand, those mem­bers of the cer­e­mo­ni­al mil­i­tary bands would have in their reper­toire pro­ces­sion­al music for such occa­sions mem­o­rized from con­stant use which would have required nei­ther music stands nor a conductor.

If some form of this music was indeed per­formed dur­ing the hour and a half pro­ces­sion to the chapel, it would seem more like­ly that Wag­n­er also cre­at­ed a short­er and more reg­u­lar ver­sion specif­i­cal­ly to be played when walk­ing. The fact that the orig­i­nal mate­ri­als in Wag­n­er’s hand are lost9 leaves this a pos­si­bil­i­ty. One observ­er heard “a grandiose Trauer­marsch by Wag­n­er on motives from Weber’s Euryan­the,“10 a descrip­tion, “grandiose,” which does not sound like the Trauer­musik we know and also pro­vides a title, Trauer­marsch, which Wag­n­er nev­er ever used.

Final­ly, there could be a mod­el for such a cir­cum­stance of mak­ing a spe­cial ver­sion for march­ing pur­pos­es. I would offer the sug­ges­tion that Wag­n­er’s plan for this cer­e­mo­ny was like­ly inspired by a sim­i­lar great pro­ces­sion which he had per­son­al­ly viewed in Paris only four years before in 1840, when the Funer­al March, the first move­ment of the great Sym­pho­ny for Band by Berlioz, was used for the ini­tial part of a great memo­r­i­al ser­vice for the remains of cit­i­zens killed in an ear­li­er polit­i­cal upris­ing in Paris.11 Much as is the case with the Wag­n­er Trauer­musik, the first move­ment of the Berlioz Sym­pho­ny we know today is com­plete­ly unsuit­able for use in a street parade, due to its ruba­to, changes in tem­pi and gen­er­al musi­cal sen­si­tiv­i­ty. We know today that Berlioz had cre­at­ed some spe­cial ver­sion for use in march­ing and this man­u­script, which was lost in WWII, was even in a dif­fer­ent key than the move­ment we know today.

Chronology of Wagner’s Trauermusik scores

Original autograph sketches

In the 1960s, when I was liv­ing in Vien­na, I took the oppor­tu­ni­ty to vis­it Wag­n­er’s home, Wan­fried, in Bayreuth. At that time the home still con­tained Wag­n­er’s orig­i­nal fur­ni­ture and wall cov­er­ings, mak­ing a vis­it a very mem­o­rable expe­ri­ence. At that time they also had in Wan­fried a small library of Wag­n­er’s man­u­scripts among which I dis­cov­ered the orig­i­nal two-line sketch­es for the Trauer­musik, which at that time were uniden­ti­fied on this manuscript.

In this auto­graph sketch, which is clear­ly Wag­n­er’s start­ing point for this mas­ter­piece, it is evi­dent he was scor­ing and trans­pos­ing at sight from some ear­li­er score, pre­sum­ably a full opera score itself. We find here no title and no intro­duc­tion, the first six­teen mea­sures. The repeat sign exists, which would appear at this time to be a repeat back to mea­sure 17 of the lat­er ver­sion. The end­ing includes the very impor­tant ties in the upper voic­es, which all sub­se­quent edi­tions fail to indi­cate. Also, the nota­tion of the low­er brass in the final two bars clear­ly shows the sep­a­ra­tion which is nec­es­sary to cre­ate the effect of large church bells bring­ing the work to a close.12

We also can see in mm. 22–23 of this orig­i­nal sketch the ori­gin of the most impor­tant mis­take found in all lat­er edi­tions. Here, and in mod­ern edi­tions, we see a pow­er­ful crescen­do in m. 22, fol­lowed by a subito pp in m. 23. Tak­en lit­er­al­ly, such a per­for­mance sounds wrong. If m. 22 con­tained only quar­ter-notes, it might be pos­si­ble to then expand the crescen­do a bit and think of the subito pp as some sort of dra­mat­ic effect. How­ev­er the final eighth-note in m. 22 cre­ates such strong for­ward motion that a sud­den subito pp results in some­thing more like musi­cal humor, some­thing clear­ly out of char­ac­ter with this music.

The fact is there are two errors in these mea­sures. In m. 23, this same music in the auto­graph opera score con­tains an accent on the down­beat in all mov­ing voic­es, which is exact­ly what the ear of any musi­cian would expect, not a subito pp. Sec­ond­ly Wag­n­er, like most musi­cians today, mis­un­der­stood the pp of the accom­pa­ny­ing voic­es to be meant in the mod­ern tra­di­tion, sud­den­ly soft. But the fact is, in Ital­ian there is an alter­na­tive def­i­n­i­tion, which is still in use today, mean­ing sud­den­ly slow­er. This was more com­mon in the Clas­si­cal Peri­od and we must remem­ber that while Weber is thought of today as the har­bin­ger of the Roman­tic style, his own train­ing was in the Clas­si­cal School, as a stu­dent of Michael Haydn.

How­ev­er, while the omis­sion of the down­beat with an accent in m. 23 remains Wag­n­er’s mis­take, it appears that the real error exist­ed in the score from which Wag­n­er was copy­ing from, which was not the actu­al Weber auto­graph score. How this hap­pened deserves an explanation.

On one occa­sion when I was in Milan I had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to see a small exhib­it at the La Scala Opera House hon­or­ing Mozart and his Mar­riage of Figaro. I was aston­ished to see in one cab­i­net an auto­graph score by Mozart with a title on top in his hand­writ­ing, in Ger­man, “Con­duc­tor’s score.” It con­sist­ed of essen­tial­ly a piano reduc­tion, filled with cues for singers, etc. But one was struck by the fact that not only was Mozart the com­pos­er of this opera, but he at that time still owned the full auto­graph scores. Why would he go to all the effort to make this piano score for use in his own con­duct­ing? The answer is obvi­ous when you see any one of the three large vol­umes which con­tain the auto­graph score for the opera.13 Any one of them would not only col­lapse the small music rack on the harp­si­chord, but would result in the con­duc­tor being so busy turn­ing pages that he could not cue the singers. It was for this rea­son that Mozart cre­at­ed a “con­duc­tor’s score” for his own use in performance.

Dur­ing my years of research in Euro­pean libraries I also vis­it­ed the per­son­al archives belong­ing to the major opera hous­es. There I found a num­ber of these reduced “con­duc­tor’s scores,” all done by anony­mous scribes for the same pur­pose as in the Mozart exam­ple. Wag­n­er, when con­duct­ing this opera him­self in Dres­den, knew and had con­duct­ed from one of these “con­duc­tor scores,” which evi­dent­ly con­tained this error. In this case it is known that after the pre­miere of Euyran­the} in Vien­na in 1823, the orig­i­nal auto­graph score was returned to the Weber fam­i­ly and was not seen by any­one for the remain­der of the nine­teenth cen­tu­ry. We can­not look fur­ther for the copy­ist’s score which Wag­n­er knew and used, for this score was burned in the famous fire bomb­ing of Dres­den in WWII. When I exam­ined the auto­graph score, now in Berlin, I noticed that though it had been in a safe, it too had water dam­age from this sad event.

Autograph score, Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin (Mus.ms. Autogr.R. Wagner 3)

This auto­graph score (here­after MM3) has always been tak­en as the orig­i­nal auto­graph score since it is in Wag­n­er’s hand and is dat­ed (15 Nov. 44). How­ev­er, this can­not be said to be the orig­i­nal score for one can imme­di­ate­ly see that this one, MM3, is itself a copy of some pre­vi­ous score. Fur­ther­more, the instru­men­ta­tion giv­en in the left mar­gin of the first page is in two dif­fer­ent hands, or at least in two dif­fer­ent styles of Ger­man, and clear­ly appears to have been writ­ten at two dif­fer­ent times. First were writ­ten the names of the instru­ments in very clear­ly writ­ten mod­ern Ger­man, but wedged in over the top of each instru­ment is addi­tion­al infor­ma­tion in a small, Goth­ic Ger­man hand­writ­ing, appear­ing to be a record of the num­ber of play­ers in the first per­for­mance in 1844. For exam­ple the oboe staff was orig­i­nal­ly writ­ten as “Oboen,” in mod­ern Ger­man, but above we read “4 first and 3 sec­ond,” writ­ten in small­er, Goth­ic German.

This auto­graph score has no title, is marked Ada­gio and is in com­mon time. There is, how­ev­er, a loose sheet which appears to be in the hand of Wag­n­er which gives the title he always used in his cor­re­spon­dence, Trauer­musik. On this same sheet is a com­ment by Dr. Arthur Schurig of Dres­den, the last pri­vate own­er of this man­u­script, indi­cat­ing that he obtained this “sub­lime man­u­script” from his uncle, Volk­mar Schurig (1822–1899).

The man­u­script which Volk­mar owned appears to me to be the one we know today as MM3, but we have no fur­ther infor­ma­tion on how or when he obtained it from Wag­n­er. Anoth­er ear­ly name also asso­ci­at­ed with this peri­od was a Mrs. Rudolf Tishatscheck of Dres­den, who appar­ent­ly owned a man­u­script score of the Trauer­musik, but now named Trauersin­fonie. It was this score which was the basis for the first pub­li­ca­tion of the orig­i­nal music, by Bre­itkopf and Här­tel in 1926, and is dis­cussed fur­ther below.

While it seems dif­fi­cult to trace the orig­i­nal own­er­ship of the auto­graph score, or scores, cor­re­spon­dence between Wag­n­er and the pub­lish­er, Fritzsch in 1871, implies that in May 1871 Wag­n­er believed that his orig­i­nal score was still in Dres­den and that only by 30 June 1871 had the score returned to him.14

The First Publication for piano, 1860

It appears that a renewed inter­est among the pub­lic in the music of Carl Maria von Weber result­ed in the rais­ing of a stat­ue of the com­pos­er in front of the State The­ater in Dres­den in 1860. This, in turn, seems to have been the occa­sion for the pub­li­ca­tion of the Trauer­musik, now under the title Trauer Sin­fonie, in a ver­sion for piano. The arranger of this music for piano was Adolf Josef Maria Blass­mann (1823–1891), a Dres­den con­cert pianist and stu­dent of Liszt. The first edi­tion for piano was pub­lished in 1860 in Dres­den by C.F. Meser [plate 666] and a sec­ond edi­tion in Berlin by Adolf Fürst­ner [plate 2997].

It seems most like­ly that the score Blass­mann was using to cre­ate his piano arrange­ment was the orig­i­nal MM3. We assume this because it appears the auto­graph MM3 was still in Dres­den in 1860, Blass­mann and the pub­lish­er were in Dres­den and we know from Wag­n­er’s let­ter to the Leipzig pub­lish­er Fritzsch of 30 June 1871 that the score was only then returned to him. The piano pub­li­ca­tion itself is of lit­tle help in this regard, because Blass­mann has made many alter­ations in order for the music to sound well on piano.

1885 Mehner copy

The most recent Euro­pean pub­li­ca­tion of the Trauer­musik score is found in the lat­est Richard Wag­n­er, Com­plete Works (Mainz: Schott, 1997), XVIII, and gives as one of its three sources15 a man­u­script in the hand of one of Wag­n­er’s copy­ists, Carl Mehn­er, who died after 1878. This score, now in the Berlin Staats­bib­lio­thek (Ms. ms. 22505),16 which was last in the pos­ses­sion of Wil­helm Tap­pert (1830–1907), a Dres­den teacher and crit­ic.17 Although this score uses the lat­er title, Trauersin­fonie, it lacks the trom­bones entrance in m. 16 which are found in MM3 but miss­ing in lat­er scores by Mot­tl and Balling. The Mehn­er score car­ries no date, there is a note of Feb. 1885 say­ing that this score was recent­ly used in a per­for­mance on a Muse­um con­cert in Munich, con­duct­ed by Her­mann Levi, con­duc­tor of the Court Opera in Munich.

1894 Anton Seidl manuscript

The fifti­eth anniver­sary of the orig­i­nal per­for­mance of Wag­n­er’s Trauer­musik as part of the cer­e­mo­ny which wel­comed the arrival of the remains of Carl Maria von Weber to Dres­den, occurred in 1894. This anniver­sary appears to be respon­si­ble for the appear­ance of at least two new man­u­script copies of the Trauer­musik.

In 2017 I had the good for­tune to dis­cov­er one of these scores which was pre­pared for this cel­e­bra­tion, which appears to have been unknown until I found it. And this man­u­script score must be con­sid­ered an impor­tant one, for it is in the hand of Anton Sei­dl (1850–1898) who was the most impor­tant copy­ist of Wag­n­er and from 1872 to 1878 actu­al­ly lived in the Wag­n­er house­hold. We can doc­u­ment at least one oth­er arrange­ment for band by Sei­dl, the Brunnhilde’s Awak­en­ing from the Ring which was pub­lished with a note, “Done under the per­son­al super­vi­sion of the Mas­ter.” In addi­tion to this close asso­ci­a­tion with Wag­n­er, we have the intrigu­ing note by Sei­dl him­self the Trauer­musik, “Com­posed for the re-intern­ment of the ash­es of von Weber, Dres­den, 1844. Scored by Sei­dl from Wag­n­er’s sketches.”

Togeth­er with the dis­cov­ery of this man­u­script, we are also for­tu­nate to have the only orig­i­nal com­plete set of parts yet to be found. The date when Sei­dl fin­ished his score he gives as 29 Novem­ber 1894 and two weeks lat­er Sei­dl con­duct­ed this ver­sion on 15 Decem­ber 1894 in an anniver­sary con­cert with the New York Phil­har­mon­ic, with the pro­gram title in the Eng­lish trans­la­tion, Funer­al Music.18 Sei­dl was the con­duc­tor of the New York Phil­har­mon­ic from 1891 until his death in 1898. His tenure as con­duc­tor of the orches­tra was of a very high lev­el and includ­ed his com­mis­sion and pre­miere of the New World Sym­pho­ny of Dvo­rak in the pre­vi­ous year 1893. The print­ed pro­gram for this fifti­eth anniver­sary con­cert19 by Sei­dl and the New York Phil­har­mon­ic calls this the first per­for­mance of the Trauer­musik in Amer­i­ca and points out that it is for wind instru­ments only, which con­firms Sei­dl’s own score was used, and not some­one’s arrange­ment for orchestra.

This Sei­dl score gives the tem­po as Langsam, like the piano arrange­ment of 1860 and the score title as Trauer­musik like the MM3 score of 1844, although there are some extra title pages in Sei­dl’s hand which use the title Trauersin­fonie. The fact that the trom­bones are present in bar 16, also points to the MM3 score. Of the var­i­ous scores made by oth­ers after 1844, this is the only one which spec­i­fies that it was made from “sketch­es.” Since Sei­dl began his asso­ci­a­tion with Wag­n­er in 1872, the year fol­low­ing Wag­n­er’s own reac­qui­si­tion of the auto­graph score, MM3, and because Sei­dl, togeth­er with Wag­n­er him­self, had made an addi­tion­al, but sep­a­rate, band tran­scrip­tion of Brun­hilde’s Erwachen, it is pos­si­ble that Sei­dl had had the MM3 copy in his pos­ses­sion after 1872 and only got around to mak­ing his edi­tion for the occa­sion of the fifti­eth anniversary.

The dis­cov­ery of the Sei­dl score offers some addi­tion­al insights, because it sur­vived togeth­er with the only ear­ly orig­i­nal set of parts for the Trauer­musik. Since these parts were made and used for the per­for­mance of the New York Phil­har­mon­ic con­duct­ed by Sei­dl, we have some impor­tant insights into the rehearsals, in the form of mark­ings made by the play­ers, that is, how this close per­son­al asso­ciate of Wag­n­er inter­pret­ed this com­po­si­tion. These mark­ings in the parts, togeth­er with the mark­ings in the score which vary from mod­ern edi­tions include the following:

  1. Mark­ings indi­cate Sei­dl con­duct­ed in 4, and his score is also notat­ed in com­mon time.
  2. The parts have a rall. added in m. 14.
  3. M. 16 has a fer­ma­ta with a sym­bol indi­cat­ing a break after the fermata.
  4. MM. 19–20 have a crescendo–diminuendo added.
  5. The accom­pa­ny­ing brass all have a final quar­ter-note rest in m. 19, not an eighth-note rest.
  6. MM. 28–29 has a tie in the Sei­dl part for Clar­inet 2 and 4.
  7. MM. 29–30 has a tie for Oboe 2 and Clar­inet 2.
  8. MM. 30–31 has a tie in the Oboe 2 and Clar­inet 4.
  9. In m. 31 the trom­bones have a half-note E‑flat on the first half of the bar and Trom­bone 2 con­tin­ues with an F half-note in the sec­ond half of the bar. This E‑flat is an impor­tant cor­rec­tion in the har­mo­ny which is miss­ing in lat­er editions.
  10. In m. 32 the Sei­dl score begins the per­cus­sion roll which begins in m. 37 in lat­er editions.
  11. In m. 33 of the Sei­dl score Horns 3 and 4 were first writ­ten an octave low­er, then crossed out and writ­ten an octave high­er, as in mod­ern editions.
  12. In m. 37 of the Sei­dl score there is no dolce. The low­er clar­inets are slurred by the mea­sure, not by the beat, and Horns 1 and 2 are not por­ta­men­to, but rather with tenu­to signs. Bas­soon 1 should have a tie in mm. 38–39, and again in 39–40.
  13. In mm. 39–40 the Tuba should be notat­ed exact­ly as in mm. 37–38.
  14. In m. 41 Horns 3 and 4, Bas­soons and Per­cus­sion should have only an eighth-note on the first beat, not a quarter-note.
  15. In m. 46 Horns 1 and 2 were first writ­ten an octave low­er, then crossed out and writ­ten an octave high­er, as in mod­ern editions.
  16. In mm. 45–46 and 47–48 the Tuba should have a slur to a low­er dot­ted half-note on F.
  17. Sei­dl gives new bas­soon notes not found in oth­er ear­ly scores, includ­ing m. 45: both uni­son F, 4th line. m. 46, C and E‑flat above the staff. m. 47, B‑flat and D above the staff. m. 48 like m. 46. These new notes, how­ev­er, were not copied into the parts.
  18. Per­cus­sion should be marked f, begin­ning in m. 52 and not in m. 53.
  19. In m. 56 Clar­inets 3 and 4 should be changed to the enhar­mon­i­cal­ly cor­rect D‑sharp.
  20. In m. 60 the cor­rect pitch for Trum­pet 2 is E‑flat, not F. Trom­bones and Tuba should read piano crescen­do in this measure.
  21. In m. 66 Trom­bones, Eupho­ni­um and Tuba should read pp in this mea­sure and again in m. 69, and Horns 3 and 4 in m. 69.
  22. In m. 68 the Tuba on the 3rd beat and the next down beat should be one octave lower.
  23. In mm. 70–71 the Bas­soons and Horn 2 should have a tie.
  24. In mm. 84–85 it is very impor­tant that the wood­winds which have the same pitch in both bars should be notat­ed as a tie. The low­er brass with half-notes should be played as indi­vid­ual fer­mati with a space between the notes, result­ing in the effect of three great church bells ringing.

1894 Höstel copy

Yet anoth­er man­u­script score was cre­at­ed in this anniver­sary year, one by the Dres­den com­pos­er and band con­duc­tor, Kurt Hös­tel (1862–1929).20 Kurt Mey, writ­ing twelve years lat­er in 1906, tells us that Höstel’s score was made “down to the small­est detail accu­rate” of the MM3 man­u­script.21 Mey writes that in fact Hös­tel made two copies at this time, one of which belonged to Mey [thus he iden­ti­fies it as the same as MM3 and rec­om­mends as being the one which should be pub­lished] and one was donat­ed to the Wag­n­er Muse­um in Beyreuth, then housed in Wan­fried. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, accord­ing to the schol­ar, Kei­th Kinder, none of the Hös­tel scores have as yet been discovered.

1897, Trauersinfonie, manuscript score22 dated July 6, 1897

By Felix Mot­tl (1856–1911), Aus­tri­an con­duc­tor and briefly a copy­ist for Wag­n­er.23 This score is dis­cussed below as the source for the 1926 edition.

1926 First Musicological Edition

In the Col­lect­ed Works of Wag­n­er, ed. Michael Balling, Vol. 20, Bre­itkopf \& Här­tel, 1926, as Trauersin­fonie.

The occa­sion for the pub­li­ca­tion of this score was no doubt the 100th anniver­sary of the death of Weber. A per­for­mance in this year was giv­en in Munich from the bal­cony of the opera house, con­duct­ed by Fritz Busch.

This edi­tion was based on a man­u­script giv­en to Balling in 1922 as a gift “declar­ing the authen­tic­i­ty and verac­i­ty of the con­tent,” by Felix Mot­tl (1856–1911), an Aus­tri­an con­duc­tor and com­pos­er who had been one of the enthu­si­as­tic group of young men who were help­ing Wag­n­er pre­pare for the first Bayreuth Fes­ti­val in 1876.24 Mot­tl’s man­u­script copy25 of the Trauer­musik is dat­ed “6.7.97, Marienbad.”

On the title page of this copy he gave to Balling there is a pen­cil note in Mot­tl’s hand­writ­ing which attests that he made this score on the basis of one in the pos­ses­sion of Mrs. Rudolf Tichatschek.26 Fol­low­ing this, he con­tin­ued in pen­cil to point out that the word “Dres­den” had been added to the print­ed title page which appar­ent­ly accom­pa­nied Mrs. Tichatschek’s score. This print­ed title page, with Wag­n­er’s added “Dres­den” is no longer cat­a­loged with Mot­tl’s copy today but is found instead togeth­er with the mate­ri­als cat­a­loged with the copy MM3. Final­ly, the title page of this 1897 man­u­script in the hand of Mot­tl has, beneath the name of Wag­n­er, the word “Tichatscheck.”

Today the ques­tion is, how is this man­u­script phys­i­cal­ly relat­ed to the one which remains in the hand of Wag­n­er, MM3. This is a very impor­tant ques­tion because the infer­ence was that Mrs. Tichatscheck had an orig­i­nal Wag­n­er man­u­script score. But there are some sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ences with the MM3 score. First, where­as MM3 has no title27 on the first page of the score, both the Mot­tl and Balling scores car­ry the title, \Trauersin­fonie. Sec­ond, where­as the Wag­n­er score has Ada­gio as the tem­po indi­ca­tion, the Mot­tl’s man­u­script score has no tem­po des­ig­na­tion, although on Balling’s 1926 pub­li­ca­tion of it we find Andante maestoso. Third, the Wag­n­er score has an entrance of the trom­bones in the last bar of the intro­duc­tion, while the Mot­tl and Balling scores do not. Final­ly, while the Wag­n­er man­u­script is giv­en in com­mon time both Mot­tl and Balling have an alla breve sign.

While these dis­tinc­tions are impor­tant, the rest of the score does reflect Mot­tl’s promise that his copy was authen­tic and had verac­i­ty. And it is impor­tant to stress the obvi­ous, Mot­tl’s score is a copy of some­thing. But what is it a copy of? In this regard I find one impor­tant clue. In the auto­graph score, MM3, in mm. 38–41, some­one has writ­ten in the upper mar­gin, above the score, a cor­rec­tion in the per­cus­sion part. The hand­writ­ing in this cor­rec­tion, both the music, the eighth-note stems and quar­ter-note rest, and espe­cial­ly the word “Tromeln” is pre­cise­ly the hand­writ­ing of the MM3 score itself! In oth­er words, it was Wag­n­er him­self who dis­cov­ered this omis­sion and added the cor­rec­tion in the mar­gin above. But in these mea­sures, 38–41, in both Mot­tl and Balling scores the cor­rect­ed part is in its prop­er place on the per­cus­sion line. This means that what­ev­er score Mot­tl was look­ing at while mak­ing his copy, it was after this cor­rec­tion by Wag­n­er. And since Mot­tl was copy­ing the cor­rect­ed copy and because he has writ­ten “Tichatscheck” on the title page of his own copy, I am led to believe that the copy owned by Mrs. Tichatscheck was in fact the score we know today as MM3.28 And, after­all, we have the evi­dence of Mot­tl’s own hand­writ­ing on the score say­ing he copied from the score of Mrs. Tichatscheck.

Balling made it clear in his notes that he had not seen the auto­graph, but used a copy by Mot­tl which he was assured by Mot­tl was made from the auto­graph. This 1926 pub­li­ca­tion was the source for the Amer­i­can band edi­tion by Erik Lei­dzen [NY: Asso­ci­at­ed Music Pub. 1949].

Performance Suggestions

In the opera, Euryan­the has lost her lover, Adolar, and she is walk­ing on a for­est path con­tem­plat­ing her fate. The prin­ci­pal emo­tion at m. 17, there­fore, is nos­tal­gia. In such a place I ask the play­ers to think of some­thing for which they feel nos­tal­gia while they play—it could be a friend, moth­er, first pet, etc. And if they do so, you will hear an aston­ish­ing change in the sound of the band.

Believ­ing her­self as being respon­si­ble for the break with Adolar, she wants to die. While walk­ing in the woods we hear at m. 25 the soft rustling of the leaves and she sees a beau­ti­ful clear­ing in the woods [mm. 25 and 26] and sings “and over there” [the trum­pet solo]; and again at m. 28, a place for her to be buried.

As in life’s path the unex­pect­ed hap­pens, so in m. 32 she comes upon a drag­on. Here the low brass must cre­ate the image of the drag­on being awak­ened, ris­ing up and lying back down again. We must under­stand this pas­sage to be the ori­gin of the great drag­on which we find lat­er in Siegfried.

The music of this great mas­ter­piece has nev­er sound­ed to me like Trauer music; it is not sad and it also does not sound like a funer­al march. In the opera it is all about the med­i­ta­tions of Euryan­the. Since the terms Trauer­musik or Trauersin­fonie have appli­ca­tion only to how Wag­n­er used this music in the cer­e­mo­ny of 1844, for con­cert per­for­mance today I pre­fer to call this com­po­si­tion, Med­i­ta­tions of Euryanthe.

Final­ly a note on the first 16 mea­sures of this com­po­si­tion as we know it today. This music does not appear in Wag­n­er’s orig­i­nal sketch, but does in the auto­graph score, MM3. Here it was pre­sum­ably scored for enough instru­ments to be heard out­doors. But the orig­i­nal music in Weber’s man­u­script is scored very soft, for soli, divisi eight-part vio­lins and marked not only pp, but mut­ed! Judg­ing by sim­i­lar pas­sages in sim­i­lar places in Weber this is evi­dent­ly intend­ed to be a choir of angels. In order to make these bars more angel­ic (and eas­i­er to bal­ance!) I rescore the first 16 mea­sures for only a few woodwinds./p>

David Whitwell, 2018

  1. Max von Weber, The Life of an Artist, II Chap­man and Hall, 1865, 477ff. []
  2. The most detailed descrip­tion of the first day, 14 Decem­ber 1844, of the cer­e­mo­ny is found in the Leipziger Zeitung of 17 Decem­ber 1844. An issue of this same paper for the day before the cer­e­mo­ny wor­ried that the “sharp cold” would bring the par­tic­i­pants harm. Anoth­er lengthy account can be found in a paper issued two days lat­er, on 19 Decem­ber, the Dres­den Beiblät­ter zu den Cor­re­spon­denz-Nachricht­en der Abend-Zeitung. []
  3. Auss­chif­fungsplatz, con­firmed in all sources, refers specif­i­cal­ly to a ship wharf and not a train sta­tion. []
  4. Carl Maria Von Weber, John Hamil­ton War­rack and John War­rack, p. 364ff. []
  5. Deutsche All­ge­meine Zeitung (Leipzig) of 18 Decem­ber 1844. []
  6. Beibläat­ter zur Kass­selschen All­ge­meinen Zeiung, Decem­ber 23, 1844. []
  7. Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, 23 Decem­ber 1844. Deutsche All­ge­meine Zeitung (Liepzig) of 18 Decem­ber 1844, reports that the Wag­n­er Trauer­musik was per­formed only at the end of the pro­ces­sion, as the hearse reached the doors of the chapel. []
  8. All­ge­meine Wiener Musik-Zeitung, 31 Decem­ber 1844. On the sec­ond day of this cer­e­mo­ny, 15 Decem­ber 1844, the Trauer­march was not used, but Wag­n­er made a long, heart­felt ora­tion, which is quot­ed in David Whitwell, Wag­n­er on Bands (Whitwell Books), avail­able from amazon.com. []
  9. The “auto­graph man­u­script,” in Berlin is actu­al­ly only a copy of an unknown orig­i­nal score. []
  10. Dres­den Beiblät­ter zu den Cor­re­spon­denz-Nachricht­en der Abend-Zeitung []
  11. One writer has sug­gest­ed Wag­n­er was inspired by Napoleon’s rebur­ial at Les Invalides in Paris on Decem­ber 1840. See Philipp Ther, Cen­ter Stage = Oper­a­tive Cul­ture and Nation Build­ing in the 19th Cen­tu­ry. []
  12. We also find in the sketch­es, in the tran­si­tion pas­sage in the present mm. 51–53, Wag­n­er dou­bles the rhyth­mic nota­tion of the orig­i­nal pas­sage in the opera. Per­haps Wag­n­er felt the orig­i­nal speed was too fast for the majes­tic ver­sion he had in mind, but in expand­ing this pas­sage he cre­at­ed a very dif­fi­cult into­na­tion prob­lem for the wood­winds, cre­at­ing a crescen­do in this uni­son, high­ly placed line. []
  13. For many years, one of these three vol­umes resided in East Ger­many and rarely was seen by schol­ars. One more recent west­ern schol­ar, when she was allowed to exam­ine this “lost” vol­ume, wrote that she had to push her chair away from the table while read­ing it, in order to pre­vent her tears from falling on the pages! []
  14. The let­ters are quot­ed in John Deathridge, Mar­tin Geck and Egon Voss, in Wag­n­er Werk-Verze­ich­nis (Mainz, Schott, 1985), 304. []
  15. The oth­er two are Mot­tl and MM3. []
  16. Anoth­er copy in the state library in Dres­den was burned dur­ing WWII. []
  17. Tap­pert, in his Musikalis­ches Wachen­blatt, 1872, describes a per­for­mance of Beethoven’s Ninth Sym­pho­ny dur­ing which Wag­n­er got so excit­ed he broke his baton. []
  18. This con­cert also includ­ed a per­for­mance of Beethoven’s Eighth Sym­pho­ny, Anton Rubin­stein’s Over­ture to Shake­speare’s Antony and Cleopa­tra and a Con­cer­to for Piano by Mac­Dow­ell. []
  19. The pro­gram gives the start­ing time of the con­cert as 8:15pm, with tick­et prices rang­ing from “Par­quet” at $2.00 to the bal­cony, after the first two rows, at 78 cents. []
  20. Hös­tel also fin­ished Wag­n­er’s libret­to for Wieland der Schmied [Wieland the Smith] and com­posed music for it. Hös­tel describes him­self as “One who has thought and lived in the Wag­n­er tra­di­tion.” []
  21. Kurt Mey, Richard Wag­n­ers Weber­trauer­marsch, in Bernard Schus­ter (ed), Die Musik VI, vol. 12, Berlin and Leipzig, 1906/1907. He iden­ti­fies this score as the same as MM3. []
  22. Now in the Wag­n­er Muse­um, Bayreuth, Bm 7, and first per­formed by the Munich Hofkapelle in 1905. []
  23. Mot­tl observed, “Every­thing I can do, I owe to this Bayreuth appren­tice­ship.” []
  24. When one con­sid­ers how busy Wag­n­er must have been in prepar­ing the music for this first Bayreuth Fes­ti­val in 1876, it must sure­ly explain why the com­po­si­tion he wrote for the cel­e­bra­tion of the Amer­i­can Inde­pen­dence in the same year is so poor. []
  25. Now housed in the Wag­n­er Muse­um in Bayreuth. []
  26. The Tichatschek fam­i­ly were close friends with Wag­n­er dur­ing his Dres­den res­i­dence. []
  27. Wag­n­er, in his cor­re­spon­dence, always called it Trauer­musik.” []
  28. Kei­th Kinder, the first mod­ern schol­ar to pub­lish much of the infor­ma­tion about the ear­ly man­u­scripts, takes a dif­fer­ent view, believ­ing the score Mot­tl was copy­ing in 1897 is unknown and that the Tichatscheck score is lost. []