Elsa's Procession to the Cathedral (tr Bourgeois)

From Wind Repertory Project
Richard Wagner

Richard Wagner (trans. John R. Bourgeois)

General Info

Year: 1848 / 1997
Duration: c. 6:40
Difficulty: V (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Wingert-Jones Publications
Cost: Score and Parts - $80.00   |   Score Only - $15.00


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II-III
Oboe I-II
English Horn
Bassoon I-II-III
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III (I and II div.)
E-flat Alto Clarinet
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Cornet I-II-III (I div.)
B-flat Trumpets I-II-III-IV (on stage)
B-flat Trumpets I-VI (off stage)
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
String Bass
Percussion, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Snare Drum


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Elsa’s Procession to the Cathedral, with its medieval color and pageantry, prefaces her betrothal to Lohengrin, mystic Knight of the Holy Grail, who comes to deliver the people of Brabant (Antwerp) from the Hungarian invaders.

In the operatic presentation, a large double chorus (representing the people of Antwerp) adds its song of solemn praise to that of the orchestra. It is in this music, mystic yet powerful, that we find Wagner striking out with those new and intense musical thoughts that were to culminate in Tristan, The Ring, and Parsifal. Not quite emancipated from the musical speech of his operatic contemporaries, one finds in the Lohengrin score those unmistakable flights into musico-dramatic magnificence transcending all that preceded it in idiom and musical adventure.

Elsa’s Procession to the Cathedral has been a treasured icon in the wind band repertoire. It is a wedding procession from Richard Wagner’s tragic opera Lohengin, where Elsa, Duchess of Brabant, is about to marry her knight in shining armor, Lohengrin, Keeper of the Holy Grail, who has appeared in a boat, magically drawn by a swan. However, keeping Lohengrin’s identity a secret -- to Elsa and to everyone in the country -- has been a condition upon which the marriage was contingent. Shortly after the marriage, Elsa succumbs to her curiosity, sown by the antagonist duo: Ortrud, a sorceress who put a spell on Elsa’s brother Gottfried, but accused Elsa of his murder; and Teiramund, the knight defeated by Lohengrin who has accused him of sorcery. Lohengrin reveals his identity to all, kills his accuser, and then bids eternal farewell to Elsa. As Lohengrin disappears, his swan magically turns into Lohengrin’s friend and Elsa’s brother, Gottfried. Elsa, falls, lifelessly into Gottfried’s arms.

- Program Note by the Vista Ridge High School Wind Ensemble

Elsa’s Procession to the Cathedral (1850) is taken from Wagner's opera Lohengrin. The story takes place in the court of King Henry I, where Elsa is accused of having murdered her brother, Gottfried. The knight Lohengrin arrives on a boat drawn by a swan and offers to defend and marry Elsa on the condition that she never ask his name. The music in this selection, from the beginning of the fourth scene from Act II, is the beautiful, dramatic bridal procession followed by a chorus. A long train of ladies, magnificently attired, proceeds slowly, finally ascending the steps of the church. After the second theme is presented, Elsa appears amid the processional train, and the noblemen respectfully bare their heads as Elsa begins her magnificent journey to the cathedral for her wedding to Lohengrin.

This opera marked the transition from Wagner’s early operas (Rienzi, The Flying Dutchman, and Tannhäuser) to his later masterworks (Ring, Tristan und Isolde, Die Meistersinger, and Parsifal).

- Program Notes by University of North Texas Wind Ensemble concert program, 5 November 2015


State Ratings

  • Georgia: VI
  • 'Iowa: V
  • Kansas: V
  • Tennessee: VI


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