Overture to Rienzi

From Wind Repertory Project
Richard Wagner

Richard Wagner (arr. Victor J. Grabel)

General Info

Year: 1842 / 1933
Duration: c. 11:15
Difficulty: VI (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: C.L. Barnhouse
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $125.00   |   Full Score Only (print) - $10.00   |   Condensed Score Only (print) - $6.00   |   Oversized Score Only (print) - $30.00


Full Score
Db Piccolo
Flute I-II-III
Oboe I-II
Bassoon I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III-IV
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
B-flat Trumpet I-II
B-flat Flugehorn I-II
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
Tuba I-II
String Bass
Percussion, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Field Drum (2)
  • Snare Drum
  • Triangle


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

During his residence in Riga -- a period of alternating hope and disappointment -- Wagner sketched the Opera Rienzi, deliberately building it on such a stupendous scale that it could only be offered to some royal theater. He had read Bulwer Lytton's Rienzi, The Last of the Barons, and "was carried away by this picture of great political and historical event." Wagner wrote as follows in explanation of the beginning of the work: "Grand opera, with its scenic and musical display, its sensationalism and massive effects, loomed large before my eyes: the aim of my artistic ambition was not merely to imitate it, but with reckless extravagance, to outdo it in every particular." He carried out his intentions so well that the premiere performance at Dresden in 1842 lasted six hours.

The overture is based upon thematic material from the opera, beginning with the long-drawn trumpet call, followed by Rienzi's prayer. This is followed by the allegro chorus of the first act finale and the battle hymn. The second act finale is then introduced, followed by the development section, which is based chiefly on the battle hymn. A brief recapitulation of the first part occurs and a brilliant coda bring the overture to its conclusion. With a wealth of colorful music, the overture has always remained popular -- principally because of one noble melody, Rienzi's prayer for the people.

- Program Note by Everett Kisinger from Program Notes for Band and Band Music Notes


(Needed - please join the WRP if you can help.)

State Ratings

  • Alabama: Class AA
  • Arkansas: V
  • Georgia: VI
  • South Carolina: VI
  • Tennessee: VI
  • Virginia: VI


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Taku Winds (Juneau, Alas.) (William Todd Hunt, conductor) – 29 October 2017
  • Encore Concert Band (Orland Park, Ill.) (Bill Schuetter, conductor) - 26 October 2014
  • San Luis Obispo (Calif.) Wind Orchestra (William V. Johnson, conductor) - 17 May 2003

Works for Winds by This Composer


  • Smith, Norman E. (2002). Program Notes for Band. Chicago: GIA Publications, pp. 621
  • Smith, Norman and Albert Stoutamire (1979). Band Music Notes. Rev. ed. San Diego: Kjos West, pp. 240
  • Wagner, R.; Grabel, V. (1933). Overture to Rienzi [score]. C.L. Barnhouse: Oskaloosa, Iowa.