Vorspiel und Liebestod

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Richard Wagner

Richard Wagner (arr. Godfrey)

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Subtitle: from Richard Wagner's 'Tristan und Isolde'

This work is often found under its title in English, Prelude and Love-Death

General Info

Year: 1865 / 1909
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Orchestra
Publisher: C.L. Barnhouse
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $90.00   |   Score Only (print) - $10.00


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None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Tristan und Isolde is an opera, or music drama, in three acts by Richard Wagner to a German libretto by the Richard Wagner, based largely on the 12th-century romance Tristan by Gottfried von Strassburg. It was composed between 1857 and 1859 and premiered at the Königliches Hof- und Nationaltheater in Munich on 10 June 1865 with Hans von Bülow conducting. Wagner referred to the work not as an opera, but called it "eine Handlung" (literally a drama, a plot or an action), which was the equivalent of the term used by the Spanish playwright Calderón for his dramas.

Wagner's composition of Tristan und Isolde was inspired by the philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer (particularly The World as Will and Representation), as well as by Wagner's affair with Mathilde Wesendonck. Widely acknowledged as one of the peaks of the operatic repertoire, Tristan was notable for Wagner's unprecedented use of chromaticism, tonal ambiguity, orchestral colour and harmonic suspension.

The opera was enormously influential among Western classical composers and provided direct inspiration to composers such as Gustav Mahler, Richard Strauss, Karol Szymanowski, Alban Berg, Arnold Schoenberg and Benjamin Britten. Other composers like Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel and Igor Stravinsky formulated their styles in contrast to Wagner's musical legacy. Many see Tristan as the beginning of the move away from common practice harmony and tonality and consider that it lays the groundwork for the direction of classical music in the 20th century.

"Liebestod " ([ˈliːbəsˌtoːt] German for "love death") is the title of the final, dramatic music from the 1859 opera Tristan und Isolde by Richard Wagner. It is the climactic end of the opera, as Isolde sings over Tristan's dead body.

When used as a literary term, liebestod (from German Liebe, love and Tod, death) refers to the theme of erotic death or "love death", meaning the two lovers' consummation of their love in death or after death.

- Program Note from Wikipedia

The "Love-Death" is concerned with the indomitable determination to follow into nothingness the thing that makes life – Life. In Wagner's own words, "...it does express the passion love or longing of such-and-such an individual on such-and-such an occasion, but passion, love, and longing in itself."

- Program Note from Program Notes for Band


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State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


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  • Los Angeles (Calif.) Symphonic Winds (Stephen P. Piazza, conductor; Christina Roszhart, soprano) – 11 February 2018

Works for Winds by This Composer


  • Liebestod, Wikipedia Accessed 15 February 2018
  • Tristan und Isolde, Wikipedia Accessed 15 February 2018
  • Smith, Norman E. (2002). Program Notes for Band. Chicago: GIA Publications, pp. 621.
  • Wagner, R.; Godfrey, D. (1909). Vorspiel und Liebestod = Prelude and Love Death [score]. Boosey & Hawkes: [New York].