1856: Wagner: Ride of the Walkyries

FRIDAY, August 7, 2020

Wagner: Ride of the Walkyries: 1856

The main theme of the “Ride”, the leitmotif labelled Walkürenritt (Ride of the Walkyries) was first written down in 1851. But it was not fully orchestrated until 1856.

Famous for 150 years…

Although we know this was completed in 1856, the world did not really hear it until around 1870. It was immediately a huge success. Wiki says this:

By January of the next year, Wagner was receiving requests for the “Ride” to be performed separately, but wrote that such a performance should be considered “an utter indiscretion” and forbade “any such thing.”

Once the Ring had been performed in Bayreuth in 1876, Wagner lifted the embargo. He himself conducted it in London on 12 May 1877, repeating it as an encore.

“Helicopter Raid Music”…

It’s always weird how old popular music becomes new popular music. Wagner’s music has been used again and again in films, but most notably in Apocalypse Now, a rather famous film about the Vietnam War.

As an orchestral piece…

We mostly hear The Ride of the Walkyries in it’s orchestral form. In fact, most of the world knows only preludes and overtures to the operas. Very few people know much about the operas themselves. The music in the opera also features eight women, but if you want to hear that you will have to find it yourself.

Important augmented chords – Xaug:

One important feature is that the pivotal chord is a big fat augmented chord, while the other chords are mostly just major and minor with lots of chromatics. This makes the piece interesting and useful for music students. It presents very important aspects in music, but in a very entertaining way.

Now, for silliness, but these guys are actually very good…

This totally cracked me up. If you don’t have a sense of humor, you’ll never completely appreciate serious music.

And now for the augmented chord…

Bb aug to B to F7 and right back to Bb, the key. And this is further amusing because they play it in the key of Bb. Wagner wrote it in B major.

2 thoughts on “1856: Wagner: Ride of the Walkyries

  1. This piece being famous for so long does not surprise me in the slightest. The intensity and buildups are fantastic and it portrays it’s ideas perfectly. It’s a great piece.

  2. In the first version the sound of the music made it easy to picture the Valkyries riding to their destination.

    What instrument is being used in the 2nd ? It looks like the guy in the top left box is riding something as he keeps time with the music. What a hoot!

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