Some of you may know of my love of Richard Wagner’s works. Among them, my favorite opera is his Tannhäuser. The story is typically ennobling and beautiful, but the music is magnificent.
Below is video footage from A.D. 1948 of the Overture by the N.B.C. Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Arturo Toscanini.
It is sad that N.B.C. used to feature Toscanini’s performances in the same room currently used by Saturday Night Live in Rockefeller Center—Studio 8H. I suppose that high-minded liberals have failed to enculturate the masses with the best of the West. Poor Mill! It was—and remains—a pleasant American folly of a goal. Long live P.B.S.
Though without footage, I recommend the following A.D. 1962 recording of the Overture by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by René Leibowitz:
Tannhäuser‘s “Einzug der Gäste auf die Wartburg” is a jolly good piece. I learnt it by heart as a kid before I ever took German—notably following my memorization of Schiller’s poem in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and Nena’s “99 Luftballons.”
Here is the simple chorus of knights and nobles:
Freudig begrüßen wir die edle Halle,
wo Kunst und Frieden immer nur verweil,
wo lange noch der frohe Ruf erschalle:
Thüringens Fürsten, Landgraf Hermann, Heil!
Joyfully we greet the noble hall,
where may art and peace alone linger ever,
and the joyous cry long ring out:
To the Prince of Thuringia, Count Hermann, hail!
I had to add the following impressive instrumental performance at a Berlin military tattoo, conducted by Colonel Dr. Michael Schramm. I confess that I also found it perversely amusing to see Germans in uniform performing Wagner (please follow the link if the embedding is disabled).
Unlike Basil Fawlty, I say let bygones be bygones . . .