Iain Farrington

Pianist, organist, composer, arranger

Richard Wagner: Götterdämmerung Fantasy

for Chamber Orchestra


Richard Wagner (1813-1883) composed his opera Götterdämmerung between 1869 and 1874. It is the last of the four operas that make up Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen cycle, a project that had taken him over 25 years to complete. The opera is much renowned for its orchestral sequences, and these are often performed as concert extracts.  This new orchestral Fantasy is a condensed version of the whole opera, featuring many of the orchestral highlights, following the story in chronological order and arranged for a medium-sized chamber orchestra. It is made up entirely of Wagner’s music, including many of the major events in the opera, all connected as one continuous tone poem. These include Dawn and Siegfried’s Rhine Journey, Siegfried’s Funeral March and Brünnhilde’s Immolation Scene. Some sections of vocal writing are taken by the instruments, to create a purely orchestral work. The dramatic and musical content is as follows:


The opening music of the opera, including Rhine and fate motifs. A dawn scene, with Siegfried's heroic theme and Brünnhilde's love melody. This builds up and after a brief section from the love duet, Siegfried’s Rhine journey follows. The mood darkens as the scene shifts to the Gibichungs Hall. Hagen’s calls are heard, threatening and powerful. Siegfried's hunting call moves the scene to the Rhine, where the Rhinemaidens song is played. They urge Siegfried to give them the ring, which he refuses. Hagen calls to Siegfried and stabs him in the back. There follows Siegfried's memories of Brünnhilde, finishing with his death and funeral march. Brünnhilde appears, initially sublime and accepting, but becoming more passionate and involved as the scene progresses. She jumps into the fire after which Valhalla is destroyed, the Rhine floods, and the ring is returned to the Rhinemaidens. The final theme heard is the redemption of love.


Instrumentation: flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, 2 horns, trumpet, trombone, harp, timpani, percussion (cymbal, glockenspiel, side drum, triangle) violin 1, violin 2, viola, cello, double bass (at least 2.2.2.2.1)


Duration: 40-45 minutes


Listen to a performance of the arrangement here


Available to hire or purchase from Aria Editions here