Prelude to Act III of Lohengrin

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            Lohengrin was first performed in 1850, and is certainly a Romantic opera in the strictest sense.  It is based upon the legendary romance of the 13th century of Lohengrin, a knight of the Holy Grail, who is sent in a boat pulled by swans to rescue the maiden, Elsa, who must never ask his name.   The young King Ludwig II of Bavaria was so moved by Wagner’s opera that he more or less bankrupted his country in order to build the famous castle, “Neuschwanstein”, that is so beloved by today’s tourists to Southern Germany. The “Mad” King later bankrolled Wagner for all the latter’s big ambitions, before his own mysterious death in 1886.  The most famous orchestral excerpt from the opera is undoubtedly the “Bridal Chorus” from the opening of Act III, where Elsa and the “unnamed” knight, Lohengrin, settle down in the bridal chamber after their marriage—we universally recognize this chorus as “Here Comes the Bride.”  The exciting prelude to this scene is almost equally well known, and its brilliance has kept it fresh despite innumerable performances.

--Wm. E. Runyan

© 2015 William E. Runyan