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Lohengrin

Richard Wagner’s music of hypnosis
by
ABR Arts 16 May 2022

Lohengrin

Richard Wagner’s music of hypnosis
by
ABR Arts 16 May 2022
Emily Magee as Elsa and Jonas Kaufmann as Lohengrin in <em>Lohengrin</em> (photo by Jeff Busby)
Emily Magee as Elsa and Jonas Kaufmann as Lohengrin in Lohengrin (photo by Jeff Busby)

Black milk of morning we drink you at night
we drink you at noontime Death is a gang-boss aus Deutschland
we drink you at dusktime we drink and drink
Death is a gang-boss aus Deutschland his eye is blue
he hits you with leaden bullets his aim is true …

(from ‘Todesfuge’ by Paul Celan, translated by Jerome Rothenberg)

Not long before the 1845 première of Tannhäuser, Richard Wagner was holidaying at the spa of Marienbad. He had with him a copy of the anonymous German epic Lohengrin, and he was possessed. Ever the sensualist, he described the impact in luxurious terms:

No sooner had I got into my bath at noon than I felt an overpowering desire to write Lohengrin and this longing so overcame me that I could not wait the prescribed hour of the bath, but when a few minutes elapsed I jumped out and, barely giving myself time to dress, ran home to write down what I had in my mind. I repeated this for several days until the complete sketch for Lohengrin was on paper.

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