Wagner’s “Götterdämmerung”: Siegfried’s Rhine Journey

Completed in 1874, Götterdämmerung (“Twilight of the Gods”) is the fourth and final opera in Richard Wagner’s epic Ring cycle. Wagner composed the Ring cycle, which is based on Norse mythology, over the course of 25 years. Its themes include the conflict between love and the pursuit of power, the violation of nature, self-sacrifice, annihilation, and rebirth.

Dramatic orchestral sequences occur throughout Götterdämmerung. In these moments, we move beyond the literal meaning of the libretto into a vast world of tonal color and instrumental voices. Siegfried’s Rhine Journey is the orchestral interlude which links the Prologue and Act I. Brünnhilde has sent Siegfried off to new, heroic adventures. Before mounting her horse and bearing her shield, he gives her the ring of power as a pledge of his faithfulness.

Siegfried’s Rhine Journey begins with a solemn statement of the “Fate motif” in the trombones and tuba. The darkness of night carries the hushed anticipation of dawn, which gives way to a majestic sunrise. Siegfried’s horn call alternates with Brünnhilde’s leitmotif in the bass clarinet. The music dances with a delirious joy which is interrupted only by the mythic, ever-flowing waters of the Rhine.

This performance, recorded on April 29, 2022, features conductor Alain Altinoglu and the Frankfurt Radio Symphony:

Featured Image: “Richard Wagner, Götterdämmerung, Act I, Siegfried’s Rhine Journey,” Ferdinand Leeke

About Timothy Judd

A native of Upstate New York, Timothy Judd has been a member of the Richmond Symphony violin section since 2001. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music where he earned the degrees Bachelor of Music and Master of Music, studying with world renowned Ukrainian-American violinist Oleh Krysa.

The son of public school music educators, Timothy Judd began violin lessons at the age of four through Eastman’s Community Education Division. He was a student of Anastasia Jempelis, one of the earliest champions of the Suzuki method in the United States.

A passionate teacher, Mr. Judd has maintained a private violin studio in the Richmond area since 2002 and has been active coaching chamber music and numerous youth orchestra sectionals.

In his free time, Timothy Judd enjoys working out with Richmond’s popular SEAL Team Physical Training program.

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