Vocal pieces 1998

Richard Wagner's Piano Songs (Richard Wagnersche Klavierlieder)

for two soloists (mezzosoprano and baritone), mixed choir and orchestra, arranged by Hans Werner Henze

Period of composition 1998-99
Duration 60 Minuten

1. Compliments to Friedrich August the Beloved by his loyals at his return from England on August 9th, 1844 (Richard Wagner)
2. The Boy and the Fur Tree (Georg Scheurlin)

Seven Compositions about Goethe's „Faust“:

  1. The Soldier's Song
  2. Gretchen at the Spinning Wheel
  3. „Brandner's Song“
  4. Mephistopheles' Song
  5. Mephistopheles' second Song
  6. Melodrama
  7. Paesant under the Linden Tree

Eight French Songs:

  1. Berceuse (anon)
  2. Ecstasy (Victor Hugo)
  3. Attente (Victor Hugo)
  4. La tombe dit a la rose (Victor Hugo)
  5. Mignonne (Pierre de Ronsard)
  6. Soupir (Jean Reboul)
  7. Les deux grenadiers (Heinrich Heine)
  8. Adieu de Marie Stuart (Pierre de Béranger)

World premiere

aufführung 26. August 1999

Festspielhaus Baden-Baden
Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
Rundfunk-Chor Berlin

Mezzo-soprano Stella Doufexis
Baritone Thomas Mohr

Conductor Semyon Bychkov


After having orchestrated the Wesendonck-Lieder, I was also encouraged to tackle the remainder of Wagner’s song settings. I soon, however, established that I found it impossible to hold myself back and to proceed no further than an effortless recreation of these works in an orchestral texture with Classical Romantic instrumentation. As a result, numerous alterations can be detected which were not undertaken arbitrarily, but prompted by artistic curiosity: for example changes of metre, tonal and tessitura transformation, and the realisation and completion of the two fragments “Extase” and “La tombe dit à la rose”. I have also occasionally added new, supplementary musical lines. All these features sprang from my desire to focus a spotlight on the allusive beauty of this music which is frequently concealed in the piano accompaniment. During this process, my thoughts often wandered to the great composer himself, wondering what he would perhaps have thought and said if he had been looking over my shoulder to pass judgement on my interventions and alterations.

Hans Werner Henze


2 Flauti1° anche Ottavino
2° anche Ottavino e Flauto contralto
2 Oboi 2° anche Corno inglese
2 Clarinetti2° anche Clarinetto basso
2 Fagotti2° anche Controfagotto
2 Corni
2 Trombe
1 Tuba wagneriana
1 Tuba contrabbassa

3 Piatti sospesi
Piatti a due
Tamburo basco
3 Tomtom
Tamburo piccolo
Cassa rullante
Tamburo militare
Grancassa e Piatto
[per 3]