excerpt from 'Friends and Memories' pp. 266-7 (239 words)

excerpt from 'Friends and Memories' pp. 266-7 (239 words)

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Friends and Memories

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Richter always conducted on Wagner nights, and it was in Vienna that, with the exception of Lohengrin and Tannhaüser, I heard most of his great operas. That is one of the things in my musical life for which I have always been truly grateful. I remember, as though it were but yesterday, the tremendous impression made on me by the performance of Tristan and Isolde. What affected me most of all that first time, was the beautiful music in the second Act where Brangäne keeps watch for the two lovers. It is extraordinarily, almost magically, suggestive. The voice of the faithful friend outside reaches the man and woman—who, in an ecstasy of love, are clasped in each other’s arms - through a wonderful haze of sound that like nothing else I have ever heard suggests not only ineffable, undying love, not only its surroundings during those immemorial hours - the touching beauty of the lovely summer night, the dark-blue, star-strewn sky, the haunting perfume of sweet flowers - but a growing apprehension, a stealthy approach of danger –

“Habet Acht ! Habet Acht ! die Nacht entweicht ! ”

(Beware, beware ! night is waning.) 

 I have forgotten many beautiful things I have heard, but I could never forget that splendid performance of Tristan and Isolde if I lived to be a hundred years old. Richter was a magician when he conducted Wagner’s operas.

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excerpt from 'Friends and Memories' pp. 266-7 (239 words)


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