Max Derrickson

Writing Music Program Notes for Over 20 Years

Wagner – Prelude to Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (The Mastersingers fromNuremberg)

Richard Wagner   (b Leipzig, 22 May, 1813; d Venice, 13 February, 1883) Prelude to Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (The Mastersingers fromNuremberg) Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg is the only comic opera that Wagner wrote during his composing prime.  In truth, however, there are only a few truly comedic moments in this 4½ hour long songfest.  As the […]

Wagner – Siegfried Idyll

Wilhelm Richard Wagner     (b Leipzig, 22 May, 1813; d Venice, 13 February, 1883) Siegfried Idyll After being banished from Munichfor scandal, Wagner and his new wife Cosima, with her children, and their new son, Siegfried, settled into their new home on Lake Lucerne, Switzerlandin 1870 to a blissful peace.  On Christmas Day that year, Cosima […]

Wagner – Tristan und Isolde – Prelude (Vorspiel) to the Opera & Isolde’s Liebestod

Richard Wagner (1813-1883)      (b Leipzig, 22 May, 1813; d Venice, 13 February, 1883) Tristan und Isolde – Prelude (Vorspiel) to the Opera – Isolde’s Liebestod In the second half of the 1800’s Germany was embracing a grass-roots nationalism similar to that of Italy earlier in the century. The movement encompassed political unity, but even more so, […]

Wagner – “Prelude” (to Act I) and “Good Friday Music” to Parsifal

Wilhelm Richard Wagner      (b Leipzig, 22 May, 1813; d Venice, 13 February, 1883) “Prelude” (to Act I) and “Good Friday Music” to Parsifal Wagner’s opening Prelude to Parsifal, his last opera (premiered in 1882), is an extraordinary expression in many respects.  That it is called a Prelude, rather than an Overture (as is the […]

Verdi – Messe da Requiem (Requiem Mass)

Giuseppe (Fortunino Francesco) Verdi      (born Roncole, near Parma, Italy, 1813; died Milan, 1901) Messe da Requiem (Requiem Mass)  When Verdi completed this towering masterpiece in 1874, Italywas just barely the unified state that we know it today.  Even in Roman times the country was a passel of small city-states and small kingdoms, and […]

Verdi – Äida, Act II – Excerpts

Giuseppe Verdi Äida, Act II – Excerpts Verdi had a rare gift that made his operas international successes often from their first performances. Many have remained successes to the present. His gift was for writing melodies that evoked the character’s emotions and that also played upon the emotions of the listener. A natural gift, to […]

Verdi – La Traviata, Act I

Giuseppe Verdi La Traviata, Act I La Traviata, premiered in 1853 inVenice, is one of Verdi’s best loved operas, because of the exceptional quality of the music, and the attractiveness of the sensational story, set inParis in the 1840’s. The Prelude of the opera opens with a haunting strain that foreshadows the impending tragedy of […]

Verdi – Overture to La Forza del Destino

Giuseppe Verdi (October 9, 1813 – January 27, 1901) Overture to La Forza del Destino The original La Forza del Destino (1862) premiered with a fairly simple prelude, but in 1869, Verdi extensively reworked the entire opera, including writing this full scale Overture.  Not only does it give hint and highlight to the themes of […]

Verdi – Si, pel ciel from Act II of Otello (1887)

Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901) Si, pel ciel from Act II of Otello (1887) Of the dozens of attempts by many composers to adapt Shakespeare to the opera hall, very few have had any success.  Verdi’s Otello is widely considered to be the best, not only because of the great composer’s polished experience in opera (among them […]

Verdi – Prelude to Act III of La Traviata

Giuseppe (Fortunino Francesco) Verdi     (b Roncole, near Busseto, Italy, October 10, 1813; d Milan, January 27, 1901) Prelude to Act III of La Traviata  The story of La Traviata (The Fallen Woman, or The Prostitute) is based on the true 1840’s story of Alexander Dumas’s (son of the author of The Three Musketeers) affair with a high-society […]