RICHARD WAGNER (1813 - 1883)
Deux entreactes tragiques

performance version by Henk de Vlieger, 1996

In autumn 1996, the Dutch musicologist Rob van der Hilst approached me with a request to complete two unfinished pieces by Wagner. These two Entreactes tragiques were drafted in 1832, when the composer was only eighteen years old. It is not known for what purpose he wrote this music. They may perhaps been planned as incidental music for Raupach's play König Enzian for which Wagner completed an overture in the same period. Wagner left the pieces as simple piano-drafts in which only the melodic lines and the bass are figured out, and at some places, a remark for the instrumentation. The first 52 bars of the first Entreacte in D major are fully orchestrated by the composer.

The fact that the manuscript breaks off at the end of a page, while barlines are drawn on two next pages, suggests that the composer lost interest in the project, rather than that the rest of the score was lost. All existing material (piano-draft and uncompleted full score) is published in the Wagner Gesamtausgabe by Schott. In my performance version of the Entreactes tragiques, I tried to complete the pieces in a way that Wagner might have done. Of course I took over the existing instrumentation of the beginning of Entreacte I, and I used the same orchestra for the second Entreacte, viz. a classical orchestra, but without clarinets.

The first Entreacte in D major is marked 'Allegro' and reminds me stylistically of Carl Maria von Weber. The second Entreacte in c minor, 'Allegro con brio', is more Beethoven-like. Both entreactes are influenced by contemporary composers, but already show the ambitions of the young Wagner. The dramatic development of both pieces can be considered as pointers to the masterpieces he wrote some decades later.

Henk de Vlieger

This performance version of the Deux entreactes tragiques was premiered in Durban, by the KwaZulu-Natal Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Arjan Tien on June 22, 2000.

Orchestra: 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, timpani, strings. 

Durations:  I: 7'30",  II: 4'00".

Published by SCHOTT Music


                         Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra

                         Otto Tausk
                         Challenge Classics CC 72326

                         Royal Scottish National Orchestra 
                         Neeme Järvi
                         Chandos CHSA 5092 

From review

“[...] These are agreeable if hardly hall-mark pieces, colourfully scored, authentically atmospheric, and should enjoy a fair degree of popularity as they take wing around the world.”

Durban Daily News, June 26, 2000