Music Musings: The Ride of the Valkyries (Walkürenritt)

Often cited as one of the most epic moments in all of music, there’s nothing better to get the blood boiling than the Walkürenritt from Richard Wagner’s Die Walkürie, the second opera from The Ring Cycle.  This scene open’s the opera’s third act, and takes listeners on an epic journey of sight and sound.

Most will recognize the main theme or may know Walkürenritt as a strictly instrumental piece, as it’s been widely commercialized as such.  But there is particularly special magic when engaging with the original operatic setting. Here’s a brief summary of the action from the Utah Symphony’s program notes

Act III of Die Walküre begins with the image of a rocky mountaintop flanked by storm-driven clouds. Four of Brünnhilde’s Valkyrie sisters wait there in full armor, ready to perform their noble duty – the transportation of fallen heroes to Valhalla. What follows for the next eight minutes is the most popular music Wagner ever wrote and is certainly still among the most beloved orchestral excerpts ever written by anyone.

As many in Texas have just survived a flurry of back-to-school preparations, this excerpt seemed a fitting end to the week.  Check out this stunning performance by the New York Metropolitan Opera, and recorded for DVD by Deutsche Grammophon.

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