Random Wedding Reflections
Yesterday was the wedding day of the daughter of friends of ours. The venue was beautiful, the weather quite nice for November, and the reception an immensely enjoyable occasion. All in all, it was a long but fun day. Sitting in the Chapel, we were treated to delightful music from a chamber ensemble and harpist, setting a serene and tranquil mood as we waited for the big event. Our friends are accomplished musicians and I just knew they would deliver a first rate experience musically with their selections; they did not disappoint. When the time arrived for the wedding procession, a full choral group of singers along with the chamber orchestra and harpist delivered a perfect rendition of Wagner’s “Treulich Geführt”, otherwise known to just about everyone else in the Western World simply as the “Bridal March.”
Opera geek that I am, I knew it came from Lohengrin, a Wagner Opera written and performed in 1850, more than 160 years ago. For people of today, the melody is immediately recognizable and is etched in just about everyone’s conscious mind, linked to the image of bride proceeding down the aisle to her groom-soon-to-be husband. It’s familiarity is so strong that my mind began wandering as it so often does. I began to wonder, what kind of reaction did Wagner’s first audiences have to this music when they first heard it, with virgin ears and no familiarity with the melody; with no frame of reference other than visual cues from the stage? What kind of impact did it have? How delightful must it have been to hear something new and so beautiful? What kind of emotion did this music evoke from a first time listener? Did the music compliment the visual betrothal on the stage?
Thankfully, my wandering mind was brought back to attention by the beautiful bride and the wedding ceremony. Either that, or it was my wife nudging and elbowing me in the ribs, snapping me back to attention. I suppose she’s seen that day-dreamy look on my face before…
Treulich Geführt, from Lohengrin (R. Wagner 1850)