Parsifal conductors in Bayreuth

1882

Hermann Levi

Hermann Levi

Franz Fischer (assistant conductor)
Hermann Levi
Richard Wagner

During the final performance Wagner took the baton out of Hermann Levi's hand and conducted the last act from the transformation scene to the end.

Hermann Levi in a letter to his father: "At the end of the work the audience broke into applaus that defies description. But the Master did not show himself, but remained with us musicians, making bad jokes, and when the noise of the audience showed no sign of abating after ten minutes, I shouted ’Quiet! Quiet!’ at the top of my voice. This was heard up above, and people did quieten down, and then the Master, still at the conductors desk, began to speak, first to me and the orchestra; then the curtain was raised, the whole company of singers and technical personnel was assembled on the stage, and the Master spoke with such affection that everyone started to weep – it was an unforgettable moment!"
As quoted in Derek Watson: Richard Wagner: A Biography

1883

Franz Fischer (assistant conductor)
Hermann Levi

1884

Franz Fischer (assistant conductor)
Hermann Levi

1886

Hermann Levi

1888

Felix Mottl

1889

Hermann Levi

1891

Hermann Levi

1892

Hermann Levi

1894

Hermann Levi

1897

Anton Seidl
Felix Mottl

1899

Franz Fischer

1901

Karl Muck

1902

Karl Muck

 

1904

Karl Muck
Michael Balling

1906

Michael Balling
Franz Beidler
Karl Muck

1908

Karl Muck
Michael Balling

1909

Siegfried Wagner
Karl Muck

1911

Michael Balling
Karl Muck

1912

Michael Balling


Karl Muck

1914

Karl Muck

1924

Wilibald Kaehler
Karl Muck

1925

Karl Muck
Wilibald Kaehler

1927

Karl Muck

1928

Karl Muck

1930

Karl Muck

1931

Arturo Toscanini

Toscanini

1933

Richard Strauss

‘It is not I who conducts Parsifal faster but rather you in Bayreuth who have got slower and slower. Believe me, what you are doing in Bayreuth is all wrong.’
Richard Strauss

 

"The Master has already composed Parsifal to be very slow, so one doesn't need to add to this by also conducting it slowly." (Richard Strauss to the orchestra during rehearsals)

"With Strauss, the tempo is much livelier than is usually adopted for this sacred play. Yet it loses nothing of its pious and heartfelt mood either, something which of course must always be retained. And the theatrical piece that is Parsifal also received immense drive so far as purely dramatic effect is concerned. Totally new aspects, tensions and triggers which one would hardly ever have expected are suddenly illuminated. Those long drawn-out movements, further extended by slow tempos (for instance in the case of Gurnemanz in the first act) become more comprehensible thanks to tighter tempos. Of course, Strauss is no mystic - but he is a musician of such great calibre that he managed to convince with his Parsifal performance, despite its veering away from all those well-worn paths, and left everyone deeply moved."
(Oskar von Pander in Münchner Neueste Nachrichten, 24 July 1933)

1934

Franz von Hoesslin
Richard Strauss

1936

Wilhelm Furtwängler

1937

Wilhelm Furtwängler

1938

Franz von Hoesslin

1939

Franz von Hoesslin

1951

Hans Knappertsbusch

1952

Hans Knappertsbusch

1953

Clemens Krauss

1954

Hans Knappertsbusch

1955

Hans Knappertsbusch

1956

Hans Knappertsbusch

1957

Andre Cluytens
Hans Knappertsbusch

1958

Hans Knappertsbusch

1959

Hans Knappertsbusch

1960

Hans Knappertsbusch

1961

Hans Knappertsbusch

1962

Hans Knappertsbusch

1963

Hans Knappertsbusch

1964

Hans Knappertsbusch

1965

Andre Cluytens

1966

Pierre Boulez (CD)

1967

Pierre Boulez

1968

Pierre Boulez

1969

Horst Stein

1970

Pierre Boulez (CD)

1971

Eugen Jochum

1972

Eugen Jochum

1973

Eugen Jochum

1975

Horst Stein
Hans Zender

1976

Horst Stein

1977

Horst Stein

1978

Horst Stein

1979

Horst Stein

1980

Horst Stein

1981

Horst Stein
Released on DVD. Cast: Siegfried Jerusalem, Eva Randova, Bernd Weikl, Hans Sotin, Matti Salminen.
Stage director was Wolfgang Wagner.

1982

James Levine

1983

James Levine

1984

James Levine

1985

James Levine

1987

Daniel Barenboim

1988

James Levine

1989

James Levine

1990

James Levine

1991

James Levine

1992

James Levine

1993

James Levine

1994

Giuseppe Sinopoli

1995

Giuseppe Sinopoli

1996

Giuseppe Sinopoli

1997

Giuseppe Sinopoli

1998

Giuseppe Sinopoli

1999

Giuseppe Sinopoli

2000

Christoph Eschenbach

2001

Christian Thielemann

2004

Pierre Boulez

2005

Pierre Boulez

2006

Adam Fischer

2007

Adam Fischer

2008

Daniele Gatti
A new production. Stage director: Stefan Herheim.
Read more about the Herheim/Gatti Parsifal production at Bayreuth here

2009

Daniele Gatti

2010

Daniele Gatti

2011

Daniele Gatti

2012

Philippe Jordan

2016

Hartmut Haenchen

"Bayreuth’s special and much praised acoustic is actually only fully functional in Parsifal. It is certainly also one of the reasons why Wagner uses a style that is far closer to chamber music for this work. In the earlier pieces, composed for other stages, but also in the Ring, which elaborates far denser structures than Parsifal, and especially in Die Meistersinger too, one is aware that the Bayreuth acoustic is by no means ideal since it blurs the contrapuntal element of these works."
Hartmut Haenchen

Parsifal (complete) timings

3.38 Pierre Boulez, Bayreuth 1970
3.44 Clemens Krauss, Bayreuth 1953 (Jonathan Brown has 3.52)
3.49 Pierre Boulez, Bayreuth 1966
3.55 Hartmut Haenchen, Copenhagen 22 March 2012
3.58 Wilhelm Furtwängler, Milano 1951
4.02 Christian Thielemann, recorded at Staatsoper, Wien in June 2005 (Deutsche Grammophon)
4.04 Herman Levi, Bayreuth 1882
4.08 Michael Balling, Bayreuth 1904
4.10 Hans Knappertsbusch, Bayreuth 1962
4.12 Wilhelm Furtwängler Bayreuth 1936
4.15 Felix Mottl, Bayreuth 1888
4.17 Herbert von Karajan (1981, Deutsche Grammophon)
4.19 Anton Seidl, Bayreuth 1897
4.22 Siegfried Wagner, Bayreuth 1909
4.23 Fischer, Bayreuth 1882
4.23 Hans Knappertsbusch, Bayreuth 1952
4.25 Armin Jordan (Hans-Jürgen Syberberg's Parsifal film, 1982) (according to the cover)
4.27 Karl Muck, Bayreuth 1901
4.28 Hans Knappertsbusch, Bayreuth 1954
4.29 Kaehler, Bayreuth 1924
4.33 Hans Knappertsbusch, Bayreuth 1951
4.33 James Levine, Bayreuth 1990
4.42 Arturo Toscanini, Bayreuth 1931

Sources: Jonathan Brown (Great Wagner Conductors), Derrick Everett, Per-Erik Skramstad, Hartmut Haenchen.

"The Master has already composed Parsifal to be very slow, so one doesn't need to add to this by also conducting it slowly." (Richard Strauss to the orchestra during rehearsals)

 

Timings Parsifal Vorspiel / Prelude Act 1

10'12" Herbert Kegel, Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra, 1978
10'23" Gustav Kuhn, Tiroler Festspiele, 2006
10'27" Pierre Boulez, Bayreuth, 1970 (Deutsche Grammophon)
11'03" Christian Thielemann, recorded at Staatsoper, Wien in June 2005 (Deutsche Grammophon)
11'05" Bruno Walter, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (From the Album Orchestral Music - Beethoven, L. Van / Mendelssohn, Felix / Weber, C.M. Von (Studio Recordings - 1920's and 30's, Vol. 1) (Walter) (1924-1927))
11'25" Bernard Haitink, Opernhaus Zürich, April 2007 (DVD)
11'26" Horst Stein, Bayreuth, 24 June - 15 July 1981 (DVD)
11'35" Erich Leinsdorf, SWR Sinfonieorchester (No year)
11'40" Kent Nagano, Baden-Baden, 6 and 8 August 2004 (DVD)
11'50" Hans Knappertsbusch, Bayreuth, 1958
11'56" Hans Knappertsbusch, Bayreuth, 1963
11'57" Hans Knappertsbusch, Bayreuth, 1962
12'00" Hartmut Haenchen, Amsterdam, 1993
12'00" Hartmut Haenchen, Paris, 2008
12'03" Armin Jordan (Hans-Jürgen Syberberg's Parsifal film, 1982)
12'03" Hans Knappertsbusch, Bayreuth, 1964
12'05" Herbert Von Karajan, Wiener Staatsoper 1961
12'07" Clemens Krauss, Bayreuth, 1953
12'07" Hartmut Haenchen, Copenhagen, 2012
12'07" Jun Märkl, Semperoper Dresden, 19.Februar 2006
12'08" Hans Knappertsbusch, Bayreuth, 1959
12'08" Hartmut Haenchen, Brüssel, 2011
12'15" Jaap van Zweden, Radio Philharmonic Orchestra. Concert performance.
12'15" Hans Knappertsbusch, Bayreuth, 1960
12'24" Philippe Jordan, Bayreuth 2012
12'31" Hans Knappertsbusch, Bayreuth, 1961
12'32" Hans Knappertsbusch, Bayreuth, 1956
12'41" Valery Gergiev, Marinski Orchestra 2010 (Marinskilabel)
12'47" Hans Knappertsbusch, Bayreuth, 1957
12'47" Daniele Gatti, Metropolitan Opera, 2 March 2013, live on BBC Radio 3
12'59" Felix Mottl, Freiburg, 1907, piano roll
13' Richard Wagner, Bayreuth, 25 December 1878 (Voss: Die Dirigenten der Bayreuther Festspiele)
13'03" Otto Klemperer, Philharmonia, 1960
13'06" Arturo Toscanini, NBC Symphony, 1940
13'15" Hans Knappertsbusch, Bayreuth, 1952
13'18" Daniele Gatti, Bayreuth, 2010 (Stefan Herheim's Parsifal production). In 2008 Gatti conducted the prelude one minute slower.
13'29" Hans Knappertsbusch, Bayreuth, 1954 (Melodram release timing. Seven Seas has 13'15" and Tara 13'35")
13'47" Daniel Barenboim, Berliner Philharmoniker, 1989-90. Available on Daniel Barenboim: Complete Wagner Operas (34 CD)
13'51" Reginald Goodall (EMI - 1984)
13'53" Hans Knappertsbusch, Berlin, 1943
13'57" Hans Knappertsbusch, Bayreuth, 31 July 1951
13'59" Fritz Busch, Buenos Aires, 1936
14'03" Wilhelm Furtwängler, Berlin, 1938
14'13" Hans Knappertsbusch, Bayreuth, July-August, 1951
14'14" Herbert von Karajan (1981, Deutsche Grammophon)
14'18" Fritz Reiner, New York, 1938
14'20" Daniele Gatti, Bayreuth, 2008. Premiere of Stefan Herheim's Parsifal production. Two years later, Daniele Gatti conducted the prelude one minute faster.
14'30" Richard Wagner, Munich, 12 November 1880
15'06" Arturo Toscanini, London, 1935
15'30" Artur Bodanzky, New York, 1938
15'35" Rudolf Kempe, Wiener Philharmoniker, 1958 (Seraphim). Concert ending.
15'53" Karl Muck, Berlin, 1927
16'23" James Levine, Bayreuth, July/August 1985
16'38" Erich Kleiber, New York, 1946

Sources: Jonathan Brown (Great Wagner Conductors), Per-Erik Skramstad, Hartmut Haenchen, Vic White, Pieter Berghs

Parsifal at the Bayreuth Festival. Directed by Uwe Eric Laufenberg. Reviews and comments.

Uwe Eric Laufenberg: Parsifal/Bayreuth

Foto: Enrico Nawrath/Bayreuther Festspiele