Eighteen years after the death in London of Carl Maria von Weber, a patriotic movement in Germany resulted in the transference of his remains to his native land. In December of that year (1844) an impressive ceremony took place in Dresden, in which Wagner took a leading part. Besides reading the solemn oration , Wagner composed the march for the torchlight procession. This march, scored by Wagner for large wind band, was based on two themes from Weber's opera Euryanthe, and this represented a musical homage to the earlier composer. The score remained unpublished until 1926. Trauersinfonie has remained among the least known of Wagner's compositions.
On the occasion of the performance of this piece by the New York Philharmonic in 1927, Herbert Peyser wrote, "This extraordinary piece-only 80 bars in length, but so profoundly moving, so filled with spacious and majestic solemnity... invites a prohibitive amount of history. The melodic materials collated by Wagner are only the eerie pianissimo theme from the Euryanthe Overture, associated with the vision of Emma's spirit, and the sorrowful cavatina Hier dicht am Quell. The themes are Weber's, the creative imagination embodied in their sequence, their scoring, and their exalted lament is powerfully Wagner's."
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