J.S. Bach from the master. At 82, conductor Helmuth Rilling has possibly logged more Bach than anybody, having recorded all of Bach's choral works over some 170 compact discs. In Philadelphia this week, he is hosted by Temple University in master conducting classes on Tuesday and a performance of the Bach motets - some of the more difficult choral works of any era - at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, with the Temple University Concert Choir and Graduate Conductors Chorus at the Church of the Holy Trinity. Expect old-school grandeur. Events are free. The concert is general admission.
- David Patrick Stearns
The perfect Wagnerite. Wagner fans passing through New York in the next week may want to stop at 36th Street and Madison Avenue to see/hear "Wagner's Ring: Forging an Epic," a small but choice exhibition at the Morgan Library and Museum focused on the 1876 premiere of Wagner's cycle in Bayreuth and its 1889 American debut at the Metropolitan Opera.
The show, up through next Sunday, includes scores, historical renderings of costumes, caricatures that capture at least one kind of contemporaneous reaction to Wagner's music (cacophony!), and rare books and texts.
There's something oddly emotional about seeing, in the flesh, so to speak, the source that fired Wagner's imagination: 12th- or 13th-century Nordic myths set down in the book Edda, in a printing from 1665.
One cultural marker stands out. Transatlantic cables allowed the New York Herald to give readers a day-after account of the Bayreuth premieres, on four successive days, of each opera. The event was big enough to warrant a nearly full-page supplement each day. Reviews were glowing. Smack-dab in the middle of each page was a feature you'll probably never see again in a U.S. newspaper: excerpts, in musical notation, from the operas.
And then, at the bottom of one of the pages, a note on beasts of a more earthly nature: how the horses at Saratoga did.
- Peter Dobrin
"Wagner's Ring: Forging an Epic" at the Morgan Library and Museum, 225 Madison Ave., New York. 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Admission: $18 adults; $12 children, seniors, and students. Information: 212-685-0008 or www.themorgan.org.