Musical resources


There’s a lot of Parsifal on YouTube – but these, for obvious reasons, are a couple that I have listened to while writing Goodly Company.

Parsifal – prelude. Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic. Probably my favourite version, as Karajan’s textures are so dense.

Parsifal – Act II. Kundry greets Parsifal. Peter Hofmann & Waltraud Meier. James Levine & the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra. This may be a bit like treacle and Hofmann has lost some of his shine but still sings with baritonal lyricism…

Hearing the light

Hearing the Light – the Tristan and Iseult story – grew out of the original idea by Wagner to have Parsifal visit Tristan on his death bed, noting that they are two boys who have caused their mothers’ deaths. Derrick Everett has detailed information on the Wagnerian episode on his website. Wagner discarded the scene, I’ve written an entire novel about it.

I found the following books vital in writing about the music Tristan and Parzival make.

  • Kehew, Robert, ed. Lark in the Morning The Verses of the Troubadours A Bilingual edition. Translation by Ezra Pound, WD Snodgrass & Robert Kehew. University of Chicago Press, 2005
  • Sigal, Gale. Erotic Dawnsongs of the Middle Ages Voicing the Lyric Lady. University Press of Florida, 1996

Tristan’s Lament can be heard in the clips below.

Tristan’s Lament on a medieval clarsach
Tristan’s Lament on the medieval psaltery

Wolfram von Eschenbach

The perfect operatic von Eschenbach is, for me, Christian Gerhaher. His farewell to Elisabeth in Tannhäuser is heartbreaking.

Dame Sarah Connolly

After Christian Gerharer, Dame Sarah gave the second concert I went to out of lockdown. Here she is: