Richard Wagner’s tremendous cycle of operas Der Ring des Nibelungen was conceived around 1848 and completed in 1874, It was first performed in its entirety at Bayreuth in 1876. Piano transcriptions of the work were made by many of Wagner’s contemporaries including Richard Kleinmichel (1846-1901) and Karl Klindworth (1830-1916). The transcriptions used in this recording are those of Kleinmichel excepting the Preludes, which are by Klindworth.
The story of Wagner’s epic, based on Norse legends and the mediaeval Nibelungenlie, revolves around the contest between the Nibelungs (Ghibellines) and the gods (represented by Wotan) for the gold of the Rhine. Alberich the Nibelung robs the Rhine maidens of their gold and forges a ring that will make him all-powerful. Wotan seizes the ring from him and gives it to two giants Fafner and Fasolt as a reward for building the hall of slain warriors, Valhalla. Since the ring has been cursed by Alberich, the giants, on obtaining it, immediately start quarrelling and Fafner slays Fasolt and retires to a cave where he assumes the form of a dragon in order to guard the ring and the golden treasure.
In order to defend Valhalla from any threat on the part of the giants Wotan engenders the Valkyries and also, for the purpose of obtaining the ring from Fafner, a pair of semi-divine children, the twins Siegmund and Sieglinde.
Alexander Jacob obtained his doctorate in Intellectual History from the Pennsylvania State University. His scholarly publications include Nobilitas: A Study of European Aristocratic Philosophy from Ancient Greece to the Early Twentieth Century, University Press of America, 2001, De Naturae Natura: A Study of Idealistic Conceptions of Nature and the Unconscious, Franz Steiner Verlag, 1992 (2nd ed. Arktos, Media Ltd., 2011).and The Grail: Two Studies, Numen Books, 2014.
Dr. Jacob holds a Licentiate Diploma in Piano from the Trinity College of Music, London, and has given solo recitals in Canada, Bulgaria, Poland, the Czech Republic and England. He has played Richard Kleinmichel’s transcriptions of Wagner’s Parsifal and Der Ring des Nibelungen for the Wagner Societies of Barcelona, Brno, Prague and Dresden.