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On September 4, 2001, while on tour with the Boston Symphony, I had the opportunity to visit the Richard Wagner House and Museum at Tribschen in Lucerne, Switzerland.

Wagner and his family lived at Tribschen from April 1, 1866 to April 22, 1872, a time during which he composed one of his most famous and beloved works, the "Siegfried Idyll" for 15 players. Written in 1870, it was composed as a gift to Wagner's wife, Cosima, and premiered on the staircase of the house at Tribschen on Christmas day (December 25), 1870. While at Tribschen, Wagner also composed his "Emperor March" (1871), completed the score of "Die Meistersinger von Nurenberg," composed the third act of "Siegfried" and began work on "Gotterdammerung."

The house is now a museum devoted to Wagner and his years living at Tribschen. The first floor includes many photographs, scores (and facsimiles of scores, including the "Siegfried Idyll"), paintings and memorabilia from Wagner festivals. The second floor is a musical instrument museum which, while it does not include instruments relating to Wagner, contains many interesting instruments including several important brass instruments.

Below are some photos I took during my visit to the museum, focusing in particular on the low brass instruments in the museum's collection.

The house at Tribschen is located on a hill overlooking Lake Lucerne. It is shown here in a view from the lake.

This view is of the house with the Alps in the background.

View of Lake Lucerne from Tribschen.

The salon of the house at Tribschen (known at the museum as "Room 3") contains an oil painting by Wilhelm Backmann (1852-1942) titled, "Richard Wagner in Bayreuth," - seen from left to right are Cosima Wagner, Richard Wagner, Franz Liszt and Hans Paul von Wolzogen. Yes, that is a real cat on the sofa under the painting!

This view is of the stairway at Tribschen where the premiere of the "Siegfried Idyll" was given. The view is from the landing looking between the first and second floor, looking down to the first floor.

Here is a view of the stairway looking up to the landing (shown in the previous photo), taking from the first floor.

The second floor of the house at Tribschen contains a musical instrument museum. At the top of the stairs leading to this part of the house, a display case with a serpent greets you. The serpent is identified simply as "Serpent, France, End of 18th century. Metal, covered with leather." Wagner wrote for serpent in his opera "Rienzi" although there is no indication that this particular instrument was ever used in a performance of the opera. The serpent appears to be a church serpent in D (or perhaps smaller - I was not able to take measurements but it did seem to be smaller than most C or D serpents I have seen and played). The support at the top bow of the instrument is unusual for a church serpent, such supports being more common on military serpents. The instrument to the right of the serpent is a form of alp-horn.

All right, this photo is not of the Wagner Museum, but it provides a logical place for this photo. In July 2001, the Boston Symphony Orchestra performed the Overture to Wagner's opera "Rienzi" conducted by James Conlon. I played the serpent part for the Overture, making the first time the serpent had ever been played on the serpent part in the history of the Boston Symphony. This photo is of James Conlon with me in the conductor's room at Tanglewood before the concert. The serpent I am holding is my Monk Workshop church serpent in C, made in 1996 by Keith Rogers and Nicholas Perry.

Here's another photo that doesn't have anything to do with the Wagner Museum, but it makes sense to plug it in here. In November 2001, Gennady Rozhdestvensky conducted the Boston Symphony in the Overture to Wagner's first opera, "Das Liebesverbot." The score calls for an ophicleide and Rozhdestvensky was happy to have me play the part on the instrument for which the part was written. On opening night of the 2001-02 Boston Symphony season, I played ophicleide on the complete incidental music to Mendelssohn's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" conducted by Seiji Ozawa, marking the first time an ophicleide had ever been played in the Boston Symphony. Here is a photo of me with Rozhdestvensky and my Roehn ophicleide in C (9 keys, made in Paris c. 1855).

This photo is a closer view of the serpent at the Wagner Museum.

Here is a closeup of the bell and left hand finger holes of the serpent at the Wagner Museum. Note the unusual metal construction, and how the leather (badly cracked in some places) is wrapped around the instrument.

This is a closeup view of the bocal and brace on the serpent at the Wagner Museum. The brace appears to have a modern repair.

There are several other interesting low brass instruments in the Wagner Museum. This view is of a large case containing a variety of instruments. On the far left is an English bass horn, to the right is an ophicleide. Above is a Wagner tuba with a valve trombone below it. On the right are various horns, a "quart posaune" and trumpets and bugles.

This shows a closeup of several instruments. On the far left is an English bass horn of wood and brass, labeled, "English bass horn, Sattler, Leipzig, First Half of the 19th century." Next to the bass horn is an ophicleide, "France, mid-19th century." Above the ophicleide is a Wagner tuba, labeled "Genossen-schaft, Vienna X, end of the 19th century." The valve trombone is by "G. Hirschbrunner, beginning of the 20th century."

Here is a closeup of the English bass horn and ophicleide.

This view is a closeup of the bocal receiver and ivory mouthpiece for the English bass horn.

This view of this double-slide "Quartposaune" in the museum is simply labeled, "19th century."

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