Wagner’s Ring and its Icelandic Sources
Stofnun Sigurðar Nordals 1995

In connection with the first performance in Iceland of Richard Wagner’s Ring of the Nibelung, the Reykjavík Arts Festival, the Nordic House and the Sigurður Nordal Institute jointly held two symposia on the tetralogy and the composer, together with introductions to the music of the operas in the Nordic House.

The former symposium was held on 23 May. Music teacher Anna M. Magnúsdóttir, ethnologist Árni Björnsson, music enthusiast Jóhannes Jónasson and literary scholar Kristján Árnason delivered papers in Icelandic on Richard Wagner, the Icelandic basis of the Ring of the Nibelung, the cycle itself and the Romanic tradition in literature and the arts.

The latter symposium was held, in English, on 29 May. Guest speakers were journalist and editor Barry Millington and editor and translator Stewart Spencer from England, Oswald Georg Bauer, secretary-general of Bayerische Akademie der schönen Künste, from Germany, Professor Lars Lönnroth from Sweden, and Professors Vésteinn Ólason and Þorsteinn Gylfason from Iceland. They discussed the Icelandic sources of the Ring of the Nibelung, the composition of the cycle, the Romantic period, and varying productions of the four operas that comprise the Ring. The symposium, which was chaired by Úlfar Bragason, Director of the Sigurður Nordal Institute, was well attended, and about seventy people listened to the papers and subsequent discussion.

The Sigurður Nordal Institute decided to publish the papers delivered at the second symposium, in collaboration with the Reykjavík Arts Festival, as a document of the symposium and of the artistic occasion marked by the first Wagner production in Iceland. The papers are published in this volume, with the exception of Oswald Georg Bauer’s paper, „The Performance History of Der Ring des Nibelungen,“ which he was unfortunately unable to prepare for publication. An article has, however, been added, by Selma Guðmundsdóttir, pianist and artists’ nominee on the board of the 1994 Arts Festival. She gives an account of the background to the production of the abridged version of the Ring in Reykjavík in 1994, and the preparation of the production, and she explains which sections of the operas were performed.

This is the second volume in this series published by the Sigurður Nordal Institute. The papers in the volume are largely typeset by the contributors themselves. Anna H. Yates provided assistance with translation and proofreading. Layout is by Skerpla. Proofs were read by the Institute staff and the contributors. Cover design is by graphic designer Valur Skarphéðinsson. The book is printed by Gutenberg.

Thanks to all those who have worked on this publication. The Sigurður Nordal Institute and the Reykjavík Arts Festival hope that the readers of this booklet will find it both interesting and useful.