You may know that the Bridal Chorus by Wagner is from the opera “Lohengrin.” Many of us know it better by the words “Here Comes The Bride”. I don’t speak German – but I can confidently announce that the original lyrics in the operatic setting were not “here comes the bride” – but it’s hard not to think of those words when we hear the music. Natually, at a wedding we don’t usually think of that lyric, because our attention is on the bride, and the bridal processional music fades into the background for one of the most anticipated moments in every wedding.
Written in 1848, it was ignored until Franz Lizst, in 1850, gave a performance of the opera in Weimar. Wagner was not living in his own country, and did not see Lohengrin for quite a number of years.
Lohengrin, the hero in the opera, comes to Antwerp, pursues Elsa, and they are married. At his request she agrees not to ask him from whence he came, or his real name. Unfortunately on their wedding night, encouraged by the antagonist Ortrud, Elsa questions Lohengrin about these matters which they had agreed would remain secret, and because of his vows to the Grail, their marriage is ended and he must be separated from her forever.
The Bridal Chorus is generally regarded by critics to be a weak musical moment in the opera! However, Queen Victoria’s daughter Victoria came down the aisle to it’s march-like rhythm when she was wed to Prince Frederick William of Prussia, and it has become the most popular bridal processional since that first use in 1858.