Souvenirs de Munich

Souvenirs de Munich is a quadrille on themes from Wagner's Tristan and Isolde, for piano, four hands by Emmanuel Chabrier.


Chabrier’s interest in Wagner dated from 1862, when as a study exercise he copied out the score of Tannhäuser.[1] In early 1880 he requested time off from his ministry job to visit Munich that March with Duparc and other friends to go to a performance of Tristan und Isolde as it could only be seen there. The experience was a musical revelation for Chabrier.[2] Chabrier, as assistant to Charles Lamoureux, helped in the rehearsals for the concert performances in Paris of Act I (1884) and Act II (1885) of Tristan und Isolde.[1]

However, much as he admired the music of Wagner, he was still able to create musical parodies of the German composer. Chabrier regularly improvised works of this kind at the piano; Delage describes an evening dinner at the home of Lamoureux where an improvisation on themes from The Ring enraged von Bülow.[1] Poulenc described Souvenirs de Munich as "irresistibly funny", where Wagner's principal themes appear with "false beards and fake moustaches".[3]

The exact date of the creation of Souvenirs de Munich is unknown, but it probably dates from 1887.[1] Possibly with Offenbach's satire Le musicien de l'avenir in mind, it led to Fauré and Messager's 'Souvenirs de Bayreuth' in similar vein.[4]


The five movements follow the traditional layout of a musical quadrille[5]

  • Pantalon (C major, 2/4) uses themes of the sailors’ greeting to King Marke (Act 1), the Kareol leitmotif (Act III)
  • Eté (G major, 2/4) uses themes of Ecstasy, Love call, Love song (Act II)
  • Poule (C major, 6/8) uses themes of the shepherd’s joyful tune (Act III), death song (Act II)
  • Pastourelle (D major, 2/4) uses themes of Kurwenal’s song
  • Galop (F major, 2/4) Sailor’s doleful song (Act I), Kurwenal’s aria (Act I) and Longing for death (Act II)


  1. Delage R. Emmanuel Chabrier. Fayard, Paris, 1999.
  2. Myers R. Emmanuel Chabrier and his circle. J M Dent and Sons, London, 1973.
  3. Poulenc F. Emmanuel Chabrier. La Palatine, Geneva & Paris, 1961.
  4. Howat R. The Art of French Piano Music. Yale University Press, 2009.
  5. ‘Quadrille’ in the Grove Dictionary of Music.
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