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The Kaisermarsch (Imperial March) is a patriotic march composed by Richard Wagner in 1871 in order to exalt the foundation of the German Empire after the victorious Franco-Prussian War.



The victory in the Franco-Prussian War and the consequent proclamation of William I, King of Prussia, as German Emperor spurred patriotism and incited several German composers to write patriotic music dedicated to the nation and the new empire. Johannes Brahms, for example, wrote his Song of Triumph (op. 55) in 1871.

Wagner, already known for his musical patriotism in several of his operas, hence composed the Kaisermarsch which entailed both positive and negative reviews but did not succeed in attaining a more prominent status with regard to official ceremonies celebrating the newly achieved victory. Wagner wrote: [1]

After the return of our victorious army, I made private inquiries in Berlin whether, in case a grand ceremonial in honour of the fallen soldiers were projected, I could be permitted to provide a piece suited to such a solemn occasion. But I was told that it was not considered desirable to make special provision for painful impressions to accompany the joyous return of the army. I proposed, still privately, another piece, which was to accompany the entrance of the army, and into which, at the close, — say in defiling before the victorious monarch, — the excellent vocal corps of the Prussian army might join with some popular melody. But this would have necessitated serious changes in the arrangements that had been completed long before, and I was dissuaded from my project. Consequently, I arranged my Kaisermarsch for the concert-hall, for which let it be adapted as well as may be.


The text of the march did not become popular, and is rarely sung when the Imperial March is performed nowadays. The main reason for this is the low quality of the text, which emanates from the fact that it was written after the composition of the tune and thus had to be ″trimmed″ in order to fit the melody.


(für das Heer.)

Heil! Heil dem Kaiser!
  König Wilhelm!
Aller Deutschen Hort und Freiheitswehr!
  Höchste der Kronen,
Wie ziert Dein Haupt sie hehr!
  Ruhmreich gewonnen
  soll Frieden Dir lohnen!
Der neu ergrünten Eiche gleich
erstand durch Dich das Deutsche Reich:
  Heil seinen Ahnen,
  seinen Fahnen,
die Dich führten, die wir trugen,
als mit Dir wir Frankreich schlugen!
  Feind zum Trutz,
  Freund zum Schutz,
allem Volk das Deutsche Reich
  zu Heil und Nutz!

Song for the Emperor
(for the army.)

Hail! Hail to the Emperor
  King William!
Shield and bulwark of all Germans′ freedom!
  Loftiest of crowns,
how augustly it adorns thy brow!
  Thou hast gloriously triumphed!
  May peace be thy reward!
Like the oak, newly turned green,
the German Empire arose because of thee:
  Hail to its ancestors,
  its banners,
that led thee, and that we flew,
when we, together with thee, fought France!
  May the German Empire be
  Defence against the foe,
  Protection for the friend
And salvation for the entire people!

Patriotic Wagnerian Music

Another patriotic piece by Wagner is Hans Sachs′s final monologue in Die Meistersinger [2] when he warns his fellow Germans to protect German culture from foreign influence:

Verachtet mir die Meister nicht
Und ehrt mir ihre Kunst!
Was ihnen hoch zum Lobe spricht,
Fiel reichlich Euch zur Gunst.
Nicht Euren Ahnen, noch so wert,
Nicht Eurem Wappen, Speer noch Schwert,
Dass Ihr ein Dichter seid,
Ein Meister Euch gefreit,
Dem dankt Ihr heut Eu′r höchstes Glück.
Drum denkt mit Dank Ihr dran zurück,
Wie kann die Kunst wohl unwert sein,
Die solche Preise schließet ein?
Dass unsre Meister sie gepflegt
Grad recht nach ihrer Art,
Nach ihrem Sinne treu gehegt,
Das hat sie echt bewahrt:
Blieb sie nicht adlig, wie zur Zeit,
Da Höf′ und Fürsten sie geweiht,
Im Drang der schlimmen Jahr
Blieb sie doch deutsch und wahr;
Und wär sie anders nicht geglückt,
Als wie, wo alles drängt und drückt,
Ihr seht, wie hoch sie blieb in Ehr′:
Was wollt Ihr von den Meistern mehr?
Habt Acht! Uns dräuen üble Streich −
Zerfällt erst deutsches Volk und Reich
In falscher welscher Majestät,
Kein Fürst bald mehr sein Volk versteht,
Und welschen Dunst mit welschem Tand
Sie pflanzen uns in deutsches Land;
Was deutsch und echt, wüsst′ keiner mehr,
Lebt′s nicht in deutscher Meister Ehr′.
Drum sag ich Euch:
Ehrt Eure deutschen Meister!
Dann bannt Ihr gute Geister;
Und gebt Ihr ihrem Wirken Gunst,
Zerging in Dunst
Das heil′ge röm′sche Reich,
Uns bliebe gleich
Die heil′ge deutsche Kunst!

In the third act of Lohengrin , King Henry praises the Germans of Brabant and their will to defend the Empire against Hungarian attacks:

GermanEnglish [3]

Heil, König Heinrich,
König Heinrich, Heil!

Habt Dank, ihr Lieben von Brabant.
Wie fühl ich stolz mein Herz entbrannt,
Find ich in jedem deutschen Land
So kräftig reichen Heerverband.
Nun soll des Reiches Feind sich nah′n.
Wir wollen tapfer ihn empfah′n.
Aus seinem öden Horst daher
Soll er sich nimmer wagen mehr.
Für deutsches Land das deutsche Schwert,
So sei des Reiches Kraft bewährt.

Für deutsches Land das deutsche Schwert,
So sei des Reiches Kraft bewährt.

Hail, King Henry!
King Henry, hail!

I thank you, my loving subjects of Brabant!
How I would feel my heart swell with pride
to find in every German land
so many valiant forces!
Now let out kingdom′s foe draw near
and we will boldly meet him:
from his Eastern desert he shall never more
dare to venture here!
For German land the German sword!
Thus may our kingdom′s strength be ensured!

For German land the German sword!
Thus may our kingdom's strength be ensured!

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  1. Trinity I, 30 May 1723: Die Elenden sollen essen, BWV 75
  2. Trinity II, 6 June 1723: Die Himmel erzählen die Ehre Gottes, BWV 76
  3. Trinity III, 13 June 1723: Weimar cantata Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis, BWV 21 restaged
  4. Trinity IV, 20 June 1723: Ein ungefärbt Gemüte, BWV 24, and Weimar cantata Barmherziges Herze der ewigen Liebe, BWV 185 restaged
  5. Nativity of St. John the Baptist, 24 June 1723: Ihr Menschen, rühmet Gottes Liebe, BWV 167
  6. Trinity V, 27 June 1723: no extant cantata
  7. Visitation, 2 July 1723: Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben, BWV 147 and possibly Magnificat in E-flat major, BWV 243a
  8. Trinity VI, 4 July 1723: no extant cantata
  9. Trinity VII, 11 July 1723: Ärgre dich, o Seele, nicht, BWV 186
  10. Trinity VIII, 18 July 1723: Erforsche mich, Gott, und erfahre mein Herz, BWV 136
  11. Trinity IX, 25 July 1723: Herr, gehe nicht ins Gericht mit deinem Knecht, BWV 105
  12. Trinity X, 1 August 1723: Schauet doch und sehet, ob irgend ein Schmerz sei, BWV 46
  13. Trinity XI, 8 August 1723: Siehe zu, daß deine Gottesfurcht nicht Heuchelei sei, BWV 179 and Weimar cantata Mein Herze schwimmt im Blut, BWV 199 restaged
  14. Trinity XII, 15 August 1723: Lobe den Herrn, meine Seele, BWV 69a
  15. Trinity XIII, 22 August 1723: Du sollt Gott, deinen Herren, lieben, BWV 77
  16. Trinity XIV, 29 August 1723: Es ist nichts Gesundes an meinem Leibe, BWV 25
  17. (30 August 1723, Ratswechsel: not part of the liturgical year, see below)
  18. Trinity XV, 5 September 1723: Warum betrübst du dich, mein Herz, BWV 138
  19. Trinity XVI, 12 September 1723: Christus, der ist mein Leben, BWV 95
  20. Trinity XVII, 19 September 1723: Bringet dem Herrn Ehre seines Namens, BWV 148
  21. Trinity XVIII, 26 September 1723: no extant cantata
  22. St. Michael's Day, 29 September 1723: no extant cantata
  23. Trinity XIX, 3 October 1723: Ich elender Mensch, wer wird mich erlösen, BWV BWV 48
  24. Trinity XX, 10 October 1723: Weimar cantata Ach! ich sehe, itzt, da ich zur Hochzeit gehe, BWV 162 restaged
  25. Trinity XXI, 17 October 1723: Ich glaube, lieber Herr, hilf meinem Unglauben, BWV 109
  26. Trinity XXII, 24 October 1723: Was soll ich aus dir machen, Ephraim, BWV 89
  27. Reformation Day, 31 October 1723 : possibly Weimar cantata Nur jedem das Seine, BWV 163 restaged; Alternatively an early version of BWV 80/80b?
  28. Trinity XXIV, 7 November 1723: O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort, BWV 60
  29. Trinity XXV, 14 November 1723: Es reißet euch ein schrecklich Ende, BWV 90
  30. Trinity XXVI, 21 November 1723: Wachet! betet! betet! wachet! BWV 70
  31. Advent I, 28 November 1723: Weimar cantata Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, BWV 61 restaged
  32. Christmas, 25 December 1723: Weimar cantata Christen, ätzet diesen Tag, BWV 63 restaged; Also Magnificat, BWV 243a and Sanctus in D major, BWV 238
  33. Second Day of Christmas, 26 December 1723: Darzu ist erschienen der Sohn Gottes, BWV 40
  34. Third Day of Christmas, 27 December 1723: Sehet, welch eine Liebe hat uns der Vater erzeiget, BWV 64
  35. New Year, 1 January 1724: Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied, BWV 190
  36. Sunday after New Year, 2 January 1724: Schau, lieber Gott, wie meine Feind, BWV 153
  37. Epiphany, 6 January 1724: Sie werden aus Saba alle kommen, BWV 65
  38. Epiphany I, 9 January 1724: Mein liebster Jesus ist verloren, BWV 154
  39. Epiphany II, 16 January 1724: Weimar cantata Mein Gott, wie lang, ach lange? BWV 155 restaged
  40. Epiphany III, 23 January 1724: Herr, wie du willt, so schicks mit mir, BWV 73
  41. Epiphany IV, 30 January 1724: Jesus schläft, was soll ich hoffen? BWV 81
  42. Purification, 2 February 1724: Erfreute Zeit im neuen Bunde, BWV 83
  43. Septuagesima, 6 February 1724: Nimm, was dein ist, und gehe hin, BWV 144
  44. Sexagesima, 13 February 1724: Leichtgesinnte Flattergeister, BWV 181 and Weimar cantata Gleichwie der Regen und Schnee vom Himmel fällt, BWV 18 restaged in its Leipzig version
  45. Estomihi, 7 February 1723 and 20 February 1724 : Jesus nahm zu sich die Zwölfe, BWV 22 and Du wahrer Gott und Davids Sohn, BWV 23 restaged in its first Leipzig version
  46. Annunciation and Palm Sunday 25 March 1724: Siehe eine Jungfrau ist schwanger, BWV 1135 and Weimar cantata Himmelskönig, sei willkommen, BWV 182 restaged.
  47. (Good Friday, 7 April 1724: St John Passion, BWV 245, 1st version — Passion, not considered as a cantata part of the cycle)
  48. Easter, 9 April 1724: early cantata Christ lag in Todes Banden, BWV 4 restaged ; Weimar cantata Der Himmel lacht! Die Erde jubilieret, BWV 31 restaged
  49. Easter Monday, 10 April 1724: Erfreut euch, ihr Herzen, BWV 66
  50. Easter Tuesday, 11 April 1724: Ein Herz, das seinen Jesum lebend weiß, BWV 134
  51. Quasimodogeniti, 16 April 1724: Halt im Gedächtnis Jesum Christ, BWV 67
  52. Misericordias Domini, 23 April 1724: Du Hirte Israel, höre, BWV 104
  53. Jubilate, 30 April 1724: Weimar cantate Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen, BWV 12 restaged in a version with a slightly modified instrumentation
  54. Cantate, 7 May 1724: Wo gehest du hin? BWV 166
  55. Rogate, 14 May 1724: Wahrlich, wahrlich, ich sage euch, BWV BWV 86
  56. Ascension, 18 May 1724: Wer da gläubet und getauft wird, BWV 37
  57. Exaudi, 21 May 1724: Sie werden euch in den Bann tun, BWV 44
  58. Pentecost, 28 May 1724: Wer mich liebet, der wird mein Wort halten, BWV 59 and Weimar cantata Erschallet, ihr Lieder, erklinget, ihr Saiten! BWV 172 restaged in its first Leipzig version (D major)
  59. Pentecost Monday, 29 May 1724: no extant cantata
  60. Pentecost Tuesday, 30 May 1724: Erwünschtes Freudenlicht, BWV 184
  61. Trinity, 4 June 1724: Höchsterwünschtes Freudenfest, BWV 194, originally a consecration cantata, restaged in its first Leipzig version
<i>Der Graf von Gleichen</i>

Der Graf von Gleichen D 918 is an unfinished 1827 opera in two acts by Franz Schubert after a libretto by Eduard Bauernfeld.


  1. Finck, Henry Theophilus. Wagner and His Works. The Story of His Life with Critical Comments. Volume II. Honolulu (Hawaii): University Press of the Pacific, 2004 (reprinted from the 1901 edition). Page 257.
  2. ″Verachtet mir die Meister nicht″ on YouTube with English subtitles
  3. English libretto