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Frank Martin: Le Vin herbé

  • for 12 voices, 7 strings and piano
  • Duration: 90’
  • Instrumentation details:
    1. vln, 2. vln, 1. vla, 2. vla, 1. vc, 2. vc, cb, pno
  • Choir: Kammerchor
  • Composer: Frank Martin
  • Writer of pre-existing text: Joseph Bédier
  • Text adapter: Rudolf Georg Binding
  • Original language: French
  • Translator: Frank Martin
  • Table of contents:
    Der Liebestrank
    Der Wald von Morois
    Der Tod

Work introduction

“A Tristan with a difference” – that was how the critic of the Neues Österreich newspaper described Frank Martin’s Le Vin herbé (The Magic Potion) after the first staged performance of this secular oratorio at the 1948 Salzburg Festival. The concert version had already been premièred six years previously in Zurich. In its more than 60-year history Le Vin herbé (based on Joseph Bédier’s novel Tristan and Iseult) has enjoyed countless concert performances and several staged productions. In recent years it has been seen as a chamber opera in Zurich, Paris and Berlin. 


The complete perusal score (PDF-preview)

World première

Zürich (CH)
Robert Blum

Press reviews

“This work belongs on every stage. (Eleonore Büning, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung)

“Even today, Le Vin herbé is surrounded by the aura of being an ‘insider secret’: truly a ‘magic potion’ of crystal-clear purity, a Tristan setting with its very own attraction; beyond the narcotic delights of Wagner, but nonetheless suggestive.” (Kerstin Schüssler-Bach) 

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