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Wagner Tuba other rare instruments from National Music Museum to be featured at Seattle Operas Ring

VERMILLION, S.D. -- An exhibition of seven rare musical instruments from the National Music Museum, which is located on the University of South Dakota campus, will be featured in conjunction with the Seattle Opera’s production of Richard Wagner’s “Ring Cycle,” Aug. 4-25 at McCaw Hall in Seattle, Wash.

This renowned series of four operas, a 16-hour telling of the Norse saga the “Der Ring des Nibelungen” (“The Ring of Nibelung”), is Wagner’s story of the end of the world and the dawn of a new one. As international audiences flock to Seattle to witness this epic production for the 38th consecutive year, the production will include the National Music Museum exhibit, “Wagner, Verdi, and the Search for Orchestral Color,” celebrating the bicentennial anniversaries of both Richard Wagner (1813-1883) and Giuseppe Verdi (18-13-1901). According to Cleveland Johnson, director of the National Music Museum, Verdi and Wagner guided instrument builders in devising new musical instruments to reflect the sounds of their imaginations.

“Few of these instruments found a permanent place in the orchestras of today,” Johnson said. “They are, however, witnesses to the fact that the human search for innovative new sounds is not unique to our own time.”

The centerpiece of the exhibit is an early “Wagner tuba,” built in Berlin around 1877. The instrument came to the National Music Museum badly damaged and, prior to last year, was in storage at the National Music Museum. Ana Silva, a Portuguese student in the master’s degree program for the history of musical instruments, restored the instrument for her thesis project. The Wagner tuba, along with the other rare instruments in the exhibit, will return to South Dakota and be part of the National Music Museum’s permanent collection.

For more information about the National Music Museum, please visit, which includes a virtual tour of the facility. The National Music Museum is located on the campus of USD at 414 East Clark Street and is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and Sundays from 2 to 5 p.m. The NMM’s summer schedule includes extended evening hours until 8 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays.

A photo of the restored Wagner tuba is available for download at A “before” image of the damaged tuba can be found at


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 78 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.

This material is available in an alternate format upon request. Please contact University Relations at 605-677-5759. If you are a person with a disability and need a special accommodation to fully participate in any university activity or event, please contact Disability Services at 605-677-6389 as soon as possible, but no later than 48 hours before the event, so that appropriate arrangements may be made.


Hanna DeLange
USD News