Discover Parsifal with David Nice


Please click on the flyer below for further information.

10 Wednesdays – 2.30-4.30pm starting 9 August 2023

From David Nice:

“Join us for the transcendent apotheosis of a saga that began live up in Gartmore House, Scotland, with Das Rheingold back in 2018. Siegfried saw us move to Zoom, and it’s been working well ever since. Parsifal has some of the most sublime music ever composed, yet also some of the most anguished. Much more than a quasi-religious ritual, it underlines a very simple theme that Wagner may not have lived, but certainly believed in – the value of compassion.

“After an introductory session for context, we will be following the course of the drama with excerpts from a wide range of recorded performances on CD, DVD and YouTube, watching the whole opera along the way. I am also hoping we will be able to welcome special guests as we have before; so far, we’ve welcomed Susan Bullock, Linda Esther Gray, Dame Anne Evans, Jay Hunter Morris, John Tomlinson, Mark Wigglesworth and Richard Jones.”

Fee:  £150 for the whole term of ten two-hour classes on Zoom

Email:  david.nice@usa.net ASAP to confirm a place

David’s courses come highly recommended, and we very much hope to see you at this course, conducted again, under the auspices of the Wagner Society of Scotland.


Discover Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg with David Nice

10 Wednesdays 2.30-4.30pm starting 3 August 2022

Join us for the biggest and most generous-hearted human comedy in the history of opera – indeed, arguably, in any sphere. At the centre is Wagner’s most finely-drawn portrait of the man he would have liked to be, Hans Sachs. After an introductory session for context, David will be following the course of the drama with excerpts from a wide range of recorded performances, both on CD, DVD and YouTube. David is also hoping he will be able to welcome special guests as he has before – previous visitors to David’s Wagner courses have included Richard Berkeley-Steele, Susan Bullock, Graham Clark, Dame Anne Evans, Jay Hunter Morris, Richard Jones and Sir John Tomlinson. That’s the beauty of Zoom!

For those who can’t attend on the day (or even at all), a video can be sent out shortly afterwards.

I cannot recommend these classes highly enough. If you are an opera buff or if you are just curious to know a little more about opera, then this is course for you. The classes, all expertly guided by the expert hand of David Nice, comprise discussion, listening to recordings and watching scenes on DVD as well as interviews with internationally renowned singers who have a particular association with the opera being studied.

   – Susan Bullock, soprano and visitor to numerous classes

Since 2018, David Nice has been presenting our residential study courses, initially at our regular venue, Gartmore House, with each devoted to an individual opera from Der Ring des Nibelungen. Two summers ago, Siegfried had to transfer to Zoom online, yet the attendance has increased significantly as a result of David’s entertaining and accessible style of presentation. His insightful observations and revealing connections have made these courses a delight.

   – Derek Williams, Chair of the Wagner Society of Scotland

Fee: £100 for the whole term of ten two-hour classes on Zoom

Email: david.nice@usa.net ASAP to confirm a place

Robert McCutcheon

If you have any difficulties, please email chair@wagnerscotland.net or give Derek Williams a call on 07857602004.


An announcement will be made soon regarding the 2022 courses programme. Please visit this page again for updates.

To view previous courses recently run by the Wagner Society of Scotland, please visit http://www.wagnerscotland.net/courses/previous-courses/

Tristan und Isolde course

You will have noted in our most recent Newsletter, that in the absence of our regular Gartmore course, BBC presenter David Nice has undertaken to present an online Opera in Depth course examining Tristan und Isolde. David is well known to us, having presented previously at Gartmore.

David writes, “Join us for the most intense and sustained love story in the history of opera – indeed, arguably, in any sphere. After an introductory session for context, we’ll be following the course of the drama with excerpts from a wide range of recorded performances, both on CD, DVD and YouTube. I’m also hoping we will be able to welcome special guests as we have before – Graham Clark and Sir John Tomlinson for Siegfried and JT also for Götterdämmerung, where he was followed by Susan Bullock, Dame Anne Evans, Richard Jones and Jay Hunter Morris. That’s the beauty of Zoom!”

The Zoom course, delivered under the auspices of the Wagner Society of Scotland, comes highly recommended by previous course participants. It was originally scehduled to begin on Wednesday 28 July 2021, but has now been postponed to start 4 August. It will still run for 10 weeks. Sessions last from 2:30pm to 4:30pm.

Payment of the one-off £100 course fee (per device, not per person) should be arranged directly with David via his email at david.nice@usa.net

If you have any difficulties, please email chair@wagnerscotland.net or give Derek Williams a call on 07857602004.


Siegfried Online

8th July – 9th September 2020

An online course studying in depth the third opera in Richard Wagner’s Ring presented by David Nice comprising ten weekly talks on
Wednesdays 8th JULY to 9th SEPTEMBER 2.30 to 4.30.

The talks will be presented through ZOOM. Participants are recommended to open an Account at zoom.us or download the App, but this is not essential as a link will be provided (on Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning) for each talk, together with the ID and password to gain access.

The course is open to members of the Wagner Society of Scotland, of other UK Wagner Societies and of non-UK Wagner Societies affiliated to the RWVI (International Association of Wagner Societies.

The fee for the complete course is £100, which is payable per device not per person.

Please download, complete and return the booking form with payment.


8th July – Session 1: Siegfried in context: a general introduction

15th July – Session 2: Into the woods: introducing Siegfried and Mime (Act 1 Scene 1)

22nd July – Session 3: Riddle-me-ree: Mime and the Wanderer (Act 1 Scene 2)

29th July – Session 4: Forging the sword: the glorious climax (Act 1 Scene 3)

5th August – Session 5: Opening up the picture: Wotan and Alberich, Siegfried and Mime (Act 2 Scenes 1 and 2.i)

12th August – Session 6: Forest murmurs and dragon slaying; Siegfried in two modes (Act 2 Scene 2.ii)

19th August – Session 7: A come-uppance and a going-forward: Mime’s death and Siegfried heading for the mountain (Act 2 Scene 3).

26th August – Session 8: More of the elemental: Wotan and Erda, Wotan and Siegfried (Act 3 Scenes 1 and 2.i)

2nd September – Session 9: Journey through the fire: interlude and Siegfried’s mountain-top soliloquy (Act 3 Scene 2.ii and 3.i)

9th September – Session 10: Love finds a way: the Siegfried-Brünnhilde duet (Act 3 Scene 3.ii)

*All Sessions are recorded and can be sent through Dropbox should you miss any*

David Nice has been writing professionally about music since 1985, when he worked for a year as Assistant Editor of Music and Musicians. As a freelancer, he became one of the music critics on The Guardian in the last years of the Greenfield regime, and shared very pleasurable duties with Edward Seckerson on the short-lived Sunday Correspondent. Happily, his relationship with Radio 3 has proved longer term. He has now contributed 27 ‘Building a Library’ programmes to Saturday’s CD Review and reviews CDs on a monthly basis for the BBC Music Magazine. His interest in Russian music led to a study of Russian language and the first volume of his Prokofiev biography, From Russia to the West 1891-1935, published in 2003 by Yale University Press. His other books include short studies of Richard Strauss, Elgar, Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky and the history of opera. He now divides his professional time between writing, broadcasting and lecturing including his popular Opera Courses at Pushkin House. He has sung, acted and played the oboe quite a bit. Operatic roles have included Galanthus in Vaughan Williams’ Poisoned Kiss (ouch!) as well as bits of Schaunard, Don Alfonso, Melitone and Dandini.

Suggested Reading

Stewart Spencer and Barry Millington (eds): Selected Letters of Richard Wagner (Dent) Worth buying a second-hand copy – the most valuable first-hand account of how Siegfried came to be.

Deryck Cooke: I Saw the World End (Oxford) Sadly, Cooke died before he could reach a fuller description of Siegfried’s sources and the music, but this is still the best, albeit unfinished, introduction to The Ring as a whole.

Joachim Köhler: Richard Wagner: The Last of the Titans (Yale) For me, the most fascinating albeit (as usual) slanted biography.

Bryan Magee: Wagner and Philosophy (Penguin) Not essential for Siegfried, but always compelling and lucidly written.

Barry Millington: Wagner (Dent Master Musicians) Still the best short introduction to the life and the music. I don’t know Barry’s bigger study.

Friedrich Spotts: Bayreuth: A History of the Wagner Festival (Yale) I bought this from Joy’s selection last year, and it’s magnificent – superbly illustrated and revelatory.


tr. Lee M Hollander: The Poetic Edda (Texas) Major source for Siegfried.

tr. Jean I. Young: Snorri Sturluson: The Prose Edda (California) Short and to the point.

tr. Ian Cumpsey: The Saga of Didrik of Bern (Skadi Press) Only bought this earlier this year: much revelatory detail which differs from the Eddas.

tr. Jessie L. Byock: The Saga of the Volsungs (Penguin) Wagner’s main source for Die Walküre, but it continues onwards to the Siegfried myth.

tr. A. T Hatto: The Nibelungenlied (Penguin) Only the bare bones of Siegfried’s history before the events of Götterdämmerung, told in flashback, so of marginal interest.

Score: the full Dover edition is the one I always use. Not essential, and no score-reading skills necessary, but it will enrich your experience when we’re listening to sound excepts to follow along.


Thursday 19th to Monday 23rd September 2019

Following on from his first course for us at Gartmore on Das Rheingold in 2018, the Wagner Society are delighted to welcome back David Nice to deliver the second in his series of talks for us on Der Ring des Nibelungen, this time over an extended three-day course on Die Walküre.  Feedback from David’s last course was unreservedly positive, and we encourage early booking this year, as places are now limited to a maximum of 15 participants, as Gartmore is heavily booked at that time of year.  Feedback on the historic Gartmore House mansion, its high standard of cuisine, and the scenic open country pasture lands has likewise been consistently positive every year the society has run these courses.  For information on previous courses, please view the previous courses page.

Cost for Shared Room:  £560 each, and Single £600.  This includes fully catered dining of three cooked meals per day, and WiFi throughout the hotel.

For information about joining the course, please email the Gartmore Convenor, Dale Bilsland at gartmore@wagnerscotland.net

Download to book your place in this year’s course:

Booking Form for Die Walkure Course 2019

Die Walkure Leaflet 2019

Complete the form and email to dalebilsland1@gmail.com

Gartmore House

Situated in the Trossachs, Stirlingshire, FK8 3RS, near Aberfoyle and the Lake of Menteith, Gartmore House was built by William Adam in 1793 as a home for the Graham family. Run by a charitable trust as a conference centre, all areas have disabled access.

An evening bar is available for sale of drinks.

A detailed programme and information about reading material is sent out in early June with a reminder for the final payment. Special requests for rooms, diet and pick up from Stirling Station can be made at that time.


Der Ring des Nibelungen – Das Reingold

A Study Course at Gartmore House, Stirlingshire
Held:  Friday 14th to Monday 17th September 2018
Tutor:  David Nice

This residential course was held in the pleasant and comfortable surroundings of Gartmore House.  This was our fourth Study Weekend following the path of Wagner’s career and creative work.