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Title: Kaisermarsch  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Richard Wagner, German music, German culture, Wagner-Werk-Verzeichnis, Nike Wagner
Collection: German Culture, German Music, German Patriotic Songs, Richard Wagner
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


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.


  • History 1
  • Text 2
  • Patriotic Wagnerian Music 3
  • References 4


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]


The text of the march did not become popular and is thus hardly 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 did thus have to be ″trimmed″ in order to fit the melody.

German English

(für das Heer.)

Heil! Heil dem Kaiser
   König Wilhelm!
Aller Deutschen Hort und Freiheitswehr!
  Höchste der Kronen,
Wie ziert Dein Haupt sie sehr!
  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!
  Trutz dem Feind,
  Schutz dem Freund
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:

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

German English[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!


  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
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