Dramatic Recapitulation in Wagner's "Götterdämmerung" Author(s): William Kinderman Source: 19th-Century Music, Vol. 4, No. 2 (Autumn, 1980), pp. 101-112 Published by: University of California Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/746708 Accessed: 07-11-2017 23:09 UTC
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This content downloaded from 188.8.131.52 on Tue, 07 Nov 2017 23:09:59 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms Dramatic Recapitulation in Wagner's Gotterdammerung
In his essay, "A Note on Opera," Donald dinary Fran- importance. In Tristan, and in the Ring, cis Tovey wrote that "a far more important Wagner as- achieved a musical articulation of the pect of Wagner's musical organization cruxthan anyof the drama not by means of the leit- details of leitmotiv is the matter of recapitula- motiv or thematic recall, but by massive musi- tion."' Nowhere in Tovey's writings cal did recapitulation. he explore in detail the implications of this Thestrik- best-known example of large-scale re- ing observation, which so flatly contradicts capitulation in Wagner's works is Isolde's con- much of traditional Wagner scholarship. cluding In "Liebestod" in Tristan, and its drama- fact, recapitulation is a conspicuous featuretic point in has been discussed by Joseph Kerman many of Wagner's works: the Chorus in his of book Pil- Opera as Drama.2 But an even grims in Tannhduser, the Prize Song larger in musicalDie recapitulation takes place in the Meistersinger, and the bells of the Templelast act of of GOtterddmmerung, in the passages the Holy Grail in Parsifal are some of thatthe preparemost and depict Siegfried's moments of familiar examples. And, as Tovey did point revelation out before his death. This recapitulation on several occasions, there are two instances has received in very little critical attention. Wagner where recapitulation assumes Lorenz extraor- overlooked it completely, and, in his zeal to classify its form according to recurring 1"A Note on Opera," in The Main Stream of Music and motives, obscured its correspondence with the Other Essays (New York, 1949), p. 359. Tovey also made last act of Siegfried. Consequently, Lorenz re- this point in several other essays, but never more clearly garded precisely this section as "unusually than here.
0148-2076/80/030101 + 12$00.50 O 1980 by The Regents of the University of California. 20pera as Drama (New York, 1956), p. 212.
This content downloaded from 184.108.40.206 on Tue, 07 Nov 2017 23:09:59 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms 19TH sehr zuriickhaltend Sehr langsam CENTURY MUSIC winds -ob.,cl. p d vn hn.F s hfp trb. bIF s"- crescs li I M ' str._?,W., N g tuba.- fl.IE.h. +ob. cl. 8 S--vn. 2 pit)p rall. 8-- --hap .brass ,I
PP vn. 1 harps harps Example 1
free" in its formal aspect.3 Actually, this sec- such a pairing of tonalities, in this case E tion represents a powerful formal gesture on and C. The moment of maximum musical ten- the level of the entire cycle, perfectly calcu- sion in the scene is the moment at which C lated to express the pathos of Siegfried's tragic major is affirmed, having developed out of a death. tonal context in E. And, as we might expect, When Wagner returned to work on Siegfried this moment of maximum musical tension in 1869, after a twelve-year interruption dur- coincides exactly with the moment of ing which he had completed Tristan und Isolde maximum dramatic tension: Brtinnhilde's and Die Meistersinger, he brought with him a awakening by Siegfried. Brtinnhilde is at more complex musical language and a greater first speechless with wonder, and the chords in control over large-scale tonal relationships. In the orchestra, due to their modulation and the particular, he had developed the technique of remarkable preparation for it throughout the pairing two tonalities and using the tension third act, articulate the feeling of a new, thus created for dramatic effect.4 This practice, heightened range of consciousness. which is a pervasive feature of Wagner's musi- The extraordinary character of this climax cal organization in the works beginning with is achieved by something like a miracle in Tristan, can best be illustrated by precisely harmonic progression: the strongly-prepared that music in the Ring that forms the core of dominant-tonic cadence in E is subsumed the great recapitulation in Gdtterddmmerung. within an even stronger chromatic resolution The music for Siegfried's awakening of Bruinn- to C. Despite the four measures of dominant hilde in Act III, scene 3 of Siegfried is based on preparation for the E-minor triad that opens the
3Das Geheimnis der Form bei Richard Wagner, undvol. Isolde I and the Study of Wagner's Sketches and Drafts (Berlin, 1924), p. 202. for the First Act (Princeton, 1969). 4For the concept of "tonal pairing" in Wagner's music OfI am course, if any analysis of tonal relations in Wagner is indebted to Professor Robert Bailey. A tonal pairing to entails prove aesthetically sound, it is important not to regard the juxtaposition of two key areas which together comprise tonalities as abstract entities apart from the music, a the tonal center for an extensive musical unit. Such dual danger to which Graham George succumbed in his treat- tonal relationships are common in Wagner's late works: ment of "interlocking tonality" in "The Structure of thus, the first act of Tristan contains a tonal pairing of A Dramatic Music 1607-1909," Musical Quarterly 52 (1966), and C, the second act of Gotterddmmerung of Bb and C, 465-82. The value of the idea of tonal pairing consists in and the first act of Parsifal of Ab and C. For a discussion of its utility as a means of describing events in a musical lan- this tonal relationship in the first act of Tristan see Bailey's guage in which the process of modulation itself-in unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, The Genesis of Tristan Wagner's own words, "die Kunst des Oberganges"- occupies a central position.
This content downloaded from 220.127.116.11 on Tue, 07 Nov 2017 23:09:59 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms Zuruickhaltend Massig WILLIAM SIEGFRIED KINDERMAN Dramatic Recapitulation in Gdtterddmmerung
vn. bsn. I str- hn., timp.
hat ihn das Furch - ten ge - lehrt!
str. pizz. va (4 4-
3 Sehr langsam section, its highest tone, asB, Siegfried is calls upon Brfinnhilde to awaken, heard as leading tone to C, and the triad mustthirty-five measures before the climax, the full resolve to the following C-major chord. Wagner chromatic ascent is accomplished in the or- reinforces this effect by his orchestration, chestra giv- in smaller note values. The high B, ing the E-minor triad to the horns, oboes, andharmonized here as the dominant-seventh clarinets in a confined register, and the follow- chord of E, is nevertheless followed by a ing C-major triad to the brass instruments, C-major sonority. At Bruinnhilde's actual awa- flutes, and English horn in a setting that kening, en- the E-minor triad is simply interpo- compasses a tonal space of five octaves (ex. lated 1). between the E dominant-seventh and This climax is not an isolated and unpre- C-major chords. The effect is thereby created of pared event. Seeds for it have been sown the falling away of one perspective, and the throughout the last scene. The crucial har- simultaneous opening out of a new one. With monic progression, E to C, along with the this cadence, E, the central tonality of the ascending violin line from Briinnhilde's scene up to this point, is superseded by C. awakening, are first heard in the orchestral in- It will be seen that the pairing of the to- troduction when Siegfried appears on the nalities E and C in this scene is most clearly mountain height. The first vertical sonority to reflected in the music at its moments of be sounded against this rising, unaccompanied greatest dramatic intensity. When Siegfried ap- melody in E major is a C-minor triad.5 Mo- pears on the mountain height at the beginning ments later, as Siegfried discovers Briinn- of the scene, the tonality of E is affirmed, and hilde's steed, and as he loosens her breast- the rising melody to high B and C occurs for the plate, this material, and its accompanying first time in the unaccompanied violins. And harmonic shift toward C, are repeated.6 Finally, when Siegfried overcomes his fear of Brfinn- hilde, 130-odd measures later, he sings a complete cadence in E accompanied by a recall sSchirmer Vocal Score, p. 285, system 4. of this violin line from the orchestral introduc- 6At S. V. S., p. 286, it reaches high E, descends three oc- taves of unison Es, and then shifts toward C major, as an tion7 (ex. 2). Until this point, E has been the E-minor triad is connected directly with a C-major chord; at S. V. S., p. 288, high A is reached as a harmonized dominant-seventh sonority of E, but the bass pedal on B resolves upward to C as the dominant-seventh of E resolves 7This vocal cadence occurs on the words "Im Schlafe liegt to an A-minor sonority. eine Frau: die hat ihn das Firchten gelehrt!" (S.V.S., p. 293).
This content downloaded from 18.104.22.168 on Tue, 07 Nov 2017 23:09:59 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms 19TH clear tonal center, with only passing Intonal fact, thedi- pathos of Siegfried's "Funeral CENTURY MUSIC gressions in other keys. After this Music" cadence, owes much to the repetition of this however, the primacy of E is clouded, large-scale and the tonal framework. If the music of the dramatic juxtaposition of E and C last at act Briinn- of Siegfried has made its mark, the re- hilde's awakening brings the music to its turn of this tonal progression up to its point of most intense climax. Still, the expected ca- extreme tension (the juxtaposition of E and C dence in C major is twice avoided before its in the chords cited above) arouses expectation emphatic arrival when Bruinnhilde and Sieg- of its fulfillment in C major. The simple fried first sing together: their vocal cadence in change of mode to C minor in the "Funeral C finally resolves the tension of the tonal pair- Music" derives not a little of its power from its ing, and affirms C as the clear tonic. This too is formal correspondence with the C-major love- dramatically apt: the remainder of the scene is duet of Siegfried and Briinnhilde in Siegfried. crowned by the two passages in which Briinn- The most striking change in the recapitula- hilde and Siegfried sing together. Both provide tion of this tonal framework is its new em- definitive cadences in the purest C major, and phasis on A, the subdominant of E. Siegfried's express musically the exaltation of their union. cadence on "ein wonniges Weib" in Got- The identification of the dramatic struc- terddmmerung is harmonized in A major, ture of the scene with the tonal structure whereas its counterpart in Siegfried, "Im based upon these paired tonalities is shown Schlafe in liegt eine Frau, " was in E. This cadence figure 1. weakens the E side of the tonal pairing by turn- When Wagner composed the music for G6t- ing E into the dominant of A. Yet of course em- terddmmerung, Act III, scene 2, Siegfried's phasis on the subdominant in a recapitulation death scene, he restated the entire tonal is a familiar feature of the symphonic "drama" framework that we have discussed above. This of the Classical style. Its effect here is analo- is noteworthy, because the scene in Gotter- gous to that in a Classical symphony: the re- dammerung represents not simply a recapitu- sulting softening of contrast presents the re- lation of several passages from Siegfried; it is statement in a new and superior light. The rather a transformation of the musical essence serene, other-worldly character of Siegfried's of the whole last scene of Siegfried in a way final measures is reinforced by its tonality of A, that depicts the tragedy of the death of Sieg- a key of resolution for the E side of the tonal fried. Not only the passages of exact recapitula- pairing which is the dramatic center of the tion, but others as well, such as Siegfried's scene. "Funeral Music," are adapted to this restate- Another change in the recapitulation is that ment of the E-C tonal pairing. some of the material from Siegfried is omitted.
SCHIRMER VOCAL SCORE TONALITY ACTION PAGE NUMBERS E Orchestral Introduction, 285-86 appearance of Siegfried
E Siegfried overcomes his fear 293 (cadence in E confirms E)
EIC Siegfried turns to Briinnhilde, 293-96 awakens her
EIC Brfinnhilde wakes, rises 296-300 C Siegfried and Brfinnhilde sing together 300-02 (cadence in C confirms C)
C Siegfried and Brfinnhilde sing together 333-37 (Coda, end of scene)
Figure 1: Siegfried, Act III, scene 3, Tonal and Dramatic Framework
This content downloaded from 22.214.171.124 on Tue, 07 Nov 2017 23:09:59 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms Gemachlich im Zeitmass WILLIAM SIEGFRIED KINDERMAN Dramatic Recapitulation in Gotterdiimmerung ein won ni - ges Weib
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Obviously, there would be no dramatic point hilde's to rocky height. By this point Siegfried is a repetition of the "chords of awakening" transfixed,be- oblivious to everything but his fore Siegfried's death; the faster pace of the memory ac- of Brfinnhilde, and on his words "ein tion requires abbreviation of the material. wonnigesDe- Weib" Wagner recalls the vocal ca- spite its compression, however, this is one dence of and orchestral accompaniment from the the largest recapitulations in all of Wagner's corresponding passage in Siegfried8 (ex. 3). works. About 130 measures are directly re-Here, as we have seen, the cadence is har- called from Acts II and III of Siegfried, and themonized in A, but as in Siegfried it marks the whole section that encompasses the tonal pair- end of a section of music with a central tonal- ing, including the "Funeral Music," numbers ity of E; the tonal balance is soon to shift in the more than 250 measures. direction of C. Thus in G6tterddmmerung, the A review of the dramatic progress in Sieg- "Waldweben" music assumes the tonal role of fried's death scene will reveal further how the the first part of the last scene of Siegfried in the tonal pairing of E and C has been recalled and E-C pairing. The temporal weight of E in pro- transformed. While on a hunting party with portion to C is approximately the same in both. Gunther and Hagen, Siegfried relates stories Wagner can thus recapitulate material from from his youth. When he recalls his conversa- both Acts II and III of Siegfried and incorporate tion with the forest bird, the "Waldweben" it into one large musical unit. music from the second act of Siegfried is re- stated in its original tonality, E. After Siegfried 8This passage was not contained in Wagner's first sketches, sings the first two strophes of the forest bird's which show that he revised and expanded his first concep- song, Hagen gives him a potion to restore his tion, thereby amplifying the recapitulation of material memory. Siegfried then finishes the final from Siegfried. See Curt von Westernhagen, The Forging of the 'Ring': Richard Wagner's Composition Sketches for strophe of the forest bird's song, and continues Der Ring des Nibelungen, trans. Arnold and Mary Whittall directly with the story of his passage to Briinn- (Cambridge, 1976), p. 225.
This content downloaded from 126.96.36.199 on Tue, 07 Nov 2017 23:09:59 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms 19TH Even the double cadence structure in C II CENTURY MUSIC from Siegfried is preserved in the recapitula- Wagner used tonal pairing as a structural tion, though it is transformed in accordance musical element to solve a problem posed by with the different dramatic situation. As we his enormous expansion of the time-scale in have seen, the recapitulated material is con- music. Through his abandonment of set- densed in Gdtterddmmerung; also condensed numbers and creation of continuous opera, is the reference to C major before the chords Wagner equated the development of music of Briinnhilde's awakening. This reference with is the development of the entire drama. confined to one momentous passage, the last How was he then to set musically the central eight measures of Siegfried's narrative before climactic events of the drama, without the aid he is stabbed by Hagen. Wagner recalls here of symmetrical forms? His solution was to base material from both of the climactic C-major large sections of his music not on one stable cadences in Siegfried, combining their motives sonority, but on the tension between two tonal to frame the first words in which Siegfried fully centers, which could then reflect the underly- recollects his union with BrUinnhilde. Sieg- ing tension of the drama. fried's last words as he dies, moreover, are ac- In the Ring, Wagner also resorts to a jux- companied by the cadential flourishes from the taposition of paired harmonic centers to under- first of the Siegfried cadences, transposed into line psychological conflict between characters. A major. Musical sentiments of splendor and For example, in the Wotan-Erda dialogue in Act peace recapitulated from the love-duet in Sieg- III, scene 1 of Siegfried, the central tonality of fried convey the dramatic point of the scene- Erda's last three passages is Eb and the central that Siegfried dies oblivious to his own tragedy key for Wotan throughout is G. The tension in at the hands of Hagen. their dialogue, which increases until their We may now schematize the tonal basis for mutual renunciation, is reinforced by these the great recapitulation in Gdtterddmmerung contrasting tonalities. In the first act of G6t- (figure 2): terddmmerung, the crucial confrontation be-
Siegfried E E E/C C C
III, 3 orchestral vocal Brunnhilde's vocal vocal introduction cadence moment of cadence cadence (Siegfried) awakening (Brinnhilde (Briinnhilde and Siegfried) and Siegfried)
Gotterdammerung E A (C) dim. E/C (A) c -- C harm. III, 2 "Waldweben" vocal Siegfried's cadence full (Siegfried) recollection I of Briinnhilde
Siegfried Siegfried stabbed dies
Note: Direct recall of material is shown by boxes.
Figure 2: Siegfried and Gotterdinmmerung-The Tonal Basis for the Recapitulation
This content downloaded from 188.8.131.52 on Tue, 07 Nov 2017 23:09:59 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms merely an echo from Briinnhilde's awakening WILLIAM tween Brfinnhilde and Siegfried, when he ap- KINDERMAN pears in the likeness of Gunther after having it should resolve to C b, as her chords had re- Dramatic been transformed by the magic of the Tarn- solved to C. Instead, this resolution is with- Recapitulation in G6tterdaimmerung helm, is portrayed by a tonal shift from B to held, and the first part of the Norns' Scene re- Eb, the polar tonalities of the act as a whole. A mains in Eb minor. By this means Wagner poignancy of effect is created by the abruptness converts the climax of his tonal pairing into a of the modulation at Brfinnhilde's shocked re- strangely suggestive gesture of premonition. sponse ("Wer ist der Mann, der das vermochte, Far more important than these subtleties, was dem Stdrksten nur bestimmt? ") and by the however, is the recapitulatory synthesis at fact that she does not sing in the tonality of the Siegfried's death. As the culmination of the Tarnhelm, an instrument of deception and story of Siegfried, the central figure of the Ring, guile. Here again, in a very different context, this large formal gesture assumes special a relationship between tonalities a major dramatic and even philosophical interest. In third apart surfaces at an important dramatic particular, it serves to define a perspective from moment. which human subjectivity is paramount. We The device of tonal pairing enabled have Wagner already seen how Wagner's ingenious to establish a covert link between transformationdisparate of the E-C tonal pairing in- musical events by basing them on sures the that same Siegfried's final passage remains an- underlying harmonic relationships. chored This toprac- the center of a large modulatory tice accounts in large measure for structure,the paradox which brings it strongly into relief. that Wagner's later music, while avoiding From a for-dramatic point of view, Siegfried's mal schemes, nevertheless imposes its own death scene is no less central. It is a nodal point scaffolding on the dramatic progression. The in the dramatic argument of the Ring, for in it characteristic sound of this music is con- the character of Siegfried seems to assume a ditioned by a subtle web of systematically symbolic dimension, as a representation of cer- controlled tonal relationships. tain edifying ideas. Wagner's mastery over the expressive pos- The special dramatic force of this recapitu- sibilities of large-scale tonal relationships lation derives from the relation between Sieg- could also yield effects of extreme subtlety. At fried's role in the drama and those of Hagen and the very beginning of G6tterddmmerung, for Brfinnhilde. Siegfried's fullest identification example, the chords of BrUinnhilde's awakening with Brfinnhilde occurs at his "awakening," are combined with the motives of the Rhine in as he recalls her after having been stabbed another recapitulatory gesture, one that harks by Hagen. His recollection is so intense that he back to the music of primal innocence from the calls on her once more to awaken, and believes beginning of Das Rheingold. This is the only that he is actually with her on the mountain other moment in the Ring, apart from the great height. And he recalls Brfinnhilde to the same recapitulation in the third act of G6tterddm- sentiments she felt when she was awakened by merung, when this chord progression is re- him, having lost her godhead and become hu- stated, and tonally it retains all its potency. It man. The physical disembodiment of these is now transposed down a semitone, and its sentiments in Siegfried's death scene raises first two harmonies, Eb and Cb (B), foreshadow them to the level of mystic insight. the two pivotal tonalities of the first act.9 And But in another sense Siegfried's dramatic not only does this chord progression anticipate role parallels that of Hagen. Each of them was the tonal structure of the first act, it also pre- raised as the son of a Nibelung, but Siegfried, sages the tragedy to follow. For if it were unlike Hagen, is able to overcome his past. 1
9Robert Bailey has discussed this tonal polarity, and 'oThis its ori- dramatic relationship was pointed out to me by Pro- gins in Wagner's early sketches for Siegfrieds Tod, fessorin "The Bailey. Structure of the Ring and its Evolution," this journal I (1977), 53, 59-61.
This content downloaded from 184.108.40.206 on Tue, 07 Nov 2017 23:09:59 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms 19TH CENTURY Hagen, goaded on by his father Alberich, This unique per- and exalted status accorded to MUSIC petuates greed and deceit. Siegfried musicis purified in the thought of Schopenhauer had a of these flaws and dies to sentiments of love. profound impact on Wagner, and his contact The basic philosophy of the Ring is expressed with Schopenhauer's ideas in the mid 1850s by the curse on the will to power and the prom- contributed to the decisive turn in his own cre- ise of salvation through love. The means by ative development, the first monument of which Wagner articulates this philosophy is which is Tristan und Isolde. As Jack Stein has Siegfried's transcendence of his worldly shown in his book Richard Wagner and the downfall in G6tterddmmerung. Wagner's Ring Synthesis of the Arts,12 Wagner's "Scho- is perhaps his most significant monument to penhauerian turn" counteracted his tendency, the Romantic tenet that the current of subjec- in the works from Der fliegende Holldnder to tivity, of spiritual activity, of the individual's the first operas of the Ring cycle, con- apprehension of value, is more real than exter- sciously to subordinate music to an all- nal reality. encompassing dramatic synthesis. Far from re- It is important in this connection to reas- garding his music as the handmaid of the sess Wagner's commitment to a complex of drama, as in his famous treatise Oper und philosophical ideas espoused by Arthur Drama, Wagner, in his later writings, argues Schopenhauer and, before him, by Immanuel that the inner nature of music is in some sense Kant. In fact, the source of these ideas can be more fundamental than drama. His clearest discerned in Plato's famous doctrine of Ideas. statement to this effect is contained in the According to Plato, the soul is akin to the essay Beethoven, which was written at the Ideas, and both are immaterial and everlasting same time as the later parts of the Ring were substances. In Kant's revision of Plato's composed: idealism, both concepts are explicitly excluded from the realm of phenomena, but Music,are pre-which does not depict Ideas inherent in the served through Kant's argument that phenomena things- of the world, but is itself a comprehen- sive Idea of the world, includes the drama within it- in-themselves, as the ontological grounds self, since ofthe drama, in its turn, expresses the only appearances, cannot be identified with the Idea of the world adequate to music.... We phenomena conditioned by them. Thus the bi- would then not be mistaken if we saw in music the a polar metaphysical alliance between the priori qualification for shaping a drama.13 Platonic soul and the Ideas is transformed by Kant into a complex of hidden universal laws At the time that he finished the Ring cycle, of the higher unity of nature. Furthermore, Wagner regarded his music not merely as a there are two realms of human activity, moral means of expression, but as the end of expres- action and the creation of beauty in art, where sion, as the basis for a metaphysical drama these hidden universal laws find embodiment which captures the hidden essence of the in the sensible world of phenomena. This view noumenal world. of Kant's, which establishes a conceptual basis for the contention that art comprises the reve- lation of a higher order in nature, inspired the more radical thesis proposed by Schopenhauer "Arthur Schopenhauer, Die Welt als Wille und Vorstel- in Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung. lung (Leipzig, 1879; first published 1819), book III, p. 308. According to Schopenhauer, music is 12Richard Wagner and the Synthesis of the Arts (Detroit, 1960). See Stein's discussion of Schopenhauer's influence preeminent among the arts, because whereas on Wagner, pp. 113-17, 157-65. the other arts present copies of the Platonic 13"Die Musik, welche nicht die in den Erscheinungen der Ideas in perceptible form, music alone repre- Welt enthaltenen Ideen darstellt, dagegen selbst eine, und zwar eine umfassende Idee der Welt ist, schlieBt das Drama sents the will itself, that cosmic force which ganz von selbst in sich, da das Drama wiederum selbst die unifies the spiritual and material poles of exis- einzige der Musik adaquate Idee der Welt ausdriickt.... tence. "Music . . . never expresses the phe- Wir duirften somit nicht irren, wenn wir in der Musik die aprioristische Befahigung des Menschen zur Gestaltung nomenon, but only the inner nature, the des Dramas fiberhaupt erkennen wollten." Gesammelte in-itself of all phenomena, the will itself.""11 Schriften IX, 105-06. This essay dates from 1870.
This content downloaded from 220.127.116.11 on Tue, 07 Nov 2017 23:09:59 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms We must inquire, then, whether Wagner Wagner calculates his setting of Siegfried's WILLIAM KINDERMAN vindicates this lofty claim by his musical set- death so as to effect the suspension of time and Dramatic ting of Siegfried's death in Gotterddmmerung. space-the two forms of sensibility which, ac- Recapitulation in Does Wagner's "musical drama" reveal more cording to Kant, are necessary preconditions G6tterddmmerung than is depicted by the stage drama of a dying for experience of the phenomenal world. hero immersed in recollection? How does the Wagner indeed gives us grounds for accepting great gesture of recapitulation in Siegfried's his recapitulation as a representation of Sieg- death scene represent Siegfried's transcen- fried's transcendence of his worldly downfall! dence of his worldly downfall? From the standpoint of subjective idealism the Perhaps the most striking musical effect of problem of eternal existence is not to be sought this passage is that of suspended time. A as infinite temporal duration but rather as recapitulation, because it represents the timelessness, as escape from the phe- turning-back of a form onto itself, tends to col- nomenological "prison" of temporal succes- lapse one time into the recollection of another. sion and material causality. Thus there is, But the music of Siegfried's "awakening" also in fact, a legitimate sense in which Wagner's evokes a sense of arrested action because the musical setting of Siegfried's death represents inward ferment of love which it depicts the promise of salvation through love. obstructs all outward sensibility. This moment This moral, metaphysical dimension is es- of complete internalization of the drama sential for a full understanding of Wagner's transfigures the character of Siegfried into an music. For the musical structure is organized archetypal symbol of love which, in its purity, so as to articulate certain central climaxes of exists no longer on the plane of real, but of dramatic import. And of these, the pathos of ideal, action. The real "action," portrayed by Siegfried's death is the most weighty.14 As we the "Funeral Music" which frames Siegfried's have seen, it is articulated by a recapitulation "awakening," is characterized by tropes of a of unprecedented proportions, which identifies traditional type-by fierce down-beats, di- and transforms sentiments from the climax of minished and minor harmonies, and the avoid- Siegfried. Nothing can show more clearly the ance of high registers of pitch. It is the total limitations of analyses of Wagner's works absence of these accents of tragedy in Sieg- confined to leitmotivs; analysis of this kind fried's own music that gives rise to a mood cannot touch the central tensions in this permeated with the mystery of revelation. music, which are embodied in the form of the Siegfried's "awakening" is an astonishing work as a dramatic whole. hiatus in the melodramatic action of murder Nevertheless, motives have their important and death. subsidiary role in Wagner's works, and there This effect of a suspension of time coin- are several powerful examples of reminiscence cides with a suspension of a sense of place. by motif in the Gdtterddmmerung recapitu- Siegfried is utterly unaware of Hagen's lation. Thus when Hagen thrusts his spear into treachery because he believes that he is once Siegfried's back, Wagner recalls the C-F# again united with Brfinnhilde on her rocky tritone motif first sounded in Act II, scene 3 height. Thus, in the moment after he is stabbed of Gotterddmmerung, where Hagen called his by Hagen, Siegfried's narrative suddenly shifts men to arms. The most significant motivic re- from the past into the present tense: call, however, is of material from the so-called Todesverkaindigung (Annunciation of Death) scene in Act II of Die Walkaire. Bruinnhilde! Heilige Braut! Wach'auf! Oeffne dein Auge! Wer verschloss dich wieder in Schlaf? Wer band dich in Schlummer so bang? 14This was already noticed by Gustav Kobbe in 1889, who Briinnhilde! Holiest bride! described it as the "supreme musical-dramatic effect in all Awake! Open thine eyes! that Wagner wrought" (Wagner's Music Dramas [New Who hath locked thee again in sleep? York, 1904], p. 103). But Kobbe ascribed its power to no Who hath bound thee in slumber so fast? more than the combined effect of several leitmotivs.
This content downloaded from 18.104.22.168 on Tue, 07 Nov 2017 23:09:59 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms 19THl Sehr langsam CENTURY und feierlich MUS I IC
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As we have seen, in Siegfried the chords of III Brfinnhilde's awakening are introduced by an There is only one other recapitulation in ascending violin line which supplies a sono- Wagner's works analogous to the one in Gdt- rous transition to the climax. However, in terddmmerung: Isolde's "Liebestod" at the end the Gdtterddmmerung recapitulation, these of Tristan. The Chorus of Pilgrims in Tann- chords are prefaced instead by the principal hduser and Procession of Mastersingers in the motif introduced in the crucial Todesverkiin- third act of Die Meistersinger both recapitulate digung scene, in which Siegmund learns of his music heard at the beginning of the overture, coming death. This motif, confined to a and in the latter work a more subtle re- low register and clothed by the same distinc- capitulatory effect is created by Walther's tive orchestration that marked its first appear- "Prize Song," which is the apotheosis of his ance in Die Walktire, serves no such transi- "Dream Song" heard earlier in the act. Yet in tional function (ex. 4). The point of this these cases the recapitulation itself is not the recall is not only the allusion to Siegmund's agent for a central dramatic point. 1s In Tristan death; still more important is the sharpness of it is. Isolde's "Liebestod," a recapitulation of contrast thus drawn between two psychologi- material from the climax of her love-duet with cal levels of the drama. Siegfried's "awaken- Tristan in the second act, drives home the ing" represents an internal, or spiritual, plane of action. The music that frames it, Siegfried's "Funeral Music" as well as the reminiscence of
the Todesverkzindigung, is a commentary on tsWalther's "Prize Song," coming at the very climax of Die the external, visible level of the action. Its dis- Meistersinger, is certainly the agent for a central dramatic sociation from context makes the culminating point. But the "Prize Song," is not, strictly speaking, a recapitulation, though it begins as one, while the tran- recapitulation all the more astonishing, and its scendental theme important in Tristan and Gotterdam- message more convincing. These two dramatic merung is absent in Die Meistersinger. For a thorough dis- levels, with a summary of the musical material cussion of the relation between the "Dream Song" and "Prize Song" see William E. McDonald, "Words, Music, recalled in the Gotterdammerung recapitula- and Dramatic Development in Die Meistersinger," this tion, are shown in figure 3 (see p. 111). journal I (1978), 146-60.
This content downloaded from 22.214.171.124 on Tue, 07 Nov 2017 23:09:59 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms SCHIRMER VOCAL SCORE WILLIAM MATERIAL TONALITY ACTION PAGE NUMBERS KINDERMAN Dramatic "Waldweben" E Siegfried recalls the 286-93 Recapitulation in (Siegfried, II) forest bird's song G6tterdaimmerung Siegfried's cadence E --* A Siegfried recalls 293-95/2 (Siegfried, III) coming through the fire to a sleeping woman
S Cadential motives C Siegfried recalls 295/3-95/4 (Siegfried, III) embracing Briinnhilde
Motif from diminished Hagen stabs 295/4-96/2 Gotterdiammerung, II harmonies, Siegfried C-Ft tritone z complex
"Funeral Music" (new) diminished Horror of onlookers 296/3-97/3 and motif from harmonies, Walkiire, II modulates to V of E
: =o Music Brunnhilde's from E (A)/C Brfinnhilde Siegfried addresses 297/3-301/1 awakening, Siegfried, III S "Funeral Music" (new) C minor-C major Funeral procession 301/1-03/5 U with other motives (then modulates to Eb)
Figure 3: Gdtterddmmerung, Act III, scene 2, Recapitulation.
point of their mystic union in love. In the inexplicablesec- culmination of mystic passion; ond act love-duet, their union is not yet Briinnhilde's death in Gotterddmmerung is a affirmed as a mystic, or suprasensible reality. decision, an act from knowledge. This is made For that to be possible, a sensible reality must very clear in her final address to Wotan: become disembodied in order that its ideal sub- stratum be revealed. In Isolde's final passage, ... Mich musste der Reinste verrathen, dass wissend wfirde ein Weib! their real love is transfigured to an ideal love, and the mystic ascent is symbolized by the WeiB ich nun was dir frommt? Alles, Alles, Alles weiB ich death of Isolde. Alles ward mir nun frei. In Gotterddmmerung, the idea of a mystic ascent is worked out not as the single, all- ... The truest of all had to betray me, consuming theme of the drama, as in Tristan, So that I, a woman, might grow wise. but in relation to a world ambivalent or hostile Do I now know what hideth in thy heart? All things, all things, know I fully now; to it.16 If Tristan is a religious drama,17 the Everything has been revealed to me. Ring is an ethical drama. Isolde's death is the Briinnhilde's final act, her ride into the flames of Siegfried's funeral pyre, has double sig- nificance: she transcends her sensual union 160ne must of course make allowance for the dreaded world of "Day" in Tristan. But Tristan contains no coun- with Siegfried by a suprasensible, symbolic terpart to Hagen, and the forces he represents, unless it be union, and deliberately relinquishes the ring, Melot, who is merely a stock character without much in- symbol of power and oppression. Love is iden- dependent dramatic significance. 17For an interpretation of Tristan as a religious drama, see tified with the meditated renunciation of Kerman, Opera as Drama, pp. 192-216. power.
This content downloaded from 126.96.36.199 on Tue, 07 Nov 2017 23:09:59 UTC All use subject to http://about.jstor.org/terms 19TH CENTURY In a sense, Gdtterddmmerung reaffirms Since Lorenz the based his analyses on the concept MUSIC message of Tristan and then goes beyondof the poetic-musical it. period, which is not the Siegfried's death scene corresponds mode withof organization of Wagner's most mature Isolde's "Liebestod" as a recapitulatory works,18 trans- his methods frequently fail to reveal formation of the love theme inherent any in "secrets"both, about the musical form. For and Bruinnhilde's final oration ties the Lorenz,idea of Siegfried's a entire death scene forms a mystic ascent in love to an ethical 145-measure Welt- period in A major; but actually no anschauung inimical to materialism. more Tristan than twenty-five measures of this section also left its mark on the musical substance of are in A, and they act as a large subdominant Briinnhilde's last passage, which, like the inflection of the E side of the tonal pairing that "Liebestod," consists of a long series of encompasses 250 measures of music for both chromatically ascending sequences building to Siegfried's final narrative and the drama of his a great cadence in the tonic. And in Gdtter- death. Moreover, Lorenz's scheme introduces ddmmerung, as in Tristan, the motif treated in an artificial structural demarcation between these sequences forms the final cadence of the the "period" of Siegfried's death and the "Fu- opera. neral Music," which he assigns to the next Siegfried's death scene, however, receives a"period." For one statement of the "Funeral musical interpretation unique in Wagner's Music" had already occurred in the "period" of works. Nowhere else did he employ recapitula- Siegfried's death. This scheme not only tion of the magnitude and complexity of the obscures the tonal framework that embraces example in Gotterddmmerung. The explana- the entire section, it ignores the smaller sym- tion for this is obvious: Siegfried's death music metries which transcend the boundaries of is the outstanding example in Wagner, and in- such fictitious "periods." Lorenz's mistake was deed in all of Western music, of a recapitula- to analyze the music as if it were a static, sec- tory synthesis in a cycle of dramatic works. tional mosaic instead of a dramatic organism. The end, or purpose, of this formal gesture is A more reasonable basis for analysis of the expression of the crux of the drama of the Wagner's works would regard the music as the Ring: the curse on the will to power, and the basis for the dramatic progression, which is promise of salvation through love. The most often less perfectly conveyed by the staging and fundamental means of its articulation is libretto. Wagner himself once wrote that he Wagner's control over large-scale tonal rela- would gladly have called his dramas "deeds of tionships, or more specifically, what we havemusic that have become visible" (ersichtlich described as a tonal pairing. gewordene Taten der Musik).19 There can be We may conclude by again quoting Tovey's no doubt that the music of his most successful essay: works must be identified with their dramatic framework. In works such as the last acts of Perhaps the first necessity for the understanding ofSiegfried and Gotterddmmerung, the manifold Wagner's music and drama is to realize that when interrelationships in the tonal structure of the he broke down the old classical organization of operatic "numbers," he did not pulverize music into whole are regulated by a musical hierarchy, "motives," but built it into symmetries tenfold and this hierarchy coincides with and rein- longer in time and a thousandfold more voluminous forces a hierarchy than any that music had known before. in dramatic values.
The largest symmetries in Wagner's music, such as that between the last act of GOtter-
ddmmerung and the last act of Siegfried, have 8sSee Carl Dahlhaus's critique of Lorenz's procedure in often been overlooked by critics who have "Wagners Begriff der 'dichterisch-musikalischen Periode'," not apprehended the massive time-scale of Beitrage zur Geschichte der Musikanschauung im 19. Wagner's forms. Lorenz's failure in this regard Jahrhundert, ed. Walter Salmen (Regensburg, 1965), 179- 87, and the discussion, 187-94. has already been mentioned, but now we are in19This quotation is from the essay "Ober die Benennung a position to judge the reason for his oversight. 'Muskidrama'," from 1872. Gesammelte Schriften IX, 306.
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