The Tragic and the Ecstatic: The Musical Revolution of by Eric Chafe

By Eric Chafe

Throughout the years previous the composition of Tristan and Isolde, Wagner's aesthetics underwent a momentous turnaround, largely due to his discovery of Schopenhauer. a lot of Schopenhauer's rules, specially these relating to music's metaphysical value, resonated with styles of idea that had lengthy been principal to Wagner's aesthetics, and Wagner defined the access of Schopenhauer into his lifestyles as "a present from heaven." Chafe argues that Wagner's Tristan and Isolde is a musical and dramatic exposition of metaphysical rules encouraged by means of Schopenhauer. the 1st a part of the ebook covers the philosophical and literary underpinnings of the tale, exploring Schopenhauer's metaphysics and Gottfried van Strassburg's Tristan poem. Chafe then turns to the occasions within the opera, delivering tonal and harmonic analyses that make stronger his interpretation of the drama. Chafe acts as knowledgeable advisor, studying and illustrating most vital moments for his reader. finally, Chafe creates a serious account of Tristan, within which the drama is proven to boost throughout the song

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Sample text

At the end of “Das eigentümliche innere Wesen der Tonkunst” Wackenroder puts it thus: But why do I, foolish one, strive to melt words into tones? It is never as I feel it. 49 The resemblance between Tieck’s characterization of instrumental music as “insatiate desire” unable to find rescue and Wagner’s description of Tristan and Isolde’s inability to transcend desire, in his program notes for the Tristan prelude of more than a decade later, attests to the fact that the primary impulse behind Tristan, and one of the most characteristic traits of its text—the poeticizing of Schopenhauer—constituted a renewal of Wagner’s old urge to comprehend the absolute through the union of philosophy and music.

Intuition and conception remain, as for Kant, the basis of the distinction; but there is now a very different tone, in that Schopenhauer does not center his concerns on the analysis of reason and its limitations with regard to metaphysical knowledge but, rather, demotes reason and concept, claiming that “perception is the first source of all evidence, that immediate or mediate reference to this alone is absolute truth, . . ” Because of its analytical character, this part of Schopenhauer’s treatise does not lend itself readily to direct poeticizing within the context of a love story.

Because desire, under its endless striving, allows neither peace nor real progress toward attainment and satisfaction, existence in Schopenhauer’s view is both restless and essentially static, an illusion of motion that in reality is no more than a perpetual circling back to the starting point. In this conception history, central to Hegel, is virtually meaningless. 14 This is what Wagner recognized in the passage cited at the start of this chapter. This quality underlies the conception of the Prelude to Tristan, which, as has long been recognized, creates the impression of striving for a tonal form based on modulation that is never achieved.

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