The Musical Design of 'The Ring'

The Musical Design of 'The Ring'

The Musical Design of 'The Ring'

The Musical Design of 'The Ring'

Excerpt

This handbook has been written with a few plain assumptions. First, that The Ring is an established work, and will continue to attract a very considerable and appreciative public in England, whether it is performed at Covent Garden, Golders Green, or Bristol. Secondly, that its greatness depends on the music, first and foremost, in spite of the professions of Wagner and Wagnerites to the contrary; that although Wagner may have been a very mediocre dramatist, poet, or philosopher, yet he had an unfailing genius for presenting dramatic character and its development in musical terms, and for making the listener feel that the musical side of persons and things is the only side that matters. Finally, as a corollary, that an appreciation of The Ring must be based on an understanding of its musical design, to unravel which is the first business of any guidebook on the subject, however simple.

In most of the innumerable books on The Ring the exposition of the musical material has, on the above assumptions, been strikingly inadequate. Writers have either dealt mainly with the philosophical import of the tetralogy, or detailed the musical development incidentally (in connexion with the story), or, at best, presented the musical material--say, sixty themes-- without any regard to a sense of proportion. The present publication is an attempt to restore the musical design to its right place: to enumerate and classify the themes used in the order of their importance in the whole of The Ring, and thus to show at a glance the main structure and the subordinate matter (Parts I and II); to exhibit, similarly, the musical basis of each . . .

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