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The Tragic and the Ecstatic:The Musical Revolution of Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde$

Chafe

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195343007

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195343007.001.0001

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(p.285) Appendix: Transcriptions from the Compositional Draft of Act 2, Scene 2

(p.285) Appendix: Transcriptions from the Compositional Draft of Act 2, Scene 2

Source:
The Tragic and the Ecstatic:
Publisher:
Oxford University Press

THE FOLLOWING TRANSCRIPTIONS from Wagner’s compositional draft (see the facsimiles of the corresponding pages in figs. A1–5) were made at Bayreuth from Wagner’s autograph sketches, which, as is well known, were written in pencil and later inked over by Mathilde Wesendonck. Besides the difficulties in deciphering Wagner’s rapid hand, his changes of mind, excisions and revisions, and the like, Wesendonck’s inking-over makes the task of transcription often formidably difficult. Wesendonck frequently misinterpreted the pitches and rhythms, sometimes even placing the note head on the opposite end of the stem from the correct one. Working from the original sometimes enables one to discern the original pencil markings, but more often does not. Were we to read the individual notes as they appear, the result would often be nonsense. This situation has occurred in certain of the transcriptions made by Ulrich Bartels in the second part of his study of the second- and third-act sketches. In the original transition to “O sink hernieder,” for example, Wagner considered presenting the transfiguration music successively in A♭ and C♭, writing the latter on a separate staff. Bartels, apparently not grasping that fact, and copying the sketch as it appeared, presents the d♭″ appoggiatura tone of the line as f″, against the f♭ of the bass. Similarly, as the desire music enters for Tristan’s answer to Mark later in the act, Bartels transcribes the e-g♯ third of the E dominant-seventh chord of the first phrase as f♯-d♮′. There are other mistranscriptions of a similar kind. Clearly, copying the sketches as they look is grossly misleading. It is frequently necessary to make decisions based on knowledge of the opera as a whole and in detail, rather than to follow Mathilde Wesendonck’s conjectures. Wagner’s style, however, enables us to transcribe difficult passages with some confidence, because there are few places in the opera that do not refer, usually both musically and textually, to other places. Of the two transcriptions given here the first presents relatively few difficulties, and errors can be corrected readily. In the second, Wagner himself had difficulty at several points, in one case recording that fact in the Venice Diary (as described in chapter 4).

(p.286)

Appendix: Transcriptions from the Compositional Draft of Act 2, Scene 2

Figure A.1.

Appendix: Transcriptions from the Compositional Draft of Act 2, Scene 2

Figure A.2.

(p.287)
Appendix: Transcriptions from the Compositional Draft of Act 2, Scene 2

Figure A.3.

Appendix: Transcriptions from the Compositional Draft of Act 2, Scene 2

Figure A.4.

(p.288)
Appendix: Transcriptions from the Compositional Draft of Act 2, Scene 2

Figure A.5.

His original intention, of bringing in the glance music at three points, is documented, in the first two cases, by considering the melody and bass line independently of the harmonies sketched on the middle staff. Those harmonies (with extra bar lines in the second instance) represent his final solution, to introduce the “dream chords” of “O sink hernieder” instead. We therefore have two solutions whose appearance of simultaneity is misleading, and rendered vastly more impenetrable by Mathilde Wesendonck’s inking. Given time and study such passages often yield up their meaning, whereas rapid transcription following the appearance of the inked-over draft inevitably leads to many errors.

I have of necessity corrected impossible pitches in cases where Wagner’s intention seemed clear. In other cases I have had to reproduce Mathilde Wesendonck’s inkings, knowing that they cannot be completely correct. Mostly, however, Wagner’s intentions are clear in terms of the leitmotifs and musical references, if the exact details of the harmony are not always so.

(p.289) (p.290) The Original Transition to “O ew’ge Nacht”

As discussed in chapter 3, this passage (ex. A1) contains fourteen lines of text that Wagner retained in the printed text of Tristan and set to music in the compositional draft, but deleted from the final version of the opera.

(p.291)

Appendix: Transcriptions from the Compositional Draft of Act 2, Scene 2Appendix: Transcriptions from the Compositional Draft of Act 2, Scene 2Appendix: Transcriptions from the Compositional Draft of Act 2, Scene 2

Example A.1.

Excerpt from the Original Version of “O ew’ge Nacht”

The beginning of this passage (ex. A2) follows directly from the ending of the preceding transcription; I have separated them here because they are discussed at different points in the text. Example A2 illustrates the original appearances of the glance music in the duet (deleted from the final version) and extends several measures beyond the original modulation from G♯ (A♭) to B.

Appendix: Transcriptions from the Compositional Draft of Act 2, Scene 2Appendix: Transcriptions from the Compositional Draft of Act 2, Scene 2Appendix: Transcriptions from the Compositional Draft of Act 2, Scene 2

Example A.2.

(p.292) (p.293) (p.294) Excerpt from the Original Version of “O ew’ge Nacht”

This (ex. A3) is the approach to the climax of the duet according to the version of the compositional draft. It shows the reappearance of the glance music at its original pitch, as in the Prelude to the opera, notated here in Appendix: Transcriptions from the Compositional Draft of Act 2, Scene 2 instead of Appendix: Transcriptions from the Compositional Draft of Act 2, Scene 2 against the Appendix: Transcriptions from the Compositional Draft of Act 2, Scene 2 of the rest of the movement.

Appendix: Transcriptions from the Compositional Draft of Act 2, Scene 2Appendix: Transcriptions from the Compositional Draft of Act 2, Scene 2

Example A.3.

(p.295)