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Wagner's Parsifal$
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William Kinderman

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780195366921

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195366921.001.0001

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The Genesis of the Music

The Genesis of the Music

(p.76) Chapter 2 The Genesis of the Music
Wagner's Parsifal

William Kinderman

Oxford University Press

Pre-existing musical motives absorbed into Parsifal include the “Dresden Amen” formula associated with J.G. Naumann, and the “Excelsior!” motive Wagner assimilated from Longfellow and Liszt. Wagner’s sustained composition of the music during 1877-79 is recorded in many individual sketches whose role is clarified by detailed entries in Cosima Wagner’s diary. Numerous fragmentary sketches can be reconstructed into larger worksheets. Much light is shed on Wagner’s creative process from study of the musical sketches and drafts. Wagner did not proceed in strict sequential order, but needed to envision certain passages in advance before he could begin writing out the continuous drafts of the music: the composition draft and orchestral draft. As the manuscript sources reveal, the last music written was the second half of the transformation music in Act 1, composed in March 1881.

Keywords:   Dresden Amen, J.G. Naumann, Excelsior, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Franz Liszt, Cosima Wagner’s diary, Sketch reconstruction, Composition draft, Orchestral draft, Transformation music

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