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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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Grail and Anti-Grail

Grail and Anti-Grail

(p.227) Chapter 4 Grail and Anti-Grail
Wagner's Parsifal

William Kinderman

Oxford University Press

Klingsor’s kingdom represents the anti-Grail, and his chromatic music is pitted against the diatonic music of the Grail. This conflict is brought to a climax in the great scene between Parsifal and Kundry: as she delivers her poisoned kiss, a dissonant, chromatic contamination of the rising, aspiring head of the Communion theme conveys the dark forces at work. In responding to the kiss, Parsifal becomes an agent of the Grail and begins to act as a supernatural medium. The music of Act 2 has influenced other composers including Verdi and Mahler. The concluding music at Parsifal’s confrontation with Klingsor, with its collision of C major and B minor, was misunderstood by Adorno, but offers a superb example of Wagner’s use of tonal spaces to convey dramatic conflict.

Keywords:   Klingsor, Anti-Grail, Poisoned kiss, Chromatic contamination, Communion theme, Supernatural medium, Giuseppi Verdi, Gustav Mahler, Theodor W. Adorno, Tonal spaces

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