Discussion:
The Immolation Scene
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REP
2017-11-27 20:56:01 UTC
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Just a quick note, which I thought might interest those here. Over the years, there have been questions as to why music sung by Sieglinde in Die Walkure is reprised in the finale to Gotterdammerung.

Well, according to an article I read yesterday, Wagner referred to this motiv as the "Glorification of Brunnhilde (Verherrlichung Brünnhildens)." This is mentioned in an unpublished letter Cosima wrote to Edmund von Lippman. I'd never heard this before, so I thought I'd mention it.

REP

P.S. The article is _"Did You Hear Love’s Fond Farewell?" Some Examples of Thematic Irony in Wagner’s Ring_ by M. Bribitzer-Stull.
Bert Coules
2017-11-27 23:52:37 UTC
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I've always regarded it simply as a personal expression of ecstasy:
Sieglinde learns that she will, in a sense, be reunited with Siegmund in the
person of their son, Brünnhilde anticipates a reunion with Siegfried in
death.
Bert Coules
2017-11-27 23:59:32 UTC
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But having said that, I've just thought that perhaps you're referring to the
purer version of the "O hehrstes Wunder" melody heard at the very end of
Götterdämmerung rather than the slight variation of it actually sung by
Brünnhilde.
REP
2017-11-28 01:02:54 UTC
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Post by Bert Coules
But having said that, I've just thought that perhaps you're referring to the
purer version of the "O hehrstes Wunder" melody heard at the very end of
Götterdämmerung rather than the slight variation of it actually sung by
Brünnhilde.
I was thinking of the final orchestral statement, but I suppose they're all applicable. The reason I bring it up is because various commentators over the years have expressed confusion over the motiv's recurrence at the end of Gotterdammerung. G.B. Shaw, for example, wrote in The Perfect Wagnerite: "...for the main theme at the conclusion [Wagner] selects a rapturous passage sung by Sieglinda in the third act of The Valkyries [...] There is no dramatic logic whatever in the recurrence of this theme to express the transport in which Brynhild immolates herself."

Personally, I've never been bothered by the motiv's recurrence at the end of Gotterdammerung (nor by the similar situation in Tosca, where Tosca's death is accompanied by music sung earlier by Cavaradossi). But it's interesting to know what Wagner himself thought of the motiv and its associated meanings.

REP
Bert Coules
2017-11-28 09:50:22 UTC
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Post by REP
Personally, I've never been bothered by the
motiv's recurrence at the end of Gotterdammerung...
Nor I.
Post by REP
But it's interesting to know what Wagner himself
thought of the motiv and its associated meanings.
It's a strange opinion though, isn't it? "The glorification of Brünnhilde"?
At the moment (the final orchestral statements, I mean) when the work is at
its most universal and cosmic? To focus entirely on one character, albeit
such a central one, seems very curious.
Bert Coules
2017-11-28 09:58:31 UTC
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Sorry, a correction:

To regard that all-embracing expansiveness as focusing entirely on one
character...
Mike Scott Rohan
2017-11-28 13:12:17 UTC
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Post by Bert Coules
To regard that all-embracing expansiveness as focusing entirely on one
character...
Though the theme is sung by Sieglinde, that needn't of course mean it belongs to her. I've tended to hear it as her sudden vision of the future, of something that is going to make this dreadful tragedy come right again and all her suffering worthwhile -- of Siegfried, certainly, but of Siegfried and Brunnhilde united to redeem the world. It could, I suppose, be seen as "glorification of Brunnhilde" in that sense -- although I'd be interested to know what Wagner's original word was. But that would certainly make it appropriate for the finale, because that is when the redemption is finally consummated. It may be significant that Wagmer's original concept saw Siegfried and Brunnhilde reunited after death, and a mystical version of this could have been in his mind; but that's just speculation.

Cheers,

Mike
Bert Coules
2017-11-28 13:34:06 UTC
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...I'd be interested to know what Wagner's original word was.
"Verherrlichung Brünnhildens" according to REP's original post.

Bert
Mike Scott Rohan
2017-11-28 16:01:00 UTC
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Post by Bert Coules
...I'd be interested to know what Wagner's original word was.
"Verherrlichung Brünnhildens" according to REP's original post.
Bert
Yes, of course, should have remembered. But that does tell me something. "Verherrlichung" has a variety of meanings; "glorification" is indeed the commonest everyday one, or "adulation", things like that. But it also has a distinctly religious connotation; "Verherrlichung Gottes" is a name for the Doxology. And a specifically religious meaning can be "apotheosis" or "related to transfiguration", rather like "preobrazhensky" in Russian. I suspect that's what Wagner intended to label the motif -- "Brunnhilde's tranfiguration".

And that certainly makes sense of Sieglinde singing it, because she's both extolling Brunnhilde -- "Herrlichste Maid!" -- and, as you say, looking forward to what will follow; and equally its appearance at the end.

Cheers,

Mike
Bert Coules
2017-11-28 16:13:11 UTC
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Thanks, Mike. Fascinating.

Bert

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