Wagner, Schumann, and the Lessons of Beethoven's Ninth
In this original study, Christopher Alan Reynolds examines the influence of BeethovenÕs Ninth Symphony on two major nineteenth-century composers, Richard Wagner and Robert Schumann. During 1845Š46 the compositional styles of Schumann and Wagner changed in a common direction, toward a style that was more contrapuntal, more densely motivic, and engaged in processes of thematic transformation. Reynolds shows that the stylistic advances that both composers made in Dresden in 1845Š46 stemmed from a deepened understanding of BeethovenÕs techniques and strategies in the Ninth Symphony. The evidence provided by their compositions from this pivotal year and the surrounding years suggests that they discussed BeethovenÕs Ninth with each other in the months leading up to the performance of this work, which Wagner conducted on Palm Sunday in 1846. Two primary aspects that appear to have interested them both are BeethovenÕs use of counterpoint involving contrary motion and his gradual development of the ŅOde to JoyÓ melody through the preceding movements. Combining a novel examination of the historical record with careful readings of the music, Reynolds adds further layers to this argument, speculating that Wagner and Schumann may not have come to these discoveries entirely independently of each other. The trail of influences that Reynolds explores extends back to the music of Bach and ahead to Tristan and Isolde, as well as to BrahmsÕs First Symphony.
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allusion already appear BACH Ballad Beethoven’s Ninth began beginning Brahms Brahms’s Ē Ē Ē Ē œ cellos chapter chord chromatic Comparison completed composed compositions continued contrapuntal contrary motion counterpoint descending described diminished direction discussed draft drama early example expressed fall Faust Overture figure finale Flying Dutchman follows four fourth fugue Goethe’s ideas included influence introduction Isolde later light lines Lohengrin major meaning measures minor motive movement moving Ninth Symphony notes occurs octaves œ J œ œ œ œ opening opera oppositional passage performance phrase piano Pitches played possible preceding prepared present recapitulation references repeated returns Richard scales scene scherzo Schumann Senta seventh slow soul step suggest thematic theme third timpani tion triad Tristan tritone verses voices Wagner wedge writing wrote