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Thread: Is Parsifal a Requiem?

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    Senior Member drpraetorus's Avatar
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    Default Is Parsifal a Requiem?

    Could Parsifal be regarded as Wagners version of a Requiem? It is an overtly religious work. The topic is forgiveness and redemption. It really pissed off Nietzsche. Written in his later years, Wagner seems to be sorting out his feelings about life and death and the meaning of it all.
    Last edited by drpraetorus; Jan-09-2013 at 06:08.

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    I apologize to everyone in the world for what follows. It's late, and I've wasted the whole day and am angry at myself for being such a worthless piece of so anyway....

    A requiem is a particular type of religious work, with more or less the same sections--Kyrie, Dies Irae, Lacrimosa, Resurrexit, Agnus Dei, and so forth. The word itself means "rest." So it is a mass for the dead.

    Not sure how forgiveness and redemption fit into that. I suppose they could be made to do so.

    One thing I am certain sure of, and that is that pissing Nietzche off is not one of the characteristics of a requiem mass.

    Wagner's feelings are inaccessible to us. He's dead. Not that accessing his feelings would have been any easier when he was alive. That is, easier for people who were alive when he was alive. Which we weren't. (I don't care how old my kids will tell you I am. I'm seriously!)

    Anyway, sorry everyone. I have no self-control and should probably be banned from everything.

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    We all tend to look at the bigger issues the older we get.
    'parsifal' does seem to be Wagner's reflection on those things...
    but is this really the nature of a 'requiem'?


    On the Similar subject. Just received the DG/decca complete wagner opera box (13 operas).
    They chose the analog Solti for 'parsifal'....
    Surprised given the other ones they could have chosen including the Karajan which many call their favorite.
    I think the merits and defects are more evenly divided, but I have yet to find a recording of 'parsifal' that is satisfying on all levels.

    NO karajan recordings in this set.

    http://www.amazon.com/Wagner-Complet...s=opera+wagner

    Sinopoli's 'Tannhauser' and 'dutchman', C. Kleiber's 'tristan', Levine's 'ring' Jochum's 'meistersinger' and a solti again for 'lohengrin'.

    downes for 'feen' and 'liebesvot' from BBC recordings and they licenced Hollreiser's 'reinzi' from EMI.

    I had four of these sets already.
    Last edited by palJacky; Jan-09-2013 at 08:16.
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    I don't see it as a requiem for Wagner but more like the end of the Romantic era and beginning of the Modern era. Schoenberg's 'Transfigured Night' from the following 1890's decade was called by one critic "Parsifal with the ink smeared."

    But I think despite it being an innovative work, Parsifal especially (& The Ring) ushered into opera but also classical music generally a kind of attitude/trend that everything has to be kind of highbrow to be real music. To be really worthwhile music I mean, approved by the cognoscenti. & I see that as not a very good trend, but not many people here will agree with me on that I think.

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    Quote Originally Posted by drpraetorus View Post
    Could Parsifal be regarded as Wagners version of a Requiem? It is an overtly religious work. The topic is forgiveness and redemption. It really pissed off Nietzsche. Written in his later years, Wagner seems to be sorting out his feelings about life and death and the meaning of it all.
    Parsifal is not a requiem but it is a piano concerto.
    "If a composer is not moving in the right direction, he will be killed, metaphorically speaking." — Pierre Boulez

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sid James View Post
    Parsifal [/I]especially (& The Ring) ushered into opera but also classical music generally a kind of attitude/trend that everything has to be kind of highbrow to be real music. To be really worthwhile music I mean, approved by the cognoscenti. & I see that as not a very good trend, but not many people here will agree with me on that I think.
    I agree.

    I think you'll find, however, that the trend started in the early 19th century, not the late. This was a growing idea from quite early in the century. The coining of the term "classical music," from 1810, was part and parcel of this trend. Explanatory programs proliferated. The message was increasingly that "classical music" was better, that it needed to be understood to be appreciated, that the cognescenti were there to explain everything to the hoi polloi. Everyone was imbued with the notion of the superiority of classical music and of the necessity to study it in order to understand it long before Wagner. His long programs and the detailed charts of leitmotifs certainly exacerbated the trend, however!

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    Wagner never published nor approved of any charts of leitmotifs. That is pure myth.
    His ideal of 'artwork of the future' was one that expressed the entire needs of the community (volk) from which it came, and the 'Darsteller' of which was also a communal matter.
    "Beware of listening to this impostor; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody." - Rousseau

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    I'm surprised you agree with me some guy, are you serious? In any case re what you say it can be said to be reasonable. Eg. that in early c19th, in cases like late Beethoven and Schubert (their late sonatas and quartets), writing for posterity/cogniscenti etc. and music becoming more 'profound' and 'highbrow' by default became the ne plus ultra of the 'greatest' classical music.

    Having said that I like many kinds of 'highbrow' stuff, but what I'm saying is that because something has lofty aims or is very deep/serious, doesn't make it necessarily better than other things. It's no big deal, in terms of Wagner, his antithesis is Satie, and he's considered to be a great composer too.

    But the matching of Parsifal to 'highbrow' was more a pseudo theory of mine. Stronger is the claim that it was one of the markers along the way to modernism. But of course I'm no fan of this work, nor of Wagner.

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    Senior Member Wandering's Avatar
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    I'd call it his Swan Song maybe? Yeah, I also see it as binding with others like Schoenberg. I couldn't really imagine turn of the century Vienna? Pelleas et Melisande by Schoenberg, this is a work greatly influenced and akin in austerity, grandness, and the very emotionality of Parsifal. When I listen to things like this, it is often difficult to fathom people even being capable of taking themselves and art so suicidal serious.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Clovis View Post
    I'd call it his Swan Song maybe?
    I thought Lohengrin was his Swan Song.

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    Quote Originally Posted by campy View Post
    I thought Lohengrin was his Swan Song.
    Well the swan only dies in Parsifal
    "Beware of listening to this impostor; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody." - Rousseau

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    R.I.P.

    He was planning another opera, I thinking it was about Amazonian women, wasn't it?


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    Quote Originally Posted by Sid James View Post
    I don't see it as a requiem for Wagner but more like the end of the Romantic era and beginning of the Modern era. Schoenberg's 'Transfigured Night' from the following 1890's decade was called by one critic "Parsifal with the ink smeared."
    The quote referred to Tristan, actually, but the point is the same regardless.

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    Quote Originally Posted by some guy View Post
    I apologize to everyone in the world for what follows. It's late, and I've wasted the whole day and am angry at myself for being such a worthless piece of so anyway....

    A requiem is a particular type of religious work, with more or less the same sections--Kyrie, Dies Irae, Lacrimosa, Resurrexit, Agnus Dei, and so forth. The word itself means "rest." So it is a mass for the dead.

    Not sure how forgiveness and redemption fit into that. I suppose they could be made to do so.

    One thing I am certain sure of, and that is that pissing Nietzche off is not one of the characteristics of a requiem mass.

    Wagner's feelings are inaccessible to us. He's dead. Not that accessing his feelings would have been any easier when he was alive. That is, easier for people who were alive when he was alive. Which we weren't. (I don't care how old my kids will tell you I am. I'm seriously!)

    Anyway, sorry everyone. I have no self-control and should probably be banned from everything.
    As with the term Symphony, the term requiem has exapnded it's definition beyond simply the Catholic service for the dead. Even within the more specific definition using the Catholic text and order of service, not all Requie (or is that requiescit) are created equal. Mozarts is the probably the most famous and uses the complete text, however, Faure, which is perhaps the most popular excludes much of the text and could rightly be called a mini requiem.

    On the broader interpretation, the German Reguiem is accepted as a requiem because of the title and intent but it is not even intended to be paert of the Catholic tradition and does not use the Latin text at all. Personally, I find it dreadfully dull, but that is neither here nor there as far as this thread is concerned.

    There are other dramatic, figurative, uses of the term Requiem, that intend n ot the Catholic service but a rumination on mortality and the possibility of forgiveness and redemption. I would site only "Requiem for a Heavyweight" as one example.

    There are many who say that Shostakovich 14 is his version of a Requiem because it also deals with the same issues. Being an atheist he finds no solace in religion.

    So, in the broader sense of the term, I would posit that Parsifal is as close as we will get to a Wagnerian Requiem.

    It is overtly religious.

    The overarching theme is a return to oneness with God, entailing restitution, forgiveness and finally, redemption. The story of Kundry is particularly focused on this. Being as she was cursed for laughing at Jesus on the Via Dolorosa, she spends the rest of her prolonged existance trying to make up for her sin. She does it through the one word that she utters in the final act "Dienen" which is to serve. Parsifal redeems the Grail nights and Amfortas by the restitution of the Spear. Through these acts Parsifal brings oneness between God and Man as shown by the light of the Grail and the Dove at the end.

    Because the text and story of Parsifal are Wagners own, the symbolism and intents cannot be fobbed off on a librettisist. Wagner is working his way through his feelings, as an older, sick, man. Looking death in the face and asking what does it mean and is there more?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Clovis View Post
    R.I.P.

    He was planning another opera, I thinking it was about Amazonian women, wasn't it?
    Rather happy he did not live long enough to get his hands on Lord Of The Rings, or The Iceman Cometh, or....

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