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Thread: Another Tristan und Isolde question...

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    Senior Member Itullian's Avatar
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    Question Another Tristan und Isolde question...

    This is a musical question for a change.

    At the end of the opera, as the music is coming to a close, in the orchestral part, the music doesn't just end.
    There's a brief section where we hear a woodwind play a one note solo part before the orchestral swells and fades out.
    Is this just a musical passage or could there be some meaning to the solo instrument in the center of this ending?

    I have always wondered about this.
    What do you think?
    Thanks
    When all else fails, listen to Thick as a Brick.

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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    I assume you mean the two oboes, which hold their final note as the rest of the orchestra articulates the last chord.

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    Senior Member Itullian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    I assume you mean the two oboes, which hold their final note as the rest of the orchestra articulates the last chord.
    Yes, but i didn't realize it was two!
    In light of that, I'm thinking it's depicting T and I are together,
    like the vines growing together from their graves?
    When all else fails, listen to Thick as a Brick.

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    In Tristan the two oboes play a D sharp (the 3rd in the B major harmony) before the final B major chord.

    Interesting that in Parsifal he does something very similar. There a solo trumpet holds an E flat (the 5th in the A flat tonic harmony) before the final fermata.

    Also interesting is that enharmonically, they are the same note (D sharp = E flat) at the same pitch.

    You may have something there with the thought that the two oboes represent Tristan und Isolde. They play the same tone, so they are “at one”. Also, it’s the third tone of the chord, not the root. The third tone is more unstable, less final sounding than the root, and of course it determines the major or minor character (in this case major) of the harmony.

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    Senior Member DarkAngel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Itullian View Post
    This is a musical question for a change.

    At the end of the opera, as the music is coming to a close, in the orchestral part, the music doesn't just end.
    There's a brief section where we hear a woodwind play a one note solo part before the orchestral swells and fades out.
    Is this just a musical passage or could there be some meaning to the solo instrument in the center of this ending?

    I have always wondered about this.
    What do you think?
    Thanks
    I assume you mean the two oboes, which hold their final note as the rest of the orchestra articulates the last chord.
    Yes, but i didn't realize it was two!
    In light of that, I'm thinking it's depicting T and I are together,
    like the vines growing together from their graves?
    Itullian to further support the case notice in opening of "mild un leise" aria Isolde is accompanied by solo oboe as she is all alone now, then with memories of the night garden love the liebestod theme again appears and in the transfiguration she reaches out and spiritually joins Tristan beyond this mortal realm.........thus the two oboes used in final unison conclude the opera (and answer the tristan cord)

    I like the theory you raise, RW has many layers to explore......
    Last edited by DarkAngel; Sep-11-2018 at 12:47.

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    Senior Member Itullian's Avatar
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    Once I found out it was 2 oboes,, I knew it had to be nothing else.
    When all else fails, listen to Thick as a Brick.

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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DarkAngel View Post
    Itullian to further support the case notice in opening of "mild un leise" aria Isolde is accompanied by solo oboe as she is all alone now, then with memories of the night garden love the liebestod theme again appears and in the transfiguration she reaches out and spiritually joins Tristan beyond this mortal realm.........thus the two oboes in final unison conclude the opera (and answer the tristan cord)

    I like the theory you raise, RW has many layers to explore......
    Let me expand this: when the "Tristan chord" first sounds at the beginning of the opera, the oboe plays the questioning four-note chromatic line that rises from it. This is the "germ" motif of the entire opera, and it never takes us to a point of harmonic resolution until the very end, when Isolde has died singing "highest bliss" and the two oboes enter to sound the mysterious chord and the questioning motif for the last time, now rising two more notes to a serene resolution on the dominant tone (f#) of the final B Major chord of the opera. To emphasize the fulfillment of the moment Wagner lets the oboes hold their last note through to the very end, sounding by themselves through the slight pause between the two final chords. I'm not sure, but I suspect that one reason for using two oboes in unison is the length of time that f# must be held; the oboists might be able to breathe alternately, should they need to.
    Last edited by Woodduck; Sep-11-2018 at 05:36.

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    Senior Member Itullian's Avatar
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    I still think it symbolizes T and I being together.
    When all else fails, listen to Thick as a Brick.

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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Itullian View Post
    I still think it symbolizes T and I being together.
    Well, sure. Why shouldn't oboes be in love?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oboe_d%27amore

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  17. #10
    Senior Member Itullian's Avatar
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    yay, I knew it!
    That reinforces it even more
    Last edited by Itullian; Sep-13-2018 at 13:38.
    When all else fails, listen to Thick as a Brick.

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