A Companion to Wagner's Parsifal

July 2005
9 black and white, 4 line illustrations
374 pages
9x6 in
Studies in German Literature Linguistics and Culture
Library eBook
Camden House
BISAC LIT004170, LIT004170, MUS028000

A Companion to Wagner's Parsifal

Edited by William Kinderman, Katherine R. Syer

New essays demonstrating and exploring the abiding fascination of Wagner's controversial work.
Richard Wagner's Parsifal remains an inexhaustible yet highly controversial work. This "stage consecration festival play," as the composer described it, represents the culmination of his efforts to bring medieval myth and modern music together in a dynamic relationship. Wagner's engagement with religion--Buddhist as well as Christian--reaches a climax here, as he seeks through artistic means "to rescue the essence of religion by perceiving its mythical symbols . . . according to their figurative value, enabling us to see their profound, hidden truth through idealized representation." The contributors to this collection break fresh ground in exploring the text, the music, and the reception history of Parsifal. Wagner's borrowings-and departures-from the medieval sources of the Grail legend, Wolfram's Parzival and Chrétien's Perceval, are considered in detail, and the tensional relation of the work to Christianity is probed. New perspectives emerge that bear on the long genesis of the text and music, its affinities to Wagner's earlier works, particularly Tristan und Isolde, and the precise way in which the music was composed. Essays address the work's bold, modernistic musical language and its unprecedented soundscape involving hidden choruses and other unseen sources of sound. The turbulent, astonishing, and sometimes disturbing history of Parsifal performances from 1882 until 2004 is traced in vivid detail for the first time, demonstrating the abiding fascination exerted by this uniquely challenging work of art.

Contributors: Mary A. Cicora, James M. McGlathery, Ulrike Kienzle, Warren Darcy, Roger Allen.

William Kinderman and Katherine Syer teach at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and often lead study seminars during the Wagner Festival in Bayreuth, Germany.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Challenge of Wagner's Parsifal - William Kinderman
Medievalism and Metaphysics: The Literary Background for Parsifal - Mary Cicora
Erotic Love in Chrétien's Perceval, Wolfram's Parzival, and Wagner's Parsifal - James M McGlathery
Parsifal and Religion: A Christian Music-Drama? - Ulrike Kienzle
The Genesis of the Music - William Kinderman
Unseen Voices: Wagner's Musical-Dramatic Shaping of the Grail Scene of Act 1 - Katherine R. Syer
"Die Zeit ist da": Rotational Form and Hexatonic Magic in Act 2 Scene 1 - Warren Darcy
Die Weihe des Hauses (The Consecration of the House): Houston Stewart Chamberlain and the Early Reception of ParsifalParsifal - Roger Allen
The Production History - Katherine R. Syer


This collection of essays makes a major contribution to Parsifal interpretation.... A must read for all Parsifalians. OPERA TODAY

This marvelous Companion to Parsifal offers something of value to anyone interested in finding out more about Wagner's last work.... GERMAN QUARTERLY

Kinderman and Syrer have effectively succeeded in emulating a Wagnerian quality: to stimulate our appetite for more. GERMAN STUDIES REVIEW

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