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The Ring of the Nibelung
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One area where my expertise was lacking, and I needed a consultant, was the music. In 2001 Dr. Allen Dunning, who had made his own study of the Ring motifs, and described and assembled by far the most comprehensive numbered list of motifs (178) to date, offered to be my consultant and let me use his motif list in my book. He worked with me to embed the libretto of the Ring (both in the German original and Stewart Spencer’s English translation) with numbers representing each numbered motif where its presence can be demonstrated in the orchestral score, at those points in the drama which correspond with the score. Dr. Dunning’s entire motif list, numbered approximately in the chronological order of each motif’s first definitive appearance in the score, can be found on pages 15-68, and also (enhanced with dramatic context from the libretto) at the back of this book [or in the companion compact disk] as Appendix I [See pages 1,011-1166]

The last major untapped area of research was the work of Ludwig Feuerbach, with which I was familiar only through occasional references in some of the books on Wagner I had acquired over the years. I had already read and vetted virtually everything Friedrich Nietzsche and Arthur Schopenhauer had written, and grasped in some detail Wagner’s influence on Nietzsche, and Schopenhauer’s influence on Wagner. But I felt I could not propose a comprehensive interpretation of Wagner’s Ring until I had thoroughly ascertained the degree and quality of influence of Feuerbach’s writings on Wagner’s operas, music-dramas, writings, and recorded remarks. I acquired and vetted four books by Feuerbach with which Wagner acknowledged being acquainted. As I had done with Wagner’s writings and recorded remarks, I produced a comprehensive chronological anthology of key passages from all four of Feuerbach’s books. This enabled me to make a point by point comparison, matching Feuerbach’s original ideas with what appeared to be Wagner’s paraphrases of them. My book regularly draws upon such matched passages from Feuerbach and Wagner to enhance our allegorical reading. At the back of this book [or in the accompanying compact disk] you will find Appendix II [See pages 1,167-1450], which contains the entire chronological anthology of of numbered  extracts from Ludwig Feuerbach’s writings, and Richard Wagner’s writings and recorded remarks (a total of 1,151).

Three things quickly became apparent through this comparison of Feuerbach’s work with Wagner’s. (1) Feuerbach must have had a crucial influence on at least the last two of Wagner’s three canonical romantic operas, Tannhaeuser [first version completed 1845] and Lohengrin [completed 1846]. (2) Feuerbach continued to be a major influence on Wagner’s writings, recorded remarks, and most importantly, the librettos of his music-dramas, long after 1854 when Wagner had said he renounced Feuerbach for the sake of Schopenhauer. (3) Most importantly, I could now see in remarkable detail that Feuerbach had a pervasive influence on virtually every scene of the Ring. But what is most impressive is that a study I completed at break-neck speed in 1983 (because I wanted to disseminate it to the Wagner pundits at the “Wagner in Retrospect” Centennial Seminar at the University of Illinois, Chicago, and had little time), entitled The Doctrine of the Ring, which was my first detailed effort to disclose the philosophic unity underlying Wagner’s mature music-dramas, corresponded in extraordinary detail with hundreds of passages from Feuerbach which Wagner had paraphrased in his own writings and recorded remarks. What made this startling is that my 1983 study was based solely upon my knowledge of Wagner’s operas and music-dramas. It was written before I had studied his own writings and recorded remarks in any detail, and long before I had read more than a few passages from Feuerbach. I had, in other words, more or less reconstructed the essential points, and many of the specific details, of Feuerbach’s world-view from my study of Wagner’s Ring. This has been the capstone of my life’s work, and convinces me that I

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