A+ a-
Wagnerheim Logo
Wagnerheim Bookmark System
The Valkyrie: Page 413
Go back a page
413
Go forward a page

 

(Still holding her shield, Bruennhilde recoils in terror before Wotan: #21. Siegmund’s sword shatters on the outstretched spear. #57. Hunding plunges his spear into the defenceless Siegmund’s breast. #5 vari?: Siegmund falls to the ground dead: #71.)

 

We hear the music (#60 and #61) associated at the beginning of The Valkyrie with Siegmund’s escape through the forest from Hunding and his men, themes which invoke Wotan’s spear and Donner’s hammer, i.e., the rule of the gods over a coercive society which flattens any individuals who stand for compassion and creativity instead of power and stability. Also heard here is #86, which Dunning has christened “Hunding’s Pursuit.” #86 is a slowed down version of Alberich’s #7, first heard in R.1 where it expressed the futility of Alberich’s efforts to win a Rhinedaughter’s love, a sense of futility which culminated in his seeking compensation in power for the lovelessness of the real world. Alberich’s off-putting relationship with the Rhinedaughters corresponds with Hunding’s inability to win possession of Sieglinde except by coercion, i.e., his inherent lovelessness.

During this dream Wagner introduces, curiously enough, the “Faust” Motif or Theme from the first movement (of the three the one dedicated to Faust in particular) of Franz Liszt’s Faust Symphony. There are a lot of similar brief quotations of snatches of melody from various pieces of Western classical music in the Ring which, as in this case, do not necessarily carry any referential meaning, but are merely employed for expressive purposes. In this spirit I can’t offer any special reading of this cameo appearance, except that it perfectly captures the mystery and portentousness of Sieglinde’s dreaming, which links the tragic present with her troubled past.

Wotan, in one of the most “Homeric” moments in the Ring (virtually like a scene lifted out of the Iliad), intervenes as Bruennhilde strives to save Siegmund from Hunding’s spear-thrust, breaking Siegmund’s sword Nothung. Siegmund is speared and dies. As in Homer, two rival divine beings have stood behind their respective hero, except that in this case Wotan’s innermost desire is that Bruennhilde intervene to save Siegmund, though Wotan’s conscious mind must save Fricka’s honor by helping Hunding wreak vengeance on the adulterous and incestuous pair who dishonored his hearth and home.

Wagner’s inspiration for Wotan’s virtual murder of his own son, for the sake of preserving the gods’ rule, is Laius’ attempt to cast his son Oedipus away because of a prophecy that Oedipus would one day murder his father Laius, as found in Sophocles’ Oedipus the King:

[P. 187] “Quiet and order, even at the cost of the most despicable outrage on human nature …, -- at the cost of a conscious, deliberate murder of a child [Oedipus] [P. 188] by its own father [Laius], prompted by the most unfatherly self-regard, -- this Quiet and Order were at any rate more worth considering than the most natural of human sentiments, which bids a father sacrifice himself to his children, not them to him. What, then, had this Society become, whose natural moral-sense had been its very basis? The diametrical opposite of this its own foundation: the representative of immorality and hypocrisy. The poison which had palsied it, however, was – use-and-wont. The passion for use-and-wont, for unconditional quiet, betrayed it into stamping down the fount from

Go back a page
413
Go forward a page
© 2011 Paul Heise. All rights reserved. Website by Mindvision.