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The Valkyrie: Page 417
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The Valkyrie: Act Three, Scene One - Bruennhilde's rocky peak: the Valkyries, Bruennhilde, and Sieglinde

[V.3.1: A]

V.3.1 begins with the prelude known in the concert hall as “The Ride of the Valkyries,” certainly the most famous part of the Ring in the popular imagination. Of all Wagner’s music the general public, even those who resist classical music, are virtually always familiar with the music of this prelude, and the wedding music from Lohengrin Act Three. In its dramatic context this prelude is of course a highly picturesque musical representation of Bruennhilde’s Valkyrie sisters gathering a horde of valiant martyrs from the battlefield to bring them to Valhalla and enlist them for Wotan’s final battle against the forces of evil, Alberich’s host of night. This prelude reintroduces, in definitive orchestral form, the older motifs #77 and #78, and now a new one, #91, associated exclusively with the Valkyries’ role as angels of death riding their steeds to seek out Wotan’s chosen heroes. Late in the prelude, as Bruennhilde approaches, we also hear #90b, the second segment of the motif representing Bruennhilde’s change of heart in Siegmund’s behalf, as Bruennhilde in her desperation begs her sisters to shield and help her in her greatest need (“hoechster Noth”), to protect Sieglinde and herself from Wotan’s wrath:

(Prelude: [[ #91: ]] On the summit of a rocky mountain. a pinewood borders the stage on the left. On the right is the entrance to a rocky cave which forms a natural chamber: above it the cliff rises to its highest point. At the back, the view is completely open; rocks of varying height form the parapet of the precipice. Isolated cloudbanks scud past the edge of the cliff, as though driven by a storm. Gerhilde, Ortlinde, Waltraute, and Schwertlinde have taken up their positions on the peak, outside and above the cave; they are fully armed.)

 

(#77>>; #91>>; #? – [possibly also some music inspired by Donner’s calling forth the storm in the finale to R.4, which influences #77?:] [a vivid portrayal of Bruennhilde’s eight Valkyrie-sisters gathering slain heroes for Valhalla, including numerous repetitions of #78 also:]) (…)

 

Ortlinde: (calling into the pinewood: #77:; #91:) Put your stallion with Ortlinde’s mare: your bay likes to graze with my grey (:#77; #91)!

 

[Several Valkyries humorously note how their mares’ fighting is inspired by their hero-owner’s original rivalries.]

 

[#falling scale – an octave drop - based on the cadence from Bruennhilde’s war-cry from the opening of v.2.1, #78: the 8 Valkyries all gather]

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