A few thoughts on Bruennhilde and musical motifs

General Discussion about Wagner and The Ring of the Nibelung

Moderators: alberich00, Justin Jeffrey

Post Reply
Site Admin
Posts: 428
Joined: Tue Apr 19, 2011 11:03 am

A few thoughts on Bruennhilde and musical motifs

Post by alberich00 » Sat Oct 10, 2015 10:17 am

Dear members and visitors to the wagnerheim.com discussion forum:

The past few months I've been re-reading my online "Ring" book posted here at wagnerheim.com more closely than ever before, and editing it as I go along in preparation for rewriting it in a much briefer and more accessible version for publication in hardcopy. As I do
this, from time to time I mull over old issues and come up with new approaches to them (or just combine old approaches in new ways). I've been thinking over my interpretation of Bruennhilde as a source of musical motifs (Wagner himself regarded Bruennhilde, among other things, as a metaphor for the special music of his music-dramas), and wanted to post here my most recent thoughts. Most of them have been posted here before, but perhaps not all in one place. In any case, an email from Feuerzauber about Oedipus got me thinking again, and here's the result:

Speaking of swell foot (Oedipus), there are a number of classical scholars, experts on Greek drama, who have traced Wagner's employment of musical motifs to Sophocle's employment of verbal motifs in "Oedipus the King," such as the constant reiterations of variations on clubfoot or swell foot prior to Oedipus's discovery of who he really is. You can see how this ties in with my interpretation in other ways, since Siegfried does not know who he is, but Bruennhilde does, and Bruennhilde is the mother of the musical motifs of the "Ring," in Wagner's allegory, and the authoress of the woodbird's song which leads Siegfried to her (but also to take aesthetic possession of Alberich's Hoard of knowledge, Tarnhelm of imagination, and Ring of human reflective consciousness and its power, and to see through Mime's machinations so Siegfried can eliminate him. Mime is, in my interpretation, Wagner's metaphor for Wotan's head, all that Wotan loathes about himself, and Siegfried is what's left over of Wotan, Wotan's ideal, once his real self Mime has been decapitated, so to speak. Siegfried is Wotan's heart (in conjunction with Bruennhilde's redemptive love). Of course the woodbird's song is Wagner's metaphor for the unique music of his music dramas, music of reminiscence and foreshadowing.

Siegfried is figuratively the reincarnation of Wotan. Wotan stands both for mankind's concept of godhead, and for Feuerbach's notion that godhead itself is a metaphor for collective, historical man, and, according to Wagner's allegorical reasoning which I believe I have discovered, Wotan makes Siegfried the artist-hero his heir, just as, in Wagner's own words, when god had to leave us he left us, in remembrance of him, music, or, in another variation, Wagner asked why we can't leave god the creator Jehovah as a sacrifice to modern science, in order for us to save the essence of religious faith in the savior Jesus, by which Wagner really means Siegfried the artist-hero. Siegfried the artist-hero is Wotan, minus consciousness of who he is, and, according to Wagner, his musical motifs of remembrance and premonition tell us what the hero himself does not know. Wagner also said that because a musical motif, heard and felt in the present, also subliminally calls up remembrance of things past with which it was associated, and also looks forward to future events with which it will be associated, the musical motif makes all things widely disbursed in space and time present, here and now. You'll recall that Bruennhilde calls herself Wotan's will, and that Wotan tells Erda that Erda's knowledge (of all past, present, and future, which the Norns weave into their rope of fate), wanes before his will, i.e., before Bruennhilde. But Wagner also said that Siegfried lives entirely in the present, and that this is the finest gift of the will (i.e., Bruennhilde)

Wagner elsewhere stated that the old story that Buddha knew for all other humans what they did not know, all of their past lives, gave him insight into the nature of his musical motifs, which tell us as a sort of omniscient author what the characters do not know about themselves. Wagner described the nature of reincarnation in its relationship with his musical motifs thus: God and Nature are parallel lines which come together outside of space and time. Well, God (Wotan) and Nature (Erda - Mother Earth) give birth to Bruennhilde, the womb of Wotan's wishes, who describes herself as the ageless part of Wotan, and she confers on Siegfried his capacity to live entirely in the present.

Your friend from wagnerheim.com

Post Reply