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Subject: Re: Parsifal
From: Anthony Perovich <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Anthony Perovich <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Thu, 26 Jan 2017 16:22:27 -0500
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On Thu, Jan 26, 2017 at 2:36 PM, Stephen Charitan <[log in to unmask]>
wrote:

In Parsifal and Tristan it might be advisable
> to have a general idea of plot points, but this is some of the most
> subjective / suggestive music ever written.  The more familiarity you have
> with it the more you will find in it and the less necessary "trappings"
> become. There aren't many works where the words themselves can cease to
> matter, but in these two word for word translations can often detract and
> even diminish.
>

I would like to hear what others think of this claim.  I certainly
understand and agree with the idea that the music is itself suggestive and
can have an effect independently of the listener's understanding of the
words being sung.  And who can quarrel with someone's being transported or
transformed by the music alone, if that is what they're after or what they
find rewarding?  But I would have thought that it is also correct to say
that Wagner was a "metaphysical" composer in the sense that in several of
his works, perhaps above all in TRISTAN and PARSIFAL, he was aiming to
convey a world-view, and very often the text is a helpful guide here and a
crucial supplement to the music.  Now, of course, someone can be
uninterested in this and find that the music alone offers its own rewards.
But for anyone interested in appreciating what Wagner was aiming at, I
would have thought it is often the case that attention to the text (beyond
mere "plot points") in conjunction with the music is demanded.  Now of
course what detracts from or diminishes one's listening experience is going
to vary from listener to listener, and it's foolish to be prescriptive
about how people should listen to music; but it nevertheless seems to me
that there is one non-idiosyncratic way of listening to Wagner--a way that
Wagner himself would have found very important--that makes attention to the
text essential.

Nick

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