Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 2.djvu/129

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LEIT-MOTIF.
117
 

being heard, reminds the hearers of the doom pronounced on the possessors of the ring by Alberich.

A yet more pregnant instance is in the Götterdämmerung, the last of the series. When Siegfried comes to the Hall of the Gibichungs on the Rhine, with the ring in his possession, having obtained it by slaying Fafner, who had taken the form of a dragon to preserve it, the first person to greet him is Hagen, the son of Alberich, who looks to compass Siegfried's death, and regain the ring for the Niblungs by that means. As Hagen says 'Heil Siegfried, theurer Held,' the greeting is belied by the ominous sound of the leit-motif of the curse, which thus foretells the catastrophe in the sequel of which Hagen is the instrument and Siegfried the victim, and lends a deep and weird interest to the situation. Siegfried himself has 'motive' assigned to him in different circumstances and relations. For instance, the following figure, which he blows on the silver horn made for him by Mime, is the one which most frequently announces his coming. It implies his youthful and light-hearted state before he had developed into the mature and experienced hero.

{ \time 6/8 \key f \major \relative f' { f8 c'8. a16 f8 g a | bes a g c4. | s } }

This figure is frequently subjected to considerable development, and to one important transformation, which appears, for instance, in the death march as follows:—

{ \override Score.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f \time 4/4 \key ees \major << \relative e' { < ees bes g>8-. <ees g bes>4. ~ q16 <g ees bes>-. <ees bes g>8-. <f d bes f> <g ees bes g> | <aes ees c aes>16 <g ees bes g> <f ees c f,>8 \times 2/3 { <bes ees, bes>16 <aes d, bes> <g ees bes> } \times 2/3 { <aes d, bes> <g ees bes> <f bes, f> } <f ees a, f>2 | }
\new Staff { \clef bass \key ees \major << \relative b, { <bes g>4 s <d d,>8. <c c,>16 \times 2/3 { <bes bes,>8 <aes aes,> <g g,> } | <f f,>16 <g g,> <aes aes,>8 \times 2/3 { <g g,>16 <f f'> <ees ees'> } \times 2/3 { <f f'> <ees ees'> <d d'> } <c c'>2 } \\ { \repeat tremolo 8 { ees,32 ees } } >> }
>> } etc.

In his character as mature hero he is notified by the following noble figure,

{ \override Score.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f \time 4/4 \partial 4 \clef bass \relative e { e4 | a2.. a8 | c2.. b16 a | f'1 | a,2 g4. f8 | c'2.. c8 | d2.. c16 d | e1 \bar "||" } }

which occurs as above in the last act of the Walküre, when Wotan has laid Brünnhilde to sleep on the 'Felsenhöhe,' with a wall of fire around her; and the sounding of the motif implies that Siegfried is the hero who shall pass through the fire and waken Brünnhilde to be his bride. A happy instance of its recurrence is when, in the first act of Siegfried, the youthful hero tells how he had looked into the brook and saw his own image reflected there.

In the above examples the marked character of the figure lies chiefly in their melody. There are others which are marked chiefly by rhythm, as the persistent motif of Mime imitating the rhythmic succession of blows on an anvil—

{ \override Score.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f \time 9/8 \key des \major \clef bass \repeat unfold 2 { f8. f16 f8 f des ees f8. f16 f8 | } } etc.

which points to his occupation as a smith. This motif occurs in connection with the rattling blows of the hammers of the Niblung smiths underground, at the end of the second scene of the Rheingold, and thus shows its derivation.

Other 'motive' again are chiefly conspicuous by reason of impressive and original progressions of harmony. Of this kind that of the Tarnhelm is a good example. It occurs as follows, where Alberich first tests the power of the helm at the beginning of the third scene of the Rheingold:—

{ \time 2/4 << \relative d' { \repeat unfold 2 { <dis b>2( ~ | q4 <e g,!>) | } <dis b>2( | <e g,!>4. <fis fis,>8) | q2 ~ | q2 | \repeat unfold 2 { <g e b g>2( ~ | q4 <fis b,>) | } <gis dis b>2 | << { fis2 } \\ { gis,4 fis } >> | <dis' b gis>2 | }
\new Staff { \clef bass \relative g { gis2\pp( ~ | gis4 <b e,>) gis2( ~ | gis4 <b e,>) | gis2( | <b e>4. <b b,>8 | q2 ~ | q2 | \repeat unfold 2 { <e, e,>2( ~ | q4 <fis b,> | } <gis dis gis,>2 | << { b!4 ais } \\ { dis,2 } >> | s2 | } }
>> }

Another instance where a strongly marked melodic figure is conjoined with an equally striking progression of harmony, is the 'death motif' in Tristan and Isolde, which first appears in the second scene, where Isolde sings as follows:—

{ \override Score.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f \time 3/4 \key ees \major << \relative e'' { ees2^\f ~ ees8. ees,16 | ees2 c4 | a2.^\p | }
\addlyrics { Tod ge -- weiht -- en Haupt! }
\new ChoirStaff <<
\new Staff { \key ees \major \relative a' { << { <aes ees>2.\ff ~ q2. | <a e cis>8\p r r2 } \\ { \stemUp ees'8 } >> } }
\new Staff { \clef bass \key ees \major \relative c { \appoggiatura { c16[ ees aes] } c2. ~ c2. | << { <a e cis>2 s4 } \\ { r2 a,4 } >> } }
>> >> }

A figure which it is difficult to characterise, but which has a marvellous fascination, is the motif of the love-potion in Tristan and Isolde.

{ \time 6/8 \partial 8 << \relative g' << { s8 s2. | gis4.-> ~ gis4 a8 | ais b4 ~ b8 r r \bar "||" } \\ { a,8( | f'4. ~ f4 e8 | dis2.) | d4. ~ d8 } >>
\new Staff { \clef bass r8 R2. | <f b>2.( | <gis e>4.) ~ q8 r r } >> }

The love-potion is the key to the whole story, and therefore the musical portion of the work appropriately commences with its leit-motif. Among the numerous examples of its recurrence one is particularly interesting. When King Marke has discovered the passionate love which existed between Tristan and Isolde he is smitten with bitter sorrow that Tristan, whom he had so