Evoking an ancient sound: Richard Wagner's musical medievalism
Richardson, Michael Scott
Master of Arts
Although current scholarship focuses on Richard Wagner's literary medievalism in his operas, little attention has been given to his musical medievalism. Considering that Wagner based nearly all of his operas on medieval legends, one can assume that he desired to evoke a "medieval" sound in the music of those works. When writing music that sounds ancient in his operas, Wagner is being a musical medievalist. He incorporates historical musical forms and styles as well as musical devices that would sound antique to a nineteenth-century audience to make his music sound old and to enhance the medieval aura of his stage works. This paper explores Richard Wagner's musical medievalism in his operas Tannhauser, Lohengrin, Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg, Parsifal, and in his tetralogy, Der Ring des Nibelungen.