This introduction establishes the importance of two musical concepts to Wagner and Schumann—contrary motion and thematic dispersion—both of which were influenced by the composers’ understanding of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Wagner’s program for the first movement creates a battle narrative of good versus evil. This responds to Beethoven’s use of contrary motion to depict conflict. The German word for this technique is Gegenbewegung, which is also the military term for “counter maneuver.” Thematic dispersion is Beethoven’s technique of preparing a concluding theme by breaking it into small units that are introduced much earlier in a multi-movement work. This introduction also shows that Wagner and Schumann met regularly in 1845–1846, when they both lived in Dresden.
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