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Wagner, Schumann, and the Lessons of Beethoven's Ninth$
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Christopher Alan Reynolds

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780520285569

Published to California Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520285569.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
Wagner, Schumann, and the Lessons of Beethoven's Ninth

Christopher Alan Reynolds

University of California Press

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.

Keywords:   Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Richard Wagner, Robert Schumann, counterpoint, contrary motion

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