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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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Wagner, Thematic Dispersion, and Contrary Motion

Wagner, Thematic Dispersion, and Contrary Motion

(p.59) Chapter 3 Wagner, Thematic Dispersion, and Contrary Motion
Wagner, Schumann, and the Lessons of Beethoven's Ninth

Christopher Alan Reynolds

University of California Press

With the conclusion in chapter 2 that Wagner’s systematic use of contrary motion must postdate The Flying Dutchman, chapter 3 examines other works of Wagner to determine when it appeared. In particular, the Faust Overture and Lohengrin both contain clues to Wagner’s awareness of Beethoven’s contrary motion. Tellingly, while the early version of the Faust Overture (1840) does not have significant contrary motion, despite many other traces of influence from the Ninth Symphony, the later version, which Wagner produced in 1855, does. More importantly, in Lohengrin (1845–1846), there are many signs that Wagner had experienced an epiphany about counterpoint in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Instrumental lines moving in opposite directions are everywhere. This chapter also examines Wagner’s application of thematic dispersion, demonstrating its presence already in The Flying Dutchman.

Keywords:   Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Richard Wagner, The Flying Dutchman, Lohengrin, Faust Overture, counterpoint, thematic dispersion

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