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Death-Devoted HeartSex and the Sacred in Wagner's Tristan and Isolde$
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Roger Scruton

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780195166910

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195166910.001.0001

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The Music of Tristan

The Music of Tristan

(p.75) Four The Music of Tristan
Death-Devoted Heart


Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer's influence on the music of Tristan and Isolde. Wagner discovered the philosophy of Schopenhauer while conceiving the drama of Tristan and Isolde. Both composer and philosopher had been deeply influenced by Kantian metaphysics; both were drawn to Hindu and Buddhist mysticism; and both were pessimists who saw renunciation as the highest human goal. Schopenhauer was the only disciple of Kant to develop a halfway believable philosophy of music, and his theories had a profound impact on Wagner, whose reading of Schopenhauer fostered his conception of a drama that would unfold entirely through the inner feelings of the characters. These feelings, hinted at in words, would acquire their full reality and elaboration in music.

Keywords:   Wagner, Arthur Schopenhauer, Kant, Tristan and Isolde, opera, music

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