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Studies in Music with Text$
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David Lewin

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195182088

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195182088.001.0001

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Amfortas’s Prayer to Titurel and the Role of D in Parsifal

Amfortas’s Prayer to Titurel and the Role of D in Parsifal

The Tonal Spaces of the Drama and the Enharmonic C♭/B

(p.183) Chapter Ten Amfortas’s Prayer to Titurel and the Role of D in Parsifal
Studies in Music with Text

David Lewin

Oxford University Press

The section of the drama to which the title of this chapter refers is Act III, measures 933–93. This section begins with the change to a D-minor key signature and the first entrance of the new Weihegruβ motive, as Titurel's coffin is opened and all break into a woeful cry. There follow two Stollen in D minor and an Abgesang in D major. The musical Bar Form sets an equally formulaic prayer in the text. This chapter draws attention to the idea of transformational substitution in both text and music. Richard Wagner has informed us, via bracket 4, that the A♭ that substitutes for A-as-dominant is in fact the very A♭ that is the tonic key of the drama. When this A♭ appears in a dominant role, it suggests tonicizing a subdominant D♭ from which one might build a final plagal cadence for the opera. Amfortas does not know how to use his plagal D, but Parsifal does, and that relationship legitimizes Parsifal's takeover from Amfortas as much as does his possession of the D-ish spear.

Keywords:   Richard Wagner, opera, drama, Amfortas, Parsifal, prayer, Titurel, transformational substitution, cadence, D minor

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