Parsifal

Motif 27: Devotion or Resignation

German names: Kundrys hingebende Motiv, Hingebungsmotiv


Musical example: Motif 27 - Devotion Soundbytes  Devotion (ogg format)

Newman called this motif Devotion. It appears three times in the second act: first when Kundry tells Parsifal that she has waited for him, to give him tidings; then when she begs him to have pity for her (und ob mich Gott und Welt verstösst : bars 1259, 1267); and finally at her last despairing appeal to him. In act III, there is a suggestion of the motif as Kundry catches sight of the approaching stranger; and it appears again as Kundry brings water to Parsifal. So this is the motif of Kundry as self-sacrificing woman.

The Devotion motif with its falling fourths can be seen as a derivative of the Bells motif, of which the red notes can be regarded as a variation, while the last three notes can be regarded as a variation of the first three notes of the same motif; alternatively as derived from the Prophecy motif.

Albert Lavignac referred to this motif as "Resignation". He suggested that the falling fourths of motif Bells, together with themes in Die Meistersinger and Siegfried that also feature falling fourths, could be related to the "answer" motif in Beethoven's F major quartet, opus 135: Es muss sein. This relationship appears most clearly in the red notes of the example above.

References: von Wolzogen ex.19, Newman ex.46, ENO ex.31.
Lavignac, The Music Dramas of Richard Wagner, pages 470-1 and 473, Lorenz p.120, p.131, Bauer p.39.

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