Motif 21: Bells
German names: Gralsglockenmotiv, Gralsrittermotiv
The basic Bells motif is shown in figure (A): this is the sound of the offstage "crystal" bells (see separate
article). It develops via example (B) into example (C) in the orchestra, which introduces the Transformation Music in both outer acts. H-J. Bauer calls (C) the
Grail Knights motive. The entire Bells motif appears (or is concealed) within a number of larger motives, including
that of the Good Friday Meadows. Several motives are closely related, including the Prophecy motif, the motif of the
Distress of Monsalvat and that of Devotion.
From "Pelléas et Mélisande" by Debussy (ogg format)
On what would have been Wagner's 70th birthday (22 May 1883), his friend and father-in-law Franz Liszt composed the tiny elegy, Am Grabe Richard Wagners. Into this piano piece (also arranged for organ and in a version for string quartet and harp), Liszt introduced a hushed recollection of the Bells motif. Another such recollection of this motif can be heard in Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande, during the first scene change from the forest to the castle.