Publication Date

April 2015

Advisor(s)

Neely Bruce

Major

Music

Language

English (United States)

Abstract

This project is a musical analysis of the three transitional passages between scenes in Richard Wagner’s Das Rheingold. I begin each transition’s analysis by separating it into distinct sections. Following a chronological analysis of the harmony and melodic development, I discuss what those musical decisions represent with regards to the larger story. A primary focus of this analysis is the use of the many different leitmotifs that pervade the entire opera. Much like the way I analyze the transitions, I first look at how these motifs are constructed and then discuss what the specific alterations to the motifs over time represent. Ultimately these transitions define the development of the characters on stage. In doing so, they make nature an active character in the opera as well.

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