thumbnail of Music and other four letter words; 11; Wagner and the Death of God
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
Better words. Here is your host associate professor of music at the University of Utah. All bad I'm. How do you oh what a season. With us again I think it would be appropriate for me to give it to Nancy. Now I know that analyses of the ring a feat to get over the radio by sound effects for the edification of a great expert about these you know esoteric as they lead the average person is before this before. And in fact I think to discourage him from going altogether. No I would not tell you about it from the point of view of one average Opera go off who would not know
the person and in the Ring Cycle like me about that I think. It. Would be like the hugs. And swimming around all the RAI a sort of aquatic and. Die. Which is as follows.
I was. Looking off the magic and the magic of the fact that anybody could not love and make a ring out of this gold the universe does. Not. Operate. On the neat the river as it might be let's say the Holland Tunnel. Al-Abadi.
Visiting. You know that 650 on a track. He makes a POS at the ride. And so then up at a nice little thing. Well I'm not going to get a lot of it anyhow I can see that. So I will renounce take his lumps go make the ring and become a monster of the universe. So we take back the Holland Tunnel. Right.
Well let's hear one out. Up up as it might be on top of the Empire State Building. You'll find Botha on the GOL and he's a crashing bore too. When he and. His wife. Have had a cough who believe that I have. A couple of giants cold fact that. The Giants want to be paid for building this costume and off of the giants you can see magic ring that Albert IX made. So time goes all the way down from to
Alberta. And takes the ring away from him. Alberich. So he puts it. Tell. Me. That's the wrong message now. I'm not here. The best time to notice the ring off and gives it to. Fatso and i can we back in a castle. To get the ring for himself. So vote counting knows the heat.
And this is what he seems to be goes down to ground level. Your. Consultant can tell a friend if he is cold. My friend. She is a green face so that pops out of the crowd. We think she's a pole so that's all anyone has ever seen. And she says to me. Means be careful because the camp. Was. Hate
when. Your pets are down he died when he knew that that day was he is. Am. The. One that he was. No that was not Paul baton and yes it does seem like an extraordinary jump from the late songs of Franz Schubert to something like a discussion of Wagner's Ring. Denny belonging or destiny belonging depending on what kind of syntax you really prefer. It isn't an extraordinary jump and oh and I and I. What have you done. Some I suppose. SALT LAKE people will
remember that she made the significant correction in her description of the birth of Brunhilda. Which was not so interesting from the point of view of a humorist but certainly crucial to Wagners concept of all of this was quote about which when she noted the Brunhilda was not in fact born of it aired on the green face torso but was produced by parthenogenesis. That is like Minerva she popped a fully armed out of the head of ton which makes a special a significant much closer relationship between the chief god and his child which is his very Only Begotten child. One would say Brunnhilde them. Without laboring any special point it appears that at the end of this part one of a set of four operas if you will that Richard Wagner contemporary with Schubert
wrote something symbolic something for Wagner extremely meaningful has happened and he is trying to recreate somehow from myth and legend. A direction through human history. Many books have been written many interpretations of the ring of the knee belongs at this point people are tired of interpretation and I myself am a little weary of it but I suppose someone goes back to music of the 19th century and tries to experience it as it was to be experienced. I had a yes vote on does all of these compromising things in part 1. And that's contrary to the nature of the gods. It's as simple a thing maybe as losing the respect for someone who has to rely on the chicanery in order to achieve power. If the gods are thus compromised at the outset if they are rotten
somehow at the very center then it seems inevitable that our respect will dwindle and so will their power. Photon at the end of does I mean gold which is the first of these significant operas then returns to Valhalla. It's a sadder and wiser God realizing that maybe he's not alone going to be able to do anything much for the race of men who are on the earth. But then maybe even he the chief god and all of his cohorts requires some kind of redemption and somebody has to set things right again. We're back to Hamlet and his curse and spite that ever he was born to set things right and quite away from the disposition that sees the gods as real as vital as powerful as moving forces out there
someplace who eventually will take care of us all. But then this is the generation which will produce Charles Darwin and his extraordinary theory about the great life forces around us and something like the hope of progress and the ultimate redemption through the energies which are accessible to man and which are indeed men themselves. There are so many poems so many books so many paintings and so much expressed in the 19th century of the disillusion. The disappearance of God from the stage the final admission of Neech as Zarathustra the great wise moralist as he comes down from the mountain that God is to all intents and purposes and sort of practical usages or even the possibility of a blooming ideal dad. Dead to the world Emily Bronte who used to write secret poems as well as Weathering
Heights and an occasional essay in one of five essays says something like this I picked a flower at my side. It was pretty and newly opened. But an ugly Caterpillar had hidden himself among the petals and already they were drawing up and withering. Said image of the earth and its inhabitants. I exclaimed this worm lives only by destroying the planet which protects him. Why was he created. And Why Was Man Created. I threw the flower to the ground. At that moment the universe appeared to me a vast machine constructed only to bring forth evil. I almost doubted the goodness of God for not annihilating man on the day of his first sin. The world should have been destroyed I said crushed. Just as I crushed this
reptile which has done nothing during his life but make everything he touches as just gusting as himself which is a step away of course from Dostoevsky's underground man. I almost out of the goodness of God she said. Because somehow it's not quite possible yet to exclude the term or the reality altogether from the context. But great storm clouds are brewing and if God wanders the earth he wanders as though time and wanders the earth with it with an alias and a patch over one eye and impotent. Later in the century I suppose it is Thomas Hardy in his novels who articulates the condition the great Blackheath that he calls the egg. The churning frightening sometimes almost demented forces which men
seem to be lacerating at and and assaulting one another and occasionally and poems he says things like I leaned upon a cop escaped when frost was specter grey and winter's dregs made desolate the weakening I have a day tangled by instead and scored the sky like strings from broken liars and all mankind that haunted night I had sought their household fires. Lance sharp features seemed to be the century's core. Lent his script the cloudy canopy the wind is death limb and an ssion pulse of germ and birth was shrunken hard and dry and every spirit upon earth seemed for less. As I had once a voice burst forth among the
bleak twigs overhead in a full hearted even song of joy a limited and aged thrush frail gaunt and small and blast the ruffled plume had chosen by us to fling his soul upon the growing blue. So little cards for caroling of such ecstatic sound was written on terrestrial thing so far. Or an IRA that I could think there trembled through his happy good night air. Some less said Hope whereof he knew. And I was unaware. Oh whether or not the awareness ever came to Thomas Hardy is maybe perhaps not to the point. It seems not to have come to
the generation of Thomas Hardy. To many people it seems never to have come since Wagners Botha left Vaal hollow and took to wandering around the earth looking for some hope not only for men but for himself as well. Wagner though seemed to be a metaphysician of a peculiar ilk. How he subscribed somehow to the feeling of Beethoven the feeling barrios and some few others of his contemporaries that there were great and mysterious things accessible to man whether they were out there or in the US seemed to be irrelevant. Music was one of them. A music somehow like it like the voice of imagination to Blake was a divine presence. If it were not God it was at least a convenient substitute for
God. And there was a kind of mind blowing process going on and some composers of the 19th century to see what they could do with shears and how much of vibration they could actually make and what kind of force and power it could exert and whether or not some place and all that they could discover not only hope but something like ultimate truth. Wagner began fairly early trying to do things like that. You have a finding excuses in stories for making sounds the like of which the world had. I heard 32 offstage trumpets in Lohengrin at the gathering of the bribe. It is dawn. Armies are coming from all sides. It is military music but it is more than military music. The armies could gather and trumpets can sound but we don't need to 32 of them and we don't need to keep on at such enormous length but
something happens to the person in all this he becomes excited beyond all measure. He has catapulted outside himself and he begins to feel that music is something that he never dreamed he did could be. Through. And through. Yes.
Her ill or her. Her. Was. Ill. Ill her ill ill
was. Ill. At the time. Live. Live. Live. Live. Live. The fitness. Function. Lives. Thanks.
Thanks. Thanks thanks for the. Well that's thrilling I guess maybe because they weren't but they didn't take long to sort of catch on that really all of his has historical stories or even some of the legendary stories which were tied somehow to a time and place such as Lohengrin and time highs or were not really the place where it was and had to be. That he was using them as an excuse for something more and that maybe people
would catch on to that and I want to get to the something more. Why not find. Just think for a minute Richard. Where where there might be the truth of the story. All of us saw that everybody would respond to at some basic level and not have to be tied to his own personal experience. He referred to it in Lohengrin because this was at least semi legendary. They're not really people going around turning into swans and back again. It's sort of touched on it in time noise or with the legend of the mus. Now you thought maybe the place was all together. The world of legend and myth and that he might as well begin on a fairly modest scale by finding the Germans spiritually and reforming them and boosting them to some kind of hope and maybe even achievement in this world by means of their myth. So
the song of the need belongs it was. Now he wasn't tied to any kind of historical reference. He had symbols only he had the raw material the stuff of our intuition and it is I suppose since the time of Wagner that young for example is drawn back to the same sort of stuff which seems essential in the beginning of Wagner's opera does Rheingold which Miss Russell was talking about earlier on in this program is very strange music. Probably the strangest music to have been written in the 19th century before Tristan and Isolde one tone one chord with no sharps and flats. C It is the ground stuff out of which everything emanates a re creation in sound of the beginnings were
what why were. War war. This has been music and other four letter words
featuring Paul Bana associate professor of music at the University of Utah. Music and other four letter words is a production of University of Utah radio executive director Rex Cambo. Series director Gene PAC. This series is made possible by a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Please note: This content is only available at GBH and the Library of Congress, either due to copyright restrictions or because this content has not yet been reviewed for copyright or privacy issues. For information about on location research, click here.
Music and other four letter words
Episode Number
Wagner and the Death of God
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/500-h41jng08).
No description available
Media type
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 4931 (University of Maryland)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:30:00?
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “Music and other four letter words; 11; Wagner and the Death of God,” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed March 2, 2024,
MLA: “Music and other four letter words; 11; Wagner and the Death of God.” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. March 2, 2024. <>.
APA: Music and other four letter words; 11; Wagner and the Death of God. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from