Monday, September 11, 2006

Come now.

Francesca Zambello famously stated that operas should be cut to last an hour. Schlingenseif, if given the chance, would probably do the same (considering his "dramatic vision", he might as well). There is a reason why the composer sends a finished manuscript to the printers, namely, because the manuscript is finished. While the composer himself can go back and tinker with it if he wants (Wagner and Bruckner both did), the idea of having someone not connected with the composer "finish" or "add" something to the work is nonsense. There are notable examples of this (Mozart's Requiem, Mahler's 10th, and now Holst), that succeed (or fail) to varying degrees. But can't we agree that the composer is king as far as his own work goes? Anything else is a farce, or worse, a debasement.

Terry, of the Contrapuntal, thunders forth this pronouncement. For the record, Frau Mahler approved of Deryck Cooke's performing version, though he never called it a completion, only an orchestration of Mahler's finished four-stave sketch. Frau Mozart asked our buddy Franz to finish K.V. 626. There is a history of completions or performing versions, otherwise approved by those who knew the composer best. Or at least went to bed with him.

Also, Herr Schlingensief would never cut an opera to an hour. To do so would deprive the audience of his "brilliance." If anything, he'd strap the audience in the stalls and run through the performance again, shouting after every dramatic turn, as a perverse apres coup: "Did you get it? Huh? Huh? Did'ya?"


At 12:21 PM, Blogger Kappa Sigma Pledge Class 2001 said...

Not having done research into either Frau Mahler or Frau Mozart, I can't speak as to their suitability to judge the merits of the additions. I can't say either remind me of Frau Cosima Wagner, but then, few women are Frau Cosima.

I suppose the issue isn't finishing unfinished works, but adding on when the work is, presumably, finished. There is a history to it, but does the fact that it happens make it "right"?

At 12:37 PM, Blogger Kappa Sigma Pledge Class 2001 said...

And're right. I was thinking more of his cutting the Buddhist element out of Parsifal, than the time. I have a strange feeling he would hire homeless people off the street to "composer" an extra hour or so of music, just to pose the question: "Is this noise Wagner to? Is his Volk music?" Or something fairly tasteless like that.

Upon reflection on that quote, I find it even more ironic that he mistakes the philosphical influence of Schopenhauer for Nietzsche, especially since Nietzsche had rejected Schopenhauer by then, and had little to no influence on Wagner's operas.

And I don't know why I am posting as KSPC 2001.

At 2:45 PM, Blogger Patrick J. Smith said...

Nietzsche was done with Wagner by 1876, or whichever Festspiele he attended. Parsifal was composed later.

At 7:04 PM, Blogger Terry said...

This I already know.

At 8:25 PM, Blogger Terry said...

Also, I believe in the quote you put up, I stated that having someone not connected was an issue. Frau's Mozart and Mahler, and the individuals who finished those works, were all connected in some way. I more or less was tailoring my remarks to Holst's situtation.

Back to the Mastersingers.

At 12:41 PM, Blogger Karl said...

I've always liked of Nietzsche, at the least, that he preferred Carmen to Wagner's 'music-dramas' :-)

At 12:47 PM, Blogger Karl said...

Also, Constanze's concern that the Requiem be finished was not solely a musical matter: Count Walsegg had paid for a Requiem (which was to be published as written by him), and I expect there was a very practical concern that if there was no complete Requiem, the Count might have demanded that his fee be returned.

Of course, in this light, Süssmayer likely approached the work, not so much with an eye to posterity, as being in a musically unique position to come to the aid of the esteemed relict of his deceased Master.

At 8:47 PM, Blogger Patrick J. Smith said...

Well, Karl, I suppose that my overarching point was that there is a tradition of completions or the like. In some cases, i.e., Mahler, there was a historical impulse to realize the conductor's vision. In others, Mozart, for example, there was a less-noble drive behind the music.

As to Herr Prof. Nietzsche, I have yet to fully answer his objections to Wagner. If I ever can.

At 8:08 AM, Blogger Karl said...

In others, Mozart, for example, there was a less-noble drive behind the music.

Well, but I am sure (a) that Constanze really valued her husband's music as a body, and not merely the understandably proprietary feelings of a wife for the work of her husband; and (b) that Süssmayer, too, had a high regard for the 'source-document' which he was called upon to 'finish'. The motives are surely an alloy.


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