Circular Form in the "Tristan" Prelude

Author(s): Robert P. Morgan
Source: Journal of the American Musicological Society, Vol. 53, No. 1 (Spring, 2000), pp. 69-
103
Published by: University of California Press on behalf of the American Musicological Society
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Circular Form in the Tristan Prelude
ROBERT P. MORGAN

The Preludeto TristanundIsoldehaschallengedmusicanalystssinceits
inception,' and the literatureon it shows little sign of abating.Yet few
analystshave focused in depth on its formalorganization,parsingthe
music into smallersegments and determininghow these combine to createan
overreachingpattern.It is not difficultto see why: the Preludeis so continu-
ous in effect and consistent in development that the notion of separatingit
into small segments seems counterproductive, if not blasphemous (Cole-
ridge's "to be betrayedinto the wretchednessof division").Formaldiscussion
is thus usuallyconfined to a generaldescriptionof the overalldynamicshape
or, when more detailed,is apt to force the music into some traditionalformal
mold. The formerresponds to the music's processive,nonarchitectonicchar-
acter but failsto account for its specifics;the latter offers a readyhandle with
which to graspthe form but distortsits most originaland distinctivefeatures.
What impedes analysisof the form is, above all, the degree to which the
Prelude is in constant transformation-always evolving, as if reaching after
some unattainablegoal, strivingat everymoment to become something other
than it is. Conventionalformal analysisappearsto be of little value. Focused
upon thematicand tonal correspondences,its aim to articulatemusicalevents
into discretesegments, distinguishingthem by content and function (exposi-
tory, developmental,etc.) and organizingthem into larger,balancedarchitec-
tonic patterns,seems antitheticalto the very natureof the score.
For this music offers little in the way of confirmation,reconciliation,or
balance;rather,it appearsto chart a unique and seemingly waywardcourse.

1. Wagnerdesignatesthe opening instrumentalmusic of Tristanund Isoldeas an introduction
in the score to the opera, and consideredin relationto the firstact, it clearlyhas an introductory
role. Since my concern here is with the music as a quasi-independentform, however, I follow the
virtuallyuniversalpractice(at times even Wagner's)of referringto it as a prelude. I do, however,
analyzeit as it appearsin the opera, not with the A-majorending later composed by Wagnerfor
concert performances.This means, of course, that I am dealingwith a musicalfragment,but it is a
fragment that is unmistakablyset off from what immediatelyfollows, and--as has been recog-
nized by so many--one that has its own fascinatingcoherence.

[JournaloftheAmericanMusicological
Society2000, vol. 53, no. 1]
? 2000 by the AmericanMusicological
Society.All rightsreserved.0003-0139/00/5301-0003$2.00

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70 Journalof the AmericanMusicologicalSociety

Though its generaldynamicoutline-intensification followed by relaxation-
resemblesthat of countless other pieces, the more detailedstructuregives the
impressionof being suigeneris.Fortunatelythis is not the case, or at least not
entirelyso; for if it were, formal analysisalong traditionallines would be im-
possible. Despite all its novelty,the Prelude,even in its details,does not com-
pletely resisttraditionalformalcategories.Attempts to pressit into a standard
formaltype, however,are bound to go awry.

Alfred Lorenz's Analysis

This problem is evident in what is justifiablythe most famous study of the
Prelude's form, the analysisby Alfred Lorenz in his 1926 book on Tristan
und Isolde.2Lorenz too begins by noting previousfailures:
Thiscompositionhasalreadyevokedmanystudies,specifically the manydedi-
catedto explainingthe firstchord.Yet not one of thesewritershas takenit
uponhimselfto get to the bottomof its actualformalconstruction.
Formaldi-
visionsarementionedonlyin passing.In generalone is contentwith the real-
izationof a huge climax,whichcollapsesat the high point.But thatdescribes
only a general,morepoetictendency,commonto all thatis dynamic,some-
thingwithwhichone cannotevenbeginto makemusic.3
The point is well taken:if all one can say is that the Preludeintensifiesto a cli-
max, followed by denouement, one has said very little. Despite manyinsights,

2. Alfred Lorenz, Das Geheimnisder Form bei Richard Wagner,vol. 2, Der musikalische
Aufbau von Richard Wagners"Tristanund Isolde"(Berlin:M. Hesses Verlag,1926), 12-28. The
analysisof the Prelude was published previously in essentiallyidentical form as "Die formale
Gestaltung des Vorspiels zu Tristan und Isolde,"Zeitschriftfiir Musikwissenschaft5 (1923):
546-57. A complete English translation appears in Robert Bailey, ed., Prelude and Trans-
figurationfrom "Tristanand Isolde,"by RichardWagner(New Yorkand London: W. W. Norton,
1985), 204-20. In beginning my studywith a discussionof Lorenz, I reluctantlyjoin a succession
of Wagnercommentatorswho use him as a sort of strawman, uncoveringthe weaknessesof his
analysesin order to celebratethe strengthsof their own. I find a great deal to admirein Lorenz,
and he stands almost alone in undertaking a serious, comprehensive analysisof form in the
Prelude,or for that matterin Wagnerin general.Indeed, Lorenz'svery usefulnessas a foil reflects
the degree to which his Wagneranalysesraiseessentialquestions. This seems especiallytrue here:
what he says about the Prelude frameswith admirableclaritythe issues with which I am con-
cerned.
3. "Dieses Tonstiickhat schon viele literarischeArbeitenhervorgerufen,namentlichbedurfte
es zur Entritselung des beriihmten ersten Akkordklanges zahlreicher Aufsitze; jedoch den
eigentlichen formalen Bau dieser bezaubernden Bluiteeiner unendlich reichen Phantasiezu er-
griinden, hat sich von all den Schriftstellernnoch keinerzum Vorwurfgenommen. Nur beiliufig
werden Gliederungen erwfihnt;im allgemeinen begniigt man sich mit dem Bewusstsein einer
riesigen dynamischen Steigerung, die auf dem H6hepunkt zusammenbreche. Aber damit ist
nichts als ein allgemeiner,mehr dichterischerDrang gekennzeichnet,der allem Dynamischenzu-
grunde liegt, mit dem allein man aber keineswegs Musik machen kann" (Der musikalische
Aufbau, 12). For anothertranslation,see Bailey,ed., Preludeand Transfiguration,205.

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229. 4. 95-111).229. 18-24). the key opening the first act (mm. of course. This content downloaded from 91. E major'ssubmediant 3. its clearlysegmented three-partstructureremainsfullyconsis- tent with Classicalformalconventions: 1. the second be- ginning in C but returningto A 2. Lorenz's own analysisoffers no real remedy. CircularFormin the TristanPrelude 71 however.His trump. againin A The "coda.129 on Sat. is symmetryexact. In neither case. Lorenz views the Prelude as a complete arch form (vollkommene Bogenform). Since Lorenz counts the firsteighth-note upbeat as measure1. however. m). remaining much too closely bound to conventionalformalassumptionsto do justiceto the particu- larsof the score. and there are minor discrep- ancies in the way Lorenz counts measures and allocates them to sections. except for the first section (m). makingall of his measurenumberingsinconsistentwith normalpractice. including both principaland sec- ondarythemes (mm. with principaltheme (mm. 21 Jun 2014 22:08:04 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .a centralsec- tion of 8 measures(o) framedby 36 preceding measures(lengthened by two fermatasand a rallentando)and 40 subsequentmeasures:36 + 8 + 40. while a more developmentaland modulatory centralsection (mm. The following formaldiagram. which is now 24 measures(17 + 7) instead of his 25 (18 +7).The originalproportionalnumbersfor his formalunits are retained.is found in what he takesto be the symmetricalproportions of the arch:a centralsection of 38 measures (n-o-n) framedby the two m segments of 24 measuresand 22 measures:24 + 38 + 22. Main Section Reprise(Hauptsatz.followed by coda and transition:4 Arch I I Main Section Middle Section Main Section Coda Transition m n. while the "transition"modulates to C minor. summarizeshis for- mal divisionsand relatescloselyto his example5. 1-17) and secondarytheme (mm.I have sub- stituted standardnumbering.m). whose outer parts (mm.maintainsthe tonic (mm. or. 25-36 and 45-62) both begin in E major.though not takendirectlyfrom Lorenz. Lorenz notes in addition that both main and contrastingthemes are elabo- rationsof "ideal"eight-measurephrases(even supplyinga normalized eight- measureversionof the first). o n m mm: 1-24 25-36 37-44 45-62 63-84 85-94 95-111 (17+7) (111/2 + 8 + 181/2) (111/2+11) 10 17 Despite the seemingly nontraditional symmetry of the five-part arch (m-n-o-n-m). 63-73 and 74-84)." though more fragmentary. 37- 44) moves toward C# minor. Main Section (Hauptsatz. encompassing a smaller arch. the firstin the tonic A. however. n-o-n). Middle Section (Mittelsatz. 85-94). if the middle segment is separatedinto three parts.

Not only are these returnsinconsistentwith Lorenz's letter designations.229.the sudden registralcollapse at measure 83. simplyclaimsfor it an interpretivesignificance: "The work's immenselyexciting effect can be explainedonly by this fabulous symmetry.if the subsectionsare not counted. juxtaposed against the entirely differently conveyed dy- namic process. mm. they appearin all but the second and last of five. and scoring. reprise. as discussedbelow) flatlycontradictsthe assumptionof a solidly articu- lated. ist der ungeheueraufregendeEindruckdieses Kunstwerkszu erkl[ren"(Lorenz. following the "maintheme" much as it did at the opening (cf.229. are inconsistenciesof content in his formal seg- ments. 95-100). "Erst durch diese fabelhafte Symmetrie. all without definitivebreak. recognizing the dichotomy between his own analyticalsymmetries and the music's dynamiccast.coda. 18-21) and its reprise(mm. secondary themes. The most pervasiveconcerns the opening four measuresof the "sec- ondary theme" located in both section m (mm. But such an overlap(and it actuallyextends well beyond two mea- sures. This content downloaded from 91. 16-18 and 93-95). welche sich der gdinzlich anders geleiteten Dynamik entgegenstellt und so einen dramatischen Konflikt schon ins rein musikalische Geschehen trigt. Still more problematicis that Lorenz must interpretthe final27 bars-one-fourth the total (everythingfollowing the cli- mactic moment)-as separatefrom the main body of the Prelude:as "coda" and "transition."Yet the "coda"containsthe firstreturnof the "maintheme" in its originalregister. and the "transition"brings back the "secondarytheme" again. beyond the Prelude's most striking articulation. 55-58 and 59-62).129 on Sat.for these measuresalso appearin two other sections within the arch:at the close of section n (mm. symmetricallydisposedform.classi- cally derived formal functions (main theme. and thus beyond the point at which the opening barsreturnto initiatethe "coda. which.translatesa dramaticconflict into a purelymusicalevent.followed by a rela- tively brief collapse and dissolution. here extended to six bars by an internalsequence.His clear-cut sectional form-with its balancedtonal structureand well-articulated. transition)-contradicts the processivenatureof the music.they are asymmetricallypositioned in his overalldesign: if the three subsectionsof the arch'smiddle section are counted. middle sec- tion. which means that they appearoutside his arch as well. Lorenz. 21 Jun 2014 22:08:04 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . however."5 5. architectonicallyunbalancedspanof mu- sic. In addition. developing for three-quartersof its length to a climax. texture.72 Journalof theAmerican Society Musicological More important. The same measures also open Lorenz's "transition"(mm." Lorenz interpretsthe reprise of that section as extending to measure 84-that is. 74-76.and with similarrhythmicpacing. where the final measureis altered). as he willingly admits): that the Preludetracesa continuous. 31-36) and twice at the close of n's reprise(mm. they appearin all but the third and last of seven sections. Perhapsmost discomfortingis the failureof Lorenz's analysisto do justice to what any listener hears (including Lorenz himself." Lorenz resolvesthis by acknowledginga two-measureoverlapbetween reprise and coda. to achievea more proximatesymmetricalcorrespondenceand preservethe tonal integrityof his "mainsection.

and C. 21. Decimals in measurenumbers indicate eighth notes within the 6/8 meter...thevariationaffectsonlythe surfacefeaturesof the music. and 25-32. 24). perhaps the most basic formal assumption. need not be discarded. The notion of repetition itself. and unit C appearstwice. Preludeand Transfiguration. This content downloaded from 91.229. 21 Jun 2014 22:08:04 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .214. for a work of such complexity. 8. to account for the Prelude'stension by viewing it as the resultof frictionbetween an imposed analyticalsymmetryand an experienced musical dynamism. 6. Despite significantvariationwhen the unitsreturn. "Form ergibt sich erst durch Wiederkehr"(Der musikalischeAufbau.however. and it is preciselythis that he seems to regardas unanalyzable.not Der musikalischeAufbau. LabeledA. Unit Structure There are only three basicformalunits in the Prelude. Nevertheless. Preludeand Transfiguration. "'Steigerung' allein machts nicht!" (Der musikalischeAufbau.3 the thirdeighth of measure21.ed. an analysisof the inner form. astonishing and.measures1-17. Translation from Bailey. Translationfrom Bailey. how- ever.) But if so.unit B ap- pears six times. 216. and for a simple reason:the degree of formalrepetitionin the Preludeis.(This distinctionwas much culti- vated by Ernst Kurth. given the time of composition. and so on." applyinghis arch only to the former. who will be discussedlater in connection with tonal structure. at best. Lorenz himself notes.216."7But he fails to take into consideration how the nature of repetition-or "return" (his word is Wiederkehr)-has been transformedin this music. completelyunprecedented. B.209.2 (B). Thus measure 17.129 on Sat.4 refersto the fourth eighth of measure17. 17. Translation from Bailey.3 (C).The distinctions they rest upon are no longer valid here.which provide most of its content.4-21. To resolve Lorenz's dilemma-to do justice both to the Prelude'sunbro- ken evolution and to its sectionalorganization-one must give up such tradi- tionally sanctioned formal dualisms as principal and secondary theme.229. CircularFormin the TristanPrelude 73 But surelyit is contrived. exposition and development.. that "form results only from repetition.though he does not use it with referenceto the TristanPrelude. complementing his remark on intensification.4 (A). he would need to provide. 17). Lorenz might have confronted this contradictionby drawinga distinction between "outer form" and "innerform. 24). they are given in Example1 in piano reduc- tion as they appearin their initial presentations. or even repetitionand contrast. Prelude and Transfiguration. the conflict in Lorenz's analysisneatlyframesthe question towardwhich the present study is directed: How can the form of the Preludebe analyzedso as to respond to the dynamic characterof the music. in addition to the outer form. confirming rather than opposing or ignoring it? As Lorenz correctlystates: "Intensificationalone doesn't do it!"6 But that is no reasonto abandonhope.8 There are in all twelve statementsof these: unit A appearsthree times complete and a fourth time fragmented. 7.ed. The concept itself remainsessential.ed.

229.- pp---=-. - -_ This content downloaded from 91.229. mm. 1-17.129 on Sat. 21 Jun 2014 22:08:04 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . I L UnitA pp P Lsf -.4 (encompassingthe "Suffering"and "Des Langsam und schmachtend. Example la Preludeto Tristanund Isolde. f-- .unit A.

uitPCmm. I PeldetoTisanun 5-323 "Lve thdim.. mm. Example Ic Preludeto Tristanund Isolde.229. o ri n .unit B.- . Example lb Preludeto Tristanund Isolde.4-21.unit C. 21 Jun 2014 22:08:04 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .2 (encompassingthe "Glance"motiv . l m Pilte" • 25 atemp (ncom-ssig "An?•. 25-32.dim. • a i I i "m~~l Unit C "x plzart Io". L .3 (encompassingthe "Love Philter"m 25 a tempo Unit W 11 iO CB.L1] W __ _L This content downloaded from 91. 17. I. mm. .229.129 on Sat.

andrhythmicstructure.plusone briefsmall-letter extension(v). 2 (x).measure numbers are rounded off.9The exceptionsarefiverelatively brief"independent" seg- mentsindicatedby smallletters.Though incomplete. need not concern us yet.e. 51-52.The principalunits thus representnot just motivicsegmentsbut fixedformalentities.Thisbecomesevident. 10.ratherthanmerelyrepeats (ortransposes). consistinglargelyof the twelveappearances of the threeprincipal units.Measures51-52 themselves.readingleft to rightandtop to bottom.if measures53-54 (unitx) areconsidered. encompassing all the Prelude'sbasicmaterial. Especiallynotable is the highly self-reflexivenatureof the process:thisis musicthatfeedsupon itself. and 81/2(w) measures.. The pitches in the figure.It is nevertheless essen- tialto distinguishthemfromthe strictrepetitions.A.dopre- servethe essentialcontentof measures31-32. 31/2(v).adheres to the sameoverallharmonic-linear progression. closingC-2).for example.229.reusingthe samestructural units againandagain.cycle1 tracesthe circle'scom- plete circumference. 21 Jun 2014 22:08:04 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . For the sake of legibility.all but two of the twelvestatementsappearuntransposed.thattheyhavelittleindividuality of theirown. the finaltwo barsof C-I."Cycle1 containsa singlestatementof allthree principalunits.while cycles 2-7 loop back and retracecontinuous portionsof it. Retainingthe circularimage.endswhereit previouslybegan. thosemeasures. plus the three larger formal groupings on the left.endstransposed. andthe two exceptions(bothB units)areonlypartial:B-3 beginstransposed but.and-with a few exceptions to be discussed--contains the samenumberof measures.they follow the originalsuccession:principal units.whileB-6 beginsuntransposed but.Most re- markable.due to aninternalsequence.The remainingsix cyclespresentpartialretracings of the first. andgrowso continuously out of them.10 9. it has a separateletterdesignationsinceit develops. with overlapping measuresnumbered twice.129 on Sat.andarevertically alignedby typeandhorizontally groupedinto seven"cycles. Figure1 givesthe layoutof allseventeenformalunitswithinthe Preludeas a whole.Thoughthisunitis clearly derivedfromthe two measuresthatprecedeit (mm.whenincluded(andthereis atleastone in eachcycle). and thusformthe finalmeasuresof C-2 ratherthana separateunit. Thus the matterof their incommen- suratelength-that is. These andmoreminormodifications of the threeprincipalunitswillbe discussedin detailasthe analysis proceeds. lastingrespectively 1 (y). B. 61/2 (z).appearin original order(A beforeB andB beforeC) andwithoutgaps(i.76 Journalof the AmericanMusicologicalSociety the underlyingmelodic. andC.whichremainsessen- tiallyunchanged:eachunitrepeatsthe motivicmaterialit hadbefore.229. Since the cycles are defined solely by the patternand directionof formalrepetitions.unitC in one).Theseareso closelytied to the units theyfollow(unitB in fourcases.they are not necessarilyarticulatedas separatearchitectonicunits. their lack of "periodicity"(which would be criticalfor Lorenz)-is largely This content downloaded from 91.tonal.v throughz. however.due to the transpositional levelchosen.C doesnot immedi- atelyfollowA). The formalunitsin Figure1 arepresentedin sequentialorder.

Indeed.Preludeto Tristanund Isolde The characterand shapeof the Preludeis not determinedby systematicre- cycling alone. opening with the "Suffering"and "Desire"motives.one of the mostdistinctlyarticulatedof the Prelude'slargerunits.229. The units' recurrences.229. appearsin four differentguises: besidethe point. however. Unit A.while structurallypreserved.4-63. This content downloaded from 91. 21 Jun 2014 22:08:04 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . the tendencytowardfour-bar in allthreeof the principal periodicity unitsfoundwithinthecycles is of considerable importance. undergo significant surface transformations.On theotherhand. CircularForm in the TristanPrelude 77 A-1 B-1 v C-1 1-17 17-21 21-24 25-32 Cycle I B-2 w C-2 x 32-36 36-44 45-52 53-54 Cycle21 I Initial B-3 Buildup 55-58 Cycle Dl B-4 y 58-62 62-63 Cycle [ A-2 B-5 z 63-74 74-76 77-83 Climactic Cycle Plateau A-3 B-6 83-94 94-100 Cycle F Dissolution A-4 100-106-1 Cycle Figure 1 Formaldiagramof unit structure.the centralintensification of measures17. overlapswithfivedifferentcycles.129 on Sat.

and phrase struc- ture is preserved. In measures83. long pauses. While the A unit is reservedfor moments of formalextremity. and added textual layers(especiallythe "Deliveranceby Death" motive in the top voice. Each time it sounds quite differentyet is easilyrecognizable. relativelysustaineddurationalvalues. initiating the Prelude's main climactic gesture.129 on Sat. they are not small-letterextensions.they are not principalunits and. though still untransposed. but now as part of the 11. 93. These insertionsserve a summarizingfunction.4.and all is set right again by the unit's end. melodic.In B's fifth appearance-again following A.but even there only afterthe first seven mea- sureshave been heard. This content downloaded from 91. as temporaryinsertions within a principalunit that is ultimatelycompleted. and final attenuation.4-94). A is truncated." 4. denouement. 89-92) and v (mm. 3. Its initialrole is to carrythe main burden of the intensificationthat begins in measure 17. climactic gesture.3.and they bring a degree of dissolutionto unit A. appearsin all but the finalcycle.4. Unit B ap- pearsfour times within this span. as if recalling materialfrom the past.the shorter. there is fasterharmonic rhythm (though the first Tristanchord is de- layed until measure66. except for the fi- nal truncation.each phrasecompressedfrom four to three mea- suresand.placedover a pedal G. In measures101-106.229. 93. extending from B's first appearanceafterthe opening A unit until A returnsat the climax. fuller orchestration and registration.with only the firsttwo sequen- tial phrasesreturning. 2. 84-85 and 87-88).6-94 and 16-17). and materialfrom w (mm.3.4 and continues to measure63. and for the firsttime elements from other formal units are inserted: the melodic opening of B. and extremelyslow harmonic rhythm allow the opening to build mo- mentum graduallytoward the more continuous. filling in the original pauses (mm. motivic compression(the initialupwardleap is missing entirely). which fills in the slow melodic figures and pauses of the first statementwith more activeand continuous surfacemotion). opening with the "Glance"motive.since.4).and the third and fourth times (which are continuous) with a crescendofrom piano to fortissimo. as fragments. mm. Unit A thus appearsat four criticalmoments with distinctformalfunctions: as introduction. included despite its truncatednature. 21 Jun 2014 22:08:04 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .4. In measures 63-74. The fragmentaryinsertionsare not included in Figure 1 since. surfacerhythm and harmonic motion return to the originalpace. each time with heavierorchestration. and from different parts of the Prelude.229. whose formal and harmonic-linearintegrityis neverthelessultimatelyconfirmed:the outer voices return to E-G# and resolve to F-A as before (cf.78 Journalof theAmerican Society Musicological 1.4-94. In measures1-17. flowing music of B at measure17.the originalunderlyingharmonic.The finalA unit (A-4) is the only exception.Only in the third of the complete A statementsis the basic structureapparentlythreatened. four-measureB unit.

registrallyand orchestrallyexpanded.3. as did the first. that pushes upwardsequentiallywith a crescendo to the next B unit (which thus must be transposedto a higher pitch level). CircularFormin the TristanPrelude 79 main climacticgesture-the intensificationcontinues.3). coincide with the openings of the B units that follow. and so interwoven.an internalse- quence that produces a modulation. appearsonly during the intensificationsection leadingtoward the climax (mm. dynamics. it plays a less central role in that process than B. 96. for example. and here the final (fourth) measureis struc- turallyaltered:the climacticupward thrust of the third measureis extended. unlike those in Classicalformal units.the music eventuallyturns back. Of the nine remaining junctures. The sixth and final B unit-like the thirdA it follows-has scoring and charactersimilar to its originalstatement. 83. Even here. One might assumethey would breakup the music into discretesegments. Though the development in unit z threatensto breakout of the Prelude'sformalconfines entirely. unit C. the unit continues as before at the new pitch level (Ex.4). Equallyim- portant is that their boundaries. as if at the last possible moment. That this does not happen stems from the nature of the units themselves.the third (transposed)B unit overlapswith its own (untransposed)repetition.3 with mm.transposedup by perfect fourth (mm. 53-54). 45-52). Scoring. the subsequent unit begins where the previousunit ended. Unlike the two other principalunits.4-96.1 (the Tristanchord in the last two barsanticipatesthe impending returnof the opening music). but partiallyrepeatsthe final melodic gesture (comparemm. 94.First.Of the sixteenjuncturesseparatingthe unitsin Figure1.their motivic and harmoniccontents are so similar. and the fifth B overlapswith z. its small-letter extension.does not lead directlyto unit B.229. and the openings of A-2 and A-3 coincide with the closings of the y and z units that precede them.and registrationare furtherexpanded. Similarly. all but two also overlap harmonically and melodically. All three closings of the complete A units.3. 25- 32. 51-52) before giving way to a two- measureextension. however.though not metrically:that is. dis- rupting its forwardflow.129 on Sat.encompassingunit z (mm. Of particularinterestis the way in which the many. that they seem to merge into a single process. ongoing qualityof the Prelude. But it undergoes a criticalalteration. it too con- tributes:its second appearance.3).229. Example2 shows this interruptedB unit plus the firstfour barsof the z extension. seven are bridged by structural(metrical)overlaps.4-63).4-98. are largelyindistinct. 31-32. the unit appearsin its entirety:afterthe firsttwo measuresare repeated. 17. with identicalouter-voicepitches. 3). which opens with the "Love Philter"motive. unit x (mm.relativelybrief units in Figure 1 are reconciledwith the continuous. 77-83. deflectingthe tonal directionand allowingthe climaxto spin out for seven ad- ditionalmeasures.the closing of one unit be- ing elided with the opening of the next. but on the This content downloaded from 91. to measure 81. 21 Jun 2014 22:08:04 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Although. for the third appearanceof A (m. limited to two statements (mm.

1 B-5 moltoespress.129 on Sat.229.--- sempre f This content downloaded from 91.Example 2 Preludeto Tristanund Isolde. I 74 6 76 .mm. 21 Jun 2014 22:08:04 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .229. 74-81.

229.129 on Sat. 21 Jun 2014 22:08:04 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .229.Example2 continued z I" piirf This content downloaded from 91.

mm. log This content downloaded from 91.129 on Sat.3 (sequentialextension of the sixth B unit) B-6 Smm.Example 3 Preludeto Tristanund Isolde.229. 94.229.4-100. 21 Jun 2014 22:08:04 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . 1-2 I pcresc.mm. 1-2 I mm. )* I----.

3. 103. This content downloaded from 91.moreover.3.The connectionis especiallystrongwhen the newunitbeginswitha sequentialextensionof the end of the previousone.Sincethereis no breakin surfacerhythm. The sole exceptionto thispervasive pitchoverlapping is the final fragmentary A unit.andmotivicfactors.3).3 with 106. the uppernote of the ris- ing sixth)andG is retainedin the bass.not hidden.bassvoice.Despitethis.or listens.rhythmic. Butevenherethejoinis unusually close.wherethe rhythm.4-110). The Prelude'snumerousrepetitionsare.6). butwiththe uppervoicesnow gone. 100. they sound as much like continuationsas returns--likelinksin a chain.61.in addition. 12.Yettheyarealsore- markably attenuated.sinceAbis retainedfromaninnervoice(asis F. 106..not onlybecausetheirboundaries areso weaklydefined by harmonic. Lorenzincluded. 22. Tonal Structure The continuousnatureof the Prelude'sformanditscyclicconstructioncanbe fullygraspedonly in relationshipto its tonal organization.takethe tonicto be A minor(or major/minor).242-67.12 Whilethis seemscorrect.4-21.forthem.andsec- ond half of the top voice of B's closing figureare twice sequenced(mm.but becausetheyareapproached by music that seems to be constantlypressingforward. Part of this analysisis reprintedin Bailey.3). theyhavelittleof the qualityof "rebe- ginning"associatedwith Classicalreturns. andareeasilyrecognizedif one looks.whichextends the previousG (comparemm. Andthereis still a motivicconnectionwiththe Prelude:the G is prolongedby an arpeggiated Tristanchord. or wheny followsB-4 (mm.thesejoinsarevirtu- allyas seamlessas the others.4-22.the repetitionsaremanifest.In particular. the drivingforcebehindthatevolu- tionbeingcyclicrenewal.4). as happenswhenv followsthe firstB unit.Overlapping stilloccurs. 21.the firstphrasenow closes on B?(m.sincethey emergeseam- lesslyfromwhat precedesthem. it is confinedto the bass."MusicForum 1 (1967): 162-203.4-62. Mitchell'sSchenkerianlinearanalysis in "The TristanPrelude:Techniques and Structure.whichremainsat its originaltransposition.2). ThisfinalA unit is followedby a purelymonophonicunit not strictlybe- longingto the Prelude(andthusnot includedin Figure1).229. Of particularinterestin this connection is WilliamJ.129 on Sat.Indeed.thereis nevertheless onlyone authenticcadencein A (major). sinceits opening coincideswith the raisingof the curtain(m.3. 62. whichendedthe previousunit(m.229.fundamentally unlike traditionalformalrepeats. whose openingrisingsixthstartson AbratherthanB . CircularForm in the TristanPrelude 83 followingbeat.ed.Most analysts. an eventmarkedby the most radicaltexturalshiftsincethe Preludeopened.4-63. 105-106. 21 Jun 2014 22:08:04 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Preludeand Transfiguration.4-23. 20.allowingthe musicto circlebackon itselfwith- out breakin continuity.The form of the Preludeis thusconsistentlyevolutionary.

ed."'3And his choice of E major and D minor as secondary keys symmetricallydisposed aroundthe tonic A is responsiveto his perceptionof "an unfolding of tonality which spreadsout in undulationsof increasingdistance on both sides of the line of the main tonality".and dominant E major(I-III-V). 325.229. they will necessarilybe ephemeral. single out two additionalkeys...4-35. RomantischeHarmonik. C major and E major. Preludeand Transfiguration.201. reprint.und Herkreisenin die beiden dominantischenRegionen erfolgt jedesmal.und Herkreisen"is especiallysuggestive). How.indistinctness.E major. 203.. then.suggests D minor rather than C major as one of two secondarykeys. Hildesheim: Georg Olms Verlag. this an- ticipates features of the tonal perspective that will be taken here (Kurth's "Hin. "Daher scheint auf den ersten Blick . "Prinzip eines Ausschwingens ganzer breiterer Partienzu dominantischerund subdominantischerRegion".3 and 30. controlling measures20..lackof coordinationwith the overallform. 325. diese Abschweifungenviel schnellerwechseln als in ausgeglicheneren. in addition to E major. mediant C major.and D minor all have their moments).who.." even remarkingthat here "tonality at first sight seems replacedby a construct of chaotic chord progressions.ed.ohne dasszwischendurchzur Haupttonart selbst zurtickgekehrtwiirde" (Kurth."'4In generaloutline. 21 Jun 2014 22:08:04 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions ..provide a traditionalA-major/minor complex: tonic A.even in such an innovativemanner.yet. 35. Translationfrom Bailey. Many. while both of these keys appearprominently.84 Journalof theAmerican Society Musicological and it sounds more like a tonicizationof IV in E majorthan a realtonic arrival (m.An additionaldifficultyis that these three keys. 202. Kurth is neverthelesson the right track. especially. without returnto the main tonalityin between.Kurthis unable to resolve a criticalproblem facing any analystof this music:whateversecondarykeys are chosen (and C major. die Tonalitit dem Bild chaotischer Klangfolgen zu weichen" (Ernst Kurth.129 on Sat.3.229. and of a "circlingback and forth . 32.Kurth recognizes C's importancein these measures. 24).4) and despite CO's relativelyextended prolongation as root of a tonicized triad(mm.1).201.he recognizes that the Prelude'stonal "digressionsalternatemuch more quicklythan in the more regular. 13.of "an oscillationof entire long passagesbetween dominant and subdominant regions". This content downloaded from 91. 1923. 324.3-22. ". taken collectively.balanced Classicalstyle. the latteris problematicin that two-thirds of it consists of the second B unit (as it is designatedhere). But whereas the former passage (only two measureslong) is unquestionablyframedaround D. 14.for all are characterizedby transience. In particular.4-36. 325).stetigen klas- sischen Stil". "Schon das Hin. Translationfrom Bailey.die in WellenschwingungengesteigerterEntfernungbeiderseits von der Linie der Haupttonart ausschligt". 1985]. Romantische Harmonik und ihre Krise in Wagners "Tristan"[Berlin: Max Hesses Verlag. does one reconcile the widely recognized tonal ambiguity of the music with this seeminglystraightforwardconfiguration? An interestingalternativeis offered by Ernst Kurth. Preludeand Transfiguration. "Eine Tonartsentfaltung.neither is con- firmed for more than very brief stretches. a segment almost entirely oriented toward C major.-.also includingLorenz. another distinguished Wagnercommentator. and.but he interpretsit as VII of D minor--despite the absence of the leading-tone C# until just before the segment ends (m.. 326). But by clinging to standard tonal functions.

until the unit's end (mm. This content downloaded from 91. marksthe point at which the music breaksaway. on or just below the sur- face.229.appearsat measure 17. only laterin the unit: at measure 16.16 15. which is never altered):D[ for D in D-F. and the stepwise linearspans they project (many of which are evident in the Mitchell analysiscited in note 12 above). are defined by implicationratherthan overt statement.including the nature of keys-how they are de- fined.15Grantingthese registraland diatonicvariations. 16. 83-84).and they appearin an "idealized. all alterationsare immediatelypreceded by the unalteredpitch. It consists of a continuous series of parallelthirds defined by the opening and closing pitch configurationsframingeach unit (indicatedbeneath each unit designa- tion in the figure. is also notable. In the bassvoice.) These thirds apply only to the outer voices (innervoices vary considerably). E-G# does appearon the surface. B's closing D-F at measure 21. 21 Jun 2014 22:08:04 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . with the intervalreduced to its closest registralposition). is-while true enough--in- sufficient.with half and deceptive cadences substitutingfor full ones. whatever they may be.6).however. its closing F-A at measure32. These thirds. CircularFormin the TristanPrelude 85 How can one get around this impasse?Simply to note that keys. if one examinesthe Prelude'stonalityfrom the standpointof the unit structure displayedthere.What is needed is a funda- mentally different approachto the question of tonality in the Prelude. the surfaceE-G# againdelayed. introduced as the Prelude closes at measure100.prolonged versionreturnsat the beginning of A-3 (mm. moreover. If we begin by examiningthe music's outer voices in relationto Figure l's formal units. we discover a repeating. It representsa reduction of the outer-voice motion projectedby the famous two-chord successionof the firstthree measures(Ex.2.(A fifth third. Abfor A in F-A. control all tonal motion in the Prelude.The outer-voiceF-A that closes the firstA section (and overlapswith the opening of the firstB). Remarkably. the following C's opening A-C# at measure25. The E-G# third is the all-importantexception. Indeed. The degree to which third relationsbetween the outer voices. and so forth. for example.breakingoff only as it concludes.like the formalunits themselves."dia- tonic form in Figure 1.The original. When the A unit returnsat the climax (m. the way they interact. and such an approachis suggested by the formalstructurediagrammedin Figure 1. immediatelybefore the closing F-A third in measure 17. F# for F in D-F and F-A. including much that occurs between the nodal points given in Figure 1.1.all but one of the four thirds (again E-G#) alwaysappearon the musicalsurfaceand are easilylocated and heard. 4).229. self-enclosed harmonic-linearprogres- sion that spansthe entire Prelude.and the role they performwithin the whole.moving toward the key of the first scene of the opera. which recur repeatedly.as in A-1.as it provideslittle positive explanation. 93. whereas in the score one member of each pitch pair may be representedby its chromaticalteration(except the E-G# third. a new and revealing light is cast upon the whole matter of pitch organization.6.129 on Sat.E-G# is stated explicitlyat the beginning (so that the first Tristanchord now func- tions as a neighbor chord to the dominant ratherthan an appoggiatura). 63). contribute greatlyto the remarkableconsistencyof contrapuntalmotion.4. and A# for A in A-C#.2.there are only four different thirds.

each type is framed by the same two pitch-pairs:all complete A units by E-G# and F-A. This is particu- larlyevident in units v and w. 21 Jun 2014 22:08:04 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . A special case is presented by the climactic B-5. markingthe point at which the music moves out of the Prelude'stonal confines.86 Journal of the American Musicological Society Example 4 Preludeto Tristanund Isolde. is confined to a recurringprogressionlimited to only three of the This content downloaded from 91. with B?substitutingfor Bb). which re- orders the total pitch content of Figure 1 in continuous succession (left-to- right). unlike other units. The five small-letterunits also preservethe system of thirds. they neverthelessprovide essentialcomponents of the system. Of particularinterest are measures 17-62. and three of the five complete B units by F-A and D-F. which begins normally. beginning immediately following the more hesitantmusic of the firstA unit (and set off by barlines in the figure).129 on Sat. As a con- sequence. a notable transpositionlevel in that it uniquely preservesthe system of four thirds.229.ends a perfect fourth higher. with F-A. B-5 has no closing third and the following z no opening third. It also enables B to linkwith its own untransposedrepetition. the final B (B-6). but. begins untrans- posed but.harmonicreductionof mm. as noted.transferringto B the framingintervalsotherwise associ- ated with C: A-C# (with A# substitutingfor AO)and F-A. since this uniquely joins the two. 81-83. The z unit that follows also avoidsclosing on D-F. It is neverthelesssignificantthat. both C units by A-C# and F-A. from where it leads to E-G# and the returnof unit A (mm. sequenced internally. ending in- stead on B's opening F-A third (mm. The second exception.allowingfor the two consecutiveB's in cycles 3 and 4. 1-3 d"S Since. with Ab substituting for A). on G-B instead of D-F (m. contributingto the uninterrupted. 83-84). in both caseslinkinga B unit (ending D-F) to a C unit (beginningA-C#).This produces the firstthird not in the originalsystemof four. with each unit indicated by only one third (since each closing third is alwaysthe same as the next opening one).is deflectedawayfrom its closing D-F. due to the alterationof its finalmeasure. the system of four thirds is preserved. which provide the main buildup toward the climacticreturn of unit A at measure 63. both of which move from D-F to A-C#.propulsivecharacterof the extended climacticgesture (cycle 5).even at the Prelude's most centrifugalmoment. Of the exceptions. B-3 is transposedup by major third. all but two of the twelve principalformalunits remainun- transposed. The overall progression of thirds can be surveyed in Figure 2.229. 100.Though none traces the same tonal motion within the thirds as one of the principalunits. This extensive intensifying segment.

229.129 on Sat.229.Preludeto Tristanund Isolde This content downloaded from 91. 21 Jun 2014 22:08:04 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .Unit: A-1 B-1 v C-1 B-2 w C-2 x B-3 B-4 y A- Measure: 1 17 21 25 32 36 45 53 55 58 62 63 Figure 2 Sequentialdiagramof unit structure.

This brings us back to questions of key and to the role of the E-G# third.1). and D-F. after which the normal direction resumes. with D# added when C-2 begins. F-A.229. The first. from V of C# minor. The third A-C# (mm. where unit x reversesdirection. is also associatedwith an A chord.1).88 Journal of the American Musicological Society four thirds:A-C#. and the A-C# chord is both approachedand left within a well-defined E-majorcon- text. 44.measures 17-62 should not be viewed as tonal at all. 21 Jun 2014 22:08:04 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . so that the tonal motion keeps circling back to A-C#. going over what has alreadybeen traversed:tonality and form are inextricably conjoined. These are ordered. This is indicatedin the figure by arrows.which ends unit v and begins unit C-1 (mm. not one of the three A-C# thirdsis linked to a well-definedtonic.5-25. where a new cycle begins.6-55.17 The choice of A-C# as the primary tonal node is determined by the A-major/minor tonal orientation of the Prelude as a whole. Though it is no coincidence that the key of A is representedby A-C# in that system.229. and E). since the latterincorporatesE-G# as well.the Consolation No. taken independently. reflectingits dual function as both beginning and ending of a revolution. 3).arrangedin a cyclic pattern that renews itself with every A-C#. This content downloaded from 91. It is worthmentioningin thisconnectionthatthe segment'scircular pitchsystemcomes closeto beingstrictlysymmetrical-andthus emphatically nontonal--withintwelve-tonepitch space. associ- 17. 54.thereis symmetrical octavedivisionby majorthird. the "MagicSleep"motivefromthe Ring desNibelungen) andespeciallyLiszt(forexample. The second A-C#.In any trulycircularsystem.The sole exception occurs at measure 53. the F-A third and D-F third offer equally valid turning points. C.with each A-C# third given in two octaves. This raisesan importantmatter.If D6replacesD (analteration thatdoesoccurin the Prelude).the point of renewalis arbitrary. but an inner-voiceD# is immediatelyadded when C-1 begins. Tonallyas well as formally. at least as defined by the standardfunctions of the major-minorkey sys- tem: unlike the three main key areasnormallydesignatedfor the Prelude (A. Indeed.the Prelude thus turns back on itself. Of the three keys making up the A-major/minor complex (A.129 on Sat.4- 45.so that if one consid- ers only measures 17-62 (diagrammed between the first two bar lines in Figure 2). and the A-C# chord is again surrounded by E major. which closes unit w and begins C-2 (mm. During this extensivespan all points of formaljunctureare thus associatedwith three recurringconfigurations. C. 24. The circularpitch system of measures17-62 is of course closely relatedto the circularformalsystem diagrammedin Figure 1.1).andallothersubstitutions are avoided. moving from F-A backto A-C#. but they are not identical.includingWagnerhimself(for example. does first ap- pear as an A-majorchord preceded by its dominant (the Prelude'sonly full ca- dence). none is strongly de- fined by the circular third system of this central intensification segment. and E). but it is approacheddeceptively.a not uncommonfeaturein the musicof certainnineteenth-century composers. moreover. its tonal contents-or what might be calledits "cadentialnodes"- do not collectivelyform a normalfunctionalcomplex.

129 on Sat. the key ofA major/minor remains a potential but never fullyrealizedtonic. converting F-A to a functional submediant-or more specifically. This is avoideduntil measure 62. B is developed and extended by unit z. Once the circularsystem starts at measure 17. avoiding a formallysignificant V-I progression. and the only third never alteredby chromaticsubstitution.where unit y sequencesthe D-F third (F raisedto F#) that closes unit B up by whole step. D-F and F-A.and where there is no A triadat all.229. This means that the establishmentof A must depend primarilyupon unit A and its E-G# third. and three of the five small-letterunits are distributed around a circle. which eventuallyreturnsthrough F-A to E-G# (mm.unit A projects a relativelyclear prolongation of the dominant seventh of A minor. This tonal feature has been much analyzed (see for example Mitchell. have the potential of becoming dominant preparationsto E-G# in the key of A. Since A-C# (as tonic) is thus never brought into di- rect relationshipwith E-G# (as dominant). and 94. B). the only way to return to E-G# and unit A is by breakingout of it-a possibilityafforded by the fact that two of the circularthirds. 18. 74). the three cyclicalthirds associatedwith units B. It will suffice to say here that the goal tones in the bass of the first three sequential phrases(all of which are roots of dominant seventh chords) outline an E-minor triad (E. The Prelude's tonic is thus only weakly asserted during this intensifying segment. all move deceptivelyto F-A. C. ap- pears in conjunction with a sequentiallyrising bass line. CircularFormin the TristanPrelude 89 ated with the end of x and the beginning of the third (transposed)B unit. "The Tristan Prelude"). 74.breachingthe system entirely(cycle 6). 83-84).afterE-G# moves againto F-A (m.229. E-G# moves only to F-A (VI of A). In order to displaythe complex interactionbetween cyclic system and functionaldominant. it will at times also be referredto as such. the only unit not in the circularsystemof measures 17-62. The arrowspointing toward it. and it is this that largelyaccountsfor A as a functionallydefined tonic. G. Figure 3 offers a summary graphicrepresentationof these tonal relation- ships.to a "deviant"augmented sixth chord (with Absubstitutingfor At) formed by the respelled Tristanchord at the end of cycle 5. none resolvesdirectly to one of them. Following the third and finalmove to F-A at measure94.18(Since the E-G# third is alwaysassociatedwith dominant function. Similarly. and that the final B dominant returnsto V7 on E. with the functional dominant placed in the center where it can move to or from any of the circularcomponents. converting it from a circularlink into a functional subdominant(cycle4). which resolves deceptivelyto VI as the unit closes. As indicated by the straight-linearrow pointing awayfrom the center. where the pitch A is treated as a passingmoment within a largersequentialprogression.) Though part of the key-defining effect of these dominants no doubt depends on their rela- tionship to the three A-C# thirdsin the circularsystem. the B unit is altered. 21 Jun 2014 22:08:04 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .In all three of its complete appearances. doing so on three occasions:measures17. This content downloaded from 91. however. however.

21 Jun 2014 22:08:04 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . and A-4.229. Unit x. The Prelude thus contains three extended dominant prolongations. that it nearlybreaksout of the system's tonal bounds entirely).providingthe D-F to A-C# move that forms part of the regularrotation. each moving deceptivelyto F-A and unit B. The principalformalunits are not distinguishedby number in Figure 3 ex- cept for the two that occupy "abnormal"positions in the system: the trans- posed B-3.229. since both carry the motion back to the dominant. however.units v and w share one of the positions on the circle'scircumference. eventually moving back to the dominant. at location B. unit B. Finally. placed outside the circle to the right of B. And the This content downloaded from 91.129 on Sat. unit x reversesthe direction. as noted. is also on the circle. The cyclic motion progressesclockwise with a single exception: at measures 53-54. failsto progressbeyond its opening F-A (we shall see. since it prolongs the nonsystemic G-B to which B-6 has modulated (repre- sented by an arrowleading awayfrom the circle). whose circularmotion (A-C# to F-A) it assumes at measure 55. and units y and z are on lines pointing toward the center. But the systemis exploited fullyonly the firsttime this occurs. On the second (climactic)occasion. but runs "backward"to A-C#. from the v/w and B locations respectively.Preludeto Tristanund Isolde indicatethat E-G# is approachedboth from D-F (IV of A) at measure63 and from F-A (VI of A) at measure 84. re- turning to A-C# for the third (transposed)B unit. and thus potentiallyinto the circular system. extended by z.90 Journalof the AmericanMusicologicalSociety B-3 C 6 A-4 V/W Figure 3 Circulardiagramof unit structure. located next to unit C.

32. it should be noted. after settling initiallyinto C major. This does much to explain the oddly tonal.19 The particularrole of the two secondarykeys. There is a sort of paradoxhere. the last two] are the only principalformalunits that end on a dominant.4-20.4-100. afterwhich it gives way to D minor as the unit closes (mm.1. leaving the Prelude'sA tonalityunresolved. The second of these.4-35. reaching that key with the unit's terminating F-A thirdin measure32.For example.1-58. preservesnot only the system 19.But the Prelude. it closes in C as well.2). in this as in so many respects.4.this unit and unit A-4 [i.229. This content downloaded from 91. but it then begins working its way toward D minor at measure 29. moreover. and 58.It is also notable that the only transpositionof unit B.when the deceptivelyintro- duced F-majorchord that opens the firstB unit (m.In each. the final B. with a half cadence on G.129 on Sat. in- stead of being defined primarilyby dominant and tonic motion at the begin- ning and ending of formal units.4-21. Unlike unit C.1.not at the boundaries them- selves.the key holds only until measure 20. and E majorto unit C (which means that each of the three main keys is associatedwith one of the three principalformalunits).229.1) that settles immediately and comfortablyinto E major. 25. Indeed. are exclusivelyestablishedwithin the outer boundariesof the units in which they appear. and E majorin measures22. but resultsfrom a transformationof the only unit with which the key has been associated. from the perspectiveof Figures 1-3. C and E would seem to carry little tonal-formalweight.as the music slipspast them on its way to the next formaljuncture. can now be better understood. 21 Jun 2014 22:08:04 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .4-62.beginning with the firstunit and ending with the seventeenth. 17) is reinterpretedwithin a C-major framework.) The final move toward C (now minor) is thus not just anticipatedby that key's prominent role in the Prelude. 20.3 (B-6). in measures55.e. since the circularthird systemof measures17-62 is not itself functionallytonal (as noted).2. Figures 1. all representthe same tonal/formal structure. unit B occurs twice after measures 17. One hearsboth C majorand E majoras promi- nent keys. but the lack of coordination between these areasand the terminal harmoniesof the formalunits gives them a "disembodied"quality:they are al- ways being abandoned-or skirted-in midair.C-1 opens with a D# half-diminishedseventh chord (m. It is not that they areunimportant.1. only viewed from differentperspectives. C major and E major. contradictsClassicalprecedent:these keys.4-28 and 45-48. not-quite-tonal qualityof the centralbuildup (mm. in measures 74-76 (B-5) and 94. it is possible to "read through" the entire form and tonal progression. differs from its predecessorsin that.4-61. Similarly. nor do the three thirdsof that system stronglysupport either C or E. 2.. CircularFormin the TristanPrelude 91 third time the B unit modulates to the dominant of C minor. (Remarkably. 17-62).3. The two secondarykeys arethus primarilyin evi- dence (E exclusivelyso) during the long buildup between the firstand second statementsof A: C majorin measures17. C majoris linked to unit B. and 3.

21. initial buildup.one of the weaknessesof WilliamMitchell's analysis(see note 12 above) is.risingsequences. can be more readilygrasped. The in- 20. and forms a recurringpart of the whole.ed. 36. Yet to call the firstA simplyan "introduction"(as is some- times done)21 is misleading.229. in my view.129 on Sat. Similarly. 21.4. and dominantprolongation. hierbei kann man bald erkennen. As for D minor. does not form an undifferentiatedcontinuum. Unit A-1 has something of an introductorycharacter due to its fragmentedphrasing. I have substi- tuted "a certainregularity"for "the definite regularity"in Bailey'stranslation). This content downloaded from 91. where the rhythmicsurfacebe- comes continuous."ZeitschriftfiirMusikwissenschaft 3 (1921): 257-304.But D minor. it is no sooner establishedthan abandoned. 21 Jun 2014 22:08:04 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .wie mit einer gewissen Regelmhissigkeit einfache dominantischeund subdo- minantischeAbschweifungenauf kurze Streckenmit einanderabwechseln"(Kurth. . 53.In broadest outlines.) With this in mind. and it leads to a definite shift at measure17. Romantische Harmonik. though it persiststhroughout the rest of cycle 1 and all of cycles 2-4.20 Overall Shape The ambiguities and conflicts inherent in the relationshipof the A-major/ minor tonality and the circularsystem of thirds help illuminatethe Prelude's larger tonal-formal trajectory. the motion beginning at B-1. but ultimatelycarriesthe music backto the dominant. presents its main motivic elements. The first. The transientnatureof D (and to a lesserextent also E) callsinto question Kurth'sremark that one recognizes "a certain regularitywith which simple dominant and subdominantdigres- sions alternatewith each other" (in Bailey. its elevation of D minor to a controlling Stufefor extended prolongational spans. it too has undeniable tonal significance.runs from the opening to the climacticreturn of the A unit in cycle 5.92 Journalof theAmerican Musicological Society of thirds but also the complex of three keys: unit B's usual C-major focus is here replacedby E major.199. the Prelude consists of three extended dominant prolongations associatedwith unit A.the second continues the climacticthrust. the three main formal stages indicated at the left of Figure 1. For example by SiegfriedAnheisser in "Das Vorspiel zu Tristan und Isolde und seine Motivik.It is well representedin the system of thirds-by the D-F goal of three of the six B units. each of which begins with a complete A unit (and thus also a domi- nant prolongation)..".229. for the unit not only produces considerable intensificationitself but establishesthe Prelude's main key. Preludeand Transfiguration. 32. 322-23).not F-majortriad). and by the F-A goal of both C units (where F-A is treatedas part of a tonicized D-minor triad. is even more ephemeralthan E majorand C ma- jor: in all of its five appearances(mm. Ernst Kurth'sother secondarykey. as alreadysuggested. and 62). each giving way to a B unit appearingin a different tonal-formalsituation:the first ini- tiates the long cyclicintensification. (There is no B unit following the truncated fourth A.and the third leads be- yond the Prelude's tonal orbit.. At the same time.

are their designations entirely adequate.followed by a rela- tively brief denouement. In the following B unit (B-6).22 The third stage.producing a surge of energy as the climaxapproaches. carryingthe music to its greatestintensity. Here A again has its originaltexture and slower rhythmbut is alteredthrough insertionsof melodic fragmentsfrom B and the more hesitantmusic of w. preserve the fragmentedphrase structure heardin the previousA (especiallyin the insertdrawnfrom unit w). and the dissolution brings not only liquidation but a renewed effort- thwarted. as does the dissolution that follows (A-3). which.The latter.motivic. 21 Jun 2014 22:08:04 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . as we have seen. CircularFormin the TristanPrelude 93 tensificationis temporarilyinterruptedby the more hesitant and fragmented music of unit w in cycle 2 (especiallymm.It is againfollowed. comprises the first return of unit A through the remainderof cycle 5.moreover. lending cycle 6 a previouslyunmatched qualityof rhythmic. as in its firstappearance. reformulatingthe principleof sectionalreturn. The initial buildup not only begins with a more introductorysegment (A-1) but contains a segment of relativerelaxation(unit w. culminatingthe previous buildup. The Prelude thus projects a structurethat. and it accelerateswith the double statement of unit B in cycles 3-4.dynamics. This links units A and B together in a new way. and orchestralliquidation. It is this featurethat the largergroupings in Figure 1 are intended to clarify. climacticplateau. shiftsin registerand orchestrationset off the firsttwo one-measuresubphrases. which is this time extended by z. plus the firstpart of C-2) that appearsshortlybe- fore the final surge toward the climacticplateau. Here A. dissolution.and registrallyex- tended "Deliveranceby Death" motive. comparableto those in a Classicalsonata movement. Yet when units recur. This content downloaded from 91. The climacticreturnof A is not only transformed by fullertexture.The factthatthe firstTristanchordis now a neighborto the dominant.which.229. since all consist primarilyof repeti- tions of formal units from the first cycle.produces a profile quite common in nineteenth-centurymu- sic: an extended intensificationleading to a point of climax. Of course "intensificationalone doesn't do it.consists of the return of unit A in cycle 6 through cycle 7 to the end.despitethe formal identity.which persistsin cycle 7 when the truncatedA-4 bringsthe processto an end. they assume significantlydifferent formal meanings.to be sure-to build up intensityagain.rhythmicallyactive.the three segments are not clearlydistinguished by content.229.by B. nor. tightening the circle. The second formal stage. Clearlythese three groupings do not representcompletely distinct formal functions.radicallyalterstheflavorof A-2. Finally. along with the modulating internal sequence. adopts the unbroken rhythmicmo- tion of the immediately preceding music.129 on Sat." as 22.4-42. seems to shift the music into a higher gear. now crowned by the dramatic. begins with a "reprise"of unit A (A-2).3).andthe "Deliveranceby Death"motive. as reflected in the surface variations they undergo in their new locations. 36. maintaining-and increasing-its intensification.alongwith the extensivetransformations of the "Suffering" motiverelatedto this (theopeningupwardleapis omittedentirely).

as separateformalentities. it alreadyrecallsthe opening measuresof A. to measure 83.4).under normal analyti- cal assumptions. 21 Jun 2014 22:08:04 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . by a segment that opens up the previouslyconstrictedtonal-formalframe and drivesthe music toward its point of maximum intensity. returningto the Prelude'snormalframe. 81. and thus accordedvalue.94 Journal of the American Musicological Society Lorenz says.the effect seems catastrophicallysudden. In this connection it is helpful to keep in mind that the units in Figure l's formal network are not. 83). beginning cycle 6-warrants specialconsiderationin relationto the over- all form.The passage. near the end of cycle 5. they are insufficientlymarkedto be considered. 23. taken individually.workingfroma thematicperspective. threatening a continuation that.their boundariesarenot well defined. This may explainwhy the unit structureof Figure 1 has not attractednotice. When the Tristanchord eventuallyresolvesbackto V of A at the beginning of cycle 6. reprintedin Bailey. on the other the subsequentdissolution. farfrom contradictingthe music'sdynamiccontour. but except for unit A.ed. Though it precedes the second returnof unit A. The moment is in all respects extraordinary. and since each closes at a differenttonal location from its beginning. plus the subsequent chromatic descent to D.its reassimilationgives rise to a gesture of unparalleledboldness: an instantaneouscollapse in intensity. 267-81.initiallyat measure 80 and then repeatedon the three following downbeats (only the repeatsplace AL- respelled G#-in its original top-voice position).In additionto overlapping. and the rising chromatic third G# to B.4 and 82. as it is a moment of such unique consequence that it seems to split the music almost in two: on one side the initialbuildup and climacticplateau. Twice it moves to the dominant of E6 (mm. The climacticanticipationsof the Tristanchord are combined with returns of the Prelude'stwo opening melodic gestures:the rising-sixthmotive. it must interactwith its neighbors to achieveany measureof stabilityor func- tional definition.. would sunder the Prelude'stonal bonds entirely.which forms the closing measuresof unit z. and it assumesa new functionalmeaning here: as ii07 of E6 minor. with A6 substitutingfor A?.or even fullycomprehensible. This produces enormous tension. textural density.129 on Sat. significantlycontributesto it. is preceded by B-5 and the development and extension of B's materialin the initial measuresof z-that is. providesa graphiclayoutof leit- motifappearances in the Preludethatin somerespects--though not in manyothers-resembles Figure1. if carried through.229. This content downloaded from 91. Preludeand Transfiguration. One briefpassage-from measure80.underminingboth the A tonalityand the com- plex of thirds. First the Tristanchord reappears. thankslargelyto a formalarrangementthat. steady buildup. beyond anything else in the Prelude. See his "Leitmotive andFormin the TristanPrelude.distinct or self-contained.23The units are not at all difficultto recognize."TheMusicReview36 (1975): 42-53. This is the chord's only ap- pearanceoutside unit A. After the long. and instrumental force (m. with G# respelled as Aband B raised to C.229.But Wagnergives the Preludea distinctshape. RolandJackson.

Also of interestis that this top-voice configurationprovidesa direct link to unit B. The Tristanchord and its associatedmelodic material.) Coordinatedwith the three chord repetitions.retainedacrossthis cataclysm.24discussionwill be limited to a few instances that contribute especiallyto larger continuity. not just by sequencing it but by carryingon its top-voice con- figuration(Ex. CircularFormin the TristanPrelude 95 (These alterationsare the minimum necessaryto accommodatethe new tonal context.provide an extended overlap between cycle 5 and cycle 6.229. 80. 21 Jun 2014 22:08:04 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .3). linking the high point with the nadir and bridging the Prelude's sole formal- expressive schism. As often noted. filling in g#' to b'. This allows the rising stepwisefigure to initiatesubphrasesat the end of A. 24. A relatedfactoris that each new phrasetakesup the same notes outlined in the top voice of the previous one. A remarkablydetailed motivic analysisappearedas earlyas the first decade of the twenti- eth century: Karl Grunsky. none other begins to compete with this one in length or complexity. two well- known relationshipscan be mentioned: (1) the complete A unit develops out of sequentialextensions (and eventualfragmentation)of materialpresentedin the firstthree measures.229. 81. The use of such transformationsof form/motive relationshipsin one section to providelinksto the next is promi- nent throughout the Prelude.It rankswith the most genial expressionsof Wagner's"artof transition.Since motivic mattershave been widely examined. 5). and as outlined in Example6.3. is it evident that unit A has returned.and (2) the risingchromaticoboe line that accompa- nies the Tristanchord and its resolution in measures2-3. so that each seems to emerge from the preceding one. of the open- ing leap (a). anticipatingB. This content downloaded from 91. coinciding with the risingline's "correc- tion" to G#-B. This connection is rendered more immediate by the omission. transposesand invertsthe descendingcello line that fillsin f' to d' in measures 1-3. as if fran- ticallysearchingfor release.129 on Sat.Only with the registralcollapseaccompanyingthe resolution of the Tristanchord to V. and 82. Though overlaps occur throughout the Prelude. begin- ning alreadyin the A unit with the fragmentationin measure 12."' Richard Wagner-Jabrbuch 2 (1907): 207-84. the motivic gestures appearthree times in stretto (beginning mm. "Vorspielund der erste Akt von 'Tristan und Isolde. First.3.despite the dramaticdrop in register(providingspacefor the long expansionto come) and the more diatonic tonal context. the principalmotive of B is a free inversionof A. with its two main components-the leap of a sixth or seventh (labeledhere as a) and a filled-inminor third (labeled b)--in reversed order." Motivic Features An additionalfactor contributing to the interdependenceof formal units in Figure 1 is their extremelyclose thematic and motivic interconnections. which thus sounds much like a continuation.

1-3 ram.4) through b'. returnsto A at measure63. and there are also close pitch-classcorrespondenceswith B (Ex.su- perimposed upon its falling thirds. 7b). m.229. But the tonal motion from I to IV is immediatelynegated when the top line falls back in a single leap. supported by viiO of E major (m. 7a). A more subtle and extended motivic connection linking unit C to the mu- sic immediately preceding it stems from the fact that its first two melodic pitches.229.relationof the principalmotives of units A and B Ab IB b I a v [" a' Just as the main motive of unit B is a transformationof A-material. the fifth of E's resolving tonic (converted to V of IV. 4-7 ram. c#"-d#'. 24.when B-5. c#"-d#' (m.the C unit is thus connected seamlesslywith what preceded. 23. again supported by viiO of E major (m. Here the dif- ference is primarilya matter of rearrangement:the falling leap precedes the stepwise third in measure25 (alreadyanticipatedin invertedform in measure 20).3) to c#"as the third of IV (m. 25) are outlined in the previoustwo bars (mm.5). 21 Jun 2014 22:08:04 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Finally. the top voice in measures23-24 ascendsfrom d#'. Despite the dramaticrallentandoand crescendoto forte as the harmonymoves to A major. the fallingseventh they outline is found in both B and C. 23-24). 25). and back into E major.pitch retentionslinkingthe firsttwo phrases m _ mm - mm. 8-10 Example 6 Preludeto Tristanund Isolde. As sketchedin Example8.96 Journal of the American Musicological Society Example 5 Preludeto Tristanund Isolde.the main motive of C is a transformationof B-material(see Ex. its rhythmis carriedover (with slight modification at the end) into the "Deliveranceby Death" motive in the upper strings. followed by its extension and development in unit z. Though these thirds are not directlymo- tivic. 24.This explainswhy the interpretationof the A chord in This content downloaded from 91. going back in quasi-retrogrademanner over the melodic pitches that led up to it.129 on Sat.

the former sounds more like a continua- tion than a balancingphrase. 17. V I L "" cresc.relation of the principalmotive of unit B to the "Deliveranceby Death" motive in unit A-2 B(E2T )A-2 (T J) . despite the poco rallentando.relationof the principalmotives of units B and C B C Example 7b Prelude to Tristan und Isolde.229.) This content downloaded from 91. Circular Form in the Tristan Prelude 97 Example 7a Preludeto Tristanund Isolde. these connections help explainwhy-contradicting Lorenz's analysis--themusic encompass- ing the firstB unit and the v extension (mm. 21.relationshipbetween the end of unit v and the begin- ning of unit C (mm. In that they support the interpretationof the A cadence as part of a largerE-majorcon- text. the previouslymen- tioned relationshipbetween the motivic materialof units A and B is enhanced 25. 20.so uncon- vincing.since the opening subunit of unit v (mm.25 Turning to more encompassingmelodic connections. 23-25) _ I I I 23 poco riten.4-24) failsto cohere stronglyinto a single formal unit. Other reasons are found in the rhythmiclayout:the fact that the extension (unit v) of the main unit (B) contains a more compressedversion of the same sentence-likestructureweakensthe final cadentialarrival. a tempo rail. z art A-1i7 E: V vii•'4 16 IV vii'4 I I measure 24 as a significanttonic is.129 on Sat.3) in a quasi-sequentialmanner.229. beginning on VI (substitutingfor the tonic) and ending on I (the tonic A).J a Example 8 Preludeto Tristanund Isolde.4-22. k.4-21.3) reflectsthe close of the previous B unit (mm.(Such formalmattersaretreatedat more length in the next section. 21 Jun 2014 22:08:04 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .. In addition.

which shows the rising line in measures 2-3 carriedupward through repetitions in an unbroken succession of chro- maticallyfilled rising thirds:g# '-b'. is notable: it positions the line an octave higher than a. g'-bb' ). pickingup the rising-thirdmotion again. where it remainssuspendedfor four measures until unit B returns(m. they lend the music a variedformalrhythmthat. in unit B they rise more quickly. at bW' (m. revealingthat the three principalformalunits are not only bound together by these thirdsbut also dis- tinguished by the manner of their projection. In unit A the thirds rise slowly yet emphatically. d"-f#". Indeed.the motion undergoes a holding process in unit C. where the thirdsfall through g' and e' to c#'. attainedat measure17. and f#"-a".98 Journalof the AmericanMusicologicalSociety Example 9 Preludeto Tristanund Isolde. 2 3 6 7 10 11 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 25 26 27 when viewed in light of the first A and B units as a whole. On the one hand. is simultaneouslytransferreddown two octavesto a.but also less monolithically. these pervasiverising thirds help account for the Prelude'sseemingly obsessive single-mindedness. despite its unbroken quality. 32.4. Example9 tracesit through the first C unit.5). 20. sup- plying the next third above the abandoned bb'. 24. the first "struc- tural"drop (that is. then.the drop to a' in unit C. from c#" through b' to a' (mm. b'-d".Since thisis not theplaceto discussthiscomplexissue.mm. since it also begins with a risingthird (now diatonic).129 on Sat. with only intermittent breaks. as the line drops a third. Theoreticallyorientedreaderswillnoticethatthesethirdsarenot allprojectedat a consis- tent structurallevelandthusdo not representlinearspansin a strict(Schenkerian) sense. 25-28). but in fact it contin- ues.joined with full-scalesequentialprogressionsin all voices.26 26. since unit v subsequentlytransfersc#' up an octave to c#" (m.sketch of rising-thirdprogressions. 21 Jun 2014 22:08:04 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . This content downloaded from 91. 1-32 A-1 B-1 v C m. the pitch that initiatedB's previous(first)appear- ance.but on the other. continues the successionof thirds(a-c'.229.Finally. the firstto initiatea new successionof rising thirds) and a pitch retainedover severalmeasures(mm. forming a relationshipthat contributes significantlyto the simultane- ously repeatingyet intensifyingcharacterof the music duringthis stretch.I willsimplypointout thatthethirdprogressions areeasilyheardandcontributesignificantly to the music'sextraordinary Theyeven consistency. This can be fol- lowed in the firstpart of Example9. thus carryingon the processinitiatedin unit A. throughout most of the Prelude. c'-e'. this upward-third motion continues. opening unit B.4).3).is remark- ably differentiatedin detail.229. e'-g'. Finally. The rising-thirdprogressionseems to breaknear the end of unit B.The last pitch. This B. 28-32).

2. as repetitions. retain the patterns just described.. and an eight- measurecontinuation beginning with a more developed sequentialversion of the initialidea that is then extended by fragmentationand liquidation. The internal organization of unit A. 36.The balanced. the I-V relationshipbetween measures1-2 and 3-4 in the firstmovement of Beethoven's Piano Sonata in F minor. for example. This content downloaded from 91. its four-measure sequential repetition."and viewed from that perspectiveits group- ing does not even seem especiallyunusual (except perhapsfor length): a basic four-measure phrase.3) similarlybegins with a two-measureunit and its sequential repetition. based on Classicalmodels. 40.nonsequentialrepetition.however. 17. "HierarchicalUnity. followed by a two-measureliquidatingextension.plus a one-measurecadence. Unit w (mm.but here this is followed by a contrastingtwo-measureunit that un- dergoes varied. What sets the Prelude apart.as is the opening measure of the continuation.see RichardCohn and Douglas Dempster.ed. Op. 1992). conforms closelyto a traditional"sentence. What is new (paradoxically)is the extentof repetition.g. Plural Unities: Toward a Reconciliation.traditionalformal types are still much in evidence in the Prelude.229. Bohlman (Chicago and London: Universityof Chicago Press.4-21. span its one majorbreach:the collapseat the high point. however.229. It would be easy to parsethe entire Preludein terms of groupings of these kinds.Unit B (mm. 1) is replaced by a "real"-strictly transposed-second subphrasethat spins out vertiginouslyfrom the alreadyweak tonal foundation establishedby the first. but it is differentin that the melodic and tonal contents of the four-measureunits arenot complementary. significantlyintensi- fies the latter's alreadypronounced developmental character. Unit C (mm.129 on Sat. Of course. so that the continuation itself (mm. complementarytonal relationshipstraditionallyfound between the opening two subphrases(e. 25-32. CircularFormin the TristanPrelude 99 Traditional Forms in the Prelude Although the focus here is on innovative formal features. de- spite evident correspondenceswith the Classicalsentence.and the ending is left open. all of the formal units have markedtradi- tional features. KatherineBergeron and PhilipV. no.The opening seventeen-measureunit.is the extent to which these models are reworkedin responseto new formal assumptions.4-44) takes on the form of an internal(embedded) sentence."in Disciplining Music:Musicologyand Its Canons. 156-81. 21 Jun 2014 22:08:04 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . since almost all subsequent formal units. For a wide-rangingdiscussionof the is- sue of hierarchicalconsistency.The resulting4 + 4 pattern (the last measureinterruptedby the returnof unit B) is metricallybalancedlike a tradi- tional period. the repetitionof formalunits in itself is nothing new.4-44) differsonly in that the two opening one-measuresequentialphrasesare each repeated. Otherwise the music would sound even more radicalthan it does. Considered individually.3) offersa compressedversionof the same form: a one-measurephraseplus its one-measuresequence. for example.

joining the two sentencesin seamlesscontinuity. 1 in C Major.4-24). cadencing on A major.Moreover. XVI:52.28 The Prelude is also distinguished by the untraditionallarger formal pur- poses to which these traditionallyderived smallerunits are summoned.criticizesHugo Leichtentrittin this connec- tion (though generally praising his reading for resembling his own). And this new gesture is also freely sequenced (mm.We do not know where we are until the finalcadence is heard.and its subsequent return at cycle 6 as much repriseas dissolution. We have alreadyseen that B's closing arrivalon D minor is weak. unit v (mm. the G-F suspensionof measure21 echoed by D-C# in measure 22. (It also has.such as the opening of the firstmovement of Haydn's Piano Sonatain E6 Major. as well as its overall tonal meaning. ProfessorsMichaelFriedmann.and intenselysequentiallayout renderit as much developmen- tal as expository.229. is as much development (and thus continuation) as reprise.) Similarly.229. so that ending becomes beginning.But the segment's tonal instability. For example. But in these the sequences are tonal.motivic fragmentation. having been achievedaftersuddenlyabandoningthe previouslyestablishedC- major tonal framework. though notably absent here is any partial repeat bringing full closure- Classicalmusic'subiquitous "one-more-time"effect. The line of thought developed in this and the previousparagraphwas stimulatedby dis- cussion in a recent seminarat Yale Universityon a dissertationproposalon sentence structurein Tristanund Isolde. Perhaps the closest Classical analogues to Wagner's opening phrase are those rare sentence-likeforms that begin with strictsequences. 28.JamesHepokoski.Op. not real(in both. since 27. the notion that the opening A unit is (following Lorenz) an "exposition"is supported by the fact that it projectsthe Prelude's principalmotivic materialsand key.where a stabletonal frameworkis establishedbe- fore the third (continuation)section begins. 22.The cadentialfigure of B is thereby appropriatedto open a new sentence (unit v).100 Journalof theAmerican Society Musicological Unlike traditionalsentences. This content downloaded from 91.3). forming a new pairof one-measuresubphrasesthat gives riseto its own continuation (mm. Whatevertonal doubt is raisedby the sudden shift to ii is thus immediatelyand conclusively expelledby the continuation.)27 Equally revealing are unit B and its initial continuation. In closing his discussionof the Prelude. as noted. comparinghis own analy- sis with those of his predecessors. from its very beginning.opening cycle 5.Lorenz. (That the sentence's final cadence is deceptive is unexceptional. is both motivicallyand tonally develop- mental.129 on Sat. a partly introductory character. 21 Jun 2014 22:08:04 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . 17. and PatrickMcCrelesscontributedto this discussion. 21. and the con- tinuation begins firmly and unambiguouslyon the dominant and ends with a confirming tonic close. and the Allegro con brio of the firstmovement of Beethoven's Symphony No.3- 23.Hob. mak- ing unequivalent assignment of traditional large-scale formal functions impossible.4-24). 23. at least with anythinglike the specificityassociatedwith Classicalmodels: the whole unit. Wagner'ssentence must thus rely on the continuation to determine the form's tonal goal. an initialtonic majorphraseis transposedto the minor second degree).presentedby Matthew Shea. the cadentialgesture associatedwith it is immediatelysequenced.the first recapitulationof this material.

129 on Sat. "Ohnmichtig sinkt das Herz zuriick. CircularFormin the TristanPrelude 101 Leichtentritt chooses as the opening's "true" reprise the second return at measure 84 (which for Lorenz is a "coda").The firstreturnpreservesmore of the basictonal and phrasestructureof measures1-21 (essentiallythat of all but the final measure). ratherthan the first at measure 63.1914). the sentence's telling continuation: "in desire without fulfillment.229. like a reprisethan the other accordingto traditionaldefinitions. In both. translationin Bailey."30But there is much more than a trace:the atmosphereafterthe climax. he calls attention to Wagner's characterization of the closing segment: "Exhaustedthe heart sinks back. Wagnerdrawsupon the same musicalmaterialat the end as at the beginning.. (This is no differentin principlefrom what he does throughout 29. The complete program appearsin Julius Kapp.31 Only whereas at the beginning desire intensifies."29Lorenz comments: "There is no trace in Wagner'sidea of any kind of psychologicalconnection between this segment and the beginning of the piece.229..dynamics. trappedin hopelessness. Der musikalische Aufbau. 31. 47-48. 30.219. languishingin desire..then.4. 27).The second retainsmore of such "secondary"qualitiesas register. since every fulfillmentis only again renewed longing" ("in Sehnsucht ohne Erreichen. But how can one decide who is correct?Neither section is more. 27). 21 Jun 2014 22:08:04 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .tex- ture. For a differenttranslation. "Von irgendeiner psychologischen Beziehung dieses Abschnittes zum Anfang des Tonstfickesfindet sich in WagnersGedankenkeine Spur"(Lorenz. but adjustsit in responseto the differentexpressive/program- matic context. or less. even when first quoting this text.the firstreturn is climactic in effect and the second liquidating.. especiallywhen the subse- quent B sections are taken into consideration. the opening materialreappears but is significantlytransformed. Der musikalischeAufbau. um in Sehnsucht zu verschmachten"(Lorenz. 9:61-62. Significantly. ed. Der musikalische Aufbau.see Bailey. yet totally transformsthe texture and character.ed.He also omits.when he repeatsWagner'ssentence to make this point.see Bailey. as Wagner'swords unam- biguously assert.4 and introduces a fifll-scale modulation at measure 96. Lorenz omits the closing phrase "languishingin desire" ("in Sehnsucht zu verschmachten"). Preludeand Tranrfiguration.yet de- flects the harmony significantlyat measure 90. Preludeand Trans- figuration. at the end it is exhausted.ed. 26).Not sur- prisingly. still remains immersed in desire (his schmachtend-or "languishing"-explicitly evokes the expressiveindication at the opening). Richard WagnersGesammelteSchriften (Leipzig:Hesse und BeckerVerlag. Conclusion Lorenz cites Wagner'swell-known programmaticdescriptionof the Prelude (originallyincluded in an 1859 letter to MathildeWesendonk) to support his reading of the second returnof A as a coda ratherthan a reprise. This content downloaded from 91. 48.da jedes Erreichennur wieder neues Sehnen ist") (Lorenz. Preludeand Tranrfiguration. and orchestration(and are these still secondaryin this music?).ed. then.In particular.makingthe argumentlargelypointless.building toward hoped-for consummation. For a differenttranslation.

The Prelude'swell-known tensions thus stem as much from form as from tonality. links all the remainingunits together. It would be difficult.Norton.for example. Preludeand Transfiguration and Isolde.at the end."Das Vorspielzu Tristanund Isolde und seine Motivik. unit A simply starts up again."In DiscipliningMusic:Musicologyand Its Canons. A final comment on the relationbetween Wagner'sview of the Preludeas an expressionof unfulfilleddesire and the music's form may bring these con- siderationsto a close. it fails to breakaway from a small number of melodic and tonal configurations. ZeitschriftfiirMusikwissenschaft Bailey. when the same desire (and same music) is without hope.cling-remarkably-to their origi- nal form and pitch level.circling back over them again and again until ultimatelyconfined to a double statementof a sin- gle four-measureunit (B)." Indeed. When the circlefinallybreaksat measure63. since the "resolution"is itself cyclic. Cohn.229.Richard.andDouglasDempster. density.)At the beginning. there is no relief.edited by This content downloaded from 91. it is fragmented and tonally deflected. the final return in the latter of the Prelude's opening two phrases (m.to summon a more pointed musicalimage of unrequitedpassionthan the cyclicintensifica- tion projected in measures 17-62.102 Journalof theAmerican Musicological Society the Prelude. 21 Jun 2014 22:08:04 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .W. Or rather.but it is even more illuminatingwhen consideredin relationto the circulartonal and formaldesign presentedhere. both circular.229.Siegfried. Here. And it persiststo the end. as desiremounts. But the connection between opening and close.New YorkandLondon:W.and general expressiveforce. registration. which.1985. despite the preceding tonal deflection and the new pedal G.or- chestralmass. which.form and tonality. following the firstA unit.Robert. Even afterthe collapseand final return to the dominant at measure 84. both musicaland programmatic. even as the music expires.encapsulatedin its deceptive progressions. beyond Lorenz's coda into his "transition. as the music gains in volume. 101). returningto the dominant and unit A.could hardlybe more evi- dent. his treatmentof the material is expansive. allowing the climacticpush to continue.PluralUnities:Towarda Reconciliation." from "Tristan by Richard Wagner.129 on Sat. And therein lies the key to the Prelude's dramaticcore: the idea of a limited yet constantlyevolving content trappedin a staticand self-reflexiveframe-of enormous energy spent in the serviceof so meager a return-lies at the heart of its troubled expressivetemper." 3 (1921): 257-304. more- over.are inseparablylinked. Works Cited Anheisser. Wagner'sprogramaccordswell with standardnotions of the music's tonal ambiguity. providesthe Prelude'smost poignant and most encompassingcircu- larfeature.ed."Hierarchical Unity. once more strivingtoward consummation-though now with even less success.

de- spite its continuouslydevelopmentalnature.129 on Sat. Hesses Verlag. 156-81." TheMusicReview 36 (1975): 42-53. Der musikalische Aufbau vonRichard Wagners"Tristanund Isolde. It examines first the circulararrangementof the three repeatingunits.1923. Kapp. 1992."MusicForum 1 (1967): 162-203.Vol. Lorenz. Ernst. The music is thus revealedto have a unique.ratherthan contradicts. Alfred.1926."Berlin: Max Hesses Verlag. which are subjected to significantsurface variationbut retain their underlyingmelodic.Vol.is characterizedby constantrepe- tition of only three formal units. Mitchell. harmonic.1985. Grunsky. WilliamJ. it then analyzesthe circularlyrepeating harmonic-linearpattern they project. The articleanalyzeshow this process. Reprint. 2. Kurth. avoiding strong seg- mentation. projecting a seemingly unbroken arc of intensificationfollowed by release. Richard WagnersGesammelteSchriften.' " Richard Wagner-Jahrbuch 2 (1907): 207-84. yet easilycomprehen- sible. RomantischeHarmonik und ihre Krise in Wagners"Tristan.Roland. Julius. Das Geheimnisder Form bei Richard Wagner. Jackson.1914. is reconciled with the ongoing qualityof the music.229. "Vorspiel und der erste Akt von 'Tristan und Isolde. "The TristanPrelude:Techniquesand Structure.which would seem to be overlysegmen- tal. 9. Bohlman. It thus seems to defy traditionalformal analysis. "Leitmotiveand Form in the TristanPrelude. Leipzig: Hesse und BeckerVerlag. Abstract The music of the Prelude to Tristanund Isoldeis in constant transformation."Berlin:M. CircularForm in the TristanPrelude 103 KatherineBergeron and Philip V. along with their relationto five briefpassagesthat occur but once.which aims to articulatemusic into discrete units with clearlydifferentiatedfunctions. It also considershow the Prelude'sfor- mal units differfrom traditionalones in that they are designed to emerge out of those preceding them and flow into those that follow. overalltonal and formaldesign that supports. Karl.229.Hildesheim:Georg Olms Verlag. Chicago and London: The Universityof Chicago Press. ed. 21 Jun 2014 22:08:04 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . This content downloaded from 91. and linearidentities.its evolutionarynature. Yet the Prelude.