Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Marget, Arthur W. “Liszt and Parsifal.” The Music Review 14 (May 1953): 107-24.

While it is known that Liszt and Wagner borrowed from one another, specific instances of borrowing have been difficult to prove. Although it has been previously argued that Wagner’s crowning motif in Parsifal, the “Grail” motive, is derived from Liszt’s prelude Excelsior, evidence reveals Wagner was unsympathetic to the work, lending the borrowing problematic to explain. However, Wagner’s utilization of a similarly constructed theme could be justified due to the composers’ sharing of an identical poetic intent. Both Wagner and Liszt believed in the suffering of the artist for the cause of true and holy Art. Evidence alludes to Liszt’s composition of Excelsior being significantly influenced by Longfellow’s poem Excelsior, which was meant to serve as “the motto of Poetry and Music.” If Liszt communicated these thoughts to Wagner, which was highly probable, it is possible Wagner’s use of the theme to represent the Grail was not merely a borrowing, but a tribute and homage to Liszt, as his partner in their artistic brotherhood. A recent discovery of Liszt’s work Am Grabe Richard Wagner confirms distinct influence from Wagner’s Parsifal and Liszt’s Excelsior. This piece thus serves as Liszt’s homage to Wagner’s artistic goals, which he felt Wagner had achieved to the highest echelon.

Works: Liszt: Am Grabe Richard Wagner (107–24), Excelsior (107–24); Wagner: Parsifal (107–24).

Sources: Liszt: Excelsior (107–24); Wagner: Parsifal (107–24).

Index Classifications: 1800s

Contributed by: Maria Fokina

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Musical Borrowing and Reworking - - 2024
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