Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Buchan, Matthew. “Rutland Boughton’s The Immortal Hour, the Celtic Twilight, and the Great War.” The Musical Quarterly 103 (Winter 2020): 311-45.

Although the short-lived Celtic Twilight movement in fin-de-siècle Britain was primarily expressed in literature and visual art, Rutland Boughton’s 1912 opera The Immortal Hour exemplified the aesthetics of the movement musically and had a lasting impact on public life in Great Britain. William Butler Yeats defined the Celtic Twilight movement in literature, employing themes of pan-Celtic mythmaking, nostalgia, sexual dissidence, and mysticism. These themes were shared with the broader European movements of Decadence and Symbolism. In music, some Celtic revivalists collected and transcribed Irish folksongs. Others, including Boughton, attached themselves to a Wagnerian aesthetic after Wagner drew on Celtic mythology in Tristan und Isolde. The Immortal Hour was based on an 1899 play by Fiona Macleod (the pen name of William Sharp), loosely based on the Celtic myth “The Wooing of Étaín.” Much of the score has a modal, folk-like character, but Boughton regularly alluded to Wagner’s operas, especially Tristan. Specific allusions include Klingsor’s leitmotif in Parsifal and the Tristan chord. Structural allusions include the way Boughton foreshadows the Faery Song before it is sung complete, which mirrors Wagner’s treatment of the Preislied in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. The Winterstürme from Die Walküre also clearly influenced the storm music in the second scene of The Immortal Hour. After the First World War, revival performances of the opera found great success with the British public, and it particularly appealed to the emerging middlebrow sensibility. The spiritualism and communion with the faery world in The Immortal Hour especially resonated with the collective mourning of the British public in the wake of the Great War.

Works: Rutland Boughton: The Immortal Hour (316-21)

Sources: Wagner: Parsifal (317), Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (317-18), Tristan und Isolde (319-21), Die Walküre (320-21)

Index Classifications: 1900s

Contributed by: Matthew Van Vleet

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Musical Borrowing and Reworking - - 2024
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