Motif 21: Bells

German names: Gralsglockenmotiv, Gralsrittermotiv

Musical example: Motif 21a - Bells initial form Soundbytes Bells (ogg format)  
Musical example: Motif 21b - Bells variants  

Franz Stassen - The Castle and the Bells

The basic Bells motif is shown in figure (A): this is the sound of the offstage "crystal" bells (see separate article). It develops via example (B) into example (C) in the orchestra, which introduces the Transformation Music in both outer acts. H-J. Bauer calls (C) the Grail Knights motive. The entire Bells motif appears (or is concealed) within a number of larger motives, including that of the Good Friday Meadows. Several motives are closely related, including the Prophecy motif, the motif of the Distress of Monsalvat and that of Devotion.

Soundbytes From "Am Grabe Richard Wagners" by Liszt (Leslie Howard; ogg format)

Soundbytes From "Pelléas et Mélisande" by Debussy (ogg format)

A sketch of the Bells motif by Wagner, from the Steingräber archives.

On what would have been Wagner's 70th birthday (22 May 1883), his friend and father-in-law Franz Liszt composed the tiny elegy, Am Grabe Richard Wagners. Into this piano piece (also arranged for organ and in a version for string quartet and harp), Liszt introduced a hushed recollection of the Bells motif. Another such recollection of this motif can be heard in Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande, during the first scene change from the forest to the castle.

References: von Wolzogen ex.13, Lorenz p.71ff, Kufferath ex.22, ex.23, Newman ex.25, ENO ex.29-30, Bauer p.30.

© Derrick Everett 1996-2023. This page last updated (meta description) --- ---