Motif 30: Yearning

German name: Sehnsuchtsmotiv

Musical example: Motif 30 - Yearning
SoundbytesYearning (Martha Mödl; ogg format)

The motif of Yearning, like that of Suffering is so simple that it easily might be overlooked (as it was by Wolzogen) in the quest for leading motives. Together with the Suffering and Question motives, it is one of the basic motives of the work. Like Suffering too, it is a fragment of chromatic scale, but this time rising. The characteristic rhythm is long-short- long-short.

This motif is almost identical to one of first musical ideas to appear in Tristan und Isolde, where it is usually called Desire motif (Sehnsuchtsmotiv). In Parsifal, the motif is associated with the Yearning for release in death, common to both Kundry and Amfortas. In the case of Kundry, like the Flying Dutchman she is unable to find rest because of her curse, which has somehow caused her to become dominated by the sorcerer Klingsor. So it is hardly surprising that her principal theme, the motif of Kundry's Laughter ends with the first three notes of the Yearning motif; nor that her other theme, the motif of Klingsor's Magic begins with the four note version. These chromatic motives are prominent and interwoven in the second act.

References: ENO ex.43, Lorenz p.20.

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