Hudební Věda

Wagner’s Ring in Thomas Mann’s The Buddenbrooks

article summary

Manfred Hermann Schmid

Richard Wagner’s influence on Thomas Mann was wide-ranging, and has been critically evaluated on the structural and semantic level. But little attention has been paid to the specific music that Thomas Mann refers to in his description of Hanno Buddenbrook’s two piano fantasies. Here it seems as though he drew his inspiration mainly from pieces that the educated bourgeoisie could have known not just as a theatrical experience but also as orchestral music in the concert hall without any text: Isolde’s “Love Death” from Tristan and Isolde, the “Magic Fire Music” from The Valkyrie, and Siegfried’s “Death March” from The Twilight of the Gods.

Keywords: Thomas Mann; Richard Wagner; leitmotif technique; music description; piano fantasy

The complete text of this article in German can be found in the printed edition of Hudební věda 3/2020.

Translated by Peter Stephens