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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Extracts from Amiel’s Journal
Wagner’s Music
By Henri Frédéric Amiel (1821–1881)
 
Translation of Mary Augusta Ward

MAY 27TH, 1857.—Wagner’s is a powerful mind endowed with strong poetical sensitiveness. His work is even more poetical than musical. The suppression of the lyrical element, and therefore of melody, is with him a systematic parti pris. No more duos or trios; monologue and the aria are alike done away with. There remains only declamation, the recitative, and the choruses. In order to avoid the conventional in singing, Wagner falls into another convention,—that of not singing at all. He subordinates the voice to articulate speech, and for fear lest the muse should take flight he clips her wings; so that his works are rather symphonic dramas than operas. The voice is brought down to the rank of an instrument, put on a level with the violins, the hautboys, and the drums, and treated instrumentally. Man is deposed from his superior position, and the centre of gravity of the work passes into the baton of the conductor. It is music depersonalized,—neo-Hegelian music,—music multiple instead of individual. If this is so, it is indeed the music of the future,—the music of the socialist democracy replacing the art which is aristocratic, heroic, or subjective.  1
 
 
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