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Britten’s Lament: The World of Owen Wingate

Britten’s Lament: The World of Owen Wingate OF OWEN WINGRAVE Musical representations of lament are often particularly memorable for the way they seem to embody and yet transcend the raw, immediate feelings of grief and pain.* At once, however, a critical minefield is exposed by the phrase `seem to embody': it is usually the relative stability of generic identity, as revealed by recurrent types of musical material, that we point to in order to justify claims that ± for example ± Dido's Lament in Purcell's opera and the Lacrymosa settings of Mozart and Verdi have something, however intangible, in common. As long as composers rely on chromatically descending bass lines, or melodic figures analogous to sighing and sobbing, the generic identity is relatively secure, and may even survive translation from eighteenth- or nineteenth-century stylistic conventions into a more modern environment. In particular, some recent writing on Ligeti (Steinitz 1996) has demonstrated how clearly this can be the case. With Britten, too, the kind of motivic connections we can observe between the `Lacrymosa' of the Sinfonia da Requiem, the `lacrimosa' of the War Requiem and the `Lamento' from the First Cello Suite (Ex. 1) suggest an ability to create relatively unambiguous associations of topic across a http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Music Analysis Wiley

Britten’s Lament: The World of Owen Wingate

Music Analysis , Volume 19 (2) – Jul 1, 2000

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Publisher
Wiley
Copyright
Copyright © 2000 Wiley Subscription Services, Inc., A Wiley Company
ISSN
0262-5245
eISSN
1468-2249
DOI
10.1111/1468-2249.00115
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

OF OWEN WINGRAVE Musical representations of lament are often particularly memorable for the way they seem to embody and yet transcend the raw, immediate feelings of grief and pain.* At once, however, a critical minefield is exposed by the phrase `seem to embody': it is usually the relative stability of generic identity, as revealed by recurrent types of musical material, that we point to in order to justify claims that ± for example ± Dido's Lament in Purcell's opera and the Lacrymosa settings of Mozart and Verdi have something, however intangible, in common. As long as composers rely on chromatically descending bass lines, or melodic figures analogous to sighing and sobbing, the generic identity is relatively secure, and may even survive translation from eighteenth- or nineteenth-century stylistic conventions into a more modern environment. In particular, some recent writing on Ligeti (Steinitz 1996) has demonstrated how clearly this can be the case. With Britten, too, the kind of motivic connections we can observe between the `Lacrymosa' of the Sinfonia da Requiem, the `lacrimosa' of the War Requiem and the `Lamento' from the First Cello Suite (Ex. 1) suggest an ability to create relatively unambiguous associations of topic across a

Journal

Music AnalysisWiley

Published: Jul 1, 2000

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