The Wagner Journal

Joachim Köhler, The ‘Ring’ and the Romantic Tradition

Joachim Köhler, The ‘Ring’ and the Romantic Tradition

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July 2008, Volume 2, Number 2, 29–39.

Not without irony George Bernard Shaw once said that only Wagner’s ‘pretty music’ helps the audience of the Ring endure the endless philosophising of its main characters. This philosophising, as any audience of the Ring inevitably notices, is quite difficult to understand, and it stretches the patience of its listeners as much as it puzzles their intelligence. In fact, the closer one looks, the more enigmatic it gets.

At the beginning of the tetralogy the Rhinedaughters tell us about a mysterious person who has ordered them to guard the Rhinegold so that nobody can abduct it and, by cursing love, transform it into a ring that gives him power over the world. This wise person, whom the water sprites call ‘Father’, doesn’t have a name and never again appears in the whole of the Ring.

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