Associate 2003-04

William A Kinderman



Professor Kinderman’s research centers on nineteenth-century music and gives attention to the creative process of major composers. During his Center appointment he will build on several of his earlier published studies to complete a book on Richard Wagner’s final work, “Parsifal.” As with other works by Wagner, the musical sources include two comprehensive drafts that preceded the writing of the autograph score. What is unusual in the case of “Parsifal” is the survival of a large number of additional early sketches, many of which were made before Wagner began to tackle his drafts. When these sources are compared closely with other documents, particularly the detailed comments contained in Cosima Wagner’s diaries, new insights emerge that clarify Wagner’s aesthetic goals. Professor Kinderman has completed preliminary research on all available sources for the text and music of “Parsifal,” investigating sources held mainly at the National Archive of the Richard Wagner Foundation in Bayreuth, Germany. His resulting book will explore issues of formal structure and dramatic meaning in the completed music drama, incorporating fresh analytical approaches to Wagner’s tonal and formal procedures. “Parsifal” was Wagner’s “last card,” a culminating project based on a subject that occupied him for about forty years. A critical reassessment of the work, supported by reconstruction of its genesis, promises to contribute new perspectives on one of the most important and controversial works in the history of music.