Parry Society Dr Gulliver Ralston on Wagner

The Parry Society was very fortunate to welcome Gulliver Ralston OE on Wednesday 17th November. Having taken a DPhil on Richard Wagner, Dr Ralston gave us a very interesting insight into the last of Wagner’s operas, Parsifal. Here, Wagner continues with his chromatic, rather unsettling style, whilst almost simultaneously incorporating earlier conventional harmonies and chords, in the Bachian school. The role of the orchestra is again quite independent, although it follows the action on stage, always being subservient to the drama. The use of the Leitmotif was discussed by Dr Ralston, who showed us through his proficient piano skills, how the motifs develop as the characters develop, which is a distinctly Schopenhaurian concept, on which, after last Friday’s talk, we are now all experts. The talk ended with a consideration of Wagner and nationalism, and how tainted his music may be because of his antisemitism and its adoption by the Nazis. However, we concluded all in all, that it is the music of Wagner that attracts one first, and why can’t a horrible man write sublime music?

Quintin Beer MS (RDO-C)