About the blog’s title

Like the Oscar Wilde play of the same name, Richard Strauss’ opera Salome (1905) spins a vague biblical tale into a decadent drama (with occasional dashes of gallows humour). The title character desires the prophet Jochanaan, who rebuffs her advances. Since she cannot have him alive, Salome asks for his head on a silver charger… that is, upon performing the “Dance of the Seven Veils” for her stepfather Herod. He reluctantly agrees to her demands, culminating in the opera’s final scene, where the title character engages in an alternately venomous and tender monologue with the severed trophy.

The final scene is a strange mixture. Horrifying, as well as beautiful… perhaps even sad. During one of the final scene’s quieter moments, Salome contemplates how she would hear “mysterious music” whenever she looked upon Jochanaan:

… und wenn ich dich ansah, hoerte ich geheimnisvolle Musik…

Geheimnisvolle Musik. Mysterious music. Strange music. Music of strange sounds.

An ambiguous series of notes soon follows, underscored by an almost subterranean organ as the orchestra tentatively searches for some kind of concordance. At least musically, it is an apt metaphor for the mysteries I wish to explore here.

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  1. March 1, 2012 at 13:34

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