Mignon’s Songs

Terence Cave

in Mignon's Afterlives

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780199604807
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731624 | DOI:
Mignon’s Songs

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This chapter begins with a distinction between ‘fictional songs’ and ‘real songs’, then proceeds to a discussion of the settings of Mignon’s songs, first by Goethe’s composers (Reichardt, Zelter), then by the composers who produced Wilhelm Meister song-cycles (Schumann, Anton Rubinstein, Wolf). Songs in novels by Balzac, George Eliot, and Angela Carter are considered as complex instances of the fictional song; ‘phenomenal’ and ‘noumenal’ song in Thomas’s Mignon and other operas are discussed, together with the themes of aphasia and musical expressivity; this leads to a reconsideration of the relations between lyric, song, and narrative. The chapter concludes with a review of the timelines of the musical theme as embodied in Mignon, and especially of the notion of musical sensibility.

Keywords: fictional songs; song-cycles; phenomenal and noumenal song; song and narrative; musical sensibility; Goethe’s composers; Schumann; Rubinstein; Wolf

Chapter.  20024 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literature

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