The aim of this thesis is to investigate the extant sketches and drafts for Wagner's last Romantic opera Lohengrin. In particular, the thesis examines those sections of the opera which changed the most from their initial conception to the score. Wagner's revisions are examined and hypotheses are offered as to why the composer considered these alterations necessary. The study also aims to shed light on Wagner's method of composition and his compositional practices, as well as affording a deeper insight into this individual opera.
The text comprises an introduction, eleven chapters and a conclusion. The introduction deals with issues relating to Lohengrin, such as associative tonality and instrumentation, Wagner's sources for the text, previous literature devoted to the opera and a section relating to the methodology employed in other sketch studies as well as in the present study. Chapter 1 traces the genesis of the opera between 1845 and 1848 and discusses the premiere, the first time Wagner witnessed a performance of the opera and the first time he conducted the work. Chapter 2 is devoted to compositional practices. These include recurring compositional issues which caused the composer difficulty, Wagner's general compositional procedures, and fingerprints which are characteristic of the various compositional stages.
Chapters 3 to 11 comprise nine case studies. These discuss the sections of the opera which changed the most from their setting in the first complete draft to the score. In each instance, the formation of the music is traced through the various compositional stages. These include preliminary and supplementary sketches, the prose and verse drafts, the first and second complete drafts, and Wagner's autograph score. The relevant portions of each of these manuscripts has been transcribed. For ease of reference, the facsimiles of the manuscripts and the transcriptions are presented in a separate volume.
The conclusion reiterates the main arguments concerning Wagner's compositional practices. These include his difficulty with transition passages, closing sections, and modulatory passages, the importance of large-scale structure and balance to the composer, as well as the fundamental importance of melody, bass line and harmonic structure to Wagner's compositions. One of the most significant factors which influenced changes to individual passages is the paramount importance Wagner placed on the dramatic effect of the work. In several instances, revisions were made to create a more concise version of the text or to make the succession of events more logical. Also highlighted is the way in which Wagner used a layer technique of composition. The conclusion also identifies other related areas which could be of interest for further research.