This chapter discusses a theme that is the musical converse of the Woe Motive’s falling half interval. That theme associated with Alberich’s cry of “Wehe! ach wehe!” was developed by Wagner into many subsequent motives. The Passion Motive is foreshadowed in Scene 1 of Das Rheingold by Alberich, but in contrast to the Woe Motive it has far fewer variations. The basic motive, consisting of a two note rising half step phrase, is played by the english horn and clarinets beginning in measure four of the example below. It accompanies Alberich’s description of the overwhelming burning desire that is consuming him.
In Die Walküre Wagner adds a pick up note, similar to that which underscores the word “ach” in Alberich’s cry of “ach wehe!”, to this rising half step and extends the musical phrase at its end with a second falling half step. In Act I – Scene 2 Siegmund cries out “O sußeste Wonne” to Sieglinde as he too is overcome with passion. This extended form of the theme has generated the label Bliss Motive by other commentators. In the example given the English horn responds to Siegmund’s exclamation of ‘blessed woman’ with a statement of music first associated with Freia (see Love chapter). This Feminine Motive is repeated by the clarinets and flutes in combination with a ‘turn’ that is likewise associated with a loving woman (see Woman’s Love chapter).
Music-Sweetest Delight-Blessed Woman
A little later in the same scene Sieglinde reciprocates Siegmund’s emotions. First she echoes Siegmund’s music with a five note phrase and her request of “O lass’ in Nähe zu dir mich neigen,” (example not shown) but further on in the scene the basic Passion Motive returns as a three note phrase that ascends with Sieglinde’s excitement. Wagner uses this form of the basic motive in the prelude to Act II of Die Walküre.