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Saturday 21 Aug 2021
3:00 pm to 5:00 pm

Queensland Multicultural Centre

The following Abstract has been kindly provided by Dr Michael O’Loghlin.
Parsifal: Structure and Meaning in the Good Friday Music

Wagner’s phrase “durch Mitleid wissend” encapsulates a significant theme of Parsifal: the human journey from naivety to wisdom. For Parsifal this journey is not an easy one, nor is there any straight path to enlightenment. Each of the three acts contains a scene or section which embodies the great arch of the drama in miniature: each one a small step for Parsifal. The Good Friday Music, which comes shortly before the end of Act III, is arguably one of the most sublime passages in the opera or indeed anywhere, but it is more than a mere adoration of nature in springtime. I contend that Parsifal’s final step to enlightenment is taken here. Using video illustrations, I explore its relatively simple tonalities and map these against the tonal arch of the work as a whole, as well as against Wagner’s text for the passage.

This talk is designed for people who may not be fully literate in music: any discussion of tonalities will be explained. There may also be a couple of anecdotes from my years of experience as a symphony orchestra musician playing Wagner.

Dr Michael O’Loghlin, B.A. (Syd) PhD (U.Q.) is a professional musician, an educator, a historical musicologist, and an editor of music. As an undergraduate at Sydney University he studied under Donald Peart, Winsome Evans and Peter Sculthorpe. He then studied further in Vienna and Salzburg: viola da gamba with José Vazquez and Wieland Kuijken, double bass with Hannes Auersperg, and performance practice with Nikolaus Harnoncourt. Michael is a former member of the Queensland Symphony Orchestra and has played with most of the Australian symphony orchestras, as well as orchestras and specialist early music ensembles in Germany and Austria. He is a founding member of Brisbane’s ensemble for Baroque music on original instruments, the Badinerie Players, an examiner for the A.M.E.B., and an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Queensland School of Music.

Michael’s main research areas are German music in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and historical performance practice. His book Frederick the Great and his Musicians: The Viola da Gamba Music of the Berlin School (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2008. Paperback reprint, Routledge, 2016)) and his many editions of Baroque and Classical music for the German publisher Edition Güntersberg have achieved widespread critical acclaim. He also writes CD liner notes on German music for Chandos and CPO.

You are invited to register for the meeting by informing our Secretary Rosemary Cater-Smith at or via the ‘Contact’ page of the website, and making a bank transfer to Bank of Queensland, BSB: 124021 Account Number: 22612919. Payments are $15 for members and $20 for guests. Please use your name and the date (eg Jones August) to identify your payment.