The Parzival Project
Translated from the French ‘perce le voile’ meaning to ‘pierce the veil’, Parzival, is an epic medieval poem about the Grail myth written by Wolfram von Eschenbach at the turn of the 12th century. It is also a story describing the modern individual’s search for identity and reconciliation in the modern age. This reconciliation of polarities, as a pathway towards understanding, is present throughout Eschenbach’s poem. The story centers around a great wound which can only be healed by a question; a question that is to be asked by a fool who is pure at heart.
Parzival, the fool of this story is described by Wolfram as ‘a brave soul, yet slowly wise’ who comes unknowingly to the wounded Grail King but fails to ask, out of ignorance, the healing question. Only after a long search does the necessary transformation from ignorance to understanding occur – thus enabling the central healing question of the story to take place.
As is widely known, Eschenbach’s poem was the principal source of inspiration for Richard Wagner’s Opera Parsifal. Wagner, however, chooses to omit several important elements of Eschenbach’s story including Parzival’s critical meetings with Gawan and his foreign half-brother Feirefiz. In Eschenbach’s poem, Parzival’s encounter with both knights leads to a re-discovery of identity and relationship; a realization enabling the three principal characters, together, to redeem the healing question that Parzival failed to ask alone. This collaborative transformation is the element of Eschenbach’s story which Wagner leaves out of his opera, but which this new work proposes to re-tell.
Eschenbach’s Parzival as an expression of the Threefold human being:
Within the story of Parzival, Eschenbach describes the activity of the three principal characters and their communities:
Parzival – Community of Grail Knights
Gawan – King Arthur’s Court
Feirefiz – The world ‘of many colors’
The relationship between these three communities, as an expression of the musical trinity of melody, harmony, and rhythm, can also be seen as an image of the threefold human capacities of thinking, feeling, and willing. It is our belief that the re-telling of a new musical narrative of Eschenbach’s Parzival, through an understanding of the threefold human being, can bring the relevance of Waldorf education to a wider audience around the world.
In a world in which collaborative and social leadership skills are increasingly critical, the Parzival story, as an imagination of the threefold human being and the social threefold process, can be seen as a modern Grail quest leading us toward the emerging future.
We believe in the importance of re-telling Eschenbach’s Parzival story through music and the arts in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Waldorf Education, and we look forward to working with you on this project.