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From German Leitmotiv (“leading motif”), from leiten (“to lead”) + Motiv (“motif”), originally used to describe Wagnerian opera.
- (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ˈlaɪt.məʊˌtiːf/
- (US) IPA(key): /ˈlaɪt.moʊˌtif/, (nonstandard) /ˈleɪt.moʊˌtif/, (nonstandard) /ˈlaɪt.moʊˌtɪv/
Audio (US) (file)
leitmotif (plural leitmotifs)
- (music) A melodic theme associated with a particular character, place, thing or idea in an opera.
- (by extension) A recurring theme.
- Synonym: common thread
- 1953 January, Thomas E. Mann, “The Making of "The Magic Mountain"”, in The Atlantic:
- People have pointed out the influence of Wagner’s music on my work. Certainly I do not disclaim this influence. In particular, I followed Wagner in the use of the leitmotif, which I carried over into the work of language.
- 2009, David Gallagher, Metamorphosis, Rodopi, →ISBN, page 183:
- Mann's adaption of Wagner's technique and its development throughout his writing is analysed, including how Mann uses the leitmotif in a naturalistic, characterising and mechanical sense in Buddenbrooks, attaching it to persons and situations as etiquettes.
melodic theme in an opera