a guiding theme; in Wagnerian opera, a marked melodic phrase or short musical passage which always accompanies the reappearance of a certain person, situation, abstract idea, or allusion in the course of the play; a sort of musical label. Also called Leading motive.
An event or object suggesting a person, idea or image that is 'quoted' throughout a module to indicate that person etc.
Ger. for leading motive, a device developed by Wagner. A short and usually memorable musical motive associated by frequent repetition with a character (say, Loge), sentiment (the Hero to come), object (the Sword, the Rhine gold) or turn of events (magic sleep). The Leitmotivs figure prominently in the orchestral texture to provide the listener with multiple points of reference in Wagner's complex tales. Later used successfully by other composers, including Richard Strauss.