CFP (Conf): Music in Goethe’s Faust / Goethe’s Faust in Music

Music in Goethe’s Faust: Goethe’s Faust in Music

20-22 April 2012, Music Department and School of Modern Languages, Literatures and Culture, National University of Ireland, Maynooth

Keynote Speakers

Professor Nicholas Boyle
(Schroeder Professor of German, Magdalene College Cambridge)
Professor Thomas Bauman
(Professor of Musicology, Northwestern University, USA)
Professor Osman Durrani
(Professor of German, University of Kent)


The name ‘Faust’ and the adjective ‘faustian’ are as emblematic of the supra-intellectual as they are of the tragic. Such concepts haunt German cultural life and have prompted countless discussions in philosophy, literature, the visual arts and music, especially in the second half of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Through this a broad trajectory can be traced from Zelter’s colourful record of the first setting of Goethe’s Faust – composed by prince and rehearsed by a royal cast in Berlin in 1816 – to Alfred Schnittke’s Faust opera of 1993. Between these two realizations, a floodtide of musical interpretationsof Goethe’s Faust came into existence; these explore the theme of love, so central to opera, and the concomitant themes of redemption for both Gretchen and Faust. A theatrical work with the artistic virtuosity and moral gravity of Goethe’s Faust need not be musically inclusive, yet Goethe sought out many burgeoning musicians – Heinrich Schmieder, Carl Friedrich Zelter, Carl Eberwein and Prince Anton Heinrich Radziwill – as possible composers of Faust. While Goethe longed to have Faust set to music and considered only Mozart and perhaps Meyerbeer as being equal to the task, by the end of his life he had abandoned hope that he would live to witness a musical setting of his text. In Goethe’s mind, ‘the awful and repulsive passages that must occasionally occur’ were ‘not in the style of the time’. For Goethe, ‘the music should be like Don Juan in character.’ Goethe’s connection of Faust and Don Juan is evident in their human nature and tragic downfall and it is interesting that Hermann Reutter should profile these figures in his opera, Don Juan and Faust (1950). Kierkegaard also recognized their binding force and
believed that: ‘Don Juan is the expression for the daemonic characterized as the sensual and Faust is the expression of the daemonic characterized as the spiritual’. For Goethe the daemonic was most strongly manifest in music, and its irrational effect on the listener would convey the central themes of his text.

Despite this and despite the numerous settings it has inspired, the centrality of Faust I and II in German music theatre remain unexplored. In recent studies Hans Joachim Kreutzer (2003) has observed that the musical rhetoric of Faust I and II is organic and central to its form, and Tina Hartmann’s analysis of the musical material in Faust (2004) traces how the libretto emerged from a wonderfully intricate web of musico-theatrical connections in texts: Goethe’s concept of a world theatre in the prologue can be connected to the baroque operatic tradition, for example, and the choral songs of the Nacht scene to the Baroque Passions of Graun and Bach. This conference will re-examine the musical origins of Goethe’s Faust and explore the musical dimensions of its legacy. It will seek to uncover the musical furore caused by Goethe’s Faust and consider why his polemical text was so resonant for the generations of composers that succeeded him.

This conference seeks fresh perspectives on these issues. In particular, we invite contributions on the following topics:

• Faust’s first appearance on the musical stage, Gesänge von Doktor
Faust, Singspiel in 4 Acts (1819) by Ignaz Walter and the reliance of
the librettist, C.A. Mämminger, on Goethe’s Faust: Ein Fragment (1790);
• Musical realization of central themes in Goethe’s drama: Faust’s
striving for knowledge, the Mephisto pact; the seduction of Gretchen and
death of her mother; the music of redemption in Goethe’s Faust;
• Contradictions in the biographical scholarship of Goethe’s engagement
with music; Problems in the reception of Goethe’s music theatre;
Interaction between Faust I and II and Goethe’s early works of music
theatre, and their position in European
• music-theatrical history; Goethe’s musicalization of the Faust
legend, the genesis of musical structures in Faust I and Faust II and
• discussion of Faust I and II as libretti; Function and Meaning of
Music Theatre in Faust I and/or Faust II; The function of the chorus in
Faust I and/or Faust II; Music in Faust I: ‘The sun proclaims its old
devotion’ (Prologue in Heaven); Angel’s Easter Chorus; the songs of the
• Gretchen tragedy (‘Der König in Thule‘, ‘Gretchen am Spinnrade’,
‘Gretchens Bitte’ (Gretchen vor der Mater Dolorosa/‘Ach neige, du
Schmerzen reiche’), ‘Cathedral Scene’, Prison Scene’); ‘Mephisto’s Song
of the Flea’ and ‘Brander’s Song of the Rat’ (Down in the cellar there
lived a rat) in Auerbach’s Tavern; ‘The Beggar’s Song’, ‘The Soldier’s
Song’ and ‘The Peasant’s Song’ in Outside the Town Wall; ‘A Walpurgis
Night Dream. An Intermezzo’;
• Music in Faust II: ‘Ariel’s Song’; ‘The Carnival Masque’; Classical
Walpurgis Night’; ‘Arcadia’; The Helena Act’ (‘Helena, classic-romantic
Phantasmagoria, Intermezzo to Faust); melodrama and intermezzi in Act
IV; the lieto fine,‘Mountain Gorges’ including Lynkeus’ Tower Song (A
watchman by calling/ Far-sighted by birth);
• Dr Marianus’s ‘Queen and Ruler of the World’ and ‘Chorus Mysticus’;
Text setting in musical realizations of Faust I and/or Faust II;
Settings of Faust as Opera, Oratorio, Symphonic Works.

and on the following repertoire:
• Prince Anton RADZIWILL, Compositionen zu Goethe’s Faust (1810-1835),
die erste Vertonung von Goethes Faust I;
• Ludwig van BEETHOVEN, ‘Aus Goethe’s Faust: Es war einmal ein König’,
op.75/3 (1809);
• Franz SCHUBERT, ‘Gretchen am Spinnrade’ (1814), ‘Szenen aus Goethes
Faust’ (1814), ‘Der König von Thule’ (1816); ‘Gretchens Bitte’ (1817);
• Ludwig (Louis) SPOHR, Faust (1816); ‘Gretchen am Spinnrade’ (1809);
• Felix MENDELSSOHN, Scherzo from Octet in E flat major, op. 20, 1825,
‘Gretchen (Meine Ruh’ ist hin)’, op.112;
• Hector BERLIOZ, Huit scènes de Faust (1829); La Damnation de Faust
(1845-46); ‘Le roi de Thulé’;
• Giuseppe VERDI, ‘Deh, pietoso, oh Addolorata’ (1838); ‘Perduta ho la
pace’ from 6 Romanze (1838);
• Carl EBERWEIN, Faust I (1829); Faust II (1852);
• Richard WAGNER, Eine Faust Ouvertüre (1840). Sieben Kompositionen zu
Goethes Faust, op. 5 (1831, rev. 1832);
• Robert SCHUMANN, Szenen aus Goethes Faust (1853); ‘Der König von
Thule’, op. 75 (1849); ‘Lynceus des Türmer’ (1849);
• Franz LISZT, Eine Faust-Symphonie in drei Charakterbildern (1854-57)
‘Soldiers’ Song from Goethe’s Faust’; ‘Brander’s Song: “Es lebt eine
Rat’ (1857); ‘Angels’ Chorus’; ‘The King of Thule: Es war ein König’
(1843); Mephistos Lied: ‘Es war einmal ein König’ (1849);
• Charles GOUNOD, Faust (1859);
• Giacomo MEYERBEER, La jeunesse de Goethe (includes scenes from Faust)
• Anton RUBINSTEIN, Faust. Ein musikalisches Characterbild, op. 68,
• Arrigo BOITO, Mefistofele (1867-68);
• Hugo WOLF, ‘Gretchen vor dem Andachtsbild der Mater Dolorosa’ (1878);
• Modest MUSSORGSKY, ‘Mephistopheles’ Song of the Flea’ (1879);
• Gustav MAHLER, Finale from Symphony No. 8 in E flat major (1906-07);
• Lili BOULANGER, Faust et Hélène (1913);
• Ferruccio BUSONI, ‘Lied des Mephistopheles aus Goethes Faust’ (1919),
Doctor Faust (1916-25);
• Hans PFITZNER, ‘Margaret’s Prayer Before the Image of the Sorrowful
Mother’ (in Das dunkle Reich, 1929);
• Hermann Reutter, Doktor Johannes Faust (1936);
• Paul DESSAU, 7 Lieder zu Goethes Faust (1949), Faust I (1949),
Urfaust (1952);
• Hanns EISLER, Rhapsodie (1949);
• Niels Viggo BENTZON, Faust III (1961-62; 1964);
• Alfred Schnittke, Doktor Faust (1983); (For further suggestions of
settings, see accompanying document.)

Papers will last thirty minutes, followed by ten minutes of discussion
time. Proposals for individual papers should be no more than 300 words.
Please also send a short Curriculum Vitæ of no more than 150 words. The
official languages of the conference are English and German. Abstracts
should be sent to one of the following contact persons to arrive no
later than Friday, 20 May 2011:

Dr Lorraine Byrne Bodley
Department of Music National University of Ireland Maynooth Co. Kildare
Professor Florian Krobb
Department of German,
National University of Ireland Maynooth Co. Kildare

Proposals will be selected by the end of June 2011; the full programme
will be announced by September 2011. The conference organisers plan to
publish a refereed volume of selected conference contributions.