That Goethe's poetry has proved pivotal for the development of the nineteenth-century Lied has long been acknowledged. Less acknowledged is the seminal impact in musical realms of Goethe's Faust, a work which has attracted the attention of composers since the late eighteenth century and played a vital role in the evolution of vocal, operatic and instrumental repertoire in the nineteenth century. 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. Despite this, a floodtide of musical interpretations of Goethe's Faust came into existence from Beethoven to Schubert, Schumann to Wagner and Mahler, and Gounod to Berlioz; and a broad trajectory can be traced from Zelter's colourful description of the first setting of Goethe's Faust to Alfred Schnittke's Faust opera (1993).
This book explores the musical origins of Goethe's Faust and the musical dimensions of its legacy. It uncovers the musical furore caused by Goethe's Faust and considers why his polemical text has resonated so strongly with composers. Bringing together leading musicologists and Germanists, the book addresses a wide range of issues including reception history, the performative challenges of writing music for Faust, the impact of the legend on composers' conceptual thinking, and the ways in which it has been used by composers to engage with other contemporary intellectual concepts. Constituting the richest examination to date of the musicality of language and form in Goethe's Faust and its musical rendering from the eighteenth to twenty-first centuries, the book will appeal to music, literary and Goethe scholars and students alike.
LORRAINE BYRNE BODLEY is Senior Lecturer in Musicology at Maynooth University and President of the Society for Musicology in Ireland.
Contributors: Mark Austin, Lorraine Byrne Bodley, Nicholas Boyle, John Michael Cooper, Siobhan Donovan, Osman Durrani, Mark Fitzgerald, John Guthrie, Heather Hadlock, Julian Horton, Ursula Kramer, Waltraud Meierhofer, Eftychia Papanikolaou, David Robb, Christopher Ruth, Glenn Stanley, Martin Swales, J. M. Tudor