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date: 15 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

On reading Gérard de Nerval’s translation of Goethe’s Faust, Hector Berlioz set nine lyrics, grouped into eight miscellaneous pieces, which he immediately published (April 1829) as Huit scènes de Faust (Eight Scenes from Faust). This, his opus 1, was well received by fellow musicians, but he withdrew it, subsequently reworking the material in a full-scale dramatic work, La damnation de Faust (The Damnation of Faust) (1846), the title of which separates it from Goethe’s larger scheme in which, as Berlioz remarked, “Faust is saved.” Although Berlioz’s Faust suffers from ennui, suicide is prevented by the Easter Hymn and a nostalgic vision of childhood piety. Méphistophélès intervenes directly at this point, and controls the remaining action, in which Berlioz contrasts the purity of Marguerite (Gretchen) with demonic manifestations; in these Berlioz subverts musical expectations, notably turning a minuet of “follets” into one of music’s most fascinating evocations of the romantic grotesque.

Keywords: Faust, Goethe, Hector Berlioz, Huit scènes de Faust, La damnation de Faust

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