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date: 20 October 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter sets Gustav Mahler’s Achte Symphonie (Eighth Symphony) in the context of the Faust symphonic tradition, which emerged with the growth of program music. Prior to Liszt’s monumental Faust-Symphonie (Faust Symphony), Faust overtures were composed by Richard Wagner and the Czech composer Bedřich Smetana. In contrast to Liszt’s Faust-Symphonie, with its explicit setting of verses from Goethe’s Faust at the end of the final movement, Mahler’s setting of the final scene of the drama in his Eighth Symphony integrates his selection from Goethe’s text throughout the entire second part of the work. The structure of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony merits attention for its treatment of Goethe’s text in a single, cohesive movement rather than a sequence of separate scenes. Mahler juxtaposed Faust’s redemption in the second part of the Symphony with a cantata-like presentation of a Latin hymn.

Keywords: Faust, Goethe, Gustav Mahler, Eighth Symphony, Richard Wagner, Bedřich Smetana

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