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date: 21 October 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The Russian composer Alfred Schnittke’s Faust cantata, Seid nüchtern und wachet (Be sober and watch), remarkably parallels the fictional work of the hero of Thomas Mann’s 1947 novel Doktor Faustus (Doctor Faustus). Mann’s novel is a retelling of the sixteenth-century Faust story in the light of the history of German music of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The central character, the composer Adrian Leverkühn, navigates the currents of social and artistic unrest. The fictional composer’s last work was the cantata D. Fausti Weheklag (The Lamentation of Doctor Faustus) with a text drawn from the 1587 Spies Faust Book. One of the first readers of Mann’s novel, Schnittke patterned much of his own life on his fictional counterpart. The main characteristic of both Schnittke’s and Leverkühn’s cantatas is a pervasive sense of paradox.

Keywords: Faust, Alfred Schnittke, cantata, Seid nüchtern und wachet, Thomas Mann, Doktor Faustus, Spies Faust Book

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