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date: 21 October 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The chapter examines settings of two witty songs from the tavern scene of Goethe’s Faust. Beethoven, Berlioz, Wagner, Liszt, Mussorgsky, and Stravinsky are only the most famous among the composers who devoted their attention to “Es war eine Ratt’ ” (“Song of the Rat”) and “Es war einmal ein König” (“Song of the Flea”). While many of these artists set Goethe’s lines in minor works, two of them did not. Berlioz made his “Song of the Rat” the fourth of his Huit scènes de Faust (Eight Scenes from Faust), composed in 1828 29. Similarly, another translation is the basis for the most remarkable achievement in the group: Mussorgsky’s “Song of the Flea,” a striking concert-scene composed for a famous singer in 1879.

Keywords: Faust, Goethe, Ludwig van Beethoven, Hector Berlioz, Richard Wagner, Franz Liszt, Modest Mussorgsky, Igor Stravinsky, “Es war eine Ratt’ ”, “Es war einmal ein König”

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