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date: 21 October 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter considers Franz Liszt’s engagement with Faustian themes during three periods of his career: an initial stage during his concert years in which he ambivalently cultivated a Mephistophelean image through arresting performances and extraordinarily virtuosic compositions; a middle stage in which Goethe’s Faust inspired several choral compositions and the controversial Faust-Symphonie (Faust Symphony), premiered in 1857; and a final period in which, frustrated by the failure of the Faust-Symphonie in particular and criticism of his artistic goals and musical output in general, Liszt reinterpreted Mephistopheles in the Mephisto-Walzer (Mephisto Waltzes) as an artistically transgressive figure. These various engagements with Faustian themes are linked by Liszt’s constant struggles to balance a progressive musical orientation with inherited tradition.

Keywords: Faust, Goethe, Franz Liszt, Eine Faust-Symphonie in drei Charakterbildern nach Goethe, Mephisto-Walzer

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