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date: 21 October 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Robert Schumann had a long and complicated relationship with Goethe’s Faust, as is reflected in the compositional history of his Scenen aus Goethe’s Faust (Scenes from Goethe’s Faust), begun in 1844 and completed in 1853, but not published in his lifetime. Schumann was unusual among composers in using Goethe’s words rather than a paraphrase and in selecting scenes from both parts of the drama. He began with the closing “Chorus mysticus,” working his way backward through aspects of the Gretchen tragedy, and finally providing an overture. Unusually, Schumann decided to treat Faust as an oratorio rather than as an opera, but as in his other choral dramatic works of the time there is crossover, musically, with more theatrical approaches. The chapter examines musico-dramatic features of the work to reconsider its reception, which has been made problematic by critics viewing the Faustszenen as a barometer of Schumann’s late style.

Keywords: Faust, Goethe, Robert Schumann, Scenen aus Goethe’s Faust

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