Philip Hale's Boston Symphony Programme Notes: Historical, Critical, and Descriptive Comment on Music and Composers

By John N. Burk; Philip Hale | Go to book overview

FRANZ LISZT

A "FAUST" SYMPHONY IN THREE CHARACTER
PICTURES (AFTER GOETHE)
i. Faust
ii. Gretchen
iii. Mephistopheles

PERHAPS in the first movement there are a few passages that might be cut out or condensed, but no one would wish the movement "Gretchen" to be changed in any way; of all the music that is associated with the innocent maiden of Goethe's poem, this is surely the most expressive, the most beautiful. The remorseful, crazed Gretchen is not in Liszt's picture. We find her in the prison music of Boïto. And how paltry does the music of Mephistopheles conceived by Gounod seem in comparison with the ironical fiend of Liszt, mocking the doubts and the aspirations of the disillusionized philosopher!

Liszt told his biographer, Lina Ramann, 1 that the idea of this symphony came to him in Paris in the 'forties, and was suggested by Berlioz's Damnation of Faust. ( Berlioz's work was produced at the Opéra-Comique, December 6, 1846.) Lina Ramann's biography is eminently unsatisfactory, and in some respects untrustworthy, but there is no reason to doubt her word in this instance. Some have said that Liszt was inspired by Ary Scheffer's pictures to illustrate Goethe's Faust. Peter Cornelius stated that Liszt was incited to his work by seeing the pictures "in which Scheffer had succeeded in giving a bodily form to the three leading characters in Goethe's poem." As a matter of fact, we believe, Scheffer did not portray Mephistopheles. Scheffer ( 1795-1858) was a warm friend of Liszt, and made a portrait of him in 1837, which is in the Liszt Museum at Weimar.

But Liszt made in the 'forties no sketches of his symphony. The

____________________
1
Lina Ramann: Franz Liszt als Kunstler und Mensch, 1880; translated by E. Cowdrey, 1882.

-[175]-

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Philip Hale's Boston Symphony Programme Notes: Historical, Critical, and Descriptive Comment on Music and Composers
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Philip Hale's Boston Symphony Programme Notes - Historical, Critical, and Descriptive Comment on Music and Composers *
  • Editor's Note v
  • Contents ix
  • Introduction xvii
  • Johann Sebastian Bach i
  • Ludwig Van Beethoven 7
  • Hector Berlioz 56
  • Ernest Bloch 66
  • Alexander Porphirievitch Borodin 70
  • Johannes Brahms 75
  • Johannes Brahms 77
  • Anton Bruckner 100
  • John Alden Carpenter 114
  • Claude Achille Debussy 118
  • Anton DvoØÁk 130
  • Edward William Elgar 135
  • Manuel De Falla 140
  • CÉsar Franck 145
  • Georg Frideric Handel 150
  • Franz Josef Haydn 154
  • Paul Hindemith 161
  • Arthur Honegger 164
  • Paul Marie ThÉodore Vincent D'Indy 166
  • Franz Liszt 173
  • Franz Liszt 175
  • Charles Martin Loeffler 184
  • Edward Macdowell 186
  • Gustav Mahler 189
  • Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy 195
  • Modeste Petrovitch Moussorgsky 206
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart 209
  • Symphonies in E Flat (koechel No. 543), G Minor (koechel No. 550), C Major ("Jupiter"), (koechel No. 551) 211
  • Serge Sergievich Prokofieff 225
  • Sergei Vassilievich Rachmaninoff 229
  • Joseph Maurice Ravel 234
  • Otterino Respighi 241
  • Nicolas Andrejevitch Rimsky-Korsakov 244
  • Charles Camille Saint-Saens 253
  • Arnold Schoenberg 259
  • Franz Peter Schubert 261
  • Robert Alexander Schumann 270
  • Alexander Nicolaievitch Scriabin 288
  • Jean Julius Christian Sibelius 292
  • Richard Strauss 308
  • Igor Fedorovitch Stravinsky 331
  • Joseph Deems Taylor 339
  • Peter Ilitch Tchaikovsky 343
  • Richard Wagner 363
  • Richard Wagner 365
  • Carl Maria Von Weber 380
  • Ralph Vaughan Williams 389
  • Index 395
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