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