The Music Criticism of Hugo Wolf

By Hugo Wolf; Henry Pleasants | Go to book overview

78. The Damnation of Faust

March 21, 1886

Dramatic Legend in Four Parts by Hector Berlioz.

Among the multifarious musical compositions inspired by Faust, Berlioz's The Damnation of Faust, along with Wagner's Faust Overture and Liszt's Faust Symphony, must indisputably be awarded pride of place. Granted, Berlioz failed to achieve an organic work of art, congruent in terms of form and substance, such as the two compositions of Wagner and Liszt. His Faust is a fragmentary mosaic, a haphazard structure replete with the most beautiful details, but without a clearly conscious aim. The Faust idea, in its purely human features an inexhaustible source of artistic inspiration, is dissolved with Berlioz in an idle play of capricious fantasies, admittedly ingenious and admirable in themselves, but destructive of the unity of poetic intention, and inhibiting any full enjoyment of the totality of the work. This criticism can be made of Schumann's Faust, too. Inner incoherence is common to both, and if Schumann's Faust adheres with greater sensibility to the Goethe model, Berlioz's work surpasses it in musical substance. However one may feel about Berlioz's approach to the Faust idea, one thing is certain: almost every number in this work excites our most fervent admiration. Let us examine this remarkable opus more closely.

The Introduction places Faust -- oddly enough -- in a Hungarian plain. Justifying this curiosity in a preface to The Damnation of Faust, Berlioz says: "Why, some may ask, does the composer have his hero wandering through Hungary in the first part? Very simply because he wanted to introduce a piece of music based on a Magyar theme. He confesses it with utter candor. He would have taken his hero anywhere, and have given the matter not another thought if prompted to do so by the slightest musical motif. Did not Goethe himself, in the second part of his Faust, take him to Menelaus's palace in Sparta?"

Well, the reference to Goethe's "arbitrary" procedure is truly naive. Berlioz obviously lacks a proper understanding of the profound symbolism of the classic Walpurgis Night and the bond of love between Faust and Helen. Nor does Berlioz's frank admission of willingness to transport his hero anywhere for the sake of a musical motif speak well for his dramatic intentions in dealing with Faust.1 The concept of a symphonie descriptive, in any case, occupied him more intensively than that of a "grand opera," just as the légende dramatique, despite its outward appearance, is closer to the symphonie de

-197-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Music Criticism of Hugo Wolf
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
/ 291

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.