Oct 23, 2021  
College Catalog 2019-2020 
College Catalog 2019-2020 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

MHMUS 477 — Faust in Music

3 credits
John J.H. Muller

Prerequisite: MHMUS 311  The Faust legend was a source of great inspiration for composers of the 19th and 20th centuries. After briefly considering the historical Faust and literary works based on his legend, such as Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus and Goethe’s Faust, we will examine in detail a series of musical treatments, instrumental, operatic, and in between. Compositions will range from a vocal miniature like Schubert’s “Gretchen am Spinnrad’” to Mahler’s monumental 8th Symphony. We will compare how composers have had different responses to the themes of the legend. Were they drawn to the work for its philosophical qualities, the love story, or was it the devil himself who fascinated them? Issues of musical style will be studied. For instance, comparing settings by Berlioz, Schumann, and Liszt demonstrates a diversity of Romantic style. Gounod’s Faust is very much in the tradition of French opera, yet Boito’s Mefistofele sounds nothing like Verdi. Important 20th-century settings include Busoni’s Doktor Faustus and Schnittke’s Historia von D. Johann Fausten, one of his final works. Even Stravinsky was drawn to the subject, in The Rake’s Progress.