Franz Liszt: A Faust Symphony on Symphony at 7
The bicentennial of the birth of Franz Liszt is tomorrow (October, 22). On the eve of his 200th birthday, we’re featuring one of his grandest compositions on Symphony at 7, A Faust Symphony.
As large as this work is, lasting over an hour, it does not attempt to tell the story of Goethe’s Faust but, instead, presents a musical portrait of the three main characters. The first movement representing Faust has the character of a large symphonic poem with its contrasting moods portraying the multifaceted protagonist. “Gretchen,” the second movement is appropriately more refined and intermezzo-like, and “Mephistopheles,” the third movement is devilishly sly and grotesque at times. But rather than end there, Liszt concludes the mammoth piece with a sublime chorus with tenor solo for, “Alles Vergaengliche,” (All Things Transitory) that ends Goethe’s Faust in a spirit of redemption.
“A Faust Symphony in Three Character Portraits” premiered in Wiemar in 1857. You can hear a complete performance this evening.
Here’s just a bit with Leonard Bernstein conducting:
And more from the sublime conclusion: