Monday, August 30, 2010

Franz Liszt's Faust Symphony -- An Odd Association

I first heard Franz Liszt's Faust Symphony in about July 1977 in a televised concert conducted by, I believe, Leonard Bernstein.  I was awed by this remarkable work.  The symphony is in three movements, each representing a different character from Goethe's play.  The first movement represents Faust himself, the second movement, Gretchen (see 1:00 on the YouTube video, below), and the third movement represents Mephisotopheles (see 1:42 on the YouTube video, below).  Liszt does an interesting thing.  He uses much of the same melodic material in each of the movements, but treats the melodies in a different and distinctive way.  Bernstein said that the Faust Symphony is Liszt's one masterpiece.

I saw the Philadelphia orchestra perform the work in September 1982 under the direction of Ricardo Muti at The Academy of Music.  I was so taken with the piece that I attended a second performance of it.

The Faust Symphony was first performed on September 5, 1857.

It was on Friday September 5, 1969, when I was an 11th grade high school student, that I had my first lab session in chemistry class at The Central High School of Philadelphia. Mark Pearlstein, Esq. was in that class. I remember Pearlstein once said to me: "You're not exactly Joe Social." Faust, incidentally, was an alchemist.

The conclusion of the Faust Symphony without the final chorus:

1 comment:

Gary Freedman said...

Pearlstein was a huge hockey fan. "It's nonstop action."