Scenen aus Goethes Faust: A performer's analysis. Page: 37
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Schumann's music for Scenen aus Goethes Faust received mixed reviews from his critics
and colleagues citing lack of dramatic continuity (as Schumann set only a very small portion of
Goethe's epic text) and lack of melodic invention in the overture and in the declamatory vocal
passages. Schumann intentionally chose to focus on Goethe's central theme of Faust's salvation
accomplished through Gretchen's divine love and Faust's eternal striving rather than narrating
the entire drama. In a review published in Die Gegenwart, Alfred Heinrich Ehrlich criticized
Schumann for his Wagnerisms especially Schumann's usage of "sprechgesang" (speech song) in
his setting of Goethe's Faust.
The beginning of Faust's next solo, "Des Lebens Pulse," also belongs to the most
magnificent moments. On the other hand, the second part of this number, "So ist es also,"
is the perfect model of an unending melody after Wagnerian principles, according to
which a concrete expression is to be musically fitted to each word. [And to be sure, one
may decisively maintain, without adducing any special proof, that] were the public not
prepared for such experiments by the Wagner operas and by their endless and "unending"
melody, it would not be able to bring any sympathy to this song of Faust's.35
Eduard KrUiger said "In writing hardly memorable melodies... Schumann takes the same path as
Wagner; the predominantly psychological recitation, tone painting and orchestra
texture impede melodic memorability.36 After the premiere of a private performance of Part III
(Faust's Transfiguration) in 1848, Schumann stated in a letter to Franz Brendel:
What pleased me the most was to hear from many that the music made the poem
intelligible to them for the first time. For I often feared the reproach: why music to such
perfect poetry? On the other hand I felt since I came to know the scene that here of all
places music could enhance the effect.37
Clara Schumann said "I am convinced that this work will some day take its place among the
greatest in existence. The second part is at least as great as the third..."-38
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Paoletti Jr., Karl. Scenen aus Goethes Faust: A performer's analysis., dissertation, August 2008; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc9053/m1/43/: accessed September 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .