Scenen aus Goethes Faust: A performer's analysis. Page: 1
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Robert Schumann's dramatic music remains, for the most part, undiscovered and
therefore performed infrequently. Genoveva, Das Paradies und die Peri, Manfred, and Scenen
aus Goethes Faust are comprised of some of Schumann's most beautiful music from his last
stylistic period. Schumann aspired to write dramatic music for the stage and explored the idea of
setting Shakespeare's plays Hamlet and The Tempest or one of E.T.A. Hoffman's stories Doge
und Dogaressa to music.
Schumann envisioned a national German opera featuring a complete union of text and
music and a plot based upon the supernatural and mythical German legends. His lofty aspiration
was to raise the dramatic music of his time to the high standards of the literary culture. Because
Schumann's father was a publisher and a bookseller, Schumann's great love of literature and his
extensive literary background originated in his childhood. He wanted to associate himself as a
composer with the greatest literary figures including Heine, Goethe, and Schiller. Having set
their texts in his lieder, Schumann was already familiar with verses of these renowned poets. "It
is the duty of every cultivated man to know the literature of his country."1 In Schumann's quest
to compose a national German opera, he originally thought of composing an opera using
Goethe's Faust, but because of the scope of the subject matter he eventually set it in the manner
of a secular oratorio. In October of 1844 Schumann wrote to Eduard Kruiger and asked his
opinion about setting Faust as an oratorio. "What do you think of the idea of treating Faust as an
oratorio? Isn't it bold and beautiful?"2 In a correspondence to Carl Kossmaly in September, 1842
Schumann asked "Do you know my daily prayer as an artist? It is German opera."3
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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/m1/7/: accessed July 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .