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Classical 101

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: http://youtu.be/nM9eOD6Pi84 And more from the sublime conclusion: http://youtu.be/1U_g0UnWjJU