- The autograph composing manuscript of Szenen aus Goethes "Faust" [WoO 3]
- ink on paper
122 pages, mostly folio (c.34 x 27 cms), plus blanks and wrappers, various sizes and types of paper, some staining, wrappers a little frayed and with some paper-loss, [Leipzig, Dresden and Düsseldorf, 1844-1853]
Schumann's Szenen aus Goethes "Faust", was the first major setting of both Part I and Part II of one of the greatest masterpieces of German literature, and contains the earliest setting of Part II.
Szenen aus Goethes "Faust" represents the culmination of all Schumann's work as a composer, and indeed it can be said that an understanding of him would be incomplete without a full consideration of it. In this work came together all the themes that characterize his mature work: Schumann the Lieder composer, incomparable in his sensitivity to the greatest German poetry; Schumann the symphonist, the pioneer in the musical expression of Romantic thought; Schumann the most literary of all composers, now confronting the task of elucidating with music the most important German text of his century; above all Schumann the dreamer, the seeker after the transcendental and sublime. All this rendered it inevitable that one day he would attempt setting Goethe's final scenes. Yet Schumann's was the first setting of these celebrated words: with all other settings up to this point (and indeed most afterwards), composers were attracted by the more obviously stageable lyrical and dramatic scenes found in Part I of Faust, in particular the operas by Spohr (1816) and later Gounod (1859) and Boito (1868). Even advanced symphonic settings with voices, such as Berlioz's La Damnation de Faust (1846), draw almost exclusively on Goethe's Part I. Schumann's setting of the final scenes of Part II dates from 1844 and was performed in 1848 and 1849; thereafter Liszt also set the final chorus in his Faust Symphonie, but only in 1857.
In contrast with those works, Schumann concentrates largely on Goethe's Act V of Part II, which occupies about two-thirds of the final published score of Szenen aus Goethes Faust. Over eighty pages of the present manuscript are devoted to Faust's death and transfiguration, culminating in the famous final chorus "Das Ewig-Weibliche". Schumann composed this whole section of the work during the second half of 1844, including his preliminary marked-up transcript of Goethe's final scene. Schumann's original version of the double chorus contains his magical musical setting of Goethe's 'Chorus mysticus', containing the unforgettable passages at the end:
Alles Vergängliche ist nur ein Gleichniss
Das Unzulängliche hier wird's Ereigniss
Das Unbeschreibliche, hier ist es gethan
Das Ewig-Weibliche zieht uns hinan
Schumann provides arguably the most complete musical representation of Goethe's "Faust". His Faust is particularly important because he concentrates on the most "difficult" sections: he interprets in music Goethe's most sublime passages. He might be regarded as the perfect composer for this text: like Goethe himself, Schumann is an artist with both Romantic and Classicizing tendencies. In a famous discussion in 1830, Goethe expressed his view that Romanticism and Classicism were not opposing tendencies, but both could be seen in one. So it is with Schumann, who cast his Romantic harmony and his faith in expressiveness of music in the type of classical phraseology and rhythms that might have been familiar to the poet himself. It may be argued that this manuscript has a crucial place in the history of the German Romantic movement. It certainly represents a point of culmination in the history of the nineteenth-century German music, a point before the division between the late Romanticism of Brahms and the historicizing Romanticism of the Wagnerian music drama.
Schumann's Faust is a work unparalleled in its total conception. It is not obvious what – if any – model exists for this work in Classical and early Romantic music. For many years Schumann had wanted to write an opera – it is significant to discover sketches for his work on Genoveva in this manuscript. It can be argued that his Faust would represent the closest and most complete approach to a great opera that he ever made, if it were not for the fact that the very texts he was most drawn to, indeed the evident raison d'être for his setting, were not and never have been operatic in manner. Nevertheless, the music of Schumann's Faust makes it the most Wagnerian of all his works, particularly in the scene of Faust's death, which is dominated by baritone voice and brass.
Perhaps the most extraordinary features of this manuscript are the layers of working revealed: Schumann at the creative moment in one of his greatest achievements.
Faust clearly obsessed Schumann as it did Liszt and Wagner who both contemplated works in the 1840's on this subject. He began composition as early as Summer 1844, with the opening of the 'Dritte Abtheilung' (part 3)– the first sketches are dated 10 July 1844. This manuscript confirms entries in Schumann's Haushaltbucher, showing that the composer continued to work on Faust as late as the winter of 1844. He resumed work in Autumn 1847, drafting the second version of the final chorus "Das Ewig-Weibliche". In the same year he began work on his only completed opera Genoveva. In 1848, the year of the centenary of Goethe's birth, Schumann composed a number of works to text by the national poet, including the "Mignon" songs and the Requiem for Mignon and once more he turned his attention to Faust, sketching a version of the chorus "Gerettet". It was on 29 August 1848, the day following the centenary, that the closing scenes of Goethe's Faust (i.e. the Third Part of Schumann's work) received its premiere in Dresden. Performances followed at Goethe celebrations in Weimar and Leipzig.
But Schumann was evidently not satisfied with the shape of the work and in 1849 turned his attention to the first part of Goethe's play. The summer months saw a spurt of creative energy with the composition of the Cathedral Scene, the Garden Scene, Gretchen before the Mater Dolorosa, Ariel's scene and Faust's Awakening as well as the orchestration of the previously drafted material. In April and May of 1850 Schumann worked on the scene of Faust's death. Two years later Schumann completed the piano score of the second part and in the following year drafted the Overture between 13 and 15 August and orchestrated it on 16 and 17 of that month. There is, however, a sketched opening of an Overture which may date from as early as 1847.
In mid August 1853 Schumann and his wife Clara went to Scheveningen to try to alleviate his health which was failing. In fact the "Faust" overture, written in this late creative period, is probably Schumann's last great work. On 27 October 1853 Schumann conducted his last concert and then began his inexorable decline into madness. By his death in 1856, Faust had not been performed in its entirety. It was only in 1862 that the work received its premiere. Thereafter it received only sporadic performances. It was not until the twentieth century that the full significance of this great work has been appreciated: a notable performance and recording was made by Benjamin Britten in 1972. Now it is regarded as being Schumann's great large-scale masterpiece, worthy to stand alongside the great "Faust" works of Liszt, Berlioz and Mahler.
The manuscript contains the following sections (Schumann's work is divided into three parts; his Abtheilungen 2 & 3 are based on Goethe's Faust, Part II:)
Overture: 2 versions: composition draft, short score, 15ten Aug[ust 18]53; working manuscript of the piano reduction, differing in a number of respects from the first edition, 7 pages in all, folio
Scene III: in the Cathedral (from Goethe's Faust, Part I): several versions; 1. "Clavierauszug zur Scene im Dom aus Faust", 4 pages, folio, incomplete, final section far removed from first edition; 2. [Composition draft of Scene III], beginning "Wie anders, Gretchen", many differences from final version, the solo voice parts largely complete, but lacking the choral parts, paginated by Schumann "1-7", 11 pages in all, c33.5 x 26.5cms [13-14 July 1849]
Scene I: In the Garden (from Part I): begun on verso of last leaf of Scene III; annotated by Schumann in pencil; the voice parts largely complete, with a list of orchestral instruments in upper left-hand corner, in short score, beginning: "Du kanntest mich, o kleiner Engel wieder"; misordered by Schumann (pp.8-11), dated at end "d. 15te Juli ", 3 pages
Scene II: Gretchen in front of the Picture of the Mater Dolorosa (from Part I); marked "No 2" by Schumann, beginning on the 11th page, just below the end of the previous scene, "Ach, neige", many revisions, including a redrafted postlude, paginated by Schumann "11-13", 3 pages [18 July 1849]
Scene IV: [Ariel. Sunrise (from Faust, Part II, Act I)]: (begun on verso of p. 9 of Part I, Scene I), the solo parts complete, and with the outer parts of the choral parts; the instrumental parts define the harmonies, but not the rhythms, with a list of orchestral instruments in top left hand corner, "Die ihr dies Haupt...schau ich an", many differences from final version, paginated "14-26" last two leaves cut down, 13 pages [24-26 July 1849]
Scene V: [Midnight (from Faust, Part II, Act V)], list of orchestral instruments in top right-hand corner, "Ich heisse der Mangel", with many dynamic markings throughout, paginated "1-10", part of final gage cut away, 10 pages, [26 April 1849]
Scene VI: [Faust's Death, from Part II. Act V], list of orchestral instruments in top right-hand corner "Herhei, Herhei"; a remarkably fluent score, with the voice parts complete, but containing many differences from the published version, deleted bars etc, dated at the end "M[it] G]ottes H[ilfe] den 28ten April 1850 beendigt", paginated 1-8, 8 pages
['Dritte Abtheilung': Faust's Transfiguration, from Faust, Part II, Act V]:
No.1 [Bergschluchten] Chorus "Waldung, sie schwankt heran", containing a four-part fugue, the choral parts in score, accompaniment patterns written in pencil on top two lines of score, no orchestral prelude, list of orchestral instruments in top right-hand corner, revised version of 8 bars in score on an additional sheet (different paper supply, c.30.5 x 23cms), [begun probably around 13 June 1844]; leads directly to:
No.2 Tenor solo [Pater Ecstaticus], "Ewiger Wonnebrand", short score, in ink, leading directly to:
No.3 Bass solo [Pater Profundus], "wie Felsen Abgrund". List of orchestral instruments in left-hand margin, music in pencil, text in pencil and ink; last bars in ink, dated at end "10/7/44"; 4 pages in all, c.34.5x 27cms
No.4 Chorus, "Gerettet ist", mostly in pencil, some working in ink, list of instruments in top margins, passage missing at the words "geeinte Zweinatur" to "vollenden" (in fact the draft of this missing section is to be found in 7 below) [second half of 1844]; followed by;
The "Nebellied" in full score: "Nebelnd um Felsenhöh", heavily reworked, 15 pages, c.34.5 x25.5cms and 34.5 x 27cms. In Schumann's final fair-copy, now in the Staatsbibliothek in Berlin, these Goethe settings are in the hand of Schumann's copyist Carl Gottschalk (Margit McCorkle describes the Berlin manuscript as "partly autograph"). There is no recapitulation of the "Gerettet" chorus here, after "die Flocken los", the music leads directly to:
No.5 Baritone solo [Doctor Marianus}, "Hier ist die Aussicht frei", in full score in pencil, opening; then follows the recapitulation of "Gerettet" from 4 above, in heavily worked vocal score; then a complete working draft of "hier ist die Aussicht frei", in short score, leading straight to
No.6 Baritone [Doctor Marianus] and Chorus: "Dir, der Unberührbaren", in short score, ink and pencil, extensively revised and altered, leading to the trio "bei der Liebe" and several versions of the solo [Una Poenitentium (Gretchen)], "Neige, neige...gnädig" (several versions), 4 pages
No.7 Chorus mysticus, There are two autograph versions here, the choral parts being largely complete, without instruments. This final section of the manuscript begins with "Alles Vergängliche", notated in brown ink, for double chorus, first in open score on eight-stave systems, subsequently in short score, but with repeated sections notated schematically, some reduced to a single line. The manuscript also contains several drafts and revisions, including two versions of the opening, another draft of the entire first version except for the last forty bars (which are added on a sheet in landscape format, dated 23 November 1844), a further draft of the second section of the movement; two substantially complete drafts for the second version of "Das Ewig-Weibliche", including details of orchestration, one in vocal score, with Schumann's transcript of Goethe's whole final scene (with his annotations concerning its musical setting); the manuscript includes the missing passage from 4 above, beginning "geeinte Zweinatur...vollenden" another draft of the "Nebelnd um Felsenhöh", another draft of the "Gerettet" chorus, and various other sketches (including for the "Overture", marked "Andante", and for part of the libretto of Genoveva), 42 pages, c.34 x 23cms (Schumann's annotated draft of Goethe's text, c 34 x 22.5cms), mainly the second half of 1844, [the second setting of "Das Ewig-Weibliche" dates from July 1847]