Goethe: Musical Poet, Musical Catalyst

by Lorraine Byrne (Volume editor)
©2004 Monographs XXXIV, 376 Pages


«It was a great pleasure both to host and to participate in an international conference that brought together musicologists, composers, performers, and literary artists in stimulating and thought-provoking discourse. The collaboration of our colleagues from Queen’s University, Belfast, was particularly welcome and appreciated; they, together with distinguished international Goethians, contributed much to what was a unique 36 hours of intellectual and artistic dialogue.»
Professor Gerard Gillen, Chair of Music, National University of Ireland Maynooth & Titular Organist of Dublin’s Pro-Cathedral
«Goethe’s influence on the musical world is far reaching. While it seems impossible to grasp the full extent of his legacy, a sense of optimism was in the air at the Maynooth conference where we were entertained by a series of highly stimulating papers and concerts, exploring some fascinating details of Goethe’s world and his unique contributions to music. It was indeed a rare opportunity to have had such a wonderful mix of scholarly exchanges on a literary giant, Goethe, who continues to enrich our lives through his creative output.»
Dr Yo Tomita, Reader in Music, Queen’s University Belfast
«I have long been conscious of the modernity of much of Goethe’s writing and aware of the very direct message it can deliver to a 21st century man or woman. In particular the characters of both Mignon and the Harper in Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre speak to us of an all-too-familiar sense of fractured identity. It was therefore with especial pleasure that I undertook the musical setting of Goethe’s poems associated with these two vivid characters for performance at the conference. What a wonderful opportunity was afforded me to present a first performance of Goethe settings before an audience that included so many distinguished scholars of the great German writer!»
Seóirse Bodley, Composer and Emeritus Professor of Music, University College Dublin
«Musical performance is a fundamental part of human existence, yet years of learning and preparation lie behind it. The interpretation of music requires decisions – conscious and/or intuitive – about the meaning of musical features as well as knowledge of the historical context in which the music was written. The unique interaction of theory and practice in this conference offered scholars and performers an opportunity to unravel the complexities of performance together, and to bring to light aspects of learning and playing. Each of the authors in this volume is a leading expert in the field, and the performers, who illustrated their lectures with recitals, were of considerable experience and renown. All of these factors ensure that the essays in this volume are vital, cogent, and musically challenging.»
John O’Conor, Pianist and Director of the Royal Irish Academy of Music
«Goethe was interested in, and acutely aware of, the place of music in human experience generally – and of its particular role in modern culture. Moreover, his own literary work - especially the poetry and ‘Faust’ – inspired some of the major composers of the European tradition to produce some of their finest works. What is it about Goethe’s texts that invites a transformation into music? Perhaps it is his extraordinary combination of emotional immediacy and intense reflectivity. To that combination, and to the perennially fascinating question of what happens in the interplay between words and music, this volume of essays bears abundant witness.»
Martin Swales, Emeritus Professor of German, University College London

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Contributors
  • Editorial Note and Acknowledgements
  • List of Abbreviations
  • List of Figures
  • List of Illustrations
  • List of Musical Quotations
  • List of Tables
  • Message from Dr Gottfried Haas, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany
  • Micheal O’Siadhail, ‘Hopscotch’ and ‘Caprice’
  • Preface (Susan Youens)
  • A: Goethe’s Musical Aesthetics
  • 1 | Goethe’s Presence in the Vienna Music Scene of his Era (Otto Biba)
  • 2 | Goethe and Zelter: An Exchange of Musical Letters (Lorraine Byrne)
  • B: Goethe and Beethoven
  • 3 | Göthe and Beethowen: Men of Genius between Distance and Affinity (Claus Canisius)
  • 4 | ‘Ich denke dein’: Beethoven’s Retelling of Goethe’s Poetry (Amanda Glauert)
  • 5 | Fidelio and Faust in the German ‘Wende’ of 1989/90 (Moray McGowan)
  • C: Goethe as Musical Catalyst
  • 6 | Goethe and the Czechs (Jan Smaczny)
  • 7 | Bettina von Arnim, Goethe and the Boundaries of Creativity (Briony Williams)
  • 8 | Blumengruß und Blumenglöckchen: Goethe’s Influence on Anton Webern (Gareth Cox)
  • D: Musical and Philosophical Reflections of Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre
  • 9 | ‘Thealogy’: Gods, Goddesses, and Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre (Nicholas Boyle)
  • 10 | Schumann’s Requiem für Mignon and the Concept of Music as Literature (Julian Horton)
  • 11 | Mignon’s Exequies and Aesthetic Reflections of the Liturgy in Music (Adolf Nowak)
  • 12 | Mignon und der Harfner (Seóirse Bodley)
  • Appendices
  • Appendix 1 | Conference Programme
  • Appendix 2 | Goethe and the Guitar
  • Index

←x | xi→


Otto Biba is Director of the Archives, the Library and the Collections of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna. He has lectured at the University of Vienna and was Professor at the University for Music in Vienna from 1973 to 2002. He is a member of international musicological institutions (e.g. Zentralinstitut für Mozartforschung Salzburg, Joseph Haydn-Institut Köln) and member of managing and advisory committees of international publication projects (e.g. Johannes Brahms Complete Edition, München-Kiel). He has numerous publications, primarily on old-Austrian music history of the 17th to 20th century, and has prepared editions of over 120 compositions of the 18th and 19th century. He is responsible for the scientific organization of music exhibitions in Austria, Europe, USA and Japan.

Seóirse Bodley, Emeritus Professor UCD, was born in Dublin. Studies in Ireland and Germany led to a teaching appointment at the Music Department of University College Dublin, where he was awarded the degree of D.Mus.

Influences on his compositions include a range of musical styles from the European avant-garde to Irish traditional music. His works include five symphonies for full orchestra, two chamber symphonies and numerous orchestral, choral, vocal and chamber pieces. The many commissions he has received include his Third Symphony, commissioned for the opening of the National Concert Hall in Dublin, and his Fourth Symphony, commissioned by the Arturo Toscanini Symphony Orchestra of Parma, Italy. In addition to many performances in Ireland, his music has been broadcast and performed in North America, many European countries, Australia and China. Awards include the Arts Council Prize for Composition, a Travelling Studentship of the National University of Ireland, the Macauley Fellowship in Music Composition and the Marten Toonder Award. His is founder-member of Aosdána, Ireland’s academy of creative artists.

←xi | xii→

Recent works include: the piano-piece Chiaroscuro, premiered at the AXA Dublin International Piano Competition (2000). A Sinfonietta commissioned and premiered by the Irish National Youth Orchesta and included in their millennium tour of Ireland and Germany ending with a performance at the Konzerthaus, Berlin (2000). The first performance of Earlsfort Suite for mezzo Bernadette Greevy and orchestra, National Concert Hall, 2000. More recently: News from Donabate, a fifty-minute work for solo piano (2001); An Exchange of Letters for solo piano (2002) performed by Rolf Hind in the NCH; After Great Pain, song-cycle (2002) performed by Aylish Kerrigan (mezzo soprano) and Gabrielle Schimmerling (piano) in Stuttgart.

Seóirse Bodley’s first Goethe setting, that of Wandrers Nachtlied, was performed last year, leading on to his song-cycle Mignon und der Harfner, first performed in March 2004 at the conference, ‘Goethe: Musical Poet, Musical Catalyst’, NUI Maynooth. This cycle was the first of three new compositions premiered in the early months of 2004; the others are Metamorphoses on the name Schumann for orchestra, premiered at the National Concert Hall Dublin by the National Symphony Orchestra under Gerhardt Markson and the third string quartet Ave atque Vale, performed by the Vogler Quartet in Sligo.

Nicholas Boyle was born in London in 1946 and was brought up in Malvern and Worcester. He studied Modern Languages at Cambridge in Magdalene College, of which he has been a Fellow since 1968, and apart from spells working in Göttingen and Berlin he has taught German in Cambridge ever since. He was made Reader in German Literary and Intellectual History in 1993 and Professor in 2000 and from 1996 to 2001 was the Head of the Department of German. He is probably best known for his biography of Goethe, still in progress (volume 1, 1991, volume 2, 2000), which has been translated into German and has won several prizes. He is also the author of Who Are We Now?; Christian Humanism and the Global Market from Hegel to Heaney, a volume of essays on the contemporary world, and in 2002-03 delivered the Erasmus Lectures at Notre Dame University on Sacred and Secular Scriptures: a Catholic approach to literature, published in 2004. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and in 2000 was awarded the Goethe Medal of the Goethe Institute. In 1983 Nicholas Boyle married Rosemary Devlin, a lawyer, and they have four children.

Lorraine Byrne holds a PhD in German and Music from University College Dublin with primary degrees in Music, English and German. In February 2001 she was awarded the Goethe Prize by the English Goethe Society; in July 2001 she was awarded an IRCHSS Government of Ireland Post-Doctoral Fellowship to pursue full-time research in the Department of Germanic Studies, Trinity College Dublin; in June 2003 she was appointed Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Department of Music, NUI Maynooth and in←xii | xiii→ July 2004 she was appointed Head of the Department of Music at Mater Dei, a College of Dublin City University.

Dr Byrne’s book on Schubert’s Goethe Settings was published by Ashgate in 2003. Her piano reduction of the Schubert/Goethe Singspiel, Claudine von Villa Bella, was published by Carysfort Press in December 2002 and the first stage performance in English of this Singspiel took place in Dublin in April 2003. She is co-editor of Goethe and Schubert: Across the Divide (Dublin: Carysfort Press, December 2003), and is currently completing a critical translation of the discussion of music in Goethe’s letters to the composer, Zelter.

Dr Byrne has lectured extensively and internationally including Rhodes College, USA (2003); English Goethe Society, King’s College London (2003) and St Petersburg (2004). Her edition of Claudine von Villa Bella will be performed at the conference, Schubert and the Unknown, University of Regina, Canada in December 2004. She is keynote speaker at this conference and at the RAM Schiller Symposium in London, 2005.

Claus Canisius was born in Kolberg (Ostsee), Germany. He studied at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik, Karlsruhe, the Royal Academy of Music in London, and at Heidelberg University (Music, Musicology, Anglistics, Psychology). He wrote his doctoral thesis at Heidelberg on Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. In his professional career he has worked with Pierre Boulez in Basle. He has been a lecturer at Heidelberg University in Music and Literature, and editor of classical and contemporary music at the Südwestfunk, Baden-Baden and the Süddeutsche Rundfunk, Studio Karlsruhe. He is working at the Badisches Konservatorium für Musik, Karlsruhe and for Deutschland Radio, Berlin.

Dr Canisius’s publications include: 100 Jahre Badisches Konservatorium Karlsruhe (Karlsruhe, 1984); Ludwig van Beethoven, Sehnsucht und Unruhe in der Musik (München, 1992); Goethe und die Musik, Gast in einer fremden Wohnung (Munich, 1998); Goethes Anverwandlungen mündlich überlieferter Poesie (Frankfurt, Oxford 2002); 200 Broadcasting Essays: Musik und Kommentar (SWR, Karlsruhe).

Gareth Cox graduated from Trinity College Dublin, the Royal Irish Academy of Music, and the University of Freiburg (with a doctoral dissertation on ‘Die Sätze für Soloklavier aus der Studienzeit Anton Weberns’ under the supervision of Hermann Danuser). He taught for many years at the Municipal School of Music in Offenburg and is now Senior Lecturer and Head of the Department of Music at Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick. He has recently co-edited Irish Music in the Twentieth Century (Four Courts Press) and The Life and Music of Brian Boydell (Irish Academic Press) and is a contributor←xiii | xiv→ to Modern Germany: An Encyclopaedia of History, People, and Culture; The New Grove; and Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart.

John Feeley Described by the Washington Post as ‘Ireland’s leading classical guitarist’ and by Michael Dervan in the Irish Times as ‘a trailblazer […] when it comes to the guitar and guitar-playing in Ireland’, John Feeley enjoys a very active performance career. In addition to solo and chamber concerts he has performed widely with numerous orchestras including the American Symphony Orchestra and the National Chamber Orchestra, Washington DC. He regularly performs at many international guitar festivals.

A graduate in music from Trinity College, Dublin and Queens College of the City University, New York, he has held teaching positions at Memphis State University and the Conservatory of Music, Dublin Institute of Technology. He has won a number of prizes in international competitions, including the special Award for interpretation in the Mauro Giuliani competition in Italy. He is also highly regarded for his performances of new works by Irish composers.

Feeley’s CD recordings, with K-Tel, Gael-Linn, CBA Classics, Ossian Records, Castle Communications and Blackbox Records have received international critical acclaim. He is also renowned for his guitar arrangements of Irish music, which appear on several of his many recordings. Concerts have taken him around the world and include appearances at the Sydney Opera House, the Old Opera House, Frankfurt, the L’Arena in Verona, and New York’s Carnegie Hall. He has also recorded with the Chieftains and famous Spanish Soprano Montserrat Caballes.

Amanda Glauert has studied at Clare College Cambridge and Goldsmiths’ College (University of London), and held lecturing posts at the music departments of Trinity College Dublin and Colchester Institute. She is now Head of Research at the RAM. Having published with CUP on the songs of Hugo Wolf (Hugo Wolf and the Wagnerian Inheritance), she is now completing a book on Beethoven’s relation to Herder’s aesthetics of the Lied (Beethoven and the Lyrical Impulse).

Julian Horton is a College Lecturer in Music at University College Dublin. He completed his doctoral research at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he also held a Research Fellowship in Musicology from 1996-2000, and has taught both at the University of Cambridge and at King’s College, London.

Dr Horton’s research focuses primarily on the analysis and reception of nineteenth-century music, with special interests in the music of Anton Bruckner, issues of tonal theory and the analysis of sonata forms. His book Bruckner’s Symphonies: Analysis, Reception and Cultural Politics is forthcoming from Cambridge University Press, and the←xiv | xv→ article ‘Bruckner and the Symphony Orchestra’ is to appear in The Cambridge Companion to Bruckner. Other publications include ‘Postmodernism and the Critique of Musical Analysis’ in The Musical Quarterly, 85/2 (2001) and ‘Recent Developments in Bruckner Scholarship’ in Music and Letters, 85/1 (2004).

Derek McCulloch lectured in German for thirty-six years at the University of Surrey. Simultaneously for some time he was counter-tenor lay-clerk at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, and was to be heard as soloist on various recordings with Roger Norrington and Helmuth Rilling, as well as with his own ensemble Collegium Sagittarii. Since 1985 he has directed Café Mozart in performances of late 18th century music on period instruments, recording for BBC Radio 4 political songs c.1800. He has also broadcast on such people as Heinrich Schütz, Johann Rosenmüller, the Bach family, the Earl of Abingdon, Emma Hamilton and Jane Austen, whose family music library he researched and catalogued in 1996 – winning in the process a Classic FM Joie de Vivre award. In retirement he continues to research, and is currently considering the music written to commemorate the death of Nelson in 1805. His main focus remains ‘Haydn in England’, a theme on which he has written extensively. His latest CD Goethe   the Guitar, recorded with Café Mozart, has been enthusiastically received in the early music press and by such august bodies as the Haydn, Schubert, and Spohr Societies in the UK.

Moray McGowan, born in 1950, B.A., M.A. (Newcastle-upon-Tyne), Dr. phil. (Hamburg), taught at the Universities of Siegen, Kassel, Lancaster, Hull, Strathclyde. From 1989-2000 he was Professor of German and Head of the Department of Germanic Studies, Sheffield, UK. Since September 2000 he has been Professor of German and Head of the Department of Germanic Studies, Trinity College Dublin. He is currently working on German theatre and drama and its relationship to the fall of the GDR and to German unification, on Turkish-German writing, and on ideas of Europe in German-speaking culture. Publications include: Marieluise Fleißer (Munich, 1987); ‘German writing in the West (1945-1990)’ in the Cambridge History of German Literature (1997); numerous essays on modern and contemporary literature and culture, including Heinrich Böll, Volker Braun, Bertolt Brecht, Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Franz Xaver Kroetz, Ulrike Meinhof, Heiner Müller, ‘Neue Subjecktivität’, Zafer Şenocak, Botho Strauß, metaphors in Turkish-German writing and its reception, and the theatre and drama of the ‘Wende’ period.

Adolf Nowak, born 1941, studied Musicology and Philosophy and completed his doctoral dissertation on Hegel’s Music Aesthetics in 1969. He completed his Habilitationschrift on the problems of musical logic at the Freie Universität Berlin in←xv | xvi→ 1979 and was appointed Professor of Music in the Gesamthochschule in Kassel the following year. Since 1994 he holds the chair in Musicology at the Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt am Main. His research areas include Aesthetics and Musical Theory as well as Music History in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Micheal O’Siadhail, a full-time writer, has published ten collections of poetry. He was awarded an Irish American Cultural Institute prize for poetry in 1982, the Marten Toonder prize for Literature in 1998 and was short-listed for the 2003 Wingate Jewish Quarterly Literature Prize. His poem suites, The Naked Flame, Earlsfort Suite (with Seóirse Bodley) Summerfest (with Colman Pearce) and Dublin Spring (with James Wilson) were commissioned and set to music for performance and broadcasting.

O’Siadhail’s collections of poetry are The Leap Year (1978), Rungs of Time (1980), Belonging (1982), Springnight (1983), The Image Wheel (1985), The Chosen Garden (1990), Hail! Madam Jazz: New and Selected Poems (Bloodaxe Books, 1992), A Fragile City (Bloodaxe Books, 1995), Our Double Time (Bloodaxe Books, 1998), Poems 1975-1995 (Bloodaxe Books, 1999) and The Gossamer Wall (Bloodaxe Books/Time Being Books, 2002). His work has been translated into several languages including books in German and Japanese.

Micheal O’Siadhail has given poetry readings and broadcast extensively in Ireland, Britain, Europe, North America and Japan. In 1985 he was invited to give the Vernam Hull Lecture at Harvard and the Trumbull Lecture at Yale University. He represented Ireland at the Poetry Society’s European Poetry Festival in London in 1981 and at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 1997. He was writer-in-residence at the Yeats Summer School in 1991.

O’Siadhail has been a lecturer at Trinity College Dublin and a professor at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies. Among his many academic works are Learning Irish (Yale University Press 1988) and Modern Irish (Cambridge University Press 1989). He was a member of the Arts Council of the Republic of Ireland (1988-93) and of the Advisory Committee on Cultural Relations (1989-97), a founder member of Aosdána and a former editor of Poetry Ireland Review. He was the founding chairman of ILE (Ireland Literature Exchange).


XXXIV, 376
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2022 (March)
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, New York, Wien, 2004. XXXIV, 376 pp., 168 fig. b/w,

Biographical notes

Lorraine Byrne (Volume editor)


Title: Goethe: Musical Poet, Musical Catalyst
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412 pages