The categorization of the many musical and literary works inspired by the Faust legend is based on their two possible conclusions: Faust ends up in hell or is redeemed and attaints heaven. Busoni’s work is often categorized in terms of the redemptive form. I will analyze a third possibility: during the last part of the nineteenth century, philosophers conceptualized that man’s feelings of unhappiness came from his confinement into an eternal recurrence and that life doesn’t end with the death.
Scholars tend to ignore the links between Doktor Faust and these philosophical thoughts because of Busoni’s explicit denial of such intentions. And yet Busoni wrote that an opera is the highest form of artistic expression, where music gives words to the unspoken. Therefore I will argue that Busoni characterizes Doktor Faust as a hybridization of the new philosophical theories with literature and music. Busoni’s depiction of the main character in this opera may not be intentional, but the composer summed up all the qualities of Nietzsche’s Übermensch, D’Annunzio’s Superuomo, and Pascoli’s fanciullino in Faust.
Faust discovers his own transcendent power, which is independent from the material universe and yet belongs to nature’s laws that are beyond God and the evil. Doktor Faust’s attainment of immortality does not pray for divine redemption and wins out over everything: in this opera, Faust is neither redeemed nor damned. Faust becomes aware that death is nothing but the means that lead to rebirth: “ich, Faust, ein ewiger Wille”.
- Doktor Faust,
- Transcendence and Immortality in Busoni,
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/antonella_digiulio/1/