“A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul.” Goethe
Today, August 28, is the Birthday anniversary of one of the most important figures of universal culture, the giant of German literature (and also Schiller) and another of my personal heroes…Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. In a world when the interest and love for culture is unfortunately going lower, it is always good to remember to ourselves that men who had a huge erudition like Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, existed. And yes, by reading and studying Goethe’s life, it is possible to know it all (or almost all). Poet, novelist, translator, dramatist, scientist, humanist and even musician… It is no secret that Goethe was a Renaissance man, and his work had a huge important influence in not only in literature but also in music. Goethe himself was a lover of music and of course, it is impossible not to mention his friendship with Mozart. (Goethe wrote a second part for Mozart’s “The Magic Flute”) and music was extremely important for Goethe’s life and work. It is known that his favourite works were Haydn and Mozart’s masses, Bach’s chorales and Handel’s Messiah. I am sorry to say that Goethe’s encounter with Beethoven was not as wonderful like his friendship with Mozart by the way, Beethoven admired Goethe’s works very much but… their relationship was not…the greatest. Goethe (along with Shakespeare) is probably the author who has inspired more musical works and adaptations than any other in opera and classical music. It would take a very long post to talk about Goethe, whom according to the words of Mexican erudite Ernesto de la Peña, Goethe was for Germany as Shakespeare and Dickens for England, Cervantes for Spain, Rabelais, Voltaire and Victor Hugo for France and Dante and Pico della Mirandola for Italy. I also recommend highly to read Eckermann’s “Conversations of Goethe”, in which this book is a huge delight to read. In this book it’s very interesting and so rich to read about Goethe’s opinions about so many diverse subjects…. Voltaire, Shakespeare, Lord Byron, the Bible, the classics, art, etc…. Goethe was and always be one of the greatest poets and thinkers of universal culture and his many quotes are also a treasure. What else can I say about his monumental “Faust” (which has inspired more operas than any other work!) I consider Faust the greatest work of German literature in every aspect, in morality, religion and philosophy. And finally, as a literature, lieder and Opera fan, I can not forget the influence of Goethe’s works for many composers: Schubert, Beethoven, Brahms, Liszt, Gounod, Massenet, Berlioz, Boito, Wagner, just to name a few… I will post below some musical links related to Goethe. And as a final note… and for remembering Goethe’s travels to Italy… I want to give my love and support to my dear Italian friends after the horrible news of the earthquake in Italy.