Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Tchaikovsky Research
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Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), in an 1828 portrait by Joseph Karl Stieler (1781–1858)

German writer and statesman (b. 28 August 1749 in Frankfurt-am-Main; d. 22 March 1832 in Weimar).

Tchaikovsky's Settings of Works by Goethe

Tchaikovsky set extracts from of Goethe's novel Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre (1795) in three of his songs:

  • Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt (from book 4), in a Russian translation by Lev Mey (1822-1862), as None but the Lonely Heart (Нет, только тот, кто знал), No. 6 of the Six Romances, Op. 6 (1869).
  • Kennst du das Land? (from book 3), in a Russian translation by Fyodor Tyutchev (1803–1873), as Mignon's Song (Песнь Миньоны), No. 3 of the Six Romances, Op. 25 (1875).
  • Heiß mich nicht reden (from book 3), in a Russian translation by Aleksandr Strugovshchikov (1808/9–1878/9), as Do Not Ask (Не спрашивай), No. 3 of the Six Romances, Op. 57 (1884).

During the summer of 1888 Tchaikovsky contemplated writing an opera The Bayadere on the subject of Goethe's ballad Der Gott und die Bajadere (1797), subtitled "An Indian Legend", to a libretto by Ippolit Shpazhinsky. After rejecting this idea, the composer then suggested to the librettist Léonce Détroyat a French opera on the same subject, to be called La Courtisane or Sadia, which ultimately came to nothing.

In 1874 Tchaikovsky orchestrated Franz Liszt's ballad Der König von Thule, which was a setting of Gretchen's song from Goethe's play Faust.

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