Sunday, April 24, 2005


There are many Fausts—it is an ancient story—but it is Goethe’s version that is the focus of most of the musical versions. Berlioz comes closest to presenting the story as Goethe did. Gounod is interested mainly in the Gretchen story, is actually concerned about Gretchen’s soul, something that Goethe seems not to have noticed. I didn’t understand Busoni’s version when I saw it in San Francisco, which does not derive from Goethe at all.

I feel a little bit like Faust myself. At a crucial age I had a child to support and no income from music, and I decided to go into the computer business. I wanted something that I could study for a semester and get a good job, in sharp contrast with studying something for 20 years and making no money at all, as was the case for me in music. I sold my soul for a regular income.

So today I am something of an expert. I have been personally involved in the development of every inventory and purchasing system ever used in my company, from the IBM S/3 to the current craze for web based applications. I am the corporate continuity. The last three times we did this, this was the proposed solution. I have enough money to go to Switzerland to see Cecilia Bartoli in opera whenever I want. I just have no soul.

So I write a blog about opera. I remember my soul vividly, and it most deeply loved music. (It is amusing to me that the blogger spell checker does not recognize the word blog.)

Goethe’s Faust will be presented with the beauties of immorality one by one until he sees one he particularly likes. Hold. This moment I would like to stay. I will trade my soul for this. For modern western man this is a dilemma we don’t notice. We give in immediately and don’t see our souls fleeing away from us. Our souls have no value.

1 comment:

Christopher said...

Isn't that the story of adulthood? The moment when you sacrifice your dreams for your reality. Some never make it and so are trapped in Neverneverland. Is their path any more fullfilling?

It's not an either/or... the paths are still there waiting for you. You just have to remember how not to think so much and just breathe your life again.

The thing they never tell you about Faust is that there was always another way. Redemption was always open to him. He just had to remember the courage only mastered by a child.