Gretchen to Faust


Gretchen to Faust

“… the piece shows Getty’s increasing mastery of and sensitivity to text.”
Jeff Dunn
San Francisco Classical Voice, 2016

Orchestration: 2 flutes, oboe, English horn, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, 4 horns, trumpet, 2 trombones, tuba, 2 players, harp, celesta, strings

I read Goethe’s Faust last spring. I was bowled over by the prison scene that ends Part I. I wrote the verse for Gretchen to Faust a little later, adapting some of Goethe’s lines and adding my own. To him, I owe “Tomorrow would have been my wedding day.” She asks him to bury them “My mother in the best place… My brother by her side, and then myself / A little way apart, but not too far.” The last line is such a masterstroke that I found a way to steal it twice.

Gordon Getty
January 11, 2016


See review archive

“The work was inspired by Faust’s encounter with the imprisoned Gretchen in the final scene of the first part of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Faust. Rather than translate the German, Getty reconceived an English text by turning Gretchen into a ghost, giving Faust instructions on the burial of not only her own body but those of the other members of her family.”
Stephen Smoliar
San Francisco Examiner, 2016