Musical Responses to Goethe's Works: Texts, Contexts, Genres (ASECS 2023)

deadline for submissions: 
October 3, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
Tekla Babyak (chair)/American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies/Goethe Society of North America
contact email: 

Annual Meeting of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (ASECS)

Session No. 70, Musical Responses to Goethe's Works: Texts, Contexts, Genres

Organized and chaired by Tekla Babyak (Independent Scholar, PhD, Musicology, Cornell, 2014)

Sponsored by the Goethe Society of North America

This session invites proposals of approximately 250 words that explore musical responses to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s works, especially in Western art music during the long eighteenth century. Beginning in his own lifetime and continuing into the present day, Goethe’s writings have inspired an outpouring of musical settings and adaptations. These settings run the gamut from short Lieder (e.g. Mozart’s setting of Das Veilchen, composed in 1785) to full-scale operas (Gounod’s Faust, 1859; Massenet’s Werther, 1887).Certain strands of this reception history have received important scholarly attention (see The Oxford Handbook of Faust in Music, 2019). However, scholars have yet to map out larger trends in what we might call the genre of Goethe settings. Some unexamined questions include: which aspects of Goethe’s texts seem to have lent themselves particularly well to musical settings, and how did composers rework the texts to make them fit the music? Pertinent here are the songs in Goethe’s own novels such as Mignon’s "Kennst du das Land," in Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre (1795-96). When setting such texts to music, to what extent did composers consider the larger context of the literary work to which the text belongs? These issues might profitably be considered from musicological, literary, and music-theoretical perspectives.

Submissions should be received before 11:59 pm EST on Monday, Oct. 3, 2022 through the ASECS proposal submission form: