Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Fine Arts



First Advisor

Cynthia Lawrence


The great novelist and poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 – 1832) arguably made his most significant contribution to the artistic world with his literary masterpiece Faust I. Goethe’s love of music and melody is evident throughout all of Faust, particularly in the expressive poetry of the character of Gretchen, whose meaningful words gave inspiration to a variety of musical manifestations, especially in German Lied.

This document serves as a performance guide for vocalists. It provides vital information on the setting and arrangement of the poetry within the musical settings, the background and significance of the composer and his works, and the organization of the music. The examination of each piece will involve assessment of musical phrasing, tessitura, and overall vocal complexity in eight German Lieder settings of Gretchen’s soliloquy “Ach neige, du Schmerzenreiche” from Goethe’s Faust. The suggestions within the investigations are based on examination of pedagogical practices as well as personal experience and discoveries made while singing and performing these pieces. Through an investigation of each piece, the singer will be able to attain a successful understanding of the framework and approach to the music and poetry, and thereby achieve awareness of accurate performance practice.

This document examines in order of composition, the settings by Bettina von Arnim, Franz Schubert (including the completed fragment as arranged by Benjamin Britten), Conrad Kreutzer, Bernhard Klein, Johann Loewe, Robert Schumann, Hugo Wolf, and Fredric Joseph Kroll. Because this document serves to investigate only German Lieder settings, it will not examine the choral works of Hans Pfitzner, Antoni Radziwill, Julius Röntgen, Giuseppe Verdi’s Italian setting “Deh, pietoso, oh Addolorata,” nor Richard Wagner’s Melodram. This document will also very briefly discuss the lost and inaccessible settings of Gretchen’s prayer, including those of Carl Debrois van Bruyck, Edmund von Freyhold, Moritz Hauptmann, Justus Lecerf, Leopold Lenz, Louis Schlottmann, and Hans Sommer.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)