Walpurgisnacht: Musical and textual variations

Sam has posted some fab items on witches below to celebrate Walpurgisnacht, so I’d better follow suit before dawn arrives and the wild partying has to end.

The Walpurgisnacht motif has inspired artists in all sorts of media. It’s a fine example of intertextuality, even transmediality (travelling across literature, visual art, film, and music) where the vision of wild witches dancing till dawn on the Brocken mountain has inspired a series of literary works and, in turn, musical and visual compositions.

Thus Goethe has a fabulous vision of the savage festival in Faust I (with a classical, rational antithesis in Faust II); this passes into such works as Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain, Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarits, and Heller’s Catch-22. Bram Stoker’s Dracula short story, ‘Dracula’s Guest’ employs it. There are musical transformations of Faust as opera and ballet, film versions, and countless visual images. (There is also my modest poetic celebration of Gothic studies here, which reimagines Walpurgisnacht as paranormal romance and dialectic.)

Here’s a great performance of Mussorgsky’s Night on Bare Mountain in its original, raw version.

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