This 1926 German Expressionist silent film, starring Emil Jannings,
Gösta Ekman, and Camilla Horn, was Murnau’s last
German film before emigrating to America, and is considered by many to
be his masterpiece. Using fantastic special effects and painterly
tableaux to tell a story that is larger than life, yet tragic in its
human dimensions, its themes of Fate, human vanity, individual free
will, and self-sacrifice are as powerful today as ever.
Phillip Johnston's original score for Faust was commissioned
Film Society of Lincoln Center and premiered at the 2002
York Film Festival.
. It has subsequently toured in the U.S., Australia, Belgium,
Italy, Switzerland and Slovenia. Johnston's previous silent
film work includes scores for Teinosuke Kinugasa's Page of
Madness (1926), The George
(1907-1912), and Tod Browning’s The
Unknown (1927), starring
Lon Chaney and Joan Crawford, which the Sydney Morning
Herald’s John Shand called a “perfect film
score” in 2001.
The Faust score features songs, with lyrics
by Australian playwright Hilary
Bell (Wolf Lullaby, The Falls),
as instrumental underscore, performed by a new Australian ensemble
featuring Elizabeth Jones (accordion), John Napier (cello), and Lauren
Easton (voice), along with the composer on saxophone, piano and
In reviewing a performance of the Faust score at the Massachusetts
Museum of Contemporary Art (Mass MoCA), American music critic Seth
Rogovoy said, “Johnston's work is characterized by its
willful perversity -- its utter unwillingness to stay in one place, its
defiance of genre, its universal embrace of the offbeat, its
celebration of the quirky, dramatic and surprising gesture.”
(Australia): Lauren Easton (voice), Elizabeth Jones (accordion), John
Napier (cello), Phillip Johnston (saxophones, piano, ukulele).
LAUREN EASTON has worked with the Bel A’Capella Ensemble,
Sing NSW, and renowned pianist James Muire. 2006 saw Lauren perform as
the sole female finalist in the Australian Singing Competition at
Sydney Conservatorium's Vergbrugghen Hall. As a result, this year
Lauren joined the Sydney Omega Ensemble and pianist Andrea Katz to
perform as part of the Art Gallery of New South Wales
“Resonate Series”. Most recently Lauren was awarded
the Barbara Howard Vocal Prize and first place in the Friends of The
State Opera SA Inc. Aria Competition. With a focus on operatic studies,
Lauren’s repertoire embraces Oratorio, Lieder, Musical
Theatre, and Art Song.
ELIZABETH JONES began post graduate studies at the Royal Acadamy of
Music in London in 1992 where she studied for four years with prominant
accordion teacher Professor Owen Murray and piano with Antoinetta
Notariello. Currently she is completing her Doctorate of Creative Arts
She has performed in London, Hong Kong, China and New Zealand. In 1999
she was guest artist with Opera Australia in Wozzeck and she is the
recipient of many awards including an Elizabethan Theatre Trust
scholarship for overseas study in 2000. She has recently released a CD
of transcriptions for accordion.
JOHN NAPIER has a doctorate in Musicology from UNSW, where he lectures
full time. His performing life is extremely varied and has included
classical, rock and pop gigs and recordings. He is especially known for
his work with the Institute of Eastern Music and his improvisations
with performers of traditional Indian music. He has performed in the
U.S, Italy, Japan and India and has appeared with various groups such
as The Mambologists, Southern Crossings, The One Extra Dance Company,
and with Robyn Archer at the Sydney Opera House.
Librettist HILARY BELL is known internationally as
a writer for stage, radio, screen and music theatre. Her radio plays Wreckage,
The Anatomy Lesson of
Doctor Ruysch, Is
It You? and The
Claimant were commissioned
and produced by the Australian Broadcasting Commission. Her stage plays
have been produced in Australia, Europe and the United States,
including New York’s Atlantic and Chicago’s
Steppenwolf. They include Wolf
Shot While Dancing,
The Falls, The Anatomy Lesson of
Doctor Ruysch, and Memmie
LeBlanc. Her libretti include
the musical The Wedding
Song (composer Douglas Stephen Rae), song cycle
(composer Elena Katz-Chernin) ten-minute opera Crumbs from
the Table of Love (composer Charles B. Griffin), and
(composer Victoria Bond), excerpts of which were presented
by New York City Opera.
She is a recipient of the Philip Parsons Young Playwrights' Award, Jill
Blewitt Playwrights' Award, Australian Writers Guild Award (AWGIE), the
Bug’n’Bub Award and Eric Kocher
Playwrights’ Award. Her children’s novel Mirror,
Mirror received the Aurealis Award and has been translated into Danish.
Hilary is a graduate of the Juilliard Playwrights’ Studio and
the Australian Film, Television and Radio School, & has taught
playwriting at Wesleyan University and New York University. She was the
2003-04 Tennessee Williams Fellow in Playwriting at the University of
the South, Tennessee. Hilary is currently under commission from Yale
Rep, as well as writing the screenplay for Alex Miller's Journey To The Stone Country,
and a musical about Cole's Funny Picture Books.
Farnum (voice), Will Holshouser
or Guy Klucevsek (accordion), Tomas Ulrich (cello), Phillip Johnston
(saxophones, piano, ukulele).
ELIZABETH FARNUM, soprano,
is a specialist in contemporary music. In addition, she is an active
performer in many diverse musical styles, and her performances of
modern music, early
music and musical theater have taken her throughout the United States,
Europe and Japan. In the opera world, she performed the role of Donna
Anna in Don
Giovanni with The Group Opera and Pamina in The
Magic Flute with the Bronx Opera. She created the role of
Alva in Anthony Braxton’s ShalaFears
for the Poor, and has sung with the Metropolitan Opera
Chorus. She has premiered pieces by prominent contemporary composers in
many venues, including
Alice Tully Hall, Merkin Hall, Bargemusic, London’s Institute
for Contemporary Art and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, collaborating
with such composers as
Charles Wuorinen, Ricky Ian Gordon, Anthony Braxton, John Zorn, Anthony
Newman and Toby Twining.
She has been a guest soloist with many of New York’s modern
music ensembles, including The New York New Music Ensemble, The Cygnus
Group for Contemporary Music, Parnassus, the S.E.M. Ensemble, the
North/South Consonance and most recently gave the premiere performance
and recording of Charles
Wuorinen’s "The Haroun Songbook" with members of the New York
City Opera, in which she sang the title role. She has recently
completed the World
Premiere recording of the songs of Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji, which
has been released on the Centaur label.
GUY KLUCEVSEK’s music/theatre scores
include "Squeezeplay" – collaborations with David Dorfman and
Dan Froot, Mary Ellen Childs, Dan Hurlin, Claire Porter and Victoria
Marks --which was developed, in part, at MASS MoCA, and premiered at
The Kitchen in March, 2000; "Hard Coal" (1999), with the Bloomsburg
Theatre Ensemble; and "Chinoiserie" (1995), with Ping Chong &
Co. He has released 12 recordings as soloist leader, including his
latest, Guy Klucevsek and Alan Bern: Accordance, on Winter
& Winter. He is a member of Dave Douglas’
band, Charms of the Night Sky, with whom he regularly tours and records.
Klucevsek has received New York Dance and Performance Awards (BESSIES)
for his scores for David Dorfman Dance’s, "Hey," and Dan
Hurlin’s "Everyday Uses for Sight: No.
7." He was also awarded a Listen Up prize for “Best
Original Score of 1996 by Publishers Weekly for his music accompanying
the Audio Book version of E. Annie Proulx’s novel, Accordion
Cellist-composer TOMAS ULRICH received music
degrees from Boston University and the Manhattan School of Music. Mr.
Ulrich has performed with such artists as Anthony Davis, Joe Lovano,
Gerry Hemingway, Derek Bailey, Anthony Braxton, Simon Shaheen, Herb
Robertson, Dominic Duval, Joe McPhee, Ben Allison, Kevin Norton, Ted
Nash, Uri Caine and Dave Douglas. He is also a member of the
Diller-Quaile String Quartet which premiered his Quintet for Trumpet
and Strings (featuring guest soloist Herb Robertson) in May of 1996.
JAZZ NOW has characterized Mr. Ulrich as "the total
package...incredible chops, great imagination and superb pitch. He
fulfills the roles of bassist, guitarist and additional horn player and
is endlessly talented and creative." Mr. Ulrich has written music for
theater, film and instrumental performance and has concertized in
Europe, Japan, South America, Canada and throughout the United States.
His performances can be heard on over 30 CDs in a wide range of musical
settings and styles.
The film begins with the forces of the prince of darkness riding across
the sky. The prince of peace, a flaming-haired angel with enormous
wings, wagers the world with the prince of darkness, Mephisto. The
locus of the wager is Faust, an alchemist, a scholar. Mephisto covers
Faust's city with a dark cloud of plague, and in his frustration over
his inability to heal his fellow citizens, Faust hurls his books into
the fire and calls upon the assistance of the prince of darkness.
Jannings' portrayal of Mephisto, particularly his giant form looming
over Faust's city, was the inspiration for the "Night on Bald Mountain"
sequence in Walt Disney's Fantasia .
Through Mephisto, Faust recaptures his youth and an assistant, the
trickster of tricksters himself. Both Faust and Mephisto are young men
as Faust wishes for a home and is transported to the village in which
Margarethe lives with her mother and brother, on leave from the army.
Faust falls in love with her, but with trick upon trick Mephisto turns
a sun-drenched love story into tragedy that encompasses a merciless
winter storm and a burning at the stake.
At the center of the film is the parallel wooing of Margarethe by Faust
and Mephisto by Margarethe's Aunt Marthe. Mephisto and Marthe provide
broad comedy to contrast with the earnestness of Faust's pursuit of
Margarethe. Later, Martha is just as merciless as Mephisto, rejecting
Margarethe when the rest of her village does.
This center of the film is perfectly framed by much darker sequences
involving Faust and Margarethe alone. The first third of the film
follows the trials and fall of Faust, while the last third shows what
happens to Margarethe after the tragedy that strikes her as a
consequence of her love for Faust.