Detail of Dürer's "Melancolia I."
Here, at the request of Michael Cooper of the New York Times, are various materials relating to the music of Adrian Leverkühn, as imagined in Thomas Mann’s novel Doktor Faustus. When I first became a Faustus obsessive thirty years ago, I jotted down a list of Leverkühn's works on a blank page of a beat-up paperback; I give an expanded version of that list there, alongside a partial selection of works that informed Mann’s descriptions and a list of real-life works that took inspiration from Mann’s fictional creation. S. Fischer Verlag’s critical edition of Doktor Faustus, edited by Ruprecht Wimmer and Stephan Stachorski, was of assistance.
Short biography: Adrian Leverkühn was born on June 6, 1885, in Kaisersaschern, Germany. He pursued theological studies in Halle and Leipzig, and from 1905 to 1910 he studied music privately with Wendell Kretzschmar in Leipzig. He lived in Munich from 1910 to 1913, then moved to Pfeiffering bei Waldshut, in Oberbayern, where he remained until his death. Independent of the Second Viennese School, he evolved a non-tonal, at times idiosyncratically serialist language, although he also incorporated parodic imitations of past styles and anticipated certain developments of the postwar avant-garde. The manifest difficulty of his musical idiom hindered public acceptance, although he received support from such leading conductors as Bruno Walter, Otto Klemperer, and Ernest Ansermet. His creative career ended on or about May 16, 1930, when, twenty-four years to the day after an apparent pact with the Devil, he suffered a mental collapse. He died on August 25, 1940, and is buried in Oberweiler churchyard. The principal source of information about his life is an unsystematic biography by his longtime friend Serenus Zeitblom.