Goethe: A BBC Radio Drama Collection

Goethe: A BBC Radio Drama Collection

Six Full-Cast Dramatisations including Faust, The Sorrows of Young Werther and more


A collection of seminal dramatised pieces by the great German polymath

Johann Wolfgang Goethe was a colossus of German literature and a true Renaissance man. A novelist, dramatist, poet, humanist, scientist and philosopher, he wrote the first international bestseller, The Sorrows of Young Werther, and his epic masterpiece Faust is one of the most famous and celebrated dramas of all time.

We open this anthology with a dramatisation of Faust, which tells of a magus with an insatiable thirst for knowledge who makes a pact with the Devil. Featuring atmospheric music performed by the King's College Choir and the BBC Singers, it stars Simon Callow as Faust, with Ronald Pickup as Mephistopheles.

It is followed by The Sorrows of Young Werther, Goethe's tale of a passionate young artist at odds with society, who falls hopelessly in love with his friend's fiancée. Dramatised by award-winning playwright Hattie Naylor and introduced by Cambridge University lecturer Dr Charlotte Lee, it stars Joel MacCormack, Daisy Edgar-Jones and Jack Farthing.

Originally published in 1795 under the title 'The Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily', A Fairy Tale is a magical, mysterious and strikingly modern story whose images foreshadow the poetry of surrealism. David Davis is the Teller of the Tale, with Rosalind Shanks as The Beautiful Lily and Mary Morris as The Serpent.

Next up are a trio of historical tragedies: Egmont, set in 16th century Brussels and with a score specially composed by Ludwig van Beethoven; Iphigenia in Tauris, a reworking of the ancient Greek play by Euripides; and Torquato Tasso, a verse drama about the eponymous 16th century Italian poet and courtier and his descent into madness. All three feature superb ensemble casts including Paul Daneman, John Rye, Maureen O'Brien, Anton Lesser, Michael Pennington and David Suchet.

To conclude, four bonus documentaries examine Goethe's life, work and influence. In Search of Faust sees poet and singer Twm Morys exploring why artists have been fascinated by this unlikely hero for the last 500 years; while Spotlight: The Sorrows of Young Werther looks at the tragic protagonist of Goethe's 1774 epistolary novel. In Our Time: Goethe and the Science of Enlightenment finds Melvyn Bragg and guests assessing Goethe's scientific legacy, and in The Forum - Goethe: The story of colour, Bridget Kendal discusses his monumental book The Theory of Colours with art historian Alexandra Loske, writer Victoria Finlay and designer Odette Steele.

First published 1774 (The Sorrows of Young Werther), 1779 (Iphigenia in Tauris), 1788 (Egmont), 1790 (Torquato Tasso), 1795 ('The Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily), 1808 (Faust, Part One), 1832 (Faust, Part Two)

Faust: Dramatisation for radio (c) Anthony Vivis 1982. All rights reserved.
Torquato Tasso: Translation (c) Alan and Sandy Brownjohn 1982, all rights reserved.

Production credits
Written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The Sorrows of Young Werther
A Fairy Tale
Iphigenia in Tauris
Torquato Tasso

In Search of Faust
Presented by Twm Morys

Spotlight: The Sorrows of Young Werther

In Our Time: Goethe and the Science of the Enlightenment
Presented by Melvyn Bragg
With Nicholas Boyle and Simon Schaffer

The Forum - Goethe: The story of colour
Presented by Bridget Kendall
With Alexandra Loske, Victoria Finlay and Odette Steele

© 2023 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd. (P) 2023 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd

About the author

Johann Wolfgang von Goethes

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