There are at least two fairly well-known works this might refer to: the late 16th century play by the English dramatist Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593), first staged about 1593 and published in 1604; and the 1947 novel by the German writer Thomas Mann (1875-1955). Both were inspired by a German story dated to about the mid 16th century, about an alchemist named Faust who mocks the devil, known as Mephistopheles, and makes a deal with him for scientific knowledge. The image at left is the cover of a 1620 edition of Marlowe's play.
Mann transformed the story into that of a composer named Adrian Leverkühn. Many other writers, artists, and composers have made use of this story in their work.